Welcome to the Diocese of Gibraltar!

Through our Diocesan website, I would like to open our doors to all. As the Shepherd of this Community: you are all invited; everyone is welcome!

It will be good to tell you about the things that are happening and offer you resources to help you grow in your own Faith. We are all called to know and serve Christ more deeply in His Church.

You are invited in this way, to become more actively involved in the life of our Church.

If you are not a Catholic, you may wish to learn more about us through these pages.

Our mission is simple: to preach Jesus Christ, the Son of God; to come to know and serve Him as Lord; and, to make “disciples of all nations” [Matthew 28: 19], belonging to this “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” [the Creed], untied with Peter and his successors.

Peace be with you!

+Carmel Zammit
Bishop of Gibraltar

Carmel Zammit, Bishop of Gibraltar

PRAY WITH US

Lord, be the beginning and end
of everything we do and say.
Prompt our actions with your grace,
and complete them with your all-powerful help.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

From Lauds, Monday Week 1 of Ordinary Time

Latest Events

Latest News

Pope Francis approves Blessed John Henry Newman’s second miracle

By | News

Blessed John Henry Newman may be canonised as early as next year after a second miracle was approved.

Cardinal John Henry Newman (21 February 1801 – 11 August 1890) will be proclaimed a Saint soon, becoming Britain’s first new saint since St. John Ogilvie was canonized by Pope St. Paul VI in 1976. The last English saints were the 40 Martyrs of the Reformation who were canonized in 1970.

Newman was born in 1801. While a tutor at Oriel College, Oxford, he was ordained in 1825 as a Church of England priest. In December 1832, Newman went on a tour of Southern Europe on board the mail steamship Hermes, which included a visit to Gibraltar. In April, Newman visited Sicily and fell dangerously ill with gastric or typhoid fever at Leonforte. He recovered, but with a strong conviction that God had a special mission for him in England. Newman saw this as his “third providential illness”. In June 1833 he finally left Palermo for home.

As an Oxford academic, his theological research and his own personal struggles with his beliefs, had deeply challenged him. They led him increasingly towards the ‘High-Church’ tradition of Anglicanism. In 1833, the Oxford Movement was founded, gathering those who, like Newman, argued for the reinstatement of some of the older Christian traditions of faith into the Anglican liturgy and theology, which the Reformation had firmly rejected. This journey, deepening his understanding of the origins of Christianity and the absolute nature of Revelation, brought Newman to a juncture where he could no longer ignore the rightful, perennial, claims of Catholicism, including the indefectibility of the Church and her infallibility in Faith and Morals.

John Henry converted to Catholicism and was received into full communion with the Catholic Church on 9th October 1845 by Dominic Barberi, an Italian Passionist, at The College in Littlemore, Oxford. This resulted in high personal cost to Newman, who was rejected by family and friends, seeing his change of allegiances essentially as an act of betrayal.

In February 1846, Newman left Oxford for Oscott, where Nicholas Wiseman, then Vicar Apostolic of the Midland district, resided. In October he went to Rome, where he was ordained Priest by Cardinal Giacomo Filippo Fransoni and awarded the degree of Doctor of Divinity by Pope Pius IX. Newman became an Oratorian in Rome and returned to England in 1847 with Pope Pius IX’s formal approval to establish an English Oratory. He resided first at Maryvale (near Old Oscott, now the site of Maryvale Institute, a college of Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education); later at St Wilfrid’s College, Cheadle, and afterwards at St Anne’s, Alcester Street, Birmingham. Finally he settled at Edgbaston, where spacious premises were built for his new community, and where (except for four years in Ireland) he lived a secluded life for nearly forty years. Before the house at Edgbaston was occupied, Newman established the London Oratory, with Father Frederick William Faber (the noted English hymn writer and theologian, who similarly converted from Anglicanism to the Catholicism and became an Oratorian Priest) as its superior.

Newman was esteemed as a poet and renowned internationally for his copious philosophical, theological writings, such as his autobiography Apologia Pro Vita Sua (1865–1866), the Grammar of Assent (1870), and the poem The Dream of Gerontius (1865, set to music in 1900 by Edward Elgar), “Lead, Kindly Light” and “Praise to the Holiest in the Height“.

In 1879, he was created a cardinal by Pope Leo XIII in recognition of his services to the cause of the Catholic Church in England. He was instrumental in the founding of the Catholic University of Ireland which evolved into University College Dublin, today the largest university in Ireland.

When Newman died at the age of 89, more than 15,000 people lined the streets for his funeral. The cause for sainthood was opened in 1958 and he was declared Venerable by Pope St. John Paul II in 1991 after his life of ‘heroic virtue’ was recognised.

The first miracle attributed to Newman relates to the case of a Boston deacon whom Newman is said to have saved from paralysis. Cardinal Newman was beatified at Cofton Park, Birmingham, by Pope Benedict XVI during his historic State visit to Britain, 16 to 19 September 2010 —the first by a Pope.

More recently, the Archdiocese of Chicago investigated the inexplicable healing of a woman who prayed for Newman’s intercession after suffering with a “life-threatening pregnancy”. Doctors who treated her reported that they had no scientific explanation whatsoever for her sudden, totally unexpected, recovery. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints subsequently examined the case and concluded the healing to be miraculous. It was approved by Pope Francis, signalling that Blessed John Henry’s canonization will follow soon.

Newman’s legacy continues to illumine us on the ecumenical path towards healing the divisions in Christianity. When he became a Cardinal, he adopted the motto, attributed to St. Francis de Sales, Cor ad cor loquitur (“Heart speaks to heart”). This a fitting summary of Blessed John Henry Newman’s entire life. It is the secret of Blessed Newman: his heart longed for God and he found Him, in Eucharistic fulfilment.

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

By | Liturgy, News

Candlemas day

Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Presentation of the Lord at the Temple which occurs forty days after the birth of Jesus.

It is also known as Candlemas day, since candles are blessed and brought in solemn procession in today’s liturgy.

In the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, it is referred to as the Purification of Mary. According to the Gospel, Mary and Joseph took the Infant Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem forty days (inclusive) after his birth to complete Mary’s ritual purification after childbirth, and to perform the redemption of the firstborn son, in obedience to the Torah (Leviticus 12, Exodus 13:12–15, etc.).

It is considered a “Christmas feast” since it points back to the Solemnity of Christmas. You can read the full text of today’s Gospel below, to contemplate this beautiful mystery, as we pray:

 

Almighty ever-living God,

we humbly implore your majesty

that, just as your Only Begotten Son

was presented on this day in the Temple

in the substance of our flesh,

so, by your grace,

we may be presented to you with minds made pure.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

 

 

 

The Gospel at today’s Mass

Luke 2:22-40

My eyes have seen your salvation

When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, – observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord – and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:

‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace,

just as you promised;

because my eyes have seen the salvation

which you have prepared for all the nations to see,

a light to enlighten the pagans

and the glory of your people Israel.’

As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’

There was a prophetess also, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.

34th World Youth Day 2019: concluded in Panama

By | Liturgy, News

“You are the Now of God”

The 34th World Youth Day 2019 concluded on Sunday 27th before 700,000 people at the Campo San Juan Pablo II – Metro Park (Panama City, Panama), with Holy Mass presided by Pope Francis. The Holy Father gave his homily based on a theme from the Sunday’s Gospel: “The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them: ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing’” (Lk 4:20-21).

The Pope explained that the “today” Jesus is referring, was not 2,000 years ago, but is still true today, our “now”. “Jesus reveals the now of God”. “In Jesus, the promised future begins and becomes life”. Unfortunately, “we do not always believe that God can be that concrete and commonplace, that close and real… [because] a close and everyday God, a friend and brother, demands that we be concerned with our surroundings…God is real because love is real”.

All of us can experience the danger of living in “a kind of waiting room, sitting around until we are called”. Both adults and young people risk thinking “your Now has not yet come…. that you are too young to be involved in dreaming about and working for the future”. He stressed that we need one another “to encourage dreaming of and working for tomorrow, starting today… Not tomorrow but now… Realize that you have a mission and fall in love….We may possess everything, but if we lack the passion of love, we will have nothing”.

The Holy Father explained that for Jesus there is no ‘meantime’: “He is not an interval in life or a passing fad. He is generous love that invites us to entrust ourselves”. He exhorted all young people not to be “paralyzed [by] fear and exclusion, speculation and manipulation [but rather, to recognise the] concrete, close, real love” of Jesus. The Lord and His mission are not “something temporary, they are our life”.

He reminded us all that we “are on a journey…. Keep walking, keep living the faith and sharing it”. So, do not forget, he said, that “you are not the tomorrow, you are not the ‘meantime’, you are the Now of God”.

At the conclusion it was announced that the next World Youth Day will be held in Lisbon, Portugal in 2022.

What is “Ordinary Time”?

By | Liturgy, News

Christmastide ended with the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord.

With the end of Christmas and the feasts that accompany it, the Church returns to her so-called Ordinary Time. This is a fitting way to remind us that the entire reason why God was born, became one like us —in everything but sin— was to show us the way back to the Father, which we had lost through the sin of Adam and Eve. This is at the heart of the mystery of our Redemption as revealed by God.

The Baptism of Jesus therefore signals the dawn of our hope: that being baptized in Him, we will die with Him, to rise with Him (c.f. St. Paul Rom 6:3-5; 1 Cor 10:11-12; Col 2:12).

The basis of our re-birth in Christ, is our new life in the Sacred Trinity: to live in an ineffable communion of love between Father, Son and Holy Spirit; in an eternal embrace of joy! That relationship begins now, through Baptism.

Jesus became truly man so that He could illumine the way for us, by following Him along our life-long road of conversion: turning away from sin and living a new life in God. Baptism is the gateway which Christ opens for us, to make possible our entry into Paradise —if we so desire— and live with Him forever.

The ‘Ordinary Time’ of the Church’s Liturgical Year in 2019 began on Monday 14th January. This means that we resume the 3-year cycle of readings from Sacred Scriptures which are proclaimed at Holy Mass each Sunday and during the weekdays.

Also, the ‘Divine Office’ or ‘Liturgy of the Hours’ which all religious, bishops, priests and deacons are obliged to recite in the name of the Church, ‘resets’ back to its starting point for the new liturgical year after the Feast of Christ the King, or more accurately, beginning from the First Sunday of Advent.

Since the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, an astonishing number of lay people, associations of Apostolic Life and groups have joined in this ‘Universal Prayer of the Church’. This is a tremendous blessing for the world, whereby from East to West, “from the rising of the sun to its setting, a pure sacrifice may be made offered to your name” [Eucharistic Prayer 3].

As with the Eucharistic Prayer which the Priest offers In Persona Christi —that is, in the Person of Christ— is Christ’s perfect prayer of praise and thanksgiving, which He offers continually to the Father, similarly the ‘Divine Office’ is His intercession for His Body, the Church.

In this official Prayer of the Church, we can feel the presence of our brothers and sisters —the Church in Heaven and the Church in Purgatory— praying in unison with the ‘pilgrimage Church’ on Earth. This is the nature and reality of the Catholic Church, which finds her origins and mission in the one Sacrifice of Christ, offered once and for all, to the Father on Calvary and made actual —in our time— through the Sacred Sacrifice of the Mass.

This Mystery is truly awesome! It generates in our hearts a sublime desire to worship the Triune God. It is the humbling feeling that our infinite God loves us. Without God, we are meaningless and finite; of little lasting worth! This sentiment of true devotion invites us to bend our knees and bow low, with deep reverence, as we behold and adore the Body and Blood of Christ at the elevation at Holy Mass. As we do so, God’s light of hope touches our hearts and makes us new: the grace of God, so freely given, transforms us into a new creation in Christ. That is why our Baptism unfolds and reveals throughout our life, who God destined us to be. It spells the unique mission we all have: to creatively reflect something of our ‘image and likeness’ of God, back to the Father who created us out of nothing.

The Church encourages all her Faithful to pray the Divine Office and also, to be renwed each day at Holy Mass. If we do so and listen to God’s Word attentively, which is at the heart —like a scaffold— of all our liturgies, we will have virtually gone through the entire Bible in 3 years! What a wonderful way to make a home in our hearts for Jesus, the Word-made-flesh!

In this year 2019, the programme of readings from Sacred Scripture for the Divine Office and for Holy Mass are as follows:

  • In the ‘Divine Office’ also known as the Breviary, the 4-week Psalter begins now with week 1.
  • For Holy Mass:
    • Sunday readings = Year C.
    • Weekday readings = Cycle I.
  • The colour for the Liturgical vestments is green, symbolizing hope and fresh, new growth (as in God’s creation all around us) in our relationship with Christ.

The Ephiphany of the Lord

By | Christmas, News

6th January

There is a Catholic tradition that Christmas decorations go up on the 8th December, Solemnity of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, or around the First Sunday of Advent, and stay up until the Epiphany which follows twelve days after Christmas, on January 6th.

Others prefer to keep the crib until the 2nd February, the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple 40 days after His birth (known also as Candlemas Day, when the blessing and procession of candles is included in the liturgy).

In the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, this ‘Christmas Feast’ is referred to as the Purification of Mary: The Torah commanded that a woman who had given birth to a son should not approach the Temple for 40 days; after which time she was to offer a sacrifice for her purification. By another requirement of the Law, every first-born son was to be considered as belonging to God (since the first-born sons of Israel had been spared in Egypt), and was to be redeemed as narrated in Luke 2:22-40.

The word ‘Epiphany’ comes from the Biblical Greek word ἐπιφάνεια, epipháneia, meaning ‘manifestation or appearance’: It celebrates ‘the revelation’ of God in His Son as human in Jesus Christ.

Matthew 2:1-12 records the visit of the ‘Wise Men’ or ‘Magi’:

“After Jesus had been born at Bethlehem in Judaea during the reign of King Herod, some wise men came to Jerusalem from the East. ‘Where is the infant king of the Jews?’ they asked. ‘We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage’…”.

Tradition has it that there were three wise men -after the 3 offerings mentioned in the Gospel- and names them as:

  • Melchior: who brings gold, representing wisdom and His royal standing as King of Kings;
  • Caspar: who brings frankincense, representing His Divine birth and worship as true God;
  • Balthazar: who brings myrrh, a funeral embalming ointment, representing morality and suffering, foretelling His Passion on the cross and the anointing when He was laid in the tomb.

Festivities for the ancient Christian feast day vary around the world, from swimming in icy waters (e.g. Bulgaria) to exchanging presents (e.g. Spain), special foods (e.g. Mexico) fireworks (e.g. Santo Domingo), parades and cavalcades (e.g. Gibraltar).

In many countries the day is a public holiday. As recently as the 1950’s, in Britain, the eve of the Epiphany or the ‘Twelfth Night’ was a night for wassailing. Wassailers, like carol singers, go from house to house singing and wishing their neighbours good health. The Drury Lane Theatre in London has had a tradition since 1795 of providing a Twelfth Night cake. The will of Robert Baddeley made a bequest of £100 to provide cake and punch every year for the company in residence at the theatre on 6 January. The tradition still continues.

Another tradition that remains to this day, is that the bones of the 3 Kings are located in Cologne Cathedral.

Originally situated in Constantinople, they were brought to Milan in an oxcart by St. Eustorgius I Bishop of Milan (from 343-49), to whom they were entrusted by the Emperor, Constantine. In 1164, the Holy Roman Emperor Fredrick I ‘Barbarossa’ donated the casket of the Magi, located at the church of Saint Eustorgius, to the Archbishop of Cologne, Rainald of Dassel in appreciation of his services on the Emperor’s Italian campaign. Two years previously, the Emperor, with the support of the Archbishop (who was also one of the most powerful princes of the Holy Roman Empire in Germany and Archchancellor of Italy) had taken Milan, which had risen up against Frederick, and seized the relics.

 Archbishop Rainald campaigned to make the relics, which had been virtually unknown in Milan, famous throughout Europe and indeed, the entire Christian world. Cologne Cathedral become one of the most significant places of pilgrimage in Europe. These relics quickly attained outstanding importance, not least among German royalty. On their way home after their coronations in Aachen, German kings would traditionally stop in Cologne to venerate the relics of the biblical Wise Men, who were revered in Medieval times as the first Christian kings. Der Dreikönigenschrein or ‘Shrine of the Three Kings’ have been a site of constant pilgrimage to Cologne ever since.

 

Bishop’s New Year Message

By | Christmas, News

“Good politics is at the service of peace” (Pope Francis)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

At the beginning of the year, we tend to look back at what big events there were in the last year which played a major part in our lives, and we look forward to a year which we pray will offer us security, health and peace.

One of the main topics which dominated the year we are leaving and which will continue to dominate this coming year is Brexit, with its uncertainties as things stand now and the dangers and consequences that might have to be faced. We are urged by St Paul to pray for “ all those in authority so that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Tim. 2:2). Let us pray for our political leaders that God may help them in their efforts to work for the common good.

There are other issues which we will be facing in the new year, which will have great influence on the kind of society we will be living in. While not everything is going to be perfect and there will be things about which we might complain, there is much to be grateful for and many blessings for which we should be thankful to God.

While we may have things to complain about, things that are not quite right and could be better, when compared with what many other people have in other parts of the world, we have so many blessings to be thankful for by comparison.

This year, on the 1st January, we celebrate the 52nd World Day of Peace. The Holy Father in his message for this year has emphasized the role of politicians and political life which helps in furthering peace in the world. The title of his message is: Good politics is at the service of peace.

In his message the Pope refers to the “Beatitudes of the Politician”, proposed by Vietnamese Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyễn Vãn Thuận.

Blessed be the politician with a lofty sense and deep understanding of his role.

Blessed be the politician who personally exemplifies credibility.

Blessed be the politician who works for the common good and not his or her own interest.

Blessed be the politician who remains consistent.

Blessed be the politician who works for unity.

Blessed be the politician who works to accomplish radical change.

Blessed be the politician who is capable of listening.

Blessed be the politician who is without fear.

Pope Francis also refers in his message to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which this year celebrates its seventieth anniversary. He writes:

In this context, let us also remember the observation of Pope John XXIII: “Man’s awareness of his rights must inevitably lead him to the recognition of his duties. The possession of rights involves the duty of implementing those rights, for they are the expression of a man’s personal dignity. And the possession of rights also involves their recognition and respect by others”.

The Pope continues that peace “entails a conversion of heart and soul; it is both interior and communal; and it has three inseparable aspects:

– peace with oneself, rejecting inflexibility, anger and impatience; in the words of Saint Francis de Sales, showing “a bit of sweetness towards oneself” in order to offer “a bit of sweetness to others”;

– peace with others: family members, friends, strangers, the poor and the suffering, being unafraid to encounter them and listen to what they have to say;

– peace with all creation, rediscovering the grandeur of God’s gift and our individual and shared responsibility as inhabitants of this world, citizens and builders of the future.

I pray that we may all help, in our own small way, to further peace around us.

I wish you all a very happy new year, full of God’s peace and blessing.

+Carmel Zammit
Bishop of Gibraltar
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Aid to the church in need

THE BISHOP’S CHARITY

Aid to the Church in Need

Is a charity helping Christians in persecution and suffering in various parts of the world, especially where there is conflict. This year the bishop has chosen ACN (Gibraltar) as the charity of choice for the Diocese.

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