The mayor was joined by Dr Marian Prinsley, the Sheriff of Norwich, and her husband, who are members of the Jewish community. She is well known to the Cathedral, as the synagogue is opposite and has good relations with the cathedral community.
Canon David Paul, the Dean of St John’s Cathedral, was present to host the civic leaders. Councillor Thomas and his wife Vivien are both practising Catholics and attend Mass regularly at the Cathedral.
The presence of the Mayor and Sheriff at St John’s Cathedral this year was a way of recognising the contribution that the Catholic Community makes to the common good in Norfolk and across the whole of East Anglia.
At the start of Mass, Bishop Alan said: “I would like to express the sadness of the Catholic community in Norwich that one of the synagogues in the city has been targeted with anti-semitic graffiti. Please be assured that we stand in solidarity with you against such attacks and of our prayers for all the Jewish community at this time.”
In his homily, Bishop Alan spoke of the love which unites a community, and which has to be at the heart of all who are called to serve in civic and public life.
The Bishop emphasised that this same unity was essential to the Church, since it was “not just a group of individuals who have come to faith” but “a community of believers united by the teaching of the Apostles, the celebration of the Eucharist and prayer”.
“The love at the heart of the Church is always to be shared,” he said. “It must always lead to fruitful action”. Christ’s love “was not limited to people he liked; he never discriminated between people; His love was never poisoned by the wrongs of others.”
Turning to those who serve in civic life, the Bishop continued: “This love must be at the heart of any vision they have for a society where the needs and rights of people are respected.” Civic leaders, he said, “must seek the Common Good of communities with a special regard for the poorest and most dispossessed members”.
Speaking directly to the Mayor and Sheriff, he concluded: “As you and your fellow councillors go about your important work, please be assured of the gratitude, prayers and support of the Catholic people”.
Pictured above are Bishop Alan and Canon David Paul, with the Mayor and Sheriff of Norwich and their consorts. Below are Dr Marian Prinsley and Councillor Vaughan Thomas.