Reach out to God, says Archbishop of Westminster

Image caption,
The speech was delivered at midnight mass at Westminster Cathedral

The Archbishop of Westminster has urged people struggling with faith to "reach out" to the extended hand of God in his Christmas Eve speech.

The Most Rev Vincent Nichols referred to Joseph's nativity-scene struggle to believe Mary's child is the son of God.

He also reflected on Pope Benedict's visit to Britain, saying it restored the confidence of Catholics.

His address comes after Pope Benedict spoke on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme's Thought for the Day slot.

At Westminster Cathedral's midnight mass, the most senior Roman Catholic in England and Wales said: "This holy night is as important as ever. On this night there will be many sharing Joseph's struggle for faith.

"May they, too, reach out and accept the outstretched hand of God coming to us in the child so as to be close to us in our vulnerability."

'Gift to be discovered'

Referring to the Pope's visit he said: "The marvellous scenes during the apostolic visit of Pope Benedict in September suggested that faith in God is like an underground stream.

"Largely invisible, the stream nurtures so much fertile growth on a rocky landscape, and only every now and then, burst out in a glorious and reassuring sight.

"The visit strengthened our faith and restored so much of our confidence.

"Indeed, faith in God is not a problem to be solved but a gift to be discovered afresh, and a gift which serves the deepest good of our society."

Pope Benedict's Christmas message was broadcast on Radio 4 on 24 December.

He said he prayed for the sick and elderly and "those who are going through any form of hardship".

In his message, he recalled his recent UK visit with "great fondness" and said he was glad to greet listeners again.

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