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WWI London requiem Mass, Ireland also unites solemnly

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster offered a Requiem Mass for the fallen of the First World War yesterday, the centenary of the United Kingdom’s entry into the war.

The Mass at Westminster Cathedral was just one of a number of commemoration events taking place around the United Kingdom yesterday, including a special service at Glasgow Cathedral attended by Prince Charles, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, First Minister Alex Salmond and Commonwealth heads of government.

Cardinal Nichols, speaking at Westminster Cathedral, said that the horror of the First World War remained hard to understand 100 years on.

“No one could have imagined that in the following four years, over ten million soldiers would have been killed as well as many millions of civilians,” he preached. “It is for them all that we pray this evening, in this Requiem Mass. We include in our prayers the two million German soldiers who died. We give special place to the million soldiers who lost their lives in the ranks of the British forces. Among those ranks were Australians, Canadians, South Africans, New Zealanders and Indians, not forgetting the numbers of Irish men who volunteered to fight, too.”

The cardinal said that on Monday evening all those present ‘saluted their sacrifice.’

“We commemorate their heroism, their loyalty, their bravery often in utterly impossible circumstances of horror and helplessness,” he said. “And, in our Catholic tradition, we pray for them. We pray for the repose of their souls in the peaceful presence of God and we pray for the coming of that final resurrection when they will rise again, from every horrendous grave, to live forever in the glorious presence of God. This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it, especially on this solemn day.”

In Dublin on Monday Irish President Michael D Higgins described a national sorrow that Irish soldiers who fought in the First World War and their families were shunned for decades in their home country. Unveiling the first Cross of Sacrifice ever erected in the Republic to servicemen and women killed in both World Wars in Glasnevin Cemetery, Mr Higgins said the disrespect could not be undone although they are honoured now.

At a Mass the day before at St Mary’s Pro-cathedral in Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said the Irish men who died in the First World War should be remembered as having ‘fought with great courage in the defence of an ideal.’


—Read the full version of this story in August 8 edition of the SCO in parishes from Friday.


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