...is the theme of this year's Schools RE Project run by the Association of Catholic Women. And hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of entries are now pouring in from children at Catholic schools across Britain. We have teams of judges and the essays all have to be delivered to them. Yesterday I arrived home to find a crate and two huge boxes on my doorstep, and an anxious email informing me that a great many more essays would arrive tomorrow. Today, with some difficulty, I took a great case to the Chairman's house in London where there is more space than here at Bogle Towers...every single essay is being read, and the winners and runners-up will get prizes donated by the Catholic Truth Society, plus trophies. A number of Certificates of Merit will also be awarded. It is all a marathon task.
The children were asked to find out about the Papacy. Who was the first Pope? Who appointed him ? What is the name of the present Pope, and what is his task? Why is he called the "Servant of the Servants of God"? They were also invited to write a prayer for the Pope. These tend to reveal local loyalties. "Dear God, please look after Pope Bennidict when he comes to England. I hope he comes to Manchester". "Dear God, help the Pope in his work when he comes to Scotland to see us. He is meeting the Queen first."
Of course some children have just downloaded material from the Internet ("The 2005 conclave elected Joseph Ratzinger following the traditional procedures...") but others have written lengthy essays giving their own thoughts. "Pope Benedict is proberly very bisy getting redy to come to England". Some have written letters to the Pope, one adding a sad note saying she hadn't had a reply (and I think it is feeble of the Vatican not to have some volunteers to deal with such letters - couldn't something be organised?) One said that if the Holy Father had time, he'd be most welcome at her house and her Gran would give him a nice tea.