Sunday, 7 February 2016

Unexpected judgement

Yesterday was wet and windy all day and into the night. In the afternoon we went over to Bristol to visit Amanda and James for a few hours, and watched the final episode of 'Young Montalbano' in the evening. As ever it was beautifully crafted with fine acting and a teasingly complex story to keep track of. It was also very moving, as our hero sets about leaving his beloved Sicily to live in Genova with Livia, his lovely bride to be. It's such a struggle for him to let go of his work and his partners in solving crime. Sicily and its people substitute for the birth mother he lost in childhood. 

Then, just as he is about to leave, anti-Mafia prosecuting magistrate Giovanni Falconi is assassinated on his way from Palermo airport. It was a real watershed event for Sicily and all Italians, in real life, back in 1992, and the impact of this was well portrayed as Montalbano found himself driving around empty streets in fictional Vigata, empty because everyone was indoors glued to TV newscasts, just as the whole world was, during the 11th September attacks in 2001. It awakened memories for me of that hot afternoon in our Monte Carlo parsonage, when I idly switched on the news and couldn't tear myself away for hours. The story ends with Montalbano phoning Livia, and here say, despite herself, "You must stay." How often events external to our lives act to change our destinies, in fact as well as fiction.

The sun pushed its way through the clouds this morning, quite appropriate for Transfiguration Sunday in the Church in Wales Calendar. Before Mass began at St German's, Hamid told us his asylum appeal had been refused. He seemed less concerned about this than we did. Being forced to go home carries all sorts of risks to his safety, now he can be identified as a convert, but he'd get to see his wife and sons again after five years, despite this. 

After the service he showed us a lengthy document explaining the judgement issued. It contained factual errors, and some expressions of the judge's opinion, which to my mind, revealed an insufficient knowledge of evangelisation as an enterprise all Christians are involved in, not just authorised church representatives. Hamid's journey into Christian faith, was shaped by a number of encounters with lay people, some of them sustained. They helped him understand the message of the bible, and commit himself. This has been discounted, as justification for his conversion. He is officially regarded as insubstantial, insincere and unreliable in his motives for seeking asylum. 

I'm far from happy about this, though whether any of the deficiencies in the opinion expressed contradict points of law is not for me to judge. There will be a further appeal, I believe, and I will do whatever I can to ensure the process is better informed. 

The rain returned after lunch, making the prospect of a walk uncongenial, so I continued working on my preparations for this year's daily Lent blog on prayer, which will go live with in introduction on Shrove Tuesday.

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