This afternoon there is a Service of Reflection and Remembrance on the Anniversary of Hillsborough at 2.45pm. In preparation for this the Archive Department in our Cathedral had a small display of documents and news items from the aftermath of Hillsborough in 1989, on show for visitors to the Cathedral to read.
One of the items that attracted my attention was the text from Archbishop Worlock’s homily which he preached at the Mass at the Cathedral the day after the tragedy. Both he and the Anglican Bishop of Warrington had spent most of that day (16th April 1989) in Sheffield visiting the injured in hospital and talking to the families and then he was back in Liverpool to preside at a Mass in the evening which was attended by many thousands from across Merseyside.
I would like to quote some paragraphs from the Archbishop’s homily which offered people great comfort that night and contains a profound message of faith in spite of tragedy and loss which is as relevant today as it was then.
“Faced with such overwhelming tragedy, with so many deaths, most of them young people who were part of Liverpool’s hope and pride, all I can say in consolation is ‘They are with God’: safe with our God who loves each of them more than we ever could.
That is probably the most definite answer that can be given to any of the many questions being asked at this time. How did it happen? Who did what, or who didn’t as the case may be? Clearly there will have to be enquiries, questions to be asked and answered; but not tonight.
We have come to pray, to mourn, to offer sympathy and to prepare ourselves as a city to help and care for the bereaved and the injured; to be as it were, a civic family towards those whose family circle has been broken by this latest in Liverpool’s long list of human tragedies. At a time like this there are no easy answers. But Liverpool is a place of great faith. Against such seemingly meaningless catastrophe, we shall need that faith, but the faith of our people will not fail because God will not fail us.
After offering sympathy to the bereaved, the Archbishop continued by describing some of his experiences that day visiting those in hospital and then he finished with these words.
Life goes on. Liverpool must go on. It’s proud people pause tonight to let the tears flow a little, to pray for the dead and all who mourn them, to pray for the injured and all who care for them, and to suffuse our sorrow with our faith. May God grant eternal rest to those of our people whom he yielded up to him at Hillsborough yesterday and may he sustain all of us who grieve for their passing.”