On the passing of Pope Benedict, Birmingham’s Sikh community pays condolences and remembers a rich legacy and loving relationship between two major faiths

As the world’s gaze and an estimated 100,000 Catholics descend on St Peter’s Square for the funeral of the former Pope Benedict XVI, the Sikh community of Birmingham pays condolences and fondly remembers the relationship with the Catholic Church.

It is with heavy heart the world bears witness to the passing of Pope Benedict XVI, who created history by being the first Pope to resign in nearly 600 years and, now in death, becomes the first former pontiff in the modern history of the Catholic Church to be buried by an incumbent Pope. As thousands went to pay their respects, Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh OBE KSG, Spiritual Leader of Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ) and Patron of the Nishkam Civic Association was amongst the many distinguished guests at the funeral to pay his respects personally.

Photo caption: Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh in attendance at Pope Benedict’s funeral

The relationship between Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh with Pope Benedict XVI was special, historic and will be remembered fondly for many years to come. In April 2012, history was made in the Catholic Church, with the blessings of Pope Benedict XVI, during a special Mass and Investiture at Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica of St Chad, Birmingham, of Bhai Sahib Bhai Dr Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia and Mr William Ozanne, as Knights of the Pontifical Order of Pope St Gregory the Great. The Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, invested Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh with one of the highest Papal Awards.

Photo caption: Investiture of Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh and Mr William Ozanne as Knights of the Pontifical Order of Pope St Gregory the Great

The Order of St Gregory is normally bestowed on Catholics but in rare cases it is also conferred on non-Catholics in recognition of meritorious service to the Catholic Church and the exceptional example they have set in their communities and country.

Photo caption: Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh with HisHoliness Late Pope John Paul II

The esteemed and respected relationship between GNNSJ and the Pontiff goes back over two decades when the first audience with The Holy See took place during the Christian ‘Year of Jubilation’ in May 2000. This meeting was arranged through the gracious assistance of William Ozanne KSG (Birmingham Archdiocesan Commission for Interreligious Dialogue).  Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh along with nine members of GNNSJ and one Greek Orthodox Christian, had a historic audience with His Holiness Pope John Paul II.

That was the beginning of a long fruitful relationship and friendship that has been passed down over the last two decades. It has also led to a series of productive dialogues to tackle contemporary issues in society. Through the sharing of knowledge, experience, information and faith wisdom progress has been made to create models of engagement for the betterment of society.

The first audience with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI was when Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh attended the Basilica with ten other members of GNNSJ in Sept 2006. This was again graciously facilitated by William Ozanne.

Photo caption: Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh and Bill Ozanne meet with Pope Benedict Sept 2006

Following the resignation of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh was privileged to be part of an international delegation invited to the Papal inauguration of Pope Francis held in March 2013 in St Peter’s Square. 

As we bid farewell to Pope Benedict XVI, we offer prayers and warmest wishes to the departed soul with its onward journey to the Heavenly adobe. We also offer heartfelt condolences to the Catholic community and all those grieving at this moment of loss. We encourage all to pray for the continued strengthening of relationships and collaboration across all faith communities and denominations. As people of faith we must provide exemplar conduct to assist humanity during the challenging times the world faces.

Photo caption: In 2013 an international delegation was invited to attend the Papal inauguration of Pope Francis


Notes to Editors:

For more information:

Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh receiving the Papal Knighthood – https://nishkammediacentre.com/a-historic-moment-in-sikh-history-bhai-sahib-mohinder-singh-ji-to-be-created-a-knight-by-the-holy-father-pope-benedict-xvi/

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