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Bishop James Jones accepts his Honorary Degree from Professor Sir Howard Newby, as Archbishop Emeritus Patrick Kelly awaits
Former Bishop of Liverpool and Hillsborough Independent Panel Chair, James Jones urged graduands to leave “footprints of faith and justice” as he accepted his Honorary Degree yesterday.
The man who played such a major role lifting the shadow of untruth surrounding the tragedy that took place in Sheffield in 1989, spoke movingly as he accepted his Doctorate of Laws from University of Liverpool Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Howard Newby.
Bishop Jones shared the stage with Catholic counterpart, Archbishop Emeritus Patrick Kelly, who spoke of the influence of Canadian Jesuit priest, philosopher, and theologian, Bernard Lonergan and encouraged those assembled to be “intelligent”, “rational” and “responsible” as they go forward with their lives.
The UK’s most senior female judge, The Right Honourable The Baroness Hale of Richmond, received a Doctor of Laws
The two Honorary Graduates – Baroness Hale received her award earlier in the day – were introduced by University Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Kelvin Everest.
Professor Everest recalled the good work of their predecessors, David Sheppard and Derek Worlock, which they had “succeeded beyond measure in sustaining”.
He referred to Patrick Kelly’s “strong sense of social responsibility” and “unmistakably profound inner conviction”, and praised the work the two had achieved together as Liverpool emerged from industrial decline.
Calling both “men of God and the people”, Professor Everest then recounted James Jones journey from teacher to broadcaster to Bishop of Liverpool, before the publication last year of the “report that transformed public understanding of the Hillsborough tragedy, and its aftermath”.
The Philharmonic Hall was packed with graduands, their families and friends
Accepting his Doctorate, James Jones spoke of Nelson Mandela’s death last week. He connected the South African’s struggle with the struggle of William Wilberforce in Liverpool 200 years earlier, as he sought abolition of the slave trade.
Bishop Jones said: “That passion for justice never deserted the streets of Liverpool or the hearts of its people and is manifest in the struggle by the families and survivors of Hillsborough.”
Speaking directly to the assembled graduands, he added: “I hope that faith and justice will be the footprints you leave in your wake. Don’t think that is only for giants, the wellbeing of all depends on the humble as well as the mighty.”
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