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Pope makes Benedictine abbot Bishop of Aberdeen


DOM HUGH GILBERT has been appointed as the new Bishop of Aberdeen, it has been announced.

Pope Benedict XVI has chosen the 59-year-old Abbot of Pluscarden Abbey in Moray to succeed Bishop Peter Moran later in the summer.

Born in Hampshire, the bishopelect attended St Paul’s School in London and read history at King’s College, University of London, where he gained a first class degree. Baptised in the Church of England, he converted to Catholicism at the age of 18. He entered the Benedictine monastery of Pluscarden Abbey in 1974 and was elected abbot in 1992.

Originally Edward Gilbert, he received the name Hugh when he entered Pluscarden. He has held several positions in the monastery as well as serving as a member of the Union of Monastic Superiors and on the Abbot Visitor’s Council for the Subiaco Congregation of monasteries.

He said: “The Holy Father, Benedict XVI, has nominated me to succeed Bishop Peter Moran as Bishop of Aberdeen. As a Catholic Christian and Benedictine monk, I accept this as the call of Christ, and, trusting in the help of God and the saints, intend to give myself wholeheartedly, like my predecessors, to the lay people, religious, priests and deacons of this beautiful diocese. I have much to learn, and it will not be easy to leave my monastery after 37 years. But I do so knowing that I am not going among strangers. I commend myself to the kind hearts and prayers of all whom I am called to serve. Together in Christ may we shine with the light of his Resurrection!”

Bishop Moran resigned on age grounds, having reached 76.

He welcomed the appointment of his successor. “After my nine years at the helm of Aberdeen diocese, seven of them as bishop, I am happy that the Holy Father has named abbot Hugh Gilbert to take over as my successor,” he said. “He is, of course, well known in the diocese to clergy and laity alike. During his 19 years as Abbot, Pluscarden Abbey has continued to be the serene spiritual heart of this diocese.”

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, said: “I am delighted to welcome Abbot Hugh Gilbert, Abbot of Pluscarden Abbey, as the new Bishop of Aberdeen – and, consequently, as a member of the Bishops’

Conference of Scotland. The name and the reputation of Abbot Hugh are wellknown outside the confines of his monastery. His spirituality and his writings have inspired many throughout Scotland and indeed in other parts of the world. May God indeed bless him at this present time, as we say a very sincere thanks to his immediate predecessor, Bishop Peter Moran, who has fulfilled his apostolate as Bishop of Aberdeen and a member of our bishops’ conference, in an exemplary manner.”

Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow said that as a native of diocese he was “delighted”.

He said: “The abbot is well-known to me. I had the joy of ordaining him priest almost 30 years ago and later of blessing him as Abbot of Pluscarden. If it can be said that Abbot Hugh’s appointment is a loss to the abbey, there is great gain for the diocese of Aberdeen and the wider Catholic community of Scotland in

Dom Hugh Gilbert said he accepts the wish of Pope Benedict XVI for him to be bishop as ‘the call of Christ’

his being named bishop. The news will be particularly welcomed in Aberdeen diocese, where Pluscarden has warm links with every part of the territory and is recognised as a thriving centre of spirituality, monastic practice and culture in the north of Scotland. Abbot Hugh has played a key role in the success story that is Pluscarden over the last few decades, a period which has seen it expand its influence far and wide.

“Bishop Peter’s wise and warm leadership mean that Abbot Hugh will inherit a diocese in fine heart.”

Dom Hugh Gilbert was at one point rumoured to have been the favourite to replace Cormac Murphy-O’Connor as Archbishop of Westminster. Under his leadership the number of monks at Pluscarden has risen to 27, during a time of vocational crisis, and he has praised for keeping faithful to the monastic tradition. He is also the author of two books on the monastic life.

He will be ordained bishop in St Mary’s Cathedral on August 15.

Delegates from around 70 nations are pictured in Dublin last weekend

Photo: John McElroy

Eucharistic Congress offers hope to wounded Irish Church


IRELAND is no longer “a bastion of traditional Catholicism” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has said, but there are “signs of hope”.

Archbishop Martin was speaking at the launch of preparations for the 2012 International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin next June, which he called a “vital element in the reform agenda of the Irish Church”.

Addressing delegates from around 70 countries he spoke of the “difficult situation in which the Church in Ireland finds itself”.

He said: “Many outside of Ireland still believe that Ireland is a bastion of traditional Catholicism. They are surprised to discover that there are parishes in Dublin where the presence at Sunday Mass is some five per cent of the Catholic population and, in some cases, even below two per cent. On any Sunday about 18 per cent of the Catholic population in the Archdiocese of Dublin attends Mass.”

The archbishop acknowledged that Dublin Mass attendance is considerably lower than in any other part of Ireland, but said that for the second time since he became archbishop in 2004 there would be no priestly ordinations this year “and the coming years indicate only a tiny trickle of new vocations”.

He spoke of a rift “growing between the Church and young people” in Ireland.

“From a relatively early age [youth] drift away from any regular contact with the Church and especially from Sunday Mass,” he said. “Now, it is true Sunday Mass attendance is not the only statistic which indicates an affiliation with the Church and with the mission of Jesus Christ.

“But it is hardly possible to remain truly a Christian if one has no contact over years with the Eucharist. This is why the Eucharistic Congress can offer an important contribution in the path of renewal.”

He said that many of Ireland’s pastoral structures and strategies are no longer fit for purpose.

“They presume that the country is driven by a culture of mass Catholicism while this can no longer be presumed,” he said.

“What has happened and is happening in Ireland is painful. I am not just talking about the horrors of abuse. I am talking about our failure in passing on the faith to the coming generation.”

But despite all these problems the archbishop remained optimistic. “The process of renewal may be slow but there are signs of hope,” he said.

The theme for next year’s International Eucharistic Congress is “The Eucharist: Communion With Christ and With One Another”.

Fr Kevin Doran, secretary-general of the Congress, said he expected around 25,000 people to participate in the catechesis and workshops and 80,000 to participate in the concluding Mass.

CTS stands firm over cost of new Missal to sellers Labour MP claims that forum role for Life is ‘chilling’


THE Catholic Truth Society has defended its pricing of the new translation of the Roman Missal after booksellers protested at what they said were restrictive trade terms.

Thirteen Christian booksellers, including Pauline Books and St Paul’s Bookshop in London, wrote to Southwark Auxiliary Bishop Paul Hendricks, chairman of the CTS, and Fergal Martin, the General Secretary, to say they were “up in arms” about the conditions.

They were angry that new Missal will be made available at a “non-negotiable” 10 per cent trade discount, “terms that completely undermine any viability for bookshops hoping to carry the books” and “deny them the possibility of supplying church and school customers at a discount”.

They claimed that the CTS had given itself an effective monopoly on sales, benefiting from being chosen as the Missal’s publishers.

Mr Martin replied by telling the booksellers that such practice was not unusual for specialist books, where the profit margins were small, and that “the two Ritual Editions of the Roman Missal (that is the Altar and Chapel editions) carry very high production and design specifications – possibly, we believe, the most highly specified edition of this Missal in the world – and are expensive to produce”. “Our approach to this project has always been to meet the requirements of beauty, quality, dignity and durability together with affordability. Thus while aiming at high production and design quality, we have felt a strong obligation to reduce the margins as far as possible in order to keep the volumes affordable for customers and final users, the vast majority of whom are priests using parish funds, as well as convents, monasteries and schools, mostly all of whom have to operate within limited resources.”

Because these books would be used to celebrate the Liturgy for the next generation, “we have endeavoured to produce beautiful volumes of high quality and beauty, using noble materials but keeping them affordable for even the smallest parish”.

But Stephen Moseling of St Paul’s Bookshop in London said: “It doesn’t satisfy us. The signatories replied individually and as far as I am aware none of us have heard any further. Most of us took the line that the answer is inadequate, with no offer to discuss it or enter into negotiation. Highcost production books do often incur limited discounts but we are of a common mind that there is room for manoeuvre. They are offering parishes direct bigger discounts than the 10 per cent they are able to offer bookshops.”


LABOUR MP Diane Abbott has described the appointment of the charity Life to the government’s new sexual health advisory forum as “chilling news”.

Miss Abbott, Shadow Minister for Public Health, is spearheading a “fightback” against recent cross-party attempts by MPs including Conservative MP Nadine Dorries and former Labour Minister Frank Field to tighten abortion legislation.

“We cannot allow Nadine Dorries and some of the antiabortion groups currently advising the Government to turn the clock back for millions of women,” said Miss Abbott.

“Mainstream medical opinion is united in its agreement that, when carried out in a legal setting where sterile facilities are available, abortion is a safe procedure carrying a low risk of complications.

“And we must not underestimate the chilling news that the Government has appointed anti-abortion group Life to their expert advisory group on sexual health. This appointment, coupled with the retraction of an invitation to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, one of the UK’s leading abortion providers, signals a dangerous move.”

She added: “Increasingly, people up and down the country are looking to take a stand against what they see as an attempt to chip away at abortion access for women in England, Scotland and Wales.”

But Mrs Dorries said: “I cannot understand the opposition to all voices being heard around the table. We now have a balance. To call this chilling is chilling itself.”

She said that labelling her as anti-abortion was “a deliberate misrepresentation” by her opponents. “I am anti-late-term abortion. I’m realistic enough to know that abortion is here and it’s here to stay,” she said.

At a meeting on Monday Miss Abbott spoke of Life’s appointment to the Government forum, and Mrs Dorries’s and Education Secretary Michael Gove’s calls for the promotion of abstinence in sex education.

“These emotive anti-choice moves are a far cry from the Labour Government’s approach which was based on solid evidence and gave women and men choice over their reproductive and sexual lives,” she claimed.

The appointment of Life to the Sexual Health Forum has been described as a “tipping point” for abortion campaigners. A rally in London is planned for July 9.

Joanne Hill of Life said: “Why would anyone be offended by the inclusion of one organisation with divergent views which exists to support women in crisis pregnancy and after abortion? It is quite staggering.”

NEWSBULLETIN Catholic primary schools are among best in Wales CATHOLIC primary schools continue to be among the best in Wales, according to a new Catholic Education Service for England and Wales publication.

Data in The Distinctive Contribution of Catholic Schools in Wales showed that, according to Estyn inspections, a higher proportion of Catholic primary schools were rated good or better on three of the seven key questions and almost identical proportions for the other four. Pupils in Catholic primary schools were highly motivated and behaved well, showing respect for others. The quality of care, support and guidance was also very high.

Catholic secondary schools scored as well as the national average.

Push to stop child sexualisation THE PRIME MINISTER has welcomed a report aiming to reduce the early sexualisation of children.

The independent report by Reg Bailey, chief executive of the Christian organisation the Mothers’ Union, recommends tightening up the television watershed, age-appropriate ratings for music videos, discouraging billboards with sexual content near to schools and encouraging newsagents to sell lads’ mags in brown sleeves.

The report, published on Monday, also criticised clothes shops that stock inappropriate clothing for pre-teens, such as padded bras and T-shirts with suggestive slogans.

“Society has become increasingly full of sexualised imagery,” said Mr Bailey. “This has created a wallpaper to children’s lives. Parents feel there is no escape and no clear space where children can be children.”

In an open letter David Cameron thanked Mr Bailey for his report.

Poll: BBC is ʻanti-Christianʼ THE BBC is anti-Christian, according to a survey of its own viewers.

The survey, carried out by the BBC itself as part of its “Diversity Strategy”, found that Christians were portrayed with “derogatory stereotypes” and presented as “weak” and “bigoted”.

Viewers also expressed concerns over “tokenism” and “box-ticking” and attempts to “manipulate” an equal society instead of reflecting reality.

New phase for Catholic Voices CATHOLIC VOICES, the group of speakers on the faith available to the media during the visit of Pope Benedict last year, is to move into a second phase this autumn.

A new group of speakers aged 25-45 will learn media skills in a training programme in Leeds over three weekends in October, November and December. A Catholic Voices Academy will also be established.

Christian Brothers: a correction IN OUR report, “Christian Brothers fear for the future” (May 13), about the Irish Christian Brothers, we mistakenly carried a picture of a De La Salle Christian Brother. We apologise for the error.











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Archbishop ordains priests for ordinariate

Wave of 50 ordinations over two weeks begins as seven priests are ordained in Southwark



SEVEN priests have been ordained for the ordinariate in Southwark, the first of more than 50 ordinations expected over the course of two weeks.

The seven men – the largest priestly group in all the dioceses in Britain – were ordained by Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark at St George’s Cathedral on Saturday.

The priests had been received into the Catholic Church along with their flock during Holy Week and will continue to study at Allen Hall seminary in west London for some time.

But they do not yet know where their parishes will be based and some of them have not yet been provided with a permanent place to live.

They join Mgr John Broadhurst, Mgr Andrew Burnham and Mgr Keith Newton, the ordinary, as priests of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Along with 50 or so other priests, they will be ministering to about 1,000 members of the ordinariate.

Their ordinations came as an Episcopalian parish in Bladensburg, near Washington DC, announced its intention to join an ordinariate in the US when it is established. It is the only Anglican parish in America to have made such a declaration.

In Southwark, meanwhile, Archbishop Smith told the new priests that their journey into the Catholic Church had cost them “a great deal”. “But you know well, that like all disciples, you have been called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ – and that is the way of Calvary, the way of the Cross,” he said.

Archbishop Smith urged them never to forget that Christ had chosen them for the priesthood. “It is an awesome responsibility that Christ gives you,” he said.

“But you bring with you all the gifts and talents God has given you, and the years of experience of your pastoral ministry in the Church of England.”

At the heart of ministry, he said, should be “prayerful meditation and reflection on God’s word”.

“Never ever forget, either, that it is God’s word you are called to preach, not your own,” the archbishop said. “In that way you will be a model and example to others of the importance and centrality of the word of God in your lives.”

He also urged them to remember always that they were dependent, “as we all are, on the grace of God”. He said: “It is Christ’s way that you are called to follow... It is God’s Church you are called to serve, not your own selfinterest.”

Archbishop Smith promised them the support of the archdiocese, concluding: “I pray that your example and way of life as shepherds of the flock will bring those you

The seven newly ordained priests are pictured with, from left to right in the centre, Deacon James Bradley, Archbishop Peter Smith and Mgr Keith Newton serve closer to Christ and to a deeper holiness of life.”

Five of the seven priests are based in Kent, while two are in south London. They are Fr Ivan Aquilina, based in Sevenoaks, Fr Stephen Bould, in Folkestone, Fr Simon Heans, Beckenham, south-east London, Fr

Nicholas Leviseur and Fr Edward Tomlinson, Tunbridge Wells, Fr Christopher Lindlar, Deal, and Fr Christopher Pearson, Kennington, south London.

Fr Christopher Lindlar said the ordination Mass was “wonderful” and “a great blessing”. “It felt, to use a cliché, like coming home,” he said. He added that he felt a “profound gratitude” to the Holy Father, the wider Church and the bishops of England and Wales. He also said he had “a sense of hope that this really is a movement of the [Holy] Spirit that is part of the New Evangelisation,

something close to many people’s hearts”.

Fr Aquilina, who grew up in Malta, celebrated his first Mass at Ascension on Sunday. Mgr Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s chief investigator into sex abuse cases and a Maltese national, delivered the homily.

He said to Fr Aquilina “our hearts are filled with joy because the Lord has looked upon you with great favour in constituting you a priest of the Catholic Church”. He urged him to follow the example of holy priests who had “rendered the face of the Church beautiful”. Fr

Aquilina said he did not “have words” to describe the weekend. He said: “I’ve been on cloud nine, being caught up in something so great – one feels so unworthy. Such a grace: that is the only thought I have at the moment.” Editorial Comment: Page 13

Church considers challenging school bus cuts in court


THE ONGOING dispute over councils cutting funding for school buses to church schools may end up in court as a human rights issue, after the Catholic Education Service in England and Wales said it was taking legal advice on challenging the cuts on the grounds of discrimination.

Over recent months a number of local authorities have reduced the discretionary subsidies for children in school schools, meaning the annual school transport bill for Catholic parents could rise by hundreds of pounds.

In Redditch, Worcestershire, Yvonne Brennan, head teacher at St Augustine’s Catholic High School, said the cutting of subsidies posed a challenge to the future existence of Catholic schools.

She said the local council’s report “fails to reflect our depth of feeling regarding [their] challenge to our existence as Catholic schools and the very real concerns over safeguarding children”.

In the light of parents’ concern over the financial difficulties they would face Redditch councillors backed down from their original proposal to scrap the subsidies altogether, deciding to phase in the cuts over the next five years.

In Cheshire, where the increased charges in the coming school year will be followed by complete abolition of subsidised transport in 2012, over 29,000 children will be affected in 90 Catholic schools, a third of the 268 schools in the county.

Headteachers have expressed concern that some parents, unable to afford the rise from £299 to £385 for each child, may have to send their children to non-church schools nearer to their homes instead of to the Catholic schools of their choice.

They claim that this will have a knock-on effect on other schools.

“If we are not able to allocate places to our traditional cohort of Catholic students from our [local] primary schools... more places will become available locally and this will mean other local schools will have more surplus places,” said Tony Billings, head of All Hallows Catholic College, Macclesfield.

The increased charges would have a dramatic impact on the nature of admissions to Catholic secondary schools, making it harder for Catholic pupils to attain places at Catholic schools. Catholic schools would not be able to allocate places to all Catholic pupils –

whom they were established to serve – as many pupils would be unable to afford the journey. Catholic pupils from poorer backgrounds are likely to be worst affected.

Edward McHugh, head of St Thomas More Catholic High School, Crewe, said: “This does not help social mobility and discriminates against those who are least well off.”

The Catholic Education Service in England and Wales (CESEW) has taken the unusual step of taking legal advice to see if the councils’ actions could be challenged under human rights legislation.

“CESEW has become increasingly concerned at the action of local authorities with regard to the reduction or removal of discretionary home to school transport. In some cases, the removal of buses in an area has meant there is no possible way of pupils reaching a Catholic school,” a spokeswoman for the CESEW said.

“In light of our concerns our legal adviser, Christine Fischer, is preparing instructions for Counsel so that we can seek further expert opinion on this issue and explore whether these decisions are in line with human rights and anti-discrimination law.”

Maeve McCormack, policy and briefing manager for CESEW, said that the possibility of a legal challenge was “still very much in its early stages”.

She said the CESEW was very aware that this was a growing problem around the country, and that the nature of the cuts varied from local authority to local authority.

“It’s genuinely a national issue, but it’s changing so quickly that getting any sort of national picture is difficult,” she said, adding that “Catholic schools tend to serve a wider area than non-faith schools”, and so are more likely to be adversely affected by the cuts.

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Visitation of Ireland enters its second phase


VATICAN representatives have completed the first phase of an investigation of major Catholic institutions in Ireland ordered by Pope Benedict XVI to examine the response of Irish Church authorities to the clerical sex abuse scandal.

A statement from the Vatican said that apostolic visitators to four metropolitan dioceses, as well as seminaries and religious institutes, had turned over their reports to the relevant Vatican agencies. In the coming months, the statement said, bishops and leaders of religious orders will receive notices on what they should be doing for the spiritual renewal of the Irish Church.

The visitation was announced by Pope Benedict in March 2010 in a pastoral letter to Irish Catholics after an independent report showed widespread and historic abuse of minors by Church figures. The report accused Church authorities of covering up and enabling a “culture of secrecy” regarding the problem.

The visitation began in November and continued through the spring of 2011. The Vatican said that no further visitations to dioceses and seminaries were planned but that there may be additional visits to some religious communities.

It also said that by early 2012 the Vatican would publish a synthesis of the results of the visitation, as well as future prospects “with a view to the nationwide mission” announced by the Pope in his letter.

In that letter, the Pope specifically said the shame and betrayal justly felt by Irish Catholics was not only about sex abuse of minors by priests but also at “the way Church authorities in Ireland dealt with them”. The bishops’ response was “often inadequate”, and involved “serious mistakes”, he said.

He called for a number of measures that mostly dealt with repentance and the spiritual renewal of the Church in Ireland.

The visitations had examined specifically whether current procedures put in place to avoid future incidents of abuse and to deal with accusations were effect ive and whether victims were receiving the assistance the Church had promised.

The announcement came just days after Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin expressed frustration with the Vatican for delaying the release of the findings of the report. He said that he was “impatient to learn about the path that the apostolic visitation will set out for renewal for the Irish Church so that our renewal will move forward decisively”.