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THE CATHOLIC HERALD JUNE 10 2011

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Archbishop ordains priests for ordinariate

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

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF THE PERSONAL ORDINARIATE OF OUR LADY OF WALSINGHAM

BY MARK GREAVES

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

BY DAVID V BARRETT

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

BY SARAH DELANEY

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”.