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AUGUST 12 2011 THE CATHOLIC HERALD
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Nurses use equality laws to defend pro-life views
BY SIMON CALDWELL
A HOSPITAL has backed down from trying to force a pair of Catholic nurses to participate in abortions after their lawyer invoked equality laws against the NHS.
The case represents the first time that the Equality Act 2010 has been successfully used to defend a prolife position as a “philosophical belief” protected by law.
The nurses, both Filipinos who do not wish to be identified, objected when they were placed on duty at a weekly abortion clinic at a busy central London hospital.
They were asked to look after women admitted to the hospital to take two courses of pills – mifepristone and misoprostol – to induce miscarriages in the first trimester of pregnancy.
They complained to their hospital chaplain who referred them to the Thomas More Legal Centre, which specialises in religious discrimination law.
The hospital was informed in a letter from the centre director Neil Addison that Section Four of the 1967 Abortion Act gave the nurses a right to conscientious objection to involvement in the procedure.
But Mr Addison also stated that their belief in the sanctity of life from conception onwards was a philosophical belief protected under the Equality Act.
He told the hospital that any attempt to pressure them into participating in the abortion clinic or to suggest that their refusal would affect their career would be illegal under the Equality Act.
The hospital did not contest his argument and proposed that other duties would be found for the nurses at the abortion clinic other than the administration of the abortion pills. When the hospital was told by Mr Addison that this would still render the nurses “morally complicit” in the provision of abortion it capitulated completely and allocated the pair to duties elsewhere.
“This particular use of the Equality Act has never to my knowledge been argued before,” Mr Addison said.
“However, since the courts have accepted that belief in global warming is protected under the Equality Act I saw no reason why a pro-life belief should not be equally protected.”
Mr Addison said that the Equality Act offered the nurses additional protections to those upheld by the Abortion Act, principally by explicitly prohibiting the punishment of a conscientious objector.
He said: “I considered that if the Equality Act argument was accepted then it would provide the nurses with additional protection by protecting them from harassment, victimisation or discrimination because of their pro-life stand.”
He added: “The use of the Equality Act is, I believe, very significant for doctors and nurses who are increasingly being pressured to participate in abortion, in particular these new forms of abortions induced through pills. Now they are not only protected under Section Four of the Abortion Act but they are also protected from harassment, victimisation or discrimination because of their pro-life stand.
“It is important to understand that the Equality Act does not require that the belief in the sanctity of life is religiously based – even a humanist or atheist who believes that human life begins at conception will be protected by this new interpretation of the law.
“The Thomas More Legal Centre would be pleased to hear from any doctors or nurses who are finding that they are being pressured to participate in abortion and who want to have legal support in their refusal to have anything more to do with it.”
Recourse by Christians to the Equality Act represents an ironic reversal of the use of a law widely criticised because it has been often unfairly deployed by authorities as a weapon to harass, humiliate, suspend and dismiss them.
Other Christians are already planning to use the Equality Act to settle grievances against their former employers.
Among them is Margaret Forrester, a Catholic mental health worker from London who says she was “bullied out of a job” by the Central and North West London NHS Trust after she showed prolife literature to a receptionist booking women in for abortions.
Miss Forrester, who is also being represented by the Thomas More Legal Centre, has claimed, as part of her case against the Trust, that her belief in human life beginning at conception is protected by the Act and NHS lawyers have already conceded the point.
Ann Widdecombe says the BBC’s Muslim head of religious programming has improved the service PA
Ann Widdecombe praises new Muslim head of religion at BBC BY RORY FITZGERALD AND MARK GREAVES
THE BBC has become less antiCatholic under a Muslim head of religious programming, according to former Conservative minister Ann Widdecombe.
Miss Widdecombe said that since Aquil Ahmed was appointed two years ago the BBC’s religious coverage had “improved vastly”.
Speaking to the Irish Catholic she said: “He isn’t a Christian but he understands faith, he understands religion. I’ve recently done a few programmes for the BBC, which I’ve been allowed to do absolutely straight – no agenda at all... not slanted or sarcastic or anything. I think it’s helpful we’ve got somebody there who understands what faith is about.”
But she said it was “undeniable” that the BBC had a Left-wing bias.
“Yes, it caters for Christians – and that is undeniable – it’s got its religious programming, it’s got Songs of Praise... but in commentary and debate it is weighted the other way,” she said.
Miss Widdecombe said that over the last decade or so Britain’s attitude towards Christianity had changed “from indifference to active marginalisation” – and that persecution was not too strong a word to describe the way Christians were being treated.
“When you’ve got an airline which can seriously say that a Muslim can wear a hijab, a Sikh can wear a friendship bangle or indeed a turban (in the case of men) but a Christian may not wear a cross, then you have got something that is very difficult to say is not persecution,” she said.
“These days [a doctor or nurse] can’t even say to a patient, ‘I’ll pray for you.’ There was a time when the response would have been ‘thank you’, because that is the polite response. Now, it’s to put in a complaint and get the worker sacked.”
Miss Widdecombe retired from politics last year and spent 10 weeks as a contestant in the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. She turned down the chance to become Britain’s ambassador to the Holy See because she had to have emergency surgery to her eye.
In her interview Miss Widdecombe also praised the Catholic Voices initiative during the papal visit, and said the Church was “useless” at PR. During the abuse crisis, she said, the Church “never stood up for itself”.
“It didn’t point out that the biggest abuse actually happens within families; it happens in Scout groups, choirs, anywhere you care to look – the teaching profession – there is nothing unique about it to the Catholic Church,” she said.
She also spoke about her decision to convert to Catholicism, which came after much soul-searching, especially given her “deep roots in Anglicanism” – her brothers were both Anglican priests.
She said: “I had become very disillusioned, and went through a period of agnosticism. I saw both churches from afar.
“It seemed to me that the Anglican church was always blowing about with every wind of fashion whereas Roman Catholicism said, ‘well, something’s either true or its not, and it doesn’t matter if its popular or not’. And I thought ‘yes, thanks. That’s what I expect the Church to say.’
“The final straw for me was the debate about women priests which wasn’t about ‘is this theologically right?’ it was all about ‘well, if we don’t do this we won’t appeal to the modern world’.”
Miss Widdecombe, who was rumoured to have refused the position of Health Secretary under John Major because it would mean presiding over thousands of abortions, said that abortion was not just a religious issue and that “some of my best work against abortion was done when I was an agnostic”.
“It is a moral issue – if I come up and kill you, you do not say it’s a moral, individual issue. We are talking about taking life in the womb. Our laws now permit abortion up to birth itself. That means you can have two children in the womb, one of whom is protected and born with every civil liberty that there is and the other of whom is not wanted and can actually be aborted at the same age and gestation as the other child. That is profoundly wrong.”
THE BIRMINGHAM ORATORY SHRINE OF BLESSED JOHN HENRY NEWMAN
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CPS drops case against priest who dug up body Popular London priest loses battle against cancer
BY DAVID V BARRETT
A COURT case against a Polish priest who dug up the body of a child has been dropped.
Fr Wojtek Jasinski of the Marian Fathers, who formerly owned Fawley Court in Henley, near London, had been charged under a law dating to 1857 with illegally removing the remains of Witold Orlowski from St Raphael’s Convent in Lower Bullingham, Herefordshire, some time between August 2008 and March 2010.
Fr Jasinski’s barrister, Andrew Davidson, described the case as being straight from a “Charles Dickens novel”.
He said: “It is a Burke and Hare offence from when people went out in the middle of the night to steal gold teeth. Fr Jasinski was acting for moral reasons which were entirely honourable.”
The case at Worcester Crown Court came to a halt last week when the Crown Prosecution Service accepted that it could not be proved that the bones were human and the judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to convict him.
Orlowski died in 1944 in Mexico after his family had fled Poland at the outbreak of the Second World War. His father and sister had already died of typhus along their route, which passed through present-day Ukraine and western Siberia, and Witold died of tetanus after being run over by an ox cart. The 14year-old boy had prayed that God would take his life and spare the life of Fr Jozef Jarzebowski, a well-loved Marian Father whom many Poles regarded as a saint, who was seriously ill. The priest recovered, and later travelled to England with Witold’s mother. There have been calls from some Polish Catholics for Witold to be canonised for his selfless prayer.
Zofia Orlowska brought her son’s remains into England in a metal box hidden in a suitcase, and they were buried at St Raphael’s Convent. She worked at Fawley Court in the 1960s, and died in 1995.
The box containing Witold’s remains was removed from an overgrown wall when the former convent was put on the market for development; he was reburied with his mother at Fair Mile cemetery in Henley-onThames.
The movement of his remains was brought to light when a relative who had travelled from Poland to visit his grave was unable to find it, and notified the police.
Fr Jasinski, who is now based in Rome, said: “Common sense tells me removing the remains was the right thing to do. It was his mother’s last wish. If I had not done it, I would have been wrong.”
BY DAVID V BARRETT
FR ALAN Fudge, “a hidden holy man in the centre of London”. in the words of a parishioner, has died. He had been parish priest at St Charles Borromeo, Ogle Street, London, for 33 years. Ordained in 1971, he celebrated his 40th anniversary as a priest last month.
Fr Fudge became ill five months ago with cancer on his lung. Treatment with chemotherapy had little effect, and he came off it on Wednesday last week, receiving palliative care to relieve the pain and treat symptoms of the disease. He died peacefully at his presbytery two days later, early in the morning on Friday “accompanied by the brothers and sisters of his community”, said a parish statement.
Parishioner Ed Rennie said: “He was a hidden holy man in the centre of London, with a saving grace effect on people’s lives. When you have been with a holy man you become accustomed to this, but when he passes on you realise that you didn’t recognise how special he was.
“I think most parish priests in London would say he was second to none as a homilist, breaking open the Word in the liturgy.
“He was a man of deep prayer and spirituality. He was a very good shepherd of the developing and growing
Neocatechumenate communities in his parish.”
Fr Fudge, 70, became seriously ill before Easter.
“That helped us to cope with the reality that we would lose him, though it is still devastating,” said Mr Rennie.
At his last Mass, 40 years to the day since his ordination, Fr Fudge was wearing a chemotherapy pump under his cassock, he said.
Meanwhile, Mgr Terence Stonehill, a priest of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, died peacefully at the Holy Cross Priory, Henfield, West Sussex, on July 31, aged 85.
Mgr Stonehill retired from his last parish, Corpus Christi, Henfield, in 2007, the same year he celebrated the golden jubilee of his ordination.
Among other positions he had served as provost of the chapter of Arundel Cathedral, episcopal vicar for religious, diocesan administrator of the secular clergy common fund, director of the Association of St Teresa and chaplain to the southern section of the Knights of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre.
In his last years he continued to celebrate Mass daily in the chapel at Holy Cross Priory and to minister to the needs of his fellow patients.
The funeral Requiem Mass will be held at Arundel Cathedral at 3pm today with Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton presiding.
NEWSBULLETIN Sister Wendy Beckett comes ʻout of the closetʼ SISTER WENDY Beckett has announced that she has “come out the closet” and is finally writing openly as a Catholic.
The art historian and Carmelite nun said her two recently published books are her most explicitly Catholic works to date.
the books are important personally because they mark the point when she speaks unashamedly as a Catholic. “When I began writing many years ago, it was simply about art itself ... I never used religious language, not to put off the atheists and the non-Christians,” she said.
Sister Wendy, 81, has simultaneously published The Iconic Jesus and The Art of the Saints and says
“Now I can feel I can write about God in his own name.”
Church official kept child porn A CATHOLIC child protection officer has been found with over 4,000 images of child pornography.
Christopher Jarvis had been the safeguarding coordinator for the Diocese of Plymouth since 2002. He was responsible for advising and monitoring Church groups to protect children from paedophiles. He pleaded guilty to 12 counts of making, possessing and distributing indecent images, 10 of which were level five, the highest level. He was caught when he uploaded five images in spite of using an email address under a false name.
David Pond, chairman of the Plymouth Diocesan Safeguarding Commission, which covers child protection, said: “Mr Jarvis was suspended from his position as soon as the diocese became aware in March of the police investigation. The bishop took that action and since then the Church has worked closely with the police. He is no longer employed by the diocese.”
Electrician is suspended A CHRISTIAN electrician who won the right to display a palm cross in his work van has been suspended from his job.
Colin Atkinson won an agreement with his employer, Wakefield District Housing, in April, that meant he could return to work after he was threatened with the sack for refusing to remove the cross from his dashboard.
But he said he was since harassed and suspended.
NHS tests Reiki therapy THE NATIONAL Health Service is to spend over £200,000 researching a controversial alternative therapy which has been criticised by sceptics.
The project, funded by the National Lottery, is designed to identify the effectiveness of a Buddhist “healing” technique called Reiki by testing the method on 200 patients suffering from bowel disorders at NHS Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield.
Apology: telephones down THE CATHOLIC HERALD would like to apologise to readers who have been unable to reach us due to a problem with our telephone lines. We hope to have them working again by the end of the week.
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CHURCHES in central London are protesting strongly against Westminster Council’s decision to charge for parking on Sundays.
Parking in the area from north of Oxford Street south to the Strand, including Mayfair and Soho, is free on Sundays, but from December it will cost from £2.20 to £4.40 an hour to park between 1pm and 6pm. The charges will also apply to weekday evenings from 6.30 to midnight.
Church leaders are concerned that less well-off families may not be able to afford to take their cars to church and that this could have
Sunday Mass-goers to pay for parking in central London BY DAVID V BARRETT
a far wider effect than just on church attendance.
A spokesman for Westminster diocese said: “Archbishop Vincent Nichols made clear to Westminster City Council the very serious impact it would have on the Sunday activities of all Catholic churches within Westminster, especially on families with children and those who need to be assisted in their travel arrangement, and on the negative impact it could have on charitable activities which are helped by Catholics going to Mass on Sundays.”
Jesuit Fr William Pearsall, parish priest of Farm Street church in Mayfair, said: “Our volunteer community activities are really valuable. It will present a huge loss to the local community if these plans affect our volunteers.”
The council is also being criticised for its proposal to make it illegal to give food and drink to homeless people. The Pavement magazine, which is aimed at rough sleepers, describes this policy as “criminalising charity”. Westminster Council, which is facing £60 million in budget cutbacks, said it will make an estimated £7 million a year – in addition to the £49 million it already makes from parking – from introducing the new charges. But churches, local shops, cafes, other small businesses and local residents have united in saying that they are against the imposition of the charge. Music venues in the West End also say they will be adversely affected by the imposition of evening parking charges. When the council met last week to vote for the new parking charges they were heckled both by local churchgoers and by musicians.
Catholic, Anglican and Methodist clergy have joined with Salvation Army officers and other religious ministers to condemn Westminster Council’s move. Before the council voted on the parking charges more than 3,500 London churchgoers held a march protesting against them, and the Salvation Army held a protest with a brass band outside the town hall.
Over 3,000 people have signed a petition calling on Westminster Council to drop the charges and some residents have spoken of standing in the next local elections to oust the Conservative council.
In addition to the charges a four-hour limit on parking means that churchgoers coming by car will be unable to attend both morning and afternoon services.
Major Ray Brown of the Salvation Army in Oxford Street said it was “a very sad day for the borough of Westminster, particularly for those who depend on the community work of the churches and for the thousands that attend church here every Sunday”.
He went on: “Westminster Council have taken a very shortsighted decision to seriously damage hundreds of years of church community action and spiritual activity for the sake of a quick financial gain. For some members and volunteers at the Salvation Army, this means having to face the terrible decision of having to leave the church they have been involved in all their lives because they can’t afford the parking charges.”
Canon Dr Giles Fraser, chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, said: “These councils are so lacking in imagination that they can only see the usefulness of something if it has a commercial value. Not everything is about commerce or money. The Church is really angry about this.”
Michael Beckett, church warden of St George’s Anglican Church in Hanover Square said:“Sunday parking charges will seriously damage the spiritual heart of the city, and limit the good works undertaken by all the central London churches.”
Bishop’s blueprint for Church renewalBYMADELEINETEAHAN
THE BISHOP of Shrewsbury has urged young Catholics to drive the “new evangelisation” by embracing the Catholic faith in its entirety.
Addressing dozens of Catholics attending the annual Evangelium Conference at the Reading Oratory School, Bishop Mark Davies held up Pope Benedict XVI, during his visit to Britain last September, as an example to follow.
He said: “I want to suggest that Pope Benedict in the days he spent with us left an example which I see so often being taken up by the young. To look beyond the shadows of human failure, all that would obscure the face of Christ, and rediscover what may sometimes have been momentarily lost sight of by a generation before them: the Catholic faith as a coherent whole, the reality of the Holy Eucharist, the grace of Confession, the Bible as the Church’s book, the Rosary as a Gospel prayer, the witness of the saints in whom we see the Church at its truest, a new love for Mary, a genuine loyalty to the Successor of Peter, the courage for a new evangelisation.”
He said the light of Christ had been sometimes eclipsed and the Church had then appeared just “a human institution, her teachings opinion, her Scriptures archaeology, her Sacraments empty”.
Today’s challenge, Bishop Davies said in his homily, was for Catholics to follow the Pope in courageously making the true face of Jesus visible in the Church.
Reflecting on the papal visit Bishop Davies said: “When you think back to what we saw and heard during those unforgettable days of September it was the Mass celebrated with such dignity, the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament which brought public broadcasters to an unexpected silence as well as those tens of thousands who knelt in London’s Hyde Park, the Holy Father’s repeated calls to prayer, to holiness and to the courage of public witness to our faith, a new evangelisation. And in this an example as we saw our fellow countrymen John Henry Newman raised up before us as Blessed.”
The bishop said that for many young Catholics the papal visit was one of the greatest moments of their lives. He said: “They saw beyond those clouds of controversy to stand with the Church in faith, with the Pope in the joy of the faith we share which was suddenly manifest on the streets of our cities in hundreds of thousands of faces. In this they caught sight of Christ living in His Church, teaching in His Church, recognised in His saints who are the Church at its truest, and above all in the reality of the Holy Eucharist.”
Bishop Davies wants young people to embrace the Catholic faith Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk
New guidance threatens rights of pharmacists
Continued from Page 1: by Religious and Moral Beliefs” comes a year after a majority of members of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain voted to retain a conscience clause during a consultation by the GPhC. The regulator responded by producing the guidance to explain how such a right must now be interpreted.
All pharmacists are accountable to the GPhC and must be able to explain their actions in the context of any guidance issued. The GPhC said, however, that the guidance was not binding and was open to review after one year.
“Our guidance is advice for pharmacy professionals and explains how our standards might be met, or provide additional suggestions for practice,” a spokeswoman said. “The requirements of our guidance are not mandatory.”
But John Smeaton, the director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, urged pharmacists to reject the guidance. “It is a shocking direction and it has no validity whatsoever. People with a conscientious objection must refuse to obey it,” he said.
“What they are stipulating runs directly contrary to the fundamental right of conscientious objection, of having absolutely nothing to do with drugs which may kill an early developing human embryo. It is also contrary to the right to life of the human embryo.”
Neil Addison, the director of the Thomas More Legal Centre, said that the guidance was flawed. “What many people do not seem to grasp is the fact that if you are refusing to do something because it is morally objectionable you cannot be obliged to recommend someone else,” he said.
The revised code comes as the Government is placing pharmacists under increasing pressure to make the morningafter pill easily available to children to reduce Britain’s teenage pregnancy rate, the highest in Europe.
In a 2007 address to the International Congress of Catholic Pharmacists Pope Benedict XVI said concientious objection is a “right your profession must recognise”.
He said it permitted pharmacists “not to collaborate either directly or indirectly by supplying products for the purpose of decisions that are clearly immoral”.
The Church has traditionally taught that conscience is not a subjective judgment but an echo of the Natural Law, helping individuals to discern objective moral truth in concrete situations.
During his June visit to Croatia the Pope said: “If, in keeping with the prevailing modern idea, conscience is reduced to the subjective field to which religion and morality have been banished, then the crisis of the West has no remedy and Europe is destined to collapse in on itself. If on the other hand, conscience is rediscovered as the place in which to listen to truth and good, the place of responsibility before God and before fellow human beings - in other words the bulwark against all forms of tyranny - then there is hope for the future.”
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Scottish faithful may be ordered to kneel less at Mass
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
THE BISHOPS of Scotland are considering whether to issue an instruction to their laity that would reduce the practice of kneeling during the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
In a draft statement by Bishop Joseph Toal, entitled “Notification on postures during the celebration of Mass in Scotland”, specific instructions are detailed which replace the common practice among Scots of kneeling at certain points in the liturgy, with standing instead.
Bishop Toal wrote: “We will begin and end Mass standing, and we will also stand for the three presidential prayers – the Collect, the prayer over the offerings, and the post-communion prayer. We will continue to kneel through the Eucharistic Prayer after singing or reciting the ‘Holy, Holy...’, and for the moments of reflection and humble petition before the Lord’s Body and Blood as we prepare for Communion. It should be noted that if we cannot kneel at these times the proper posture is to stand rather than to sit.”
The statement’s appendix explains that the changes in posture would be mandatory from the first Sunday of Advent this year, in accordance with The General Instruction of the Roman Missal; a document which governs the celebration of the Mass.
The bishops quotes the
General Instruction which states: “A common posture, to be observed by all participants, is a sign of unity of the members of the Christian community gathered for the sacred liturgy: it both expresses and fosters the intention and spiritual attitude of the participants.”
The bishops’ notification stipulates three points in particular. First: “The faithful are to rise as the celebrant says ‘Pray, brethren (brothers and sisters), that my sacrifice and yours...’ They are to remain standing until the end of the ‘Holy, Holy...’ They are to kneel through the rest of the Eucharistic Prayer as is the established custom in Scotland; following the same custom they are to kneel for the period before Communion after the singing or saying of the ‘Lamb of God’.”
The statement continues that secondly, at the post Communion-prayer beginning “Let us Pray” the congregation should stand rather than kneel and third that the congregation should be seated during any announcements after the postcommunion-prayer, before standing for the final blessing.
A spokesman for Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, described the instruction as an “opportunity to strengthen the universality of liturgical practice in Scotland”, and “reasonable” in the context of liturgical change.
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