THE CATHOLIC HERALD AUGUST 12 2011
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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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