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OCTOBER 14 2011 THE CATHOLIC HERALD
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Bishop: marriage can’t be redefined
BY ED WEST
BLESSED John Henry Newman can help Catholics to better understand the “disease” of moral relativism, Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury has said, in an attack on the Government’s gay marriage proposal.
During a homily at Mass at the Birmingham Oratory on Saturday the bishop paid tribute to Blessed John Henry’s ability to read the signs of the times and his courage in upholding and defending revealed truth.
Pope Benedict XVI had pointed to this “remarkable prophetic clarity” with which he had foreseen the challenges now facing British and western societies, he said.
The Mass was celebrated to mark the October 9 Feast Day of Blessed John Henry, who was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in Cofton Park, Birmingham, last September, and to install his relics at a shrine in the main church where they will be venerated by pilgrims.
Bishop Davies said that Blessed John Henry had diagnosed the first symptoms of the ideology of moral relativism, which he described as “the disease that now ails our times”.
But although the Victorian cardinal had predicted that relativism would create “centuries of confusion to come”, he also offered the encouragement that the Church, by standing firm and faithful, would see “this present ordeal overcome”, Bishop Davies explained.
This, the bishop suggested, would be the witness of both his writings and his shrine at the Birmingham Oratory for future generations.
He said: “Cardinal Newman had spoken himself of this being the enduring message of his life and labours when becoming a cardinal in 1879 he declared: ‘for 30, 40, 50 years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion. Never did Holy Church need champions against it more sorely than now, when, alas! It is an effort overspreading as a snare, the whole earth...”
“As he had written in his Apologia, ‘my battle was with liberalism’, as an Anglican and from 1845 as a Catholic. He wished to contest what has rapidly become the dominant view of our own time as he put it in the Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, “that truth and falsehood in religion are but a matter of opinion; that one doctrine is as good as another... that the
In his conference speech David Cameron said committed same-sex relationships should be valued PA photo
Governor of the world does not intend that we should gain the truth; that there is no truth.
“So we can reach the point when a Government proposes that marriage, the very foundation of the family, crucial to the wellbeing of society, can be redefined to mean whatever we wish it to mean. Newman foresaw the path which would lead to this confusion as revealed religion becomes regarded, he said, as but a sentiment, a taste, so that each individual makes it say just what he wishes it to say. He surely wanted us to see now that, ‘there never was a device of the Enemy, so cleverly framed, and with such a promise of success’.”
The success of that “liberalism” or “relativism”, the bishop said, “was as an ideology which appears enticingly generous and broadly tolerant in demanding one belief should be considered as true as another. Yet it becomes as the Holy Father described in Glasgow: ‘a dictatorship of relativism, threatening to obscure the unchanging truth about man’s nature, his destiny and his ultimate good.’ ”
Last week Prime Minister David Cameron expressed his support for gay marriage at a conference speech in which he said that “commitment” in relationships should be valued regardless of whether it involved “a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, or a man and another man”.
But Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark said: “While we welcome the Prime Minister’s support of marriage, family life and especially the care of children, the proposed redefinition of marriage cannot be right.
“Marriage by its very nature is between a man and a woman and it is the essential foundation of family life. The state should uphold this common understanding of marriage rather than attempting to change its meaning.”
In his homily Bishop Davies also said: “Scholars will long ponder the prophetic writings of Cardinal Newman but he would surely wish his memory and shrine to declare in a way both kindly and insistent that the truth can, indeed, be truly known. The relics of Blessed John Henry Newman’s shrine will silently allow his heart to continue to speak such encouragement to so many hearts: assuring us of victory in this struggle which we are now engaged in.”
Bishops launch campaign against gay marriage
BY ED WEST
THE CHURCH in Scotland has launched a campaign against proposals to legalise samesex marriage.
Following the Scottish Government’s announcement of a consultation on whether gay marriage should be introduced, Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow wrote to every parish in the country, urging all Catholics to oppose the planned legislation.
He said the Scottish government did not have a mandate to “reconstruct society on ideological grounds”.
He said: “The Catholic Church, for one, will not accept it, and indeed will actively campaign against it. This cannot be seen to be in any way helpful in fulfilling the broader aim of social cohesion by which government is clearly motivated.”
He added: “It will act to create larger divisions in society and could lead in the future, as we have seen in some of the legislation to date, to gross allegations of discrimination.” The Catholic Parliamentary Office is to distribute 100,000 campaign postcards encouraging people to submit their declarations to the Government’s consultation.
The archbishop added: “There will be other consequences in law, and social policies stemming from it which need to be taken into account, for example housing provision, social security entitlements and the legitimate expectations of families for support in having and bringing up children on whom the future of society depends, and for which society should make provision.”
In response Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie accused the Catholic Church of trying to control opinion.
Tim Hopkins, director of Equality Network, a taxpayer-funded organisation which campaigns for “equality and human rights in Scotland”, claimed that same-sex marriage had majority support, a claim rejected by a Catholic Church spokesman.
The Presbyterian Free Church has also voiced its opposition, while Dundeebased Christian group Solas, led by former Scottish National Party leader Gordon Wilson, has delivered a submission to the Government.
Mr Wilson, along with Free Church minister the Rev David Robertson, the group’s director, said no government had the right to “redefine” marriage – and that any attempt to do so would destroy the institution. They also argued that “this attack on marriage” was a violation of the human rights of traditional married couples.
Mr Wilson has also called for a referendum on the issue.
Peter Kearney, spokesman for the Church in Scotland, said the issue was more important to Catholics than sectarianism. He said: “I can’t see how any Catholic, in good conscience, could support a party which would enact such a law. It’s impossible to imagine.
THE BIRMINGHAM ORATORY SHRINE OF BLESSED JOHN HENRY NEWMAN
THE CHAPEL OF BLESSED
JOHN HENRY NEWMAN THE NEWMAN MEMORIAL CHURCH
EXHIBITION OF NEWMAN’S LIFE
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REFRESHMENTS WEEKLY PILGRIM MASS Saturdays at 11am, followed by prayers in the shrine and blessing with a relic of Blessed John Henry Newman
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Study Morning 3: Singing the Ordinary of the Mass (9.30am to 1pm) • FRIDAY 21ST OCTOBER For the clergy: Singing the Mass in English (8pm to 9pm) For further information: please phone 0121 454 0808 or visit www.oratorymusic.org.uk
WEEKEND OPENING SATURDAY AND SUNDAY
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141, Hagley Road, Birmingham B16 8UE 0121 454 0808 email@example.com
Anglo-Saxon remains reburied in church garden Bishops’ agency lobbies coalition over welfare bill
BY ED WEST
AUXILIARY Bishop William Kenney of Birmingham has celebrated a Requiem Mass for 15 Anglo-Saxons whose remains were unearthed last year.
The 15 skeletons, which had been unearthed in Oxfordshire, were re-interred in a church memorial garden on Saturday after the Mass celebrated by Bishop Kenney. The ancient remains were buried in a wicker coffin at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Bicester. Workers discovered the bodies during the construction of a new property development next to the church, part of a new eco-town development of low-energy Scandinavian-style homes.
The remains are thought to date from between 700 and 950 AD, when the area was first part of the Kingdom of Mercia and later Wessex, and were almost certainly part of a Christian burial ground. Mercia was converted to Christianity in the late seventh century under King Peada, and the bodies were buried facing east, according to Christian tradition.
The burial ground was probably associated with a former Saxon minster church thought to have been near Bicester’s St Edburgh’s church, and was found under a new John Paul II community centre.
The Saxon cemetery was originally thought to have been located to the west of the development area but excavations of the groundwork revealed the cemetery extending further east.
After archeologists finished exhuming the remains and took them away for detailed analysis the skeletons were returned to the Church of the Immaculate Conception. Scientists discovered that the skeletons were largely female and over 35, with just one male discovered, while isotope analysis revealed that they came from Britain and ate a lot of fish.
But there was a disagreement between the Church and archaeologists who wanted the bones put in a museum.
James Lewis of Thames Valley Archaeological Services said: “As archaeologists we’d much rather they had gone into a museum and be available for future analysis. There are other ways of showing respect than reburying.”
The case went to the Ministry of Justice but it was ruled that the bones were not of national significance and so could be buried.
Speaking after the ceremony last week Bishop Kenney said of the deceased: “These are the remains they have left on earth and they should be treated with dignity.”
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
AN AGENCY of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales is pushing for changes to welfare reform to stop benefit claimants from being punished for the mistakes of civil servants.
Caritas Social Action Network is backing a Catholic peer, Baroness Hollins, who has tabled amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill which seek to protect benefit claimants from financial penalisation.
The agency claims that the Welfare Reform Bill in its current form would allow the Government to reclaim overpayments in benefits which have occurred through administrative or computer errors. The agency expresses fears that this change would unjustly punish claimants and their families for mistakes made in Government departments or local authorities.
It says it is particularly concerned that the Government’s withdrawal of overpayment protections will force struggling families to hand over large amounts of money that have accumulated over time, despite having no prior knowledge of the overpayment.
Baroness Hollins’s amendment to the Bill would maintain current protection against such re-claims which has been enshrined in law since 1975.
Helen O’Brien, chief executive of the bishops’ agency, said: “The removal of existing safeguards will ultimately mean that each case is based on the discretion of different officials, which provides no guarantee that the decisions will protect the vulnerable.”
On Monday the Cardinal Hume Centre, which helps many individuals who are benefit recipients, expressed support for Baroness Hollins’s proposed amendment.
Clive Chapman, the Cardinal Hume Centre’s policy officer, said: “The Government’s emphasis should be on preventing payment errors, not shifting the burden on to claimants by forcing them to pay back unsustainable amounts and risking forcing them further into poverty.”
One client of the Cardinal Hume Centre, a single parent of three who receives benefits and lives in privately rented accommodation, said: “If they did this to me, I would be really angry – especially if this was their own mistake. I would not pay, this is like stealing. My kids and I would suffer and I would struggle to buy anything apart from food.”
The Zacchaeus 2000 Trust, a charity led by the Rev Paul Nicholson, has also backed the amendment. It is particularly concerned about the impact on the diet and nutrition of women and children due to a suddenly reduced income.
NEWSBULLETIN Rosary crusade across London draws 2,000 faithful MGR KEITH NEWTON, the leader of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, led 2,000 people in a Rosary Crusade across London on Saturday.
The procession began at Westminster Cathedral and made its way west to the London Oratory in South Kensington, where Mgr Newton gave a homily to a packed congregation, reflecting on Blessed John Henry Newman’s devotion to Mary. Pilgrims sung hymns to Our Lady, prayed three decades of the rosary and, on arrival at the Oratory, consecrated themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Those who took part included Knights of the Order of Malta and the Little Brothers of the Oratory.
Archbishop has tea with Mugabe THE ZIMBABWEAN president Robert Mugabe told the Archbishop of Canterbury this week that the Church of England was a mere “breakaway group” from the Catholic Church.
During a meeting over tea, scones and jam at the presidential state house in Harare Mr Mugabe talked about his religious upbringing and his “continuing occasional Catholic practice”, Dr Rowan Williams said.
The Anglican leader presented Mr Mugabe with a dossier of alleged abuses perpetrated against churchgoers over the past few years. Anglicans are reported to have been arrested, beaten and locked out of churches by supporters of Nolbert Kunonga, a renegade bishop loyal to Mr Mugabe.
The meeting marked the end of Dr Williams’s twoday visit to Zimbabwe. In a sermon on Sunday he condemned lawlessness and violence in the country.
Fawley Court case dismissed A PROPERTY developer who claimed he was owed £5 million for the sale of Fawley Court has been told by a High Court judge that he lives in a “parallel universe”.
Richard Butler-Creagh had hoped to make millions from the sale of the Buckinghamshire house by Polish Marian Fathers, saying he acted as an intermediary. But Justice Eady threw out the case.
Passport form is changed PASSPORT application forms are to feature options for “Parent 1” and “Parent 2” instead of just mother and father, it emerged last week.
The change, due to take place within weeks, was made after claims that the original form discriminated against same-sex couples. Norman Wells of the Family Education Trust said the move “denigrates” the place of mothers and fathers.
Competition winners announced The winners of the Tyburn Convent: Gloria Deo competition are Elizabeth Hastings, Natalie Madden, Sister Maria Jacinta, Fr Richard Meyer and Anna Pilley.
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