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JUNE 17 2011 THE CATHOLIC HERALD
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Archbishop Nichols says marriage is a public good
BY SIMON CALDWELL
THE SPIRITUAL leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has praised traditional marriage as a “public good”.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster said it was “vitally important” for the “whole of society” to support marriage at a time when more British couples than ever were choosing to live together as cohabitees and to have children out of wedlock.
He said the British people had acknowledged the importance of marriage by rejoicing over the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in Westminster Abbey on April 29.
The “mighty public cheer” that rang out after the couple exchanged vows showed an “instinctive and profound public understanding of the nature and consequences of marriage itself”, said Archbishop Nichols, who was a guest at the royal wedding.
“Marriage, as a permanent, exclusive commitment between this man and this woman was welcomed, applauded,” said the archbishop in a homily at a Mass for married couples in Westminster Cathedral.
“There was rejoicing in what the newly weds had just done,” he said. “Marriage, then, is a public good.
“Marriage is not simply something done in church by a few. Marriage is not a private arrangement,” he said.
“Rather marriage expresses our deepest longings and expectations for ourselves, for our children and for our society.”
“Marriage is of our nature. It is not created by the Church, but blessed by her. Christian marriage is a sacrament,” he added. “In celebrating marriage, in defending marriage, the Church seeks to promote that which is good for us human beings, for our human nature and for our society.”
The words of Archbishop Nichols were directed primarily at a personally invited congregation of 543 married couples from his archdiocese who had a combined total of 18,048 years of marriage between them. They had gathered last Saturday to celebrate the milestone 10th, 25th, 30th, 40th, 50th or 60th anniversaries, to renew their vows and to receive a solemn blessing. But by releasing a transcript to the media the day before it was clear that Archbishop Nichols intended his message to be heard by a national and not exclusively Catholic audience.
His comments came just months after official figures revealed that the marriage rate in Britain was at its lowest since 1895, with just 21.3 men marrying per 1,000 unmarried adult men and 19.9 women marrying per 1,000 unmarried women.
About 57 per cent of children in Britain are now born to parents who are not married, the figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed in February.
In his homily Archbishop Nichols explained that marriage was nevertheless the key to a successful family life and the happiness and security of children because it was the most successful framework “for the relationship of love of a man and a woman to become faithful, fruitful and permanent”.
He said that in contrast cohabiting relationships were inherently unstable because they were effectively negotiable. Such arrangements were largely dependent on the fulfilment of high expectations for their success and not rooted in the mutual “acceptance of the other for who they are”, he said. “When relationships are provisional, with an understanding that each can walk away, there is a sense in which each of the partners is always on probation,” Archbishop Nichols said. “They are never fully accepted.”
At a similar event last year Archbishop Nichols criticised the Coalition Government – at the time in power barely a month – for omitting the word “marriage” from the parts of its policy document pledging support for the family.
This time, however, the archbishop complimented the Prime Minister for recognising the importance of marriage and family life.
He quoted David Cameron’s promise to strengthen what he said he believed was the “single most important institution in the country”.
“That is how he described marriage and family,” said Archbishop Nichols. “‘I think families are immensely important. I am pro-commitment, I back marriage and I think it is a wonderfully precious institution.’ Then he added: ‘Do not think I have forgotten about our pledge to make this country the most familyfriendly in Europe.’ He then went on to say that ‘if you want what is best for children you have to address not just children, but families and relationships too. We are thinking creatively about how we can do more to support family life and ensure that every child grows up in a stable, loving home.’”
Historians and conservationists want to keep Ushaw College intact Photo: Alex Ramsay
New plan offers hope for the supporters of Ushaw College
BY MARK GREAVES
THE HISTORIC estate at Ushaw College may be turned into a centre for Catholic scholarship run by Durham University, it emerged this week.
The move would allow a vast collection of medieval manuscripts and other treasures to stay in one place and be opened up to the public through exhibitions.
It will be considered as part of a feasibility study that was agreed by the college trustees – the bishops of the north of England – last week.
Their decision, which has been hailed as a “breakthrough” by historians and conservationists, comes as the 200-year-old seminary at the college prepares to close.
If the offer by Durham University is accepted Ushaw’s library, chapel and Georgian frontage would become part of the university’s rapidly expanding Centre for Catholic Studies, a unit of its theology department. Uses are still being sought for the rest of the site, however.
Professor Eamon Duffy, a Catholic historian, praised the bishops’ decision as “enlightened” and said it was “an enormous relief to all of us who care about the Church and its past”.
He said: “The Catholic Church asserts the indispensibility of tradition, yet in this country Catholics have not always been good stewards of our own traditions.”
The college’s magnificent 19thcentury buildings and Pugin chapel “embody the resurgence of Catholicism” following the penal laws, Dr
Duffy said. Its library, which specialises in medieval manuscripts, has “few rivals” in Britain, he added.
Professor Paul Murray, director of Durham’s Centre for Catholic Studies, said the plan for Ushaw fitted into the “new evangelisation” called for by recent popes. “It would celebrate and transmit to scholars and the wider public the riches of our Catholic tradition,” he said.
It is understood that a plan to transfer the library to the ecumenical Liverpool Hope University, favoured by Archbishop Patrick Kelly, has been dropped.
The St Cuthbert’s Seminary at Ushaw was founded at Douai, in the Spanish Netherlands, to train English priests during the reign of Elizabeth I. It was relocated to County Durham in 1808.
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NHS Trust sacks Catholic mental health worker Keep doctors out of euthanasia, urges professor
BY MARK GREAVES
A CATHOLIC mental health worker has been sacked after discussing a pro-life booklet with two colleagues.
Margaret Forrester, a parishioner at the London Oratory in South Kensington, gave the booklet to family planning staff because she felt patients should be offered more guidance about the risks of abortion.
She was suspended from her job as a psychological wellbeing practitioner and weeks later reinstated in a different role. Since then she has been embroiled in a sixmonth disciplinary process. This week it emerged that she had been sacked for “gross professional misconduct”.
Mrs Forrester told the Daily Telegraph that she was considering taking the matter to an employment tribunal to remove the finding of “gross professional misconduct” from her record.
She said: “The day I was fired I felt like a sunflower drooping. I remember saying: ‘I’m finished.’ It has been very difficult.”
Her employer, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, said the sole reason for her dismissal was that she had “refused to come to work”.
Mrs Forrester had been transferred to the job as a disciplinary measure. Although she accepted it verbally, she said she was given insufficient information and lacked training. Her trouble began last November when she had a “pleasant” conversation with colleagues about a booklet called Forsaken, which contains case studies of five women who suffered negative consequences of abortion.
She said she had been concerned that women with crisis pregnancies were being referred directly for abortion without the option of “nondirectional” counselling.
She was called into meetings with two managers and told not to come back to work. “My view is that once they saw I was pro-life they were aggressively trying to get me out,” she said.
She had initially welcomed her reinstatement in January but became unhappy when she learned the details of the new post. Her case was backed by the Christian Legal Centre. Andrea Williams, the director, said it was “staggering” that she had been suspended but later hailed her reinstatement as a victory.
A spokesman for the NHS trust “totally refuted” any suggestion that it had unfairly dismissed Mrs Forrester or attempted to “silence” her.
Mrs Forrester was unavailable for further comment.
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
THE INTRODUCTION of a “physician-assisted dying” law into the United Kingdom would have a negative impact on clinical practice, according to the chairman of the Royal College of Physicians ethical committee.
Speaking at a public seminar on Monday evening, Professor Peter Saunders emphasised that only a minority of doctors would in practice be willing to assist in suicide, meaning that applicants would be assisted to their deaths by doctors with limited knowledge of the patient and their medical history.
“There is an underlying assumption that an assisted dying law should be in the form of physician-assisted suicide,” he said. “But we need to assess how this would impact upon clinical practice and how it would contaminate the profession of which we are a part,” he told an audience of peers, doctors, nurses and lawyers. He concluded: “It’s very simple. Keep the doctors out of this.
The seminar was coincidentally held on the same evening that the BBC broadcast its controversial programme, Choosing to Die, in which fantasy novelist Sir Terry Pratchett accompanied a man with motor neurone disease to the Dignitas suicide centre in Switzerland.
Sir Terry suffers from
Alzheimer’s disease and announced his support for legalised assisted suicide when he gave the BBC’s annual Dimbleby Lecture in February 2010.
The seminar on Monday was hosted by co-chairmen of the public policy think-tank, Living and Dying Well, Lord Carlile QC and Baroness Finlay, who lead the parliamentary campaign against assisted suicide. Also speaking were John Cooper QC and Michael Burgess, legal secretary to the Coroners Society for England and Wales.
Describing his contact with suicide cases through his coronial experience Mr Burgess emphasised that suicides motivated by fears concerning one’s physical condition were not usually borne out in postmortem examinations.
“Analysis of suicide notes, indicate that individuals do not wish to be a burden on their families and yet their postmortem examinations reveal that their perceived medical problem was in fact easily operable. My concern was, and is that however well an assisted suicide arrangement is policed malign influence cannot be regulated and no safeguard could sufficiently guard against abuse.”
Lord Carlile said euthanasia campaigners faced a “huge legislative obstacle” in changing the law. Charterhouse: Page 20
NEWSBULLETIN Bishop Ambrose Griffiths is mourned by Church EMERITUS Bishop Ambrose Griffiths of Hexham and Newcastle has died aged 82.
Born in Middlesex as Michael Ambrose, he was educated at Ampleforth College where, after Oxford, he entered the monastery and was ordained in July 1957.
He was elected Abbot of Ampleforth in 1976 following the appointment of Cardinal Basil Hume to Westminster. In 1984 he became a parish priest in Leyland, Lancashire. In 1991 Pope John Paul II appointed him as the 11th Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle.
He retired in May 2004, having reached 75, and served as a parish priest in Leyland.
In recent years he suffered from leukaemia.
Rabbi to deliver Tyburn Lecture BARONESS NEUBERGER will deliver the 2011 Tyburn Lecture on the subject of “dying well”.
The Reform rabbi will become the first Jewish leader to deliver the lecture, at Tyburn Convent, London, on June 23. The Tyburn Lecture was inaugurated by the Tyburn nuns 11 years ago. Speakers have included Charles Moore, Cherie Booth QC, George Weigel and Lord Patten of Barnes.
Baroness Neuberger said: “We know a great deal about how some faiths help people to face their own mortality, and how others help people to grieve in a structured way. What can different faiths learn from each other about dying well, grieving well, and leaving a legacy in spiritual, moral and intellectual terms?”
Mother Xavier McMonagle, the Mother General at Tyburn Convent, said she was honoured to have Baroness Neuberger as the speaker.
New leader is appointed A 57-YEAR-OLD former auxiliary bishop of Kiev has been appointed as the apostolic exarch for the Ukrainian faithful in Britain.
Bishop Hlib Lonchyna, who is also responsible for Ukrainian Catholics living in Spain, Portugal and Italy, was apostolic administrator of the exarch before his appointment.
An exarchate is a missionary diocese for a group of Eastern Catholics.
Pro Ecclesia cancels event THE PRO Ecclesia Et Pontifice 2011 Conference scheduled for tomorrow has been cancelled.
The event was to be held at Westminster Central Hall but the group announced that the venue had cancelled the booking.
Earlier this month Cardinal Raymond Burke pulled out of his engagement to be the main speaker. He was due to give a talk on the restoration of Church discipline and evangelisation.
Archbishop unveils Elgar plaque ARCHBISHOP Bernard Longley of Birmingham has dedicated a plaque to Sir Edward Elgar at St George’s Catholic Church, Worcester, where the great English composer was organist from1885 until1889.
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