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MAY 18 2012 THE CATHOLIC HERALD
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Pro-lifer who never gave up the fight is mourned
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
MOURNERS packed Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic church in Acton, west London, on Tuesday for the Requiem Mass for pro-life campaigner Phyllis Bowman.
The chief celebrant was Fr John Leahy SSCC who described Miss Bowman as a “champion of the most vulnerable”. Fr Leahy said that there was a “big bucket of words to describe Phyllis”, and continued: “The greatest thing I could say is that she was child of God, a woman of faith, a woman of prayer”.
He described Mrs Bowman’s sufferings and works as “Christ-like”, sayig: “She was slapped and put down and yet she always ran the race with courage to do what was right.” He said later that “we didn’t really recognise how great she was”.
Fr Leahy lamented that Mrs Bowman’s work for the unborn did not always receive support from the people she should have expected it from.
He said: “Support from churches and priests wasn’t as forthcoming as it should have been. It didn’t stop her at all, it just fired her on.”
He said that although Mrs Bowman appeared to be a “crushed reed” on the outside she was “a volcano on the inside – utterly determined to carry on”. He also said that, ironically, the safest place for any baby should be in its mother’s womb and he paid tribute to Miss Bowman’s work to defend the unborn child.
Mourners attending the Mass included her husband Gerry, her brother, Monty, and her sister, Betty.
After Holy Communion her godson, nephew and close friend the Rev Alan Rabjohns paid personal tributes to Mrs Bowman. Rev Rabjohns described Phyllis Bowman as “a great campaigner for the beauty and dignity of human life”.
Rev Rabjohns also spoke of Miss Bowman’s love and devotion for her husband Gerry Canty, who she described as her “Canty King.”
Phyllis Bowman was born on March 14 1926 and died on May 7 2012 aged 85. On the day her death was announced parliamentarians praised the former Fleet Street journalist, who originally founded the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children in 1967 and subsequently founded Right to Life.
Catholic peer Lord Alton of Liverpool, who attended Bowman’s Requiem Mass, described her as “an indefatigable champion of the unborn child and for the sanctity of human life”.
He said: “Her tireless efforts, right up to her final illness and last days, serve as an inspiration to the next generation. She was an extraordinarily talented woman, utterly dedicated, highly articulate, politically shrewd and the possessor of an encyclopaedic memory.
“Her early training as a Fleet Street journalist never left her short of things to say. Her Christian faith and her beloved husband, Gerry, kept her strong throughout years of having to fight endless battles against abortion, embryo experimentation, human cloning and euthanasia. Her name deserves to be associated with some of the great women who have given their lives to great causes – Elizabeth Fry, Florence Nightingale, Emmeline Pankhurst, Cicely Saunders, Mother Teresa and Sue Ryder.”
Throughout the Mass personal tributes portrayed Miss Bowman as a highly organised and energetic woman. Following the news of her death last week Catholic MP Ann Widdecombe said: “She is probably already getting the heavenly hosts organised. Right to Life has lost a much-loved founder and all of us a much-loved friend. The biggest tribute we can pay her is to ensure her vigorous defence of the helpless unborn child continues unabated.”
As Mrs Bowman’s godson Nicholas described her final days he explained that as she lay in hospital, barely able to speak, she overheard a family discussing if they would be allowed to care for their sick relative at home. At this point Miss Bowman found her voice and asserted that indeed they could before sinking back into silence.
The first reading was from Ecclesiastes 3:1-13, beginning “to everything there is a season”, and later continuing, “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance”. This was followed by Psalm 23 and the Gospel reading was John 14: 1-4, during which Christ says: “There are many rooms in my Father’s house, and I am going to prepare a place for you.”
Bowman was known for her great devotion to Mary and her love of the rosary. Fr Leahy explained that she would often stop work in the middle of the office and recite three Hail Marys. As mourners received Holy Communion they sang the hymn “Holy Virgin, by God’s decree”. Letter: Page 13
Author Hilary Mantel with her Booker Prize-winning novel Wolf Hall
Top novelist says Church is ‘not for respectable people’ BY DAVID V BARRETT
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH “is not for respectable people”, according to Booker Prize-winning author Hilary Mantel.
Interviewed for a Sunday newspaper the author of bestselling novels on Henry VIII’s minister Thomas Cromwell said the child abuse scandals in the Catholic Church demonstrated the “cruelty” and “hypocrisy” of the Church.
“The fact that it could happen, the extent of the denial, the cover-up, the hypocrisy, the cruelty... When I was a child I wondered why priests and nuns were not nicer people. I thought that they were amongst the worst people I knew,” the writer said. Ms Mantel went to a Catholic primary school and to Harrytown Convent in Romiley, Greater Manchester, but lost her faith when she was 12.
She said: “I’m one of nature’s Protestants. I should never have been brought up as a Catholic. I think that nowadays the Catholic Church is not an institution for respectable people.”
She published the first of her many novels in 1985. She was awarded a CBE in 2006.
Her novel Wolf Hall, which tells the early life of Thomas Cromwell, won the Man Booker Prize in 2009, and was described by the Observer as one of the 10 best historical novels. Its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies, is published this month. A third novel will bring Cromwell’s story to a close.
Despite her criticisms of the Church she accepts that professionally she has “had full value from Catholicism”.
“It’s a great training in doubleness – this looks like bread but it is actually a man’s body, this looks like wine but it’s actually blood. And that’s very much a writer’s way of thinking: she comes in and says good morning, but she means damn you to hell.” Mary Kenny: Page 12
Cafod raises £8m during Lent
BY DAVID V BARRETT
CATHOLIC aid agency Cafod has raised a record £8 million in its Lenten appeal – and the Government has pledged to match it.
Chris Bain, director of Cafod, said: “In a normal year, we would aim to raise around £2 million from the Lenten appeal, so the level of support we have had has been overwhelming.
“Clearly, many people have been inspired in their efforts by the knowledge that the Government is matching their donations, but they have also responded with astounding compassion and generosity to the simple needs of those in the world without access to clean water.”
He added: “The donations we have received will make a massive difference to those poor communities, building dams and boreholes, improving sanitation and hygiene, and ensuring that children can go to school instead of walking miles every day to collect water or suffering from waterborne diseases.
“It is a tremendous tribute to the Catholic community in England and Wales that... parishes and schools are making such a huge effort to help those in the world who have the least.”
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Magazine urges Church to cut ties with schools NHS spends £1m every week on repeat abortions
BY ED WEST
A CATHOLIC JOURNAL has called for a “tactical retreat” by the Church from the state school sector to stop the faith being marginalised.
Acknowledging the problems raised by Bishop Michael Campbell of Lancaster, Faith magazine’s editorial said that many people running Catholics schools had been influenced by “new catechetics” and that the proportion of practising staff in Catholic schools had declined, especially after 2003 when the rules were watered down.
The magazine stated that there were secularising pressures, such as secular views on over-population, “the ‘gay rights’ agenda seeping in through text books” and even abortion agency leaflets in libraries, the editorial said.
“For a teacher or priest to attempt to challenge such situations can be precarious. They might be considered ‘rigid’ or ‘conservative’ unlike the nice people at ‘the diocese’ who recognise that we have to live in a pluralist society and we must not try to create a Catholic enclave with a ‘ghetto mentality’ in a secular society”.
The magazine argued that “if we are to tough it out with state-funded Catholic schools in the mainstream voluntaryaided or academy sectors, there is a desperate need for the training of Catholic teachers. If this were based straightforwardly on an in-depth study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it would be an immense step forward.
“This brings us face to face with a further change in society over recent years, namely the encroachment of the state upon religious freedom. To be fully Catholic our schools now have to be radically counter-cultural. One of the hot-button issues for the foreseeable future will be the question of homosexuality in general, and civil unions and gay marriage in particular.”
Praising the US bishops in opposing President Obama’s contraceptive mandate, the editorial said: “If we are to continue Catholic education we have to take the same robust approach to the question of gay marriage and any subsequent attempt to take away our liberty to proclaim Catholic teaching – especially in our schools.
“The alternative would be to make a tactical retreat, hand over our schools gradually to the state and insist on the right of Catholic pupils in state education to be treated with the same consideration as people of other faiths.
“Our parishes would then need to provide a focused Catholic catechesis on faith, morals and prayer for the children and young people who are part of the families who keep the Church going.”
BY ED WEST
PRO-LIFE groups have described new figures on the number of repeat abortions as “disturbing”.
It was announced this week that the National Health Service is spending around £1million a week providing abortions for women who have already had at least one termination, accounting for a third of the 189,000 that took place in England and Wales in 2010.
The statistics showed that repeat abortions were most prevalent in London, with Croydon having the highest ratio of repeat abortions, half of all terminations being carried out on women who had previously had at least one abortion.
Across the country almost 100 of the women who came back for at least their second termination were under the age of 20. In total, some 9,564 married women had a repeat abortion in 2010, while a total of 85 women had an abortion despite having had seven previous terminations.
Figures late last year showed that each abortion costs the NHS an average of £680, with £850,000 being spent on repeat abortions every single week in England and Wales.
A spokesman for the charity Life said the figures indicated “a problem with the way in which the Abortion
Act operates”. He said: “These statistics strongly suggest that abortion is no longer being seen as a last resort in uniquely difficult situations, but something much more routine and normalised.
“The original intent of the Act was to ‘help’ a small number of women in a small number of very serious situations. That was how it was presented to the British people and that was the basis on which it was passed, in the face of huge opposition in the Parliament and the country. Now it seems that both the letter and the spirit of the law are being largely ignored. The ‘hard cases’ – rape, risk to the mother’s life or health, foetal disability – between them make up less than three per cent of abortions in Britain.”
Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said the “disturbing” figures suggested that “in many areas abortion is being used unlawfully to try to cut the birthrate among minority and low-income groups more likely to claim benefits.”
He said he believed that officials at the Department of Health were continuing to tell doctors and hospitals to provide abortion on demand despite a directive issued by Professor Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer, instructing providers to comply fully with the medical conditions required for abortions.
NEWSBULLETIN Bishops to develop English and Welsh catechism ARCHBISHOP Vincent Nichols of Westminster has announced plans to produce a catechism for England and Wales for the forthcoming Year of Faith.
The archbishop told the Zenit news agency: “The Year of Faith, especially in England and Wales, is going to be used as a time in which, step-by-step, we explore more deeply the content of faith. We will use the catechism. We will use the Youcat [a catechism for young people]. We are developing a catechism for England and Wales, and it will be a year that looks very much at the content and the understanding of faith.”
The Year of Faith will begin on October 11 and end on November 24 2013. It was announced by Pope Benedict XVI last year.
Ex-blogger to be ordained a priest FORMER Anglo-Catholic scholar John Hunwicke is among 21 men to be ordained priests for the ordinariate this year.
Mr Hunwicke, a former Anglican priest and senior research fellow at Pusey House, Oxford, stopped his influential blog last June, saying his ordination had been “deferred” because of a misunderstanding over its content.
The ordinations of the 21 men will bring the number of ordinariate priests to about 80.
Blogger Fr Ray Blake said he was very pleased at the news. “I hope now he will be able to take up blogging again,” he said: “For many cradle Catholics his work on the net helped to overcome prejudices and deepen an understanding of Anglican-papalism/Catholicism’s heritage and convince many of the value of the ordinariate when it was finally announced. His concise and erudite and witty posts enabled many of us to appreciate a side of Anglicanism that was hidden from Catholics.”
Church mourns victims of fire CATHOLICS in Derby prayed for the six children killed in a house fire at a Mass and several other services last weekend.
Fr Alan Burbidge of St George’s Catholic church in Derby said the Philpott family, some of whose children were killed in the blaze, were occasional members of his congregation. “We will be helping the community deal with what has happened as best we can,” he said.
Pornography opt-out offered INTERNET provider TalkTalk is to ask all its users whether they want to opt in or out of being able to access pornography online.
TalkTalk unveiled the plan just after the Government announced it would not force internet users to opt-in to view pornography and other adult content on the internet. Campaigners hoped such a measure would help to stop teenagers looking at pornography.
Glasgow cathedral wins award ST ANDREW’S Metropolitan Cathedral in Glasgow, which re-opened after renovation work last April, has won a conservation award from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Scotland.
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Diocese bulldozes church without telling parishioners
BY ED WEST
PARISHIONERS in Berkshire have expressed shock and anger after their church was demolished by the diocese.
Demolition work started on St Margaret Clitherow church in Bracknell earlier this month, 18 months after the church was closed, with many of locals unaware that plans were going ahead to knock down the building.
Parishioners say they are unhappy at the way the Diocese of Portsmouth communicated plans for the demolition of the church, which had suffered several acts of vandalism and become too costly to maintain. Members of the parish have asked the diocese to give them information about the future of the garden of remembrance at the site.
The diocese decided to close the church last year after the theft of metal from the roof left it facing a bill of £100,000 for repairs. Overall the building had suffered 16 acts of vandalism or theft, with the police being unable to catch the culprits.
After being told that they would have to attend St Joseph’s parish, a mile away, the parishioners launched a campaign to try to save their church, including writing to the Vatican. But after the Vatican said it would investigate they heard nothing back.
Mike Hendy, chairman of the Friends of St Margaret’s, criticised the actions of the Church at a diocesan and Vatican level.
He said: “We appealed to the Vatican and they said they would look into it. In November last year they wrote to us to ask if they could investigate in March. By the middle of April we wrote to them but there was no reply.”
On May 1 the church was demolished, with no announcement being made in the newsletter of St Joseph’s, the parish church where parishioners had moved to, prior to the demolition.
Mr Hendy said: “We reckon the diocese had to know about it for three weeks and chose not to announce it. It’s another example of total lack of communication.
“We’ve still not heard from the Vatican, which I think is appalling.
“We were told that people will get used to St Joseph’s, but people have not. People have dissipated to many other churches, while some have left and are now attending St Michaels Church of England, and some others have stopped going altogether. I have stopped because I’ve lost all respect for the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.”
Former parishioners had a gettogether last week and attended a Mass of thanksgiving, during which a local priest said there had been mistakes in the way the matter was handled. But Mr Hendy said: “It’s not up to the local priest. It should have been a collective apology from the clergy.”
On the evening after the demolition a dozen parishioners held a silent vigil outside.
Mr Hendy said: “The church is not a building, it is a community.”
The demolition had been approved by the council last summer after the church was closed in late 2010, but the diocese still needed approval from the
Ministry of Justice and from next of kin to move ashes that lie in the garden of remembrance. Two next of kin on the Friends of St Margaret’s committee have reportedly yet to be approached.
Mr Hendy said he would like the land to remain as a garden of remembrance. It is currently only zoned to be a Catholic church but Bracknell Forest council could change its purpose to potentially allow homes to be built. The area, in London’s commuter belt, is in great demand as a prime location for homes.
Parishioners also complain that, though they were given a quote by one builder of £30,000 to fix the roof, they were not given the opportunity to start an appeal, unlike a neighbouring church. Mr Hendy said he knew of several families that were “utterly distraught” over the future of their relatives’ graves, with one parishioner telling the local newspaper that the episode had left him feeling deeply angry.
Parishioners have been leaving messages on the campaigners’ Facebook page following the arrival of bulldozers. One, Michelle Wood, said: “I feel like crying after the bulldozers [came in]. A whole community has been let down.” Another, Alessandra Rutili, said: “Memories might not be bulldozed, but the future Catholic community of our families is. Not only our own Church has shown no interest in its members, but the rest of the Catholic community has turned its back on us too. They haven’t left me with much faith to hold on to.”
A spokesman for Portsmouth
Diocese said the decision had been a sad one but that “most of the parish have been united” with the local St Joseph’s parish.
“It’s always very sad, but there was a continual vandalising of the church. There have been 16 incidents of recorded vandalism, mainly of materials from the roof. The police have been actively involved, and even had cameras at one time,” he said.
He added that “the decision had been communicated that the church would be demolished”, but said: “We certainly didn’t advertise the fact, but that was only to prevent some unpleasantness, as although most people accepted it, there were going to be some people who didn’t accept it, as happens when a church closes. There were safety reasons.”
Schools told to offer ‘balance’ on gay marriage
BY ED WEST
THE WELSH government has insisted that Catholic schools must give a “balanced perspective” when discussing same-sex marriage with their pupils, following complaints over “homophobic” and political teaching.
Leighton Andrews, the Welsh education minister, claimed that the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales (CES) may have breached the 1996 Education Act by promoting a petition in schools against the legalisation of same-sex marriage.
Last month atheist groups criticised the CES for distributing Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster and Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark’s pastoral letter on marriage to almost 400 schools, following the Coalition Government’s consultation on proposed changes to the legal definition of marriage.
The archbishop’s letter set out the Catholic view of marriage, and though it did not mention homosexuality, one sixth-form pupil at a London Catholic school complained to a gay website. Pupils aged 16 or over were also encouraged to sign the
Coalition for Marriage’s petition, which has been signed by more than 600,000 people.
Secular and humanist campaigners accused Catholic schools of “political indoctrination” by promoting the campaign among schoolchildren. But Church education chiefs insisted they were “proud” to teach Catholic values in schools.
Ministers in both London and Cardiff were asked to look into the matter amid allegations that schools could be breaking equality and political impartiality laws.
In a written statement Leighton Andrews said: “Following the media coverage, I sought advice from my officials as to whether there had been any potential breach of duties under the Equality Act 2010 or duties in relation to political impartiality in the Education Act 1996.”
He said that he had been advised that the archbishops’ letter was not homophobic and therefore did not break equality laws, but that the call to oppose the change in the law could constitute a political act, banned under the 1996 Education Act.
“Section 407 of the 1996 Act requires schools to take whatever reasonably practical steps are necessary to ensure that where political issues are brought to the attention of pupils they are offered a balanced presentation of opposing views,” he said. “While the online petition is not directly related to a party political matter it could be seen as relating to political matters generally as the petition seeks to lobby the current Westminster Government to prevent a change in the law. Opposing a proposed change in the law could itself be considered to be a political act.
“I have therefore written to all the Roman Catholic secondary schools in Wales reminding head teachers and governing bodies of their duty and responsibilities under the 1996 Act in particular. I have asked them to ensure that if any pupils have been made aware of the correspondence, that those pupils will also be made aware of the converse view in order to give them a balanced perspective.”
Ministers in Westminster are still looking into whether to issue a similar warning to schools in England. A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said ministers were “anxious to establish the full facts”.
HELP LITTLE WAY PROVIDE SHEEP FOR THE SHEPHERDS
Fr Emmanuel, a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate, has written to THE LITTLE WAY ASSOCIATION from Lesotho, a small independent country in southern Africa. “The people here are very poor,” he explains, and “many are kept alive through international food aid, so they have nothing to spare for their priests or for young men training for the priesthod. We have 43 seminarians and we must also continue our ministry to young people, especially preaching retreats in high schools, to compensate for the decline in the teaching of religion and Christian morality here. We are living in a situation where the needs far exceed income but we do have some pasture land in South Africa that could be used to support our work in Lesotho in the long term. Can you help to provide sheep for the Shepherds of Christ?
“I pray daily for missionaries.”
The sum of £100 will pay for one ewe “We have managed to obtain two rams, and now we need to purchase thirty ewes. Our aim is to raise sheep and beef cattle to finance our ministry here. The cost of one ewe is approximately £100. Please Little Way will you help us?” Your gift, large or small, will be most gratefully received and sent WITHOUT DEDUCTION to help provide sheep for the Missionary Fathers in Lesotho.
Crossed POs and cheques should be sent and made payable to: THE LITTLE WAY ASSOCIATION, CH/05/18 119 Cedars Rd, Clapham Common, London SW4 0PR (Registered Charity No. 235703) Tel. 020-7622 0466 I enclose £ ...............to be allocated for: £...... ... SHEEP REARING PROJECT, LESOTHO £.......... ROOFING CHAPELS / £......... NEEDY CHILDREN £......... MASS STIPENDS (please state no. ) £......... LITTLE WAY ADMIN. EXPENSES
DONATIONS FOR THE MISSIONS ARE SENT WITHOUT DEDUCTION FOR ANY EXPENSES.
Name (Rev. Mr. Mrs. Miss) (Block letters please) Address
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED AT WALSINGHAM The Little Way Association is looking for volunteers, perhaps an active retired couple, to run its Theresian Guest House in Walsingham during the pilgrimage season, May to October this year. The voluntary post, which is resident, involves general housekeeping duties, providing guests with a light breakfast, promoting the message of St Therese and encouraging prayer for the Missions. If this work appeals to you please write to Maria Grcar (President), at the address in the coupon.
BBC religion chief: audiences want ‘less conflict, more theology’
THE PUBLIC want to hear about the theology and history of religion rather than its conflicts, the BBC’s head of religion and ethics has said.
Delivering the annual World Communications Day Lecture Mass this week Aaqil Ahmed (pictured) said: “Our audiences are very diverse and we can’t expect to service all of them with the same output. We need to make programmes that interest the religious, the non-religious, the nonreligious literate and the general viewer.”
Speaking at the annual event at the Mount Street Jesuit Centre in central London, Mr Ahmed explained: “Research told me that people wanted to know more about the basics of religion. They wanted to know less about the conflict and more about its roots in history and theology. Hence projects such as How God made the English, The Bible’s Buried Secrets, Seven Wonders of Buddhism and Jerusalem: The Making of a Holy City. They refresh the genre and fit into this thirst for knowledge.”
Peer: state partly to blame for huge loss of faith BY SIMON CALDWELL
CHRISTIANS must insist that religious freedom is an intrinsic aspect of human dignity, Lord Alton said in his Tyburn Lecture last week.
The crossbench peer also said he considered the increasing loss of faith in Britain as the gravest deprivation of all, and he blamed this on “a combination of the breakdown of strong family and community life along with the deliberate actions of the state”.
He said in the 2012 Tyburn Lecture at the Tyburn Convent in London: “The claim for religious freedom is a universal one, securing the freedom of all people of conscience – Christian or not – to embrace the religious belief of their choice.”
The convent, the motherhouse of the Adorers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Montmartre, stands close to the site of the Tyburn gallows, where 105 Catholics were martyred during the 16th and 17th centuries.
the things which we believe about the dignity of the human person made in God’s image – than Tyburn”.
This was the place, said Lord Alton, where Catholics sacrificed their lives to pave the way “for the religious freedoms and liberties which we enjoy today, and which, too often, we take for granted”.
“We must be clear about that struggle and the interconnectedness of history with the present day, and the interconnectedness of the banning of a person’s right to wear a cross with the most vicious forms of discrimination and persecution,” he said. “The Tyburn story is a story that has great application in our own times.
“Tyburn’s is a poignant and disturbing story of immense cruelty and barbarism. It is a story of a perverted legal system, and it reminds us to what intolerance, the crushing of conscience, and what Thomas More described as the breaking of ‘the unity of life’ inexorably lead.”
Lord Alton said that English Catholics must never forget the persecution their forefathers endured during the Protestant Reformation, and he said the lessons of that struggle applied to the present time.
In a speech entitled “What Price Faith?” he told his audience there was “nowhere better to make the case for knowing the story of our faith – and recalling the price which has been paid for our right to practice and to share our faith and
He said that the story of the Tyburn martyrs must be re-told “because of the courage, heroism and virtue which it represents. It must be told because of the high price which was paid. We all know that when a faith is worth dying for, it is worth living for.”
Previous speakers at Tyburn have included Cherie Blair, papal biographer George Weigel and Sir Michael Jackson, the former head of the British Army.
The London Oratory FEAST OF ST PHILIP NERI
Saturday 26th MAY, 11.00am
Pontifical High Mass celebrated by
H.E. Raymond Cardinal Burke Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura
Solemn 1st Vespers of St Philip & Pontifical Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament by Cardinal Burke
Friday 25th, 5.30pm www.bromptonoratory.com