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NOVEMBER 18 2011 THE CATHOLIC HERALD
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Priest: ‘I hope God will fix it for Jimmy’
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
THE CONCELEBRANT at the funeral of Catholic broadcaster and philanthropist Sir Jimmy Saville prayed that he would receive the “ultimate reward” of a place in heaven at his funeral Mass last week.
Addressing hundreds of mourners present in St Anne’s Cathedral in Leeds, Sir Jimmy’s parish church, Mgr Kieran Heskin said: “We pray this afternoon that the Great Producer on high, who decides all our destinies, will so fix it and that Jimmy will be given the ultimate reward: a place in heaven. May God grant eternal rest to his noble soul.”
The popular television presenter most renowned for his Saturday afternoon show, Jim’ll Fix It, died at home on October 29 two days short of his 85th birthday, prompting an outpouring of tributes from fans and broadcasters across the nation.
Following his death, Sir Jimmy’s satin gold coffin was displayed at the Queen’s Hotel in Leeds, where almost 4,000 people lined up to pay their respects.
His funeral Mass took place in Leeds the following day and he was buried at Woodlands cemetery last Thursday in the seaside town of Scarborough. His coffin was angled at 45 degrees to fulfil his wish to “see the sea”.
Speaking at the star’s funeral, Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds said: “Today Jimmy lies at the front of this cathedral where, in
Clockwise from left: two men pay their respects in trademark Sir Jimmy tracksuits; the order of service; the cigar, crucifix and gold coffin former years, he had remained discreetly hidden at the back in order not to disturb people’s prayers or distract their attention from what was taking place at the altar.
“This afternoon, he occupies the first place always in our thoughts, affections and prayers.”
Mgr Heskin of Leeds diocese, who knew Sir Jimmy well, delivered the homily at the funeral Mass during which he described Sir Jimmy as “a man of deep faith and of strong Christian conviction”.
He said: “He was a Catholic who faithfully attended Mass on Sundays and also during the week when he could. Many of us, as the bishop has mentioned, have been accustomed to seeing him slip discreetly into church, standing just inside the door at the back, quietly taking part.
“Outside church, of course, it was a different story. He was the extrovert performer, entertainer and fundraiser.”
During his homily, Mgr Heskin also spoke of Sir Jimmy’s fidelity to the Church’s commandments.
He said: “When Christ was asked which were the most important commandments of the 613 that occur in the first books of the Old Testament, he broke them down to two. He said: ‘You must love the Lord your God with your whole heart and soul and your neighbour as yourself.’
“Jimmy’s fulfilment of the first of these great commandments, ‘You must love the Lord your God’ was exemplary; his fulfilment of the second commandment, ‘you must love your neighbour as yourself’ is public knowledge.”
The priest also appealed to his congregation to be confident that Sir Jimmy was now with God and to pray for him. He said: “Despite the separation, hold on to the conviction that he lives on with God, that you will meet him again and enjoy his company and his love.
“Do remember also to keep him in your prayers. The Scriptures tell us that it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be released from their sins.
“Jimmy himself, on this very topic, in a PS to his autobiography added: ‘I hope He really does take it easy on sinners!’”
Commenting on the atmosphere at the funeral Mgr Heskin said: “The liturgy was wonderful and the music was excellent. Everything was done with the smoothness and dignity that you would expect in a cathedral.
“It was the place, after all, where Jimmy was baptised and where his mother prayed for him when he was a seriously ill new-born baby.”
Jimmy Saville was born in Leeds in 1926. He died a bachelor with a strong devotion to his mother who he referred to as “the Duchess”. He continued to store and dry clean her clothes after she had died.
During a documentary towards the end of his life Sir Jimmy was asked why he often claimed that he felt no emotions. He said: “Because it’s easier. The truth is I am very good at masking them.”
Sir Jimmy was renowned for his generous spirit through his voluntary work at Leeds General Infirmary and Stoke Mandeville Hospital. He focused a lot of his charitable efforts on helping children with spinal injuries.
Shropshire’s only Catholic school to be merged
BY ED WEST
THE ONLY Catholic secondary school in Shropshire will be merged with an Anglican neighbour due to falling rolls, it has been announced.
The merging of Blessed Robert Johnson (BRJ) Catholic College in Wellington, Telford, will mean that for parents the nearest Catholic schools would be as far away as Crewe or Stafford.
The mixed, voluntary-aided school has suffered from a decline in the number of children of school age in the area,
which has led to a shortfall in the district of 1,200 secondary school-age pupils. The school is already evenly split between Catholics and nonCatholics, and the former are in decline.
Under Labour’s £1.9 billion Building Schools for the Future programme there had been plans to rebuild and modernise the school, but these appear to have fallen victim to the Coalition’s reduced funds for the initiative.
Under new council proposals the school’s pupils would be moved to a new Christian Academy, to be jointly run with the Church of England. The Diocese of Shrewsbury has agreed to give up the building, transferring the land to Telford and Wrekin Council, and has been in talks with the two Anglican dioceses, Litchfield and Hereford, that cover the area.
Councillor Paul Watling, Telford and Wrekin cabinet member for children, young people and families, said: “The new proposals will achieve better value for money from the Building Schools for the Future programme while continuing to create high-quality learning environments for our young people as well as community facilities for all.”
The school, named after a Catholic priest from Shropshire who was executed for his faith in 1582 and beatified in 1889, is described by Ofsted as being “satisfactory”, although inspectors did praise it for improvement in many areas. The report said: “One member of staff captured the views of many in describing the college as being ‘like part of a family’. The college is a cohesive and harmonious community. The Gospel values are very effectively promoted and high-quality care is also provided. These strengths explain why many of the personal development outcomes are good.”
There are concerns among some parents that the Catholic ethos of the new school will be lost along with the name, with some Catholics critical of the track record of previous joint Anglican-Catholic schools. A consultation is due to take place at the school on Monday November 21 at 6.30pm.
Headmaster Robert Hall wrote on the school website: “This is an exciting prospect,
but brings with it a degree of uncertainty. It is not correct to say that BRJ is closing. The proposal is to move BRJ to be part of a much bigger school and sixth form, to be supported by both the Catholic and Anglican churches.”
He told the Herald that the move was the consequence of demographic change. “Shropshire is a sparsely populated county, especially in terms of Catholics. The numbers of Catholic students themselves has declined, even with the arrival of some migrants. Next year in one borough there is a 200-student decline.”
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Irish are misled over child abuse, says archbishop Archbishop gives village parish to ordinariate priests
BY ED WEST
THE IRISH people have been “misled about the extent of abuse by priests”, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has said.
In a homily at a Mass in the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin last weekend, the Primate of Ireland said that priests had been wronged as a result of the misinformation.
Speaking at a Mass to celebrate the lives of nine priests who had died in the diocese this year, Archbishop Martin talked about the change in the priestly vocation during their long lives.
He said: “I was reflecting that the two eldest of these priests, Dan Breen and Noel Madden, were both ordained in 1955. I was reflecting on the change that they would have experienced over those years. Priests in Dublin face new challenges as numbers decrease and the workload grows and the general cultural climate changes.
“Priests in Dublin have faced really difficult times in the past years,” he said: “With all of you, I am saddened and horrified to see the results of a recent survey which showed how misled people have been about the extent of abuse by priests. Some of those questioned for the survey imagined that over 20 per cent of priests had abused.”
Archbishop Martin was referring to a survey commissioned by the Iona Institute think-tank which found that 42 per cent of Irish people believed the number of priests guilty of child abuse was over 20 per cent. In the survey 70 per cent of people overestimated the prevalence of clerical abusers, and one in four believed that 40 per cent or more of all priests were child abusers. Five per cent believed that between 90 per cent and 100 per cent of Catholic priests are guilty of child abuse.
“The horror we all experience at the dreadful reality of abuse in no ways justifies such injustice to the entire body of priests in this country,” the archbishop said.
Rather, the nine priests had represented what was best in Dublin priests, he said. “The love and the affection and the care they had for us in this life endure.”
He said that being a believer in Jesus Christ was not easy today. “We should remember, however, that difficult times are never alien to the ministry and the life of the Church. Faith is not easy. All of us will have experienced and will experience moments in which our faith in God will be stretched almost to breaking point. Faith is not certainty. Finding Jesus in our lives is not given to us on a plate. Our faith has to engage with the hostilities of every generation,” he said.
BY MARK GREAVES
ARCHBISHOP Peter Smith of Southwark has entrusted a village parish in Kent to the care of two ordinariate priests.
In a letter he said that Fr Ed Tomlinson and Fr Nicholas Leviseur would take over the pastoral care of all Catholics in Pembury.
His decision was welcomed by Mgr Keith Newton, the head of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.
Archbishop Smith said the St Anselm community at Pembury, outside Tunbridge Wells, would be a “quasiparish”, which, according to canon law, is “a community of faithful... entrusted to a priest as its proper pastor but because of special circumstances not yet established as a parish”.
One priest, Fr Tomlinson, will also be chaplain at the local hospital.
The archbishop said in his letter that the parish should serve as “home to both the local Catholic community and also to ordinariate members in the Tunbridge Wells area”.
He said: “It is important that the patrimony and culture of both is properly valued and preserved, and it is anticipated that, for as long as it seems prudent, the current practice of holding two Masses which reflect two differing traditions should be retained.
“Until now the two groups have necessarily existed in parallel, each with its own structures, priest and agenda. I, and those I have consulted, do not believe that this situation has proved fruitful in nurturing unity.
“So I dearly hope that, in looking to one priest and truly sharing resources, the whole community can now come together and explore a shared future together as two lungs of one vibrant Catholic body,” the archbishop said.
Mgr Newton said he was “delighted” at the progress of the Pembury ordinariate group, which he said was expecting three new members in time for Christmas.
He said he was grateful to Archbishop Smith for providing a “clear way forward”, adding: “I am very confident that a bright future awaits all who currently worship at St Anselm’s chapel and hall.”
The Pembury “quasiparish” is thought to be the first in Britain to be entrusted to priests of the ordinariate. It will still be part of the diocese, though, not the ordinariate, and its priests will answer to Archbishop Smith rather than to Mgr Newton.
The ordinariate still has no church buildings and no headquarters.
NEWSBULLETIN Bishops discuss approach to gay marriage legislation THE BISHOPS of England and Wales put resisting moves to legalise gay marriage at the top of their agenda during their plenary meeting this week.
respond to the Government’s consultation on the legalisation of same-sex marriage.
As the bishops met at Hinsley Hall, Leeds, for their four-day bi-annual meeting, the Department for Christian Responsibility under the leadership of Archbishop Peter Smith led discussions on how to
The bishops were also due to hear from the Ordinary of the Ordinariate, Mgr Keith Newton, about the progress of the ordinariate. They were also expected to discuss the New Evangelisation in connection with the imminent Year of Faith.
Ecumenical study guide published YORK COURSES has published a new ecumenical course for Lent 2012 aimed at study groups within the major denominations. Called Handing on the Torch – Sacred Words for a Secular World it consists of a course booklet and CD and features Catholic journalist Clifford Longley together with the Most Rev John Sentamu, Archbishop of York.
The five course sessions cover whether Britain is a Christian country, the apparent decline of the churches, the competing faiths in contemporary Britain and how best to hand on the Christian faith. There are questions for discussion and follow-up activities.
Previous courses have featured Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, the Abbots of Worth and Ampleforth and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor.
Course details and ordering information are available at Yorkcourses.co.uk or on 01904 466516.
Catholics mark interfaith week NATIONAL Inter Faith Week begins on Sunday and lasts until Saturday. Among the events held in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be an interfaith pilgrimage in Watford, which will stop off at a church, a synagogue and a mosque.
Archbishop Kevin McDonald of Southwark called it “an opportunity to take some kind of initiative in the area of relations with people of other religions”.
Jubilee priests meet the Pope FOUR priests celebrating 60 years of priesthood were among a group of 38 who met the Pope this week.
Fr Austin Garvey of Westminster, Fr James Doherty of Hexham, and Fr Michael O’Connor and Fr John Gaine of Liverpool were invited to Rome by the rector of the Venerable English College Mgr Nicholas Hudson, along with 15 priests celebrating golden jubilees and 19 ruby jubilarians.
Competition winners announced THE WINNERS of our The Way DVD competition are Kathleen Lavelle, M E Glancy, P A Proctor, Peter O’Sullivan and J Harrower.
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School criticised for showing graphic video to pupils
BY ED WEST
A SCHOOL in south London is the centre of a controversy among parents after sexually explicit material was shown to 14-yearolds in a Religious Education class.
Parents at Bonus Pastor Catholic College in Downham, south-east London, were alarmed after being told about the videos by their children.
One of the videos, from the 2005 film Keeping Mum, shows a young couple being caught having sex by the girl’s mother, who then seduces a golf instructor after being taunted by her daughter that she “isn’t getting any”. The fiveminute clip includes female nudity and several uses of the F-word.
Another film, A Short Stay in Switzerland, presents a positive image of euthanasia. It shows a woman, after a failed suicide attempt, travelling to Switzerland to get “the medical assistance I need to die”. At the clinic she dies surrounded by her family.
The films were shown to a Year 10 class of 14- and 15-year-olds as part of a Religious Education module on adultery. But in February one parent, Joseph Clovis, wrote to the school expressing concern and met headmistress Ruth Holden.
Mr Clovis said: “There were some issues that I really wasn’t happy about. She seemed concerned but she said there was nothing wrong with it.” He then went to the chair of governors, who was surprised by the content, but the matter did not go any further.
He said: “My son was too embarrassed to tell me about it.
He only mentioned it to his brother. It didn’t destroy their modesty, but it did attack it. My son had actually stood up in class and asked to be excused, but he was forced to stand down.
“The topic was adultery and fornication. I’m just glad they were not teaching about child abuse and rape if this is how they teach it.”
He said that the chair of governors was “visibly horrified” by what he showed her. But then “we got a letter back saying it’s quite appropriate. She acknowledged that some families had a different attitude, but that the children are living in the real world.”
Mr Clovis said that “up to 20” families shared his concern, and with the help of family members he set up a website, Bonus Pastor Exposed, which published their correspondence with the school,
Bishop disputes claim of abuse in landmark case showed the videos in question and invited Catholic parents to write to the school. Google gave the videos an adult certificate.
Last week, when Mr Clovis, his brother Greg and three other supporters turned up at the school gates to distribute leaflets to children, the school called the police.
Joseph Clovis, whose son achieved among the best GCSE results of his year, has since been told that he cannot attend the prizegiving ceremony.
Father-of-10 Greg Clovis said that other parents had asked not to be identified for the time being and that the website received 12,000 hits on its second night.
He said: “It’s hard to raise children when the school does not reflect our world view. It is important for us to get the school to review the material, to at least take out the offending bits. I would love to take the website down. We could have said nothing, but as Edmund Burke said: ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.’ If nothing else it will help other parents with difficulties with the school.
“Ever since sex education came in we have always said: ‘Look, we don’t want our children to go through this.’ But the reality is that parents consistently lose.”
Principal Ruth Holden said: “The school does not concur with the statement made, which does not resemble the reality of school life at Bonus Pastor Catholic College. We are a thriving community with strong support from the parents, the local community and the diocese. Ofsted recently judged the college’s curriculum, care, guidance and support to be outstanding. We also received many outstanding features in the Section 48 Inspection, which is the Religious Education inspection, which takes place alongside the whole school Ofsted inspection.
“The Catholic ethos at the college is very strong and we value the close relationships that we have with our parishes and our community. GCSE RE results are outstanding and the RE department is one of the strongest in the college for both teaching and endorsing our strong Catholic ethos.”
The Southwark Diocese Board of Education was unavailable for comment.
Norman Wells of the Family Education Trust said it was “disturbing” that such clips “should be considered suitable for pupils to view as a basis for discussion in a course on Catholic Christianity”.
He added: “It is no less disturbing that a faith school should use such explicit and blasphemous films in class without exercising their discretion and then dig their heels in when challenged by parents. It is quite possible to discuss sexual ethics and life issues without using graphic and explicit films.”
Fr Tim Finigan, a parish priest in south-east London, said: “As a priest I have heard many similar stories from other Catholic schools and colleges, though usually those who complain do not wish to be in the public eye, and do not gather materials and correspondence in the way this family has. If they complain... they are fobbed off with excuses and nothing is done.”
BY SIMON CALDWELL
A CATHOLIC bishop has disputed the claims of a woman at the centre of a landmark court ruling against the Church that she was raped by a priest as a child.
Bishop Crispian Hollis of Portsmouth said he did not accept the woman’s story because the priest was stationed many miles away from the children’s home where she lived.
The woman, known by the initials JGE, last week won a major legal ruling against the Church when High Court judge Mr Justice MacDuff gave her permission to sue the diocese and its bishop for damages if her case proved successful when it is heard next year.
The woman is seeking thousands of pounds in compensation for abuse she says she endured at the hands of Fr Wilfred Baldwin at a children’s home in the Diocese of Portsmouth in the 1970s.
She said that as a sevenyear-old she was repeatedly raped by the priest and even attacked by him in the robing room of a church on the day she made her First Holy
Communion. She is also seeking damages from the English Province of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity because she says the nuns witnessed the abuse but did not intervene.
Bishop Hollis said: “The primary reason that we are defending this claim is that at the time the claimant was resident at the home Fr Baldwin was based at the other end of the diocese and had no connection with the children’s home.
“The diocese does not therefore accept the claimant’s allegations against Fr Baldwin,’ he said.
“The claimant has the benefit of a court order whereby she cannot be identified,’ Bishop Hollis added.
“Unfortunately, the same consideration has not been extended to Fr Baldwin, who was a priest of unblemished character until these allegat ions were made shortly before his death and who had no opportunity to respond to the allegations made against him.”
The accuser first made her complaint in 2006 after detectives investigating Fr Baldwin contacted her to ask if she had been abused by him. Inquiries concluded the same year with the death of the priest at the age of 75.
JGE is now seeking compensation for pain, injury, humiliation and hurt feelings, saying that she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, a borderline personality disorder, has attempted suicide and seen her career prospects suffer as a result of the abuse.
Her victory at a preliminary hearing in the High Court redefined the relationship between a bishop and his priests as that of employer and employees, instead of the priest being self-employed.
Survivors’ groups hope that i t will mean that complainants will be able to obtain compensation more easily.
But this week they were furious that Bishop Hollis, who is considering an appeal against the ruling, had spoken out so strongly against the woman so pivotal to their efforts.
Anne Lawrence of Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors said: “To infer that the victim is lying about what happened to her is outrageous, as the bishop has
The Cathedral of St John the Evangelist, seat of the Bishop of Portsmouth absolutely no evidence to support such an allegation. People, including Roman Catholic priests from England, have been known to travel the world to abuse children, so a hop in a car across a diocese would be no great obstacle to overcome.”
But Chris Saltrese, a solicitor who specialises in representing people who say they have been falsely accused of abuse, welcomed the bishop’s intervention.
“It’s refreshing to see the Bishop of Portsmouth taking a stand,” he said. “There has been a concerted campaign of ‘mission creep’ against the Catholic Church in the courts where the cases may be judged not by the likelihood of abuse, but by the alleged psychological effects. This can be highly misleading and prejudicial.
“It’s time the public woke up to the fact that in addition to genuine cases of abuse, false allegations, whether through conscious lying or delusion, are common.”
Allegations of child abuse by priests doubled last year when the visit by Pope Bene
Catholicrelics.co.uk dict XVI triggered a fresh surge of historical claims. Figures released in the summer showed that half of the allegations – 46 of a total of 92 – were dismissed after investigations by the statutory authorities found many of them to be unfounded.
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Heart of saint to be venerated at vocations festival BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
THE MIRACULOUSLY incorrupt heart of St John Vianney will prolong its visit to Britain next year by adding the extra destination of Birmingham to its itinerary.
The famous relic, which was expected to tour the Diocese of Shrewsbury only, will be taken to a major vocations conference in Birmingham, which is scheduled to take place next year.
The heart of the patron saint of priests, which is encased in a glass reliquary, will be taken to the third Invocation festival for young Catholics considering life as either a priest or a member of a religious order or congregation.
Fr Stephen Langridge, the chairman of the Vocations Directors’ Conference of England and Wales and an organiser of Invocation, said: “The presence of the relic of St John Vianney should encourage us all to reflect on the importance of the priesthood in Christian life.
“For any young man considering a priestly vocation the example of the parish priest of Ars is a reminder that he is called above all to union with Christ in prayer and also in self-sacrificing dedication to his people.
“St John Vianney used to say: ‘The priest is the heart of Jesus Christ.’ What is important for us is not only that the relic will be at Invocation but that through it we are put in contact with the example of a saintly priest and intercessor for all priests before God’s throne.
“Having taken groups of young pilgrims to Ars in the past I am very confident the presence of the relic will resonate with them in ways some older people, along with a secularised world, may find difficult to comprehend.
“But we shouldn’t be surprised that in a world which proposes the real absence of God there remains a deep yearning for His Real Presence and therefore the relic of St John Vianney’s heart can help us transcend the present to draw inspiration from eternity.”
The vocations event, which next year will focus particularly on the priesthood and its role in the life of the Church, will be held at St Mary’s College, Oscott, Birmingham, from July 6 to July 8.
The organisers hope that the relic will be present at the festival during the morning of Sunday July 8 before the wider public may be given the opportunity to venerate the heart at the college later in the afternoon.
St John Vianney, who grew up amid religious persecution in France after the Revolution, was a parish priest in a French village where his reputation as a confessor and director of souls made him famous across the world. Pope Benedict XVI declared a Year for Priests in honour of the 150th anniversary of his death.
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