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AUGUST 19 2011 THE CATHOLIC HERALD
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Poles pray for victims of Jersey murders
BY MARK GREAVES
POLES in Jersey are mourning the victims of a knife attack that killed six people on Sunday, including three children.
A Requiem Mass was to be celebrated in English and Polish yesterday for the two families who were stabbed to death and for those left bereaved.
Mgr Nicholas France said he hoped that at such a time of crisis that Catholics on the island would pray to Our Lady of Częstochowa, patron and Queen of Poland who was celebrated this week on the feast of the Assumption.
A man who is suspected of killing his wife, his children, his wife’s father and two family friends has been arrested and is under guard in a Jersey hospital. All of the victims were Poles.
Mgr France, a dean in the Diocese of Portsmouth, said the massacre was a “wound for the whole community”.
He said: “In our church we have a shrine of Our Lady of Częstochowa, who is Queen of the Polish nation, and I said just as people run to their mother in a time of crisis or trouble so I hope they will go to Mary the Mother of God.” He said about 4,000 Poles had come to live in Jersey, which has a total population of 92,500.
Mourners at a Polish-language Mass in St Martin on Monday evening said the victims seemed like “almost the perfect family”.
Jakub Bartus, a family friend, described the children as “well brought-up and very chatty”.
He said: “The children were so beautiful, like angels – always with smiles on their faces and nice clothes. The home was immaculate, too.
“He worked as a carpenter, and earned enough to provide the family with a high standard of living,” he told the Guardian.
Mr Bartus’s wife, Marlena, said she had not seen the family for almost a year, but had always thought they seemed very happy.
“They were a lovely family, lovely kids. They were almost the perfect family. The children loved playing with their Mega Bloks and he used to push them in a trailer. The way we had seen him, he was a really good father.”
Fr Stanisław Adamiak, who celebrated the Mass on Monday, said he did not know the family but was aware that some people in the congregation were
Fr Stanisław Adamiak lights a candle at the Church of Our Lady in St Martin, Jersey Steve Parsons/ PA Wire friends with them.
He said: “I told them we are sure of the dignity of every human life. No matter if it’s English, Polish or Portuguese people, the loss of life is always a great tragedy. We pray, as there is nothing else we can do.”
The murders came at the end of a festival in St Helier, Jersey’s capital, to celebrate the island’s Polish links.
The man under arrest is thought to be Damian Rzeszowski, 30. The victims are his wife, Izabela Rzeszowska, their daughter, Kinga, aged six, and their 18-month-old son Kacper.
Izabela’s father, Marek, is also believed to be one of the victims, along with her friend Marta de la Haye and five-year-old daughter Julia. Witnesses described finding a woman lying on the pavement and then seeing around the corner a man chasing another woman with a kitchen knife.
Phillip Ngema, 19, said: “He stabbed the lady about four times in the chest. I was shouting at him – telling him to stop. But then he stabbed himself about four times, went back in the house and closed the door.” Another witness Bryan Ogesa, 24,
said he had used a traffic cone to defend himself as the man came towards him.
A friend of Damian Rzeszowski’s claimed that he had attempted to commit suicide following the breakdown of his marriage.
“Five weeks ago Damian seemed very down,” the friend told the Daily Mail. “And four weeks ago he took 80 pills, anti-depressants.
“I could not believe it when the hospital let him out the next day. He said: ‘I need help.’ I went to his flat and looked after his kids so his wife could go to the hospital to see him. I don’t know why the relationship was breaking down.
“He said they were going to be fine and that his family were going to go on holiday to Poland. They just got back on Sunday.
“They had been away for two or three weeks. They arrived in the morning and the killing started at 3pm.”
The Requiem Mass was scheduled for Thursday evening this week at St Thomas’s church in St Helier and was expected to be attended by the chief minister, Senator Terry Le Sueur, among other officials.
SISTERS who live near London neighbourhoods hit by riots are working with local authorities to help and counsel homeless victims.
Members of the Sisters of Marie Auxiliatrice, a Frenchbased community, made their decision after attending an ecumenical prayer vigil amid smouldering ruins and husks of burned-out vehicles in Tottenham last week.
Dublin-born Sister Sylvia McCarthy said:”The shops
Sisters offer to counsel victims of London riots BY SIMON CALDWELL
were burned out completely, and many people lived over those shops, and they had very little time to get out of their apartments.
“The people were in an awful state. They are short of everything.”
Sister Sylvia said she felt very sorry for the victims of the violence, which she described as “aimless”.
“I have been here over 20 years and I have seen the improvement in Tottenham since I first arrived,” she said. “They built up lovely shops,
and those shops are now just shells. They are burned to the ground.”
Many residents took with them only the clothes they wore – in some cases pyjamas – then watched as their homes burned, shocked by the reality of becoming suddenly homeless and losing nearly all their possessions.
Sister Margarita Foley, a native of County Cork, offered to counsel anyone suffering from trauma. The trained counsellor said her first instinct was to listen to people’s stories in an attempt to discern the true cause of the problem.
But although she said she feels compassion for many of those involved, she said: “We have become a culture which is looking out for everyone else to sort out our problems. We never ask ourselves: ‘What can I do?’
“There is a new generation now and they never seem to have enough. I look at the rest of the world, at areas where they have very little, and I say to myself: ‘What is it with us that we never have enough no matter what is provided?’A lot of people who are coming to Britain now are coming from deprived areas. They are creative in coming here, but when they get here they fall into the cycle of complaining about everything.”
The nuns also offered their help to the social services department of Haringey Council, the local authority, and collected clothing for some 45 families.
The riots erupted in the
Tottenham area, the scene of similar riots in 1985, following the shooting on August 4 by police of an armed man, Mark Duggan.
Looting and arson spread to other parts of the capital and to Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and other cities over the following three nights, leaving five dead, and causing tens of millions of pounds of damage. Mick Clarke: Page 12 Editorial comment: Page 13
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Cheshire church sold to developer for flats project Stand with the Pope, bishop urges young Catholics
BY DAVID V BARRETT
A 1950S church in Cheshire is to be demolished and replaced with sheltered housing for elderly people.
St John the Baptist church on Thorley Lane in the village of Timperley, two miles out of Altrincham, has been closed for nearly two years, following the retirement of its incumbent parish priest in 2009.
The dwindling number of priests and the need to use resources more effectively and economically resulted in the parish being re-amalgamated with the neighbouring parish of St Hugh of Lincoln, from which it was created in 1957. It is now known as the parish of St Hugh and St John, Timperley.
Following the closure of St John’s church in June 2009 the downstairs rooms of the presbytery were used by parishioners for meetings and to continue devotional practices including Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, healing services and charismatic prayer.
But after 18 months, following a diocesan review, the presbytery was closed as well.
Parishioner Fiona Cox, who has campaigned against the sale and demolition of the church, has appealed for assistance to a member of the House of Lords.
“The church is one of the most beautiful buildings in Altrincham,” she said. “We don’t want it to be demolished, we want to be able to worship in it again.”
Lord Tony Clarke of Hampstead said he appreciated her concern that “such a beautiful place of worship might be demolished” and said there should be a full and proper examination of the possible alternative uses for the church”.
The sale of the 1.60 acre site including St John’s church and presbytery in Timperley Village has now gone ahead.
“In February this year the sale of the land was put out to tender via sealed bids, generating 27 offers, four of which were in excess of £2 million,” said a spokesman for the Diocese of Shrewsbury.
“The diocese chose the most attractive of the two highest bids, with the intention of re-investing some of the money into facilities for St Hugh’s, which will include a new parish hall.”
The land has been bought by Churchill Retirement Living which has submitted a planning application to Trafford Council to build 51 oneand two-bedroom private sheltered apartments in a part two-storey and part threestorey building, with communal facilities and 17 car parking spaces.
Contracts have been exchanged and neither the church nor the land now belongs to the Diocese of Shrewsbury.
BY DAVID V BARRETT
THE BISHOP of Shrewsbury has encouraged young people to adhere to the teachings of the Pope if they wanted to make the right decisions on matters of faith and morals.
“Some of your behaviour on the streets of our cities alarmed the media, left public opinion shaken and brought an unexpected statement from the Prime Minister,” Bishop Mark Davies told groups of English pilgrims at World Youth Day in Madrid.
But rather than the recent riots he was speaking of when Pope Benedict visited Britain last year.
“Many people were struck by the quiet wisdom and obvious goodness of this elderly man who’d been so vilified in the months leading up to his visit,” he said. But what surprised many commentators was how many of the crowd were young people.
“How could this quietly spoken intellectual in his 80s speaking a demanding message hold such a place in the lives of young people from every background in 21st century Britain?” he asked.
Bishop Davies spoke of the first pope, the fisherman Simon whom Jesus renamed Peter, the rock on whom he would build his Church. Whatever St Peter’s personal failings Jesus gave him the keys to his kingdom and made him the shepherd of his whole flock. The person who now holds those keys is Pope Benedict XVI, the successor of St Peter, the bishop said.
“When I was a lot younger than yourselves amid the turmoil and controversies of that time my parish priest gave me a simple piece of advice, a wise counsel I wish to pass on to you. ‘Stand with the Pope,’ he told me, ‘always stand with the Pope and you won’t go wrong.’
“And that’s what I want to say to you today, the understanding I want you to take home with you from the experience of standing here together with Pope Benedict in the heat of Madrid. Amid the turmoil and controversies as to what to you can surely believe, how you should truly live which will mark your lifetimes, stand with Peter, stand with the Pope.” Whoever the Holy Father happens to be, Bishop Davies said, “if the faith is contested, if morals become confused, be sure you are always standing with the Pope just as you did in London, Birmingham and today in Madrid. For standing together with Peter you will never, as I was advised as a young teenager, go wrong in faith or the moral choices which shape our lives. In this you may shock media commentators, disturb public opinion and even take to the streets with prayer and generosity as you’re doing here in Madrid.”
NEWSBULLETIN Children of divorce ʻdenied self-worthʼ, says bishop IN SPITE of the “heroic efforts” of single mothers, children of divorced parents risk being “denied a sense of self-esteem and self-worth”, Irish Bishop Christopher Jones of Elphin has said.
“Many of them were born losers. They had no start in life in terms of a loving relationship... they grow up disturbed and dysfunctional,” said the bishop. “As a culture of marriage weakens an evergrowing number of children will never experience the inestimable value of being raised by a loving, married mother and father,” he said. “If we really value childhood, then we must do what we can to ensure that children are raised by the fathers and mothers who bring them into the world.”
New archbishop names priorities ARCHBISHOP George Stack of Cardiff has said that his priorities are to address the decline in church attendance and to repair the damage done by the child abuse scandals.
“When we talk about declining numbers we have to fit that into the context of the pressures that people are under in a way that wasn’t true 25 to 30 years ago, and the Church needs to adapt its structure, its organisation,” he said.
The archbishop, who was installed in June, said that evil had touched the life of the Church.
“The damage is done and no matter what you say it can never really touch the depths of the pain that an individual has experienced.
“All we can do as fellow human beings is our best and we try to reconcile, to heal, to forgive, but there’s always that corner in our lives which is broken.”
Council brings in bus fees THE ISLE of Wight is to raise the charges for school buses for all pupils over 16, not just for those in faith schools. Pupils will now be charged £50 per term instead of £27.50. The increased charges will help save the council up to £900,000 a year.
Transport costs of children in faith schools used to be covered by local councils, but many councils are now increasing the fees to save money.
Gay marriage idea is floated THE GOVERNMENT is to hold a consultation examining the possibility of radically redefining marriage in England and Wales.
The Home Office announced that from the autumn it will begin soliciting views over whether same-sex marriage could become a possibility.
Last week the Scottish government announced similar plans to launch a consultation by the end of the year.
Christians pray following riots HUNDREDS of people have attended a prayer vigil hosted by Premier Christian Radio at Methodist Central Hall in central London to pray for communities affected by last week’s riots in parts of England.
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Peer urges archbishop to make Vaughan concessions
BY ED WEST
THE ARCHDIOCESE of Westminster has come under renewed pressure over the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School after a peer and a leading academic wrote to Archbishop Vincent Nichols calling on him to make concessions to parents.
In a letter sent last week Conservative peer Lord Lexden told the archbishop that although he was Anglican he had “long admired” the “remarkable achievements” of the Vaughan, one of the top two comprehensives in inner London for GCSE results.
The peer, formerly Alistair Cooke, and a former political researcher and lecturer at Queen’s University, Belfast, said: “The diocese now has a great opportunity to heal the wounds inflicted during the protracted dispute. It could do this by anticipating what is to come and nominating two current parents as foundation governors immediately.
“Even more effective in the healing process would be a declaration by the diocese that, during the forthcoming selection procedures to find a new head, its nominees will work to find a concensus that unites the governing body as a whole, ending this sad period of division and bitterness unworthy of a Christian institution.”
Bishop: Christ will be my top priorityBYDAVIDVBARRETT
THE NEW Bishop of Aberdeen “could not have had a better preparation than to have been the Abbot of Pluscarden Abbey”, according to Cardinal Keith O’Brien.
Dom Hugh Gilbert was ordained Bishop of Aberdeen in the cathedral of St Mary of the Assumption on Monday. He is the first abbot to join the Scottish Catholic hierarchy since its restoration.
Dom Hugh Gilbert was abbot of Pluscarden Abbey near Elgin for 19 years, and has been a contemplative monk for 37 years.
Born Edward Gilbert in 1952 in Emsworth, near Chichester, he was baptised in the Anglican Church. He was received into the Catholic Church on Christmas Eve in 1970, aged 18. After gaining a first in History at King’s College, London, he entered Pluscarden Abbey at Moray in 1974 and was ordained a priest in 1979.
Speaking to the Scottish Catholic Observer before his ordination Hugh Gilbert said he hoped to build bridges both inside and outside the Church. “I would like to help people improve their relationship with God and to build their faith,” he said, “Also to build links with the other dioceses in Scotland and the other Christian groups here as well.”
He said he hoped to take with him from the monastery into the outside world a profound awareness of Christ.
“The rule of St Benedict says ‘prefer nothing to the love of Christ,’” he said. “I would like to think I take a firm sense of that with me, a sense of Christ and a certainty of Christ.”
He is not unprepared for his new role. “I do know the diocese, having lived here for 37 years,” he said. “I know nearly all the priests and religious and many of the laity so I will not be among strangers. Though of course you have different relationships as a bishop than you do as an abbot. But everyone has been very welcoming.”
In his homily at the ordination Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, said: “Through his very beautiful writings, many based on the addresses to his community at Pluscarden, he has had a magnificent outreach in helping to build up the spiritual lives of others. And because of the outreach from his own monastery to other monasteries throughout the world he realises the needs of those in countries which are less prosperous than our own.
“One might say that a new bishop for the Diocese of Aberdeen could not have had a better preparation than to have been the Abbot of Pluscarden Abbey within this
Lord Lexden told the archbishop that he felt compelled to give his support to the Vaughan Parents’ Action Group, set up by parents at the school to oppose the diocese’s planned changes. In June the peer spoke in the House of Lords about the need to protect the interests of parents at schools, after which the Government said it intended to change the law to require schools to appoint foundation governors from among parents with children at the same school.
One of the Vaughan parents’ complaints is that the diocese has failed to reappoint parent-governors with children at the Vaughan, rather than children at other schools. Lord Lexden said: “I hope you will be able to respond positively to these proposals which I intend to raise in Parliament in due course.” He also sent a copy of the letter to Education Secretary Michael Gove.
Prof Luke Gormally, a bio-ethicist and a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, also wrote to the archbishop criticising the diocese for not re-appointing parents at the school to be foundation governors and for appointing its own director of education, Paul Barber, as a school governor.
In the letter he said that “Catholic parents who are serious about encouraging their children’s growth in the knowledge of the truths of the faith and in its practice have few Catholic schools to which they can send their children with confidence.
“The Vaughan School has proved to be exemplary in meeting their need. I contrasted my own local Catholic comprehensive school in which the present head of RE is a non-Catholic, and her immediate predecessor was an atheist. It is that kind of school that requires the close attention of Mr Paul Barber if the WDES [diocesan education service] is to be regarded as serious about providing an authentic Catholic education for the children of the diocese and not just accumulating accolades from Ofsted.” He said the exclusion of parents from the governing body “bids fair to destroy what was hitherto a key element in the success of the school: its close collaboration with parents which inspired great confidence in them and consequently in their children. The Vaughan Parents’Action Group is not an unrepresentative body – it has very substantial support among parents. The recently reported refusal of the current chairman of the governing body to meet them, allegedly on the orders of Bishop [George] Stack, merely reinforces the message that parents are to be marginalised.”
He also argued that parents had canon law on their side, quoting canon, 793, §1: “Catholic parents have also the duty and the right to choose those means and institutes which, in their local circumstances, can best promote the Catholic education of their children.”
“Catholic parents who take that duty seriously are now excluded by diocesan policy from exercising the right to at least seek admission to the Vaughan for their children,” he wrote.
A spokeswoman for Archbishop Nichols, who is out of the country, said that the archbishop was aware of the letters and would respond in full upon his return.
Bishop Hugh Gilbert with his brother and family on the day os his episcopal ordination Photo: Paul McSherry diocese, for such a period of time, before his call by Pope Benedict XVI to be the bishop.”
The new bishop spoke for a few minutes after his ordination. “It is thanks to Pluscarden that I am what
I am, the good bits anyway,” he said. Responding to people who have asked him if it is strange to be leaving the monastery after 37 years, Bishop Gilbert said that it was like “being on land and all of a sudden finding yourself on the sea”.
He said that he had not yet finalised his pastoral priorities but that his years in the monastery had given him one simple answer: Christ. “To put it liturgically, it is the discovery of Easter, when Christ passed over from death to life,” he said.
“Everything that we as Christians are springs from that moment. He is the one the Holy Spirit is working to bring alive in our hearts. So what other priority could we have?”
Bishop Gilbert is replaced as Abbot of Pluscarden by Dom Anselm Atkinson.
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Muggeridge clash over Life of Brian to be dramatised
BY DAVID V BARRETT
THE FAMOUS television debate in which Malcolm Muggeridge severely criticised the Monty Python film Life of Brian will be recreated in a BBC Four comedy drama this autumn.
The 1979 film, satirising both organised religion and 1970s politics, created a furore when it appeared, and was banned by some local councils.
The 90-minute drama Holy Flying Circus is described by production company Hillbilly Television as “a fantastical re-imagining of the controversy surrounding the release of Monty Python’s comedy classic Life of Brian”.
The debate on the BBC Two programme Friday Night, Saturday Morning in November 1979 featured Mr Muggeridge, a regular contributor to The Catholic Herald, and Mervyn Stockwood, Anglican Bishop of Southwark, against Monty Python actors John Cleese and Michael Palin.
Having arrived 15 minutes into the screening of the film before the debate – after “a good lunch”, according to Python Terry Jones – the two critics missed the introductory scenes that established that the unwilling messiah Brian was not a parody of Jesus.
Mr Muggeridge referred to the “squalid humour of a
10th-rate film”, while Bishop Stockwood dismissed Life of Brian as “undergraduate humour”.
John Cleese responded that “400 years ago we would have been burnt for this film... may I suggest that we’ve come a long way since then”.
The script of the debate, which comes at the end of the new drama, will be verbatim, according to director Owen Harris.
“Holy Flying Circus takes a moment from our recent past to shed light on the present,” said co-producer Kate Norrish. “When Palin and Cleese were called to defend Life of Brian, they were fighting not just for the future of their film but for their artistic credibility. It was a moment when freedom of speech was pitted against religious belief and is a debate that is just as precariously balanced today.”
The actors, who had respected Mr Muggeridge as a satirist, expressed their disappointment in his response to Life of Brian. Mr Cleese said his reputation had “plummeted” in his eyes but Mr Palin said: “He was just being Muggeridge, preferring to have a very strong contrary opinion as opposed to none at all.”
In the BBC Four drama Mr Muggeridge is played by Michael Cochrane, who specialises in upper-class characters.
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