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OCTOBER 21 2011 THE CATHOLIC HERALD
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Cornish city to gain first ever Catholic free school
BY ED WEST
A SCHOOL in Cornwall that was kept going by teachers and parents for 14 years has become the first Catholic free school.
St Michael’s Catholic Secondary School in Truro was given the green light by Education Secretary Michael Gove in the latest round of schools to be allowed to run outside local authority control and receive money directly from the Department for Education. When the transition takes place next September St Michael’s will become Cornwall’s first free school and the county’s first Catholic state secondary school. It will also become the first secondary free school in the south-west.
Teachers and parents set up the school 14 years ago after the closure of the private Tremough convent school, and it was created with the support of Plymouth diocese and the Religious Daughters of the Cross in Plymouth.
There are currently 35 pupils funded by donations and housed in a converted Methodist church building, but the school hopes to expand to 300 and move to an old grammar school building in Camborne. The school has also been kept going through the generosity of 300 “angels” who donate monthly stipends of £5 or more, as well as educational trusts and fundraising activities.
Last week Michael Gove said the schools would “raise standards in communities where the need is great”.
The Cornish councillor responsible for children’s services, Neil Burden, said the council had “always supported diversity in all sorts of areas and parental choice”.
But he insisted the council was “not outside the loop” and would still be working in partnership “to help the school move forward”.
Headmaster Neil Anderson said: “We are delighted. I’d say almost overwhelmed by the good news. It is a monumental step forward.” He said St Michael’s was going to be a Catholic school which would “offer parents more choice, particularly in Cornwall where there is no Catholic secondary”.
“We’ve been working hard on this project for 18 months. The team has been running the school for longer.
“Every child in the school can benefit from the thoroughly good
Catholic education. Like all Catholic schools, we’re there to serve all the community, not just the Catholics.
“We’ve been through a process that mirrors Catholic education over years. The school was started by highly committed lay people who were determined to start a Catholic school with an independent mind. We’re just offering the best education we can. We have overcome great hurdles through turning to God for providence and the kindness of our benefactors. We have a highly dedicated teaching staff. We’ve all made sacrifices.”
Fr Chris Findlay-Wilson, parish priest for Our Lady of All Nations, Camborne and Redruth, said that staff were all delighted to be among the 55 new schools to be chosen in the latest round of free schools, out of 300 applications.
He said: “The parents really have gone through some awful times. They have kept it going. Teachers have made enormous financial sacrifices.”
Representatives of the school had been working for 18 months to acquire academy status and went up to London in August for an interview. Fr Findlay-Wilson also paid tribute to all the people who had kept the school going with donations through the years.
Joyce Sanderson, a governor and coordinator of the free school bid, said the school would “offer parents more choice” and that only 50 per cent of its intake will be Catholic. The school hopes to have class sizes no larger than 20.
She said: “We did not have the finance as an independent school. We wanted to take anyone into the school who wanted to come.
“Under a free school, this will fund each pupil to the same extent as a state school in Cornwall, and it enables us to expand to 300 pupils and allows a small school to move to a bigger site.”
Last year Bishop Malcolm McMahon, chairman of the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales, gave his backing to the Government’s free schools policy, saying that they replicated the way that Catholic education had evolved in the 19th century “by local communities getting together, pooling their resources. Many Catholic primary schools were started in the front room of the presbytery by parents with help from the local convent.”
Veronica Connolly says the BBC ‘presents immorality as normal’
I’d rather go to jail than pay licence fee, says Catholic gran BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
A CATHOLIC grandmother convicted for not paying her licence fee has said she is prepared to face jail rather than give money to the BBC.
Veronica Connolly, aged 54, was convicted last year of not having a television licence and took her case to the Court of Appeal, claiming that the compulsory payment violated her freedom of conscience.
Mrs Connolly has expressed moral objections to paying her licence fee because she says the BBC transmits immoral messages through programmes such as Jerry Springer – The Opera, which offended Christians with its portrayal of Jesus.
Mrs Connolly has unsuccessfully taken her case to the Court of Appeal and the High Court in London and is now expected to file her case with the European Court of Human Rights within the next month.
Mrs Connolly said: “Courts are not going to give Christians anything. But we still stand there and fight.”
Elaborating on her opposition to the BBC’s output, she said: “We are seeing abortion and the morningafter pill thrown at you, euthanasia and how great it is. There’s no balance either. The immorality is presented as normal.”
Mrs Connolly said that she only watches Sky and Catholic television channels. She would like to see a different system for funding the BBC, such as a BBC smart box,
similar to the item that consumers must purchase to view many Sky channels or the introduction of advertisements to fund the broadcasting corporation.
The legal argument behind Mrs Connolly’s case is based upon Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which protects freedom of religion and conscience.
Her supporters have drawn a comparison with the ECHR ruling in 1990 known as Darby v Sweden. In that case, the court ruled that the compulsory payment of the Swedish church tax violated the conscience of the atheist in question because he was being forced to fund a body that he did not support.
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Cameron writes to leaders about Act of Settlement Archbishop hails Royal College’s conscience stance
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
THE PRIME MINISTER has written to the Commonwealth heads of state requesting their support for constitutional changes that would allow an heir to the throne to marry a Catholic.
In his letter to the 16 Commonwealth leaders he described the current barrier to monarchs marrying Catholics as a “historical anomaly” that “cannot be justified”, especially given that people of other faiths are not barred from marrying monarchs.
David Cameron has said in the past that he supports reforming the 1701 Act of Settlement in favour of Catholics “in principle”, but said that “it will take time. We ought to have proper discussions with other countries. She is their Queen after all.”
The Prime Minister also wants to scrap the current rule of male primogeniture, meaning that succession to the throne would be determined by order of birth regardless of sex and end the supremacy of men over women in succeeding to the throne.
In his letter Mr Cameron said: “We espouse gender equality in all other aspects of life and it is an anomaly that in the rules relating to the highest public office we continue to enshrine male superiority.”
If the law is amended in the near future, this would mean that a first-born daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge could become Queen.
Support for amending the Act of Settlement to allow monarchs to marry Catholics has come from a wide range of people, from avowed atheists to outspoken cardinals.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien has previously described the Act of Settlement as “statesponsored sectarianism”, and has often called for its repeal.
Former Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris tried to amend the law with a Private Member’s Bill in 2009, arguing that “it is wrong that antiCatholic discrimination is written into Britain’s constitution”.
Dr Harris’s outspoken support for the change was particularly surprising given that he has been vocal in his opposition to the Church’s influence and teachings, particularly on abortion and euthanasia.
David Cameron’s proposed changes will need to be ratified by all 16 Commonwealth realms, including the British Parliament.
In 2009 Gordon Brown said he wanted to amend the Act of Settlement and entered into discussions with Buckingham Palace about it. Plans for reform were drawn up before the general election last year.
BY MARK GREAVES
ARCHBISHOP Vincent Nichols of Westminster has praised the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists for supporting the right of conscience among doctors and nurses opposed to abortion.
He made the comments in a speech to medics at an event hosted by the Royal College and the women’s health charity Wellbeing of Women.
He told the audience: “I am all too aware, as you will be, of the very difficult ethical dilemmas which your specialism can produce. In approaching these, as you will know, the Church starts from some very clear and unambiguous principles, founded on the utmost respect for human life from the time of its conception. Such a principle unfolds into all sorts of areas and in ways with which some of you will not agree. Many of you will no doubt have thought deeply about these issues in coming to your own view of your clinical practice.
“But in this evolving situation,” the archbishop said, “your support for the right of conscience will be increasingly important and I very much welcome the fact that... the College fully accommodates this.”
In his address Archbishop Nichols lamented the “tragically slow” progress in improving maternal health around the world.
He cited the statistic that between 350,000 and 500,000 women a year die in childbirth, even though such deaths are largely preventable.
Pro-abortion campaigners claim that making abortion legal would reduce the maternal mortality rate.
But Archbishop Nichols pointed instead to the “strong correlation” between maternal deaths and the quality of a country’s healthcare. He also suggested that behind the slow rate of progress lay cultural factors such as “the status of women and the low priority given to their health, [and] a failure to accord women the dignity and respect needed”.
Other factors, he said, were “failed or fragile” states and the low proportion of world development aid – only two per cent – devoted to maternal health.
Archbishop Nichols also stressed the Catholic contribution to global healthcare and said that in some African countries 40 per cent of health care was faith-based.
He said: “The commitment of the Church down the centuries to care for the sick echoes in the names of some of London’s great hospitals, such as St Thomas’s and St Bartholomew’s.”
His address, at the Anglican St Marylebone parish church in central London, was given in honour of the late Sir George Pinker, a celebrated medic.
NEWSBULLETIN Bishop Lang expresses sorrow at violence in Cairo BISHOP Declan Lang of Clifton, chairman of the bishops’ department for international affairs, has spoken of his “great sadness” at the violence that left 26 people dead in Cairo earlier this month.
the Coptic faithful in Egypt so that they can become equal citizens alongside their fellow Muslims.” He said his prayers were with Catholic and Orthodox leaders in Egypt.
The bishop said: “It is to be hoped that the Egyptian political authorities will spare no effort in addressing at long last the festering problems that have affected
A peaceful protest by Copts on Sunday evening was attacked by crowds armed with rifles, sticks and swords. A military vehicle later sped into a group of Copts.
ʻDevoutʼ thief steals altar lamp A THIEF who stole from a church was caught making the Sign of the Cross on CCTV.
The man was seen crossing himself before his accomplice walked up to the altar in St Patrick’s church in Winson Green, Birmingham, and stole a 116-year-old altar lamp.
Parish priest Fr Harry Curtis said: “We are all saddened and angry about what’s happened. The lamp was quite valuable in monetary terms, but more importantly it is of huge religious and sentimental significance to the parish.” The lamp has been at the church since it was built in 1895.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I watched the CCTV footage and saw this man pause to cross himself before he took it,” Fr Curtis said: “It is very upsetting. As a church, our doors are open to all people every day, whenever they need us. Locking the doors is just not an option.”
TV monk to give Cafod lecture FORMER Abbot of Worth Fr Christopher Jamison is to give Cafod’s Pope Paul VI lecture next month.
Fr Jamison, director of the National Office for Vocation and star of the documentaries The Big Silence and The Monastery, will give a talk entitled “Charity begins at home: but what is charity and where is home?”
Gordon Brown and Baroness Shirley Williams are previous speakers.
Ordinariate will have own Mass MGR ANDREW BURNHAM, who is in charge of liturgy for the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, has said the Vatican aims to publish a distinct Order of Mass to be used by ordinariate groups and parishes around the world within the next three years.
Mgr Burnham, a former Anglican bishop, made the comment in an address to the Association of Latin Liturgy at St Mary Magdalene parish in Brighton.
Archbishop to launch sport charity ARCHBISHOP Vincent Nichols of Westminster is to launch the John Paul II Foundation for Sport, a charity that aims to promote peace through sport, next Wednesday.
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