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SEPTEMBER 23 2011 THE CATHOLIC HERALD
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Barrister says gay marriage could prompt legal actions
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
A LEADING barrister who specialises in religious discrimination has said that churches, synagogues and mosques might be sued if they refuse to perform same-sex marriages if they are legalised as the Government promised last week.
Following the Government announcement that it is committed to legalising same-sex marriage by 2015, Neil Addison of the Thomas Legal Centre said: “The real problem is the likelihood that churches, synagogues and mosques that perform marriages will be sued if they refuse to perform same-sex marriages. It might become necessary for churches to give up legally registering marriage which would mean that Catholics would have to go through a register office wedding before having their religious wedding.”
He said that despite Government reassurances, the history of recent equality legislation demonstrates that legalising certain practices immediately criminalises individuals who conscientiously object.
Mr Addison said that changing the legal definition of marriage “opens a real can of worms”.
He said: “Once the state changes the legal definition of marriage as between one man and one woman on what logical basis does the state prevent legal polygamous marriage? This problem has already arisen in Canada since Canada has legalised same-sex marriage.”
Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone announced the Government’s latest proposal at the Liberal Democrat conference on Saturday, denouncing current law as “simply not fair”. Ministers will launch a consultation next spring to examine how to extend marriage rights to gay couples in time for the next general election.
But the announcement is expected to strain the Coalition’s fragile alliance due to opposition from some Conservative MPs.
Catholic MP Edward Leigh said he is “astonished and appalled” by a Conservative Government changing the traditional definition of marriage. Writing on behalf of the ‘Cornerstone’ section of the Conservative Party, which is committed to traditional moral values, he said: “Samesex couples already have all the rights of marriage in the form of civil partnership. Why must they also have the language of marriage? No doubt because it is an important symbol to them. But it is also an important symbol to many other people. Must the religious and cultural heritage of the whole nation be overturned to suit the demands of a minority even of the gay community itself?”
The Conservative MP also echoed Mr Addison’s concerns about the logical introduction of legalised polygamy and the suing of religious ministers who refuse to conduct same-sex ceremonies.
He said: “Why is this an attack upon religion? Because sooner rather than later a minister of religion will be sued for refusing to conduct a gay marriage in church. Even if our own courts stand firm, we can place little faith in the European Court of Human Rights. It will be argued, with some justification, that it is irrational and confusing for some churches to permit this and others not.
“The Government seems to have lost the point of the Pope’s visit in September. He was arguing, and I agree, that religious people do not seek to impose their views on others. But they must be allowed their own space.”
Responding to the Government announcement of a formal consultation on same-sex marriage a spokesman for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said: “The bishops will continue to explain the clear and well-known Catholic teaching on marriage over the coming months.”
In February Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark said that the Catholic Church would oppose legalising same-sex marriage arguing that neither Church nor state had the authority to alter its definition.
He said: “Marriage does not belong to the state any more than it belongs to the Church. It is a fundamental human institution rooted in human nature itself. It is a lifelong commitment of a man and a woman to each other, publicly entered into, for their mutual well-being and for the procreation and upbringing of children. No authority – civil or religious – has the power to modify the fundamental nature of marriage. We will be opposing such a change in the strongest terms.”
Since 2007, Catholic adoption agencies have been denied the right to restrict their services to heterosexual couples which make the latest proposals particularly worrying for churches. Editorial Comment: Page 13
The new bishop will be in charge of Westminster’s education commission Mazur/Catholicchurch.org.uk
Moral theologian ordained as bishop for Hertfordshire
BY MARK GREAVES
MORAL THEOLOGIAN Fr John Sherrington was ordained an Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster at the mother church of England and Wales last week.
He said at his ordination Mass at Westminster Cathedral that it was “an exciting time to become a bishop”.
Bishop Sherrington said: “In the light of the Pope’s visit last year and the deep searching within many people for spiritual values and for a better life in the community, the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ can fall on fertile soil if we are courageous to proclaim it.”
The new bishop, ordained by Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, will be responsible for the Hertfordshire area of the archdiocese and will be chairman of its education commission.
In his homily Archbishop Nichols said that Bishop Sherrington was the first bishop to be ordained in England and Wales since Pope Benedict XVI’s visit almost a year ago.
He said an “essential task” of a bishop was to lead the laity towards a “deeper life of faith and service”. “The more faithful you are to your episcopal ministry, the more you will – and again I use the Holy Father ’s words – ‘inspire all Christ’s followers to conform their every thought, word and action to
Christ’, ” the archbishop said. “Your episcopal ministry will bring you great joy but, so too, many challenges. You’re clearly a man blessed with many gifts and a wealth of experience. Nevertheless, there will be moments when you are acutely aware of your weakness and are tempted to consider that even your best efforts are fruitless.
“However, as you have said yourself, you know you need to rely on God’s grace more deeply than ever and to cultivate your life of prayer,” the archbishop said.
The ordination Mass was attended by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark, Archbishop George Stack of Cardiff, 14 bishops and over 60 priests.
It was attended by Orthodox, Methodist and other Protestant representatives, as well as several peers, including Lord Alton and Lord and Lady Guthrie.
An apostolic letter was read out from Pope Benedict XVI. It urged Bishop Sherrington to “carry out your office with all your strength, placing your complete trust in God our Heavenly Father”.
Bishop Sherrington was ordained a priest for the Nottingham diocese in 1987 and has been parish priest for the Good Shepherd parish in Nottingham for the past two years.
He has also assisted the bishops’ conference on ethical issues and was a part of the working party for the bishops’ conference document “Cherishing Life” (2005).
After graduating in 1980 with a degree in Mathematics from Cambridge University and two years working as a management consultant, Fr Sherrington was accepted in 1982 by Bishop McGuinness for the Nottingham diocese and joined the seminary at All Hallows in Dublin.
In 1990 he gained an STL in Moral Theology from the Gregorian University in Rome and lectured in moral theology at All Hallows in Dublin and then at St John’s Seminary in Wonersh, Guildford.
John Smeaton, director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said in a blog that Bishop Sherrington’s role as chairman of the education commission was “particularly sensitive and important”, with influence over “curricula, resources and services related to sexual ethics and child formation”.
The bishop takes up the position as the diocese seeks to resolve a long-running dispute with parents at the Cardinal Vaughan school in west London.
Parents governors and dioceseappointed governors now face choosing a new head teacher for the school.
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Sisters appeal for help to save Cornwall home
Bishops unite in support of Travellers
Religious belief rising in Britain, claims poll
BY DAVID V BARRETT
THE FRANCISCAN sisters at Lanherne Monastery in Cornwall may lose their home unless a benefactor steps in.
The Sisters of the Immaculate have lived at the monastery in St Mawgan since 2001, when the Carmelites who own the property moved out. Since then the surrounding buildings have been sold off, leaving just the monastery and St Joseph’s Hall, used as a church hall.
But now the monastery itself may be sold.
Mother Superior Rosa Pia told Catholic South West, the newspaper of the Diocese of Plymouth: “We have been asked if we would like to purchase Lanherne ourselves, but as Franciscans we are not allowed to own any properties, nor do we have the money to purchase it.”
Lanherne has been a place of devotion since Celtic monks established a monastery there in the sixth century. The early 16th-century manor house was the home of the recusant Arundell family, who hosted Masses there throughout the Reformation. It is said to have nine priest holes. One priest was apparently hidden for 18 months.
The skull of one of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales is also venerated at the monastery. St Cuthbert Mayne, a convert martyred in
1577, celebrated Mass there. His altar is in the chapel choir. A group of Carmelite nuns escaping the French Revolution established a Carmel at Lanherne in 1794 – the oldest Carmel in England. The Carmelites remained at the property until they became too few and too elderly to maintain it, moving to the Carmel in St Helens and inviting the Franciscan Sisters to move in. The 11 Sisters are young; the oldest member is just over 50 and most are in their 30s and 40s. An enclosed contemplative order, they depend entirely on the charity of others.
They formed a few years after the creation of the Friars of the Immaculate in 1970 and were elevated to an Institute of Religious Life with Pontifical Right by John Paul II in 1998.
For the last three years they have exclusively used the 1962 Missal.
The Sisters are appealing to anyone who would be prepared to buy the property and allow them to stay there.
Fr George Roth, the Sisters’ chaplain and a Franciscan Friar of the Immaculate, said the Carmelites had not put the property on the market yet. Since leaving in 2001 they have paid for its upkeep and insurance without using the property themselves. Fr Roth said: “We are looking for people who want to help the Church, to do good work. This could be many small donations as well as one big one.”
BY DAVID V BARRETT
CATHOLIC and Anglican bishops have united again in support of Travellers at Dale Farm, near Basildon, Essex, who won a temporary reprieve from eviction this week.
Bishop Thomas McMahon of Brentwood and Dr Stephen Cottrell, Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford, said on Monday: “We stand by our previous commitment to be involved in negotiating a peaceful settlement to the Dale Farm dispute.
“We are both deeply distressed by what is occurring on the site and we are praying for a peaceful and equitable outcome.”
At a Mass last Sunday some Travellers wept at the prospect of losing their homes. Fr Dan Mason, of Our Lady of Good Counsel church, Wickford, said: “A few broke down in tears as they told me of their fears for next week... Some people tell me they don’t have anywhere to go and we are supporting them at this very difficult time.”
Irish Travellers and Romany Gypsies have lived on the site legally since the 1970s. But in 2001 Travellers began to set up illegal pitches on protected greenbelt land.
The 10-year dispute between the Travellers and Basildon Council came to a head this week when bailiffs moved in to begin evictions before the High Court granted a last-minute injunction.
BY DAVID V BARRETT
BRITAIN has seen a rise in religious belief since the visit of Pope Benedict XVI last year, according to a new poll.
The survey, conducted by the Opinion Research Business for the Catholic Church, suggests that the number of people in Britain claiming to be spiritual or religious rose from 38 per cent before the papal visit to 47 per cent immediately after it.
The number who said they were atheists fell slightly from 18 per cent before the Pope’s visit to 16 per cent after. Well over half of the 2,049 adults polled, 59 per cent, said there should be a place for religion in public life, while even more, 62 per cent, said Britain should guard against aggressive forms of secularism, with just 15 per cent against this.
The poll appears to show that outspoken atheists such as Professor Richard Dawkins, who was a vociferous opponent of the Pope’s visit to Britain, failed to sway public opinion. Hundreds of thousands turned out to see Pope Benedict last September.
A small majority of those polled, 51 per cent, agreed with the proposition that schools should have a role in teaching moral values, rather than just an academic curriculum. Nearly half said the Catholic Church should take a moral lead in Britain by defending the family.
NEWSBULLETIN Number of men at Allen Hall rises for sixth year in a row THE NUMBER of men studying at the Allen Hall seminary in Chelsea, west London, has risen to its highest level in a decade.
Sixteen men are joining the seminary this year bringing the total number of seminarians to 50.
The number of seminarians has risen every year at Allen Hall since 2005, when only 31 men were studying there.
The seminarians include men who are preparing to become priests in the Diocese of Westminster but also other English and overseas Dioceses including Lancaster, Nottingham, Johannesburg and Toulon and religious orders including the Salvatorians, Passionists and the Congregation of the Holy Cross.
Bishop responds to mine tragedy BISHOP Thomas Burns of Menevia has expressed his heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the family and friends of the four miners who died at Gleision Colliery last week.
The bodies of Charles Breslin, David Powell, Garry Jenkins and Phillip Hill were recovered from the mine last Friday. Prayers were offered at all Masses in the diocese at the weekend, particularly in the parishes of the Swansea Valley, where the miners, their relations and friends are known.
“We wish to express our sense of grief and our common sharing in the sadness of those bereaved by this terrible and unexpected disaster,” said Bishop Burns.
“I am sure that the resilience of the close communities and the reassurance of prayers will be of great comfort to those who have lost loved ones,” he said.
Oratory gains new Provost FR IGNATIUS HARRISON has been appointed Provost of the Birmingham Oratory, replacing Fr Richard Duffield, who has resigned for reasons of ill-health.
Fr Duffield had been in the post for less than two years, moving from the Oxford Oratory to replace Fr Paul Chavasse in December 2009. Fr Harrison will also take over as actor and vice-postulator for the Cause of Blessed John Henry Newman.
Institute aims to improve liturgy THE BLESSED John Henry Newman Institute for Liturgical Music was launched at the Birmingham Oratory on Sunday, marking the first anniversary of his beatification.
The new institute, under the patronage of Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham and composer James MacMillan, will provide a formation in liturgical music to benefit Sunday liturgy in parishes.
Coalition drops sex education plan The Coalition has dropped plans floated by the previous Government to introduce compulsory sex education in primary schools, it emerged last week.
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Church marks one year since papal visit
BY DAVID V BARRETT
POPE BENEDICT XVI called us to be the saints of the age, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster has told Catholics at a Mass of Thanksgiving marking the Pope’s visit to Britain a year ago.
The anniversary was also marked by local celebrations, by the reintroduction of Friday abstinence and by a statement from the Bishops of England and Wales on the mission of the Church.
Archbishop Nichols, the principal celebrant at the Mass at Westminster Cathedral, spoke of “the gift and challenge” of the Christian life.
“Yes, we are to be effective witnesses in our society; and we can only be so if we are close to the Lord, strengthened by him in holiness of life,” the archbishop said.
He quoted Pope Benedict: “Those who change the world for the better are holy, they transform it permanently,
instilling in it the energies that only love, inspired by the Gospel, can elicit. The saints are humanity’s great benefactors.”
Three phrases sum up the message of Pope Benedict to us all, the archbishop said.
“The witness we are to give, he said, is to the beauty of holiness, to the splendour of the truth and to the joy and freedom born of a relationship with Jesus Christ.”
He continued: “Being a Catholic is a way of life, not a set of membership duties. Being a Catholic is expressed in everyday actions, the habits of a maturing faith, actions of devotion, kindness and, indeed, self-denial, actions which are willing expressions of our love of the Lord who alone is the source of our joy and freedom.”
In his own message, written by Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Pope Benedict expressed his “appreciation to all those who
Archbishop Nichols said at the Mass of Thanksgiving at Westminster Cathedral that being a Catholic ‘is a way of life’ Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk contributed to the happy outcome of his visit”.
Cardinal Bertone said: “He trusts that this moment of thanksgiving will serve as a renewed summons to take up the challenge which he issued a year ago in this very place: to bear joyful witness to the truth of the Gospel ‘which liberates our minds and enlightens our efforts to live wisely and well, both as individuals and as members of society’.” In his anniversary message Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said he looked back on the visit of Pope Benedict with gratitude.
“The visit was a great gift for all the Christian communities of the United Kingdom, affirming their role in society and strengthening their resolve to serve the communities of this country,” he said.
“But perhaps most importantly of all, those days last September visibly reminded the public at large that Christian discipleship is not the concern of some tiny ageing minority but a reality enthusiastically embraced by millions of all ages and races. Pope Benedict showed us all something of what the particular vocation of the See of Rome means in practice – a witness to the universal scope of the Gospel.”
He added: “We who belong to other Christian families gladly acknowledge the importance of this witness and join with our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters in thanking God for the inspiration and challenge of Pope Benedict’s visit, in the hope that we can go on working together for the sake of Christ’s Good News here in the United Kingdom.”
Prime Minister David Cameron said the message the Pope brought a year ago is “just as relevant today”.
“One year ago, the landmark visit of Pope Benedict gave millions of British Catholic an opportunity to celebrate their faith, while sharing a powerful message with everyone in our country about the importance of compassion, tolerance and justice,” he said.
“The shocking riots in Britain underline that we need more than ever to build a culture of social responsibility and develop strong and powerful communities as we deal with tough economic challenges.”
He said he looked forward to close cooperation between Britain and the Holy See.
Continued from Page 1: Over the past year, we the Bishops of England and Wales have reflected together on the Holy Father’s “pilgrimage to the heart of the British people” and the vision he presented. We have considered the challenge he issued to the Church to proclaim the Gospel, “which liberates our minds and enlightens our efforts to live wisely and well, both as individuals and as members of society”. Together with the Church throughout the world, we are determining the demands of the New Evangelisation. We have begun to formulate how the mission, teaching and witness that we must give will be expressed strategically in the priorities, aims and objectives for our work as a bishops’ confer
Bishops: Let us be confident and courageous in our faith MESSAGE EXTRACT BY THE BISHOPS OF ENGLAND AND WALES
ence over the next three to five years. These priorities will shape our work as a bishops’ conference, determining our use of scarce resources and offered in support of the mission of every diocese in England and Wales.
Integral to this work is recognising the importance of being confident, faithful and courageous in our mission, teaching and witness. Following the wonderful example Pope Benedict has given us, in our mission we must be gentle but also confident in manifesting the “beauty of holiness”, a beauty which can lead the heart of every person to an intimate knowledge of Christ. In our teaching, we must be courteous but also faithful in proclaiming the “splendour of truth” through “the witness of lives lived in integrity, fidelity and holiness”. In our witness, we must be humble and open-hearted but also courageous in testifying to
“the joy and freedom born of a living relationship with Christ”.
In respect of our mission, our first priority area of work will be: “To proclaim the universal call to holiness in Christ – by promoting a culture of vocation within the corporate identity of the Catholic Church, marked by a confident Catholic faith”; in relation to “teaching”, the second priority area of work will be: “To proclaim Christ and his Gospel as saving truth – by fostering and encouraging a culture of dialogue and solidarity” and in terms of witness, our third priority area of work will be: “To proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of God – by serving and witnessing to the whole community, especially by supporting marginalised and vulnerable people.” Within these priority areas we have already identified a number of aims and objectives: We have re-established Friday abstinence as a common act of witness and of solidarity with those who are in need or suffer and as an expression of our vocation to follow Christ who sacrificed his life for the good of all humanity. We are actively encouraging lay Catholics to witness publicly to their faith with renewed confidence and to communicate a culture of vocation to a wide audience. We are creating a national vocations framework, offering discernment opportunities to all, not only to ecclesial vocations but also to marriage and other forms of lay witness. We will continue to encourage the programme we have begun of “deepening social engagement” to bring greater coherence, support and visibility to the Church’s evangelising witness through the development of Caritas within England and Wales. We will foster opportunities to “build bridges of friendship to other religions, to heal past wrongs and to foster trust between individuals and communities” by building on the unique and inspirational encounter between people of faith and representatives of other religions which took place during the Holy Father’s visit. We will work with other Christians and people of other religions to identify the areas of greatest need, at home and abroad, so that we can come “together in concrete forms of collaboration, as we apply our religious insights to the task of promoting integral human development, working for peace, justice and the stewardship of creation” and to work “together for the good of the community at large”. We will strengthen our communication of the work of the Church through the use of new technology and build partnerships with appropriate media outlets to build on the vision of the New Evangelisation for the transmission of the Christian faith.
In coming to Britain, the Holy Father “wanted first and foremost to support the Catholic community, encouraging it to work strenuously to defend the immutable moral truths which, taken up, illuminated and strengthened by the Gospel, are at the root of a truly human, just and free society”. He also wished “to speak to the hearts of all the inhabitants of the United Kingdom, excluding no one, of the true reality of man, of his deepest needs, of his ultimate destiny”. We believe that the “beauty of holiness”, the “splendour of truth” and the “joy and freedom born of a living relationship with Christ” can still speak powerfully to the hearts of the people of our country. This is the inspiration for our work ahead.
On this Home Mission Sunday, the anniversary of the Holy Father’s visit to our country, we renew our faith in the power of God to lead us all through the difficult times faced by our nation and by our world. Confidently Catholic, we look forward then not anxiously or fearfully but with renewed hope and courage. We invoke God’s blessing on our country and on our world.
HELP RESTORE FAITH
TO THOUSANDS OF TRAUMATISED PEOPLE
IN SIERRA LEONE
Sierra Leone is a country recovering slowly from ten years of brutal civil war. Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary are working in one of the dioceses most badly hit during the war. They are helping people who have been cruelly abused, who have seen their families and friends killed. Sister Anthonia writes to THE LITTLE WAY ASSOCIATION: “Not surprisingly, there is a total breakdown of values in society. There is a loss of direction for families and institutions. One of the tragic results of the conflict is a great shortage of priests and trained catechists, so many Catholics do not have access to the sacraments and are not able to get to holy Mass.” With the help of The Little Way, Sister Anthonia has set up a training programme for catechists but funds are still needed to enable 44 trainees to complete the course and help restore the Faith to thousands of traumatised people. Can you help the people of Sierra Leone in this crisis? The sum of £165 will provide training
LITTLE WAY EAST AFRICA CRISIS APPEAL
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