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MAY 25 2012 THE CATHOLIC HERALD
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Investigators: Manchester’s Mother Teresa lived holy life
BY SIMON CALDWELL
A NUN known the “Mother Teresa of Manchester” lived a life of heroic virtue worthy of sainthood, Vatican officials investigating her life have concluded.
Elizabeth Prout, who worked in the slums of Victorian Manchester, lived out the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity to a heroic degree, according to a position paper being drawn up by theologians attached to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Their conclusions could result in a major step toward her possible canonisation as the first British saint since 1976 and first British woman saint since 1970.
But their document, called a positio, will not be finalised until late next year and it must first be approved by scores of Vatican cardinals, theologians, historians and scholars before it is sent to the Pope.
But if Benedict XVI agrees with their conclusions he will declare Sister Elizabeth to be ‘Venerable’ and the search will begin for two miracles for her beatification and her canonisation as a saint.
In an unusual step for a process normally kept private, excerpts from the first 30 pages of a document expected to be 300 pages in length were disclosed at a Mass in honour of Mother Elizabeth at her grave in St Helens, Merseyside.
Sister Elissa Renere, a senior congregational leader of the Sisters of the Cross and Passion, the order that was founded by Mother Elizabeth, flew into Britain from Colchester, Connecticut, to deliver the news in person. She said that on a recent visit to Rome she found the theologians to be enthusiastic about the Cause, with one greeting her with the words: “I love your Elizabeth – what a wonderful and valiant woman!”
She said the theologians had found that all the available evidence suggested that Elizabeth had “exercised the virtue of love in heroic measure”.
“The positio argues that Elizabeth was unquestionably rooted and grounded in the virtue of love in all her personal interactions,” said Sister Elissa in the Church of St Ann and Blessed Dominic.
Elizabeth Prout’s Cause for canonisation was opened in 1993 in the Archdiocese of Liverpool, where she died from tuberculosis at the age of 43 in 1864.
In 2008 the local phase of investigation concluded and a dense and sealed file of documents sent to Rome.
Mother Elizabeth was born in Coleham, Shrewsbury, into an Anglican family and she was thrown out of her home after she converted to the Catholic faith in her early 20s.
At the age of 28 she became a nun and a few years later was given a teaching post in some of the poorest areas of Manchester, working largely among Irish migrants and factory workers.She developed a reputation for her tireless efforts in teaching, sheltering, feeding and nursing the needy and opened an archipelago of schools and hostels across the poorest parts of the North West.
As other women joined her cause, she founded a religious community, and adopted the name Mother Mary Joseph of Jesus.
A stained-glass window depicting Prout overlooks her grave Photo: St Gabriel News and Media
MORE than 30 British and American faith-based investment firms are lobbying major hotels and Olympic sponsors to promise that they will work to stop human trafficking around the Games.
Julie Tanner, assistant director of socially responsible investing for Christian Brothers Investment Services, said: “The issue has taken hold and the hotels are doing training, and their staff are aware that there
Olympic sponsors told to take action on trafficking BY MARK PATTISON
are issues that require the attention of management or police agencies and social services.”
The work builds on efforts to combat human trafficking – sex trafficking, forced labour and child labour among them – at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
One new element is that the 37 faith-based investment firms have not only approached hotels but also the major sponsors of the Games.
Thirteen hotels and 19 sponsors were chosen. The Olympics has far more than 19 sponsors, but the group of 19 was picked because it was “where we felt the companies had risks from trafficking”, Ms Tanner said.
“We get into some of the consumer brands,” Ms Tanner said, many of which have “huge supply chains in terms of their products ... All of these things that make up their products require them to have a number of factories, a number of suppliers.
“While those companies, on the face of it, may not be apparent” in trafficking, Ms Tanner said, it is worth prodding companies, she said, to ask themselves: “Are you monitoring your factories? Are you auditing? Are you making sure there’s no forced labour, no slave labour, no child labour?”
One of the problems for the antitrafficking campaign is “the lack of statistics and information and research”, Ms Tanner said, adding that part of the reason is “it’s very difficult to count”. For example, a minor may be arrested on a prostitution charge, she added, but police do not label it as sex trafficking.
Carol Smolenski, executive director of ECPAT-USA, said the most reliable American figures were from a decade-old study from the University of Pennsylvania, which estimated that 200,000 to 300,000 children were being used for sex trafficking.
“Since then there has not been a study that has attempted to count them,” she said.
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Welsh Church asked to pay £1m for school project Fragment of St Augustine’s body donated to shrine
BY ED WEST
SCHOOLS in Wales face paying several millions of pounds after the Welsh government refused to allow the Church to avoid paying 15 per cent of project costs.
The Labour-controlled Welsh government earlier this year promised to invest £700 million in school improvements as part of the 21st Century Schools scheme, the equivalent of the Building Schools for the Future programme in England.
Under the scheme in England, which was funded by the British Government, the statutory requirement of Anglican and Catholic schools to pay a proportion of building schools, which in England is 10 per cent, was waived, the cost of the programme being prohibitively expensive for churches .
But the Welsh government has said it will not offer the same deal to its church schools, including 90 Catholic schools, and has so far turned down appeals by the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales. (Catholic Education Service for England and Wales).
The Welsh government said it had “currently no plans” to amend the contribution facing the Church, which would be well over £1 million.
A spokesman for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said: “The Welsh government has set up a working party with the three Welsh dioceses. The CESEW are keen to find a way forward and to find a solution.”
Mgr Robert Reardon, press officer for Cardiff archdiocese, said: “This is devolution. These present discussions, which involve the Catholic and Anglican dioceses in Wales, are to discuss with the government that the proportion to be paid does not exceed 15 per cent.”
But he said there were no proposals to reduce the figure at all.
The Building Schools for the Future Programme included three Catholic schools in Manchester, St Paul’s, Our Lady’s RC Sports College and St Matthews, as well as Archbishop Grimshaw in Birmingham and Blessed Trinity in Burnley. Several Catholic schools were also rebuilt as part of the scheme.
Last month the Welsh government wrote to Catholic schools stating that their circulation of the archbishops’ letters on marriage could infringe the Education Act as it could be considered a “political act”.
The minister also ordered schools in Wales to give pupils a “balanced” view of gay marriage.
BY ED WEST
ARCHBISHOP Peter Smith of Southwark has formally inaugurated the official shrine of St Augustine at Pugin’s personal church in Ramsgate.
The inauguration, which marked the beginning of St Augustine’s week, a week of Catholic history and culture, took place last Sunday during Vespers and Benediction. The week of historical and cultural events features talks and lecturers, walks and processions.
The last shrine of Augustine, which dated from the early medieval period, was destroyed during the Reformation. Located on the Isle of Thanet in east Kent, it is close to where St Augustine landed in 597AD to preach the Gospel to the Anglo-Saxons.
Soon after, King Ethelbert of Kent converted, prompted by his Frankish wife Bertha.
The official decree for the foundation of the new shrine was made on March 1, the birthday of Augustus Pugin, the Victorian architect and Catholic convert who said he chose to build a church there because “blessed Austin landed nearby”.
Fr Marcus Holden, the parish priest and custodian of St Augustine’s, said: “It was a tremendous event and beyond our expectations. The church was absolutely packed we had a choir from the ordinariate group in Deal, and vespers according to the Anglican patrimony.” There was also a new reliquary donated by the Fathers of the Oxford Oratory, and “one of the last fragments of Augustine’s body was laid below a statue of Pugin”.
Fr Holden said: “It was wonderful that a fragment survived because Henry VIII made sure everything was destroyed in 1538 but it seems that some of the relics had been distributed around Europe in the Middle Ages. Everything in England had been destroyed.
“The Augustine story was especially suppressed because it showed a direct link to Rome, and it was only to become an important story in the 19th century.
“It’s important for England, it’s important to English identity and it’s important for the Church at large. It connects England to the universal Church.”
Fr Holden hopes that the new shrine will attract more visitors to the church, which its friends are still trying to rescue as a work of architecture. He said there was “still much to do, but the shrine gives the church a fitting spiritual significance and will help us to continue to restore the site”.
The Archdiocese of Southwark took back responsibility for the church from the Benedictine monks in 2010, and has begun a major programme of repair.
NEWSBULLETIN A world without faith would be a disaster, says Blair TONY BLAIR has said at a conference at the Royal Albert Hall that a world without faith would be a disaster.
Mr Blair, who became a Catholic in 2007, said that faith was vital because it introduced humility into societies.
Speaking to 4,300 people at the Holy Trinity Brompton Leadership Conference, the former prime minister said he had once been rebuked by an official for proposing to end a speech with: “God bless Britain.”
He said it was “fundamentally a belief that there is something bigger and more important than you, that you are not the only thing that matters, that there is something that is greater and transcendent”.
Bishop blesses recording studio A CATHOLIC radio station is to be launched at a seminary in Wonersh, near Guildford in Surrey.
St John’s Seminary recording studio was offically opened and blessed on Sunday by Auxiliary Bishop Paul Hendricks of Southwark, who also celebrated Mass. The station, which will be known as Heart Gives unto Heart, is due to begin broadcasting in September.
Gerry Coates, the project co-ordinator, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for a British Catholic radio broadcasting on the internet. The Wonersh seminary facilities will also allow us to broadcast our radio and have a recording studio for Catholic musicians plus a permanent space for our Catholic art exhibition.
“It is a Catholic community project and everyone is invited to get involved to make it happen... Even if you don’t live near Guildford, there are many vital jobs that can be done off-site.”
Charity backs Muslim parents THE SOCIETY for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has backed Muslim parents campaigning against explicit sex education in east London.
The Tower Hamlets Parents’ Action Group on SRE, supported by SPUC’s Safe at Home initiative, has launched a petition against the Christopher Winter Project education programme, which it says was introduced without consultation with parents.
ʻHealing stoneʼ to be unveiled ORGANISERS of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress have announced that a “healing stone” is to be unveiled at the Congress’s opening ceremony as a means of acknowledging the abuse of children.
The stone comprises a large, shaped piece of Wicklow granite is engraved with a prayer composed by a survivor of clerical abuse. The unveiling will occur on June 10.
Archbishop visits Jain centre ARCHBISHOP EMERITUS Kevin McDonald of Southwark visited the Jain Oshwal Centre near Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, last week. Jainism, an Indian religion, advocates non-violence towards all living beings.
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Cardinal says ‘new secular religion’ poses great danger
BY DAVID V BARRETT
MILITANT atheists are threatening Christian freedom, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor has said.
England’s most senior Catholic said that secularists were not prepared to tolerate dissent.
The cardinal, who retired as Archbishop of Westminster three years ago, was speaking last week on “Meaning and Hope – Christianity’s Place in Modern Britain” in the Anglican cathedral in Leicester. He said that the current wave of intolerance to religious beliefs was a threat to freedom of belief.
“Our danger in Britain today is that so-called western reason claims that it alone has recognised what is right and thus claims a totality that is inimical to freedom. No one is forced to be a Christian. But no one should be forced to live according to the new secular religion as if it alone were definitive and obligatory for all humankind,” he said.
Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor quoted Pope Benedict: “Christianity finds itself exposed now to an intolerant pressure which at first ridicules it – as belonging to a perverse, false way of thinking – and then tries to deprive it of breathing space in the name of an ostensible rationality.” We should oppose such a claim, the cardinal said, “because this is not pure reason but rather the restriction of reason to what can be known scientifically – and at the same time the exclusion of all that goes beyond it. It is very, very dangerous.” Secular values of totalitarian states have been responsible for some of the greatest violence against mankind, he said.
“The propaganda of secularism and its high priests want us to believe that religion is dangerous for our health. It suits them to have no opposition to their vision of a brave new world, the world which they see as somehow governed only by people like themselves. They conveniently forget that secularism itself does not guarantee freedom, rationality, an absence of prejudice or violence.”
He continued: “Indeed, in the last century, most violence was perpetrated by secular states on their own people. It was secular and totalitarian authorities of the last century that exercised horrific violence and tried to subject their citizens to their own destructive philosophies.”
The annual lecture of the Far and Near Club, a lay group in the diocese of Leicester, was organised by Canon David Monteith, Anglican acting Archdeacon of Leicester. He said the cardinal’s talk was appreciated by the ecumenical audience.
“He was an incredibly gracious man, especially when replying to questions. People appreciated the coherent way he delivered the lecture. It had a clarity and a wisdom which clearly came from many years of experience in the Church,” he said.
In his wide-ranging talk the cardinal also focused on the importance of the family.
“The family is the most enduring social institution that we have. It is the foundation of all societies and is our security against the overwhelming claims of the state,” he said.
“Christians are not and should not be anti-gay,” he said. But on the currently divisive topic of gay marriage the issue is about democracy and the nature of marriage itself. “On what grounds does a minority have the right to change the meaning of a fundamental institution for the majority? Although governments acknowledge that marriage does not belong to them they nevertheless feel they can change it whenever they wish,” he said.
Civil partnerships offer all the major legal benefits of marriage, he noted. “Marriage and family are personal spaces which need to be secured against the unnecessary encroachment of the state.” The cardinal spoke passionately about
“the failure to care adequately for our elderly”.
“Instead of regarding the elderly as a source of value in their own right, a resource for families and communities especially in an increasingly fragmented social and cultural world, we view them as a problem or a threat. We have lost that deep reverence for humanity in all its different conditions,” he said.
“An ageing population certainly presents its challenges – not least to our prejudices – but it is also an extraordinary gift. When society only sees age as an expensive inconvenience, a threat to resources and lifestyles, it no longer sees a person but a problem. This permits a slow erosion of dignity; subtly and silently the process of dehumanisation has begun.”
Having painted a dark picture of Christianity’s place in modern Britain the cardinal finished on a positive note. Unrestrained liberalism, he said, leads to abuses of power; true freedom only exists within constraints.
“So far from shackling us or placing us under some kind of slavery, Christian faith and practice preserve our freedom. It gives us an alternative vision of things. And this is not a threat to society, but rather its salvation.
“It gives us roots, belonging, moral responsibility and access to wisdom, to the art of life and how to live it humbly, generously and well.
“It also keeps social conscience alive; it refuses to let us ignore or erase the other, the weak, the vulnerable, the forgotten.”
Senior Catholic defends welfare reform amid row
BY STAFF REPORTER
THE MOST senior Catholic politician in Government has launched a defence of his welfare reforms in The Catholic Herald in the midst of pressure from colleagues to make even bigger cuts to spending.
Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said the problem of worklessness would not be solved merely by expanding or shrinking the welfare budget.
His argument appears to respond to calls from George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Steve Hilton, David Cameron’s expolicy chief, to cut another £10 or £25bn from welfare funding.
Mr Osborne said in his Budget speech last month that the next spending review would have to cut the welfare bill to prevent “the full weight of the spending restraint” falling on other departments.
Mr Duncan Smith, however, said he believed an extra £10 billion in welfare cuts was not acceptable.
In The Catholic Herald this week Work and Pensions Secretary said: “When welfare spending balloons, as it has done, the temptation is to squeeze it. But – rather like a balloon – if you squeeze it at one end it will grow at the other. What we have to do is reduce demand.
“That is why our reforms are about changing the nature of the welfare system so that it acts as a springboard rather than a trap, moving people off the rolls not simply because they are no longer allowed access to benefits, but because they no longer need to.”
The Welfare Reform Bill, passed by Parliament in March, introduced a £26,000 household benefits cap and a single universal credit to replace six means-tested benefits and tax credits.
The law was expected to save £18bn a year by 2014-15.
At the time Mr Cameron hailed it as a “historic step in the biggest welfare revolution in over 60 years”.
Mr Duncan Smith said the measures were “not about cheese-paring, but improving incentives to work and rewarding those who progress into employment”.
He said: “We are making sure everyone who accesses the welfare system is on a journey – moving from dependence to independence. But if we are to help people on this journey, we have to recognise a simple fact. Not everyone is starting from the same place. Where someone comes from a community where worklessness has become ingrained into everyday life, there is no point in simply lecturing them about the moral purpose of work, or in wielding a bigger and bigger stick. Sticks only work if there is a way out.
“What you must tackle is the biggest demotivating factor that many people face – the fact that the complexity of the welfare system and the way it is set up creates the clear perception that work does not pay. It is this factor which can stop an individual’s journey back to work in its tracks. Changing this is what the universal credit and the Work Programme are all about.”
The Work Programme involves paying private companies and charities for getting people back into work.
A survey this week found that 22 per cent of the first 300,000 people on the scheme are employed after spending nine months to a year on the programme.
The Government is hoping that 36 per cent of those on the scheme will get jobs, Private and voluntary organisations are paid up to £6,000 for every person they place in work.
Fr John Zuhlsdorf
Fr Tim Finigan
Dr John Rao
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Bishops lead vigil for persecuted Christians around the world
BISHOPS from across the world led the first ever Night of Witness at Westminster Cathedral last week to commemorate persecuted Christians.
At the event, organised by the charity Aid to the Church in Need, more than 1,000 people filled the cathedral for a Mass celebrated by Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton.
After Mass the congregation gathered on the piazza for an outdoor rally which began with Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster welcoming Arch
Chancellor backs down over tax on church renovation bishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi, Pakistan, and Coptic Catholic Bishop Joannes Zakaria of Luxor, Egypt. Mgr Keith Newton, the leader of the ordinariate, was also present. He said: “I thought the evening was very moving, especially the vigil in the Cathedral when we meditated on the price some people pay for what we take for granted. The involvement of priests and lay people from the particular country we were talking about was particularly poignant.”
BY DAVID V BARRETT
CHURCH organisations have welcomed the Government’s U-turn on charging VAT on alterations to church buildings, but with some caution.
Last week the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a £30 million package to cover the VAT payments he announced in his Budget in March. Under the Budget changes, churches which are listed buildings would have had to find a further 20 per cent on the cost of any alterations, which include installing heating, lighting, toilets or disabled access.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster had called the move “regrettable”.
“Our Grade I-listed churches are places of worship which are open to all. They are also buildings of great architectural beauty and historical significance. At a time of increasing austerity, it would be regrettable if they had to face higher costs for repairs and alterations from planned changes to VAT,” he said last month.
The Government initially offered £5 million to offset the VAT, but Christian leaders said that would not cover the increased costs. The Chancellor has now bowed to pressure from the churches.
The Church of England has many more listed buildings than the Catholic Church. The Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres, said the Chancellor “made it very clear that he was moving to ease the impact on the churches in recognition of the massive contribution made by congregations up and down the land to the life of their communities”.
Anne Sloman, chairwoman of the [Anglican] Church Buildings Council, told The Catholic Herald: “We were always acutely aware that we were negotiating on behalf of all denominations, and indeed of other faiths, and we wanted to use the opportunity of our meetings with the Chancellor to get some real improvements in the scheme and how it operates. The fact is we were originally offered £5 million. The offer on the table is £30 million per annum, and it’s ringfenced. This means we can expect all those who apply for alterations and repairs to be fully compensated for the equivalent of the VAT.”
Claire Walker, chief executive of the National Churches Trust, welcomed the announcement but was critical of the Chancellor’s original decision.
She said: “The way in which places of worship help to sustain local communities and provide a venue for charities and voluntary activity made the proposal announced in the Budget to charge VAT at the full rate on alterations to listed places of worship from October this year all the more surprising. Although this has been called by some ‘a heritage tax’ this was in fact also a community tax.”
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