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Bishops draw up a plan to aid schools at risk of failure
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
THE BISHOPS’ Conference of England and Wales has asked its education agency to assist struggling Catholic schools in an effort to protect their independence.
The intervention follows the Government’s announcement in June that failing schools will be re-opened as academies and allocated a sponsor, which, in the worst case scenario, would weaken the Church’s control over underperforming Catholic schools.
Following a plenary meeting in Leeds last week the bishops’ conference said in a statement: “The Catholic Church in England and Wales is rightly proud of the high academic standards achieved in so many Catholic schools. However, it is aware that some schools fall short of the standard expected by both Government and Church.
“Therefore the bishops’ conference mandates the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales (CESEW) to develop strategies alongside diocesan authorities and within the wider Catholic sector to ensure that Catholic schools in difficulty can be helped to improve rapidly so as to offer an excellent Catholic education to our children.”
The CESEW’s involvement does not change the governing structures of Catholic schools or the powers of the CESEW but marks the beginning of a national approach to assessing standards in schools across all dioceses. While the details of the strategy are unclear, the CESEW is expected to promote co-operation between strong and weak schools in order to raise standards.
Speaking at a press conference at the end of the bishops’ plenary meeting Fr Marcus Stock, general secretary of the bishops’ conference, said that for a school to qualify as a good Catholic school “standards and ethos must be united”.
The CESEW’s approach to raising standards in Catholic schools is expected to emphasise not only a Catholic ethos in the form of prayer life and liturgy but also a strong focus on academic success in nonreligious subjects.
The bishops also passed a resolution instructing the CESEW to seek assurance from the Education Secretary Michael Gove that fair funding principles will continue to apply to all Catholic schools in the state sector and that children in voluntary aided schools will not be disadvantaged through lack of funds.
Further resolutions passed by the bishops include a request for Catholics to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on the Feast of the Holy Trinity in June.
Speaking of his admiration for Queen Elizabeth II, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster explained that all parishes would be asked to celebrate a Mass with prayers to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee.
The bishops have approved a prayer for the monarch asking that God protects her and requesting that “with her consort and the royal family [she may] at last come into your presence through Christ who is the way, the truth and the life and who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.”
Archbishop Nichols also said that the bishops had discussed the expected Government consultation on the legalisation of same-sex marriage.
He spoke of his disappointment at the Government’s announcement and reiterated the bishops’ opposition to annexing the “territory of marriage” to gay couples. He said that marriage in its current legal form was “the foundation of family life as we know it”. Comment: Page 12 Editorial Comment: Page 13
November 25 2011 £1.50 (Republic of Ireland €1.80)
Benedict XVI inspires African faithful
HEERRAALLDD OOFF HHOOPE: Benedict XVI waves as he leaves the cathedral in Cotonou, the largest city in Benin, during his whirlwind three-day visit to the country Full report: Page 5
Vatican to block ugly new churchesBYMARKGREAVES
THE VATICAN is preparing to set up a commission that will crack down on “garage-style churches”, according to a leading Vatican commentator.
Andrea Tornielli, columnist for La Stampa, said that the commission will seek to put an end to “avant-garde constructions” that do not resemble traditional churches.
He said that the commission, which will be part of the Congregation for Divine Worship, will also promote singing and music at Mass.
Mr Tornielli said that Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, along with Pope Benedict XVI, considered the work “very urgent”.
The commission will issue regulations, he said, and collaborate with diocesan offices charged with the construction of new churches.
Mr Tornielli wrote: “Too often architects, even the more famous ones, do not use the Catholic liturgy as a starting point and thus end up producing avant-garde constructions that look like anything but a church.
“These buildings composed of cement cubes, glass boxes, crazy shapes and confused spaces remind people of anything but the mystery and sacredness of a church. Tabernacles are semi-hidden, leading faithful on a real treasure hunt, and sacred images are almost existent.”
Last week the Diocese of Orange, California, bought the Crystal Cathedral, a Protestant megachurch made of glass, for £37 million.
Another example of avantgarde architecture is the Jubilee Church in Rome, designed by Richard Meier.
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Pope ‘may still visit Ireland next year’ despite diplomatic tensions BY ED WEST
POPE BENEDICT XVI may still attend the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin next year, an organiser has said.
Fr Julian Green, a national delegate who is working with representatives from each diocese to promote English and Welsh participation at the congress, also said it would be a chance to heal a wounded Church.
Fr Green said that the event would not be like the last one held in Dublin, in 1932, “with the triumphal presence of the Church in society”.
He said: “It will be one where the Eucharist as a source of reconciliation and healing will be expressed.”
Fr Green said that after the abuse crisis “we see a very wounded Church, people wounded by the problems, but nonetheless among the faithful there is an immense faith in the Eucharist”.
“As well as those who have been victimised, they have also been victims of abuse. But they cling to their faith in the Eucharist, which has been part of the Church’s history,” he said.
Fr Green, who helped to organise English and Welsh participation in previous congresses in Mexico in 2004 and Quebec in 2007, also said it was still unclear whether the Pope would attend.
The priest, who is incardinated in Birmingham archdiocese, said: “It will be announced beforehand whether the Pope will be there or not, but in the past the Pope has personally participated, except in the last two because of health and workload.
“The possibility is always there that the Pope might attend. We don’t know. The Irish Church doesn’t know.
And I wouldn’t be surprised if the Holy See doesn’t know yet whether that will be the case.
“Papal visits are often only announced a few months in advance. The organisers in Dublin have contingency plans if it happens, but are organising on the basis that it won’t happen.”
The 50th International Eucharistic Congress will take place in Dublin from June 10 to 17 next year. Among the catechists and homilists announced so far are Cardinal Peter Turkson, Cardinal Seán Brady and Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem.
I want to lead fans to faith, says Delia
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
THE NATION’S favourite cook, Delia Smith, has said that she wants her fans to enjoy the benefits of spiritual life as well as of cookery.
Speaking in an interview she said: “I can reach people who would like to cook but are finding it difficult. It’s the same with the spiritual. If people want it, I would like to be able to point them in the right direction.”
The celebrity cook attends daily Mass and has woven Catholic themes into her popular cookery books, with meals structured around the liturgical year, including Lent and Advent.
She has supported the Catholic charity Cafod with profits from her recipe books and has written for the charity’s website. In 2009 she wrote about the need for periods of daily silence in Christian life.
Blogger hails Latin Mass on folk guitar
BY ED WEST
A BRITISH blogger has written a song about the Pope’s 2007 motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum.
Brighton-based Laurence England, who says his influences are the Smiths, the Beatles and Johnny Cash, wrote “The Ballad of Summorum Pontificum” out of “genuine excitement” that his church, St Mary Magdalen’s, Brighton, would have a traditional Latin Mass every Sunday. The ballad features the lyrics: “Gimme some more, some more, Summorum Pontificum!” Mr England, who writes the That The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill blog, said he was partly frustrated at a lack of episcopal interest in the motu proprio, but that he also felt a “youthful enthusiasm about discovering this joyous thing”.
Blogger Fr Tim Finigan said that the song “will be sung in pubs and clubs up and down the land after traditional Masses and other traddie events”.
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