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JANUARY 27 2012 THE CATHOLIC HERALD
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Leeds diocese caught in row over boy who has disability
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
THE MOTHER of a boy with Down’s Syndrome has accused the Church of letting her down after her diocese declined to allow her son to make his First Holy Communion.
Clare Ellarby, from the St Mary of the Angels church in Batley, West Yorkshire, said: “I believe it is because of his disability that they won’t accept him. I feel very upset my son is being discriminated against and I feel really let down by the Catholic faith.”
The catechetical classes for First Holy Communion began in September but Mrs Ellarby explained that she was unable to attend the first meeting with Denum because he was unwell. When she approached her parish priest, Fr Patrick Mungovin, he explained that the classes were now full and that Denum would have to wait. When she took her case to Mgr Michael McQuinn, vicar general of the Diocese of Leeds, Mrs Ellerby claims that he raised questions concerning Denum’s understanding of the sacrament but agreed to discuss this with Denum’s headteacher at St Mary’s Catholic primary school in Batley.
After several attempts to contact Mgr McQuinn, Mrs Ellarby eventually received a letter from him this month. The letter reportedly raised concerns about Denum’s ability to concentrate for long periods of time and his understanding, based on what Denum’s head teacher had told Mgr McQuinn.
He wrote: “While he [Denum] is unable to make preparations this year to the first sacrament he may be able to do so in the future when his understanding is better placed.”
But Mrs Ellarby said that she feared her son was being discriminated against due to his disability and that “it was his right to make his First Holy Communion”.
Mrs Ellarby does not attend Mass every week but she said: “I am from a strong Catholic background and I went to Mass every Sunday as a child. I do go often but not as often as I could because I have Denum and a younger child too.”
In a statement a diocese spokesman said: “Often baptism is celebrated for babies in order to bring them into the life of the Church but they only proceed to the sacrament of First Communion when they take part in the Church’s life and understand the Church’s faith in regard to these sacraments. Denum’s family has not participated in the regular life of the Church or in the preparation preceding First Communion.
“We hope that this will change as Denum grows and we are working with him and his family to help him achieve this.”
A diocesan spokesman has since declined to confirm whether the parish priest’s refusal to allow Denum to make his First Holy Communion was due to concerns about Denum’s understanding or whether it was as a result of not attending Mass on Sundays and other Holy Days of Obligation. He said it would be unhelpful to clarify this at present.
John Coleby, director of the St Joseph’s Pastoral Centre, which works to ensure that people with learning difficulties can participate fully in the life of the Church, said that there was no reason why anybody with learning difficulties should be excluded from the sacrament.
He said: “The general directory of the Catechism tells us that growth in our understanding as well as growth in specialised pedagogy makes it possible and desirable for all to have adequate catechesis.
“In effect there’s no reason why anybody should be excluded from the sacrament and we as disabledfriendly communities will use different ways to mediate communication and understanding whether that’s through multi-sensory, music, song, movement or language which enable people with learning disabilities to firstly prepare for the sacraments and celebrate the sacraments as a Church.”
Mr Coleby also explained that understanding was not simply about intellect. He said: “Understanding can be intuitive and not just intellectual.”
In the papal encyclical Quam Singulari, Decree of the Sacred Congregation of the Discipline of the Sacraments on First Communion, Pope Pius X said: “The age of discretion for Confession is the time when one can distinguish between right and wrong, that is, when one arrives at a certain use of reason, and so, similarly, for Holy Communion is required the age when one can distinguish between the Bread of the Holy Eucharist and ordinary bread – again the age at which a child attains the use of reason.”
Solemn Vespers of the Dead are sung in Latin at the Birmingham Oratory Photo: Peter Jennings
Oratory priest and champion of Newman Cause dies at 89
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN AND PETER JENNINGS
THE FORMER Provost of the Birmingham Oratory and champion of the beatification of Cardinal Newman, Fr Gregory Winterton, has died at the age of 89.
Fr Winterton is reported to have died peacefully on the morning of Wednesday January 18 in the care of the Little Sisters of the Poor in Harborne, Birmingham.
He is credited as tirelessly working for the Cause of John Henry Newman to the extent that he even refused Pope Paul VI a favour for the sake of dedicating himself to Newman’s Cause.
Newman’s Cause depended on Fr Winterton’s dedication because
Newman’s other devoted champion, Fr Stephen Dessain, died suddenly in 1976 without completing his extensive research into Newman’s writings. It was Fr Winterton who picked up the baton to make sure that the necessary research was completed and sent to Rome by 1986.
He said that the Vatican wrote to him while it was arranging the 1975 Holy Year and requested that Newman’s Cause be incorporated into the theme.
But Fr Winterton refused the Vatican’s request so that he could have time enough to read all of Newman’s letters in order to provide thorough and extensive evidence in support of the cardinal.
The body of Fr Winterton was received on Monday evening at the
Oratory Church in Birmingham.
Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham was present and the church was full of parishioners as mourners gathered for the Solemn Vespers of the Dead sung in Latin.
Fr Winterton’s funeral Mass took place on Tuesday.
Fr Winterton was born in Brighton on July 9 1922.
After leaving school at the beginning of the Second World War he was commissioned into the Royal Artillery, serving in North Africa, Italy and Palestine.
He was eventually ordained a priest in March 1963 and served as Provost of the Birmingham Oratory from 1971 until 1992. Letter: Page 13
BY ED WEST MP removes sex education Bill
A BILL that would have introduced mandatory abstinence classes for girls aged 13 to 16 was removed before it was to go through Parliament last week.
Mid-Bedfordshire MP Nadine Dorries withdrew the Sex Education (Required Content) Bill, which was eighth on the list of private members’ bills. Under the proposals, teenage girls and boys would have extra sex education lessons, including advice on the benefits of abstinence.
Ms Dorries said that the Guardian had wrongly reported that her Bill had been scrapped on Friday.
“I knew there was more chance of a meteor hitting the Houses of
Parliament than my Bill being discussed because of other business ahead of it, and so it proved.
“So I asked Commons officials not to bother printing the Bill as that costs £800. But I’m still determined to see this become law.”
Britain currently has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in western Europe, six times higher than the Netherlands.
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Parish appeals for Indian priest to stay in Wales Almost 100,000 protest at closure of Irish embassy
BY MARK GREAVES
AN INDIAN priest has become so popular at a parish in north Wales that parishioners are campaigning to keep him there even though he has been ordered to return home.
One local has written to Pope Benedict XVI urging him to intervene, saying that Fr Joshy Thomas Cheruparambil CMI’s imminent departure has left the parish in shock.
Fr Cheruparambil, who is from Kerala, has learnt Welsh and celebrates a bilingual Mass twice a week.
He came to Bala, a town by a lake in Snowdonia National Park, five years ago and is now expected to return to India before Easter.
Alwyn Jones Parry, who is not a Catholic but has driven an elderly friend to Mass for four years, said in a letter to Benedict XVI that the parish was “very distressed”.
He said: “I can fully understand any branch of the Church wishing to have Fr Joshy serving with them as he could very well become one of the leaders of the Church, with his charisma, dedication and prayerful ministry.
“I understand that Kerala has a considerable number of new priests each year. This is in sharp contrast to the situation in Wales,” Mr Parry said.
“It is most difficult to find any positive reasons for this course of action... I am writing to your Holiness in the hope that you will not allow damage to the Church in our area, and instruct that Fr Joshy remains in this parish, at least for the next few years,” he said.
In his letter Mr Parry said that Bishop Edwin Regan of Wrexham had twice written to Fr Cheruparambil’s superiors in India asking him to be allowed to stay.
Mr Parry said even though he was not a Catholic it was a “privilege” to attend Mass at Bala. “There’s a lovely atmosphere, a caring atmosphere,” he said.
Fr Cheruparambil told the Herald: “If I am needed in Wales I will stay in Wales. If I am needed back home in India I will be back in India.”
Fr Cheruparambil is one of four Carmelites of Mary Immaculate in the Diocese of Wrexham.
The congregation, founded in 1831, was the first indigenous religious congregation in the Catholic Church in India.
Fr Cheruparambil said he expected to return to Karnataka, a southern state in India where the congregation has a headquarters. He grew up in the neighbouring coastal state of Kerala, where a fifth of the population is Christian and where St Thomas is traditionally believed to have landed in AD 52.
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
THE IRISH government is facing widespread protest from both the public and parliamentarians following its decision to close its embassy to the Holy See.
A campaign group known as Ireland Stand Up has galvanised opposition to the controversial decision as 96,000 protest postcards have been sent to the Irish prime minister Enda Kenny.
In November the Irish government announced the closure of several embassies, including its embassy to the Holy See, to cut costs in the wake of financial pressures.
A meeting was held last week in Dublin to express opposition to the decision. It was attended by almost a third of members of the country’s parliament.
The decision to close the embassy has been regarded as a snub by some after tensions arose between the Holy See and the Irish government last year after the Cloyne Report.
Speaking in a parliamentary debate last July Enda Kenny said that the “Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and the narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day”.
The report was heavily critical of Church and state authorities over the handling of clerical abuse allegations and prompted the Irish law compelling priests to report penitents to civil authorities if they confessed to child abuse.
The proposal increased tensions between the Church and the Irish government as Catholic commentators argued that it was an attack on the sacred seal of Confession.
The outburst from the Irish prime minister resulted in the Vatican recalling its apostolic nuncio to Ireland in order to consult him on the Irish government’s reaction.
Ireland Stand Up is also calling for Mr Kenny to issue a personal invitation to the Pope to visit Dublin this summer. Ireland is hosting the International Eucharistic Congress in June, with 15,000 people expected to attend, and supporters of a papal visit are hoping that the Roman Pontiff will arrive in Ireland in time to attend the closing ceremony.
Mary Fitzgibbon, spokeswoman for Ireland Stand Up, said: “Ireland is holding the equivalent of a Catholic Olympics and we would like to see the Pope invited to the closing ceremony. The economic and spiritual benefits will be enormous.
“We received a letter from the Pope earlier this month in which he said that he appreciates the sentiments which prompted this thoughtful gesture.” Editorial comment: Page 13
NEWSBULLETIN Abuse victim will address bishops at summit in Rome IRISH abuse victim Marie Collins is to address a symposium of bishops in Rome as part of the Church’s new initiative for handling abuse cases.
world to deal swiftly and effectively with clerical abuse of minors.
Miss Collins, who was abused by a chaplain at Crumlin Hospital in Dublin when she was 13, will speak before the opening of a free online information centre to help Catholics throughout the
The launch of the Centre for the Protection of Children, which will be based in Munich, will follow a symposium at Rome’s Gregorian University from February 6-9, where Miss Collins will speak alongside psychiatrist Baroness Hollins.
Locked-in sufferer in legal battle A MAN with locked-in syndrome who has launched a High Court bid for doctors to lawfully end his life is facing opposition from the Government.
Lawyers for the Ministry of Justice have said that the courts cannot endorse doctors assisting patients to die without Parliament’s approval.
Tony Nicklinson, 57, suffered a stroke in 2005 and has been totally paralysed since and is now only able to communicate by moving his eyes.
At the preliminary meeting David Perry QC, acting for the Ministry of Justice, asked to bring the legal action to an end. “There are compelling reasons why the court should not intervene,” he said. Mr Nicklinson “is saying the court should positively authorise and permit as lawful the deliberate taking of his life”, he said. “That is not, and cannot be, the law of England and Wales unless Parliament were to say otherwise.”
Latest embryo tests criticised SCIENTISTS at Newcastle University have mastered a technique for creating an embryo with three separate parents, prompting criticism from pro-life groups.
The embryos were created using DNA from a man and two women in an effort to prevent women from passing on genetic defects to their children. Anthony Ozimic of SPUC said that the “vast majority” of embryos created in the tests were killed.
Mass held for the unborn FARM STREET, the Jesuit church in west London, will hold its annual Mass for the unborn on Thursday next week.
Fr William Pearsall SJ said the Mass would be for all those who have been affected by the loss of a child in pregnancy or in neo-natal care.
He added: “We hope that this Mass for the Unborn will help to bring healing, consolation and peace to those taking part.”
Play about saint staged in London A NEW play about the mother and wife of St Edward the Confessor, entitled Encomia, is to be performed at Westminster Cathedral Hall, London, on Tuesday, February 7 and Wednesday, February 8 at 7.30pm.
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