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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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Bishop seeks ecumenical truth and reconciliation body BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
AN ENGLISH bishop has called for the creation of a “truth and reconciliation commission” to promote Christian unity.
In an address marking the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Bishop Emeritus Patrick O’Donoghue of Lancaster said that if Christians did not recognise their sins against one another then they would be “just playing at ecumenism”.
He said: “I propose that we will only have true ecumenism if Catholics and other Christian churches and communities together look at the bad things we have done to each other in the past. We need a truth and reconciliation commission, otherwise we are just playing at ecumenism by pretending that we haven’t got this past. We cannot airbrush our history out of existence with warm words and a positive spin on things.
“For this truth and reconciliation commission to work, the questions we have to ask are: have we truly got enough love to listen to each other? Do we really want to listen to the truth?”
Bishop O’Donoghue, who was speaking in Castlemartyr, County Cork, in the Republic of Ireland, argued that progress towards unity depended on honesty.
“The difference between a functioning family and a dysfunctional family is a healthy, nurturing family that talks openly and honestly about problems, about behaviour that is causing upset and friction,” he said.
“Sometimes it’s important to admit that we love each other, but don’t really like each other at times.”
Bishop O’ Donoghue is renowned for outspoken interventions on a variety of Catholic issues.
In November 2008 he said that Catholic university graduates and Catholic members of the media were undermining Catholic teaching and made a stand against Catholic adoption agencies placing children with same-sex couples.
The bishop is most famous for writing a series of frank assessments of the state of Catholicism in the north of England, known as Fit for Mission? earning him the nickname “Prophet of the North”.
In the document the bishop wrote: “The secular view on sex outside marriage, artificial contraception, sexually transmitted disease, including HIV and Aids, and abortion, may not be presented as neutral information.” The bishop faced criticism from secularists when he advised Catholic schools to put up crucifixes in their classrooms.
He served as Bishop of Lancaster from 2001 to 2009. He retired to his native County Cork, where he now serves as an assistant priest in Bantry.
The first Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a body assembled in South Africa following the abolition of Apartheid. It heard from different witnesses about their experiences and sought to promote dialogue and unity.
The bishop’s came during the week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
During an address in Rome last week Pope Benedict XVI said that Christian disunity was damaging the new evangelisation. He said that divisions among Christians weaken their credibility and ability to respond to the spiritual yearning of men and women.
He said: “The lack of unity among Christians impedes a more effective proclamation of Christ because it puts our credibility in danger. How can we give a convincing witness if we are divided?”
Pope Benedict said that the key to Christian unity went beyond sporadic ecumenical projects and being nice to one another. He said: “It requires that we reinforce our faith in God, the God of Jesus Christ, who spoke to us and became one of us. It requires entering into a new life in Christ, who is our true and definitive victory. It means opening ourselves to each other, welcoming all the elements of unity that God has preserved for us and gives us constantly. It means feeling the urgency of witnessing to the men and women of our time the living God.”
On the first anniversary of the creation of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, Ordinary Mgr Keith Newton wrote to members of the ordinariate and said that the ordinariate put into practice,“the Holy Father’s vision that it is possible for Christians from different traditions to be united in a common faith, expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and in communion with the successor of Peter.”
He said that the ordinariate should be a “‘a prophetic gesture to contribute to the wider goal of visible unity between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion”.
He added: “It is to help us to experience in practice how we can share the gifts we have received to strengthen each other for our mission to a world that desperately needs to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. As we keep the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity this month we should pray even more urgently for the unity of Christ’s Church which Pope Benedict reminded us, during his visit to the United Kingdom last year, is a particular charge and care for the successor of St Peter.” Charterhouse: Page 20
Archbishop says poor are biggest victims of cuts
BY ED WEST
ARCHBISHOP Peter Smith of Southwark has said that the widening gap between rich and poor in society undermines the Government’s claim that “we are all in this together”.
He said that while the cuts were falling hardest on the most disadvantaged, some of the wealthiest in society were “getting more and more ludicrous sums of money”.
The archbishop was speaking after the Government suffered a parliamentary defeat in the Lords over its Welfare Bill that saw a record rebellion among Liberal Democrat peers. Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith wants out-of-work payments limited to £26,000 a year per household, which he claims will save “something in the order” of £600 million towards deficit reduction.
But, the Bill was defeated in the Lords thanks in part to opposition from Anglican bishops, who opposed the cap on child benefit.
The Rt Rev John Packer, Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, who introduced the successful amendment opposing the cap, said: “It cannot be right for the cap to be the same for a childless couple as for a couple with children. Child benefit is the most appropriate way to right this unfairness.”
After other bishops criticised the reform, Mr Duncan Smith told the Sunday Times last week: “The question I’d ask these bishops is, over all these years, why have they sat back and watched people being placed in houses they cannot afford? It’s not a kindness. I would like to see their concerns about ordinary people, who are working hard, paying their tax and commuting long hours, who don’t have as much money as they would otherwise because they’re paying tax for all of this.”
But, Archbishop Smith said on Monday that Mr Duncan Smith has “missed the point”.
He said: “The thing I’ve spoken out about is the cap on child benefit. By the Government’s own figure, and from discussion from Caritas Social Action and many others not just Catholic ones they’re saying this could seriously disadvantage larger families and push more children into poverty.
“The Welfare Bill is an incredible complex piece of legislation and I do not envy anyone who wishes to sort it out. What’s happening is that the poorest and most vulnerable get the worst result.
“I’m not saying there’s an easy panacea. With means testing you can end up spending billions on administration. But I’m getting alarm signals from people working out in the field.”
Asked whether he was in favour of a benefits cap in principle the archbishop, who is the bishops’ conference head of Christian Responsibility and Citizenship, said: “It’s a difficult question to answer. On principle yes there have got to be reductions in Government costs the question is how do you do it and be fair to the most disadvantaged?
“Clearly the economic situation we have to reduce the overspending of recent years there have to be cuts all round. The Government says were all in it together, and that’s where we part company. The wealthiest seem to be getting more and more ludicrous sums of money.” Archbishop Smith also rejected the idea that those on benefits were choosing to be unemployment. Mary Kenny: Page 12
Bishops visit Olympic site to highlight Church’s role in Games
ARCHBISHOP Vincent Nichols of Westminster visited the site of the London Olympic Games last week with Bishop of the Forces Richard Moth, Bishop Thomas McMahon of Brentwood, Auxiliary Bishop John Arnold of Westminster, Auxiliary Bishop Paul
Hendricks of Southwark, and Auxiliary Bishop Patrick Lynch of Southwark.
The bishops were there to publicise the involvement of the Church during the London Games this July. The ecumenical charity More Than Gold,
launched in 1996, aims to use the Games to promote social cohesion and inclusion and inter faith relations, as well as promoting sport. They will also be offering hospitality to family members of athletes from the developing world who cannot afford to stay in London. The Catholic community is to host two official hospitality sites at the Games, one at Westminster Cathedral and the other at St Francis’s parish close to the Olympic Park. Feature: Page 9
Head of Catholic education agency is to step down BY ED WEST
OONA STANNARD is to step down as chief executive of the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales (CESEW).
Ms Stannard, who has been at CESEW for 12 years, has been on leave since November. Fr Marcus Stock, general secretary of the bishops’ conference, has filled in as acting director and will continue to do so until a successor has been found.
Ms Stannard said: “It has been a privilege to be an educationalist and to serve the Church in this capacity as director and chief executive of CESEW... to have a fulfilling career which for the last 12 years has enabled me to work in two areas about which I feel passionate, ie faith and education, has been a blessing.
cians, policy makers and their officers.
“I am happy to have been a small link in that chain and to have led CESEW for 12 years. I wish Catholic education and all who work in its service well for the future.”
Bishop Malcolm McMahon of Nottingham, Chairman of the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales, paid tribute to Ms Stannard.
He said: “Ms Stannard has skilfully steered the CESEW through significant policy development and negotiations with governments. Together with her staff, she has brought transparency and a secure evidence base to Catholic education, developing, for example, the CESEW census, the website, research and publications and raising the public profile of Catholic education and the benefits that it provides to society.
“I have given this much thought recently while unexpectedly on leave addressing serious health issues in my family. This time has enabled me to reflect on the changes in education at all levels over the years, the considerable achievements of CESEW, the strong position of Catholic education and what I seek for myself for the future.
“I will leave with many memories, not least those of the opportunities to work with the bishops and their staff, of positive collaboration with members of other denominations and faiths, and of the excellent, constructive relationships built up with politi
“I am sure that all the bishops will wish to join me in thanking Oona for her considerable achievements across a broad range of issues and the dedicated service she has given ... over the past 12 years.”
In 2010 Ms Stannard was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws for her contribution to Catholic Education by the University of Leicester. That year she also helped to organise the “Big Assembly” during the papal visit, a celebration of Catholic education at St Mary’s University College, Twickenham.
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