AN ENCOUNTER WITH CAIRO’S MOTHER TERESA ED WEST MEETS MOTHER MAGGIE, FRIEND OF EGYPT’S ‘GARBAGE PEOPLE’ PAGE 7
Bishop gives his backing to academy schools plan
BY MARK GREAVES
THE Catholic Education Service of England and Wales (CESEW) has signalled for the first time that Catholic schools can become academies if their bishop agrees to the move.
The announcement paves the way for hundreds of Catholic schools to opt out of local authority control by September if their bishops want them to.
Bishop Malcolm McMahon of Nottingham, chairman of the CESEW, said that after months of negotiations with the Government “it is now our view that schools can become academies, subject to further discussion with Ministers”.
If bishops back the reform, it is likely to be the biggest change to the Catholic sector since the voluntaryaided system was set up in 1944.
A 10th of all secondary schools in England are academies, yet at present only two out of almost 400 academy schools are Catholic.
Any Catholic school that takes up the academy offer will be funded entirely by the Government. The Church will stop paying 10 per cent of its capital costs, as it does under the voluntary-aided system.
Schools that become academies can decide their own pay and conditions for staff, set aside parts of the curriculum and change the length of the school day.
They also receive extra funding that would otherwise be given to the local education authority – though they must pay for services the local authority would have provided.
Bishop McMahon said the CESEW, an agency of the bishops’ conference, aimed to make academy status “a ready possibility for Catholic schools, subject to the wishes of their bishop, trustees and governing body”.
But he said he was keen to retain the idea of a “family of Catholic schools”, and suggested a cluster of schools could transfer to academy status under a single academy trust.
The bishop also introduced the idea that schools could form federations before they become academies.
Each Catholic academy, he said, would be called a “Catholic voluntary academy”, reflecting the “distinctive nature of our sector, its history and what it brings”.
He thanked the CESEW, saying that its negotiations with the Government had led to “significant” changes in policy.
Last May the CESEW urged caution over schools becoming academies, arguing that they could lose independence over admissions, curriculum and selection of staff. But it has since been reassured by the Government that the rights of Catholic schools – and of the bishop – will remain the same.
Bishop McMahon said “we are not in favour of a free-for-all in which some institutions flourish whilst others wither”, adding that “our schools are not just lone institutions, they are part of a family both of Catholic schools and the wider landscape of schools.”
His comments appear to reflect fears that successful schools will acquire academy status and large budgets, while poorer schools are forced to rely on an increasingly shrunken local authority.
He said the CESEW would “protect the right of schools to remain voluntary aided, become part of a federation or become an academy”.
Meanwhile, the London Oratory school in Fulham, west London, is already consulting parents about becoming an academy by April 1.
In a letter to parents it said the move to academy status offered “genuine freedoms” and the “opportunity to innovate and further develop our distinctive ethos”.
The school is independent from the diocese and so can become an academy without its approval – although the diocese said it is “in dialogue” with the school’s trustees.
February 4 2011 £1.20 (Republic of Ireland €1.70)
Patriarch thanks new nuncio to Britain
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill has paid tribute to the new Apostolic Nuncio to Britain AP Photo/Misha Japaridze
BY ANNA ARCO
THE PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW has thanked the new nuncio to Britain for his work to improve Orthodox-Catholic relations.
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill praised Archbishop Antonio Mennini for his personal contribution in “settling difficult problems in relations between our Churches”.
The 63-year-old Italian archbishop, who moves to London next week to replace Archbishop Faustino Sainz-Muñoz as Apostolic Nuncio to the Court of St James, served as apostolic delegate to Russia from 2002 until his appointment to London in December. When Archbishop Mennini arrived in Russia, relations between Rome and Moscow were strained. Earlier that year, Pope John Paul II had infuriated the Orthodox Church by establishing Catholic dioceses in Russia.
Patriarch Kirill said: “With God’s mercy these problems are being positively settled, which changes the climate of the bilateral relations for the better.”
The improved relations, Patriarch Kirill told Archbishop Mennini, are “in many respects your achievement as a plenipotentiary representative of the Holy See”.
Patriarch Kirill’s comments came at a farewell meeting between the two men which was reported by Interfax, the Russian news wire.
Archbishop Mennini oversaw a growing rapprochement between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Vatican as well as improved relations with the Kremlin. He supervised the return of the icon of the Mother of God Kazan to Moscow, a gift by Pope John Paul II in 2004.
Although the Vatican has had partial diplomatic relations with Russia since the 1990s, Archbishop Mennini was widely held responsible for President Dmitry Medvedev’s 2009 visit to the Vatican during which he promised to improve ties. Last year, Moscow and the Vatican established full diplomatic relations.
At his farewell Mass in Moscow last week, Archbishop Mennini told Russian Catholics: “With perestroika, the Catholic Church, like the Orthodox Church, came out of a long period of trials and persecution.
“Now these problems are slowly finding a solution, and Catholics feel increasingly part of the country. This comes with a gradual opening to cooperation and dialogue at the social and Church levels.”
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Benedict XVI The Spiritual Masters two new beautifully illustrated hardback volumes Pope Benedict’s talks on 25 key Catholic writers from the first millennium and from medieval times
Leading exorcist warns parents of growth in ‘demonic’ websites
BY SIMON CALDWELL
A PROMINENT American exorcist has blamed the internet for rising numbers of young people who say they are possessed by the Devil. Websites dedicated to the occult, witchcraft, Tarot cards, psychics and séances were increasingly exposing young people to demonic influences, said Fr Gary Thomas.
The priest, whose story has just been made into a major Hollywood film starring
Welsh actor Sir Anthony Hopkins, said that pornography and drug abuse were also “doorways” to harassment by evil spirits.
He said there were “no statistics” on how many people might be possessed but said there was a definite increase.
“What I can tell you is that there are more and more Catholics involved in idolatrous and pagan practices,” he said. “That’s really why there’s more demonic activity. There’s the absence of God in the lives of a lot of people.” He added: “A lot of parents today have no critical eye of faith with which to even recognise the dangers their children are in. A lot of this is going on with the internet. There are lots and lots of demonic websites.”
Speaking to the Catholic World Report magazine he continued: “A demon doesn’t show up. He has to be invited in ... The involvement in pagan, satanic, or occult practices are the classical ways.
“Pornography is a doorway. But addictions of any kind can be – not are, but can be – a doorway, but it’s coupled with other things. For instance, drug use alone isn’t going to invite the demonic in, but coupled with the occult it could.”
Fr Thomas, of San José diocese in California, is emerging as the most famous exorcist in America after the story of his ministry was turned into a film called The Rite, which will be released in Britain on February 25.
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Maltese ‘visionary’ causes stir at Vatican
British actor stars as founder of Opus Dei
BY STAFF REPORTER
A MALTESE “visionary” interrupted the Pope’s general audience last week.
Angelik Caruana and another Maltese man were stopped by Vatican security guards after they appeared to be jumping over the security barriers.
The men were questioned by the guards and then allowed to remain.
Fr Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, later clarified that the two men were good people who were no threat to the Pope.
He said: “There were two people who raised their voice and wanted to give a letter to the Pope containing devotional messages. That’s all.”
The Jesuit spokesman added: “People close to the barriers at times get on the chair so they appear taller but this doesn’t mean they want to jump over.”
Mr Caruana claims to receive messages from the Virgin Mary.
BY STAFF REPORTER
A FILM focusing on the life of Opus Dei founder St Josemaría Escrivá will be released in May.
There Be Dragons features young British actor Charlie Cox as the saint and American actor Wes Bentley as his childhood friend Manolo. It is told from the point of view of Manolo’s son, Robert, in present-day London, who discovers that his father was a friend of the Spanish priest and attended the same seminary. But while Josemaría goes on to dedicate his life to the faith Manolo becomes a Repub-
lican guerilla during the Spanish Civil War, and the film deals with the subjects of betrayal,
love, hatred and forgiveness.
Director Roland Joffé is best known for The Mission, the Oscar-winning story of Jesuit missionaries in 18th-century South America.
DON’T MISS: BENEDICT XVI: A COUNTRY BOY AT HEART PAGE 9