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MAY 4 2012 THE CATHOLIC HERALD
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Church to expand vocations network
BY ED WEST
THE NATIONAL Office for Vocation has announced the start of an “ambitious” three-year National Vocations Framework, which will be the “practical expression of the bishops’ desire to proclaim the universal call to holiness in Christ by promoting a culture of vocation”.
The aim of the project is to ensure that every deanery or equivalent area has at least one discernment group, which will help people respond to a call, including vocations to the priesthood and the religious life.
Fr Christopher Jamison, Director of the National Office for Vocations, made the announcement at a press conference at the headquarters of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales in London.
He said that the framework would be inspired by the question Pope Benedict XVI asked young people at the Big Assembly in September 2010: “What sort of person would you like to be?”
Fr Jamison said that the aim of three-year project would be “to help every community” ensure that “every young Catholic person in their area has access to a discernment group and discernment guide”.
Discernment groups, which meet in parishes in one Sunday of every month, give people a chance to talk about their vocation, and many people find them useful, Fr Jamison said. The number of discernment groups in London has recently increased four-fold, which he said was “due to popular demand.”
Fr Jamison added that they would be training a national network of vocation guides so that they could move “from local good practice to national good practice”.
The Bishops of England and Wales adopted the framework at their April 2012 plenary meeting and Fr Jamison said it would “relate to other work in the pipeline”.
Discernment groups have also been successful in encouraging people to reach out to the baptised and the lapsed, as well as those who have a calling other than the priesthood.
Fr Jamison mentioned the
Fr Christopher Jamison, director of the National Office for Vocation, at the press conference last week Photo: Mazur recent autobiographical graphic novel, Please God Find Me a Husband in which author Simone Lia spends time in a discernment group before realising that God did not want her to join a religious order, as an example of how they worked.
Fr Jamison also said that there had been a noticeable increase in the number of people expressing an interest in vocations, and a slight increase in people entering seminaries. He said that one order, the Congregation of Jesus in York, had received six inquiries in a matter of weeks after years without any.
Fr Jamison OSB, the former abbot of Worth Abbey, took over as Director of the National Office for Vocation in September 2010. He served for many years as headmaster of Worth School and has a particular interest in the role of school leadership in fostering a culture of vocation.
In 2004 Fr Christopher established the Compass project, a vocation discernment programme based at Worth Abbey that has also recently opened in the north west of England. Compass has responded to about 600 inquiries and has helped over 200 people in taking the next step in their vocational journey. The residential programme has been completed by 30 people, many of whom have joined religious congregations and seminaries.
Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark, also at the press conference, praised the young people of the Church, who were far more numerous that was sometimes reported. He also said the young got a bad deal from the media. “The media too often criticise youngsters, use the worst possible cases,” he says. “Young people feel they are not appreciated. There are a lot of good, valued members of society.”
The archbishop, whose archdiocese covers south London, also said that the Church would be using the Olympic Games to encourage the idea of a truce and the creation of “safe havens”, shops and other areas where young people who feel threatened can go.
ABOUT 200 protestors, priests, nuns and laity attended a vigil outside the papal nunciature in Dublin on Sunday to protest against the Church’s “censorship” of five Irish priests. The protestors handed in a letter at the gates of the residence of recently appointed papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown, asking the Vatican to revoke its censure of Fr Brian D’Arcy.
Earlier over 1,000 people from all over Ireland had attended midday Mass at the Passionist Monastery near Enniskillen to hear Fr D’Arcy apologise for the furore over the censorship.
Fr D’Arcy, who has written a weekly religious column for the
Irish protest over Passionist priest’s rebuke BY DAVID V BARRETT
Dublin-based Sunday World newspaper for nearly 38 years and who regularly speaks on BBC Radio 2, Radio Ulster and Radio Telefis Eireann, has been a critic of the Church over a number of issues including its stance on mandatory priestly celibacy, women priests and homosexuality; he has also been highly critical of the Irish Church’s handling of the child abuse scandals.
But he said in a statement last week that he had “never denied the legitimately defined doctrines of the Catholic religion”.
Over a year ago the Passionist superior general Fr Ottaviano D’Egidio was summoned by Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), who conveyed his dissatisfaction with some of Fr D’Arcy’s articles.
The priest spoke of his pain at the disciplinary action from the Vatican, saying he was “saddened and disappointed” over his work having to be submitted to the CDF for their clearance before publication.
He told the Irish Independent of his feelings when he first heard of this: “I was very hurt by it for it was a pretty brutal way of dealing with someone and at that moment I thought I’d have to leave the Church; that this was the end of my time as a priest.”
Four other Catholic priests have recently faced censorship by the Vatican. They include Redemptorist priest Fr Tony Flannery, founder of the Association of Catholic Priests, who has lost his monthly column in the Redemptorist Reality magazine, fellow Redemptorist Fr Gerard Moloney, Marist priest Fr Seán Fagan and Capuchin priest Fr Owen O’Sullivan.
The silent protest outside the Dublin home of the papal nuncio was organised by a lay group, We Are Church Ireland.
Their letter to the nuncio said their protest was meant to show solidarity with the five who are “articulating the views of the majority of Irish Catholics” as evidenced in a recent nationwide survey. Jesuit Fr Peter McVerry, a leading campaigner on social justice, said that the doctrinal congregation’s censure of the priests was distressing because the five had been very committed to the Church, had given their lives to it and had been a great inspiration to many people.
But the campaigning priests were criticised by John Murray, a lecturer in moral theology at Mater Dei Institute in Dublin.
He told BBC Ulster he was “bitterly disappointed in these priests who are trying to make things difficult for the Church”. He said he expected Catholic priests “to be people who will promote the teachings of the Catholic Church” because there was already “plenty of criticism of the Church and no shortage of critics”.
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Cathedral to host vigil for suffering global Church Archbishop: it is painful to see a friend lose faith
BY STAFF REPORTER
WESTMINSTER CATHEDRAL is to host a national event for persecuted Christians, with leading bishops joining campaigners for an evening of music, dance, film and prayer.
The Night of Witness, held at Westminster Cathedral on Thursday, May 17, is to be organised by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need in response to growing concerns about the fate of Christians in countries where religious persecution has become acute.
Many of those taking part have lost close family and friends to violence, while there will also be members of communities suffering persecution in the past.
Flying in to take part in the Night of Witness are Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi in Pakistan and Bishop Joannes Zakaria of Luxor in Egypt.
The event begins with 5.30pm Mass in Westminster Cathedral celebrated by Bishop Declan Lang, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference Department of International Affairs.
The focus then switches to the Cathedral piazza where Archbishop Vincent Nichols will welcome Archbishop Coutts and Bishop Zakaria, alongside ACN UK National Director Neville KyrkeSmith.
Also present will be Emeritus Archbishop Kevin McDonald of Southwark, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference committee for relations with other religions and Michael Nazir-Ali, Emeritus Anglican Bishop of Rochester, originally from Pakistan.
Proceedings then get underway with performances by award-winning Catholic pop group Ooberfuse, singer Helen Munt, the West End Gospel Choir, Urdu Christian musician Hammad Baily and renowned Catholic poet Sarah de Nordwall, who will MC the event.
Afterwards, the spotlight shifts back to the Cathedral where Christians with intimate experience of persecution will lead a prayer vigil for the suffering Church with readings and music commemorating the lives of Pakistani religious freedom campaigner Shahbaz Bhatti, Indian priest Fr Bernard Digal, Fr Ragheed Ganni from Iraq and others killed for their faith.
Taking part in the event will be Dr Suha Rassam from Iraqi Christians in Need and Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, and Stephen Anjum, who fled to the UK from Pakistan after his wife narrowly escaped being shot dead by extremists who believed her son had insulted the prophet Mohammed.
For information about the event, visit acnuk.org/vigil
BY DAVID V BARRETT
FAMILY AND FRIENDS are affected when someone drifts away from the faith, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster said last weekend at the “Crossing the Threshold Resource Day: Ministry and Outreach to Non Churchgoing Catholics”, at Holy Apostles Church in Pimlico, London.
He told the audience of 200 that “the loss of faith or the absence from the practice of faith, is something which touches many families and many friendships.
“Faith is of great value to those who, as it were, have put their lives into the community of faith, so when it is lost or even scorned by somebody close to them, then this is a theme that is very important and often quite painful in the lives that they share.”
The archbishop said that people “drift away or leave the Church because of hurt or simply because of neglect, that much is pretty straightforward. What is interesting is that those who are asked, who have left, who have gone, comment quite often that: ‘Nobody seemed to notice whether I was there or not’.
He said that 95 per cent of people say they would welcome an approach which addressed this issue in their lives.
The conference was the fourth of five that are being offered across England and Wales by the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
In his keynote address Bishop Richard Moth of the Forces emphasised the importance of dialogue.
“For the people of the Old Testament, the Courtyard of the Gentiles was the place in the Temple where people who were not Jews could meet to discuss the questions of life and to talk about God. Pope Benedict XVI has spoken recently of the need for the Church to create such places of encounter and dialogue.
“Dialogue must be a key theme in our outreach to those who are ‘resting Catholics’ as much as it is to those who have never heard the Gospel message – for it is in that Court of the Gentiles that our ‘resting’ brothers and sisters dwell.” Workshops during the day included “How to reach out to non-churchgoing Catholics?” and “How to build bridges through involvement with social action?”
The day was part of a three-year project to raise awareness and develop resources to help Mass-going Catholics reach out to the estimated 4-5 million nonchurch going Catholics in England and Wales.
NEWSBULLETIN NHS report backs giving pill to girls as young as 13 SUGGESTIONS that chemists should be able to provide the contraceptive pill to under-age girls without a prescription have been described as “troubling” by a Christian family campaigner.
south-east London recommended expanding the scheme across London and then nationally, and providing this service to girls from the age of 13.
In pilot schemes five south London chemists have provided the pill to adult women after consultation with the pharmacist. A report by NHS
Dr Trevor Stammers of the Family Education Trust, said: “It flies in the face of any concerns about child protection. It totally undermines the law with regards to under age sex.”
Carmelite order honours dean THE CARMELITE order has given its highest honour to a nonCatholic for the first time, bestowing honorary membership to the Anglican dean of York Minster on his retirement.
Members of the Carmelite family in York, on behalf of the Prior General in Rome, presented “Letters of Fraternity” to the Very Rev Keith Jones, who has been dean of York since 2004, last weekend. The Carmelite order has held large liturgies and small pilgrimages to the Minster in recent years. The Very Rev Jones has spoken to York Carmelite Spirituality Group about St Thérèse of Lisieux, to whom he has a strong personal devotion.
Fr Antony Lester, the prior of the Carmelites in York, read a letter from the Prior General of the Carmelite order, Fr Fernando Millán Romeral, in which he said: “It is my hope that through this affiliation we may continue to grow in friendship and Christian fellowship.”
CCTV installed inside church A CHURCH in Watford has had to install CCTV inside after a series of thefts.
Since Christmas three parishioners Holy Rood Church have had items stolen from handbags during services.
Fr Paul McAleenan said: “People don’t suspect that this would happen in a church. I have spoken to the police and they said think it is probably opportunistic.”
Scouts bishop delivers homily THE LEAD Bishop for Scouts, Bishop Richard Moth, has preached at the National Scout Service in , St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, as part of the St George’s Day National Queen’s Scout Gathering.
In his sermon Bishop Moth spoke of the importance of service, “finding meaning and fulfilment on the journey of life together, a life lived with real direction in the service of others”.
Judges praise The Catholic Herald THE CATHOLIC HERALD received a commendation in the Niche Marketing category at this year’s National Newspaper Awards. Judges said that it has “all the qualities of a national” and is “a thoroughly accomplished production”.
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CESEW criticised for sending marriage letter to schools
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
THE GOVERNMENT is considering whether the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales (CESEW) acted illegally by sending the bishops of Westminster’s pastoral letter on marriage to almost 400 Catholic schools.
The CESEW came under attack after a pupil from a Catholic school in Carshalton, Surrey, complained to the website PinkNews that sixth-form pupils were being encouraged to sign an online petition opposing the redefinition of marriage and were the recipients of an “out-dated, misjudged and heavily biased presentation”.
A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “Schools have a responsibility under law to ensure children are insulated from political activity and campaigning in the classroom.
“While faith schools, rightly, have the freedom to teach about sexual relations and marriage in the context of their own religion, that should not extend to political campaigning.
“Officials are looking into this as ministers are anxious to establish the full facts of this case and will be meeting representatives of the CESEW shortly.”
But the Catholic Education Service has defended its actions saying: “The letter is a positive affirmation of marriage, as is the Coalition for Marriage's online petition. As the letter says, Catholics believe that ‘marriage is a high and noble vocation’.
“We reject the suggestion that
Catholic schools have acted illegally. The Equality Act 2010 applies to all schools and we are fully supportive of the Act. It is central to Catholic teaching that all individuals should be treated with respect and dignity.”
The letter was written by Archbishops Vincent Nichols of Westminster and Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark and read out in parishes in early March.
Secularist groups have suggested that the schools in question and the CESEW may have been breaking equality laws.
But the CESEW said: “Catholic state schools have always been permitted by law to teach matters relating to sex and relationships education, including the importance of marriage, in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic
Church. The Catholic Church’s view on the importance of marriage is a religious view, not a political one.
“The online petition itself makes it clear that people under the age of 16 cannot sign it. We will issue new guidance for our schools to ensure that they are aware of this.”
Over 470,000 people have now signed the Coalition for Marriage petition and almost 52,000 have signed the petition in favour of same-sex marriage.
Neil Addison, a Catholic barrister who specialises in equality legislation, said that whether the CESEW had acted sensibly and whether the CESEW had acted lawfully were two separate issues. He said: “In my view, the Equality Act does not apply in a situation where the school is discussing with their pupils a proposed change in the law.
“The existing law says that marriage is between a man and a woman. It cannot be illegal to defend the existing law so it is ridiculous to suggest that what the school did was illegal. It is in conformity and agreement with the law as it is at the moment.”
Mr Addison said that the Equality Act was being used to stifle debate. He said: “The Equality Act is being used increasingly to try and prevent debate on certain issues. For example, there has recently been a local authority that has stopped a local church from having a stand at a market by quoting the Equality Act, because they disagree with something that is in one of their leaflets.
“Again, in this instance with the CESEW individuals are trying to use the Equality Act to prevent any discussion that they disagree with and that is not what the Act is there for.”
He continued: “When the Equality Act was being discussed people like me were told that we were alarmist but what’s happened is exactly what we predicted.”
The Government’s most senior Catholic, Iain Duncan Smith, has confirmed in an interview with the Times that he intends to support same-sex marriage legislation.
The former Tory leader, who originally opposed the repeal of Section 28 which discouraged the promotion of homosexuality in schools, said during the interview: “I’m for things that are about stability... I think our biggest problem is actually with cohabiting parents breaking up at the rate they do – heterosexual cohabitees, not gay couples – because they’re the ones leaving the trail of devastation afterwards.”
The pupil who alerted PinkNews to the CESEW’s actions told the publication of her and fellow pupils’ “disgust” with the school. She said: “There are several people in my year who aren’t heterosexual – myself included – and I for one was appalled and actually disgusted by what they were encouraging.”
The pastoral letter written by the archbishops makes no reference to homosexuality or homosexuals. Editorial Comment: Page 13
Cardinal says Cameron’s tax policy is immoral
BY DAVID V BARRETT
CARDINAL KEITH O’BRIEN has criticised the Prime Minister over his attitude to the wealthy and the poor.
The Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh said it was “immoral” that the poor were taking the brunt of the spending cuts while the welloff remained relatively unaffected, and the very rich were actually getting wealthier.
As Britain went back into recession Cardinal O’Brien criticised the Prime Minister for helping out “your very rich colleagues” and urged him to consider a “Robin Hood tax” on financial transactions, to take from the wealthy and give to the poor.
The cardinal, who was speaking in a BBC Scotland interview on Sunday, said: “My message to David Cameron, as the head of our Government, is to seriously think again about this Robin Hood tax, the tax to help the poor by taking a little bit from the rich.
“The poor have suffered tremendously from the financial disasters of recent years and nothing, really, has been done by the very rich people to help them.
“And I am saying to the Prime Minister: ‘Look, don't just protect your very rich colleagues in the financial industry, consider the moral obligation to help the poor of our country.’”
The Robin Hood tax, which has the support of the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund and other religious groups, could raise £20 billion each year from a 0.05 per cent levy on financial transactions.
Lexi Barnett, Sciaf ’s campaigns officer, said: “Cardinal O’Brien is joining a growing movement of highprofile figures calling for a Robin Hood tax to be put in place both in Britain and internationally. David Cameron and his Government should do what is right.
“They should change their policy and implement the Robin Hood tax immediately so that the banks and financial institutions start paying their fair share to help those hit hardest by this crisis.”
The cardinal, who is a director of SCIAF, said: “At this difficult economic time more needs to be done to help the poor, both at home and abroad, as they are the ones hit the hardest by the fall-out of the global financial crisis.
“The banks and financial sector, which caused the problem, have a clear responsibility to pay their fair share.
“It is shameful that David Cameron is currently protecting his wealthy friends in the City by his opposition to this simple, fair and sustainable financial transactions tax.”
The Government has been widely criticised for measures in the recent Budget including new regulations on benefits and tax credits, which mean that some of the most poorly paid part-time workers may lose over £3,000 a year.
Speaking on Sunday Politics Scotland Cardinal O’Brien emphasised that he was not just talking about the very poor, but about ordinary families, young and old, who are struggling to cope financially.
“It is these people who have had to suffer because of the financial disasters of recent years and it is immoral. It is not moral just to ignore them and to say ‘struggle along’, while the rich can go sailing along in their own sweet way.”
The same day as the cardinal made his comments the Sunday Times’s annual Rich List showed that the combined worth of Britain's 1,000 wealthiest people went up 4.7 per cent last year to £414 billion, a new record. Editorial Comment: Page 13
Nuncio urges bishops to be outspoken in defending the Church
THE APOSTOLIC Nuncio to Great Britain has urged the Bishops of England and Wales to express the teaching of the Church in a “clear and outspoken way”.
Addressing bishops at their plenary conference in Hinsley Hall, Leeds, last week, Archbishop Mennini said: “We all know how difficult it is to live in an increasingly secularised society but that is why we need to express the teaching of the Church in a clear and outspoken way.”
He said: “The importance of not losing hope in our dialogue with the secular world around us, trying always to courageously express the teaching of the Church. I think we all know how important this is for the good of the wider society and for the Church and how close this dialogue is to the heart of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.”
The archbishop emphasised the importance of a renewed pastoral approach to marriage, which is founded on Christian morality and the need to educate Catholics about the grave sin of cohabitation. He went on to quote Pope Benedict’s address to the American bishops, saying: “We cannot overlook the serious pastoral problem presented by the widespread practice of cohabitation, often by couples who seem unaware that it is gravely sinful, not to mention damaging to the stability of society.”
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Ireland: priests prepared for jail over new law BY DAVID V BARRETT
IRISH PRIESTS say they will break the law rather than break the seal of the confessional, even if it leads to a 10-year prison sentence.
In the sex abuse reporting bill to be introduced later th i s year by the I r i sh Government there will be a penalty of up to 10 years in prison for anyone failing to report sexual abuse, whether of children or of vulnerable adults. Irish Justice Minister Alan Shatter has made i t clear that he believes this should apply to priests in the confessional.
He said: “I would expect that if there was someone going to Confession who was a serial sex abuser, I don’t know how anyone could l ive with their conscience i f they didn’t refer that to the gardai [police].”
But Church law says it is “absolutely forbidden for a confessor to betray in any way a penitent... in any manner and for any reason”. Any priest who violates the seal of the confessional is automatically excommunicated.
Auxiliary Bishop Raymond Field of Dublin told the Irish Independent newspaper last week: “the seal of the confessional is inviolable as far as I am concerned, and that’s the end of the matter.” He was supported by a priest from a more liberal group within the Church, Fr Sean McDonagh, a founding member of the Association of Catholic Priests.
“I certainly wouldn’t be willing to break the seal of Confession for anyone – Alan Shatter particularly,” he said.
“You shouldn’t put into legislation something that cannot be enforced. It makes a mockery of the legislation,” he continued, pointing out a flaw in the Justice Minister ’s argument. “Confessions are held in private so that priests do not know who is in the confessional box. “I would question whether the mandatory reporting requirement will stop even one case of child sexual abuse.” When the proposed legislation was first discussed l ast summer Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald made i t c l ear that there would be no exemptions for priests. She said: “The point is, if there is a law in the land, it has to be followed by everybody. There are no exceptions, there are no exemptions. I ’m not concerned, neither is the Government, about the internal laws, the rules governing any body.”
It is believed that no western country has legislation which requires breaking the seal of Confession. The Irish bill is expected to come into law by the end of the year.
Catholicity in our schools?
● Vatican II’s forgotten call for true development
● The Mass: developing “sacrifice” and “participation”
● Evolution and saving the spiritual soul
● The practicality of celibacy
● What’s beyond Christian “Marriage”?
● Blessed John Paul: “the Great”? JULY ISSUE
● Pell vs. Dawkins: What we would have said
● Theological development: The Pope, Newman & others
● Light on the Theology of the Body debate
● Struggling with relativism
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