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MARCH 9 2012 THE CATHOLIC HERALD
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Archbishop appeals for grandmother on death row
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
THE ARCHBISHOP of Westminster has appealed for clemency on behalf of a British Catholic grandmother who faces execution in Texas. Writing in an editorial for Faith Today magazine, Archbishop Vincent Nichols made an appeal for Linda Carty who is currently on death row in Texas under threat of lethal injection.
The Archbishop of Westminster wrote: “We will do all we can to raise awareness of her case in the hope that justice and clemency will prevail.”
The archbishop added: “Linda finds great solace and comfort from the prayers of the Catholic community around the world. She sings Amazing Grace in her prison cell to keep her spirits up and to give her hope.
“She can, of course, be assured of our prayers and of the support of Faith Today.”
He called on Catholics and supporters of Carty to sign an online petition calling for her release from death row and to hold prayer vigils dedicated to her acquittal.
Carty possesses both American and British citizenship and would be the first British black woman to be executed for over a century.
Supporters have formed a campaign group called Save Linda Carty and have started an online petition protesting her innocence.
The 53-year-old was convicted of abducting and murdering Joana Rodriguez in 2002 in an attempt to abduct her newborn son. All procedures for appeal have been exhausted and her death by lethal injection is now imminent.
In an interview with Faith Today Carty, who protests her innocence, said that her faith was everything to her since being behind bars for 10 years.
Explaining that she converted to Catholicism 15 years ago she said: “Because of my Catholic education I’d really always felt Catholic, so embracing it properly about 15 years ago made a lot of sense. I’ve got a rosary with me in my cell and I say it often; I’ve got a Bible as well, and I read the word of God most days.
“It’s difficult to see a priest in here – I put in requests, but nothing happens. Occasionally there’s a service led by a pastor from another church, and I always go to it – I love the Lord, and I love church services. But it’s years since I went to Mass or received Holy Communion – those things just aren’t possible in here. I do receive Bible Alive, which is sent to all prisoners on death row, and I read it. And it helps so much to know that there are other Christians out there praying for me, and doing what they can to help me.”
Carty also called on Catholics, laity and clergy to help her in her release through prayer and action. She said: “I believe in God, and ultimately that makes a whole world of difference. But this is the moment when I need support. I need it from the British Government, I need it from the leaders of the Catholic Church – and I need it from my fellow Catholics too.
“Because one day I’m going to get out of here: and on that day, the first thing I’ll do will be to go to church to give thanks to God for what he’s done for me. And the next thing I’ll do is go and hug Jovelle [her daughter] and those grandsons I’ve never hugged.”
Supporters of Carty have argued that she would never have reached this point had she been better served by her first lawyer and had the British Government been alerted to her plight earlier.
Her current barrister, Michael Goldberg, is working voluntarily because he is so convinced that her
‘I have a rosary in my cell and I say it often, but it’s been years since I went to Mass’
current situation is unfair. He told Faith Today: “Linda wasn’t given a chance to present a proper defence, and that completely goes against the American system of justice. If she’d had that, I’m convinced there’s no way she would have been convicted and sentenced to death.”
Carty has received the support of Bianca Jagger, a Catholic and the Goodwill Ambassador for the Council of Europe. The first wife of the Rolling Stones singer wrote to David Cameron in September 2010 urging him to support Carty’s appeal for clemency. She wrote: “The death penalty is a violation of our most inalienable right: the right to life, a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment done in the name of justice. There is no excuse for any country in the world, in the 21st century to continue to execute their citizens.”
Priest blesses bus named after Brighton nun
A PRIEST in Brighton has blessed a bus named in honour of a British nun who sheltered Jews from the Nazis. Fr Ray Blake of St Mary Magdalene church in the Arundel and Brighton diocese blessed the bus while it was parked outside his church as a mark of remembrance of the brave nun Mother Riccarda Beauchamp Hambrough. Mother Riccarda, whose Cause for sainthood is currently being considered by the Vatican, helped to save the lives of about 60 Jews by hiding them from the Nazis in her Rome convent, the Casa di Santa Brigida.
Legal Bill will harm domestic abuse victims, says archbishop
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
THE ARCHBISHOP of Southwark has written to the Secretary of State for Justice to say that a proposed Government Bill will seriously harm victims of domestic abuse.
Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark is co-signatory of a letter signed by 10 religious leaders criticising the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, which would restrict the amount of legal aid victims of domestic abuse can access.
Recognising domestic abuse as “one of the greatest ills in our society” the faith leaders say that Government proposals due to be debated in the House of Lords this week risk undermining the progress made by successive governments in tackling domestic abuse.
In their letter to Kenneth Clarke MP they state: “Legal aid is nothing short of essential for many victims of domestic abuse to escape the horrendous circumstances that they face. Without this support they would be unable to secure recourse in relation to fundamental issues such as injunctions, housing or access to children, potentially trapping them in a cycle of mistreatment and fear.
“It is clear that legal aid frequently allows for the resolution of domestic abuse cases before they escalate, in some cases avoiding serious injuries or even loss of life.
“We welcome the Government’s decision, reflected in the Bill, to protect the provision of legal aid in many cases where domestic abuse is involved. Yet, by deviating from the standard definition of domestic abuse utilised across Government departments and police forces, the Bill risks restricting the overall number of cases entitled to support, and consequently causing harm to many individuals and families.”
The faith leaders’ concerns echo those of faith-based charities working with domestic abuse victims.
The charities argue that certain forms of evidence of domestic abuse which were once deemed credible will no longer be the case under the new law. For example, police attendance at a domestic violence incident and medical records will not be deemed sufficient as evidence.
A spokesman for St Antony’s Centre, a member of Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN), the
Church’s domestic social action arm, said: “We represented a wife in divorce and financial proceedings. She had been the subject of violent and abusive behaviour from her husband for many years and had moved out of the family home to return to her parents. The husband remained in the jointly owned family home, running his business and during the case he even moved his girlfriend into the house.
“Legal aid was essential in the negotiation of the husband buying out our client’s share of the property. Under the proposed change this client would not have been able to obtain legal aid... she would have been alone in representing herself at court, facing the perpetrator of the violence.”
CSAN’s Chief Executive Helen O’Brien said: “Civil legal aid frequently plays a fundamental role in protecting victims of domestic abuse and ultimately allowing them to break away from the horrific circumstances that they face. We regard the new restrictions as unjustifiable and believe that the Bill should be amended in order to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”
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Full text: English and Welsh bishops’ pastoral letter on same-sex marriage
Dear brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ, this week the Coalition Government is expected to present its consultation paper on the proposed change in the legal definition of marriage so as to open the institution of marriage to same-sex partnerships.
Today we want to put before you the Catholic vision of marriage and the light it casts on the importance of marriage for our society.
The roots of the institution of marriage lie in our nature. Male and female we have been created, and written into our nature is this pattern of complementarity and fertility. This pattern is, of course, affirmed by many other religious traditions. Christian teaching fills out this pattern and reveals its deepest meaning, but neither the Church nor the state has the power to change this fundamental understanding of marriage itself.
Nor is this simply a matter of public opinion. Understood as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman, and for the creation and upbringing of children, marriage is an expression of our fundamental humanity. Its status in law is the prudent fruit of experience, for the good of the spouses and the good of the family. In this way society esteems the married couple as the source and guardians of the next generation. As an institution marriage is at the foundation of our society.
There are many reasons why people get married. For most couples, there is an instinctive understanding that the stability of a marriage provides the best context for the flourishing of their relationship and for bringing up their children. Society recognises marriage as an important institution for these same reasons: to enhance stability in society and to respect and support parents in the crucial task of having children and bringing them up as well as possible.
The Church starts from this appreciation that marriage is a natural institution, and indeed the Church recognises civil marriage. The Catholic understanding of marriage, however, raises this to a new level. As the Catechism says: “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, by its nature is ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptised persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament” (para 1601).
These rather abstract words are reflected, however imperfectly, in the experience of married couples. We know that at the heart of a good marriage is a relationship of astonishing power and richness, for the couple, their children, their wider circle of friends and relations and society. As a Sacrament, this is a place where divine grace flows. Indeed, marriage is a sharing in the mystery of
God’s own life: the unending and perfect flow of love between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We know, too, that just as God’s love is creative, so too the love of husband and wife is creative of new life. It is open, in its essence, to welcoming new life, ready to love and nurture that life to its fullness, not only here on earth but also into eternity.
This is a high and noble vision, for marriage is a high and noble vocation. It is not easily followed. But we are sure that Christ is at the heart of marriage, for his presence is a sure gift of the God who is Love, who wants nothing more than for the love of husband and wife to find its fulfilment. So the daily effort that marriage requires, the many ways in which family living breaks and reshapes us, is a sharing in the mission of Christ, that of making visible in the world the creative and forgiving love of God.
In these ways we understand marriage to be a call to holiness for a husband and wife, with children recognised and loved as the gift of God, with fidelity and permanence as the boundaries which create its sacred space. Marriage is also a crucial witness in our society, contributing to its stability, its capacity for compassion and forgiveness and its future, in a way that no other institution can.
In putting before you these thoughts about why marriage is so important, we also want to recognise the experience of those who have suffered the pain of bereavement or relationship breakdown and their contribution to the Church and society. Many provide a remarkable example of courage and fidelity. Many strive to make the best out of difficult and complex situations. We hope that they are always welcomed and helped to feel valued members of our parish communities.
The reasons given by our Government for wanting to change the definition of marriage are those of equality and discrimination. But our present law does not discriminate unjustly when it requires both a man and a woman for marriage. It simply recognises and protects the distinctive nature of marriage.
Changing the legal definition of marriage would be a profoundly radical step. Its consequences should be taken seriously now. The law helps to shape and form social and cultural values. A change in the law would gradually and inevitably transform society’s understanding of the purpose of marriage. It would reduce it just to the commitment of the two people involved. There would be no recognition of the complementarity of male and female or that marriage is intended for the procreation and education of children. We have a duty to married people today, and to those who come after us, to do all we can to ensure that the true meaning of marriage is not lost for future generations.
NEWSBULLETIN Sistine Chapel choir to sing at Westminster Cathedral THE SISTINE CHAPEL choir is to perform its first ever concert in Britain at Westminster Cathedral in May.
The choir, consisting of 20 men and about 35 boys, is the personal choir of the Pope and sings whenever he requests its presence.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster said the concert, on May 6, would be a “historic moment”. Mgr Massimo
Palombella, director of the Sistine Chapel choir, said he was looking forward to it immensely. He said: “I have long admired the quality and precision of the English sound and it will be a joy, too, to be able to develop closer ties with Maestro Martin Baker, whose magnificent work cultivating the place of the choir at the service of the liturgy is exemplary.”
Bishops appoint two key officials THE BISHOPS’ conference of England and Wales has appointed an Oratorian and a Dominican as its chief officials for ecumenism and liturgy.
Fr Robert Byrne, a prison chaplain and provost of the Oxford Oratory for eight years, has been appointed as the national ecumenical officer and secretary to the bishops’ Department for Dialogue and Unity.
Dom Paul Gunter, a monk of Douai Abbey since 1985, has been named secretary to the bishops’ Department for Christian Life and Worship. Dom Gunter has taught at the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy and in 2010 was appointed consulter to the Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff. In the same year he was charged with bringing the 1962 Missal up to date in accordance with Summorum Pontificum.
Shroud replica on display A LIFE-SIZE replica of the Shroud of Turin has been on display at Norwich’s Catholic cathedral this week.
The replica is the centrepiece of an exhibition at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist which ends tomorrow. Fr Patrick Limacher, deacon of the cathedral, said Christ’s wounds evident on the Shroud “reminds us of man’s inhumanity to man”.
Bishop calls for prayers AUXILIARY Bishop David McGough of Birmingham has urged Catholics to pray for dementia sufferers.
Ahead of the National Week of Prayer for Dementia, the bishop said: “Few of us can imagine the isolation, and consequent anxiety, that this affliction brings both to those who suffer and their families.” The week runs from March 12 to 19.
Correction: Liverpool closures WE would like to clarify that the Archdiocese of Liverpool is not reviewing “dozens of parishes” for closure. We would also like to point out that Our Lady of Good Help church in Waverley, St Gregory in Netherley, and St Paschal Baylon in Childwall are not, in fact, earmarked for closure, but were closed last year after consultation.
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