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SEPTEMBER 9 2011 THE CATHOLIC HERALD
AUGUST 27 2010 THE CATHOLIC HERALD
FFolllooww Thhee CCatholicc Heerald oonn Twwitttteer At Twitter.com/catholicherald
Vatican responds to Cloyne criticisms
IBY CINDY WOODEN
hadn’t expected to chance upon one of the friendliest chaps in the area when I popped out to use our neighbourhood cash machine at the weekend. And while I don’t make habit of listening in to conversations of strangers, I couldn’t help overhearing when he remarked that he had 250 friends.
THE VATICAN has denied that it undermined the Irish bishops’ efforts to protect children from sexual abuse and described as “unfounded” claims that it tried to interfere in government investigations regarding the Church’s handling of sex abuse cases.
“Golly,” said I, “that’s a lot of friends to keep up with,” rather stricken that as something of a refugee in London, many of my friends still live outside the capital. In fact, my best friend decamped with his wife and family to Ludlow in Shropshire from Richmond eight years ago and our social life hasn’t really recovered since. For not only do we share an interest in jazz, but as friends since childhood we have an almost telepathic shared sense of humour.
The Vatican recognises “the seriousness of the crimes” detailed in a government report about cases in the Diocese of Cloyne and “has sought to respond comprehensively”, according to a communique released by the Vatican last week.
“And,” said the chap at the ATM, pointing to his companion and rather rubbing the point home. “That’s nothing. He’s got 1,000 friends.”
The communique accompanied a 19-page formal response to the Irish government’s Cloyne Report on the diocese and to statements made by the Irish prime minister and motions passed by both houses of the Irish parliament concerning the report and the Vatican’s involvement in how cases were handled.
This was surely stretching things somewhat and I must have looked a little doubtful since he explained, rather pleased with himself: “That’s because he knows a supermodel.”
The Vatican said the report “brought to light very serious and disturbing failings in the handling of accusations of sexual abuse by children and young people by clerics in the Diocese of Cloyne” but it said the local bishop and his vicar general were to blame.
Behind all this boasting ,of course, is Facebook, the ubiquitous website on which many post favourable photos and commentaries about themselves. These invite sometimes discouraging replies from their “friends”. For example, a couple I know posted a splendid picture of their blue persian cat (just deceased) on their Facebook page hoping for messages of condolence. Instead, one message they received said: “What an ugly pussy.”
The formal “Response of the Holy See” was hand delivered by Mgr Ettore Balestrero, undersecretary for relations with states, to
One real friend is better than 1,000 ‘friends’ The Birmingham Three protests harm the Church
NEWSBULLETIN Archbishop urges pupils to acquire moral habits ARCHBISHOP Vincent Nichols of Westminster has urged teenagers to move away from the values of fashion and celebrity by seeking “true and lasting values” and to acquire “the habits of good behaviour”.
Helena Keleher, chargé d’affaires at the Irish Embassy to the Holy See in Rome, the Vatican said.
John Hinton Notebook
The Irish government’s Cloyne Report was issued on July 13 and said that then Bishop John Magee of Cloyne paid “little or no attention” to safeguarding children as recently as 2008. But the report also accused the Vatican of being “entirely unhelpful” to Irish bishops who wanted to implement stronger norms for dealing with accusations and protecting children.
brief profile of what I’ve been up to and post it on the site. Some of my new “friends” have already written comments and questions on my “wall”.
But will it really refresh my friendships? Dr Johnson advised Boswell: “A man, Sir, should keep his friendship in constant repair.” In the internet age he might have published a newsletter of sorts, a round-robin to all his contacts. But I rather think he would have scoffed at the idea.
Addressing parliament on July 20, Irish prime minister Enda Kenny said the Cloyne Report “exposes an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago”.
“And in doing so, the Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and the narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day,” the prime minister said.
Before the internet swept across America, the family newsletter was all the rage, designed to impress a large audience of friends and relations with a digest of gratuitous information. Members of the family would be pictured in a group shot, along with a lavish commentary. And the unspoken headline was: “Here’s how well we’ve done this year.”
A few days later, the Vatican took the unusual move of recalling its nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, saying it signalled how seriously the Vatican took the government criticisms and how intent the Vatican was on drafting a comprehensive response to the Cloyne Report and the prime minister’s accusations.
These newsletters were widely distributed at the same time as Christmas cards. Clearly self-advertisement was the aim, as if the senders had taken advice from a public relations consultant on the content of the message. And, just as clearly, tremors of disbelief might well have been evident from the recipients.
The Vatican’s response to “learn how to be generous with what is right and how to say ‘no’ to what is wrong”. Referring to the recent looting in London, he said: “Mutual respect and responsibility went out of the window for those few days of rioting and looting.” Good behaviour is rooted in true selfrespect, the archbishop said, which is found in being a child of God.
The campaign to ‘free’ three Oratorians is based on bizarre conspiracy theories, says Jack Valero
The “Free the Birmingham Oratory Three” campaign being conducted on blogs has managed to find its way to an Italian press agency, where I am described as “Padre Jack Valero”. If that were the only inaccuracy I shouldn’t be worried. But the “campaign” has churned out such grotesque untruths that the Birmingham Oratory community believes it’s time to nail them once and for all, and to ask the protestors to pack up shop.
anger and lack of charity – make life in small communities difficult, just as they do in families. Sometimes a period of separation is necessary to restore perspective and calm nerves. Those who have to leave are not necessarily the only ones responsible for the lack of unity, but their absence can help to bring that unity about.
Here are the facts. In April last year, Fr Felix Selden, the Apostolic Visitor in charge of helping Oratorian communities around the world, came to assess the Birmingham Oratory, which was in a perturbed state for reasons that are – and will remain – private. After a lot of soul-searching and a year of efforts to get the members of the community to resolve their differences, Fr Selden decided that the peace of the Oratory could best be brought about by sending away three of its nine members for an indefinite period to allow calm and healing. It was made very clear at the time (because in the current climate some might conclude otherwise) that Fr Dermot Fenlon, Fr Philip Cleevely and Brother Lewis Berry were not guilty, nor had ever been accused, of sexual misconduct of any kind. The matter was entirely to do with relations between members of the community.
Rather than rehearse these disagreements in public, the Birmingham Oratory has asked for privacy to deal with them internally. That is its right, both humanly and in Church law. Friends of communities and families that undergo these turbulent periods show their affection and support by respecting that privacy. That is why the small clutch of intemperate bloggers and journalists – some give their names, many hide behind the anonymity of comboxes – who have decided that the actions of the Visitor are brutal and unjust are no friends of the Oratory. And they are not helping the Church.
Justice minister Alan Shatter at a press conference following the release of the Cloyne Report Julien Behal/PA Wire looked.” The response emphasised three points:
was drafted by the Vatican Secretariat of State and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles cases of clerical sex abuse, with input from Archbishop Leanza, and the congregations for clergy and bishops, the Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said.
First, the Congregation for Clergy’s observations about potential problems in the Irish bishops’ 1996 child protection guidelines did not nullify the guidelines or prevent local bishops from adopting them in their dioceses.
The response began by asserting the Vatican’s “abhorrence for the crimes of sexual abuse” that took place in Cloyne and other dioceses.
The “campaign” is nourished by a conspiracy theory so bizarre that it might be amusing if it weren’t so endlessly repeated. It is claimed that the three Oratorians, as champions of Catholic orthodoxy, have been “put away” by their brothers under pressure from “liberal” bishops led by the Archbishop of Westminster. This narrative of suppression and martyrdom is simply not recognised by those involved. Anyone who knows the Birmingham community would be unable to put a cigarette paper between them in terms of adherence to Church doctrine; and anyway, the disagreements which concerned the Visitor were not over Church teaching.
It said: “The Holy See is sorry and ashamed for the terrible sufferings which the victims of abuse and their families have had to endure within the church of Jesus Christ, a place where this should never happen.”
“The point of departure,” he said, “is the recognition of the reality of what occurred, the gravity and amount of abuse committed” and, as the Cloyne Report demonstrated, the “deplorable” lack of serious action on the part of the bishop and diocesan officials, Fr Lombardi said. “The seriousness and importance of these failures is not over
It is never edifying when religious communities cannot resolve differences charitably. But it’s hardly new. Even Cardinal Newman, the future Blessed, had a tempestuous relationship with Fr Frederick Faber which generated no shortage of intemperate remarks, even though they were brother Oratorians. Why was the step taken? Because divisions and clashes – often accompanied by
Second, Church officials, including bishops, are required to follow their nation’s civil laws regarding mandatory reporting of crimes and are free to report crimes to police even when they are not required by law to do so.
Some claim that the bishops have “ordered” the three to go because their “orthodoxy” would embarrass the Church during the papal visit. “Did Archbishop Nichols, who found Fenlon intellectually
The Vatican also said it “understands and shares the depth of public anger and frustration at the findings of the Cloyne Report”, saying those feelings were reflected in prime minister Kenny’s speech, although it did take issue with some points he made. “In this regard, the challenging, want rid of a turbulent priest?” asks Ruth Dudley Edwards in this week’s Standpoint – without, of course, being able to answer the question, or present a single piece of evidence that would help her to do so. Answer: no. It wasn’t Archbishop Nichols or any other bishop who ordered the three away; the Oratory’s Apostolic Visitor did. The Oratory, like other religious communities, has direct lines of accountability to Rome, not to the hierarchy. Archbishop Nichols was informed of the Visitor’s decision, as was Archbishop Longley in Birmingham; that is the extent of their involvement in the decision.
In a video message to all 50 Catholic secondary schools in his diocese, to be shown at the start of the new school year, the archbishop encouraged pupils also not recognise itself as a detention camp – and is now with friends in America.
Bishop: embrace meatless Fridays BISHOP Mark Davies of Shrewsbury has encouraged Catholics to embrace “in a positive way” the renewed obligation to abstain from eating meat on Fridays.
So why the campaign to “liberate” people who are travelling the world, working as priests in good standing (which no one doubts), praying in monasteries, studying, writing, taking holidays, visiting friends and deepening their formation in consultation with their superiors? In what precise sense are they to be unshackled and set free? Their liberty is inhibited in just two ways. Like the rest of the community, they are not to discuss the Visitation, which relates to the Oratory’s internal life; and for the time being, until the community has sufficiently healed, they cannot live in the Birmingham Oratory (but will be visiting from time to time).
The rule will take effect from September 16 on the first anniversary of the visit to Britain by Pope Benedict XVI.
The article by Dr Dudley Edwards – a friend of Fr Fenlon’s who describes herself as an atheist social libertarian divorcée – merely borrows the bizarre narrative of the blog conspirators and is so full of factual errors that it would be tedious to name them all.
In a pastoral letter to mark the anniversary of the papal visit, Bishop Davies expressed his hope that the use of the new translation of the Mass “will enrich our prayer and understanding, help us to recognise more clearly in the liturgy the words and images of Scripture and, by the beauty and richness of its language, express our wonder at the mystery and reality of the Mass”.
Holy See wishes to make it quite clear that it in no way hampered or interfered in the inquiry into child sexual abuse cases in the Diocese of Cloyne. Furthermore, at no stage did it seek to interfere with Irish civil law or impede the civil authority in the exercise of its duties.”
Just as bizarre is the campaigners’ conviction that the Three should be “freed”. But from what? Brother Lewis is at the Oratory in Paris preparing for a formation year in South Africa, at the Oratory in Port Elizabeth, set up recently with help from the English Oratorians to help bishops prepare candidates for the priesthood.
After some weeks at Pluscarden Abbey in Scotland, a favourite place of his for prayer and meditation (described on the one blog as “the Catholic equivalent of Guantánamo Bay”, which will surprise anyone who has enjoyed the monks’ hospitality there), Fr Cleevely has been at the Toronto Oratory where he is preparing for doctoral studies on Edith Stein and Newman – probably in Britain or Rome.
In fact, it said, the Cloyne Report contains “no evidence to suggest that the Holy See meddled in the internal affairs of the Irish state or, for that matter, was involved in the day-to-day management of Irish dioceses or religious congregations with respect to sexual abuse issues.” .............................................. Vatican Notebook: Page 4 Editorial Comment: Page 17
Fr Fenlon, meanwhile, went initially to Mount St Bernard’s Abbey – which might
The bishop said that the changes called Catholics to stand together “in the same witness of faith and unity and in the joy of our faith seen so wonderfully during Pope Benedict’s visit to our country 12 months ago”.
As time has passed this campaign has turned nasty and some are even using it to settle old scores. In addition, it has morphed into an attempt to drive a wedge between the so-called “liberal” hierarchy and the “orthodox” Oratorians by those who criticise the bishops for being too “liberal”. As an orthodox Catholic, I deplore this myth and the licence it appears to give people to dispense with charity and a sense of ecclesial communion. It is mortifying for the Oratory to be exploited, without its permission, as a weapon in such an un-Catholic war on our pastors.
Poem to be sung in London THE Anglo-Saxon poem The Dream of the Rood will be sung next Wednesday, September 14 at 730 pm by the Fentiman Singers in central London.
The poem, in which the cross of Christ tells its own story of the Crucifixion, is being sung to music by Sharon Jennings at St James’s church, Spanish Place. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.
These words will no doubt feed the furnace; they will accuse me again (I’ve grown used to it) of being paid to tell lies, or being a lackey of the bishops. But I say it because I mean it, and because it’s true. The spectacle of this campaign is pitiful. The Oratory hates it as much as the media love it. It is time it stopped. Jack Valero is spokesman for the Birmingham Oratory
Three readers win DVDs THREE readers have won DVDs of the popular BBC series The Big Silence after correctly identifying the Benedictine priest who accompanied the five seekers in the series. The winners are Mrs Margaret Moyes, Miss P Dixon and Mrs E Elderkin. We have two more copies to give away to readers who send in the correct answer on a postcard marked “Big Silence competition”.
Third, the sexual abuse of children is a crime both in civil law and in Church law.
A child needs just one caring adult
Kenny should be embarrassed by his attack on Rome
Correction: Lewisham pro-life stall TWO weeks ago we incorrectly reported that Robert Colquhoun organised a pro-life stall at Lewisham People’s Day. In fact it was organised by the pro-life group SPUC.
All this tut-tutting aside, I have coincidentally just been invited to join Facebook by a contributor to this newspaper and whilst I struggled through the registration process, the site announced that there were 71 “friends” who might like to communicate with me from time to time.
ANALYSIS BY RORY FITZGERALD
ON JULY 20 2011 Taoiseach Enda Kenny made a ferocious speech to the Irish parliament in the wake of the Cloyne Report. He said: “For the first time in Ireland, a report into child sexual abuse exposes an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago,
I must admit that the invitation to join the site cheered me up no end at first – particularly since some distant friends in America are also members. The next challenge was to write a
And golly, wasn’t there something very American about the concept? That’s what I instinctively feel about Facebook. When I want to “repair” my friendship with my chum in Ludlow, I visit him, usually twice a year, and in between we exchange phone calls which give us the freedom to speak spontaneously for an hour about the vissicitudes of our lives. At 180 words per minute, these can add up to more than 10,000 words.
not three decades ago.” The Vatican’s response, published on Saturday, says that Mr Kenny “made no attempt to substantiate” this allegation. It continues: “When asked, a government spokesperson clarified that Mr Kenny was not referring to any specific incident.”
The Vatican also notes that the reports “contain no evidence to suggest that the Holy See meddled in the internal affairs of the Irish state”. It denies that it sought to interfere with any Irish civil processes.
Now that’s what I call real communication.
MASS TIMES IN CENTRAL LONDON
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NMr Kenny’s was a serious and clearly defined accusation: he said that, as recently as 2008, the Vatican attempted to frustrate an Irish inquiry into child abuse. Naturally, this statement grabbed headlines all over the world.
ick Clegg is absolutely right: it is good parenting, not riches or poverty, which is the best advantage to a child.
The Liberal Democrats are committed to improving social mobility in Britain, which has virtually come to a halt over the past 30 years. And we might have expected, from the LibDems, more emphasis on the disadvantages caused by poverty.
Yet it now seems that his most eye-catching allegation has little basis in fact. This should be deeply embarrassing for any statesman. Nor will the cause of child protection be served well by being so slipshod with the facts.
But surprisingly Mr Clegg came out with this honest, nondoctrinaire statement, which articulates what we all know from our own experience. We’ve all seen rich kids whose parents were selfish and neglectful – and the youngsters duly turned out mixed-up and unhappy. We’ve all known people who came from modest backgrounds who fulfilled their God-given potential because their parents were conscientious, supportive and gave them good example.
BY MARK GREAVES
There is one amendment, though, I would add to Mr Clegg’s prescription for “good parenting”: sometimes the person who encourages a
BASILDON COUNCIL is to evict Irish Travellers from Europe’s largest illegal campsite despite the intervention of Catholic and Anglican bishops and a UN human rights committee.
The council has warned Travellers at Dale Farm in Essex that it will start clearing the site in just over a week.
In pushing ahead with the eviction the council has ignored calls by Bishop Thomas McMahon of Brentwood and the Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell, Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford, to reach an agreement with the Travellers at the site.
In a joint letter last week they offered to help to negotiate a settlement between the council and the 400 or so Travellers.
Their intervention came as the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called the eviction “unwise and immature”.
As we continue to be warned daily about the after-effects of the economic downturn, I read that the Deputy Prime Minister’s star seems to be falling both within his party and in the country at large, partly because of the responsibility he bears for so many redundancies. I was never a huge fan in the first place, but redundancies particularly offend me, and when I heard the man on the radio last week, he was responsible for about a dozen of them just in the broadcast excerpt from his press conference. “Sort of... you know... kind of...” over and over. It was neither precise nor considered, it was not statesman-like.
Over the weekend Jewish leaders visited the site and Rabbi Janet Burden compared the “vilification” of Travellers to the discrimination Jews faced in the first half of the 20th century.
“The language used clearly echoes the rhetoric of antiSemitism,” she said. “If you don’t believe this, have a look at the website Jewify.org for examples of newspaper articles which substitute the word Jew for Gypsy or Traveller. The results are quite chilling.
It evinced not even the distasteful slickness we have come to expect of our politicians, most of whom understand that news editors will use very few of their words to illustrate a report, and that every one of those words has to count. Nick Clegg doesn’t do soundbites: he young person through education can be an uncle, an aunt, grandparents or even a schoolteacher.
But the Taoiseach said on Tuesday that his central accusation “still stands”, saying: “This was a statutory commission of enquiry and as such nothing less than full co-operation is required. And anything less than full co-operation, in my view, is unwarranted interference.”
This is clearly a reference to Judge Yvonne Murphy’s attempts to obtain assistance from the Vatican. But Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin – who has vocally called for an explanation of the Taoiseach’s
Cherie Blair is an interesting example of this. She has often spoken about her early years in Liverpool, when her hellraising father was on the razzle, and mortified the family by begetting a child with another woman, announced in the local Liverpool newspaper. But Cherie received terrific encouragement from the nuns in her convent school, who motivated her sufficiently to get the top in her bar exams. When I pass through south Wales I often think of Richard Burton, born into an impoverished mining family, his mother dying when he was just two. If it hadn’t been for a local teacher, who was passionate about Shakespeare, Burton would never have become a very fine actor, and a sensational Hamlet. The actor Emlyn Williams also helped Burton immeasurably to further his education.
Council to evict Travellers despite bishops’ pleas Bishops criticise quango for U-turn on discrimination
I believe the obligation to protect this ethnic minority’s way of life is a human rights issue that may need to trump the planning law designed to protect the green belt.”
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
I once read a child-care psychology book which said that “all a child needs is one
Mary Kenny accusation – last weekend referred to that same incident on RTÉ radio, saying that the Holy See actually said “it would co-operate” and that “very often in the news reporting that last sentence is left out. Why did the Irish government not follow up or insist in some way that this co-operation takes place? That is a question which has to be answered on the Irish side.”
person who cares consistently about him/her”. Of course good parenting is the greatest start in life, but “parenting” can also be done by other family members, by teachers or other dedicated mentors.
The Taoiseach has yet to provide any evidence that his most extraordinary accusation is true.
Mrs Jennifer Sleeman, an 80-year-old lady in Clonakilty, Co Cork, has issued a clarion call to Irishwomen to “boycott” Mass, en masse, on Sunday September 26.
She wants women to make it clear to the Church authorities that women are treated as “second-class citizens”, by the Catholic Church. (She also has a list of other complaints, including an objection to priestly celibacy, outrage at paedophile offences, and the rather less than weighty complaint that Catholic churches are not as “welcoming” to worshippers as Anglicans or Methodists.) Her objections strike me as too diffuse to be coherent, yet she seems to have struck a chord with the theme that women are underrepresented in Church structures. I have heard women entirely loyal to the Holy See saying the same thing.
the days when they spoke of “the Red Clyde”.
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I couldn’t help liking him and sensing that he was a man of sincere principles. He wasn’t leading his men into a strike, back in 1971, but into an affirmation of work. He valued work, and he also valued sobriety among workers. “No bevying” was one of his strict orders.
A S S
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My sister-in-law in Co Dublin told me she was “entirely behind” Jennifer Sleeman, and it was “high time” someone made it plain to the Vatican and the Church authorities generally that women were thoroughly disgruntled with the male chauvinism of the Church.
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“So, does this mean you’ll be staying away from Mass on September 26?” I asked.
Reid retained strong support for the apprenticeship system among working men and women. Apprenticeships were a great system which helped to mentor and train young men and women, and often gave them wise guidance at the same time. The decline of apprenticeships has left a real vacuum in social cohesion.
ME DJUG O RJE
“Oh, no,” she replied. “My religion is a great comfort to me.” Women may have complaints, but, sensibly, they don’t see why they should deprive themselves of the sacraments for that reason.
I A G O
Ionce interviewed Jimmy Reid, the sometime Communist leader of the Clyde shipyard workers. That was back in
S A NT
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But on Monday Tony Ball, the Conservative leader of the council, said the eviction would begin on Monday, September 19.
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH in England and Wales has written to the Equality and Human Rights Commission urging the body to review its appraisal of religious freedom following a U-turn by the quango regarding a Christian registrar’s discrimination case.
After the soundbite, the sound-slurp shipping as she wished.” But the bishops’ document emphasised the distinction between “freedom of worship” and “freedom of religion”, asserting that the latter is “far more” than the former. They wrote: “To force someone to act in a way contrary to their religious or conscientiously held moral beliefs is surely as wrong as preventing someone acting or worshipping in accordance with their religious beliefs. But that is what Islington Council and the Court of Appeal required of Ms Ladele.”
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He said it was a “last resort” and that the council had sought to reach a settlement for almost a decade. “In that time the travellers have refused to budge leaving us with no alternative to the action we are now about to take,” Mr Ball said.
Last week Bishop McMahon and the Rt Rev Cottrell said in their letter: “This is a desperate situation. It is important that people should know that it is a humanitarian crisis, whatever they make of the legality and politics of the situation. The Travellers are frightened and anxious people. If elderly and infirm people were shown on TV being forced out of their homes, we wouldn’t think we were watching something happening in England, but that is what will happen here.
“The Travellers have lived at Dale Farm for 10 years... They were led to believe [it] would be their permanent home,” the bishops said. “It may seem as though the Travellers are going to be swept away somewhere, but in fact they have nowhere to go.”
does sound-slurps. Redundancies have their place, and can be useful in assisting the rhythm of a sentence, ensuring that the punchline enters the listener’s brain with the greatest possible force. But when they are used too freely, and become a habit, they inhibit the transmission of meaning, and undermine the intellectual credibility of the user.
In the bishops’ submission to the quango as part of its consultation on “Legal intervention on religion or belief rights”, they cite the case of Lillian Ladele, a Christian registrar who faced the sack unless she agreed to participate in registering civil partnerships. She took her case to the Court of Appeal in 2009, claiming religious discrimination, but lost her case.
People do this for many reasons; the habit can bespeak lack of confidence on the part of the speaker in what he’s saying, or in how he is saying it, distinct phenomena with the same root in low self-esteem, most likely caused by poor education or the inappropriate criticism of articulate parents or teachers in early childhood. Most people do it because almost everyone else does, the brighter among them unaware that it makes them sound like morons to intellectual and social peers who somehow resisted the temptation to conform to a levelling, stultifying norm. But there are other,
It was originally thought that the commission would support Ms Ladele on the grounds of “reasonable accommodation” because the relevant register office was not short of staff willing to register civil partnerships and staff members were able to swap shifts to accommodate Ms Ladelle’s beliefs. But the commission has since backtracked on its initial support for Ms Ladelle and supported the British courts.
In its ruling the Court of Appeal said: “Ms Ladele’s objection was based on her view of marriage, which was not a core part of her religion; and Islington’s requirement in no way prevented her from wor
Nick Thomas more sinister and damaging currents moving this irritation.
The document added: “In Ms Ladele’s case there is absolutely no evidence that it was necessary to make her participate in registering civil partnerships. The evidence in the case showed that the registration service provided by Islington was not in any way affected by the actions taken by Ms Ladele to ensure that she was not rostered for the registration of civil partnerships. In this situation compelling her to register civil partnerships was not ‘necessary’ in any meaningful sense of that word.”
Many years ago in Oxford I met a graduate student whose conversation was so cluttered with these fillers as to waste a full three quarters of every breath he took. It was maddening, but I held my tongue, assuming that he had risen from humble origins through academic merit, and hadn’t had time to adjust his style of expression. I didn’t want to be unfair, or snooty. But when he told me he’d been to Westminster School I really let him have it, for the posh, bright and welleducated have no excuse for degrading their native language, when they ought to be exemplars of its glory to the benefit
Quoting from Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Bishops of England and Wales argued that every citizen has a right to manifest religion or belief, in “worship, teaching, practice and observance” and that such freedoms are “necessary in a democratic society”.
K RA K O W
HO LY LA ND
Last Shrines of France Luxury Coach Trip 2011 Visit Lourdes, Rocamadour and Nevers 23rd - 29th October - £495pp of those less privileged. His defence (at least he had the decency to offer one, instead of just hitting me) was that, as a pupil of a famous school in the middle of the city, he had had to moderate his persona on the surrounding streets for fear of exciting hostility.
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This cut no ice with me, for I had also been to an independent school, though not as posh as Westminster, and with many more scholarship boys, but still resented by victims of the Comprehensive system in the city round about, and my friends and I had just spoken properly and been jeered. We took it on the chin, turned the other cheek, kept a straight bat, put our shoulders to the wheel, and in this bruised metaphorical contortion entered adult life with the ability to say what we meant concisely, and with an impact none of us would regret.
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that fine institution who have remained unashamedly articulate. And anyway, he’s pursuing a new style of personal spin, building on Tony Blair’s affected glottal stop by aping the blundering locutions he assumes to be those of “the People”. At least I hope he is, rather than just being thick, or insecure. David Cameron doesn’t burble into the microphone, and has won much praise for not trying to dumb down his accent – but only because nobody seems to realise that his public, reassuringly upperclass voice is actually what he sounds like when he’s trying to be common. They’re all at it, one way or another – apart from the ordinary but brilliant William Hague.
Nick Clegg also went to Westminster, but I’m not blaming the school, because I have known many other old boys of
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I wish they’d all realise that we can only admire intelligent, articulate politicians who have the guts and common sense not to hide the gifts that justify their election. If they seemingly don’t have confidence in what they tell us, how can we?
A S S
ME DJUG O RJE
I A G O
S A NT
K RA K O W
HO LY LA ND
I E UX
LLO URDE S THE CATHOLIC HERALD SEPTEMBER 9 2011
BBeeccoommee aa ffaann ooff TThhee CCaatthhoolliicc HHeerraalldd At Facebook.com
MPs to decide future of abortion counselling
Amendment to prevent abortion providers from offering counselling likely to be defeated this week
BY ED WEST
A PARLIAMENTARY amendment that would have placed restrictions on abortion providers giving pregnancy counselling was expected to be defeated as The Catholic Herald went to press.
The Dorries and Field amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill proposed that “information, advice and counselling” could only be called independent when provided by “a private body that does not itself provide for the termination of pregnancies; or a statutory body”, and that those that did would make clear to any woman who approached them that alternatives were available.
The amendment was put forward by Conservative Nadine Dorries and Labour’s Frank Field, but was expected to fail after the Cabinet refused to give its support. The amendment, which would have cost groups such as Marie Stopes and BPAS multi-million pound contracts with the NHS, was opposed by a highly organised coalition of politicians and activists.
The Prime Minister was expected to stay away from the House of Commons when MPs voted on the proposals.
Mrs Dorries accused the Coalition of “covert whipping” after public Health Minister Anne Milton sent a letter to all MPs detailing why the Department of Health was against the proposals, and stating that all health ministers would oppose the amendment if it came to a vote. Mrs Dorries said it put pressure on Tory MPs, and accused Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg of blackmailing Mr Cameron by saying Liberal Democrat MPs would not vote for the Health and Social Care Bill if her amendment was supported.
She said: “Nick Clegg has put pressure on the Prime Minister; the Prime Minister is putting pressure on MPs.”
Mr Clegg is thought to have been influenced by former Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris, a proabortion campaigner and the most prominent opponent of the amendment, who said it would push women into the hands of religious bodies not trained in counselling. But pro-life groups have pointed out that a private body that does not itself provide abortion does not have to be religious, and many private counselling organisations have no religious affiliations. Mrs Dorries describes herself as “neither pro-life nor pro-choice” and says she believes in “informed consent”.
Conservative Defence Secretary Liam Fox is the most prominent backer of the amendment. He said: “I would certainly want to support any amendments that saw the number of abortions fall in Britain. I think the level is far too high. I would certainly welcome any restrictions which enable people to think twice and get objective advice. I would actually want to see what the amendments specifically are, but I’m in favour of something that sees the high level of abortions in Britain reduced.”
An amendment by Corby MP Louise Mensch proposed that the
Pro-life groups have given only lukewarm support to the amendment proposed by MPs Nadine Dorries and Frank Field
NHS should be the main provider of counselling. Although pro-abortion groups are opposed to this amendment, so are pro-life groups, who fear that the NHS may be institutionally pro-abortion. Faithbased crisis pregnancy centres, which provide financial and practical aid to women facing unplanned pregnancies, as well as free post-abortion counselling, could be threatened. A third amendment, by Cambridge MP Julian Huppert, proposes banning pro-life groups from providing counselling at all.
Support for the Dorries amendment has been lukewarm among pro-life groups. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) said it would not back the amendment because there was no evidence it would lead to a reduction in the abortion rate.
Olivia Darby of the Pro-Life Alliance said the amendment carried “many real risks”. She said:
“What is important at this stage is the Department of Health’s forthcoming consultation on abortion counselling.”
But Ed Rennie, clerk to the parliamentary pro-life group, said pro-life MPs would support it, adding: “It will be a shame if David Cameron got cold feet on such a
modest measure. The abortion lobby campaign has been underhand and built this straw man of religious counsellors bringing God into non-directional counselling... The Dorries amendment has very wide public support.” Mary Kenny: Page 16
PRIVATE abortion clinics may be misleading the public by inflating the numbers of women who decide to keep their babies, new statistics have suggested.
Figures obtained using the Freedom of Information Act suggest that fewer than one in 10 women who book consultations with Marie Stopes and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) decide to keep their babies.
This is half the figure of one in five often cited by the clinics. It suggests that the abortion charities maybe falsely claiming that some 14,000 women continue with their pregnancies after receiving counselling from them.
The figures added weight to the
BY SIMON CALDWELL One in 10 women given abortion advice keep their babies argument advanced by Conservative MP Nadine Dorries and former Labour Minister Frank Field that counselling must be taken out of the hands of the clinics and given to independent professionals with no financial stake in the outcome of the woman’s decision.
The pair introduced an amendment to Health and Social Care Bill this week stipulating that women must be counselled in the first instance by their GP.
They say the measure may reduce Britain’s abortion rate by about 60,000 a year.
Health Ministers do not support the amendment and Downing Street sources have said that the Prime Minister, David Cameron, does not believe that Marie Stopes and BPAS “should be excluded”
from offering counselling. Mrs Dorries said, however, that figures from a snapshot of six Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) raised serious questions about the efficacy of counselling services offered by abortion providers.
“They [the clinics] are wildly exaggerating the number of women who don’t go ahead with abortions,” she said.
The figures from the Trusts from the 2010-2011 financial year show the numbers of women referred to the abortion providers and the numbers who eventually went ahead with abortions.
They reveal a consistent pattern of about one in 10 women – 9.7 per cent deciding to go ahead with their pregnancies, with the rest opting for abortion.
In Hammersmith and Fulham, for instance, 1,051 consultations resulted in 968 abortions while 83 decided against the procedure, meaning about 7.9 per cent of women kept their babies.
In Milton Keynes 1,029 women were referred to the clinics and of these 937 had abortions, with just 92, or 8.9 per cent, going ahead with the pregnancy.
In South East Essex 695 consultations produced 624 abortions while 71 women – 10.2 per cent of the total – opted to continue with the pregnancy.
More than 150 PCTs were approached but only a handful provided sufficient information for analysis.
Marie Stopes and BPAS are paid about £60 million a year to carry out nearly half of the country’s 200,000 annual abortions, with BPAS specialising in the more costly late-term procedures.
Professor Jack Scarisbrick, the national chairman of Life, a pro-life pregnancy counselling charity, said that between a third and a half of all women who were counselled by his staff continued with their pregnancies.
“Our complaint about BPAS and Marie Stopes is that they want a quick turnover,” said Prof Scarisbrick.
“They don’t want women to have a chance to think, to cool down and to assess what pressures are on them.
“All the feedback we have had from women who have had abortions with Marie Stopes and BPAS
is that they are conveyor-belted. A proper counselling session is going to be at least 45 minutes and then a woman might want to go away and come back again – it might be two or three sessions. BPAS isn’t going to accommodate that.”
Ann Furedi, the BPAS chief executive, last month insisted during an interview with BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour that 20 per cent of women who approach the organisation do not proceed with an abortion, a figure which is replicated in BPAS literature.
“At the moment about a fifth, or one in five, women who come to us decide not to proceed with an abortion with us,” she said.
“If you want evidence that women come into the service, they get the support and counselling they need, it’s all there,” she said.
“I really don’t know why politicians consider this a problem. In our service, where people are getting counselling, it’s 20 per cent.”
A spokeswoman for BPAS said, however, that the organisation had since “double-checked” its own records on the numbers of women opting to continue pregnancies and found that it is “15 per cent”.
She said. “I would imagine if there is a discrepancy it is because of the time frame in which we gather information.”
A spokeswoman for Marie Stopes said that its records showed between 21 and 23 per cent of potential clients decided against abortion.
Catholic schools embrace Gove’s academy reform Vaughan Parents’ Action Group
Professor the Lord Alton, Professor Philip Booth, Professor David Crystal, Professor Felipe Fernandez -Armesto,
Patti Fordyce, Professor Luke Gormally, Michael Gormally, Lord Grantley, Paul Johnson, Sir Paul Kennedy QC, Edward Leigh MP, Lord Lexden, Colin Mawby, Charles Moore, Professor Judith Mossman, Cristina Odone, Professor Thomas Pink, Piers Paul Read, Dr John Martin Robinson, Dr Richard Shephard, Anthony Speaight QC, Sir Swinton Thomas QC, Dr Ralph Townsend, Professor Mark Watson-Gandy, Ann Widdecombe
AN HOUR OF PRAYER
THE CARDINAL VAUGHAN MEMORIAL SCHOOL
7 p.m. on Thursday 15th September
Westminster Cathedral Piazza
The Vaughan Parents’ Action Group invites parents, past pupils, friends and supporters to an hour of prayer and hymns and to help us to present our petition to Archbishop Vincent Nichols.
We petition His Grace:
• to nominate two current parents as Foundation Governors of the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School; • to advise and encourage his nominees on the Governing Body to conduct the selection process of a new Head so as to bring about an appointment that will command the support not just of the Archbishop’s nominees but also of other sections across the unhappily divided Governing Body.
The Vaughan’s success has always depended on dedicated teachers supported wholeheartedly by Catholic parents. The hostile actions of the Westminster Diocese Education Service – in particular the imposition of its own Director, Paul Barber, on the Governing Body – threaten to undermine this harmonious and fruitful collaboration. Vaughan parents chose the School for its distinctive and unambiguously Catholic ethos. They want it to be cherished and protected. This is why they do not want a new Head to be selected while they are still under-represented on the Governing Body.
THE NEW HEAD WILL BE APPOINTED IN OCTOBER. This Hour of Prayer may be our last opportunity before then to show Archbishop
Nichols just how worried we are about the future of our wonderful School. Please see our website for further details or if you wish to sign our on line petition : www.savethevaughan.com
BY ED WEST
THIRTY-SEVEN Catholic primary and secondary schools are to become academies this year after the Government approved their applications.
Among the schools that will opt out of local authority control are the flagship London Oratory School in Fulham, the hugely successful St Joseph’s College in Stokeon-Trent and several schools in Bishop Malcolm McMahon’s Nottingham diocese. On top of this there are four Catholic-sponsored academies and four joint Catholic and Church of England-sponsored academies.
The schools, 11 of which have finalised the process, will have far greater control over their budgets and curriculum. They follow about 150 schools classed as “outstanding” which became academies during the first round of conversions last year.
The changes have been made with the apparent blessing of the Church hierarchy, after the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales (CESEW) was initially hostile to the changing status. Last year Chief Executive Oona Stannard said: “We would be very unwise to trade this for an uncertain future and a higher level of risk.” But after the Government addressed Church concerns about land ownership and the rights of trustees, Bishop McMahon, chairman of the CESEW, announced in February that Catholic schools could become academies. Among the schools ranked as outstanding by Ofsted to have been approved is the Becket School in Nottingham. It will join other schools in the diocese in forming a combined local academies trust, with the diocese as trustee.
But, not all dioceses have allowed their schools to go ahead. Mgr Kevin McGinnell, director of education for the Diocese of Northampton, said officials were still deciding whether to go ahead.
He said: “No schools from our diocese have so far applied to become academies. Our diocese and others are still considering the academies question and we are awaiting information on the programme.”
But Bishop Crispian Hollis of Portsmouth, one of the dioceses that had given the go-ahead, said his diocese was deciding on a case-bycase basis to allow schools to change “according to whether it benefits that school and the Church in that area”.
A total of 1,568 schools expressed interest in becoming academies last year, among them were 84 Catholic schools. Educational feature: Page 11
EAST AFRICA CRISIS
Ten million people are facing a devastating drought in East Africa. Very poor rains have led to crop failure, serious food and water shortages and the deaths of tens of thousands of animals in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan. With no rain expected until September, the situation can only get worse. The UN says that in some regions the drought is the worst in years. We urgently need your support to get life-saving aid to people now.
Please make a donation today. Your gift will help to provide life-saving food for the most vulnerable, as well as water-points, medicine and emergency support for families whose animals are dying.
Please give to the East Africa Crisis Appeal. Your help WILL reach people who need it most.
cafod.org.uk/eastafrica or call
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