Page 2, 27th December 2002

27th December 2002
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Page 2, 27th December 2002 — 2002 a testing year

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The New Year began with a forthright attack by Cardinal Cormac MurphyO'Connor on the 300year-old Act of Settlement. The Cardinal called for the abolition of the ancient law preventing the British Monarch from becoming, 'or marrying, a Catholic. The Archbishop of Westminster described the Act as "rather odd" and said the constitution should be altered in the "near future". He told the BBC Radio Four's Today programme that Britain's last remaining piece of anti-Catholic penal legislation was "an unnecessary bar and an anomaly which should be removed". The Cardinal's offensive was criticised privately by members of the Establishment, who felt it cast a shadow over celebrations of the Queen's Golden Jubilee.

Pope John Paul II began 2002 with the announcement of the new Archbishop of Glasgow. The appointment of Bishop Mario Conti of Aberdeen to the See left vacant by the death of Cardinal Thomas Winning came as no great surprise to Scottish Catholics. Bishop Conti, an outspoken defender of the Church's pro-life teachings, said the Cardinal would be "a hard act to follow". "My style may be different, but I would hope to have the courage to say what needs to be said," the bishop told reporters. Bishop Conti, whose grandparents arrived in Britain from Tuscany in the late 19th century, is a keen ecumenist and member of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.

Jesuit-run Heythrop College found itself in the headlines this month, after The Catholic Herald revealed it had given a teaching appointment to a prominent witch. The college appointed Dr Viviarme Crowley, a Wiccan "high priestess", to teach the psychology of religion during its Lenten term. Dr Crowley, who has run covens in a number of countries over the last 20 years, is a member of the Pagan Federation Council and author of numerous books, including Living as a Pagan in the 21st Century and Principles of Wicca. Heythrop principal Fr John McDade, a Jesuit, said Dr Crowley would not teach Wicca or promote witchcraft to students during her stint as visiting tutor. Heythrop was founded in 1614 for the education of English Jesuits, but it now offers under

graduate and postgraduate degrees in theology and philosophy to

people of all faiths. January was also the month in which the bishops of England and Wales announced the closure of the Catholic Missionary Society (CMS). A new National Agency for Evangelisation will replace the society, which was founded by Cardinal Herbert Vaughan in 1902. The society will officially close in the summer of 2003, marking the end of the era of traditional parish missions and the start of a new approach to evangelisation in England and Wales. CMS director Mgr Keith Barltrop said the new agency would return to Cardinal Vaughan's original vision of reaching out to the "unchurched" in London.

Meanwhile, the Vatican had to delay the long-awaited launch of its new euro coins because of bureaucratic bungling in Italy. The new currency was not ready for distribution on January 1, along with the currency from the European Union's 12 members, due to problems with Italy's version of the euro. As a result, the circulation of the Vatican's 670,000 euro coins had to wait until February.

January also saw the appointment of the new Patriarch of Venice. The Pope named Bishop Angelo Scola, his spokesman on family and marriage, to lead the prestigious Italian diocese. Bishop Scola, who was personally selected by the Pontiff for the post, is a strong supporter of the Communion and Liberation movement. Rome's La Repubblica newspaper said the nomination was "destined to completely alter the panorama of the Church in Italy".


The Jesuit Province of Zimbabwe released two bold statements in which it denounced the political violence marking the run-up to the country's presidential election. In condemning the thugs loyal to President Robert Mugabe, the 194 members of the Province, 35 of whom were Britons, aligned themselves with Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo, until then the sole critical voice among the nation's Church leaders.

The first statement made a public offer of sanctuary to anyone fleeing state-sponsored violence, while the second attacked the political indoctrination and manipulation of the young people of Zimbabwe_ We have seen vanous groups, their numbers increas ing in recent weeks, who drive people out of certain areas by violence, prevent people from entering certain areas, abduct people, prevent people from expressing their views, and coerce them into expressing contrary views," said the Jesuits in their statement headed A Time for Deciding. "Such behaviour is illegal. It is also sinful, because it is an offence against God in whose image we are made. It is evil, and the product of Satan."

February was also the month in which Princess Margaret, the Queen's sister, died at the age of 71 years. Masses and prayers offered throughout the country for the repose of her soul included those of Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor. In a letter to the Queen, he said: "I express my condolences and deepest sympathy with you on the death of Princess Margaret. I know that the prayers of the whole Catholic community will be with you and Princess Margaret's family at this time. There will be many tributes to your sister so I will just add my own memory of someone of great charm, vivacity and a profound faith in the Lord. Be assured of my own remembrance and prayers. I will be offering Mass for the repose of her soul." Pope John Paul II also sent his condolences to Queen Elizabeth II. "Saddened to learn of the death of Her Royal Highness, the Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, I express to Your Majesty and to the Royal Family my deep sympathy at this time of sorrow," he said.

Earlier in the month, the Pope had urged lawyers to resist involvement in the "plague" and "evil" of divorce. Speaking at the annual meeting of the Roman Rota, the final court of appeal of the Church's canon law, John Paul cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church and said that it was only permissible for lawyers to collaborate in divorce proceedings when it was the only sure way to protect legitimate legal rights, the care of children and inheritance. "Marriage is indissoluble: this property expresses a dimension of its objective being, not a subjective fact," the Pope said, adding: "We can't surrender to a mentality promoting divorce: trust in the natural and supernatural gifts of God does not allow this."

February was also the month when the first Catholic Mass was celebrated in Afghanistan in nine years, and when Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham issued a robust defence of Catholic schools in the face of efforts to amend the Education Bill to insist that a quarter of all pupils were non-Catholics, meaning that some Catholic children would be denied an education at a Catholic school. Archbishop Nichols called the measure an "affront" to the rights of Catholic parents and said there was no evidence to support the idea that the system caused social unrest.

This month, the Labour Party came under fire from pro-life groups for demonstrating an alleged pro-human cloning bias in the membership, conduct and conclusions of the House of Lords Select Committee on Stem Cell Research. Red Nose Day accounts showed in February that money raised the previous year had gone to agencies that promoted abortion, contraception and sterilisation.


This month was dominated by a bitter struggle over the future of Catholic education in the United States. In a dramatic twist to the long-running battle between "progressives" and "conserva

tives", one of America's leading Jesuit priests was ordered by his superiors to cut his ties to a fledgling Catholic college. Fr Joseph Fessio, founder of Ignatius Press, was asked to sever his links to Campion College of San Francisco in what was widely seen as punishment for his outspoken criticism of a prominent Jesuit-run university. Fr Fessio had decided to found the college after he fell out with the Jesuit leadership of the University of San Francisco (USF). Fr Fessio was dismayed when the leadership dismissed the directors of the St Ignatius Institute, a theological college linked to the USF. He had founded the institute in 1976 to offer students an alternative to the university's liberal theology department.

The Californian Jesuit Provincial, Fr Tom Smolich, not only ordered Fr Fessio to end his association with Campion College, but also appointed him as hospital chaplain in an obscure town in southern California. One US commentator said the posting was "like sending a purged communist leader to Siberia". Fr Fessio, friend and publisher of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, said he accepted the order under obedience, but wanted a "legitimate explanation" from his superiors. Meanwhile, Archbishop Conti challenged the laity to witness to the Catholic faith during his installation Mass in Glasgow's St Andrew's Cathedral.

The new archbishop said the courageous words of his predecessor, Cardinal Thomas Wuming, had "reverberated" around the world. But the "powerful words and witness" of Church leaders would only be heeded "if those who speak them can back them up, not only with the example of their own lives, but the lives of the community they lead". The need was greater than ever, Archbishop Conti said, for "each man and woman, baptised into the Church, to live a life of holiness".

The holiness of Cardinal John Henry Newman is not in doubt. But his postulator was forced to appeal this month for renewed prayers to obtain the theologian's canonisation. Fr Paul Chavasse said that senior Vatican figures attached "the greatest priority" to Cardinal Newman's cause.

A biography published this month claimed the late Princess Margaret seriously considered converting to Catholicism. But she did not take the step out of a sense of loyalty to her elder sister, the Queen, the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, biographer Noel Botharn claimed. The murder of a senior bishop in Colombia caused outrage across the Catholic world. Cardinal MurphyO'Connor deplored the assassination of Archbishop' Isaias Duarte Cancino, who was shot dead outside a church in Cali. The Cardinal said the archbishop's murder was an "act of hatred" reminiscent of the killing of Archbishop Oscar Romero in 1980.

Just a week later, an Irish priest was shot dead by soldiers in northem Uganda. Fr Declan O'Toole, a Mill Hill Missionary from Galway, was an outspoken critic of the army's fierce repression of a local rebel force.

In his traditional Holy Thursday letter to priests, Pope John Paul H spoke of the damage to the priesthood caused by child sexual abuse scandals. Challenging priests to commit themselves "more fully to the search for holiness", the Pope said the majority of priests were "profoundly afflicted by the sins" of a minority who "betrayed the grace of ordination".

The Pope was troubled this month by severe pains in his right knee. Sources close to the Pope's private doctor, Renato Buzzonetti, said the attacks of arthrosis were caused by countless hours of kneeling on a prie-dieu.


pril was the month that Pope John Paul II summoned 13

erican cardinals to Rome to discuss the worst crisis in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States. At that point, a wave of clerical abuse scandals — triggered by the jailing of paedophile former priest John Geoghan in Boston in February — had led to the suspensions or resignations of 60 priests and a bishop in 17 dioceses in less than two months. About 2,000 retrospective allegations had been made against priests nationally and Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston and Cardinal Edward Egan of New York were both under pressure to resign amid allegations of mismanagement and cover-up. More seriously, Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles was himself accused of sexually abusing a female college student in 1970, but he was later cleared by a police investigation.

At a two-day meeting in the Vatican, John Paul told the American Church leaders that, like them, he too had been "deeply grieved by the fact that priests and religious, whose vocation it is to help people live holy lives in the sight of God have themselves caused so much suffering and scandal to the young".

He said: "Because of the great harm done by some priests and religious, the Church herself is viewed with distrust, and many are offended at the way in which the Church's leaders are perceived to have acted in this matter. The abuse which has caused this crisis is by every standard wrong and rightly considered a crime by society — it is also an appalling sin in the eyes of God. To the victims and their families, wherever they may be, I express my solidarity and concern."

The Pope said abuse of the young was a grave symptom of a crisis of "sexual morality" affecting society as a whole. "The Church will help society to understand and deal with the crisis in its midst," he said, adding: "It must be absolutely clear to the Catholic faithful, and to the wider community, that bishops and superiors are concerned, above all else, with the spiritual good of souls. People need to know that there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young. They must know that bishops and priests are totally committed to the fullness of Catholic truth on matters of sexual morality, a truth as essential to the renewal of the priesthood and the episcopate as it is to the renewal of marriage and family life."

The crisis meeting was the second of John Paul's papacy, the first being when he invited the British and Argentine bishops to Rome in May 1982 to discuss the Falldands War.

Meanwhile, the Pope had to address an escalating crisis in the Middle East as Arab mili

tants occupied the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem during a huge operation in the Palestinian West Bank by Israeli armed forces against suspected terrorists. The occupation of one of the holiest of Christian shrines took place just days after the Pontiff pleaded for peace on four separate occasions over the Easter weekend. "Sad and worrying news, which has disturbed the atmosphere of Easter, which should be a feast of peace, joy and life, continues to come," he said on Easter Monday.

April was also the month when Irish Bishop Brendan Comiskey of Ferns resigned over his mishandling of paedophile priest Sean Fortune, when the Vatican set up the Vox Clara (Clear Voice) commission to advise it on English liturgical translations, and when the Pope rejected a plan to split the Archdiocese of Southwark into dioceses of South London and Kent.

It was also the month of the Queen Mother's funeral. Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor read the second lesson at the service in Westminster Abbey, London, making history by becoming the first Catholic leader to take part in a royal funeral since the Reformation.


The month began with the news that one of the Britain's most high-profile priests was leaving active ministry. Fr Oliver McTernan, a regular contributor to Radio Four's Thought for the Day, said he was being driven from the priesthood by a "revised clericalism". He said an "old clerical style of leadership" was dominating the Church, leaving him "uncomfortable and isolated". Fr McTernan left the country in 2000, after 19 years as parish priest in Notting Hill, West London, to study in the United States. Announcing his departure from the ministry in The Times, Fr McTernan said that the US Church's reaction to the child sexual abuse crisis was a clear example of the new clericalism. "The autocratic and secret way in which the bishops have dealt with sex abuse

crimes illustrates the clerical obsession with external image," he wrote. "The culture of denial is so ingrained in the clerical mindset that it incapacitates debate on so many issues that are crucial to the spiritual wellbeing and vitality of parish communities."

In Newcastle, the Queen unveiled a towering statue of the late Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Basil Hume. The inauguration ceremony outside St Mary's Cathedral marked the first time a British monarch had honoured a Catholic spiritual leader in this way since the Reformation. The 8ft-high bronze statue, designed by sculptor Nigel Boonham, presented the Cardinal in his Benedictine habit pointing at a plinth in the shape of Holy Island. The unveiling ceremony was followed a week later by the news that author and journalist Anthony Howard is to write the official biography of the Cardinal. Mr Howard, former obituaries editor of The Times, was chosen by the late Cardinal's literary executors after months of deliberation. He hopes to publish a 350-page biography by 2005.

Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue gained worldwide attention this month when he announced he was selling his residence to be closer to his flock. The Bishop of Lancaster said in a pastoral letter that the "grandeur" of his bishop's house was "not appropriate for a shepherd" of the faithful. "Our mission is not to pine regretfully for past glories, but to strip ourselves of all the dross that weighs us down and set out joyfully to share with those who want to receive the treasures entrusted for us," he wrote. The bishop was deluged with letters from around the world, applauding his decision. A week later, a leading US cardinal said that he too had decided to sell his spacious episcopal residence. Cardinal Francis George of Chicago said he wanted to return the "evan

gelical simplicity" of the early Church. His lake-front mansion could be sold for up to $20 million. May was also the month when The Catholic Herald celebrated the 20th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's historic pilgrimage to England. In an editorial, the paper commented: "The older and more frail he becomes, the more his courage shines out and the nearer his papal service comes to being a kind of living martyrdom. In due course, it will be for the Church to decide if this has been the life of one of her saints: but certainly, but any human measure, his qualities have amounted to greatness of the highest order: it is surely very hard to believe that will not be the verdict of history too."


Cardinal MurphyO'Connor began June, the month of the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, with another call for the repeal of the 1701 Act of Settlement, the last piece of anti-Catholic penal legislation that remains on the statute book. It was described as "unjust" and "anomalous" by the cardinal. "I think it should go," he said.

Later in the month, Pope John Paul II canonised St Pio of Pietrelcina, a 20th century Italian Capuchin Franciscan monk who bore the stigmata, the marks of Christ's crucifixion. A crowd of 300,000 pilgrims made the journey to St Peter's Square for the event, while another 60,000 people converged on San Giovanni Rotondo, the house founded by the saint in the south of the country. St Pio's cause was of special interest to the Pope, who as a young man travelled to Italy from Poland to confess to him.

The Holy Father said: "The life and mission of Padre Pio prove that difficulties and sorrows, if accepted out of love, are transformed into a privileged way of holiness which opens to prospects of a greater good, known only to the Lord."

At the end of June, the Pope approved the statutes of the Neo-Catechumenal Way, defining the international organisation, founded in Madrid in 1968, as an "instrument of Christian initiation".

The move by John Paul ended four years of correspondence between the group and the Vatican, which had rejected four drafts of the statutes since it asked for them to be drawn up to mark the Way's 30th anniversary in 1998. Cardinal Francis Stafford, head of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, handed the decree of approval to the movement's leaders in an hourlong ceremony at the Vatican attended by about 50 leading members of the Way, including founders Kiko Argiiello and Carmen Hernandez. Mr Arguello said: "These [early] communities converted the Roman Empire; today, faced with globalisation, atheism and the apostasy of Europe, here is John Paul II saying there needs to be a return to the primitive model."

A Vatican statement said the new norms had the aim of "regulating the practice of the Neo-Catechumenal Way and the harmonious insertion into the fabric of the Church, also offering an aid to all the pastors of the Church in their fatherly and vigilant accompanment of the Neocatechtmenal communities".

Meanwhile, in the United States, the American bishops, facing unprecedented cdticism for their alleged mishandling of clerical sex abusers, net in Dallas, Texas, and voed by 239 to 13 to agree to alopt a rigorous "zero tolerance child protection charter.

Days before, an Honduran cardinal, tipped as a vssible successor to Pope Joht Paul II, compared the "fury"of the US media over the scandals to the persecutions of the (lurch by Nero, Stalin and hider. Cardinal Oscar Rodrguez Maradiaga of Tegucizalpa argued that the Church was hated in the US not solely for the scandals but also becase of its pro-life stances ad its support for a Palestinian bmeland.

June was the month vhen newly installed Archbinops Peter Smith of Cardif and Mario Conti of Aberdeereach received a pallium fror the Pope as a symbol of heir loyalty to him.

It was also the month then the Duke of Norfolk, Brituires most senior Catholic layian, died at the age of 86 yars. Cardinal Murphy-0 ' Cunor issued a statement immeciitely, in which he said: "It wasvith the greatest sadness that I larnt of the death of Miles, the lake of Norfolk.

"He was a true Chriian gentleman in the real sent of those words. 1-is faith peneated his life and he was eraordinarily generous in theme and effort he gave to charible work.

`The Catholic Church irhis country was glad to haveim as its most distingui sed layman and he will be sely missed. I was happy tcbe included amoag his cise friends. My deepest synch)/ and prayers are with his Ve, Anne, and all the NorIlk family."

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