Page 2, 4th January 2002

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Page 2, 4th January 2002 — 2001 AD: the millennium year in review Part 2

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2001 AD: the millennium year in review Part 2

new United States President George Bush to ask for an undertaking that he would oppose abortion, the use of cloned embryos in research and that he would open a debate into the legality of the death penalty. The pair met at the Pope's summer residence of Castelgandolfo, Italy, at a time when President Bush was deciding on whether or not to allow government funding of research into cloned embryos.

John Paul said: "Experience is already showing how a coarsening of consciences accompanies the assault on innocent human life in the womb, leading to accommodation and acquiescence in the face of other evils such as euthanasia, infanticide, and most recently, proposals for the creation for research purposes of human embryos to be destroyed" President Bush, a Methodist, said they had "a very good discussion". He said: "There is the need to balance the value of life, and the respect for it, with the promises held out by science, and the hope of saving other lives. I will return home and continue to listen to different points of view, and will then decide when I am ready. And I will do it in the interests of the American people."

The pair also discussed the issues of wealth distribution and globalisation as bloody clashes between police and anarchists erupted in yet another European city. Violence maned the G8 summit in Genoa, during which protestor Carlo Giuliani was shot dead as he attempted to hurl a fire extinguisher into a police vehicle. A delegation from overseas aid agency Cafod, accompanied by newly installed Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue of Lancaster, had travelled to the city but refused to take part in the protest march.

The veto of the appointment of Edward Leigh, Conservative MP for Gainsborough, from chairmanship of the House of Commons' Select Committee on International Development proved that antiCatholic bigotry continues to flourish in the corridors of power. Mr Leigh, whose appointment should have been simply rubber-stamped, was grilled about his views on abortion and contraception. He said he had spoken in Parliament about poverty, human rights, the family and abortion but had never given a speech about contraception. After his appointment was denied him, Mr Leigh said: "I think it is regrettable that people's religious convictions should be the subject of a veto."

July was also the month when Muslims in Italy urged the Pope to destroy some 15th century frescoes in San Petronio Basilica in Bologna. The paintings by Giovanni da Modena depict Muhammad among the damned in Dante's Inferno and were branded "blasphemous and obscene" by Adel Smith of the Union of Muslims, who wrote to both John Paul II and Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, Archbishop of Bologna, to demand their removal and an apology from the Church. He said: "For all Muslims in the whole world this painting is absolutely unacceptable, since it represents an offence of a far more serious nature than the famous Satanic Verses."

In reply, Adriano Guameri, spokesman for the Bologna diocese, said: "With all due respect we cannot accept that, 600 years after, it is discovered that the painting can be seen as offensive to Islam."

Later in the month, Pope John Paul issued his most explicit endorsement of the new ecclesial movements to date, proclaiming them as a "providential gift" and saying that the local churches had a "duty" to promote them.

July was also the month when Bishop Crispian Hollis of Portsmouth criticised Channel 4's Big Brother for encouraging contestants to have sexual intercourse on live national television; when the Church welcomed the appointment of a cohabiting agnostic, Alan Bookbinder, as the head of Religion and Ethics at the BBC, and when the Vatican blocked the appointment of Fr Rob Esdaile as theology tutor at the English College, the seminary in Rome, allegedly because of his views on the ordination of women.


This month a newsletter issued by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales launched a bitter attack on a controversial Vatican instruction on the liturgy.

The Liturgy Newsletter, which is prepared for and distributed by the bishops' conference, described the Instruction Liturgiam authenticam ("The Authentic Liturgy") as "authoritarian" and "totalitarian" in tone.

The newsletter's leading article, penned by editor Canon Christopher Walsh, said the document — which was written by the Vatican Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship and signed by the Pope — was "mean-spirited" and "profoundly untraditional".

Canon Walsh argued that the instruction took a heavy-handed approach to the delicate issues raised by translation and smacked of "fear and desperation".

The following month, the bishops of England and Wales distanced themselves from the attack. Bishop Mark Jabal, of Menevia, the chairman of the bishops' Department of Christian Life and Worship, said that the views expressed in the Liturgy Newsletter "were Canon Walsh's own and do not represent the position of the bishops' conference".

August also saw the deaths, within a single week, of two of the Herald's bestloved columnists. The first to pass away was Brian Brindley, the celebrated Charterhouse Chronicler, polymath and bon vivant. Mr Brindley died as flamboyantly as he had lived, dropping dead at his 70th birthday dinner party in his London club, the Athenaeum. The day before, he had faxed his copy — with his usual covering sheet headed "fax vobiscum" in lugubrious gothic type — for what proved to be his last Charterhouse Chronicle to The Catholic Herald. He wrote an accompanying note: "Filed early as I am going away."

In a tribute to his late friend, the Herald's literary editor, Damian Thompson, described the final scene of Mr Brindley's remarkable life.

"It was, of course, a most distressing scene, for his 13 close friends to witness: but afterwards we agreed that there was something spookily appropriate about his manner of going. Fr Anthony Symondson, who had given him absolution, observed that all the strands of Brian's life had come together in one small, candlelit library: friends from childhood, Stowe, Oxford, his time as an Anglican vicar and his new career as a Catholic journalist."

It was Fr Symondson who celebrated Mr Brindley's Requiem Mass later in the month. In his homily, he described the writer as one of the "most intelligent, stylish, funny, clever, generous, cultivated and entertaining men" he had known.

Referring to the first reading, from the Book of Isaiah, he told the congregation they could look forward to meeting him in heaven where "some of us might resume an uninterrupted banquet of rich food on a high mountain".

The death of Lord Longford, two days after Brian Brindley's, also provoked a chorus of praise. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, who visited Lord Longford, 95, in hospital on the day of his death, led the tributes, hailing the peer's faith and courage in championing unpopular causes.

He said: "I remember Lord Longford as a man who was not afraid to be different. He was an outstanding Christian witness who devoted his entire life to the Catholic faith."

A Catholic since his conversion in 1940, Lord Longford wrote prolifically on religion. His publications included a book on Humility (which he considered the best thing written on the subject) and biographies of St Francis of Assisi and Pope John Paul II.

Tony Blair, whom Lord Longford considered the most Christian prime minister since Gladstone, described the former Labour Cabinet Minister as "a great man, a man of passionate integrity and humanity and a great reformer".

The peer was working on his fortnightly Charterhouse Chronicle column just days before his death. He conducted his fmal interview with Fr Michael Seed SA, ecumenical secretary to Cardinal MuiphyO'Connor, on his deathbed in the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

Recalling their last meeting, Fr Seed said: "I told him to stop. I could see that dear Frank had little time to live. I told him that I had come to visit, to pray ... I quickly realised that he was fully at peace with God, that he was in a state of grace ... He went on with the interview."


September, of course, was dominated by events surrounding the terror attacks on America on the 11th day of the month, events which claimed the lives of almost 4,000 people. Islamic fundamentalists loyal to Osama bin Laden hijacked four planes and flew two of them into the twin towers of New York's World Trade Centre buildings, and another into the Pentagon. The fourth plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania after passengers attacked the terrorists. In New York, Death Certificate Number One was given to Franciscan Fr Mychal Judge, chaplain to the city's firefighters, who died when he was struck by masonry while giving last rites to a fireman who had minutes earlier been hit by a falling body. Fr Mychal was carried out of the rubble on a chair by the men he served, some 340 of whom also died in the attacks and their aftermath. His funeral drew 3,000 mourners, including former US President Bill Clinton.

In London, Cardinal Cormac MurphyO'Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster, said a Mass for the dead in Westmin ster Cathedral on the evening of the attacks, and in Rome the Pope went into mourning, condemning the attacks as acts of "savage cruelty". In a message to America's President George W Bush, he said: "Shocked by the unspeakable horror of today's terrorist attacks against innocent people in different parts of the United States I hurry to express to you and your fellow citizens my profound closeness in prayer for the nation."

The Pope later began a personal world peace mission, sharply criticising hatred, fanaticism and religious fundamentalism as blasphemous. During a visit to Kazakhstan, he reminded the followers of the world's three monotheistic religions that they were united in the absolute "oneness of God" and invited Muslims to join him in a quest "for God to keep peace in the world". John Paul said that Catholicism respected "the authentic Islam: the Islam that prays, and stands by those in need".

The English and Welsh bishops, for their part, urged the West, as it prepared its "waebn terror", to be cautious and restrained in its response. In a statement signed by Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor and Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liver pool, they urged any military action to be proportionate, focused and to have a "realistic prospect of success". They also warned against the temptation to persecute innocent Muslims at home, and voiced concern for refugees fleeing areas of potential conflict.

Earlier in the month, violence also erupted in Northern Ireland when Protestants in north Belfast rioted in protest at Catholic girls and their parents walking to Holy Cross Primary School through their neighbourhood. Missiles and even pipe bombs were thrown and a number of police injured as girls as young as four years old were escorted to school and back each day. The violence lasted for three months and ended only when close-circuit television was installed in the area.

September was also the month when the English and Welsh bishops published the final Nolan Report, the review of child protection procedures in the Church. The initial 50 recommendations accepted unanimously by the bishops in the spring had been extended to 83, and included glassfronted confessionals, a national register of accused people and rigorous risk assessments of priests accused of abusive behav iour. Ampleforth-educated Lord Nolan, who chaired the year-long review, said the overriding aim was to create a safe environment for children. "Child abuse is a great evil and we believe that the Church should be an example of excellence in rooting it out," he said.

September was also when Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor caused a stir by saying Christianity "has now almost been vanquished". His comments, made during an address to the National Conference of Priests, even made instant headlines overseas. The cardinal, however, later said his comments were taken out of context by the Press and that he had simply been quoting from a review in The Spectator of a book called Religion and Public Doctrine in Modern England, Vol III: Accommodations, by the historian, Maurice Cowling. Meanwhile, the issue of globalisation once again reared its head with both Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, and Bishop John Jukes, chairman of the world of work committee of Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, both calling for the need for an ethical dimension to be introduced into the phenomenon. ctober was the month in which Archbishop John Ward of Cardiff

tendered his resignation to Rome. He had recovered from a deep-vein thrombosis in 2000 after he was attacked in a BBC Panorama documentary, but in the face of renewed media criticism over his alleged mishandling of two priests convicted of the sexual abuse of children, he feared a possible relapse.

However, the archbishop, 72, began the month in fighting spirit, launching an offensive against Catholics within his own diocese who had been campaigning against him. In an interview with The Catholic Herald, Archbishop Ward said he had been made a scapegoat for the failure of the Church to prevent Cardiff priests John Lloyd and Joseph Jordan from committing sexual assaults. He said the scandals were deliberately exploited by his enemies within the clergy to bring about his downfall, which. he claimed, they had been seeking for many years.

"It puts every bishop in danger if it only takes a few disgruntled priests to do this. For the sake of my successor, whenever he comes, and indeed for the sake of any other bishop in this country, the signal has to be given that allegations such have been made. you can't get away with them. Otherwise, disgruntled priests in all the dioceses can make up their minds to get rid of the cardinal or anybody," he said.

"Any question of my resignation remains very much between me and the Holy Father — it cannot be forced by the media or any other group. This is not arrogant on my part to say that — it is just being factual."

Later in the month, Archbishop Ward requested an audience with John Paul H, during which he offered to resign two years before he was due to retire. The Pope later accepted. As the announcement was made, his successor, Bishop Peter Smith of East Anglia, defended him against accusations of negligence. He said he believed Archbishop Ward had dealt with the cases "as best he could".

In a valedictory statement, Archbishop Ward said he was weary of working in an environment characterised by disloyalty. He said: "I have been shocked and deeply hurt by those sections of the media, and members of the Catholic Church, who did their utmost to attack me when I was struck down by illness. They were, and are, poor servants of justice and truth."


This was also the month that Christians in Pakistan experienced the violence they had been dreading since the start of the US-led offensive in Afghanistan. Four Islamic terrorists burst into a Catholic church in Bahawalpur in Punjab province, and sprayed worshippers with bullets. Before they fled, the bearded gunmen shouted: "Graveyard of Christians Pakistan and Afghanistan" and "This is just the start". Eighteen people are said to have died in the attack, which took place when the church was being used for a Protestant service – an ecumenical gesture of goodwill.

The Pope sent a message to Pakistan's Catholic Church, expressing his "absolute condemnation of this further tragic act of intolerance".

A week before the attack, the Catholic peer Lord Alton had warned of an attack on Pakistan's Christian minority. Writing in The Catholic Herald, he urged the British Government not to turn a blind eye to the persecution of Christians in Pakistan, Britain's new-found ally in the war on terror.

On a brighter note, this was also the month that Cardinal Cormac MurphyO'Connor took possession of his titular basilica in Rome. In a homily at the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, the cardinal noted that the first cardinal to be given the church was a certain Cardinal Michele Ghisliere. "He later became Pope Pius V, and with some vigour excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I," the cardinal said dryly, to much laughter.

October also saw Pope John Paul preside over the 10th ordinary Synod of Bishops in Rome. Opening the Synod which focussed on the role of the bishop in the new millennium — the Pope challenged prelates from around the world to shun luxury and worldliness in the interests of their own credibility.


American scientists cloned the first human embryo, sending shock waves around the world and prompting an "unequivocal condemnation" of the practice by the Vatican, as well as a call for it to be made illegal in Britain from Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor. The outcry, however, did not stop the British Government from becoming the first in the world to pass a law which effectively gave scientists carte blanche to conduct destructive experiments on human clones. In the space of just two days, it forced through the two-clause unamendable Human and Reproductive Cloning Bill through the Houses of Parliament with a three-line whip, in spite of protests across the benches at the haste at which Ministers were moving. The legislation forbade the implantation of a human clone into a woman's womb but left completely unregulated research into socalled "spare-part" cloning. The Government said it was forced to act to close loopholes exposed by a High Court ruling earlier in the month, in which Mr Justice Crane upheld arguments posed by the ProLife Alliance that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 did not cover cloned embryos. It meant that regulations passed by the Government earlier

in the year were unlawful and that Britain effectively had no law governing cloned embryos.

John Paul II, meanwhile, was growing ever more vocal in the quest for world justice and peace as major towns and cities in Afghanistan were taken from the Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters by the Northern Alliance, supported by American bombers and Allied special forces. The Pope called on the world not to forget the "dear people'. of Afghanistan, urging a massive relief effort as the war-torn region edged closer toward winter. He later called a meeting in Assisi, Italy, of the leaders of the world's faiths and asked Catholics to fast for peace on December 14, half way through Advent and on the final day of the Muslim fasting period of Ramadan. At the beginning of the month, Christians in London and New York held services to remember the 4,000 people murdered in the terrorist attacks of September 11. A report by Christian Research said that the practice of Islam would outstrip the practice of Christianity within the next 40 years.

November was also the month when Bishop David Konstant of Leeds, who had suffered a heart attack in May, asked the Pope to appoint a coadjutor bishop, with right of succession, to help him to run his diocese until he retired in four years' time. It was also the month when Archbishop-elect Peter Smith of Cardiff reacted sharply to unfair criticism in the Welsh press over his proper treatment of a priest who had behaved inappropriately on suffering a nervous breakdown. He criticised reports that appeared in The Western Mail and The Guardian as "muck spreading for the sake of it".

November was the month when motor neurone disease sufferer Diane Pretty lost her legal bid to change Britain's suicide laws. Five law lords unanimously upheld the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions to refuse to give Mrs Pretty, who was supported by the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, an assurance that her husband, Brian, would not be prosecuted if he helped to kill her. They said there was a "sanctity to life in Western eyes which is enshrined in English law".

Afterwards, Archbishop-elect Smith, chairman of the bishops' department for Christian responsibility and citizenship, said: "We are duty bound to alleviate suffering but it is always wrong to intentionally kill innocent human beings. The law lords have rightly upheld the longstanding prohibition against euthanasia and assisted suicide which exists, among other things, to protect the weak and vulnerable members of society."


December began with a powerful homily by Cardiff's new Archbishop, Peter Smith. The former Bishop of East Anglia used his first address as archbishop to appeal for the dignity of every human being to be respected. He reminded the members of his bitterly divided new diocese of the demands of the Gospel: to love unconditionally and to acknowledge their own sinfulness, as well to forgive the sins of others.

He said: "As disciples of Jesus we are called to become neighbours to everyone, and to show special favour to those who are poorest, most alone, and most in need. In helping the hungry, the thirsty, the foreigner, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned — as well as the child in the womb and the old person who is suffering or near death — we have the opportunity to serve Jesus."

In his homily, Archbishop Smith, a member of Lord Nolan's committee which reviewed child protection procedures in the Church, also spoke about the duty of care every Christian had for the vulnerable.

He said: "To be indifferent and uncaring towards children and other vulnerable members of society is bad enough. But to abuse them is infinitely worse ... in so far as any of us has failed in this regard, we are duty bound to remedy the harm done and seek forgiveness and reconciliation, because living a life of unconditional love demands total integrity."

He ended his homily with a plea for unity among Catholics of his new diocese and between Christians of all denominations.

This was also the month that an accomplished British Jesuit launched a forceful attack on the direction of the Society of Jesus after the Second Vatican Council. Fr Rodger Charles said Jesuits had displayed "wholesale" disloyalty to the Pope and the teaching of the Catholic Church throughout the postconciliar period.

Fr Charles made the comments in an open letter to Fr Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, the Father General of the Jesuits, after the Society's censors refused the priest permission to publish his book, Pope's Men: The Jesuits Yesterday and Today. It was the third time in two years that the censors had denied him the right to issue the book expressing his fears about the future of the Order.

Fr Charles's letter suggested that the Society had signed its "own death sentence" by failing to uphold the teachings of the popes — especially Humanae Vitae, the controversial 1968 encyclical that forbade the use of contraceptives to regulate births.

"Far from superiors generally giving us a lead in faithful obedience to the Pope and the Magisterium, too many regard anyone who insists these are the essence of the Jesuit vocation as stupid or malicious," Fr Charles wrote. "I, on many occasions, have had to resist pressure from such men to abandon these ideals; this is a complete perversion of Jesuit obedience — to have been subject to such pressure is a form of spiritual and mental torture, a scandal which should not be allowed to pass unchallenged."

Fr Charles, an expert on Catholic social teaching, who is based at Campion Hall, Oxford, spent almost 10 years writing and researching his book, which he began in 1989. Pope's Men charts four-and-ahalf centuries of Jesuit history and puts forward documentary evidence to show how the last 30 years have been marked by a serious departure from its original charism.

The priest's outspoken comments are likely to intensify debate over the future of the Society within the geing British province, which last year hal no vocations for the first time since 803 and has attracted just one vocationh_is year.

December was also the nonth in which the Pope led a billion Catblics in a day of fasting and prayer for wrld peace, the Queen invited Cardinal Cornac MurphyO'Connor to preach to thelZcoyal family in the New Year, and th bishops of England and Wales designaed December 30 as the annual, national)ay for Life.

Simon C aldwell & Luke Coppen

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