There has been massive reaction to the news that Bishop Wheeler of Leeds is to remove Mgr Michael Buckley from his position as director of the Catholic Ecumenical Centre at Wood Hall, near Wetherby in Yorkshire.
Mgr Buckley who has been director for the last ten years ha's recently become heavily involved with the work of the Peace Movement in England. Only two weeks ago there was a major conference at Wood Hall to foster the movement in England. This was acclaimed as a great success.
Bishop Wheeler's decision has caused great consternation among peace workers in Northern Ireland. Over the weekend the "sacking" became headline news in the Northern Ireland newspapers. It was feared that it was the first sign that the English hierarchy were going to obstruct work for peace in Northern Ireland.
Mgr Buckley commented, "I am saddened that the public should see recent events as a clash between the bishop and myself. It is sad that my bishop should be seen as someone who is opposed to peace. In fact, he has always encouraged me in my desire to witness to peace through the Peace Movement."
Speaking at a Press conference held at Wood Hall on Tuesday, Mrs Betty Williams, one of the founders of the Northern Ireland Peace Movement, was clearly indignant.
"Mgr Buckley doesn't deserve to be chopped," she said. "I wish the hierarchy would think before they take an axe and chop somebody to pieces like this."
She criticised Bishop Wheeler for failing to take an adequate interest in the Peace Movement.
"He hasn't a clue about what is going on, and he doesn't care as far as we can see .. . Not only do we have to fight the bloody Provos but we have to fight the Church hierarchy as well,"
Mgr Buckley's removal has come at a very bad time for the Peace Movement in England. Under his directorship, Wood Hall had become the secretariat