TOECONTROVF.RSIAL, personal prelature pus Dei received its strongest endorsement yet by a bishop in England and Wales. Archbishop Cormac MurphyO'Connor of Westminster , who celebrated a Mass in London in honour of Opus Dei founder Blessed Josemaria Escriva, said the organisation had "a clear part to play in the mission of the Church". "It's the combination of work and prayer that's at the heart of the apostolate," he said. "It is my conviction that there are many who wish to live to the mind and heart of Blessed Josemaria." The archbishop's homily suggested a new, more positive relationship between Opus Dei and the hierarchy of England and Wales.
The week before, Pope John Paul 11 presented Archbishop Murphy-O'Connor with the pallium — a band of wool symbolising communion with the See of Peter. The Pope also gave the pallium to Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham. Since the 19th century the pallium has been given to all metropolitan bishops and is made from the wool of lambs blessed on St Agnes' day in Rome.
Catholics in North West England braced themselves for change this month, after the dioceses of Liverpool and Shrewsbury announced plans to "cluster" existing parishes under a single priest. Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool announced that the Deanery of St Helens would follow in the footsteps of other parts of the archdiocese, including Formby, Wigan and Wsurington, where a number of parishes have already been merged under a single priest. In the same week, Bishop Brian Noble of Sluewsbury gave the go-ahead to a radical shake-up of his diocese. Besides parishes sharing priests, the reorganisation is likely to include the sale of property, with communities having to share buildings with other denominations.
110 Buoy NOBLE explained that while the lidiocese continued to "hope and pray" for an increase in priestly vocations, it had to adjust to a "emu-acting and ageing" clergy, as well as declining Mass attendance and increased lay involvement. Critics of the shake-up accuse the diocese of putting financial and property interests ahead of pastoral concerns. One Mass-goer in Stockport, whose parish is likely to be clustered under the new proposals, said: "The parishioners here need to accept the issues facing the hierarchy and the hierarchy needs to accept that the laity must be involved in mission." Meanwhile, Catholic leaders paid tribute to the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Runcie, who died this month after a long battle with cancer, aged 78. In a message sent to the present Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, Pope John Paul II said he was saddened by the news of Lord Runcie's death. He recalled the moment during his historic visit to Britain in 1982, when he and Lord Runcie prayed together at the tomb of St Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral and hoped the former Archbishop of Canterbury's memory would "stir us all to love more deeply the past which is our common heritage". Archbishop Cormac MurphyO'Connor, former co-chairman of the Anglican and Catholic dialogue body, ARC1C, said he mourned "a man I was glad to call a friend".
o ANGLICAN bishops who converted
to Catholicism in the early 1990s were made prelates of honour by the Pope. Former Bishop of London Fr Graham Leonard and former Bishop of Fulham Fr Charles Klyberg were made Right Reverend Monsignors "in recognition of their dedication to Christian life in England over many years". After being presented with his letter of appointment from Archbishop Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Mgr Leonard, the most senior Anglican to have become a Catholic, said he was very pleased and very grateful. He said: "The papal ministry gives the Church its essential authority, which is both universal and personal. This personal appointment by the Holy Father emphasises this kind of personal ministry and it is an endorsement of the welcome that we already had in the Catholic Church."
Later in the month, more than two million young people from across the globe converged on Rome for World Youth Day, an event dubbed "Wojtyla's Woodstock" by the Italian media. John Paul II, speaking to 600,000 at an open air Mass at Tor Vegeta, a university campus south of the city, urged the young "to set the whole world ablaze", and asked them to resist the lures of hedonism and materialism. "To follow Jesus as Peter, Thomas and the first Apostles and witnesses did demand of us, just as it did in the past, that we take a stand for him, at times almost to the point of a new martyrdom; the martyrdom of those who, today as yesterday, are called to go against the tide in order to follow the Divine Master," he said.
"Perhaps you will not be asked for your blood, but you will certainly be asked to be faithful to Christ. A faithfulness to be lived in the circumstances of everyday life. I am thinking of how difficult it is in today's world for engaged couples to be faithful to purity before marriage. I think of how the mutual fidelity of young married couples is put to the test. I think of friendships and how easily the temptation to be disloyal creeps in. It is hard but with the help of grace it can be done. In fact, it is Jesus you seek when you dream of happiness. He is waiting for you when nothing else satisfies you. He is the beauty to which you are so attracted. It is he who asks you to shed the masks of a false life. It is he who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded by medi
ocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal." The Pope added: "Today you have come together to declare that in the new century you will not let yourselves be made into tools of violence and destruction; you will defend peace, paying the price in your person if need be."
The Mass was watched by 14 million viewers in Italy, but it did not attract the attention of any television companies in Britain. Instead, their attention was focused on a Bank Holiday march on Westminster Cathedral by Survivors of Spiritual Abuse.
AlivIONG THE organisers was Susan Ni ahilly, a feminist author whose publisher, MD Goddess, had appealed on the internet for names of people who claimed to have been abused by the Church. Ms Ni Rahilly, who promoted her last book by riding naked around Bunratty Castle in the Irish Republic, said the event was not a publicity stunt to promote her new work, Daddy's Girl is Guilty as Hell: The Lonely Legacy of Catholic Guilt, and boasted it would be attended by "hundreds". But just 16 people, mostly members of dissenting groups, took part in the march.
Elsewhere, the Society of Jesus was beginning to cause controversy. The Vatican, fearing "religious pluralism", began an investigation into the book, Jesus, Symbol of God, by American Fr Roger Haight. In the Irish Republic, meanwhile, Jesuit Fr Michael Hurley suggested the Hail Mary should be dropped from Mass to further the cause of ecumenism.
IS MONTH was one of the most event ful of the Jubilee year. It began with the publication of a controversial Vatican statement warning bishops not to refer to Protestant confessions as "sister churches". The Vatican's doctrinal watchdog, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, expressed dismay that the phrase had become "prevalent in contemporary writings on ecumenism", because it put the Catholic Church on an equal footing with other Christian churches. "The one, holy, catholic and apostolic church is not sister but another of all the churches," he said. He also attaelsed the use of the pluese "uui two Churches", used in The Gift of Authority, last yeeu 's statement by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission.
Even greater controversy came a week later, when Cardinal Ratzinger issued a declaration on the relationship of the Church to other religions. The declaration, Dominus Jesus, argued that the Catholic Church played a "unique" role in God's plan of salvation. Written primarily for bishops and theologians, it criticised the tendency to see all religions as equal. Cardinal Ratzinger said this tendency led to theological positions in which "Christian revelation and the mystery of Jesus Christ and the Church lose their character of absolute truth and saisific universality, or at least shadows of doubt and uncertainty are cast upon them". In Britain, attention focussed sharply on a single paragraph in the declaration reaffirming the Church's belief that Protestant churches were "not Churches in the proper sense" because they lacked a valid episcopate and sacraments. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, expressed "disappointment" at the statement, which he said "did not do justice to ecumenical dialogue over the years". Archbishop Cormac Murphy-O'Connor defended the declaration, saying it broke no new ground and that he felt "very sorry" if Protestants and people of other faiths were offended by it.
The Archbishop of Westminster stayed in the headlines a week later with the announcement of a high-powered independent review of the Church's child protection procedures. A review body, chaired by the Ampleforth-educated Lord Nolan, would investigate the Church's handling of clerical sexual abuse and suggest ways in which it can be improved. Called the Nolan Review, it would make a preliminary repoit next April. Announcing the review, Archbishop Murphy-O'Connor issued a forthright apology for the actions of the 21 priests convicted of entries against children us ise the past 30 y.sv."I wish to apologise sincerely to the sursea e abuse and their familial and CG.imitiiiiticr!, pal ticularly when there has bull abuse by those exercising responsibility in the Church," he said. "I acknowledge that far too often there has been insensitivity and inadequate response to their hurt." Promis
ing that the findings of the report would be published, he added: "The Catholic Church has not and must not have anything to hide in its handling of problems of child abuse and child protection."
IN Ti IE SAME week, the archbishop considered another agonising dilemma — the fate of a pair of Siamese twins who shared a heart and lungs. Doctors were seeking the High Court's permission to kill the weaker of the conjoined babies, known as Mary, so that the other, Jodie, might live. The parents, devout Catholics from the island of Gozo, near Malta, were opposed to the operation. In a submission to the court, the archbishop emphasised the right to life enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. He said that killing Mary to save Jodie would set a dangerous precedent in English law. He asked that the court respected the wish of the parents to allow both childien to die team all). Lord Justice Ward iejeetecl the rechbishopte argument,
iag that it eae in "'the best interest" of the twiee co be espeeated. The archbishop said he had 'peufeund nrisgivings" about the judge's ruling.
The month ended on the controversial note it began, with calls for one of
England's most illustrious Catholic schools to be investigated for an alleged serious breakdown in pupil discipline. A file was sent to the Department for Education and Employment urging the Government to probe £12,000-a-year Stonyhurst College, Lancashire, for alleged problems following the school's decision some three years ago to allow girls as well as boys to board. The file contained claims of indecent exposure, sexual acts among pupils, a sexual assault, drunkenness, drug-taking, threats and assaults on staff and possession of weapons. It also alleged that pupils were given access to the morning-after pill. The file, which was examined by the Independent Schools' Registration Team, was sent just two weeks after the Jesuits, who administer the school, sacked Professor Keith Hanley, a governor who brought the problems first to the attention of the Stenyhurst gOve.niozi, at a taeeting attended by headmaster Adriate Aylward. A spokesman fcr the school denied any peoblenas. He said that the goveracae were satisfied that after a "proper inveetigation" of the allegations "the reports of them were a gross misrepresentation and distortion of the facts".