Archbishop urged to ban 'dissenting' event
A ONE-DAY festival, billed as a "celebration of Catholic diversity" has come under fire from critics who claim that it will be a platform for public dissent against Catholic teaching.
Jigsaw 2000, which will be held this summer in the Archdiocese of Southwark at the Catholic Teaching Institute, Digby Stuart College, has been hailed by its organisers as a chance "to create history by celebrating our diversity as a Church. The spirit of the day will be one of freedom to speak and be heard, to listen and to respond."
However some Catholics fear that it will be an occasion for dissent from Church teaching and that ordinary diocesan groups have been lured into appearing under false pretenses.
In correspondence between Archbishop Michael Bowen of Southwark and the pressure group Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, which brought its concerns about the event to the archbishop's attention, the archbishop expressed his own reservations, saying "we do need to take this matter seriously".
He later told the group that he had "explained my misgivings to my priests and others" but argued that to "simply forbid this event on the suspected intentions of some of the organisers" would be unrealistic.
"It might be unwise to do so anyway as it could play into their hands," he said.
However, in a letter last month, Archbishop Bowen told Mrs McLeod, chairman of Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, that to stop the event would be "imprudent, counterproductive and probably illegal".
Mrs McLeod then suggested that he ask the organisers not to describe the day as "Catholic" and to forbid the celebration of Mass "at an event promoting dissentor to issue a statement distancing the Church from the festival.
However, after further investigation, Archbishop Bowen has decided not to make a statement.
Mrs MacLeod told The Catholic Herald: "This is being run by a small group of people who appear on a number of dissenting committees.
'People can do what they like, hut this day should not be labelled 'Catholic' and it should not be held on Catholic premises.
"The Pope has been quite clear that bishops should not allow the word 'Catholic' to be used to describe things that are clearly not Catholic. This event will mislead many Catholic families."
The organisers of Jigsaw 2000 include Sr Myra Poole of Catholic Women's Ordination and a proponent of "goddess theology" and Lalu Winkley, spokeswoman for We are Church, an umbrella organisation for groups such as the Catholic Women's Network — who were revealed last year by The Catholic Herald as having links with the pro-abortion group Catholics for a Free Choice.
Fr John Murphy, national chaplain of Catholic Marriage Care — the address of which appears as a contact on the event's promotional material — is also a member of the Jigsaw 2000 planning committee.
He said: "It is a Catholic day, but we have been quite dear that the day will include groups that are considered outside the Catholic Church."
Fr Murphy, who insisted that he was not acting for or on behalf of Marriage Care, accepted that there was a risk involved in staging the event, but that "the cost is worth it in terms of suggesting that people invited will take part in a spirit of recognising the hope of the Church to include all people," he said.
"Some people might see it as blurring lines which should not be blurred, but then they should stay away. I am not making an assessment of the Catholicity of any of the group.
"What the 'genuine teaching' of the Church is, is a debate I do not want to go into," he added.
In the spirit of the event's vision of 'inclusive Church', We are Church, which has attempted to gather signatures in Britain encouraging opposition to Church teaching on marriage, the priesthood and Church authority; Quest, whose entry has been dropped from the Catholic Directory and Seven-ELeven, a support group for women in relationships with priests, will feature alongside mainstream Catholic organisations such as Catholic Women's League and the Union of Catholic Mothers.
Cafod, the bishops' conference overseas development agency has agreed to take part despite the event's ties to groups dissenting from Church teaching.
Director Julian Filochowski said: "There may well be aspects we won't agree with, but we feel we can only give a nihill obstat to ourselves and nobody else. Our role is to evangelise."