06 December 2018, The Tablet

News Briefing: from Britain and Ireland

News Briefing: from Britain and Ireland

Platten honoured
Bishop Stephen Platten, former chair of governors at the Anglican Centre in Rome, has been awarded the Lambeth Cross in recognition for three decades of ecumenical work. The bishop, who retired from the Anglican Centre last month, is due to be replaced by Michael Burrows, Bishop of Cashel, Ferns & Ossory, in Ireland.

The director of the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (Sciaf), Alistair Dutton, (above) has called on the British government to help rebuild the homes of Syrians affected by the civil war.

After recently returning from Sciaf-supported projects in Homs and Aleppo, Mr Dutton said: “Having survived the conflict, the overwhelming destruction of vital infrastructure, the economy and millions of homes, innocent civilians are now struggling to survive the peace … With the cessation of fighting in the vast majority of the country, and despite the appalling atrocities committed by Bashar al-Assad and others, it’s time for everyone who has been involved in the conflict, including the UK government and wider international community, to put their differences to one side and help the millions of innocent people who continue to suffer.”

Catholic action on the issue of housing justice should flow from the worshipping life of congregations rather than resembling the lobbying of a “secular NGO”, according to a report, “Abide in Me”, a collaboration between Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) and the Centre for Theology & Community.

The report is dedicated to Mark, who with his dog, Bonnie, sat quietly on the steps of a Catholic church in one of the wealthiest areas of London on most Sundays for years. “His life, and death in 2017, posed to parishioners who encountered him wider questions about the agency of individuals, the beliefs and choices of Catholics and statutory agencies within their resources, and what we did not do,” says the report.

The Bishop of Middlesbrough and chair of CSAN, Terence Drainey, writes in the foreword: “Much of the power for change is centred in national and regional levels of public decision-making. At these two levels, the Catholic Church’s organised capacity needs more depth and co-ordination: to strive for systems of decision-making that truly promote the dignity of families and communities.”

Pax Christi has announced the appointment of a new director, Theresa Alessandro, in succession to Pat Gaffney. Ms Alessandro will start in March next year.

Two missionary nuns have been honoured by Irish President Michael D. Higgins for their work with disadvantaged people in Kenya and Palestine.

Last week, he presented Sister of Mercy Mary Killeen (pictured) with the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for Peace, Reconciliation and Development for her work with street children in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya.

Mukuru, one of the city’s largest slum areas, is home to more than 600,000 people. Since 1976, Sr Mary, who is from Dublin, has been working to provide education there to thousands of children.

The Mukuru Promotion Centre that she helped to develop has four primary schools with 5,600 pupils. The centre also provides skills training in masonry, carpentry, plumbing, dressmaking, catering and vegetable growing.

Sister Mary has also helped to set up a school for special needs children, a secondary school for 660 students, health clinics that have treated 800,000 people, social work services, street children rehabilitation, a support group for HIV/Aids victims and business training programmes.

At the same ceremony, Sr Bridget Tighe, from County. Sligo, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Divine Motherhood, also received a Presidential Distinguished Service Award for her work with Palestinian people, which began with refugees in Jordan.

In 2015, Sister Bridget was appointed executive director of Caritas in Gaza overseeing health and psychological-social care programmes as well as programmes that deal with social assistance, job creation, micro-finance, food security, youth work and drug abuse prevention.

In January, she was appointed general director of Caritas Jerusalem. She continues to travel widely throughout the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Mass for detainees
The bishop for migrants, Paul McAleenan, celebrated Mass with detainees at Harmondsworth detention centre last week. The centre near London is one of the Heathrow immigration removal centres visited by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), whose ministry includes accompanying victims of trafficking who are being held in immigration detention.

Sarah Teather, the director of JRS UK, later said: “Many of the men who talked to Bishop Paul yesterday spoke about the agony of being separated from family and partners while in detention and the corrosive impact of uncertainty … It was good to hear from Bishop Paul that he too has been pushing the government to adopt a 28-day limit on holding people in detention. A time limit would make some difference.”

The Bishop of Galloway has described a controversial immigration removal centre as a “blot on the Scottish landscape” and as a “prison in everything else but name”. Speaking during a protest at Dungavel House in Lanarkshire, Bishop William Nolan condemned the criminalisation of migrants who were often escaping unjust and insecure living conditions and seeking a better life.

The protest was organised by Justice and Peace Scotland, which Bishop Nolan heads, with the cooperation of other refugee aid groups.

The English Benedictines are due to withdraw from a second parish in Lancashire later this month. The church of Our Lady and St Gerard in Lostock Hall will become a parish within the Diocese of Salford from the beginning of 2019, after its parish priest of 15 years, Fr Xavier Ho, returns to Ampleforth.

The Bishop of Salford, John Arnold (pictured), and the acting superior of the Ampleforth community, Fr Gabriel Everitt OSB, said in a joint letter: “We are immensely grateful to all of you who have supported the Benedictine Mission in this parish over many years.”

The Benedictines pulled out of a neighbouring parish, St Mary’s in neighbouring Bamber Bridge, two years ago.

Limerick diocese introduces ‘team ministry’ scheme
The Diocese of Limerick has announced a new strategy involving team ministry which aims to tackle its shortage of priests and involve more lay people, writes Sarah Mac Donald. Bishop Brendan Leahy announced the new arrangements in a pastoral letter read out at Masses across the dioceses on Sunday.

Referring to the “considerable decline in the number of priests”, the Bishop of Limerick said the proposal for team ministry units had been necessitated by that decline, and related issues. The proposed changes will see existing parishes operate together in new pastoral units. Two or three priests will minister as a team to meet the needs of the parishes in their unit.

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