11 July 2019, The Tablet

News Briefing: from Britain and Ireland

News Briefing: from Britain and Ireland

Five men were ordained as priests on a single day in St John’s Cathedral, Norwich, in the Diocese of East Anglia. More than 1,400 people, including around 120 clergy, turned out for the largest ordination in a single day in the history of the diocese.

Alfonso-Jude Belnas, Michael Brookes, Simon Davies, Alan Hodgson and Paul Spellman were ordained following studies at Oscott, Wonersh and the Beda College in Rome.

Brookes, from Dereham, raised an Anglican and who was received into the Catholic Church in 1991 and later spent several years with a religious order, said: “I felt a strong sense that God was guiding me towards the discernment of diocesan priesthood, a vocation which I had not previously considered.” In addition, on 29 May, former Anglican minister Richard Ireson was ordained as a Deacon at Our Lady of The Annunciation, Poringland on 29 May. Aged 73, he trained first as a teacher then entered and served in Anglican orders for 40 years.

Last year, 265 Irish missionary projects spent more than €13.4 million across 60 countries, helping 1,450,000 people, according to the 2018 annual report of Misean Cara. 

Misean Cara is an umbrella organisation for 91 religious and lay missionary groups. It was set up 15 years ago to disburse Irish aid funds to missionaries in developing countries. Launching the report in Dublin, Heydi Foster, chief executive of Misean Cara, pledged that, “Missionaries won’t stop until we create a world where no one is left behind.”

Temperance call
Concern over the “terrible impact” of alcohol and drugs on the “streets of all of our major towns and villages” prompted the leader of the Church in Ireland to call on Irish society “to reignite” some kind of “temperance movement”.

After he celebrated Mass in Drogheda to open a triduum of prayer across the Archdiocese of Armagh in honour of St Oliver Plunkett, Archbishop Eamon Martin (pictured) said: “We see how addictions like this can devastate family life and social life”.

St Oliver was Archbishop of Armagh and was hung, drawn and quartered on 1 July 1681 in Tyburn, London for his faith. He gave up alcohol after he became concerned about “the devastation” it was causing.

The Scottish police service has expressed fears that anti-sectarian groups are teaching that Catholic schools are sectarian. Police Scotland’s response to a government initiative on hate crime suggested that there was no “consistent understanding” of what the term “sectarianism” meant and that its use could “unintentionally mask” the intended meaning.

The statement highlighted anti-sectarian courses that were held in Scotland in 2018 following the repeal of the Offensive Behaviour at Football (Scotland) Act.

“These courses treated the existence of Catholic schools as ipso facto sectarian, despite the clear guidance provided by Scottish Government’s advisory group,” the statement said.

Visa reform urged
The Bishop of Aberdeen has joined calls for reform of the current visa system, which has left many parishes short of supply priests from abroad for holiday cover.

The president of the Scottish Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Hugh Gilbert expressed optimism that MPs were considering the issue but called the system “cumbersome, lacking in discernment and unduly expensive”. He called for an “overhaul” of legislation amended in January 2019 to force visiting clergy to apply through the Tier 2 visa system, which is intended for long-contract work and for religious ministers. The Tier 5 system for religious workers, which formerly applied, is quicker and costs less than half the £600 for a Tier 2 application.

Damian Thompson has stepped down as editor-in-chief of the Catholic Herald after 24 years with the company. Thompson, who read history at Mansfield College, Oxford, went on to work for The Daily Telegraph and will continue to write for The Spectator, tweeted: “I’m going to have to clarify something. My leaving the Catholic Herald is entirely voluntary. It’s just a difference of opinion. It remains a great magazine!”

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