20 May 2020, The Tablet

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

A woman wearing a face mask walks past St. Michael and All Angels church in Walthamstow, north east London, which remains closed for public and private worship until further notice.
Isabel Infantes/EMPICS Entertainment

Professor Jim McManus, Vice President of the Association of Directors of Public Health UK and healthcare advisor to the Bishops’ Conference, who has been helping formulate the guidance about safety in churches during the coronavirus, is taking legal action against the website LifeSiteNews after it published an article that was critical of his work combating homophobia in Catholic schools. A longer version of the article, which was published online last week, has been removed from the website.

Bishop Vincent Malone, an emeritus auxiliary in Liverpool, has died aged 88 with the coronavirus. Bishop Emeritus Malone, who died on Monday morning, was chaplain to the University of Liverpool in the 1970s. In 2003 he called for innovation around womens’ roles in the Church. Writing in Healing Priesthood: Women's Voices Worldwide, he said that women could, for example, be better suited to hearing Confession than men.

The Bishop for healthcare and mental health, Paul Mason, marked Mental Health Awareness Week with a message paying tribute to all those looking after the wellbeing of their loved ones, friends, neighbours and strangers. He said he prayed for those struggling with mental health issues during the pandemic.

Dr Peter Boylan, a former master of the National Maternity Hospital in Ireland, has called on the Religious Sisters of Charity to publish all their correspondence with the Vatican regarding the transfer of land incorporating St Vincent’s University Hospital and St Vincent’s Private Hospital, as well as over three acres at St Michael’s Hospital in Dun Laoghaire, to the state for €1. The congregation, which obtained permission for the transfer of the land from the Vatican last week, has said they “will not be involved in any way” in the new National Maternity Hospital, due to be built at the campus at St Vincent’s, or the newly formed St Vincent’s Holdings CLG, but Dr Boyland questioned whether the latter will be “an entirely secular entity”.

The Bishop of Portsmouth, Philip Egan, has sent a video message of encouragement and prayer to cruise ship workers confined to their ships off the South Coast of England. In the message, which included prayer, a scripture reading and Benediction, Bishop Egan said he was praying for those who found themselves stranded far from home. 

The Bishops’ Conference in Scotland has launched a second working group in response to the pandemic. The group, chaired by Bishop Brian McGee of Argyll and the Isles, will examine how best to meet the long-term pastoral needs of the Catholic community during the pandemic. Last week the Bishops announced a working group tasked with devising a strategy for safely reopening churches. 

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has said it is treating a paint attack on the door and the front of a Catholic church in Co Antrim as a hate crime. Fr Hugh O’Hagan, parish priest of St Mary’s Ahoghill, said the attack on the church was the first such incident in many years. The 82-year-old priest is self-isolating in the parochial house due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He told The Irish News he had received phone calls from three local Protestant ministers expressing solidarity and condemning the attack.

The leader of the Irish Church has said his harshest critics are the “trolls” on social media. Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Archbishop Eamon Martin said he tries to have “a broad back for criticism” and use it for reflection, conversion and growth. “When I visited Iraq back in late 2018, I became much more conscious of our Christian brothers and sisters – the modern martyrs worldwide – who have to endure real persecution, oppression and violence for the faith,” he said.

The July conferences of the National Justice and Peace Conference (NJPN) and the National Network of Pastoral Musicians (NNPM) are the latest to be postponed due to the pandemic. The NJPN conference on ‘2020 Vision: Action for Life on Earth’, which normally attracts more than 300 people and was to mark the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si’, will now take place 23-25 July 2021 with the same lineup of speakers. The NNPM conference has been rescheduled for 30 July – 1 August 2021. 



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