30 August 2021, The Tablet

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

Corpus Christi Procession in Central London.

A Catholic primary school in North Ayrshire has come top in a Times league table of best-performing schools in Scotland. St Bridget’s scored a maximum 380 points in the survey, despite more than two thirds of the roll being classified as “extremely deprived” and 93 per cent being classified as “deprived”. The second and third placed primaries were Catholic schools in Glenrothes, Fife, and in Fauldhouse, West Lothian. All three received a score equal to that of Broomhill Primary in Glasgow’s West End, a feeder school for the high-performing Jordanhill. 

Ace of Clubs, an outreach project set up by the Redemptorists to support the vulnerable and homeless has celebrated its 25th anniversary. Based at St Mary’s Monastery on St Alphonsus Road in Clapham, the project now has its own fully equipped centre where it offers a range of services including laundry, accommodation advice, food, links with rehab services and bike repairs.

A group of Catholic parishes in Westminster is holding a week-long celebration to mark the International Eucharistic Congress that begins this week, September 5, in Budapest, Hungary. The London Eucharistic Octave will begin with a Pontifical Votive Mass of the Blessed Sacrament celebrated by Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols at noon on Saturday 11 September at Corpus Christi Church, Maiden Lane, Covent Garden. The celebrations will culminate with a procession of the Blessed Sacrament through the streets of central London on Sunday 19 September. Each evening during this week of prayer and adoration, Holy Mass in a different form will be celebrated at 6.30pm at Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane. On Monday 13 September it will be offered in the Usus Antiquior of the Roman Rite. On the Tuesday, Mass will be offered in the Ordinariate Use of the Roman Rite, on Wednesday in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, on Thursday it will be offered in the form of the Divine Liturgy of Ukrainian Catholic Church and, on Friday, there will be a Solemn Requiem Mass with Absolutions for all those who have died of Covid-19.

A new website intended to fill a gap left by The Catholic Universe has been launched. The aim of CatholicGrapevine.co.uk is to “take us back to the old days of The Universe – back to parish pump stories about ordinary people doing goodly things”, a source told The Tablet.  

The Irish Minister for Housing has asked the Church to identify land or vacant buildings it owns which could be used to help tackle the country’s housing crisis. According to the Irish Times, Minister Darragh O’Brien has written to Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh to open a dialogue on the possibility that the Church’s lands or buildings being used to increase housing supply. Ireland needs more than 200,000 houses over the next three years if it is to resolve the current crisis. The minister’s move follows comments last week by Archbishop Dermot Farrell of Dublin in which he lamented that the “massive housing crisis” is forcing so many to live in “unsuitable temporary accommodation”. “People are living in hubs waiting for homes. Some of the temporary accommodation is completely unsuitable for families. It is very difficult to sustain family life in those sorts of settings. It can contribute to family breakdown.” Speaking to the Irish Independent at St Mary’s Pro Cathedral in Dublin, Archbishop Farrell said the State had an obligation to “provide homes for people that are affordable”.

Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin has invited all parishes in the diocese to reflect in the month of September on how the parish can be supported to be more welcoming to those who are slower to return to regular worship. Bishop Nulty extended the invitation while speaking at Mass in Saint Conleth’s Parish, Newbridge. Communions and confirmations are to be permitted again in September. 

The Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency, the regulatory body for safeguarding in the Catholic Church in England and Wales, is expected to respond on 3 September to a critical coroner’s report on the death of the late Fr Alan Griffin, a former Anglican priest who became a Catholic in 2012 and who took his own life aged 76. The Church of England has already admitted it made mistakes in handling unsubstantiated allegations of abuse against him. Dr Colette Limbrick, CSSA director, Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency said: “The CSSA is carrying out an independent review into Fr Alan’s tragic death to ensure concrete actions are taken to prevent future deaths. Learning from the review will be shared widely across the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and where necessary, recommendations for improvements in practice will be made and implemented.”

Anne O’Brien of Hexham and Newcastle diocese has been appointed as chair of a new safeguarding structure dedicated to supporting the responsibilities of religious congregations. The Religious Life Safeguarding Service is being set up following a review of safeguarding across the Catholic Church conducted by Dr Ian Elliott. This review recommended significant changes to the organisation and delivery of safeguarding services in the Church. The Religious Life Safeguarding Service will offer a full safeguarding service designed for Religious Congregations, including the provision of case work and training. For three years Anne O’Brien has been the Chair of the Independent Safeguarding Commission for the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, and has also worked at a national level for the last 20 years within the NHS and the Department of Health. She held a Company Board Director position at NHS Professionals Ltd for 11 years. Anne is a faculty member of the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh Quality Governance Collaborative and is currently advising the College on its global engagement and governance activity. Fr David Smolira SJ has been overseeing the development of this new service for the past seven months. He said: “I am absolutely delighted that Anne O’Brien has accepted the role of Chair of the Board of the Religious Life Safeguarding Service. She brings a wealth of safeguarding expertise and experience as well as a proven track record in governance. As the first Chair of the Board, Anne will play a very important role in developing the service and ensuring that its commitment to best practice and responding compassionately and professionally to the needs of victim/survivors will be at the heart of what the RLSS does.” O’Brien said: “It is a privilege and a responsibility to become the first Chair of the RLSS, particularly at such a pivotal time for safeguarding in the Catholic Church. I intend to use my experience to support religious congregations embrace the changes we need to make, and I look forward to getting out and about listening and learning, ensuring we bring people with us as we develop. The voice of those hurt will be heard and will help us to improve what we do.’’

Brother Laurence Hughes FSC has stepped down as head of the De La Salle Brothers, a teaching congregation, after an allegation of abuse.  A spokesman said: “The De La Salle Brothers are aware of an allegation of non-recent physical abuse involving Brother Laurence Hughes. This allegation has been reported to the police and is being dealt with in accordance with the safeguarding procedures of the Catholic Church. An independent investigation into the allegation is being carried out. As required by these procedures, Brother Laurence has stepped down from all appointments and responsibilities.” A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said: “We are aware of non-recent sexual abuse allegations following a third party referral made. Following enquiries, a 90-year-old male was arrested in June this year in connection with this. However, due to insufficient evidence and the suspect’s failing health the investigation is unlikely to proceed any further. A second suspect related to the non-recent same offences has deceased.”




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