11 July 2022, The Tablet

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

Bruce Kent, activist and peace campaigner.
Janine Wiedel Photolibrary / Alamy

Speakers at an online memorial to Bruce Kent paid tribute to his campaigning work and highlighted the religious dimension of his political activism last week. Speaking July 8, Ann Farr, Chair of Pax Christi England and Wales, praised Kent’s “clarity and humour” - as well as his courage in speaking out for what he believed in. Other speakers at the event included Jeremy Corbyn MP, former leader of the Labour Party, who called Bruce's death “a terrible loss”, adding: “Bruce’s faith knew no religious boundaries”.

Durham University and the Centre for Catholic Studies have launched a new distance learning MA in Catholic Theology. The course is part of a commitment to making high quality academic study of Catholic theology accessible to students with caring or work commitments. Students will work through modules at their own pace. There will be webinars, occasional tutorials, and a short residential in Durham each year.

The director of the Catholic Communications Office of the Irish Bishops’ Conference has been appointed to the Board of the Irish Red Cross. A member of the Bishops’ Council for Justice and Peace, Martin Long was involved in organising the 2018 visit of Pope Francis to Ireland.  His work includes supporting the Bishops’ Chaplaincy service in London which promotes the welfare and dignity of Irish prisoners, Irish Travellers and our elderly emigrants living in the UK. He also works in collaboration with Trócaire to raise awareness about social and economic inequality in developing countries and the interrelated humanitarian crises of exploitation, displacement and climate justice. Mr Long previously worked as the public relations manager of Insurance Ireland and served as special adviser to the former Minister for Food, Ned O’Keeffe. He is a non-executive director of the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation which works to prevent and transform violent conflict through dialogue, trust and relationship building. He was elected a Fellow of the Public Relations Institute of Ireland in 2018.

A priest from Dunkeld diocese has been appointed Rector of the Scots College in Rome. The Vatican’s Dicastery for the Clergy announced the appointment of Fr Mark Cassidy, who previously studied at the College and served as Spiritual Director for seven years. Fr Cassidy said that he was leaving his Dundee parish cluster and parishioners with “a heavy heart” but said that his posting there and contact with his fellow priests had “formed me anew”. He succeeds Fr Dan Fitzpatrick and will take up his new role on August 1. BM

Irish Jesuit, Fr Patrick Riordan, has questioned if the protection of property rights in the Irish constitution are “exaggerated”. In his talk, ‘Housing, Public Policy and the Common Good’ at Newman Church in Dublin, the Senior Fellow in Political Philosophy and Catholic Social Thought at Campion Hall Oxford, underlined that the Irish market is not delivering its housing objectives and asked, “who benefits from that way of structuring the market, and whose interests are disadvantaged?”

Drawing from reports by the National Economic and Social Council, the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice and other catholic-inspired institutions, the academic said, “the big question is how can the public share in the rise in the value of land and property” where the increased value had been contributed to by public investment and public effort in zoning, planning and servicing. Noting the very strong protection of property rights in the 1937 Constitution, Fr Riordan said this had contributed to legal difficulties when the government attempted to acquire land for the common good. 

Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin will issue a pastoral letter to every parish and religious community in his diocese on 5 September outlining a draft plan on the reduction of Masses and parish clustering. Each pastoral area in the diocese is being asked to respond to the pastoral letter’s proposals on Mass rationalisation and the sharing of services within the cluster or pastoral area by the end of November.   Announcing the move, Bishop Nulty said he envisaged that diocesan changes would be minimal over the next two years in order to allow the pastoral areas and cluster groupings to bed down. Specialist advice is to be made available parish finance committees on the parish property. He also noted that 13 parishes in the Diocese of Kerry no longer have a resident priest and that Kerry is now putting its energy into its twelve pastoral areas. Similarly, the Diocese of Ossory, which has 42 parishes, is now focused on the future of its thirteen pastoral areas.  

Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire hosted a Mass in the ruins of the old cellarium on the Feast of St Benedict on Monday. The abbey, founded in 1132 by 13 Benedictine monks from St Mary’s in York, is now owned by the National Trust, which waived entry charges for those attending the Mss. The principal celebrant was Fr Elliott Wright, priest at St Robert’s, Harrogate. 

A coalition of 29 asset owners, institutional investors and stewardship service providers representing $7 trillion in assets has written to the chief executives of 100 of the UK’s largest listed companies, urging them to take immediate steps to address workplace mental health. The coalition has been convened by responsible investment manager CCLA and includes influential names in the responsible investment movement such as Brunel Pensions Partnership, Nomura Asset Management and Federated Hermes Limited. Among other objectives, the coalition wants companies to acknowledge workplace mental health as an important issue for the business and for its employees. 

The Bishop of Northampton, David Oakley, has voiced his support for a private member’s bill to remove the two-child limit on universal credit for families.  The bill was introduced in the House of Lords by the Anglican Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler.  Bishop Oakley said that “the two-child cap on universal credit places an unnecessary and disproportionate burden on households, particularly for families that have suffered the pain of unemployment or disability”.  He noted the correlation between areas of deprivation and higher rates of abortion in the latest figures for England and Wales.  The bill was debated by peers on 8 July, but without government support will not become law.

A Wiltshire parish has commissioned a stained-glass window dedicated to Bl Carlo Acuti, the “millennial saint”.  The amateur computer programmer, who died from leukemia aged 15 in 2006, is portrayed with a mobile phone in the strap of his rucksack in the design by Michael Vincent.  The parish of St Aldhelm’s, Malmesbury, in the diocese of Clifton, has received special permission to venerate the youth, who was beatified in October 2020, pending his eventual canonisation.  There is a replacement pane of glass to modify his title to “St” should Bl Carlo’s Cause find a second miracle attributed to his intercession.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has welcomed the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Metropolitan Epifaniy and Archbishop Yevstratiy Zoria, Archbishop of Chernihiv and Nizhyn, to Lambeth Palace. In the meeting with Archbishop Justin, Metropolitan Epifaniy described the daily deaths of children, the elderly and peaceful citizens, telling the Archbishop: “The Ukrainian people are suffering to a very great extent from this atrocious war. Everyday a lot of people die, literally every day, and this includes children, elderly people. peaceful residents, peaceful citizens. We are very grateful for your prayer support.”



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