13 November 2023, The Tablet

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

His Majesty King Charles III and Cardinal Nichols look on as the Nuncio, Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendía conveys the Pope’s greeting.
With thanks to Buckingham Palace.

Indi Gregory, the eight-month-old baby who died on Monday after a High Court judge ordered the withdrawal of her life support, was baptised before her death. Her father, Dean told an Italian newspaper he had experienced the pull of “hell” while he was in court to fight for the right to continued medical treatment for Indi, who suffered from Mitochondrial Disease and related problems. He said: “I thought that if Hell exists, then Heaven must exist too. I thought that if the devil exists, then God must exist too. I have seen what hell is like and I want Indi to go to heaven.” Gregory now wishes to be baptised too. Bishop Patrick McKinney, Bishop of Nottingham, and Bishop John Sherrington, lead bishop for life issues, said: “The legal battle between the NHS Trust and her parents shows again the need for greater weight to be given to the parental voice in these complex and sensitive cases.”

 A Cedar of Lebanon given by the Pope to Queen Elizabeth II was blessed with holy water last week in Windsor Great Park during a ceremony to transfer ownership of the tree to King Charles III. Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who was present alongside the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendia said: “It was a wonderful moment, remembering with his Majesty Our beloved Queen.” In March 2022, Pope Francis said to the Queen in a letter accompanying the Cedar, “May this tree, which in the Bible symbolises the flourishing of fortitude, justice and prosperity, be a pledge of abundant divine blessings on your realm.”

 Sr Una Coogan IBVM has been appointed the new Safeguarding Lead for Religious at the Conference of Religious. Sr Una, who began her role on 23 October, has extensive experience of safeguarding work. A former chaplain at Birmingham University, she replaces Sr Francis Orchard CJ, who established the role of Religious Safeguarding Lead. Dani Wardman, chief executive of the Religious Life Safeguarding Service said: “We look forward to working with Una closely to keep a firm focus on safeguarding. Sr Una comes with many skills and experiences which make her ideally placed to lead this role.”

A Catholic teacher has raised more than £60,000 for the Wales Air Ambulance in thanksgiving for being airlifted to hospital after a car crash. In 2005, Mike Hughes was trapped 30 feet down a ravine after a car he was co-driving in the Cambrian rally skeetered off track and through a forest. Taken by air ambulance to an intensive care unikt, Hughes was informed it would take 18 months to recover from his injuries. Within four, Hughes had returned to classroom teaching. Now assistant headteacher at Ellesmere Port Catholic High School in Cheshire, he recently completed a fund-raising Three Peaks Challenge in North Wales.

The Archdiocese of Cardiff has responded to the cost-of-living crisis by becoming a Living Wage employer. Citizens UK has added it to the growing number of employers lifting their workers out of workplace poverty through a Living Wage. Six dioceses in England and Wales are now accredited, and Cardiff is the first in Wales. Archbishop Mark O’Toole of Cardiff said last week: “With the cost-of-living crisis impacting on so many, I’m particularly pleased that the archdiocese has ‘put its money where its mouth is’, so to speak. As a responsible employer, I think that the Archdiocese of Cardiff also needs to lead by example.” He added, “By joining the campaign, we’re not only affirming our commitment to pay people fairly and enough to cover everyday costs, but we are also making clear the need for a just and fair society for all.”

The ecumenical JustMoney Movement has described the first King’s Speech of King Charles lll last week as a “missed opportunity” for those looking for measures to tackle the climate and nature crises. Executive director Sarah Edwards said: “Campaigners and experts agree that the announced new gas and oil licensing system won’t help energy security but will damage the climate further and hand over more money to the fossil fuel companies.” She called for “an end to all new oil and gas development and much greater investment in renewables.” Members of Christian Climate Action took part in slow marches in London. Rev’d Sue Parfitt, 81, retired Anglican priest, said, “After the King’s Speech moving us even further away from ending our addiction to fossil fuels we must make our opposition clear by taking to the roads again and saying ‘no new oil’.”

In the wake of the Synod on Synodality meeting in Rome, A Call to Action is organising “an evening in the company of school for synodality” on 30 November, an opportunity to hear about the work of School for Synodality, the resources, and programmes that they are developing and information about good practice in some parishes and dioceses in England and Wales. The School for Synodality was launched with the support of the Diocese of Northampton in the summer. It is organising webinars on key issues of the synodal process. More information at acalltoaction.org.uk and thetablet.co.uk/blogs

 A pilgrim way has opened in the Archdiocese of Liverpool, running from the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King in Liverpool to the Shrines of Blessed Dominic Barberi in St Helens and St Edmund Arrowsmith in Ashton-in-Makerfield. Produced by Pilgrim Ways on its website, the 30.1-mile-long route crosses Liverpool and rewilded former collieries to the Shrine of Blessed Dominic Barberi in Sutton, St Helens and from there to the Shrine of St Edmund Arrowsmith at Ashton-in-Makerfield.

Princess Anne was due to speak at an Interfaith Glasgow Civic Reception on 14 November to mark Scottish Interfaith Week. Deputy First Minister Shona Robison, as well as religious and community leaders, were due to attend. A Religion Collections and Heritage Group Conference will be held at the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art on 16 November. It will include presentations from experts on historical religious objects and social history, including talks titled 'Remembering the Jewish Gorbals' and 'Why collections of religious ephemera matter.'  A ‘Meet Your Neighbour - West End Walking Tour’ visiting places of worship on 25 November will start from St Aloysius Jesuit parish in Rose Street.

CCLA is organising a webinar on Monday 20 November on whether businesses are factoring in the true cost of forced labour in their supply chains. The investment firm believes investors have a key role to play in helping companies deliver change in the fight against modern slavery. Details at ccla.co.uk

St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, hosted a packed service with hundreds online for London homeless who have died in the capital over the past year. Led by Rev’d Richard Carter, more than 80 names were read out. At the end he thanked homeless charities. There were performances by people affected by homelessness in Streetwise Opera and the Choir with No Name.

On 3 December, The Tablet columnist Adrian Chiles will talk about “FA and Christianity: Faith in Football” at Wembley Stadium (1.30-5.45 pm). He will be interviewed by Graham Daniels, director of Christians in Sport, which is helping the Football Association organise the event. There are 100 tickets to the invite-only afternoon to give away by November 17 https://bit.ly/47Dpx8D. Cardinal Vincent Nichols is also to address the event, an exploration of the link between Christianity and football. 

On Tuesday 7 November St Mary’s University hosted a day conference to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland. The day was organised and introduced by Dr Christopher Wylde and the Rev’d Dr Ashley Beck, who run the masters’ programmes at St Mary’s on Diplomacy and International Affairs and Catholic Social Teaching respectively. The papers will be published in the Pastoral Review next year. 

 Appeals by two Carmelite monasteries in Dublin to the planning body, An Bord Pleanála, to overturn their designation for a residential zoned land tax have been rejected. The Carmelite Monastery of the Immaculate Conception in Clonskeagh and St Joseph’s Monastery in Kilmacud were previously exempt from paying the vacant site levy, which is now replaced by the RZLT. In their appeal the nuns argued that their inclusion on RZLT maps was incorrect as they were “carrying out a trade” from both sites, specifically the making and distribution of altar bread. The tax will be levied from 2025 and will be charged at three percent of the lucrative market value of the lands in South Dublin.

  Church leaders met Northern Ireland’s five main political parties last week to stress to them “the urgent need for the restoration of Northern Ireland’s devolved government” amid “growing anger” over “the current poor state of governance”. The churchmen told the leaders of the five main political parties that the restoration of good governance in Northern Ireland was important in re-establishing hope and a vision for the future. Northern Ireland remains politically deadlocked with no executive at Stormont due to the DUP’s opposition to Brexit trading arrangements.

Pope Francis has awarded the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal to a Rosyth parishioner for his contributions to the life of the Church and for service to the Soviety of St Vincent de Paul. Richard Steinbach joined SSVP in 1998 and became its diocesan president and national vice president, supported by his wife Elaine. The medal, the highest award the Pope can make to a layperson, was presented to Mr Steinbach by Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh at an Archdiocesan Mass at St Michael’s, Linlithgow, last week. 

The Archdiocese of Glasgow has formally launched a £1m evangelisation fund, aimed at encouraging new ways of reaching out to people and groups who have so far been untouched by the Gospel. The fund will provide kick-start funds to imaginative and innovative projects that address the central challenge of evangelisation. Archbishop William Nolan said: “We wish to pass on to others the good news of Jesus Christ so that [others] can come to know him and have their lives transformed by having faith in him.”




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