06 May 2024, The Tablet

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

Prayers were said for survivors of abuse at St Winefride’s shrine in Holywell, North Wales
David Pimborough / Alamy Stock Photo

The Bishop of Wrexham held two prayer services for victims and survivors of Abuse on April 30, at Holywell shrine in North Wales. Peter Brignall produced a prayer card and leaflet for those attending the services at Holywell, where St Winefride was beheaded by a spurned admirer in the seventh century. In November, Holywell, a site of pilgrimage for 1,400 years, was raised to the status of a national shrine. Peter Brignall said: “The gifts of peace, hope and healing are to be found in this place by those who come here to pray for themselves, or others whom they know who are or have been the victims of sexual harassment, abuse or violence.” He added:  “My prayer is with and for all who come to the Shine of Saint Winefride in search of truth and inner peace.” 

Bishop Marcus Stock, chair of the Catholic Education Service, welcomed the decision by Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, to lift the 50 per cent faith-based admissions cap on new free schools in England. He said it paved the way for Catholic free schools to open. “Dioceses are well placed to respond to differing local educational demands around the country, including the provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities. Parents can welcome this also. Catholic education not only provides a high performing school sector and promotes the formation of children in values and virtues; it is more ethnically diverse than other schools, educates more pupils from the most deprived backgrounds, and builds social cohesion within our communities.”

Three Dioceses of Brentwood, Southwark and Westminster gathered on Monday to give thanks for the contribution made by migrant communities to London and the South-East. Mass was celebrated at St George’s Cathedral, Southwark, by Archbishop John Wilson of Southwark, with other bishops from Southwark, Westminster and Brentwood and more than 20 priests. The liturgy was prepared by the justice and peace commissions and ethnic cchaplaincies of the three dioceses. In his homily Bishop Wilson described the congregation as “a beautiful mosaic of people from all nations” and thanked migrants for enriching British society. Referring to Catholic Social Teaching, he said, “We must be a people of welcome.” A banner procession included the London Chinese Community, Brazilian community and the parish of Holy Apostles, Pimlico.


Archbishop Angaelos preaching at Charterhouse, London last Saturday. Picture: Jo Siedlecka/ICN

The annual service to commemorate Carthusian martyrs was held at Charterhouse in east London last Saturday. The martyrs lived there when it was a Carthusian Monastery and were executed for their faith at the start of the Reformation. Coptic Orthodox Archbishop Angaelos of London was the preacher. The then-Carthusian Prior of London, John Houghton, along with Robert Lawrence and Augustine Webster, were hanged, drawn and quartered, on 4 May 1535. Within the next few years, all 18 monks of the Carthusian monastery had been tortured and killed for refusing to place their allegiance to King Henry Vlll before allegiance to the Pope.

A Southwark priest previously jailed for child abuse has been re-sentenced to a further 31 months in prison. In 2000, Fr James Finbar Murphy was convicted of abusing seven boys in parishes in south London. A further four victims have subsequently accused Murphy of abuse. One said that while a 10-year-old boy he was pressured by Church authorities to “forgive” Murphy for abusing him. Formerly a priest at Good Shepherd parish, New Addington, English Martyrs’ parish in Streatham, Our Lady and St Philip Neri, Sydenham and St Gertrude’s South Croydon, Fr Murphy returned to Cork in 1990.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Southwark said: “We are truly sorry for the pain and suffering that all the survivors and their families have experienced. Our prayers are with each and every one of them. Childhood Sexual Abuse is abhorrent and is an affront to God. We are committed to ending abuse within the Catholic Church and have transformed our safeguarding procedures to ensure the experiences of those harmed by abuse are always heard.” He added: “The Archdiocese of Southwark welcomes contact from anyone who has been impacted by abuse within the Church and the safeguarding team’s contact details are on our website.”

Aspiring writers at Catholic schools in Britain are being invited to enter the 2024 Catholic Young Writer competition. Open to pupils aged 11-16 years-old, the Sacraments are the theme for this year’s contest. Entrants are asked to select and write about one of the seven sacraments. The first prize in the contest sponsored by the Catholic Union Charitable Trust is £50 plus a selection of books. Entries must be original, no longer than four sides of A4 paper and include a list of sources. 

On May 25, Archbishop of Cardiff and Menevia Mark O’Toole will host an “open listening session” via Zoom to discuss the potential fusion of the Cardiff and Menevia dioceses. Participants at the online event will have a chance to reflect on three questions relating to the proposed union. The session, running from 10am – 12.30pm, will conclude with a question-and-answer session with O’Toole, who is Archbishop of Cardiff and Bishop of Menevia. A summary of the findings will later be forwarded to the Vatican. To register, please click here. More info at rcadc.org.

In Leeds, Catholic school children have raised £3,500 to develop a new care home run by the Little Sisters of the Poor. Pupils at St Urban’s Primary School and Canon Gerard Kearney, their local priest, gave the cheque to the order for the development of Mount St Joseph’s Care Home, Headingly. The school parish is named after St Jeanne Jugan, founder of the Little Sisters of the Poor. 

The Religious Education Council of England and Wales has introduced a “toolkit” intended to enhance the quality of religious education. The result of a three-year project, it is aimed primarily at curriculum writers and consists of a handbook, three framework and accompanying resources. Included is the National Content Standard for RE in England. The project has been supported by Templeton World Charitable Foundation and Westhill Endowment Trust. 

Ireland’s ambassador to the Holy See says the country has a “strong relationship” with the Vatican. Frances Collins told Crux “Pope Francis visited Ireland in 2018, when Ireland hosted the World Meetings of Families. Pope Francis also spent four months in Ireland at the Jesuit Institute at Milltown, so he has personal memories of Ireland and the Irish people. I think he holds a special place in his heart for Ireland and in particular, when it comes to supporting peace on the island. Last year, when we marked the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, he encouraged us to continue working to complete the vision.” She added: “We are continuing to come to terms with the pain and suffering of abuse in the Church in Ireland. It serves as a reminder of our failure to live up to our ideals and values as church, state and society.”

The Catholic Association for Racial Justice will celebrate a 40th anniversary day at St George’s Cathedral, Southwark, on Saturday 25 May. It will include the launch of a new “racial justice agenda for change”, which will be the vision for the work of CARJ into the future. It builds on the experiences and learning of the past four decades and puts forward a strategy for bringing about greater equality and creating a racially just church and society. Margaret-Ann Fisken, former chair of CARJ, is speaker at the London annual meeting of the National Justice and Peace Network on 11 May.

Caritas Plymouth held a day on spotting the signs of modern slavery at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Poole on 30 April. South West England has one of the highest numbers of reports of exploitation in England and Wales. Expert speakers included Stevie Waight from Medaille Trust and Raymond Friel, chief executive of Caritas Social Action Network. In Ware in the Westminster archdiocese, an event on modern slavery and human trafficking was held on 2 May at Sacred Heart of Jesus and St Joseph.

Bishop Kevin Doran has pledged to stand with doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals “who refuse to be bullied into participating in ending the lives of their patients”. In his homily for a concelebrated Mass ahead of the annual March for Life in Dublin, the Bishop of Elphin said no law, no public policy and no peer pressure from neighbours or colleagues could remove the right and responsibility to advocate publicly for those who are most vulnerable, especially at the beginning and at the end of life. Science, he said, had shown that “a human embryo is an individual member of the human species; otherwise known as a person”.

The new team leading the Irish Church’s Synodal Pathway will establish working groups to assist in the implementation and rolling out of specific pathways and themes, according to the chairperson, Fr Declan Hurley. Fr Hurley, who is administrator of St Mary’s Parish in Navan, is a priest of the Diocese of Meath. He described the Irish Church’s Synodal Pathway as both “a challenging and exciting time” as “we discern together what it is that God is asking of us”. The new National Synodal team includes lay women and men, priests, religious, bishops and deacons. They will work co-responsibly with the councils, commissions, and agencies of the Bishops’ Conference.

The Diocese of Kerry will host a number of liturgies this month as part of the festival celebrations, “St Brendan: Story, Scholarship and Challenge”. A native of Fenit in Co Kerry, St Brendan is ranked with St Colmcille and St Columbanus among Irish saints. He is chiefly renowned for his legendary journey to The Isle of the Blessed as described in the ninth century Voyage of St Brendan the Navigator. Ahead of his feast day on 16 May, the diocese has sent liturgy resources to parishes and schools in the diocese.






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