31 August 2017, The Tablet

News Briefing: From Britain and Ireland

News Briefing: From Britain and Ireland

The Archbishop of Westminster,  Cardinal Vincent Nichols, offered his prayers and good wishes to his predecessor, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor (pictured) who turned 85 this week. Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor has been seriously ill in hospital since last week, after his health took a “defining turn”. He served as Archbishop of Westminster from 2000 to 2009.

In a letter to all priests in the diocese noting the cardinal’s birthday, Cardinal Nichols wrote: “Although his own celebrations will necessarily be muted, I am sure that we will all have him at the forefront of our prayers on such an important day. We not only give thanks for his long and fruitful life and ministry, but we also wish him well for all the time still to come.”

In a letter to the bishops of England and Wales on 19 August, the Archbishop of Westminster asked the church leaders to remember Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor in their prayers. “These loving prayers are a source of great strength and comfort as he calmly ponders on all that lies ahead, all in God’s good time,” he said.

Pax Christi, the international Catholic movement for peace, has called on people to support two separate days of prayer and non-violent resistance to the international arms trade in London. On Tuesday, faith groups will come together at the ExCel exhibition centre in east London to say “no faith in war”, ahead of the opening of the world’s largest arms fair in the venue. The final vigil will be on 11 September, the day before the exhibition gets under way.


Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), which works with local church leaders in areas of conflict, has announced additional support for Syria’s war-torn families who are at risk of starvation. The new package will provide food aid, medicine and other vital supplies for 3,000 families in the country. ACN’s UK office has provided over £92,000 to Syrian citizens to date.


Refugees and asylum seekers should be allowed to work and to contribute to society, according to the Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin, Denis Nulty. He was speaking at a diocesan Family Picnic Day, as part of the preparations for the World Meeting of Families in Ireland in 2018. The bishop acknowledged that the state is doing its best, but said that “more needs to be done”.

Separately, Bishop Nulty told The Tablet that he aims to bring five priests from abroad to his diocese, to cope with the fall off in vocations.


The Bishop of Kensington, Dr Graham Tomlin, helped lead the multi-faith prayers at the official opening of the two-day Notting Hill Carnival in west London last weekend. The carnival took place in the shadow of  the Grenfell Tower high-rise block in which at least 80 people died when a fire engulfed the building in June.

“We don’t want Grenfell to divide the community, but to bring it together,” Bishop Tomlin told The Tablet. White doves were released (pictured) at Sunday’s opening as a “small act of remembrance” for the victims, and revellers held a minute’s silence on both days to honour the dead.


Foster claim to be investigated
The Children’s Commissioner for England is to investigate reports that a five-year-old Christian girl was upset and unhappy after being placed in foster care in two Muslim households in east London.

It follows the publication of a story in The Times newspaper on Monday, which quotes confidential local authority reports. The reports state that the child was “very distressed” and that one foster carer did not speak English, according to the paper.

Expressing her concern, the commissioner, Anne Longfield, said that a child’s religious, racial and cultural background should be taken into consideration when they are placed with foster carers.

The council, Tower Hamlets, said “we don’t recognise” the story written in The Times.

Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said that the story was “bigoted and anti-Muslim”, and that the welfare of a child should not be “instrumentalised” by the media to “promote a hypocritical … culture war” against Muslims.





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