01 February 2018
News Briefing: from Britain and Ireland
Council bans pro-life vigils
Manchester City Council has voted to prevent pro-life vigils (pictured) outside abortion clinics in the city. The lead councillor for women’s issues, Sarah Judge, told The Tablet that she tabled the motion, which might include a ban, in the wake of similar action by the council in Ealing in west London.
The motion promised that the council will “fully explore every possible option and will take all necessary actions within its powers, utilising all necessary resources, to prevent anti-abortion protesters from intimidating and harassing women outside the Manchester abortion clinics.”
Ms Judge said that people’s right to freedom of speech had to be balanced against “not being harassed”. Pro-Life organisations, including the group 40 Days for Life, have held prayer vigils near the Marie Stopes centre in Fallowfield.
The group’s spokesman, Michael Freeley, said a planned Lenten vigil starting on Ash Wednesday would go ahead. He insisted that the small group of people “quietly praying” did not amount to a protest or intimidation. He said the “abortion industry” resented their presence because they had caused some women to change their minds.
Bishop Moth welcomes ‘great honour’
The Bishop of Arundel and Brighton Richard Moth has been installed as an ecumenical Canon at Guildford’s Anglican Cathedral. He described it as a “great honour” and as a “sign of ecumenical commitment between Christians.” The bishop will also be installed as one of five Canons of Honour of Chichester Cathedral next weekend. The Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, said: “The recent death of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor has reminded us of the close links that were nurtured in his time between the Anglican and Roman Catholic dioceses that serve across the whole of Sussex.”
Dismay at Good Friday drinking
The Irish temperance group, the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association (PTAA), has expressed dismay at the change in legislation in Ireland allowing public houses to open and the sale of alcohol on Good Friday. Legislation passed last week ends a ban that has been in place since 1927. Junior Minister David Stanton said that overturning the ban was important for tourism, particularly “during holidays, such as the busy Easter period”.
Vote to keep churches open
Catholics have voted overwhelmingly for churches to remain open during the day after the Bishop of Portsmouth Philip Egan bemoaned the abundance of locked doors on a recent visit outside his diocese. More than 250 people from around the world responded to a Tablet Twitter poll, asking for feedback on the bishop’s comments on the “hypocrisy” of churches that claim to be missional yet remain closed. Ninety-four per cent of the poll’s respondents favoured churches remaining open.
Monaghan’s Bible challenge to May
A Scottish Catholic MP has claimed in the House of Commons that Theresa May’s Christian rhetoric and her actions “do not match”.
SNP MP Carol Monaghan asked the prime minister to “put her Bible where her mouth is” and offer more help to migrants. During Prime Minister’s Questions, Ms Monaghan asked Mrs May whether she agreed with Pope Francis that hostility towards migrants was a sin. Mrs May said the UK had a “fine record” that went back centuries, in offering assistance and sanctuary to migrants.
New churches for deprived areas
The Anglican Bishop of Blackburn, Philip North, has said the Church of England “has got a significant issue with establishing and maintaining viable, joyful Christian communities on estates”.
He was speaking to the BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme about the more than £1.5m that the Church of England has given his diocese to fund “an ambitious project aimed at opening new churches in deprived urban estates”.
Bishop North said he hopes to see the fruits of the investment within three to five years. He praised the role of “pioneer ministers” who were achieving “fantastic things through relational ministry”. If people are struggling to run buildings, “that’s taking huge amounts of energy away from frontline work”, he said.
The Church of England has announced grants of more than £24m for eight projects in its “Renewal and Reform” programme.
Sign up for our newsletterSign Up
Manage my subcription hereManage