16 August 2018, The Tablet

News Briefing: From Britain and Ireland

News Briefing: From Britain and Ireland

Mary Kathleen Smith (pictured above), a lay member of the Church of the Most Holy Family, Llandudno Junction, has been awarded the Benemerenti Medal in recognition of her many years serving the church as sacristan. The medal is awarded by the Pope to members of the clergy and laity for service to the Catholic Church.


Pope ruling is ‘passing foible’

Latin Mass Society chairman Joseph Shaw has criticised Pope Francis’ altering of the Church’s teaching in order to outlaw the death penalty, calling it a “passing, personal foible”.

In his change to the Catechism Francis wrote that the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”. Previously the Catechism stated: “The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty”.

In response Mr Shaw said that in ignoring precedent and tradition “it may as well be described as a passing, personal, political, foible. That is what I mean by the loss of the papacy’s prestige.”


Members of the Knights of St Columba in Lancashire are attempting to clear the name of a woman accused of being a witch and hanged 400 years ago. Many believe Alice Nutter, a Catholic and wealthy landowner, was set up by a local dignitary who coveted her land. Alice Nutter was accused of attending a gathering of witches later convicted in the Pendle witch trials of 1612. The diocese of Salford, which includes Pendle, said it would support her exoneration if it were proved she was guilty of “nothing more than practising [her] faith”.



The Vatican’s press office has told the Irish Times that the prefect of the Dicastery of Laity, Family and Life, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, will not comment “before or during” the World Meeting of Families in Dublin next week on what he knew about the disgraced founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Fr Marcial Maciel. 

Dublin-born Cardinal Farrell was a member of the Legionaries of Christ until he left in 1981 and joined the diocesan priesthood in the United States. His brother, Bishop Brian Farrell, who is based in the Vatican, remains a member of the order.

In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI removed Fr Maciel from ministry after it was revealed that he abused junior seminarians and some of his own six children whom he fathered with a number of women. Feted by Pope John Paul II, he died in 2008.

 Countdown to papal visit

As the countdown to Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland next week gets under way, it has emerged that some of the homeless people he will meet at the Capuchin Day Centre in Dublin are currently sleeping rough in the Phoenix Park, where the Pope will say Mass.

Building work is progressing on the altar, which will be located at the foot of the papal cross erected to commemorate Pope John Paul II’s visit to Ireland almost 40 years ago.

Meanwhile, it is reported that Pope Francis will also visit Sean McDermott Street and the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, where the tomb of the Venerable Matt Talbot is located.

Separately, publisher and broadcaster, Norah Casey, who is organising the Voices of Impact women’s symposium as part of the World Meeting of Families, has revealed that Pope Francis will travel in a Skoda family saloon when not using the Popemobile in Ireland.


A Scottish National Party MP has called for a “debate” on Catholic education in Scotland. Mhairi Black, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, described her own experience of being bullied at a Catholic school as “damaging”.

Ms Black, who is the youngest MP at Westminster, was speaking at an Edinburgh Festival Fringe event and made it clear that she was speaking in a personal capacity.


Victims of beatings by the barrister John Smyth QC at an Anglican summer camp in the 1970s are angry that police and the Church of England failed to bring him to justice before his death of an apparent cardiac arrest last Saturday. Last year Archbishop Justin Welby issued an apology on behalf of the Church of England which he said had “failed terribly” by not reporting Smyth to the police.


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