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No. 6322



October 5, 2007 £1 (Republic of Ireland €1.50)

Cardinal seeks to end abortion row at London Catholic hospital



CARDINAL CORMAC MurphyO’Connor has spoken of his hope that Britain’s leading Catholic hospital would emerge from a row over abortion referrals and provision of contraceptives to be a flagship pro-life institution. Speaking publicly for the first time about the dispute over a new code of ethics at the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth, the Cardinal said he expected the problems would soon be resolved. He broke his silence in an exclusive interview with The Catholic Heraldin which he stepped up the pressure on the board of the London hospital to accept a proposed ban on abortion referrals and provision of contraceptives. The board will decide this month whether to accept or reject a new code of ethics which forbids all staff and resident GPs from providing services that go against the teaching of the Catholic Church. Besides contraception and abortion, the code bans amniocentesis to detect Down’s syndrome in unborn children, so they can then be aborted, and in vitro fertilisation for couples unable to conceive naturally. “We want the hospital, which has a very good name, to continue to be a Catholic hospital with a code of ethics which meets Catholic principles,” the Cardinal said. “I want the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth to be a prolife hospital, outstanding in its service, but in that dimension, in that sense, it will be a Catholic hospital. “My position as

Archbishop of Westminster is to ask: ‘Is the hospital a Catholic hospital or not?’ That is what it comes down to in the end and I want it to continue as a Catholic hospital. “It is up to the archbishop to make sure that the hospital adheres to Catholic principles and to do this you make sure it abides by the code of ethics. It can’t be Catholic unless I say so.” The Cardinal said it would be a “pity” if the hospital failed to adopt the new code of ethics. “Ultimately what the hospital does is up to the board of governors of the hospital,” he said. “If it came to the crunch I would say this is no longer a Catholic hospital but I won’t want to do that. I want it to be a pro-life hospital. It may need reorganisation but it would be well worth it. “It will be a flagship, a sign of our convictions. It is important to give a sign to society that here is a hospital which will adhere to this particular code. I am putting myself on the side of the acceptance of the code. I don’t want to consider other possibilities and I don’t see why I should. “If there is a board which wants the hospital to be a Catholic hospital then why don’t we go along that road? There are difficulties which have arisen but it is up to the board to work them out. “I do think it is important for me to get it right. I want that hospital, which has a very good name, to continue to be a Catholic hospital with a code of ethics which meets Catholic principles. It seems to me that what is being asked is not unreasonable or not impossible to fulfil.”

The hospital was founded by the Church in 1856 and was once run by the Sisters of Mercy, an order which worked with Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War. It was the place where Cardinal Basil Hume died of cancer in June 1999. Its maternity unit has become popular with celebrities living in the nearby fashionable areas of St John’s Wood, Hampstead and Primrose Hill, including the actresses Cate Blanchett and Emma Thompson and models Kate Moss and Heather Mills. Cardinal MurphyO’Connor said that in early 2005 he had discussed the hospital with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, following reports of abortion referrals and contraceptive provision at the hospital. It was agreed during the discussions that such practices were not acceptable and it was proposed that an inquiry be established with a view to ending them. It was led by the Labour peer Lord Brennan, a Catholic, who reported in March 2006 that a new code of ethics was required to ensure that the practices did not recur. The code was supposed to be implemented at the beginning of this year. But the Church, which runs the hospital as a Catholic charity, delayed its introduction in the face of opposition from doctors and executives who claimed it would make their jobs difficult and lose the hospital revenue. The code was later due to be rubber-stamped at a board meeting in May but instead

the Cardinal was faced with calls to stand down as patron and for a new secular code of ethics to be implemented. Dr Martin Scurr, the chairman of the hospital’s ethics committee, told board members in a letter in advance of the meeting that “the hospital will continue as a nonCatholic hospital, with a Catholic heritage, and a new ethics committee will subsequently be formed which must evolve a code of ethics which is acceptable to the secular cadre of clinicians of the hospital.” The rebellion failed partly because Cardinal MurphyO’Connor is named as “arbiter on ethics” in the hospital’s constitution, meaning his decision is final and legally binding. The new code conforms with the requirements of the General Medical Council and, according to the Cardinal, there are no legal obstacles to prevent any of the doctors accepting it. “My [legal] advice is what we are asking for, it is possible for them to accept,” the Cardinal said. The next board meeting is expected to be decisive because from next month a new NHS general practice will pay to use the hospital site. Cardinal MurphyO’Connor said the GPs involved had already agreed not to refer women for abortions although some still had “difficulties” over the prohibition on prescribing contraceptives. If the new code is accepted by the board, the Church will take as long as necessary in seeing that it is implemented in full.

Letters: Page 11

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor expects a new code of ethics to be approved

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Cardinal Pell emerges as Westminster front-runner

Pope replaces director of papal liturgies


ANOUTSPOKENAustralian cardinal is emerging among the main candidates for the next Archbishop of Westminster. Cardinal Cormac MurphyO’Connor reached retirement age a month ago and the Vatican is actively searching for his successor. Until now, the candidates have all come from England and Wales, with Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham as the clear favourite. But there are strong indications that Rome is considering Cardinal George Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, for the position. His name has appeared in a book opened on the Westminster succession by the Irish bookmakers, Paddy Power, though it had not been initially included. Spokeswoman Sharon McHugh said that it had been requested by a number of members of the public who wanted to place £50 bets on him. “That is the only reason we would have included him,” she said. “The fact that somebody asked for him would mean that you couldn’t rule him out.” The wagers suggest that

Pope Benedict XVI with Cardinal George Pell PA Photos

some people might have inside knowledge about the Vatican’s interest in Cardinal Pell. He enters the race at 10-1. This elevates him above Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff, one of four candidates known to be under the scrutiny of the Holy See. It also gives him a better chance than Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool, second highest-ranking Catholic leader in England and Wales, and Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds, rumoured to be the preferred choice of Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor. All three have 12-1 chances. Oxford-educated Cardinal Pell has a reputation around the world as a battle-hardened intellectual who has been fiercely critical of both aggressive secularism and militant Islam. He has been described by

his biographer, Tess Livingston, as a “vital front line figure in the fight to reform the Church”. He is so highly regarded that if the Vatican appointed him to Westminster it would be seen as an indication of just how important Pope Benedict XVI considers the English Church to be. It would also reveal that Rome is willing to look outside England and Wales to break what some critics claim to be an entrenched liberal consensus among the local bishops. One priest, who did not want to be named, said: “Pell is a big man. He is intellectually streets ahead of the English and Welsh bishops. He’s fully with the Pope. He’s orthodox and he’s outspoken. He is a man of action.” Continued on Page Two


POPE BENEDICT XVI has replaced Archbishop Piero Marini as director of the office of papal liturgies. The archbishop has coordinated papal liturgies abroad and in Rome since 1987 but caused controversy with his enthusiasm for liturgical innovation. He was once private secretary to Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, the main architect of the liturgical reforms following the Second Vatican Council, and started at the Vatican in 1965, only three months into his priestly ministry. Archbishop Marini has been replaced with a priest of the same name, Fr Guido Marini, formerly the chief liturgist for the archdiocese of Genoa. Fr Marini, who worked closely with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, now Vatican Secretary of State, is known to be a more conservative liturgist than his predecessor.

Vatican Notebook: Page 5


We would like to offer our apologies to those subscribers who have not had their newspaper delivered by post on time over the last week. The Communications Workers Union is taking strike action which is causing severe disruption to Royal Mail services.


Saturday, 27 October, ʻ07, 2pm to 5pm HOLY HOUR JOHN SMEATON (Nat. Dir., SPUC) looks at what the Abortion Act has meant for Britain and reviews new threats to the unborn. BERNADETTE GOULDING (Dir., Rachelʼs Vineyard, Ire, U.K.) talks about her abortion, her healing and her ministry to women and men affected by abortion St Monicaʼs Church 1, Stonard Road London N13 ALL WELCOME

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