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John Gummer Society doesn’t know what marriage is COMMENT, PAGE 12

George Weigel Jimmy Carter rewrites the Bible


Piers Paul Read Natural law means nothing to the young


No. 6555

Vatican orders major reform of US Sisters’ conference


THE VATICAN has ordered the largest organisation for American women religious to change its statutes, programmes and affiliations so that they conform more closely to “the teachings and discipline of the Church”.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released its doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) last week and also named Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle to oversee the organisation and its reforms.

The Vatican initiated a doctrinal investigation into the LCWR in April 2009 and the call for reform was outlined in the investigation’s report which was released last week.

The report, while expressing the Holy See’s gratitude for the contribution of women religious to the Church, stated in its introduction that “the current doctrinal and pastoral situation of the LCWR is grave and a matter of serious concern”, and that their main priority now for the LCWR was ensuring; “Jesus Christ and the Church are the essential foundation for its important service to religious Communities and to all those in consecrated life.”

A spokeswoman for the LCWR said the presidency of the group was “stunned by the conclusions of the doctrinal assessment” by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

She said: “Because the leadership of LCWR has the custom of meeting annually with the staff of CDF in Rome and because the conference follows canonically approved statutes, we were taken by surprise.”

The doctrinal and pastoral situation of the LCWR is grave and a matter of serious concern

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According to the National Catholic Reporter, the LCWR was not expecting the American Bishops’ Conference to be informed of Archbishop Sartain’s appointment until the LCWR had met Cardinal Levada personally.

In a statement following the report’s release, Cardinal Levada, prefect for the CDF, said: “As the issues evidenced in the doctrinal assessment involve essential questions of faith, the Holy Father has given the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith a special mandate to collaborate with the LCWR in a renewal of their work through a concentrated reflection on the doctrinal foundations of that work.

“The overarching aim of the doctrinal assessment is, therefore, to assist the LCWR in the United States in implementing an ecclesiology of communion, confident that ‘the joyous rediscovery of faith can also contribute to consolidate the unity and communion among the different bodies that make up the wider family of the Church’.”

The report stipulates that the mandate of Archbishop Sartain extends to five areas: the revision of LCWR statutes to clarify the scope of its mission and responsibilities; reviewing the LCWR’s plans and programmes to ensure they are “in accord with Church teachings and discipline”; the creation of LCWR programmes for congregations to deepen understanding of the Church’s doctrine and faith; to review and offer guidance in the use of liturgical norms and texts and to review the LCWR’s links with affiliated organisations.

Continued on Page 4 Editorial Leader: Page 13

April 27 2012 £1.50 (Republic of Ireland €1.80)

Pope advises parents on First Communion

Midwives challenge ruling on abortion

PREPARING children for their First Holy Communion must be done with both great zeal and moderation, Pope Benedict XVI has said.

Around the world, many children receive their first Communion during the

Easter season, he told pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square last Sunday for the recitation of the “Regina Coeli”, a Marian prayer used in place of the Angelus from Easter to Pentecost.

The Pope urged “priests,

parents and catechists to prepare for this feast of faith well, with great fervour but also with sobriety”. Benedict XVI greets 45-day-old Tomaso at last week’s general audience (CNS photo)


TWO CATHOLIC midwives have launched an appeal against a legal ruling that they have to supervise abortion staff.

Although they have a legal right of conscience not to be involved in abortions Mary Doogan, 57, and Concepta Wood, 51, said they should have the right to refuse to oversee staff taking part in abortions.

The midwives took their case against NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to the Court of Session in Edinburgh, claiming that doing so violated their human rights under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to freedom of religion.

But in February Judge Lady Smith ruled that they were not entitled to refuse to delegate, supervise or support staff involved in abortion procedures, because they did not have direct involvement in terminating pregnancies.

Increasing numbers of abortions are being transferred to labour wards, following screening for disability. As senior midwives they were forced to accept management instructions to oversee other midwives on the labour ward involved in abortions. Although the judge ruled that the two midwives knew what the job involved when they took up the roles of labour ward coordinators, the they argued that they had not previously been asked to delegate on abortions, which until recently were not carried out on labour wards.

Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow said he viewed the judge’s ruling with deep concern, saying: “It is fundamental to the functioning of society that all citizens act in accordance with an informed conscience.”

The appeal will be funded by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC). There will be a preliminary hearing on July 27, with a further hearing expected early next year.

Miss Doogan has been absent from work due to ill health for almost two years and Mrs Wood has been transferred to other duties.

Archaeologists find crozier, ring and skeleton of medieval abbot


THE SKELETON of a medieval Cistercian abbot, and his crozier and abbatial ring, have been found at Furness Abbey, near Barrow-inFurness, Cumbria.

The abbot is thought to have been aged 40-50, to have been portly, and to have suffered from arthritis and possibly middle-aged onset type-2 diabetes caused by a r ich diet. His knees were worn, suggesting that he spent a lot of time praying.

Stephen Rowland of Oxford Archaeology North, who did the excavations at the abbey, told Channel 4 News: “It’s extremely rare to find such a burial. Nationa l ly he’s an important person. He would have had estates across the Furness Peninsula, into Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire, control over large amounts of resources. He was a bit like a feudal overlord.”

The crozier and the ring will be on display at Furness Abbey over the May Bank Holiday weekend.

The head of the crozier, the first to be excavated in Britain in 50 years, is made of gilded copper and decorated with silver medallions showing the Archangel Michael defeating a dragon.

The ring, which may have held a relic, is large, suggesting the abbot had chubby fingers. Kevin Booth, senior curator for English Heritage,

said: “Given that the crozier and ring have been buried for over 500 years, they are in remarkable condition. Further research is required but before that we are inviting the public to come to Furness Abbey on the early May Bank Holiday and see these wonderful finds.”

Furness Abbey was establ i shed in 1124 by King Stephen. I t is hoped that carbon 14 dating will establish when the abbot died, which may identify him.

Cardinal Dolan beats Obama in Time poll


CARDINAL Timothy Dolan has beaten Lady Gaga and Barack Obama in a vote for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.

Following an online poll, open to members of the public, the cardinal received 42,000 votes, leaving celebrities such as George Clooney trailing behind him. Journalists and editors at Time will now decide who should be crowned the publication’s Person of the Year.

As president of the US Bishops’ Conference the cardinal took a leading role in opposing Barack Obama's health reforms earlier this year, which were criticised by the Church in America for infringing rights to freedom of conscience.

Priest ‘ready for jail’ in parking dispute BY STAFF REPORTER

A priest has vowed to go to jail rather than pay a parking ticket handed out to his church ambulance.

Fr Frank Daly, of St Peter’s in Hinckley, Leicestershire, is refusing to pay the fine, which was issued at the annual Churches Together Good Friday ecumenical service.

The vehicle was being used to transport disabled people home from the event. The county council has said the ticket stands, as the ambulance was parked in a loading bay.

But Fr Daly said: “I am prepared to go to jail over this. As the driver of the vehicle, the fine applies to me and I can say that I have no intention whatsoever of paying it, no matter what the consequences of this may be.”


Clive Dytor The headmaster who dodged bullets PAGE 7

Mary Kenny Is Britain ruled by a corrupt elite? PAGE 12

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