THE CATHOLIC HERALD APRIL 4 2014
Church reassures politicians about Communion BY ED WEST
THE BISHOPS’ conference has written to Catholic parliamentarians assuring them that they will not be denied Holy Communion for voting for same-sex marriage.
The move came after a Catholic MP said he felt he could no longer receive Communion in his diocese after voting for the measure, which came into force last weekend.
Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns, who co-chairs a parliamentary committee on Vatican relations, made his remarks after Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth had said that parliamentarians who supported the law should not take Communion.
Bishop Egan had said the denial of Holy Communion is “always an act of mercy”, done, he said, “with the hope and prayer that that person can be wooed back into full communion with the Church”.
He told LifeSite News: “Nobody is forced to be Catholic. We’re called by Christ and He’s chosen us. It’s a free choice. We live under the word of God. It’s not my truth, it’s God’s truth. One would hope that in that case it would encourage someone to come back to seek communion with the Lord with the truth and say I’m sorry I got lost.”
He added: “When people are not in communion with the Catholic Church on such a central thing as the value of life of the unborn child, and also in terms of the teachings of the Church on marriage and family life – they are voting in favour of same-sex marriage – then they shouldn’t be receiving Holy Communion.”
Canon 915 of Canon Law states: “Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” This has been interpreted to deny Communion to pro-abortion politicians.
Mr Burns said that the remarks by his local bishop called into question whether he would be able
Bishop Egan Conor Burns to practise his faith fully in his local diocese.
The MP, who has spoken about his disquiet about gay marriage, which he said he “agonised” over, also said he had received hurtful messages from other Catholics saying he had excommunicated himself. Mr Burns said: “Since
Bishop Egan made his comments and I made mine in the Tablet, I have had some incredibly hurtful emails and messages from people I don’t know telling me that in effect my bishop thinks I have excommunicated myself from the Church.
“If the arrival of this bishop means that I can no longer be a practising Catholic within the diocese that is a tragedy. I feel a little less welcome in my home diocese than I did a couple of weeks ago.”
Mr Burns said he had sent an email to Cardinal Nichols on Monday night. He told The Catholic Herald that “supportive emails and letters have come from all over the country”, including from a number of MPs and Lords. He said: “I don’t want to put any priest in his diocese in an uncomfortable position of going against the wishes of his bishop. What saddens me greatly is that Bishop Egan seems to think that same-sex civil marriage, which Parliament has legislated to protect the Church against, is the moral equivalent of the killing of the unborn. I would always vote to lower the limit of abortion and in an ideal world I would like an end to abortion. And when this so-called Assisted Dying Bill comes through I will oppose it. And a large number of priests and other religious don’t agree that it is morally equivalent too.”
Greg Pope, the head of parliamentary relations for the bishops’ conference, wrote to all MPs and Lords last week. Referring to “media speculation” over the denial of Communion to some politicians, he said: “I can see that there is potential for distress to be caused within the Catholic community in Westminster over this. I therefore want to reassure you and be clear that there are no plans by any bishops in England and Wales to deny Communion to Catholic MPs or peers who voted in favour of same-sex marriage legislation last year.”
Forty-seven out of 82 Catholic MPs voted in favour of allowing same-sex marriage.
MP urges Church to reach out to Tories BY ED WEST
A CONSERVATIVE MP has called on the Catholic Church to engage more with the Conservative party ahead of the General Election.
Mark Hoban, who represents Fareham in Hampshire, told The Catholic Herald: “I just don’t think there is a great relationship” between the Church and the party and that “a lack of engagement is the biggest challenge”.
The relationship between the Tories and the Church has been in the spotlight after Cardinal Vincent Nichols criticised the welfare policies of the Conservative-led government in a Daily Telegraph interview in February. He later defended his comments on the Andrew Marr Show after David Cameron said the picture he painted of poverty was “simply not true”.
Later that month Communities Secretary Eric Pickles failed to attend the consistory in Rome at which Cardinal Nichols received his red hat. Although this was attributed to his work dealing with floods, some saw it as a response to the cardinal’s comments.
Mr Hoban said that although the Conservatives did not sense hostility from the Church, “there is very patchy engagement from the hierarchy and a disconnect between Catholic Conservative parliamentarians and the Catholic Church”. He added: “We have soon a general election and matters of faith are quite high profile. It would be hugely beneficial for the cardinal to seek advice from a group of people who have experience of different aspects of the policy-making
Mark Hoban said there was a disconnect between Tory MPs and the Church process to help them understand the best way to interact. There are a lot of people out there with good will towards the Church who would be happy to work with it.”
Last week in the Tablet magazine Mr Hoban wrote that although the relationship had started well with Benedict XVI’s visit and Michael Gove’s academy reforms, as well as Government support for Cafod, “this goodwill seems to have disappeared”.
Farm Street hosts vigil for seized Jesuit priest
Mgr Nicholas Hudson, left, with Cardinal Vincent Nichols. He served as rector at the English College in Rome until last year
Former rector in Rome appointed bishop
BY STAFF REPORTER
POPE FRANCIS has appointed Mgr Nicholas Hudson as a new auxiliary bishop of Westminster.
Mgr Hudson, a former rector of the English College in Rome and parish priest of Sacred Heart in Wimbledon, south-west London, will be consecrated as bishop in Westminster Cathedral on June 4. He said he was “honoured and humbled” by the appointment, adding: “It is exciting to be a Catholic in this second year of the pontificate of Pope Francis.
“I pray that I might emulate the Holy Father’s radical simplicity and outreach to those on the margins of society and of the Church. Of all the many gifts received as a priest of Southwark most precious has been the privilege of knowing people with severe disabilities, who call us to make a place always for the poor at the heart of the Church.”
Cardinal Vincent Nichols welcomed the appointment, saying: “Mgr Hudson will bring wide experience and fine personal qualities to our diocese. He has served as a parish priest, as leader of catechetics and, of course, as vice-rector and the rector of the English College in Rome. I know that he will be received enthusiastically on this side of the Thames by both clergy and laity.”
Mgr Hudson grew up in Wimbledon and studied at Jesus College, Cambridge, before training to become a priest.
BY STAFF REPORTER
CATHOLICS will gather at Farm Street Jesuit church in central London next Tuesday to pray for peace in Syria, its refugees and especially for Italian Jesuit Fr Paolo Dall’Oglio SJ, who was kidnapped by rebels last July.
The new Syria Shrine at the Mayfair church’s Seven Dolours Altar will be dedicated to reconciliation in the war-torn country.
The Lenten Evening of Reflection and Witness will hope to raise awareness and funds for the Syrian refugee relief project through Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). Lenten music including Allegri’s Miserere Mei will be led by the London Oratory Schola Cantorum under their director Charles Cole, and there will be short talks by Lord Alton of Liverpool and John Pontifex of ACN.
Fr Paolo Dall’Oglio is a peace activist who became a Jesuit in 1975 and was exiled by the government of Bashar al-Assad in 2012 for meeting with members of the opposition and criticising the actions of the regime. He was kidnapped by rebels on 29 July 2013.
At least a dozen clerics in Syria are currently kidnapped, including two Aleppo bishops, Greek Orthodox Boulous Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Bishop Yuhanna Ibrahim. Last month a dozen nuns were released after being kidnapped in Maaloula.
Before his exile, Fr Dall’Oglio had served for 30 years at the Deir Mar Musa, a sixth-century monastery 50 miles north of Damascus. He has been credited with the reconstruction of the Mar Musa complex and its reinvention as a centre of interfaith dialogue.
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THIS LENT PRAY WITH US
Giver of life,
From tiny seeds and parched earth your gentle hand grows richest fruit. Reveal to us, Creator God, the seeds within us; moisten the soil that our neglect has made dry.
.iste re d c harit y no
Re g le s imo n Raw
:P ho tography
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