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No. 6387

Top school clashes with diocese over admissions


THE GOVERNORS of one of London’s leading Catholic comprehensive schools, Cardinal Vaughan Memorial, have accused the Archdiocese of Westminster of forcing the school to water down its Catholic admissions requirements. They predict that the latest directives will devastate the school’s ethos and deny places to deserving Catholic children from boroughs of London where Catholic secondary provision is poor. Cardinal Vaughan, in Holland Park, has traditionally served Catholics from varied backgrounds from all over London. However, Westminster diocese has threatened to report the school to the Government if it fails to apply only the bishops’ “objective criteria” on admissions and no others. The chairman of the governors, Sir Adrian FitzGerald, said the school already complies with the law on admissions. The Church, on the other hand, believes it is the bishops’ responsibility to define Catholic practice and Cardinal Vaughan was not allowed to make subjective judgments about “who is a better Catholic”. The diocese said Cardinal Vaughan was not permitted to take into consideration “involvement in the wider life of the Church” or First Confession and First Holy Communion. It insisted, however, that the governors were incorrect to claim that regular Sunday Mass-going would not be taken into consideration and nor would the length of time parents had taken to baptise the child. A spokesman for the diocese said: “The school would be allowed to give credit to families for going to Mass every Sunday through the priest’s reference form. The priest’s reference form is the objective criterion. The bishops’ defini

tion of Catholic practice is attendance at Mass on Sunday. Schools must use the bishops’ definition of Catholic practice, not a definition they decide on independently. “Therefore, as Cardinal Vaughan are using in the existing arrangements criteria that are not the bishops’, that would not satisfy the Government’s code of practice. Subjectively determined criteria such as involvement in the wider life of the Church would not satisfy the Government’s code of practice.” Both Oona Stannard, the chief executive of the Catholic Education Service (CES), and Paul Barber of the Westminster Diocese Education Commission (WDEC) declined to comment. However, Christine Fischer, legal adviser to the CES, confirmed that dioceses would report schools to the Government for infringements if necessary. Miss Fischer said: “It is disappointing that [Cardinal Vaughan] would appear to have misunderstood the nature of the guidance issued to its schools by the Archdiocese of Westminster.” Places at Catholic schools must be “provided equitably for local Catholic communities” and commitment must be measured by “objective criteria”, she said, adding: “Dioceses have been given important power within the School Admissions Code to refer matters to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator should they become aware that admission arrangements are unlawful or in contravention of the code.” On behalf of the WDEC, Auxiliary Bishop George Stack of Westminster said: “At a Catholic school, Catholic doctrine should permeate every aspect of the school’s activity.” Sir Adrian has sent copies of his letter of complaint to the Prefects of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Continued on Page 2

Pope Benedict XVI baptises a child in the Sistine Chapel last Sunday

January 162009£1.20 (Republic of Ireland €1.80)

Benedict XVI baptises 13 in Sistine Chapel ceremony

AP Photo/Maurizio Brambatti, Pool


POPEBENEDICTXVI baptised 13 children and emphasised the duty of parents and godparents to educate them in the faith during a Mass last Sunday. The Pope strongly defended the practice of infant baptism, saying it acted as a “bridge” between human beings and God, and helped lead children along the path of grace. The Mass marked the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The Pontiff celebrated the liturgy in the Sistine Chapel, where the crying of babies reverberated off the frescoed walls and ceiling. The Pope poured water from a shellshaped dipper on to the head of each of the 13 children –nine boys and four girls, the children of Vatican employees. In his sermon the Pope said parents should consider children not as their personal property to be shaped according to their own ideas and desires, but as free children of God who need to be educated in order to make the right choices in life. Infant baptism, he told parents, does no violence to children, but rather introduces them into “a new family, greater and more stable, and more open and numerous than your own”. “Baptism is in a sense the bridge that God has built between himself and us, the road by which he makes himself accessible to us,” he said. “It is the divine rainbow over our lives, the promise of God’s great ‘yes’, the door of hope and, at the same time, the sign that shows us the path to walk,” the Holy Father said. As in the same liturgy the previous year Pope Benedict celebrated Mass at the chapel’s original fixed altar that stands against the wall covered by Michelangelo’s fresco of the Last Judgment. That meant that during parts of the Mass the Pope turned away from the people. Later, at his noon talk to pilgrims in St Peter’s Square, the Pope spoke about baptism as a moment of joy and a great gift. “If we fully realised this, our lives would be a continual grace,” he said. At the same time, he said, baptism implies a serious responsibility for parents and for godparents, who must educate their children according to the Gospel.

Pope Benedict XVI

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Irish Church leaders support new inquiry into abuse scandal


TWOLEADING Irish bishops have welcomed a government commission that will investigate the child-protection policy and practices in the Diocese of Cloyne. Cardinal Seán Brady of Armagh and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin backed the decision to extend to Cloyne a judicial inquiry already under- way in the Archdiocese of Dublin. Cardinal Brady said: “I welcome the measures announced

today” by Irish Children’s Minister Barry Andrews “aimed at restoring full confidence in the Church’s work to safeguard children. “I am conscious that current events concerning the handling of allegations by the Diocese of Cloyne have brought further anxiety to victims of abuse,” he said. “These events have also brought into question the efforts of thousands of volunteers and trained personnel who are fully committed to implementing best practice in

safeguarding children within the Church. I realise the extent to which many people feel let down and angry.” Cardinal Brady said he was heartened by Mr Andrews’ recognition that the Cloyne diocese had improved “the manner in which child-protection matters are handled”. The Dublin archdiocese said Archbishop Martin “wishes to state that he fully endorses the statement” of the cardinal. The decision to extend the judicial investigation was made by Mr Andrews despite

a national audit by the Health and Safety Executive, a government agency, recommending that there was no need to take such an action because the diocese, led by Bishop John Magee, had made improvements in its procedures. Mr Andrews said: “I am not satisfied that Cloyne is operating procedures to the highest standards.” There have been repeated calls for Bishop Magee, who was a personal secretary to three popes, to resign. He wishes to remain in office.

A search engine just for Catholic surfers

Pill inventor deplores impact on population


ANEWSEARCH engine promising “a safer way” to surf the internet for “good Catholics” has been launched this month, providing easier results for users searching for the Church’s views on any topic. Cathoogle, or “Catholic Google”, filters out the billions of non-Catholic sites so that Catholic websites immediately go to the top of the

search. The “the best way for good Catholics to surf the web”, as the site owners describe it, is not the first search engine to offer the service. The faithful already have the choice of, and There is also Jewgle –although it only links to a Jewish dating site, a bagel shop website, and three others. However, any parent hoping the website will protect their family from unhealthy influences may be disappointed. While the main listings displayed on the centre of the page are strictly Vaticanfriendly, advertised sites are not in their control.


ONEOFTHECHEMISTS responsible for the invention of the contraceptive Pill has said that Austria is facing a demographic catastrophe. Writing in the Austrian newspaper Der Standard Carl Djerassi, one of the inventors of the Pill, said that Austrians were too busy enjoying their schnitzels to face the demographic disaster of an ageing population and declining birth rate that stands before them. “I would like to start with a realistic fact that there will be no correlation be

tween sexuality and reproduction in the future. Ultimately, this divide has already taken place in Catholic Austria, a country with an average of 1.4 children per family. Most Austrians enjoy sex without wanting to have a child or having one,” he wrote. He said Austrians would have to accept that immigration would be the main way of readjusting the age imbalance in the future as the country would not be able to replace its greying population.

Help Heal India’s Wounds

This young girl’s face was burned when extremists torched her village in Orissa, eastern India.

They attacked her because she is a Christian.

In India systematic violence against Christians has left more than: • 60 dead • 18,000 injured • 50,000 homeless • 80 churches destroyed.

ACN is determined to do what it can to help. India’s Christians need your prayers and your help.

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