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No. 6393


February 272009£1.20 (Republic of Ireland €1.80)

Brown invites Benedict XVI to Britain

􏰁 Vatican ‘actively considering’ papal trip 􏰁 Prime Minister says millions would welcome visit


GORDONBROWN has invited Pope Benedict to visit Britain and the Vatican is said to be actively considering the invitation. Speaking after his meeting with Benedict XVI last week the Prime Minister said he had invited the Holy Father to visit Britain possibly to coincide with the longanticipated beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman. Mr Brown said: “I invited the Pope to visit the United Kingdom and I said that many millions of people would not only welcome his visit but it would be a great moment for our whole country.” A spokesman for the bishops of England and Wales said: “It’s being actively considered. This does not mean that it will happen. That depends on the Pope’s schedule, of course.” Cardinal Cormac MurphyO’Connor issued an invitation to the Pope a few years ago, but at the time the Vatican said the Pope could not do it. His heavy travel schedule, which includes an imminent visit to the Holy Land as well as a trip to Africa, makes next year a more likely possibility. Many Catholics who traditionally support Labour have grown disenchanted with the party in recent years. The Government introduced gay rights laws which forced the Church to sever ties with most of its adoption agencies and has clashed repeatly with Catholics over education reforms. It forced through the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, for the most part under a threeline whip. Some Catholics have interpreted Mr Brown’s overtures to the Pope, along with Labour’s pledge to reform the anti-Catholic Act of Settlement, which bars Catholics from marrying or becoming monarchs, as a strategy to woo back voters. Others think a papal visit will be simply good for both Labour and the Church. Julian Brazier, Conservative MP for Canterbury,

Pope Benedict XVI greets Gordon Brown during a private audience at the Vatican last Thursday

said: “It would be very exciting if the Pope does come. I think the Catholic community and also beyond the Catholic community would be very excited if the Pope came. “I would hope though that the Vatican will press the Government for freedom for Christians in this country. I’m referring to the Catholic children’s societies and the dreadful way they’ve been treated and the subsequent events in the last couple of months –foster parents being struck off lists and deprived of incomes because a child in their care, aged 16, con

verts from Islam to Christianity, and the NHS guidelines which have caused the suspension of people from their jobs. “I hope that in the negotiations for the visit, the Vatican will be pressing the Government to reconsider its anti-Christian legislation and restore religious freedoms so people can practise their faith.” Jim Dobbin, Labour MP for Heywood and Middleton and a Catholic, also welcomed the invitation. He said: “I think it was a good idea to invite the Pope. We

haven’t had a papal visit in almost 30 years and if you remember it was tremendously well received. John Paul II made an incredible impression. “I think it will do a great deal of good, especially at this point in time where there is a disaffection with politics, especially with recent legislation that has gone against the concerns of the religious. I think it might help to build bridges with those who would like to see a not-sosecular agenda.” Ruth Kelly, a Catholic who resigned from her post in the Cabi

AP Photo/L’Osservatore Romano, HO

net last September, was among those to criticise the secular drift of the Government. She said: “It is difficult to be a Christian in politics these days. The public debate has become more secular and believers are portrayed as a bit odd. That doesn’t reflect the reality in communities, where churchgoing and belief is considered normal.” Last summer Labour suffered defeat in a Glasgow by-election in a predominantly Catholic safe seat. Some claim this was the result of the party alienating the Catholic vote. The Scottish composer James

MacMillan, a long-time party member and a Labour Party branch chairman in the Eighties, argued at the time that workingclass Catholic voters had defected to Scottish nationalism as a result of Labour’s growing secularism. “To many old-style socialists, there is nothing more fundamental to a just and fair society than the protection of its most vulnerable members and their right to life,” he said. Mr MacMillan became disillusioned with Labour’s “lifestyle liberalism” in such areas as the traditional family and education,

sexual mores, artistic aspirations and religious belief and argued that the party displayed growing anti-Catholic prejudice. Meanwhile, reports that Fr Federico Lombardi, the Pope’s spokesman, had snubbed Mr Brown’s invitation were unfounded. A source said the Prime Minister announced at the press conference that he had invited the Pope for a visit only five minutes after he had actually issued the invitation. Journalists asked Fr Lombardi whether there was a visit scheduled minutes after the press conference was finished but before he had been briefed. Pope John Paul II became the first pontiff to set foot in England and Wales in 1982, when the iconic photograph was taken after he kissed the tarmac in London. Mr Brown has visited Pope Benedict XVI on three occasions, twice as Chancellor. This was his first visit since becoming Prime Minister in 2007. They are said to share concerns about poverty, disease and food shortage in the developing world and it is understood the two men spoke about the economic situation as well as the plight of the world’s poor. The Holy See issued a statement after the papal audience. It said: “The cordial conversations dealt with the present global economic crisis and on the duty to pursue initiatives benefiting the less developed countries, and to foster cooperation on projects of human promotion, respect for the environment and sustainable development. “Hope was expressed for a renewed commitment on the part of the international community in settling ongoing conflicts, particularly in the Middle East. “Finally, several bilateral themes were brought up, of interest above all for the Catholic community in the United Kingdom.”

Vatican Notebook: Page 4 Editorial Comment: Page 13


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Pope appoints former Rome seminary rector to New York see


POPE BENEDICT XVI has named Archbishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee as Archbishop of New York and accepted the resignation of Cardinal Edward Egan, who led the archdiocese since 2000. The appointment was announced on Monday in Washington by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States. In a statement directed at the auxiliary bishops, priests,

men and women religious, seminarians and “committed Catholics of this wonderful Church”, Archbishop Dolan said he was “honoured, humbled and happy to serve as your pastor”. “I pledge to you my love, my life, my heart, and I can tell you already that I love you,” he added. He will be installed by Archbishop Sambi as archbishop of New York on April 15 at St Patrick’s Cathedral. Cardinal Egan will continue as apostolic administrator of

the archdiocese until then. Archbishop Dolan, who comes from St Louis, turned 59 earlier this month. He has been head of the Milwaukee archdiocese since 2002 and was an auxiliary bishop of the St Louis archdiocese for a year before that. Cardinal Egan, who turns 77 on April 2, was ordained a priest of the Chicago archdiocese and served as an auxiliary bishop of the New York archdiocese from 1985 to 1988, and as bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut,

from 1988 to 2000. Both Cardinal Egan and Archbishop Dolan have backgrounds that include extensive service in Rome. Cardinal Egan worked as a judge in the Roman Rota, the Vatican court of appeals for canonical cases, especially those related to marriage. Archbishop Dolan studied for the priesthood in Rome and was rector of the North American College for seven years.

Editorial Comment: Page 13

Herald stable title to change after 20 years

British Oscar winner pondered priesthood


THE CATHOLIC HERALD and Standard , sold throughout southern Ireland for the last 20 years, will change its masthead to its parent title, The Catholic Herald, from the beginning of March. The hybrid title, combining British and Irish news, was formed out of a merger between the popular Catholic Standard (started in Ireland in

the late Sixties) and The Catholic Herald . Luke Coppen, the editor, has signalled he now aims to increase The Catholic Herald’s Irish coverage. Andy Leisinger, managing director of the Herald group, which includes the Scottish Catholic Observer , gave the go-ahead as part of a drive to re-brand and improve sales of the paper. Parish delivery and billing were also recently restructured and contracted out to Gabriel Communications, whose operations are already well-established in Ireland. The reductions in plate costs will be passed on to readers when the cover price drops to €1.70 from March.


THEOSCAR -winning director of Slumdog Millionaire almost became a priest before going into the movies, he has revealed. Danny Boyle, who won an Academy Award for Best Director this week, told the Daily Telegraph that he contemplated a priestly vocation as a teenager. The director, who also made Trainspotting and 28 Days Later , grew up in an Irish family in Radcliffe, east Lancashire,

and applied to join a seminary as a 14-year-old. However, a priest friend suggested that he might not be suited to priestly life. “Whether he was saving me from the priesthood or saving the priesthood from me, I don’t know. But quite soon after, I started doing drama,” he said. Mr Boyle was educated at the Salesian College in Bolton, Lancashire, and now describes himself as a “nonpractising” Catholic.

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