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No. 6437

Top school is rebuked for ‘unfair’ admissions


ONE of the country’s most illustrious Catholic comprehensive schools has been ordered to change its “unlawful” and “unfair” admissions procedures by the Schools Adjudicator after being reported to the authorities by its own diocese.

The surprise announcement came after the Archdiocese of Westminster made an unprecedented complaint about the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in Kensington, west London, the first time an English diocese has ever made a complaint against one of its schools.

The Vaughan is heavily oversubscribed, by up to six times its capacity of 120 boys per year, has been in the top two comprehensives in inner London for most of the past decade and sends many sixth formers to Oxford and Cambridge.

But last week Alan Parker, the Schools Adjudicator, found that it used “unfair” criteria by taking account of when pupils received First Holy Communion, meaning that those from other parts of the world might be penalised.

The school was also told it should use a diocesan reference form rather than the word of the local priest, who could apply “inappropriate” criteria.

Mr Parker also concluded that the school contravened the admissions code by demanding more than Mass attendance and giving priority to pupils or parents who can prove involvement in Church-related activities, saying this was “having an unfair discriminatory effect and that insufficient attention has been given to promoting equity”.

The Schools Adjudicator made his ruling after the school was reported by the diocese,

which argued that admissions arrangements are not “clear, objective and fair”.

The diocese says the school’s religious practice test excludes children who are Catholics and distorts the social and ethnic demographic of the intake. The school, meanwhile, is said to fear that the ruling will dilute its Catholic ethos.

The Archdiocese of Westminster had complained that Cardinal Vaughan’s complex points system and criteria “inappropriately give priority according to the applicant’s, or his parent’s, involvement in Church-related activities”.

The diocese’s guidelines define practising Catholics by their observance of “the Church’s precept of attending Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation”.

It argues that “a school should not impose a higher requirement of practice than that laid down by the Church itself”.

Mr Parker ruled that “in order to have proper regard to diocesan guidance the points system should be dropped in favour of the determination of membership and practice of the Catholic faith as defined by the diocese.”

In a 26-page report Mr Parker concluded the effect of the school’s current arrangements was “undoubtedly to ‘select’ only the most devout Catholic boys with equally devout and supportive parents”.

The philosophy of the diocese “and indeed the Catholic Church itself” was to involve all baptised children regardless of their level of observance and encourage lapsed Catholics back into the faith.

Mr Parker said: “The position adopted by the school seems to betray a lack of confidence in...

Continued on Page 2 January 8 2010 £1.20 (Republic of Ireland €1.70)

The Catholic world mourns Cardinal Cahal Daly



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The coffin of Cardinal Cahal Daly, former Catholic Primate of All Ireland, is carried to its resting place

Niall Carson/PA Wire


CARDINAL CAHAL DALY, the former Primate of All Ireland and an outspoken critic of paramilitary violence and poverty in Northern Ireland, was a man “ahead of his time”, his successor told mourners.

Cardinal Seán Brady of Armagh told mourners at the funeral at St Patrick’s Cathedral on Tuesday: “As early as 1973 he was working with other Christian leaders in the search for peace. A report which they prepared at that time set out principles for a non-violent way forward for the divided communities of Northern Ireland. Today its language bears a remarkable similarity to that of political agreements we have now.”

Cardinal Brady said his predecessor remained adamant that “justice, mutual respect and purely peaceful means were the only way forward. It was a source of considerable satisfaction for him later to see politicians take courageous risks for peace. As he would often pray from the psalms, ‘Mercy and faithfulness have met, justice and peace have embraced.’

“Our task today is to continue along the path of mercy and to tackle all remnants of sectarianism in our midst,” he said.

Cardinal Daly, 92, died on December 31. In a telegram released on January 2, Pope Benedict XVI recalled the cardinal’s “long years of devoted pastoral service to the Church” and expressed gratitude for his “sustained efforts in the promotion of justice and peace in Northern Ireland”.

Cardinal Daly was best remembered for his contribution to ecumenical relations at a time when sectarian violence increased in Northern Ireland.

As the former bishop of Down and Connor – the Northern Ireland diocese that includes the province’s main city of Belfast – he witnessed first-hand the violence waged by the Irish Republican Army.

At his installation as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of Ireland in 1990, he called on the IRA to end its strategy of terror and urged a government-sponsored “new deal” to aid economically depressed Catholic neighbourhoods in West Belfast.

He believed an effective redevelopment plan for West Belfast would “do more for ending the violence than any security policy”.

The cardinal was also involved in ecumenical work and urged Irish Catholics and Protestants to “help one another to stay faithful to Christ in a world where more and more people walk away from him”.

A firm supporter of the Northern Ireland peace process, the cardinal rejected the idea that the province’s problems could be solved by forming an independent state.

In 1992, when Cardinal Daly turned 75 and offered his resignation to Pope John Paul II, the offer was refused, which left the cardinal to lead the Irish church through one of its most difficult periods in modern history as a series of child abuse cases involving clerics came to light. Saying the scandals caused him much personal pain, he repeatedly apologised for the harm caused by Church members and took the unprecedented step of appearing on a live television talk show to make his apology more widely known.

He also played a major role in drawing up new procedures for how the Church should respond to the problem in a policy document, published in 1996.

Cardinal Brady told those at Cardinal Daly’s funeral that rebuilding trust within Ireland’s Catholic Church “will entail making sure that children are safe at every moment and in every Church setting. It will require complete commitment to the path initiated by Cardinal Daly, of working with the civil authorities and whole parish communities to ensure best practice, cooperation and accountability in safeguarding children in all Church activities.”

Editorial Comment: Page 13


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Papal aide gives rosary to woman who knocked down Benedict XVI


POPE BENEDICT XVI’S personal secretary has visited the woman responsible for knocking the Pope down during Midnight Mass in St Peter’s Basilica.

Mgr Georg Gänswein, papal secretary, visited Susanna Maiolo at the psychiatric hospital in Subiaco, outside of Rome, where she was transferred on Christmas Day. He made the private visit “to show her the Holy Father’s interest in her situation,” the papal spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, said.

Mgr Gänswein brought her a rosary and told her that the Pope had forgiven her and believed she had not meant any harm. Miss Maiolo, a dual Italian-Swiss citizen, had previously received extensive psychiatric care in Switzerland.

A Vatican prosecutor was gathering information from doctors evaluating Miss Maiolo’s mental state and from Vatican security reports. The prosecutor was to make a recommendation to the Vatican tribunal, which will then make the final ruling. She may be pardoned and acquitted of any crime, handed over to Italian or Swiss authorities, or handed down a sentence.

Miss Maiolo, 25, jumped a security barrier as Pope Benedict processed into St Peter’s Basilica. As guards pushed her to the ground, she was able to grab the Pope’s vestments, causing him to lose his balance and tumble to the floor. Miss Maiolo, who was not armed, was taken away by papal guards.

She showed signs of mental instability and was taken to a psychiatric hospital about 45 miles outside Rome for what the Vatican called “mandatory clinical treatment”.

The Pope appeared unharmed after the incident, but French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, 87, suffered a broken hip and underwent hip replacement surgery.

Franciscans rescue museum for musical

Vatican paper praises theology of Simpsons


HOW do you solve a problem like a Sound of Music museum? Ask the Franciscans for a hand.

After plans to build a museum enshrining the popular musical in Schloss Hellbrunn in Salzburg fell through a Franciscan friary in the heart of Salzburg’s old town has been put forward as the ideal site.

The Sound of Music –a musical by Rogers and Hammerstein set in Austria and immortalised in film in 1965 – features the romantic love story between Captain von Trapp and Maria, a young governess on leave from a Benedictine convent in Austria in 1938.

Every year the film draws thousands of visitors to Salzburg and the museum was intended to be located near the former palace of the archbishops of Salzburg in Hellbrunn. This was deemed too costly and too far away from the centre of the city.


PEOPLE either love or hate the cartoon The Simpsons, but there’s no doubt the 20-year-old series reflects very modern notions – and confusion – about religion and spirituality, the Vatican newspaper has said.

“Rigid censors turn off the television” when the Fox programme comes on, “but the more serious analysts praise the realism and intelligence of its scripts, even if they often attack – and rightly so – the crude language and the violence of some episodes,” L’Osservatore Romano said.

Marking the 20th anniversary of The Simpsons the paper described the show as a “tender and irreverent, scandalous and ironic, boisterous and profound, philosophical – and sometimes even theological – nutty synthesis of pop culture and of the lukewarm and nihilistic American middle class”.