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No. 6441 February 5 2010 £1.20 (Republic of Ireland €1.70)

Pope criticises Labour’s equality laws

Benedict XVI urges bishops to defend freedom of expression Pontiff says dissent ‘should be recognised for what it is’ Holy Father confirms visit to Britain later this year


POPE BENEDICT XVI has criticised Labour’s equality legislation in a remarkably direct speech to English and Welsh bishops at the end of their ad limina visit to Rome.

He said the legislation put unjust limits on religious freedom and “in some respects actually violates the natural law”.

He made the remark just moments after he confirmed that he would be visiting Britain this year.

The Pope said: “Your country is well known for its firm commitment to equality of opportunity for all members of society. Yet as you [the bishops] have rightly pointed out, the effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs. In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed.”

The Pope was meeting the bishops for the first time since the English and Welsh Church lost control of its adoption agencies. The Sexual Orientation Regulations, passed in 2007, compelled agencies to place children with same-sex couples, forcing Catholic adoption agencies to close down or break ties with the Church.

His comments also came a week after the House of Lords rejected parts of the Equality Bill that could have forced the Church to ordain women, sexually active gay people and transsexuals.

Pope Benedict urged the bishops to “continue to insist upon your right to participate in national debate through respectful dialogue with other elements in society”.

The Pope’s speech, described by one influential Vatican watcher as “blunt”, also warned bishops not to overlook dissent among the faithful. “In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to

Pope Benedict XVI addresses the Bishops of England and Wales at the end of the ad limina visit recognise dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate,” he said. “It is the truth revealed through scripture and tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free.”

The Pope said that if “the full saving message of Christ is to be presented effectively and convincingly”, the Catholic community – including the bishops – must speak “with a united voice”.

At the end of his speech the

Pope asked the bishops to “be generous” in implementing Anglicanorum Coetibus, the new provision for Anglicans who wish to enter into full communion with Rome.

He said: “I am convinced that, if given a warm and open-hearted welcome, such groups will be a blessing for the entire Church.”

The Pope’s speech was portrayed in some parts of the media as unwarranted interference in British domestic affairs.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of

Westminster was asked on the BBC’s Today programme if the Pope “should be getting involved in the politics of another country”.

The Archbishop said: “The way our public life is organised is something to which everybody has the right to contribute. He’s certainly not getting engaged in party politics, and I hope no headline writer would suggest that. But he wants his reasoned voice – formed by the treasures of the Christian heritage, which is deeply embedded in our culture –

Photographic Service, L'Osservatore Romano he wants that voice to be heard. It’s a reasoned voice and I think he has every right to express the concerns of many.”

He said the Pope’s comments “would find an echo for many in our country who are uneasy of the perhaps unintended consequences of recent legislation to drive religious belief and practice into the private sphere only”.

Rocco Palmo, an influential American blogger, suggested the Pope had effectively given the English and Welsh bishops their

“marching orders” – to “teach, obey, unite”. He said: “The text of the Pope’s ad limina speech to the English and Welsh bishops has dropped – and, in a word, it’s unusually short. And just as blunt.”

At a press conference after the speech Archbishop Nichols confirmed that the Pope’s remarks on equality legislation were related to the closure of Catholic adoption agencies. “There are 4,000 adoption agencies in England and Wales – seven or eight Catholic agencies wanted to act in accordance with Catholic teaching,” he said. “We thought it was disproportionate for those seven or eight to be pushed out of business when there were all those others open.”

During his address the Pope confirmed that he would visit England. Details of his schedule are still being arranged but he is expected to address MPs and peers on the issue of religious freedom from the spot in Westminster Hall where St Thomas More, the former Lord Chancellor, was condemned to death in 1535 for opposing the adultery of King Henry VIII.

He is also expected to preside over the beatification of the Victorian convert Cardinal John Henry Newman, and to deliver a speech at Oxford University.

“Even amid the pressures of a secular age, there are many signs of living faith and devotion among the Catholics of England and Wales,” the Pope told the bishops.

“I am thinking, for example, of the enthusiasm generated by the visit of the relics of St Thérèse, the interest aroused by the prospect of Cardinal Newman’s beatification, and the eagerness of young people to take part in pilgrimages and World Youth Days. On the occasion of my forthcoming Apostolic Visit to Great Britain, I shall be able to witness that faith for myself and, as Successor of Peter, to strengthen and confirm it.

“During the months of preparation that lie ahead, be sure to encourage the Catholics of England and Wales in their devotion, and assure them that the Pope constantly remembers them in his prayers and holds them in his heart.”

A spokesman for the Government Equalities Office said: “The Pope acknowledges our country’s firm commitment to equality for all members of society. We believe everyone should have a fair chance in life and not be discriminated against. The Equality Bill will make Britain a fairer and more equal place.”

Full texts: Page 2 Editorial Comment: Page 13

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Cath Herald Jan 2010


THE CONGREGATION for Divine Worship and the Sacraments (CDW) is putting together the final version of the English translation of the complete Roman Missal, the book of prayers used at Mass.

The Vox Clara Committee, an international group of bishops established to advise the congregation about the translation of the Missal into English, met in Rome last week.

Members “reviewed various reports on the steps being taken for editing, co-ordination of manuscripts and reviews for internal consistency of the English-language translation”, a Vox Clara statement said.

Marist Fr Anthony Ward, an official of the congregation for worship, said that because bishops’ conferences approved the Roman Missal in sections over a period of years a final review and minor edits were needed to ensure consistency. For instance, he said,

the same Latin prayer may be used in two different Masses and may have been translated slightly differently during the bishops’ approval process.

The Vox Clara statement said committee members reviewed the last two sections of the Roman Missal translation to be approved by bishops’ conferences in English-speaking countries: the proper of saints, a collection of specific prayers related to each saint in the universal liturgical calendar, and the common of saints,

general prayers for celebrating saints listed in the “Roman Martyrology”, but not in the universal calendar.

Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, prefect of the CDW, “expressed his hope that the coming confirmation of the Roman Missal would prove to be of great pastoral advantage to the Church in the Englishspeaking world”, the Vox Clara statement said.

English-speaking bishops hope people will begin using it in parishes by Advent 2011.

Susan Boyle ‘wants to sing for the Pope’

Swift end to concert at Catholic school


TELEVISION talent star Susan Boyle wants to sing for the Pope when he visits Scotland in September, according to a source close to her.

The 48-year-old singer stormed to success in the ITV show Britain’s Got Talent last year and her album I Dreamed a Dream shot to number one in the charts at Christmas.

Her ambition to sing for

Pope Benedict was revealed by Tony Cowell, brother of the television show’s host Simon Cowell, who works closely with the singer.

“It would be a dream come true for her and I know she would drop everything if she was asked to perform for the Pope,” he said.

Susan Boyle is a devout Catholic, and has worshipped at Our Lady of Lourdes in Blackburn, West Lothian, since childhood.

Parish priest Fr Ryszard Holuka said: “She’s so busy but I’m sure she would love to sing for the Pope.”


AN AMERICAN singer has had to cancel her concert at a Catholic school because of a mix-up by a local newspaper.

St Margaret Mary’s Catholic Junior School in Knowsley, Merseyside, had booked the unknown 16-year-old singer-songwriter Taylor Bright to sing to its 480 pupils. She is in Britain to promote her debut single “Striped Socks”.

But the Liverpool

Echo published a story that 20-year-old Grammy winner Taylor Swift, left, would be performing at the school. Making matters worse,

the news was announced over the speakers to 40,000 football fans at

Liverpool FC’s match against Bolton Wanderers on Saturday. Citing security fears,

the school has called off Miss Bright’s concert.

A spokesman for the Liverpool Echo has apologised for its mistake.