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No. 6507

May 20 2011 £1.50 (Republic of Ireland €1.80)

CATHOLICS in England and Wales will be obliged to abstain from meat every Friday under a new rule brought in by the bishops.

The “act of common witness” will come into effect on Friday September 16 – the first anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain. The rule, announced at a press conference in London on Friday, reverses a relaxation of the Friday penance regulations introduced in England and Wales in 1984. This allowed Catholics to choose their own form of Friday penance – such as offering additional prayers, attending Mass or abstaining from alcohol.

But critics said the end of a tradition in which Catholics ate fish instead of meat on Friday led to a loss of common identity, with many Catholics now abstaining

English bishops restore meatless Fridays BY SIMON CALDWELL AND ANNA ARCO

from meat only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

The return to an obligation to abstain from meat was a key resolution of the bishops’ plenary meeting in Leeds. The bishops said: “Every Friday is set aside by the Church as a special day of penance, for it is the day of the death of our Lord.

“The law of the Church requires Catholics to abstain from meat on Fridays, or some other form of food, or to observe some other form of penance laid down by the bishops’ conference. The bishops wish to re-establish the practice of Friday penance in the lives of the faithful as a clear and distinctive mark of their own Catholic identity. They recognise that the best habits are those which are acquired as part of a common resolve and common witness. It is important that all the faithful be united in a common celebration of Friday penance.”

Their statement said: “The bishops have decided to re-establish the practice that this should be fulfilled by abstaining from meat. Those who cannot or choose not to eat meat as part of their normal diet should abstain from some other food of which they regularly partake.”

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, the president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said: “I think Catholics will welcome this.

“What we have sought to do in this decision is to establish a shared practice, a shared habit, because habits that are carried out together are better learned and are stronger – we give each other mutual support,” he said. “So that’s why there’s a simple, across-the-board expectation that this will be something that Catholics will do.”

Following their meeting the bishops also urged the Government to reconsider including religious education on the English Baccalaureate, a new measure for schools which looks at core GCSE scores. They said they were concerned that its exclusion from the Baccalaureate would lessen the incentive for schools to teach RE as a subject examined at GCSE level.

At their plenary meeting the bishops also discussed plans to consolidate Catholic social action under a national agency.

The bishops said: “We are determined to work together to develop the shared identity and common witness of Catholic social action in England and Wales with the aim of deepening the Church’s social engagement at the service of the Gospel. We seek to bring about a better coordination of social action in England and Wales and to further promote a sharing of good practice. We have therefore decided to explore how best to bring together this work under the auspices of Caritas, while fully respecting the proper autonomy of local dioceses, groups and agencies involved in Catholic social action.”

The bishops asked Caritas Social Action “to consult widely in coming months, with dioceses, Cafod, and with others, to formulate practical recommendations for our next meeting in November 2011”.

“This will lead to a bishops’ charter together with recommendations for the development of Caritas social action at diocesan level, and for the national agency itself,” they added.

The bishops’ conference itself could also face some restructuring after its general secretary Fr Marcus Stock presented the bishops with an outline of its purposes and priorities. Fr Stock went through the Church’s documents, which define the purpose of a bishops’ conference, as well as the Holy Father’s talks during his visit to Britain, and listed principal purposes and core objectives of such a structure for the next three to five years. The bishops agreed on three priorities for the conference: “Proclaiming the universal call to holiness in Christ by promoting a culture of vocation in the Church”, “Proclaiming the coming of the Kingdom by supporting integrity in public life, cohesion and mutual respect in society and serving the marginalised and vulnerable people” and “Proclaiming Christ and his Gospel as saving truth by fostering and encouraging a culture of dialogue and solidarity”.

They asked Fr Stock to prepare a practical framework examining existing structures at Eccleston Square to see if they are fit for purpose. Editorial comment: Page 13

Cardinal: ‘reform of the reform’ to continue


LIBERATING the use of the older form of the Mass is only the first step of the Pope’s “reform of the reform” of liturgy, a senior cardinal has said.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, the Pope’s chief ecumenist, said that Pope Benedict XVI’s longterm goal with the 2008 Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum was to develop a “common rite” shaped by the mutual enrichment of both forms of the Roman Rite.

He said Summorum Pontificum was “only the beginning of this new liturgical movement”.

He was speaking at the first major conference on the apostolic letter, which allowed the free use of the 1962 Missal, and his comments came only days after the publication of the Instruction Ecclesiae Universae, a document clarifying Summorum pontificum. Full report: Page 5 Alcuin Reid: Page 12 Editorial comment: Page 13

Cardinal Walter Brandmüller celebrates the Extraordinary Form Mass at the Altar of the Chair of St Peter in St Peter’s Basilica, the first time in decades the older rite has been celebrated there CNS

Vatican gives world’s bishops one year to draw up abuse guidelines


THE VATICAN has issued new guidelines on clerical sexual abuse, telling bishops that local laws “should always be followed”.

In a letter released this week Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, told bishops around the world to put in place guidelines within a year.

The Vatican letter developed out of a meeting Cardinal Levada held with a group of cardinals last autumn. In it he reminds bishops that sexual abuse of children is not only a “canonical delict” – a violation of Church law – “but also a crime prosecuted by civil law”, adding that bishops should always follow the local law about reporting crimes.

“Although relations with civil authority will differ in various countries, nevertheless it is important to cooperate with such authority within their responsibilities,” it says. But the document also exempts bishops from reporting information gained through confession, and stresses that priests are innocent until proved guilty.

Vatican spokesman Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi said that the letter was intended to establish “a certain homogeneity, a certain coherence” in the way the Church deals with sexual abuse worldwide, while recognising that bishops face different political and legal climates in different parts of the world.

The letter will not affect

England and Wales, where abuse guidelines were established in 2001, nor Germany, Brazil and the United States, which have followed suit.

There have been a number of cases around the world in which bishops did not handle reports of abuse adequately. Bishops in Belgium and the Netherlands, both facing sex abuse scandals, are still working on their own sets of guidelines. Full report: Page 6

Man runs across US praying the rosary


A CATHOLIC man is running across America to encourage people to pray. Jeff Grabosky dipped his hands in the Pacific Ocean on January 20 and started running east where he plans to reach the Atlantic at the end of this month.

Mr Grabosky, 28, carries a rosary ring and prays for people he knows and people he has never met. “If it weren’t for prayer, I wouldn’t be here,” he said. “I am running to encourage people to pray and to put their trust in God. It’s amazing what we can do with our lives if we do.”

He was managing a runners’ sports store in Virginia last year when he began planning the journey that started in Oceanside, California, and will end in Smith Point, New York.

Head of ordinariate to lead Rome pilgrimage BY DAVID V BARRETT

MGR KEITH Newton, head of the ordinariate, is to lead a thanksgiving pilgrimage to Rome in February next year.

Mgr Newton said: “Thanksgiving is an important part of the Christian life. The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham under the Patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman has particular reason to give thanks. The offer contained in Anglicanorum coetibus is reason enough,” he said. “Add to this the wonderful welcome we have received from the clergy and laity of the Catholic churches where we have attended Mass, and it doubles the thanks we have to offer. This pilgrimage is a wonderful opportunity for us to offer those thanks in Rome.”


Martin O’Brien Opening the hearts of young offenders PAGE 9

Nick Thomas The horror of shorts PAGE 12

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