Friday, 20 August 2010

Controversy continues on the Birmingham Three, champions of the family and the unborn

Stuart Reid, a respected veteran Catholic journalist, has written the most unfortunate piece for this weekend's Charterhouse column in The Catholic Herald. In brief, he labels Catholic bloggers, families and Birmingham Oratory parishioners standing up for the Birmingham Three (see my blog last Sunday) as over-excited, self-righteous, judgmental conspiracy theorists. Mr Reid has done a grave disservice to faithful pro-life/pro-family Catholics by his patronising comments. Mr Reid is also wide of the mark on at least two key points.

Mr Reid asserts that:
"the bishops of England and Wales are by no means above reproach, but their occasional equivocations and their reluctance to silence dissidents does not mean that they have embraced a Cherie Blair view of the Church."
"Occasional equivocations" is a wholly inadequate description of the bishops' frequent and determined support for anti-life and anti-family legislation, policies and practices, such as:
"[R]eluctance to silence dissidents" is a wholly inadequate description of the bishops' refusal to:
So, I think the evidence speaks for itself that "a Cherie Blair view of the Church" is precisely the vision that the bishops of England and Wales have. They are themselves "dissidents" within the Catholic Church.

Mr Reid is also wrong when he claims:
"Mr Valero has been consistent in this matter."
Readers of my blog will recall that Jack Valero of Opus Dei is spokesman for the Newman canonisation cause and the Birmingham Oratory, and that he has confirmed unequivocally that the Three are entirely guiltless of any wrong-doing whatsoever. Mr Valero told BBC West Midlands that, after
"a time away to cool down and pray and to reflect on how disagreements arose and difficulties living together arose"
the Birmingham Three
"can come back soon and continue as normal."
Yet Br Lewis Berry has not been returned to the Birmingham Oratory but sent thousands of miles away to South Africa for at least a year.

I will be listening to Sunday Sequence at 8.30 a.m. on BBC Radio Ulster this Sunday to hear "William Crawley and his guests debate the week's religious and ethical news" (according to the programme notes).

Mr Crawley, a BBC broadcaster and blogger, writes:
"On Sunday, we will try to make some sense of what is going on at the Birmingham Oratory and why three Oratorians who are "innocent of any wrong doing" have been "silenced and exiled" in what their supporters are describing as the ecclesiastical equivalent of "extraordinary rendition". Ruth Dudley Edwards and Jack Valero will be my guests on Sunday morning."
Mr Crawley continues:
"The campaign to 'free' the Birmingham Three is gathering pace. Supporters of Fr Dermot Fenlon, Fr Philip Cleevely and Brother Lewis Berry have now launched their own website, " 
Regular readers will also know that Ruth Dudley Edwards, the author, is an historian, biographer and journalist with a burning sense of injustice about the treatment of the three Oratorians and that she has been writing about the situation in various journals.  Last weekend, in The Irish Independent, she wrote:
"... I haven't had that much I could agree on with Dermot Fenlon, a close friend at UCD and Cambridge University, a distinguished academic who became a priest of impeccable orthodoxy.

"But I hate injustice, and Dermot has become a victim of a faction within his church which favours the old weapons of authoritarianism and concealment. When I read in late May that he had been ordered to a Trappist monastery, I was horrified.

For the last 20 years, Dermot has lived in the Birmingham Oratory founded by Cardinal Newman, nurturing his parishioners, continuing his Newman studies and praying so much he was known for his shiny trouser-knees ... "
I am a layman and pro-life family man who is aware of the unequivocal stand taken by these three good men against the anti-life, anti-family sex and relationships education policies of the last Government and of the Catholic bishops' conference of England and Wales.They need people to defend them. I intend to keep on doing so.

*Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, teaches in paragraph 97 of Evangelium Vitae that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.

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