Friday 13 May 2011

Silence about the Birmingham Three endangers other "good and holy men"

I have long referred on this blog to the co-operation between the Catholic authorities in England and Wales and the  Government in its attack on families, on parents as the primary educators of their children, on the innocence and welfare of schoolchildren, and on the sanctity of human life.

Things could not be more serious: and still those episcopal policies, such as lending support to the previous government's legislative proposals which would have facilitated the corruption of our children, remain in force, not least through the continued employment of Greg Pope at the Catholic Education Service (see below).

This evening, on the first anniversary of the expulsion of three "good and holy men" from the Birmingham Oratory, I find myself wondering whether the Birmingham Three, their confreres, and even those apparently acting in authority over them, are all, somewhere along the ecclesiastical line, perhaps unwitting instruments of this policy of co-operation between State and Church - at the expense of the lives of unborn children, of marriage and the family.

Let's look at some of the past year's events:
  • We had the story in The Times a year ago with its hints of alleged homophobia - re-cycled by A Reluctant Sinner.
  • Importantly, we had the unequivocal confirmation from a Birmingham Oratory spokesman that the three Oratorians were "entirely guiltless of any wrong-doing whatsoever, including, specifically, sexual misdemeanours or homophobia".
  • Equally importantly, however, they remain in exile, in spite of assurances from a Birmingham Oratory spokesman in June 2010 that the Three "can come back soon and continue as normal"
Mud sticks. And since their exile we've had Archbishop Nichols undermining Pope Benedict's teaching on gay unions*, just the day after His Holiness returned from England to Rome.

Before their exile, the Birmingham Oratory website was boldly denouncing the previous government's legislative proposals which would have enabled the promotion and facilitation of abortion, contraception and homosexuality in schools, including Catholic schools. These shocking proposals - fortunately defeated following a strong campaign by SPUC, Catholic clergy, head teachers and school governors and three Catholic bishops - were painted in a good light by Archbishop Vincent Nichols.

And Archbishop Nichols has continued to back the appointment of Greg Pope, the anti-life, anti-family former Member of Parliament as deputy director of the Catholic Education Service as does Bishop McMahon, Archbishop Nichols's successor as chairman of the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales (CESEW).

Many Catholic clergy, three Catholic bishops, and others put up a brave fight against the policy of the bishops' conference of England and Wales on the Children Schools and Families bill - and not least through their courage - we won that campaign.

But silence about the unjust fate of the Birmingham Three - with the exception of lay bloggers - exposes those churchmen and churchwomen who dare to speak out boldly about the wickedness of episcopal policies to a similar fate; and it leaves families, children, parents and unborn children to the tender mercies of the realpolitik of the bishops' conference of England and Wales. God help us.

In a fascinating interview about the Birmingham Three Dr Tom Ward is asked about the silence of the Catholic clergy in publicly challenging what happened.

Dr Ward, a corresponding member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, says:
"Good priests are busy men and there was a great deal of disinformation in the media. This disinformation caused confusion in spite of the valiant efforts of individual lay people to get the truth through ... This was one reason for the clerical silence.

 "The other reason was much more worrying. The penalties that the three Oratorians had suffered were draconian and it was universally agreed that they are virtuous men who are innocent of any wrong doing. For example, on May 26, 2010 their brother Oratorian and their then Provost, Fr. Duffield said in reply to a letter: 'I agree with what you say about Fathers Dermot, Philip and Lewis and with the specific examples you give of their virtues. All three have been my friends for many years. They have not done anything wrong" and the matters involved are private and "do not involve any wrong-doing'. In a letter to an enquirer (June 5, 2010) the spokesman of the Oratory wrote : 'These good and holy men have led exemplary lives and offered wonderful pastoral care to the parishioners of the Oratory'.

 "As I said the other reason for the silence of the priests was more worrying. It was fear. Having seen what happened to the Oratorians they wondered what might to happen to them if they too were outspoken."
Quite so Dr Ward.

*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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