Friday, 24 September 2010

Birmingham Three priest 'breaks his silence'

... is the odd title of a post by the Telegraph's Damian Thompson about an article by Fr Dermot Fenlon on Newman in Standpoint. Odd, because there was never any silence imposed on the three members of the Birmingham Oratory who were asked to leave it following internal disputes lasting years -- except in so far as they weren't allowed, like the other Oratorians, to discuss the Visitation which led to their removal. But they have always been quite free to speak and write about anything else -- not least Newman, as Fr Fenlon does, rather beautifully, in his article.

The really curious thing is why the Standpoint's editor, Daniel Johnson (photo), chose to insert into a box within the article a reprise by Ruth Dudley Edwards of the bizarre and entirely fictitious conspiracy theory -- scotched by the statements by two of the three in the fortnight before the papal visit -- that the removal of the Three was due to their "defence of traditional teachings on sexual morality, and their belief that Church should challenge State, that posed an unwelcome intellectual challenge to the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, during his time as Archbishop of Birmingham." 

This nonsense was put out at length by Dudley Edwards in Standpoint the previous month, but dismissed by the Oratorians, rebutted in statements by two of the Three, and exposed as an urban myth. Why does Johnson give Dudley Edwards a platform to repeat it -- especially as it adds nothing to what she said before? Very curious.