Saturday, 18 September 2010

Pope meets child protection officers for the first time

After meeting 5 victims of sexual abuse by clergy earlier in the day, the Pope then met with safeguarding professionals, something he has not yet done in other countries. He praised the procedures in place in England and Wales since 2001. He told them:

"I am glad to have the opportunity to greet you, who represent the many professionals and volunteers responsible for child protection in church environments. The Church has a long tradition of caring for children from their earliest years through to adulthood, following the affectionate example of Christ, who blessed the children brought to him, and who taught his disciples that to such as these the Kingdom of Heaven belongs (cf. Mk 10:13-16).

"Your work, carried out within the framework of the recommendations made in the first instance by the Nolan Report and subsequently by the Cumberlege Commission, has made a vital contribution to the promotion of safe environments for young people. It helps to ensure that the preventative measures put in place are effective, that they are maintained with vigilance, and that any allegations of abuse are dealt with swiftly and justly. On behalf of the many children you serve and their parents, let me thank you for the good work that you have done and continue to do in this field.

"It is deplorable that, in such marked contrast to the Church’s long tradition of care for them, children have suffered abuse and mistreatment at the hands of some priests and religious. We have all become much more aware of the need to safeguard children, and you are an important part of the Church’s broad-ranging response to the problem. While there are never grounds for complacency, credit should be given where it is due: the efforts of the Church in this country and elsewhere, especially in the last ten years, to guarantee the safety of children and young people and to show them every respect as they grow to maturity, should be acknowledged. I pray that your generous service will help to reinforce an atmosphere of trust and renewed commitment to the welfare of children, who are such a precious gift from God.

"May God prosper your work, and may he pour out his blessings upon all of you."

Pope meets victims of sexual abuse

The Holy See Press Office have issued the following Press Release:

"On Saturday 18 September 2010, in the Apostolic Nunciature in London, the Holy Father met a group of persons who had been sexually abused by members of the clergy.

"He was moved by what they had to say and expressed his deep sorrow and shame over what victims and their families had suffered. He prayed with them and assured them that the Catholic Church is continuing to implement effective measures designed to safeguard young people, and that it is doing all in its power to investigate allegations, to collaborate with civil authorities and to bring to justice clergy and religious accused of these egregious crimes.

"As he has done on other occasions, he prayed that all the victims of abuse might experience healing and reconciliation, and be able to overcome their past and present distress with serenity and hope for the future.

"Following this meeting, the Holy Father will address a group of professionals and volunteers dedicated to the safeguarding of children and young people in church environments. "

Evan Harris' 'secularist manifesto'

in the Guardian here.

Joint statement following Lancaster House statement

There follows the text of a joint communique released following a working dinner held last night at Lancaster House between British government representatives and the Holy See delegation.

"Her Majesty's Government hosted a dinner on 17 September for the Holy See delegation accompanying Pope Benedict XVI on his official visit to the UK, headed by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone. The UK side was headed by William Hague, the Foreign Secretary. Those present included a number of senior British government ministers and senior officials from the Holy See. The discussion covered a range of areas of shared interest between the UK government and the Holy See.

"Her Majesty's Government and the Holy See share a commitment to bringing an end to poverty and underdevelopment. On the eve of a summit in New York to review progress towards implementing the Millennium Development Goals, they share the conviction that more needs to be done to address the unnecessary suffering caused by hunger, diseases and illiteracy. Strong political leadership and respect for the ethos of local communities are necessary in the promotion of the right to life, food, health and development for all.

"The British Government and the Holy See share a conviction of the urgent need for action to address the challenge of climate change. Action is needed at every level from the governmental to the individual if we are to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to set in motion the transition to a global low-carbon economy, and to assist poor and vulnerable countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change that are already inevitable.

"We had a good exchange of views on a variety of social and economic issues, recognising the essential role played by faith in the lives of individuals and as part of the fabric of a strong, generous, tolerant society.

"The visit of Pope Benedict XVI provided the opportunity to develop a deeper exchange of views between the Holy See and the UK Government. Tonight's discussion provided a useful basis for both sides to continue to pursue initiatives and discussions on areas of common interest to the UK and the Holy See".

Pope message to Catholics: stand up and be counted

Pope Benedict XVI's four-day visit to the UK has so far been one long argument -- demonstrated in words, deeds and symbolism -- against the secularist attempt to drive out faith from the public square. But the argument has been accompanied by a call -- to Catholics to take their place in that square. He made the call again at this morning's Mass at Westminster Cathedral.

He called for Newman's ideas "to inspire all Christ's followers in this land to confirm their every thought, word and action to Christ, and to work strenuously to defend those unchanging moral truths which, taken up, illuminated and confirmed by the Gospel, stand at the foundation of a truly humane, just and free society."

And he added: "One of the greatest challenges facing us today is how to speak convincingly of the wisdom and liberating power of God's word to a world which all too often sees the Gospel as a constriction of human freedom, instead of the truth which liberates our minds and enlightens out efforts to live wisely and well, both as individuals and as members of society."

Fr Keane on World Service

CV Fr Paul Keane in Twixkenham tells the WS Radio what Catholic education is for, and why it is controversial. Listen here from 30.00 - 32.15.

And again on 'Europe today' here  from 06.00 - 09.50.

Pope in cathedral: shame at 'unspeakable crimes' of clerical abuse'

At a Mass at Westminster Cathedral, Pope Benedict has just spoken these words in his homily -- some of the strongest yet expressed on clerical sex abuse.

“Here too I think of the immense suffering caused by the abuse of children, especially within the Church and by her ministers. Above all I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes, along with my hope that the power of Christ’s grace, his sacrifice of reconciliation, will bring deep healing and peace to their lives. I also acknowledge, with you, the shame and the humiliation which all of us have suffered because of these sins; and I invite you to offer it to the Lord with trust that this chastisement will contribute to the healing of the victims, the purification of the Church and the renewal of the age-old commitment to the education and care of young people. I express my gratitude for the efforts being made to address this problem responsibly, and I ask all of you to show your concern for the victims and solidarity with your priests.”

Pope Saturday: what the papers say

The Times front page shows Pope Benedict and the Archbishop of Canterbury in a warm embrace at Westminster Abbey, but headlines the "terror plot" to harm the Pope. The subtitle, "Terror alert as Benedict makes strongest attack on secular society" is surely not right: it is "aggressive secularism" -- the attempt to drive faith from the public square -- which the Pope has attacked, not secular society.

The editorial notes that "the Pope's visit has received a breadth of public support that promises to supersede current controversies" but goes on to criticise some of his sharp language against atheism and secularism. Inside, the paper dedicates four pages to the visit, including a commentary by the paper's religious correspondent, Ruth Gledhill. "So far it has been a remarkable success," she says. "In many respects it could not have gone better."

The Telegraph carries the same picture of the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury under the headline: "We will not be silenced, Pope tells secular Britain". The front-page story concentrates on the Westminster Hall speech, which is sketched inside by Andrew Gimson, followed by an edited version of the text itself. Martin Beckford reports on the Pope's meeting at Lambeth Palace with Dr Rowan Williams, and relations with Anglicans; Heidi Blake reports on the service at Westminster Abbey, where the church leaders prayed together before the tomb of St Edward the Confessor. There is also a page on the school assembly at Twickenham.

The Telegraph gives over its whole editorial column to the visit under the headline 'The Pope puts religion back in the spotlight'. "The British public," it says, "is listening with curiosity and genuine respect to Pope Benedict XVI", before going to to agree with the Pope's diagnosis that there are signs of a failure to appreciate the legitimate role of religion in the public square.

"Militant secularists have taken our tradition of tolerance and whittled it down to something quite different: toleration for a narrow spectrum of liberal-approved beliefs", the paper observes. "Anyone who falls outside that spectrum runs the risk of being demonised."

The editorial concludes that while it is too early to say if the visit has been a success, "one thing we can say is that in Westminster Hall religion was well and truly yanked back into [the public] square."

The Guardian's front page carries a photo of Pope Benedict at Westminster Hall as he comes over to greet former prime ministers and the deputy PM, Nick Clegg. But the news concentrates on the "terror plot".

Inside, the Westminster Hall speech is reported, concentrating on the sidelining of religion which puts Christmas at risk. Andrew Brown thinks the address puts paid to the idea of Britain as a Protestant nation. Toynbee thinks the Pope is reviving the spectacle of 'Winterval' to attack secularists. There are reports inside on Twickenham, and calls by abuse victims for "private talks". A box headed 'papal bull' pokes fun. The editorial, headed "A turbulent priest', thinks the Pope should be more "humble" and takes a humanist view of his comments at Westminster Hall -- a sign of the threat to secularist ideology which the speech posed.

The Catholic historian Eamon Duffy in 'Face to Faith', thinks the Newman beatification "affirms Newman's lifelong struggle to combine intellectual integrity with the surrender of heart and mind to a God he experienced as both truth and love" and adds: "For a Church whose claims to integrity, love and truth are currently taking a battering, that's a candle in the dark".

Robert Colquhoun on BBC Radio London

Listen here.

Christopher Morgan on World Service

CV Chris Morgan -- introduced as "a tax advisor and a Catholic" -- takes part in BBC World Service discussions on the papal visit on radio here and TV here (after 1:21).