Day for Life - Sunday Telegraph:
This week we finally got the wake up call we needed. While foxes dominated the news from Parliament, the rest of the country was reeling from reports that scientists in Israel and the Netherlands had 'successfully' removed the immature ovaries from an aborted foetus, and matured the eggs in a laboratory. That was Tuesday. On Thursday we discovered that an American scientist had purpose-created a “hermaphrodite” embryo, again in a laboratory....
Building of the Year Award – 11 June 2003
I want to begin by thanking our hosts – the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust and BSkyB – for their generosity in bringing so many lovers of architecture together; but also for their imagination in inviting, the professionals, the creators, the dreamers of dreams to submit your work for critical appraisal in the hopes of winning recognition for their achievements. Aspiration is an essential ingredient in the continuing development of our collective human potential. Your role of architects as formers of the spaces in which we live and work is crucial in bringing the hopes which motivate us, and the reality which surrounds us, closer together. ...
Introductory remarks – Fides et Ratio Conference, Heythrop College, 31 May
Viewed through the lens of the historian every age yields up characteristics peculiar to itself. Those living at the time, and especially thinkers – philosophers and theologians like yourselves – may capture in their work some of the creative genius or the prevailing despondency of their time. But contemporary experience is too immediate to catch the overarching spirit of an age. That we have to leave to hindsight. We can only catch a flash of kingfisher blue. And not the whole spectacular flight along the riverbed.
The Tablet - 31st May 2003
The French Dominican Fr Yves Congar, with is groundbreaking work on the laity, made a huge impression on me as a young priest in the late Fifties. In his book Lay People in the Church, Congar stressed the need for basic Christian communities. These, he said, allowed people to rediscover the Church. For many of his contemporaries, he explained, 'the Church's machinery, sometimes the very institution, is a barrier obscuring her deep and living mystery, which they can find, or find again, only from below'. Through 'the living reality' of 'little church cells wherein the mystery is lived directly and with great simplicity', it was possible to experience the Church as it most truly was, the hierarchically structured people of God 'to whose life all its members contribute and which is patterned by give and take and a pooling of resources'.
I believed Congar was right then; and nearly 50 years on, I still believe him to be right. He was touching on an important truth, which is that renewal in the Church has come about, time and time again in its history, in and through the inspiration of small communities - monastic, evangelical, missionary, lay communities, communities of women - all fired by the Holy Spirit. They have been enormously diverse, but all fit Congar's description 'basic Christian community', and they all mirror, surely, that description of the earliest Church community who 'devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching, and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.' (Acts 2: 42)
A Vision of Christian Unity for the Next Generation
Cardinal Walter Kasper
Thank you for your warm invitation, and thank you for the welcome. I am very honoured, although at the same time I am somewhat perplexed by the issue upon which you have asked me to speak: “A vision of Christian unity”. I belong to a German tribe called the Swabians, and we are known to be sober and hard-headed people. Visions are not so much our affair. Maybe or probably I have my dreams, but when I awake in the morning, unfortunately I have mostly forgotten them. So for a psychoanalyst I would be a hopeless case. But even so, standing with both feet on the ground, we are able to distinguish between authentic Christian hope, which always is hope under the cross and therefore a crucified hope, and human dreams and utopian visionary expectations.
I would like to begin this evening by sharing with you a reflection given by one of the monks of the Cistercian Trappist Abbey of Our Lady of Atlas in Algeria who was killed, together with six of his confreres in May 1996 - in fact their anniversary is next week. Two years before their assassination by Islamic fundamentalists, Fr Christian de Chergé, their Superior, wrote an A-Dieu which he asked his brother to keep in case his life was taken. It captures much of what we come together this evening to reflect upon. I should like if I may to quote extracts...
For many years I was bishop of a rural diocese, which meant I lived in a house with a large garden. One of the social and liturgical highlights of the summer was a special celebration of an open air Mass with disabled people in the diocese and their families. Invariably our liturgy would be followed by tea and impromptu music and dancing. I will always remember one man whose wife had been very ill for many years. They had a disabled daughter. This man came to the Mass every year. One summer I caught sight of him and his daughter dancing together after the celebration. I had never before seen such intense love and suffering, radiating simultaneously, on the face of a human person. It was like a glimpse of transfiguration. It was as if the suffering he so clearly experienced only increased his love for his daughter, and his love for his daughter in turn deepened his inner suffering. The two things - suffering and love - were combined in the one face, and in the one life.
In the past weeks, the Cardinal's office has been approached from many quarters about the issue of child protection within the Church and society. This is by no means an exhaustive study but aims to provide a general introduction into the background to the current situation.
On Monday 16 December 2002 Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster and former bishop in the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, along with the current bishop, the Rt Rev Kieran Conry, held a joint press briefing at the Secretariat of the Catholic Bishops' Conference to report on the ten historic cases of allegations of child abuse (not including Michael Hill) involving priests of the diocese since the early 1980s.
The nub of the report commissioned by the two bishops from a firm of solicitors expert in child protection cases and legislation was that guidelines relevant at the time had been followed in each of the cases.
In accordance with the Data Protection Act and the Nolan Report*, the Cardinal made it clear that he was not authorised to disclose the identities of anyone involved in any of these cases. He was, however, prepared to answer specific questions on the handling of one case, details of which were already in the public domain.
To the welter of accusation, allegation and innuendo which today threatened to engulf a section of the media, The Times added a number of accusations of its own; notably that I turned a blind eye to the problem of paedophilia, and that victims have been paid 'hush' money. I reject both allegations.
I should begin by reiterating that my decision to appoint Michael Hill to the chaplaincy at Gatwick Airport, after receiving conflicting psychiatric reports regarding his condition, was a mistake. I acknowledged that two years ago. I do so again. I am deeply sorry for the damage he has done, and to the extent that my decision contributed to any of that damage.
To the best of my knowledge every other allegation made against a priest in my time at Arundel and Brighton was reported to, or investigated by, either the social services, or the police, or both. From that point decisions regarding the factual basis of those allegations were a matter for the police and the prosecuting authorities. Since the introduction of the very strict guidelines adopted by the Church in 2001, in cases where no prosecution results, but allegations are regarded as well founded, action would now be taken to remove a priest from active ministry. This was not the case in the 1980s when, despite your assertions to the contrary, appropriate measures for dealing with paedophilia had not been in any way adequately developed, either in civil society or the Church. Inevitably mistakes have been made in the past; but not for want of trying to take the right and best course of action.
Nowhere in your report or leading article do you mention the independent review of child protection which I set up under Lord Nolan's chairmanship in summer 2000. Nor do you mention that his guidelines were accepted in full a year ago, and are now implemented, or in the process of implementation across the whole of England and Wales.
Hush money is a deliberate misnomer. Victims of abuse, whether or not their case is pursued by the police through to prosecution, and whether or not they have been abused within the Church or society as a whole are, and have always been, free to seek compensation. If individuals decide to seek compensation they will instruct solicitors to act on their behalf. Compensation is agreed between solicitors acting in a professional capacity, and in accordance with agreed norms.
You say: 'The Roman Catholic Church has an important and ongoing role as a moral leader in our society and a profound responsibility to the faithful…'. You are right. It is my responsibility to help lead the Roman Catholic community in its moral and spiritual witness, and also as an evangelising community in our society, even in the hardest times. You also suggest that some may feel a sense of betrayal arising from mistakes the Church has made in the past, including in relation to paedophilia. I suggest in turn that many others feel deeply concerned by the apparently relentless attack by parts of the media on their faith, and on the Church in which they continue to believe.
Archbishop of Westminster
Westminster SW1P 1QJ
November 20, 2002