British legal team to defend Bishop Williamson26 February 2009
A legal team has been hastily put together to block any attempt to extradite to Germany the Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson, who arrived in Britain yesterday morning. Socialite Michele Renouf has organised London- and Birmingham-based Dass Solicitors to represent Williamson, one of four recently rehabilitated bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX). Williamson claimed in a Swedish television interview recorded in Germany, and which is currently openly available on the internet, that no Jew was killed in the gas chambers. It is a criminal offence to make such statements in Germany. The bishop has been expelled from Argentina, where he was rector of a SSPX seminary near Buenos Aires, and arrived in London on Wednesday morning. He is staying at the society’s base in Wimbledon, south London.
Vatican tells South Africans to stop using new Missal26 February 2009
Catholics in South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland, who have sharply criticised new English translations for the Mass, which they became the first in the world to adopt in December, will no longer hear them used for the time being. The Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship (CDW) has ordered the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) to stop using the Vatican-approved texts. The bishops had believed that it was permissible to begin using them. Sources in the region told The Tablet that the CDW had written to SACBC president, Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg, asking him to withdraw the new translations until the entire missal has been published. The SACBC has begun using new translations of the people’s responses during Mass, but there are still some less frequently used prayers that have not yet been finalised. But the source said: “The bishops have decided to appeal Rome’s decision and want to press ahead.”
English diocese planning church closures makes limited U-turn26 February 2009
Dozens of churches marked for closure in the Diocese of Lancaster have been granted a reprieve and will be allowed to stay open under new instructions issued by Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue. While 11 churches and eight chapels of ease are to close, around 25 parishes that had been told they would be merged with a neighbour will remain open, though many have been warned this will last only “as long as the congregation makes it sustainable”. Faced with falling numbers of priests and parishioners, the diocese has just completed a two-year review and consultation titled “Fit For Mission?”. Its findings were published last weekend by the bishop under the title Parish Reorganisation 2009.
‘Progress’ in ending deadlock ahead of papal visit 26 February 2009
A Holy See-Israel commission has claimed to have made progress on an economic agreement, but has failed once again to sign a final resolution on the longstanding dispute over the Catholic Church’s property and tax status in Israel. Negotiators of the bilateral working-level commission, who met on 18 February at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, hope to sign a final accord when they meet again on 7 April – a month ahead of Pope Benedict XVI’s scheduled pastoral visit to the Holy Land.
Venezuelan bishops concerned by Chávez win 26 February 2009
The vice president of the bishops’ conference in Venezuela has expressed extreme concern at the result of a 15 February referendum which gives President Hugo Chávez the opportunity to be re-elected for an indefinite number of terms. Speaking after the election, Archbishop Baltazar Porras Cardozo of Merida, described the Government’s campaign as “the most grotesque abuse to take unfair advantages that has occurred in the history of Venezuela.” Venezuelans voted by a margin of 54 per cent to 46 per cent to amend the constitution ending term limits on elected officials.
For all the week’s top church stories don’t forget to buy your copy of The Tablet, out tomorrow.
For other recent bulletins, select from the list here:
Conscience clause amendment to gay marriage bill defeated
Koch: ‘Spiritual roots vital to EU'
French gay marriage fight goes on
MPs welcome IF campaigners
In this week’s issue
Being Christ’s hands and feet
An easeful death?
‘Give the poor the oil that anoints them with dignity: a job’
‘Migrants bring the vitality of non-Western spirituality’
Cosmic connection of the heart
Gross, and not so moral
Yes, we can confirm
The Tablet Blog
Banishing O'Brien answers some questions, raises others
Does Cardinal O’Brien deserve banishment or pardon? He at least owes us an explanation
Elena Curti, Deputy Editor
Don’t stop there, Justine Greening, the current model of aid is problematic
Bishop Kevin Dowling, guest contributor
Welby's right - St Benedict has much to offer banking reform efforts
Laurence Freeman OSB