13 December 2009

Some of our speakers for next term ...

Charles Moore
Mr. Moore is a journalist who writes for the Spectator and was Editor of The Daily Telegraph from 1995 to 2003. He will speak on his experience of being a Catholic journalist and political commentator.

Clare Asquith
Viscountess Asquith is an independent scholar and author of Shadowplay: The Hidden Beliefs and Coded Politics of William Shakespeare. She has addressed the society before and returns to speak about the Catholic background of Shakespeare’s Titus Adronicus.

Dom Anthony Sutch OSB
Fr. Sutch was formerly Headmaster of Downside and new serves as a Parish Priest in Suffolk. He will speak of Catholic education today, particularly in view of his experience as former Headmaster of Downside.

Further details will be announced shortly.

3 December 2009

The Tablet reports on Bishop Arnold at the Newman Society

A respected canon lawyer said this week that Catholic bishops cannot sit in the House of Lords, writes Christopher Lamb.

Bishop John Arnold, an auxiliary in Westminster, said that canon law forbids an ordained person from taking up a position in the legislature.

His comments suggest that Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor would not be able to take a seat in the House of Lords. Earlier this year the Prime Minister suggested that the cardinal might be given a peerage.

“Jonathan Sacks [Chief Rabbi] is there but Catholics won’t be there because there is a canon in the code of canon law that says ordained clerics should not take part in any legislative forum in Government,” Bishop Arnold told a debate on religion in public life arranged by the Oxford University Newman Society.

Canon 285 states “clerics are forbidden to assume public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power.” Other canon lawyers argued that the cardinal could exempt himself from parts of canon law, as long as he kept the Holy See informed. Bishop Arnold also said he was ambivalent about the position of Church of England bishops in the House of Lords.

“I’m really quite open to the question as to whether bishops in the Church of England should be in the House of Lords or not,” he said. “At the moment on the balance of things they do a reasonable job and they are their own men in terms of the opinions they hold.”

The bishop was debating opposite Dr Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrat MP about the role of religion in public life. Dr Harris, who this year was awarded the title “Secularist of the year” by the National Secular Society, recently put forward amendments in the House of Commons to repeal the Act of Settlement, which forbids the monarch from marrying a Catholic. Bishop Arnold said that while he thought the law was “anachronistic” and should be changed, he “wasn’t going to lose sleep over it”. Dr Harris and Bishop Arnold agreed that people should not talk about Britain as a Christian country. “We shouldn’t talk about Christian Britain but Christianity in Britain,” the bishop said.
Click for a summary of the report in The Tablet
and here for commetary made in Damian Thompson's Telegraph blog.

2 December 2009

Bishop John Arnold and Evan Harris MP debate Christianity and the constitution

The third in the Newman Society’s current series of Thomas More Lectures on ‘religion in the public square’ took place on Monday. Bishop John Arnold and Evan Harris MP debated ‘the role of religion in the British constitution’.

Dr. Evan Harris MP is an Oxford graduate and practices as a Medical Doctor.  He also sits as Member of Parliament for Oxford West and Abingdon. He was recently given the ‘Secularist of the Year’ award in recognition of his role in the abolition of the common law offence of Blasphemous Libel.

Bishop John Arnold, another Oxford graduate, practiced as a barrister before training for the Catholic priesthood. He now serves as an Auxiliary Bishop in the Diocese of Westminster.

A train power failure at Didcot meant that Dr. Harris was delayed by over an hour. Substantial quantities of tea and coffee mollified the more than patient crowd until he arrived in a taxi.

Each speaker began with a ten minute presentation. In his opening remarks Bishop Arnold noted that The Tablet had billed the event as a bust up between the Church and secularism. He told the audience that he did not think that such an approach would be useful and said that he preferred to see the debate as an opportunity to have a constructive conversation: ‘There is always something to be learned by both sides. Dr. Harris and I are both here to try to evaluate an enormous subject and, hopefully, to discover some common ground.’ The Bishop continued his opening remarks by making the case for Christianity’s positive contribution to society.

Dr. Harris responded by saying he broadly agreed with the Bishop Arnold that the Christian churches made a valuable contribution to society; however, he believed that a constitutional bias towards Christianity was discriminatory and counterproductive to achieving social cohesion.

Following the opening submissions a civilized exchange took place addressing four key questions: Is Christian Britain dead? Is there a place for Bishops in the House of Lords? Can Christianity hold a privileged place in a pluralistic society? and Is Britain doing better with secularism?

After questions from the floor each speaker concluded with a short summation of what had been said. The speakers were thanked by Francis Davies, Director of the Las Casas Institute, who had moderated the discussion with great poise.

The occasion built on the two previous Thomas More Lectures examining the role of religion in the public forum, which were given by Cardinal George Pell and Francis Campbell earlier in the year. Next year the Thomas More Lectures will focus on the theme of ‘religion and science’.

The Tablet will be carrying a report of the lecture in its forthcoming edition. It is hoped that we will be able to post some more photographs shortly.

1 December 2009


The drinks party this evening provided a good opportunity to relax after the business of yesterday's Thomas More Lecture. Reviving the tradition of students giving papers, Yaqoob Bangash gave a short talk on 'Christianity in India' which was followed by questions. It being the feast day of the Blessed Martyrs of Oxford University, Fr. John Moffatt then treated us to a rendition of 'Campion's Brag', in which the martyr St. Edmund Campion called the bluff of the Privy Council (click here for the full text). Here are just two of the nine articles from the 'brag':
v. I do ask, to the glory of God, with all humility, and under your correction, three sorts of indifferent and quiet audiences: the first, before your Honours, wherein I will discourse of religion, so far as it toucheth the common weal and your nobilities: the second, whereof I make more account, before the Doctors and Masters and chosen men of both universities, wherein I undertake to avow the faith of our Catholic Church by proofs innumerable—Scriptures, councils, Fathers, history, natural and moral reasons: the third, before the lawyers, spiritual and temporal, wherein I will justify the said faith by the common wisdom of the laws standing yet in force and practice.

vi. I would be loath to speak anything that might sound of any insolent brag or challenge, especially being now as a dead man to this world and willing to put my head under every man's foot, and to kiss the ground they tread upon. Yet I have such courage in avouching the majesty of Jesus my King, and such affiance in his gracious favour, and such assurance in my quarrel, and my evidence so impregnable, and because I know perfectly that no one Protestant, nor all the Protestants living, nor any sect of our adversaries (howsoever they face men down in pulpits, and overrule us in their kingdom of grammarians and unlearned ears) can maintain their doctrine in disputation. I am to sue most humbly and instantly for combat with all and every of them, and the most principal that may be found: protesting that in this trial the better furnished they come, the better welcome they shall be.

29 November 2009

Dr Sheridan Gilley addresses the Newman Society

Last Tuesday, Dr Sheridan Gilley, Emeritus Reader of Theology at the University of Durham, addressed the society on "Newman and the Crises of Capitalism". We are extremely grateful to Dr Gilley as a long standing contributor to the society, this being the seventh time he has visited us. Dinner with the speaker was attended by committee members and by the Fr John, Fr Roger and Fr Simon of the Catholic chaplaincy amongst others.

Although Newman may not at first hand have much to contribute to our understanding of modern economic theory and its impact on society, Dr Gilley drew our attention to Newman's attacks on the character of Sir Robert Peel. Peel, Prime Minister of Britain briefly in 1834 and during 1841-46, can be seen as one of the greatest implementers of a free market capitalist policy during the 19th Century. The liberal Toryism of the heirs of Pitt was marked by its growing belief in the free market as shown by Hutchinson (the chap who died being hit by a train) and others at the Board of Trade. It is this programme that Peel is seen to have implemented.

Newman's basic attack against Peel lies in what he saw as the overly simplistic understanding of human nature by the free market policies that Peel was introducing. Dr Gilley made much of Newman's distrust of an unregulated market as a force against humanity and the integrity of the person. Perhaps such misgivings have been shown right by recent events. In all, the lecture proved to be an interesting contribution to a relevant topic as the apparent failure of fluctuations of the free market.

26 November 2009

The Newman Revisted

Its amazing to see from a google book search just how many times the Newman Society is mentioned in print.  Most famously the society appears twice in Evelyn Waugh's novel Brideshead Revisited.  Here's a list of just a few more titles:
- Squires in the slums: settlements and missions in late-Victorian Britain
- Monsignor Ronald Knox, fellow of Trinity College, Oxford
- The Old Palace: a history of the Oxford University Catholic chaplaincy
- A medley of memories: fifty years' recollections of a Benedictine monk
- The life of Evelyn Waugh: a critical biography
- Oxford in the twenties: recollections of five friends
Click here for the full list.

25 November 2009

Some interesting events

Oxford always has 'too much' going on.  We've been asked to spread the word about a number of events, all of which look very interesting:

Talk by Fr Timothy Curtis: "The Orthodox Worldview"

Wednesday 25th November:
6 pm - Vespers (in the church on Canterbury Rd.)
7 pm – Talk and Dinner (St. Gregory’s House - across the yard to the left of the church)

Fr Timothy Curtis, from the University of Northampton, will be giving a talk about the Orthodox worldview, how it leads us to the beliefs we hold, and how it differs from other, non-Orthodox worldviews. This talk is especially suitable to invite your non-Orthodox friends to who might be curious about your faith. The more people of different backgrounds in attendance, the more potential for a very interesting discussion!

Rt Hon Greg Clark MP - "Rethinking Enterprise And Climate Change"
Blackfriars, Friday 27th November, 1pm
Greg Clark was formerly Head of the Conservative Research Department and a leading international consultant. He holds the Phd from LSE and is a rising star in David Cameron's Conservative Party. Today he is on the Conservative frontbench as Shadow Secretary of State For Climate Change And Enterprise
RSVP Leah Mansfield on lascasas@bfriars.ox.ac.uk Tickets are free.

Discussion panel on the 'News from Rome'
University Church, Monday 30th November, at 4.45pm.

The pannel will discuss the implication of Pope Benedict's recent Apostolic Constitution allowing the establishment of Anglican Ordinariates within the Catholic Church.
  • Chairman: Canon Brian Mountford, Vicar of the University Church
  • The Revd Dr Myra Blyth, Fellow and Tutor in Pastoral Studies and College Chaplain, Regent’s Park College
  • The Right Revd Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Ebbsfleet
  • Canon Dr Judith Maltby Chaplain and Fellow of Corpus Christ College, Reader in Church History
  • Fr Ladislas Orsy SJ D’Arcy Lecturer, Canon Lawyer, Peritus at the Council
  • Fr Felix Stephens OSB Master, St Benet’s Hall
Questions will be welcomed. Anyone wishing to raise a particular issue, or to make a brief statement, is welcome to send an e-mail beforehand to: john.paton@chch.ox.ac.uk.

23 November 2009

Follow-up on termly Mass

People may like to read the reports appearing about our termly Mass on the Hermenutic of Constinuity and What does the prayer really say. James Bradley, who put up photographs of the Mass on his flickr account, got over 1000 hits on his Newman page today!

21 November 2009

Termly Mass and Dinner MT09

The Abbot of Downside, The Rt. Rev. Dom Aidan Bellenger OSB, visited the society yesterday to celebrate its termly Mass. The Mass took place in Corpus Christi (College!) and we were treated to a wonderful rendition of Haydn's Little Organ Mass, complete with strings. James Bradley has put up some photographs on flickr, a few of which can be seen below. Click here for the rest.

Following Mass the termly black-tie dinner was held in Pembroke. The Abbot is a Cambridge man and in his after-dinner speech he humorously reminded members not to forget that both Cambridge and Cardinal Manning (who was famously hostile to Newman) are very important.  Emeric Monfront then paid tribute to the President, Jocky McLean, who has organised a wonderful term.

New Officers

Hubert MacGreevy (Peter's) is to be next term’s President. James Jordan Jalili (Hilda's) and Tim Sherwin (Merton) have been co-opted as Junior Officers.

Termly General Meeting

The Termly General Meeting for Michaelmas Term 2009 will be held after Dr. Sheridan Gilley's talk on Tuesday 24th November.  The Society's Constitution contains full details about the function of the TGM.  Any members wishing to propose items for the agenda should contact the President: newman@herald.ox.ac.uk.

19 November 2009

Change of time for Thomas More Lecture

The Thomas More Lecture at which Bishop John Arnold and Evan Harris MP will debate the place of religion in the British 'constitution' will now take place at 8.30pm on Monday 30th November, and not 5pm, as previously advertised.

12 November 2009

Deacon Jack Sullivan visits Oxford

Deacon Jack Sullivan, who was cured of a debilitating spinal condition through the intercession of Cardinal Newman, is currently visiting Oxford.  The Vatican's recognition of this miracle on 3rd July 2009 has paved the way for Newman's beatification, which is expected to take place in Birmingham next year.  The press has suggested that the beatification ceremony may coincide with the anticipated visit of the Holy Father to England.

Tonight Mr. Sullivan attended a dinner held in his honour at Newman's former college, Trinity College.  The dinner was hosted by the college's President, Sir Ivor Roberts, and was held in the presence of HRH Princess Michael of Kent, who spoke of her admiration for Cardinal Newman.
Tomorrow, Mr. Sullivan will visit Oriel College, the college at which Newman held his Fellowship.  On Saturday he will preach at the Oxford Oratory.

11 November 2009

Thomas More Lectures - Press Release

The Society has put out a Press Release for the forthcomign debate between Bishop John Arnold and Evan Harris MP.  The debate, which is part of the 2009 series of Thomas More Lectures, will examine the role of religion in public life.

10 November 2009

Growing Up in the Catholic Church

Fr Roger Dawson SJ, Assistant Chaplain to Oxford University, recently spoke to the society on the subject of 'Growing Up in the Catholic Church'. In his talk Fr. Roger drew on his experience as a pscychologist to examine the challanges and possibilities involved in living as a young Catholic today. 

Click here for a transcript of the talk.

21 October 2009

A reply to Professor Dawkins

The first Speaker Meeting of term got off to a cracking start with around fifty people packing the Blue Room to hear Fr. Thomas Crean OP speak on the subject of ‘Incoherencies of Atheism’. Fr. Crean is an Oxford alumnus and is well know for his stance against Prof. Dawkin’s celebrated book ‘The God Delusion’. In his talk Fr. Crean identified a number of philosophical inconsistencies in modern atheistic thought.  Belief in God, he said, provides us with the answer.  Those wishing to find out more should read his book ‘A Catholic Replies to Professor Dawkins’, which is available from Family Publications.  Some of Fr. Crean's sermons can be read here.

Among those attending the talk it was good to meet two old friends of the society, Fr. Marcus Holden and Fr. Andrew Pinsent, the co-authors of the Catholic Truth Society’s excellent catechetical project ‘Evangelium’. Fr. Marcus is a Past-President of the Newman Society (the picture from his term as President hangs in the Chaplaincy’s Meeting Room) who is now serving as a curate in the Southwark diocese. Fr. Andrew, another old member of the society, has recently taken up a position as Research Fellow at the Ian Ramsey Centre for Religion and Science at Oxford University.

14 October 2009

Bishop John Arnold to debate with Dr Evan Harris MP on 'Religion in the Public Square'


The third of the Newman Society's inaugural series of Thomas More Lectures will take the form of a symposium in which Evan Harris MP and Bishop John Arnold will debate the place of Christianity in the British Constitution. The event will take place at Oxford's Catholic Chaplaincy at 5pm on Monday 30th November 2009 (Eighth Week).  [NB the time has now changed to 8.30pm]

The Right Reverend John Arnold is an Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster. He is is a graduate of Oxford University and practiced as a barrister before training for the priesthood. He is chairman of the Oxford and Cambridge Catholic Education Board.

Dr. Evan Harris is Oxford’s local Member of Parliament and a prominent member of the Liberal Democrat Party. Also a graduate of Oxford University, he practiced as a Doctor of Medicine before entering Parliament. In 2009 he was awarded the ‘Secularist of the Year’ award in recognition of his role in the abolition of the common law offence of Blasphemous Libel.

The inaugural series of Thomas More Lectures is focused on the theme of 'Religion in the public square'. The two previous lecturers in the series were Cardinal George Pell (Archbishop of Sydney) and His Excellency Francis Campbell (HM Ambassador to the Holy See). The 2010 Thomas More Lectures will examine the theme of 'Science and Religion'.

HRH The Duchess of Kent becomes Patron

The Newman Society is delighted announce that HRH The Duchess of Kent has kindly agreed to become a Patron of the Society. Her Royal Highness visited the society in Hilary Term 2008 as part of its 130th anniversary celebrations.

13 October 2009

'Faith in Oxford' appeal site launched

This new web-site has been launched to support the Newman Society's 'Faith in Oxford' appeal. The site contains information about the appeal, a message from Cardinal Pell (Patron), and links to on-line giving facilities.

The £100,000 appeal is taking place in association with the University of Oxford Development Trust and benefits from the University's charitable status. There has been a good initial response from alumni and we are working hard to acheive our target.

Photograph of Committee with Cardinal Pell

  We just got some great pictures of Cardinal Pell's visit back from the photographer. Here's one of His Eminence with the committee.

1 October 2009

Programme for Michaelmas Term 2009

Unless otherwise stated meetings take place at The Old Palace (Catholic Chaplaincy), which is located in Rose Place, just off St. Aldates and opposite Christ Church Memorial Gardens.

Speaker dinners are held at 7pm prior to Tuesday evening speaker meetings at a cost of £9 (three courses and wine). Please contact the President by the preceding Monday if you wish to dine.

Speaker meetings are followed by drinks and then Compline in the Chapel of St. Thomas More.


Thursday 7th and Friday 8th of October.
The Newman Society will participate in the visit of the relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux at the Oxford Oratory. Holy Hour for students on Thursday at 9.30pm and Sung Latin Mass in the Extraordinary Form on Friday at 8.30am.


Tuesday 13th October from 8.30pm
Join us in the Blue Room at the Chaplaincy for free drinks and canapés. It is the perfect opportunity to meet the Committee and other members of the Society over a drink; all are welcome. If you would like to learn more about the activity of the society or become a member, do come along.


Tuesday 20th October from 8.30pm
“Incoherences of Atheism”
Fr Thomas Crean will be speaking against the arguments proposed by the recent atheist attacks to religious faith. A graduate of St John’s College, Oxford and Blackfriars, Fr Crean has written “God is No Delusion” as a response to Richard Dawkin’s publications against religious faith.


Tuesday 27th of October from 8.30pm
Fr Roger will be speaking on the challenges presented by modern culture to young Catholics. Fr Roger Dawson works with Fr John as a Chaplain of Oxford University. He not only holds a Doctorate in Psychology, but has also practiced psychology in the NHS and served in the British Army and has extensive teaching experience.


Tuesday 3rd November at 8.30pm
“Pilgrims, Prophets, Painters: art and religion in early nineteenth century England”
Kathryn Barush is a graduate student at Wadham College researching early 19th Century religious imagery and its relationship with the changing religious movements of the time. From this term on, the society will introduce greater student participation in inviting members of the university to deliver a talk on their current research project or a particular topic they may be interested in.


Tuesday 10th November at 8.30pm
“A Catholic response to Abortion”
Dr Helen Watt is involved in the running of the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics, one of the most prominent bioethics institutes in Britain and the World. She has written much to address the ethical issues of abortion from a Catholic perspective, and published material on the subject in cooperation with the Catholic Trust Society. This talk will address one of the most debated ethical topics in society, parliament and in Oxford, and should be extremely instructive to all in the fundamental principles in the Church’s position against abortion.

Friday 13th and Saturday 14th of November


Friday 20th of November
This term’s Mass will be celebrated by the Very Revd DOM AIDAN BELLENGER OSB, ABBOT OF DOWNSIDE ABBEY, on the 20th of November. Mass will be followed by the Termly Dinner to which all are invited. Further details will be available from the President nearer the time.


Tuesday 24th November at 8.30pm
“Newman and the Crises of Capitalism”
Dr. Sheridan Gilley is a renowned Newman scholar, author of celebrated “Newman and His Age” and a specialist in 19th Century British ecclesiastical history. He has contributed much to the Newman Society over the years and returns to deliver his yet unpublished work for the 2009 Annual Newman Lecture at Maynooth.


Monday 30th November at 5pm.
'The place of Christianity in the British Constitution'
In the last of our series of Thomas More Lectures examining the theme of 'Religion in the public square' a Catholic Bishop will debate with an atheist politician about the role Christianity should play in shaping contemporary political discourse and governance.

The Right Reverend John Arnold is an Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster and chairs the Oxford and Cambridge Catholic Education Board. Dr. Evan Harris MP is a Liberal Democrat politician and winner of the 2009 'Secularist of the Year' award.

E-mail newman@herald.ox.ac.uk to reserve a place.

Tuesday 1st December at 8.30pm in the Blue Room of the Old Palace
A student speaker will deliver a short paper to the society and all guests on a topic of his choosing. General debate will follow during the society’s end of term drinks party. Again all are welcome.

14 September 2009

Oxford's Chancellor endorses Newman Society's appeal

From the Chancellor of the University of Oxford:

Oxford's ancient motto Dominus illuminatio mea (The Lord is my light) is reflected in John Henry Newman's Understanding that a University should be a place where faith and learning can come together in their common search for the truth. The Newman Society was founded by the Catholic members of the University in 1878 and has sought to realise this vision ever since.

I hope that the Faith in Oxford appelal will enable the Newman Society to build on its past acheivments through establishing an annual lecture series, a scholarship programme, and an association maintaining the link between the Society;s alumni and its present day members. I encourage you to support this valuble contribution to the life of the University of Oxford. May Newman's legacy continue to flourish for many years to come!

Lord Patten of Barnes CH

2 August 2009

Annual Report for the Accademic Year 2008 - 2009

The Newman Society has witnessed a busy year, the highlight of which was the visit of its Principal Patron, Cardinal George Pell. The Cardinal spent a week in Oxford as the guest of the society, during which time he inaugurated the Thomas More Lectures and launched the society’s ‘Faith in Oxford’ appeal.

Thanks are due to the Chaplains, for their continued encouragement and support. A further note of thanks should be addressed to Patrick Milner and Emeric Monfront, both of whom have served as President over the past year and have worked tirelessly for the society.

Speaker meetings
Tuesday evening speaker meetings continue as the society’s staple event at the Chaplaincy. There is always a dinner with the speaker before the talk, to which all are welcome. Following most talks there have been drinks and then Compline in the Chapel. The average has been between twenty and thirty five. The following talks were given over the past year:

• Rev. Dr. Alcuin Reid (Liturgical Scholar), ‘Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum: One year on’

• Rev. Dr. Ian Ker (Oxford University), ‘Newman, Vatican II and the English Church today’

• Lord Alton of Liverpool, ‘A Culture of Life vs a Culture of Death’

• Rt. Rev. Patrick O’Donohue (Bishop of Lancaster), ‘Fit for Mission: Church’

• Baroness Julia Cumberlege (Chairman of the Cumberlege Commission), ‘Safeguarding with Confidence’

• Rev. Jonathan Baker (Principal of Pusey House), ‘A Benedictine theology’

• Rev. Edward Clare (Vocations Director, Archdiocese of Birmingham), ‘Is there a vocations crisis’

• Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali (Anglican Bishop of Rochester), ‘The nature and future of the Anglican Communion’

• Sr. Judith Lancaster, SHCJ, (Cherwell Centre), ‘Cornelia Connelly and the role of women in the Church’

• Rev. Andrew Wadsworth (Chaplain of Harrow & designate Executive Secretary of ICEL), ‘The challenge of contemporary youth culture for anyone serious about being a Catholic’

Thomas More Lectures
The Thomas More Lectures have been inaugurated as a means of promoting the society’s academic apostolate and expanding the society’s presence within the University. The lectures revive the Thomas More Lectures, which were organised at the Chaplaincy in former years. Each year there will be a series of three major lectures focusing on a specific theme. The theme for the 2009 series is ‘Religion in the public square’. Cardinal George Pell, an alumnus of Oxford, launched the lectures in Hilary Term with a lecture titled ‘Varieties of intolerance: religious and secular’. The Cardinal delivered his lecture in the dramatic setting of the mediaeval Divinity School to an audience of two hundred, which included a good mix of senior and junior members.

In Trinity Term Francis Campbell, HM Ambassador to the Holy See, delivered the second lecture in the series to an audience of one hundred at Blackfriars. The Ambassador spoke on ‘Faith and Foreign Policy: A perspective from the Vatican’. The event was held jointly with Blackfriar’s Las Casas Institute, which is enthusiastic about future collaboration.

A third lecture in the 2009 series will take place in Michaelmas Term and the name of the lecturer will be announced shortly. The 2010 lectures will focus on the theme of ‘Religion and science’ and speakers are currently being invited. The society is looking forward to Cardinal Newman’s widely anticipated beatification, which it is expected will take place in Rome. Plans to hold a special Thomas More Lecture in Rome marking the occasion are being developed.

Further events
The Mass and black-tie dinner continues to provide a highlight in each term. In Michaelmas Term Rt. Rev. Hugh Allen O.Praem. (Past-President) celebrated Mass in Oriel College and spoke at the dinner.

In Hilary Term Cardinal Pell celebrated a Solemn Pontifical Mass in intercession for Newman’s beatification at the Oxford Oratory and Solemn Vespers in Merton College. He also spoke after the termly dinner in Keble College. In addition to the above events, the inaugural Thomas More Lecture, and the launch reception for the ‘Faith in Oxford’ appeal, the Cardinal’s programme included further engagements facilitated by the society at the Chaplaincy, Blackfriars, Campion Hall, St. Benet’s Hall, Merton College, Exeter College, the Oxford Oratory, the Birmingham Oratory, and Newman’s ‘College’ in Littlemore, as well as various private meetings and a press conference.

In Trinity Term Abbot Cuthbert Brogan OSB celebrated Pontifical Mass ‘from the faldstool’ in Merton College and Fr. Daniel Seward (Past-President) preached. The after dinner speaker was Archbishop Angelos, the bishop responsible of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Britain.

Two of the above services took place according to the ‘ordinary form’ of the Roman Rite and two according to the ‘extraordinary form’. All were were accompanied with polyphony and plain chant. The Trinity Term Mass was a particular musical highlight with Mozart’s ‘Coronation Mass’ being performed with orchestral accompaniment.

On several Sundays the society has organised a secondhand book stall at the Chaplaincy in order to raise funds for the Aid to the Church in Need. Prices were set at just £1 or £2 per book and in addition to raising funds for charity the book stall has proven a useful means of disseminating religious literature.

Other events have included a termly drinks party, an ‘Advent Happening’, and a party to mark the Feast of Bl. Agnellus of Pisa (who is buried in Oxford). In Michaelmas Term there was a discussion evening focusing on Bishop O’Donohue’s document ‘Fit for mission: Church’. In Trinity Term there was a pilgrimage to St. Birinus’ Church in Dorchester, which was held as a joint event with the Society of St. Catherine of Siena. Two Officers represented the society at the Mass for the translation of Newman’s remains held at the Birmingham Oratory.

The Newman Society Foundation
This new body has been created to advance the society’s academic apostolate. It is run by a committee comprised primarily of postgraduates and is responsible for the organisation of the Thomas More Lectures. It also has responsibility for the society’s ‘Faith in Oxford’ appeal. The Foundation has convened an Academic Advisory Board to give direction on the Thomas More Lectures and its other activities. The Board is comprised of the Senior Chaplain and six Catholic academics and has so far met twice.

The ‘Faith in Oxford’ appeal
The decision to open events up to non-members has led to a decline in subscriptions and the society’s finances have been precarious. To remedy this the society has launched the ‘Faith in Oxford’ appeal, though which it intends to raise an endowment fund which will be used to support the Thomas More Lectures and the society’s ongoing activities. The society is working in collaboration with the University of Oxford Development Trust and the appeal benefits from the University’s charitable status (allowing tax on donations to be retrieved through the 'Gift Aid' scheme).

The initial phase of the appeal has involved soliciting donations from alumni through sending them promotional material (copies enclosed). In the second phase of the appeal approaches will be made to potential major donors and to funding bodies. The society is being advised (free of charge) by a professional fundraiser and has also received advice from the University’s Development Office.

In addition to donations from private individuals funding has been forthcoming from the Chaplaincy, The Catholic Herald, the Las Casas Institute, and Oxford University Clubs Committee.

The society has worked hard to promote itself in the national media. There have been news items reporting events in The Times (Cardinal Pell/Dr. Nazir-Ali), The Catholic Herald (Cardinal Pell/Launch of Appeal/Francis Campbell), The Tablet (Bishop O’Donohue/Cardinal Pell/Francis Campbell), and The Church Times (Dr. Nazir-Ali). Internet news sites and Catholic blogs have also provided extensive coverage of the society’s events. The society’s history on wikipedia has been updated and work is underway on expanding its web-site. See http://users.ox.ac.uk/~newman/ (which will soon be accessible through the http://www.newmansociety.org.uk/ address).

Cardinal George Pell, Bishop Arthur Roche, Bishop Peter Elliott, and Fr. Paul Chavasse (Provost of the Birmingham Oratory and Postulator of Newman’s Cause) have become Patrons of the society. Their involvement has been an enormous help in supporting the appeal. Both Cardinal Pell and the Chancellor, Lord Patten, have written letters of endorsement for the appeal.

In the Chancellor’s words - ‘May Newman’s legacy continue to flourish for years to come!’

3 July 2009

Cardinal Newman's beatification announced - Te Deum laudamus!

By Ruth Gledhill

Pope Benedict XVI has today promulged the decree that paves the way for the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, England’s most significant convert to Roman Catholicism. Read the background to the Cause at Birmingham Oratory's home page devoted to this.

There is more detail in our news story on the front of Times Online, plus a brief outline of how to become a saint, and the original obituary of John Henry Newman as it appeared in The Times on 12 August 1890. The Catholic Church here has issued the Oratory's release.

Latest news is that the most likely date for the rite of beatification is next spring. That would pave the way for a Papal visit to Britain next September, pegged to a Newman theme.

The way is now clear for Cardinal Newman, who founded the high church Oxford Movement in the Church of England before going over to Rome in 1845, to be made a saint. He would then become the first non-martyr saint in England since the Reformation.

The Pope cleared the path for the beatification by officially recognising the healing of Jack Sullivan, pictured left, a Catholic deacon in the US, in 2001 as a miracle resulting from the intercession of Newman. I reported this for The Times last month. Read an earlier report about the medical progress of the miracle itself from the Catholic Herald.

This is how the Catholic Herald reported the cure itself:
'In 2000 Mr Sullivan, a married father of three grown children and a long-serving court magistrate for Plymouth District Court, was in the middle of his diaconal studies at St John's Seminary when he began experiencing severe and incapacitating back pain. Tests and scans revealed that several of Mr Sullivan's lumbar vertebrates and disks were squeezing his spinal cord and affecting the nerves going to his legs. Doctors told him that, without surgery, he could become paralysed.

"I was in agony. There was no traumatic event that occurred that would have caused this pain. It just suddenly happened," explained Mr Sullivan. "I was doubled over in agony and experienced constant pain."

'Not only was Mr Sullivan shocked by the diagnosis, but he was also devastated that he could not return to his diaconal studies, which started up in a month. "I enjoyed the first two years of the process and my heart was really set on being ordained because I wanted to be of service to the Church and to serve God in the best way that I knew how," he said.

'To distract himself from his pain and disappointment, he left his doctor's office and went home to watch television. A programme on the beatification process for Cardinal Newman happened to be on the Eternal Word Television Network.

'After the programme Mr Sullivan said he decided to recite this simple prayer to Cardinal Newman: "Please, Cardinal Newman, intercede with God to help me go back to classes and be ordained."

'When he awoke the next morning Mr Sullivan was pain-free and could walk upright for the first time in months.'

The news of the imminent beatification, which trickled out in the quads at Oxford early this morning, has been welcomed by all involved for years with the cause.

Father Daniel Seward, Parish Priest of the Oxford Oratory, said, 'The beatification of John Henry Newman will be a great moment for the Catholic Church in England and for the English Oratory which he founded. Newman's pursuit of truth, his defence of conscience and his kind and faithful exercise of the priesthood make him a figure for us to imitate and a friend whose prayers will help us from Heaven.'

There will be a Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving and Te Deum at the Oxford Oratory at 11am on Sunday 12th July.  'We await eagerly further news of the date of the beatification ceremony,' said Father Seward.

Yaqoob Bangash, past president of the Newman Society in Oxford, said, 'I am delighted to hear the news. Newman has always been regarded as a great thinker and scholar, and now there is also true recognition of his holy virtues. Being in Oxford, where Newman studied and lectured, we now have a another reason to imitate his zealous search of truth in all fields of life— something which the Oxford University Newman Society, of which I am Past President, continues to promote through its series of lectures and other events in Oxford and beyond.'

One question now is where will the rite of beatification take place? Rome or Westminster? And might it herald a visit here by Pope Benedict?

Clues can perhaps be found in the recent changes the Pope introduced for beatifications. The Pope has made it possible for him personally no longer to have to preside at the rites.

The document says: 'The Holy Father Benedict XVI's recent decision not to preside personally at Beatification rites is a response to the widely felt need to: i) give greater emphasis in the celebration to the substantial difference between Beatification and Canonization; and ii) to involve the particular Churches more visibly in the Beatification rites of their respective Servants of God.

'It became clear in the many Beatifications celebrated by John Paul lI in every part of the world that it is more pastorally suitable that Beatifications take place preferably in the particular Churches, while allowing for the possible choice of Rome for special reasons to be assessed, case by case, by the Secretariat of State.'

This means there could be a local ceremony in Westminster for the beatification, with the big one saved up for the canonisation, which could be sooner rather than later, and the perfect opportunity for the Pope to visit Britain.
Here's praying - invoking the intercession of one Cardinal John Henry Newman of course!

16 June 2009

Bishop of Lancaster Tells Oxford Students to Challenge Dissent, Even in Priests or Bishops

From Life Site News
By Patrick B. Craine

OXFORD, June 16, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Most Rev. Patrick O’Donoghue, who retired as Bishop of Lancaster at the end of April, delivered a powerful address to the Oxford University Newman Society in January, calling the Catholic students to faithful service of the Church.

Bishop O’Donoghue’s talk dealt with his recent instruction Fit for Mission? Church, published in August 2008, which called for the restoration of authentic Catholicism in England.

In his address, Bishop O’Donoghue highlighted the importance of the Second Vatican Council for the contemporary Church, calling for a fuller and more authentic implementation. “It’s now up to us to fully embrace the ‘true’ teaching and decisions of the Council,” he said, “and abandon the ‘fictions’ foisted on us by some clergy, religious and laity who are disobedient and arrogant in their will-to-power. So, I am calling for an enquiring fidelity to the teaching of the Council”.

The bishop called on the students to challenge the false teachers within the Church, no matter their stature. “If you hear any Catholic say or teach something that goes against the teaching and discipline of the Church, as safe-guarded by the Pope,” he said, “politely, but firmly, challenge them, be they a lay catechist, teacher, deacon, priest or even a bishop”.

He highlighted several major obstacles to a true implementation of the Council: “rejection of the past”; “rejection of the moral authority of Church in favour of the authority of conscience”; “influence of secularism in the Church”; “scepticism or at least down playing of the supernatural”; and “humanity becomes the measure of everything”.

Bishop O’Donoghue said he is convinced, “that the remedy for all these trials and troubles in the Church in England and Wales is for each one of us to embrace sacrifice as the hallmark of our lives in the world and in the church, the hallmark of our spirituality”. The bishop suggested a number of sacrificial acts to embrace.

First, “embrace the Tradition of the Church,” he said, emphasizing the need for personal, family, and liturgical prayer. Second, the bishop said, “embrace a self-critical conscience….I want you to re-discover the ancient Catholic attitude of a self-critical conscience that includes suspicion about the obsessions and cravings of human nature”.

Third, the bishop called the students to “embrace obedience to the teachings of the Church”. “Start from the assumption that the Church has good reasons for teaching the doctrines and morals that she teaches” he said. “Search out those reasons, make the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church the most thumbed and creased books in your libraries.”
Fourth, he told them to “embrace the total Catholic world view”, and fifth, to “embrace the divinity and humanity of Jesus”.

Bishop O’Donoghue concluded his address by calling the students to spread the truth throughout Great Britain.

For Bishop O’Donoghue’s talk to the Newman Society: http://www.lancasterdiocese.org.uk/admin/Uploads/media/35/Newman%20Talk.pdf

See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage: English Catholic Bishops have Failed to Admit “Sickness” of Dissent in the Church: Lancaster Bishop http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/nov/08111901.html

15 May 2009

Bishop of Rochester visits society

From The Church Times

Pope could help, says Nazir-Ali
by Bill Bowder

THE Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, who resigns on 1 Septem­ber, spoke last week of the part the Roman Catholic Church might play in healing splits in the Anglican Com­munion (News, 3 April).

The Pope could still provide a focus of unity for the Anglican Church, he said, speaking after an ad­dress to the Newman Society in Oxford on Friday. “To some extent it depends on how the Bishop of Rome and other Vatican officers behave.”

Dr Nazir-Ali (above) is a former member of the Anglican-Roman Catho­lic International Commission (ARCIC). The Pope had “a right” to such a unifying role; but it would have to be in “strict fidelity to scripture”, he said. The goal of ARCIC was to find unity “in which all that we value is respected”. People wished to be “united but not absorbed”.

Speaking of the cool relations be­tween Rome and Canterbury since the ordination of women, Dr Nazir- Ali said: “I do not want to let the hard labour of the last 50 years go to waste.” He said that a new ARCIC, expected to reconvene later this year, would address the central issue of the relationship between the local churches and the worldwide Church.

Last year’s Synod of Bishops in Rome had said that all churches and all Christian families should own and read the Bible. “Tom Wright [the Bishop of Durham] said that, if this had been said in 1523, there would never have been a Reformation”, said Dr Nazir-Ali.

Anglicans had never claimed to be the one true Church. Several Lambeth Conferences had said that Anglicans stood ready to disappear in the cause of greater Catholic unity, he said.
However, there were certain things that they brought to the worldwide Church: the vernacular liturgy, the formation and discipline of clergy, and moral reflection. He re­called that the question of how the Roman Catholic Church could receive “these gifts” had been of concern to Pope Paul VI when he had canonised the English martyrs in the 1970s. He had spoken of a time when “the Roman Catholic Church is able to embrace its ever-beloved sister”.

Recalling the reasons why John Henry Newman had left the Church of England to become a Roman Catho­lic, he said: “It had to do with the ecclesial deficit. I think Anglicans have not addressed this ecclesial deficit properly yet.”

There was in the Anglican Com­munion “the logic of fragmentation” and “the logic of catholicity”. “The question now is: Which will prevail?”

British Ambassador to the Holy See visits Newman Society


Francis Campbell, the British Ambassador to the Holy See, spoke at Oxford University on hursday 14th May. Addressing an audience of academics and students at Blackfriars, the niversity Hall of the Dominicans, the Ambassador delivered a ‘Thomas More Lecture’ which was jointly organised by Oxford University Newman Society and the Las Casas Institute. Mr. ampbell began the lecture by arguing that faith issues had, until relatively recently, been eglected in the formation of foreign policy. He told his audience “While no doubt the marginalising of religion started with the Enlightenment, it was more likely fuelled in recent ecades by ecularisation/modernisation theory ... It was commonly assumed that the world was following a trajectory set off in north Western Europe at the time of the Industrial Revolution. For much of the 20th century the theory went unchallenged.”

The Ambassador stated that “there is scarcely a month without a religious story dominating the media” and provided examples of the resurgence of religious issues on the world stage. Mr. Campbell went on the say that “Increasingly today religion is perceived as a threat because of its association with terrorism. A major challenge is to bring it back to a situation where we have a more balanced perspective and see it as much as a vehicle for peace and helping resolve conflicts.” He posed the question “How do we arrive at a situation where foreign policy is better equipped to deal with religion?” and argued that “First, we must sensitise ourselves to a world in which religion is alive and well; not the world in which some might feel more comfortable. Secondly, we must begin to see religion as much as a source of healing as it is now seen as a source of division.”

In the second part of his lecture Mr. Campbell drew on his experience as Ambassador to the
Holy See to reflect on the importance of Vatican’s diplomatic role on the world stage. He argued that the Holy See occupies a unique position as a world opinion former with grass root networks in almost every country. Focusing on issues of international development, climate change and the environment, and military disarmament the Ambassador outlined areas of concrete corporation between the UK Government and the Holy See.

In his concluding remarks the Ambassador told his audience “Faith is a feature of modern life, including our foreign policy. But when viewed exclusively through a negative prism we are selling our societies short and abandoning a valuable asset which can help us address many contemporary challenges… [R]eligion has played a much needed positive role in bringing peace and stability to many situations. Now, the challenge is to see the bigger canvas: it is to realise that religion can serve to propel us forward to achieve the greatest challenge of our time, feeding the hungry, educating the young, housing the poor and caring for the sick and resolving and preventing conflict. In all of those tasks, the Holy See is a vital partner for the UK.”

The lecture was given as part of Oxford University Newman Society’s 2009 series of Thomas More Lectures’, which are centred on the theme of ‘religion in the public square’. It was held in conjunction with the Las Casas Institute of Blackfriars Hall, as part of the institute’s Martin de Porres programme, which is sponsored by CAFOD.

For further information see:

14 May 2009

H.E. Francis Campbell 'Faith and foreign policy'

'Religion in the public square'

Francis Campbell
HM Ambassador Holy See

'Faith and foreign policy:
A perspective from the Vatican'

Blackfriars, Oxford University
14 May 2009

At the outset I would like to thank the organisers – Oxford University’s Newman Society and the La Casas Institute - for their kind invitation this evening to give a talk on ‘Faith and Foreign Policy’ as part of the Thomas More lecture series.

It is great to see some familiar faces and to be able to witness first hand the work of the new La Casas Institute and I wish Francis and the team the very best in the coming years. I would also like to pay tribute to our Chair this evening – John Battle MP. I have known John from my very first days in the Foreign Office. Again, in No.10 we worked closely together when John served as Tony Blair’s envoy for interfaith.

As we know John has announced that he will not be standing at the next election, and if you forgive me I would like to pay tribute to John tonight for the life of service he has given our society. It is fitting that as we talk this evening about ‘religion in the public square’ we praise the work of one who did so much in his career in public life. We think in particular of John’s work on East Timor and Interfaith where he made a real and lasting difference. John - Thank you.

This evening I have been asked to talk about faith and foreign policy and to give a perspective from my current standpoint at the Vatican. I want to speak to two areas – the first area which will set the context, will look at foreign policy and religion more generally; why religion was often ignored in foreign policy considerations; and why it now deserves to be taken seriously and in a balanced perspective. The second area of the talk will give application by focusing on aspects of the UK’s diplomacy at the Holy See.

6 May 2009

Ambassador calls for a return of religion to policy at Newman Society

From The Catholic Herald

The British Ambassador to the Holy See, Francis Campbell, delivered a major lecture "Faith and Foreign Policy: a perspective from the Vatican" at Blackfriars, Oxford University, on May 14 as part of the Thomas More lecture series.

Mr Campbell argued that for much of the 20th century religion was ignored in foreign policy. He said: "How do we arrive at a situation where foreign policy is better equipped to deal with religion? It must start with two things. First, we must sensitise ourselves to a world in which religion is alive and well; not the world in which some might feel more comfortable. Secondly, we must begin to see religion as much as a source of healing as it is now seen as a source of division."

Religion was perceived as a threat because of its association with terrorism and "a major challenge" was to bring back a "more balanced perspective", he said, and see religion as much as a vehicle for peace and as helping to resolve conflicts.

Religion mattered in foreign policy and has never gone away, he said, but "rather it was the dominant western perspective that was too narrow and deterministic".

20 March 2009

Cardinal Pell launches Newman Society's 'Faith in Oxford' appeal

From The Catholic Herald

The Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, launched the Oxford University Newman Society's "Faith in Oxford" appeal during his recent visit to Britain which aims to raise £100,000 to support lectures and scholarships.

Cardinal Pell praised the work of the Newman Society in promoting the Church's mission in the university and collaborating with Catholic chaplains as well as the religious communities and churches in Oxford. "The society plays host to prominent speakers," the cardinal said, "and organises a varied programme of religious and social events which help contribute to the vibrant Catholic environment within the University and City of Oxford. As patron of the Newman Society, and as an alumnus of the University of Oxford, it gives me great pleasure to launch the Newman Society's 'Faith in Oxford' appeal."

"The Newman Society draws its inspiration from one of Oxford's greatest modern theologians - the Venerable John Henry Newman. Past members include Evelyn Waugh, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Mgr Ronald Knox, Mgr Robert Hugh Benson, Hilaire Belloc and J R R Tolkein.The "Faith in Oxford" appeal will establish an endowment of £100,000 to support the Newman Society in its work of promoting Newman's legacy in Oxford, in particular through the Thomas More lectures, scholarships for students whose work contributes to the wider deposit of Catholic scholarship and annual events for alumni and benefactors.

13 March 2009

Cardinal Pell tells Newman Society: Confront Secular Intolerance

From The Catholic Herald
By Mark Greaves

Cardinal George Pell has said a crucial task for Christians today is to "regularly and publicly" confront secularists who want to push religion out of the public sphere.

The cardinal - one of the Church's most influential voices - said Christians needed to show secularised societies that "there are better ways to live".

He made the comments at a lecture at Oxford last week on "Varieties of Intolerance: Religious and Secular", organised by the Oxford University Newman Society and sponsored by The Catholic Herald.

He spoke of a "dangerous" new trend across the English-speaking world to use anti-discrimination legislation to curb religious freedom. To fight this intolerance, he said, Christians needed to regain their "self-confidence and courage".

"Put simply, Christians have to recover their genius for showing that there are better ways to live and to build a good society; ways which respect freedom, empower individuals and transform communities," the Archbishop of Sydney said.

"The secular and religious intolerance of our day needs to be confronted regularly and publicly. Believers need to call the bluff of what is, even in most parts of Europe, a small minority with disproportionate influence in the media. This is one of the crucial tasks for Christians in the 21st century."

As a primary example of intolerance Cardinal Pell cited the treatment of Christians and Mormons who supported Proposition 8, the amendment that reversed California's gay marriage law last November.

He described how churches and temples were subjected to violence, vandalism and intimidation, and how supporters of the amendment were forced from their jobs and blacklisted.

He then argued that criticism of violence by Muslim extremists was being proscribed by western democracies by punitive legislation."

What do these two tales of intolerance tell us?" the cardinal asked. "We should note the strange way in which some of the most permissive groups and communities, for example Californian liberals in the case of Proposition 8, easily become repressive, despite all their high rhetoric about diversity and tolerance."

There is the one-sidedness about discrimination and vilification," he said, because "Christianophobic blacklisting and intimidation is passed over in silence".

He added that in a healthy democracy people should be free to discuss and criticise each other's beliefs. Reciprocity, he said, was essential to this but "some secularists seem to like one-way streets", seeking to drive Christianity from the provision of education, healthcare and welfare services.

He said that courts in the US were winding back exemptions for religious groups to provide services in line with their own beliefs.

In Australia, he said, a law decriminalising abortion in the state of Victoria "made a mockery" of conscientious objection by forcing doctors to refer patients to healthcare workers who would provide it. "

Clearly there is an urgent need to deepen public understanding of the importance and nature of religious freedom," he said. "Believers should not be treated by government and the courts as a tolerated and divisive minority whose rights must always yield to the minority secular agenda."

He explained that the effect of the "totalitarian tendencies" of modern liberalism was to "enforce conformity" and to strip Christianity of the power of its public witness.

"There is no need to drive the Church out of services if the secularisation of its agencies can achieve this end," he added.

The pressure against religion in public life, he argued, stemmed mainly from a misplaced belief in "absolute sexual freedom".

The cardinal said: "At the level of the individual, the possibilities of happiness are greatly restricted by the lovelessness, fear and despair that the assertion of the autonomous self against others usually leaves in its wake." In a press conference before the lecture the cardinal discussed a number of subjects, including the crisis afflicting the Legion of Christ, a congregation which recently admitted that its late founder, Fr Marcial Maciel, had secretly kept a mistress and fathered a child.

Cardinal Pell said it was not reasonable to expect the Legion to deal with the revelations without outside help. He said an authority in the Church should intervene to investigate Fr Maciel's corruption and potentially to re-examine the Legion's charism.

On Europe, he said that in the Netherlands "radical liberalism has been tried for 40 years and has almost destroyed the Church".

He said: "I think we've been tempted in the past to try to make Catholicism more attractive by going quiet or softly on the so-called hard teachings, the call to faith, the call to forgiveness, the call to sexual fidelity. Cut-price Christianity doesn't work - it's never going to be cost-free."

On the lifting of the SSPX excommunications, he said he supported efforts to reconcile the Lefebvrists with the Church, but that "it remains to be seen just how much this lifting will help". He added: "The whole operation was not a brilliant success - and I think that's understating it."

After his lecture in the Divinity Hall at Oxford University he answered questions on moral relativism, science and the role of the laity. He also clarified his opposition to gay marriage, saying he believed some recognition of gay relationships was "appropriate". He said: "I would agree that in a long-term homosexual relationship, it's appropriate for them to be recognised in law. I don't think the rights should be equivalent to the state of heterosexual marriage because I regard that as the basic cell of our society which is truly important for the future and for the protection of children."

Cardinal Pell had been invited to Oxford by the Newman Society to launch its appeal for £100,000 to fund a lecture series, a scholarship programme and an alumni association. His lecture is available in full on the society's website, http://www.newmansociety.org.uk/.

We will be publishing an exclusive interview with Cardinal Pell next week.

— As we went to press, the Pope was expected to issue a letter to the world's bishops about the lifting of the excommunications of the SSPX bishops.

11 March 2009

Pictures of Cardinal Pell's visit

Br Lawrence Lew OP has put up some excellent photographs of Cardinal Pell's visit on flickr:


8 March 2009

Visit of Cardinal Pell to the Newman Society

The Newman Society has been honoured with a week-long visit of its Principal Patron, Cardinal George Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney. His Eminence studied for a doctorate in church history at Campion Hall and is an old member of the society.

The Cardinal came in response to an invitation from the society to deliver its inaugural Thomas More Lecture and launch the ‘Faith in Oxford’ appeal (about which more later). In a wonderful but exhausting week His Eminence also attended events organised or facilitated by the society at Trinity College, Merton College, Exeter College, Campion Hall, Blackfriars, and the Catholic Chaplaincy. He also visited Newman’s ‘College’ in Littlemore (where he met with Area-Bishop William Kenny CP), Stonor Park, and the Birmingham Oratory. The Cardinal also gave a witty address at a formal dinner held in his honour at Keble College.

His Eminence celebrated two public liturgies for the society, both of which were accompanied by magnificent plainchant and polyphony and were filled to capacity. The first was a celebration of Vespers according to the Extraordinary Form in Merton College. The second, a solemn Mass of the Holy Spirit in intercession for Cardinal Newman’s beatification at the Oxford Oratory. The Cardinal told the congregation of his deep admiration for John Henry Newman and assured them he would do all within his power to promote his cause for beatification.

During his visit Cardinal Pell formally dedicated the Newman Society to Our Lady of Oxford during a Mass held in her chapel at the Oxford Oratory. The miraculous image of Our Lady of Oxford was brought from Rome to Oxford by Hartwell de la Garde Grissell, one of the founding members of the society.

The society is tremendously grateful to the Cardinal for his wonderful encouragement. Ad multos annos, Your Eminence!


Visit to Newman's 'College' in Littlemore

At Newman's desk in the Birmingham Oratory

Vespers at Merton College

1 March 2009

Programme for Cardinal Pell's visit to the Newman Society 2009

Monday 2 March
  • His Eminence met at airport
  • Private engagements

Tuesday 3 March
  • Private Mass
  • Visit to Stonor Park accompanied by Newman Society officers, tour, tea with Lord and Lady Camoys

Wednesday 4 March
  • Private Mass
  • Private engagements
  • Dinner with Chaplains and officers of Oxford University's catholic societies, Catholic Chaplaincy

Thursday 5 March
  • Visit to Birmingham Oratory accompanied by Newman Society officers, meeting with Provost, Mass in Newman's Chapel, tour, lunch
  • Solemn Vespers for Newman Society (Extraordinary Form), Merton College
  • Reception, Merton College
  • Newman Society dinner in honour of His Eminence, speech by His Eminence, Keble College

Friday 6 March
  • Press Conference, Exeter College
  • Newman Society inaugural Thomas More Lecture 2009, Divinity School
  • Reception, speech by His Eminence to launch Newman Society's Faith in Oxford appeal, Divinity School
  • Newman Society Solemn Pontifical Mass in intercession for the Beatification of Cardinal Newman, Oxford Oratory
  • Dinner, Oxford Oratory

Saturday 7 March
  • Mass, consecration of Newman Society to Our Lady of Oxford, Our Lady of Oxford's Chapel, Oxford Oratory
  • Private tour of Oxford
  • Lunch with Heads of the Catholic Halls, Campion Hall
  • Tour of Trinity College, including exhibit of Newman-related items, with Sir Ivor Roberts (President of Trinity) and invited guests, followed by tea
  • Recital of music and readings inspired by Cardinal newman, Trinity College Chapel

Sundya 8 March
  • Breakfast with University students preparing for Receition into the Church, Old Parsonage Hotel
  • Mass, St Benet's Hall
  • Lunch, St Benet's Hall
  • Anglican 'Passiontide Service, homily by His Eminence, Merton College
  • Dinner, Merton College

Monday 9 March
  • Mass and meeting with Bishop William Kenny (Episcopal Vicar for Oxfordshire), Newman's 'College', Littlemore
  • Tour and meeting with The Sisters of the Work, Newman's 'College', Littlemore
  • Depart airport