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