Thursday, 15 July 2010

Concerns at the Birmingham Oratory

Catholic Family News 27.5.2010

The following Open Letter has been published today by members of the NACF who are parishioners of the Birmingham Oratory.

'We were devastated to learn from an article in The Times newspaper on Friday, 21st May, 2010 (see below) that two of our priests and a brother from the Birmingham Oratory have been “ordered to go on retreat – to monasteries hundreds of miles apart – and pray” and that this would be for an indefinite period of time. Aware that Father Dermot Fenlon, Father Philip Cleevely and Brother Lewis Berry have led exemplary lives and offered wonderful pastoral care to the parishioners of the Oratory we were puzzled, to say the least, that this severe penalty, normally reserved for offences of grave moral turpitude, should have been meted out to these good and holy men.

We cannot imagine that these men could have caused offence to anyone other than perhaps to those who find firm, Magisterial teaching on marriage and family life, homosexuality and bioethics to be offensive.

Confident that we would be enlightened as to what would be done to right this injustice we attended High Mass on the following Sunday and were duly told that an announcement would be made from the pulpit by the Provost, Father Richard Duffield. Astonishingly, he offered no explanation whatsoever for the expulsion of Father Dermot Fenlon, Father Philip Cleevely or Brother Lewis Berry, but merely reiterated the facts as stated in the Times article, that these two priests and brother had been ordered to separate monasteries for an indefinite period of time. It was distressing to realise that the gossip and innuendo inevitably attending such a penalty, generally associated with grave immorality, was effectively to remain entirely unchallenged from the pulpit.

All of this is a matter of public interest and concern, as well as a matter of grave injustice to the holy Oratorians concerned. We do not have enough good and holy priests to be able to tolerate the inexplicable loss of two such exemplary ones, and the promise of a third in Brother Berry.

Expect a CF NEWS update on this story.