Thursday, 15 July 2010

The Fort is Betrayed (St John Fisher)

Catholic Family News - 24.6.2010

Parishioners of the Birmingham Oratory and members of NACF email : 'In our anxiety over the fate of Father Dermot Fenlon, Father Philip Cleevely and Brother Lewis Berry, who have disappeared from our parish of the Birmingham Oratory, we wrote to the Provost, Father Richard Duffield. He was kind enough to reply, but was unable to give us more than the equivocal answer that "I assume that the three brethren involved will be returning to the Oratory". However, he emphasised that he was not "free to speak about the circumstances that have brought this situation about" without the authority of the Apostolic visitor, Father Felix Selden from Vienna and his delegate, Father Ignatius Harrison of the London Oratory. He assured us unequivocally that he would pass on our letter to those two priests and indeed invited us to contact them directly. We have duly written to Father Ignatius Harrison, twice, and have been completely ignored. We have asked just three simple questions:

* Are Father Dermot Fenlon, Father Philip Cleevely and Brother Lewis Berry going to return to the Birmingham Oratory, or not?
* If the answer to the above question is "yes", when are they going to return?
* Is there any truth in the rumour currently circulating amongst journalists that these three men are shortly to be sent abroad?

We have refrained from putting him on the spot and asking him why these three good and holy men have been treated so appallingly.

We are parishioners and parents who are faced with trying to discern how to talk to our children, who are bewildered and downcast by the loss of their beloved priests, without scandalising them. As parents, we simply cannot understand how Father Harrison's silence can possibly be justified. Our children are witnessing what we consider to be an act of great cruelty against holy priests that we their parents cannot explain to them because no-one will answer us. What ordinary father would so abruptly remove beloved and important people from his children's lives without a word of explanation?

In this week in which we venerate the great Bishop John Fisher, who famously said, "The fort is betrayed even of them that should have defended it", may we hope that just one priest will speak out bravely in the defence of these wronged men, who have done nothing but defend the Church.?
We shall be continuing to pose our legitimate questions until they are answered.