Thursday, 5 August 2010

The Fr Gareth Jones Question

Catholic and Loving it - James Preece on 5.8.2010

It's strange enough that three men from the Birmingham Oratory who have done nothing wrong (we know they have done nothing wrong, it's official) would be ordered away indefinitely without a word of explanation.

But the more things go on, the stranger they get.

I understand that Fr Gareth Jones was personal secretary to Archbishop John Aloysius Ward of Cardiff. I realise this is just speculation, but it seems to me that anybody who wants to be an Archbishop's personal secretary had better be, well, diplomatic.

Several comments on this blog have reported that Fr Jones was a "failed novice" at the Birmingham Oratory. These may be fake names and I have no way of verifying their accuracy but they raise serious questions...

Basil Robertson writes...

The conspiracy theory is certainly given more weight by the inclusion of Gareth Jones with the exile of the Birmigham fathers and brother. My understanding is that Jones left the novitiate of the Birmingham Oratory of his own free will. Later, desprite being a 'failed' novice he was asked by Ignatius Harrison to be an 'expert' on canonical matters relating to the unjyst exile of the good men.

May Wadham said...

Has anyone mentioned the fact the Fr Fenlon was actually Fr Gareth Jones's novice master during the latter's failed noviciate(s)at the Birmingham Oratory? And when Frs Selden and Harrison turned up in Birmingham like thieves in the night to expel Fr Fenlon and the other two, it was in the company of the same ex-novice Gareth Jones, who had been chosen as the "canonical advisor" to back up the expulsion? This is most sinister, and could easily be interpreted as a failed novice getting his revenge on someone who had questioned his suitability to be an Oratorian.

I don't know Fr Gareth Jones and I want to be fair - a couple of people at the Oratory have told me he is a really good guy who has always been good to them and their families.


If it is true that Fr Gareth Jones was a "failed" novice under Fr Dermot Fenlon and if it is true that he was involved in Fr Fenlon's expulsion then that is very fishy.

It's the clerical equivalent of an employee who leaves his job and then goes back to sack his boss. He might be a good guy, but there's no way to be sure he's impartial. In fact, I'm fairly sure there are rules against this sort of thing in canon law.

Finally, people local to the Oratory tell me that Fr Jones is being seen in the area remarkably often. Has he moved in? That would be strange - why would somebody serving as an expert in canonical matters stick around so long after the event?

Is it a "conspiracy theory" to wonder if maybe he has a bigger role than just advising Fr Harrison?

What on earth is going on?