Tuesday, 17 August 2010

"Frankly, Father Selden, we simply don't believe you"

Catholic Family News - 15.8.2010

Parishioners of the Birmingham Oratory and members of the NACF email : 'Several weeks ago we reported a rumour that Father Dermot Fenlon, Father Philip Cleevely and Brother Lewis Berry were soon to be made subject to the ecclesiastical equivalent of "extraordinary rendition". Many suggested that this was nothing but vain speculation. Extraordinary rendition has now been carried out just as we said it would be and, in the case of Brother Lewis Berry, publicly.

Our questions asking whether and when the three would be returning have never been answered, though Jack Valero, Oratory spokesman, has said emphatically that they have done nothing wrong. He has also said that the three men would be dealt with differently, a statement which now has a very sinister ring. Brother Lewis Berry has now been sent to South Africa "for a period of at least one year" as a deacon – but when will he be ordained?

In view of what has happened to Brother Lewis Berry, one hardly dare speculate what will happen to our two priests. We now fear that the sentence to be passed on Father Dermot Fenlon is likely to be particularly cruel.

In his press release Father Felix Selden states that the reason for Brother Lewis Berry being sent to South Africa is that it "will afford him greater opportunities for a varied programme of pastoral work" and Father Selden states that Brother Lewis Berry has "welcomed this opportunity". Father Selden then goes on to reiterate that the Apostolic Visitation "has been chiefly concerned with the Community's own internal life and discipline". Frankly we simply do not believe Father Selden.

In the video entitled "The Oratory Library and Learning" on the Papal Visit website, Father Guy Nicholls tells us that for an Oratorian, "The house where he lives is his house for all his lifetime". Yet two of the priests and one brother of the Birmingham Oratory are currently homeless until and unless they are allowed to return to what is rightfully their home.

We invite readers to watch carefully for news as to what is to happen to Father Philip Cleevely and Father Dermot Fenlon and then examine their consciences as to whether they can continue to accept the fiction that this is about private internal difficulties or some minor clash of personality. We believe that what is in store for them will be draconian and the mismatch between the alleged difficulties and the savage penalties carried out will no longer be possible to ignore.