Saturday, 21 August 2010

One Hundred Days of Exile

Catholic & Loving It - James Preece - 21.8.2010

Today is the one hundredth day of exile for The Birmingham Three.

One hundred days is not a short period of time. In one hundred days you could walk from Edinburgh to London and you would only need to cover four miles a day.

To get 100 days in prison you have to do something fairly serious. There was the priest who got 100 days in prison for stealing thousands of dollars from his Church. There was the man who got 100 days in prison for ignoring a stop sign on his motorbike and killing a man. Then there was the man who attacked his girlfriend who also got 100 days in prison.

The Birmingham Three - Fr Dermot Fenlon, Fr Philip Cleevely and Brother Lewis Berry - have done nothing wrong. This is official. Jack Valeo told me on Radio West Midlands that "there's no indication they've done something wrong, they've been punished or anything. these words are wrong they give the wrong impression". Ruth Dudley Edwards says that Jack "has confirmed unequivocally that the Three are entirely guiltless of any wrong-doing whatsoever, including, specifically, sexual misdemeanours or homophobia.

So why have they been exiled for 100 days?

Why has one of them been sent away for a year?

Why are rumours flying around all over the place that the other two will get an even worse sentence?

Today the story hits The Daily Telegraph and we learn a little more about the location of Frs Fenlon and Cleevely: "The Oratory has refused to explain why the three priests have been sent away – one is now in America, another in Canada and the third is going to South Africa"

If these three men have done nothing wrong then the obvious thing is to send them home, end the media speculation and lift the shadow from the Papal visit.