Sunday, 26 September 2010


Catholic Family News - 26.9.2010

In his Telegraph blog, Damian Thompson has commented on Father Fenlon's article about Newman's burial, published by STANDPOINT.

'Not by coincidence, I think, no sooner has the Pope left Britain than Fr Dermot Fenlon, one of the "Birmingham Three" Oratorians mysteriously sent into exile, has broken his silence in an article for next month's Standpoint magazine. . . . It's about Newman's burial and, reading between the lines, I'm guessing that a bitter dispute about the mortal remains of Blessed John Henry Newman formed part of this controversy. What isn't clear is whether Fr Fenlon thinks the Church did the wrong thing in attempting to transfer Cardinal Newman's remains to the Oratory church . . .Is Fr Fenlon trying to send a message to the Catholic world? It's hard to conclude otherwise, given that set into the body of his text is a short article by his Cambridge contemporary and friend Ruth Dudley Edwards. She has written before about the mystery of the "Birmingham Three", but on this occasion I can't believe that Standpoint would have printed her piece next to Fenlon's without his permission. [Update: Daniel Johnson, Editor of Standpoint, says in the thread below that Fr Fenlon didn't read Ruth Dudley Edwards's piece before publication and wasn't involved in the decision to run it. I'm assuming he didn't object to it, though.]

According to Dudley Edwards, Dermot Fenlon "gave up a glittering academic career to be a priest" and lived at the Birmingham Oratory for 20 years before being "suddenly ejected [and] banned from the Newman beatification". She adds:

Officialdom continued the policy of silence and concealment even as the blogosphere came alive with speculation and protest: a spokesman spoke opaquely of disunity within the community. Yet Roman Catholic insiders suggest that it was the Birmingham Three's defence of traditional teachings on sexual morality, and their belief that Church should challenge State, that posed an unwelcome intellectual challenge to the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, during his time as Archbishop of Birmingham . . .

One Oratorian has been transported to South Africa; another has been sent abroad for three years to study; Dermot Fenlon, who is 68 and in frail health, is rumoured to have been banned from his home for five years . . . (G)iven that Fr Fenlon is a distinguished Newman scholar, long-standing member of the Birmingham Oratory and furthermore in frail health, it seems mean-spirited indeed to have excluded him from the beatification and the Holy Father's visit to his community'.