Friday, 24 September 2010

Standpoint Magazine - Ruth Dudley Edwards - September 2010's-last-mystery-cardinal-newman-birmingham-three-dermot-fenlon (see bottom of page)

For the last 20 years, Dermot Fenlon, who gave up a glittering academic career in Cambridge to be a priest, has lived at the Birmingham Oratory. He has devoted himself to the study of its founder, Cardinal Newman, and the tending of parishioners. In the September issue of Standpoint, I told how, in May, with two other Oratorians, he was suddenly ejected, banned from the Newman beatification ceremony conducted last month by the Pope, and gagged.

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 for at least a year; another has been sent abroad for three years to study; Dermot Fenlon, who is 68 and in fragile health, is rumoured to have been banned from his home for five years.

Attempts have been made to turn Newman into a gay icon on the grounds that he chose to be buried with his friend Father Ambrose St John. Fr Fenlon’s essay looks at the burial from Newman’s point of view.