Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Where are they now? Part 2 - Fr Ignatius Harrison

Catholic Paterfamilias blog - 11.5.2011

As with Monday's post, I can't actually say where he is right this minute as he has not let me know (and, to be fair, I did not ask him).

Interestingly, the Fr Ignatius Harrison I refer to is the same Fr Ignatius Harrison who in 1998 wrote an obituary for a fellow Oratorian priest who was HIV+ and was alleged to have sexually assaulted boys of school age. As to the ins and outs of that case and what may or may not have been known by those involved, I refer you directly to the Telegraph and Daily Mail articles on it.

Jump forward from 1998 to this time last year and where is Fr Ignatius Harrison? Well, 13 May 2010 was the date when Fr Dermot Fenlon, Fr Philip Cleevely and Br Lewis Berry were given their marching orders from the Birmingham Oratory by Fr Harrison and Co.

So why were the Birmingham Oratory Three given their marching orders? Well, let's look at the Times report on the issue of 21 May 2010 and what an Oratory Spokesman was quoted as saying:

... the disputes centred around Newman’s beatification but at the heart of it were allegations relating to Father Chavasse. “It seemed better for him to stand down so that the matter could be looked into properly,” he said.

“Around 2½ years ago, in the autumn of 2007, Father Chavasse began to form an intense but physically chaste friendship with a young man, then aged 20, which the Fathers of Birmingham Oratory regarded as imprudent.”

In light of the Times article, it would seem that the three who regarded the friendship as imprudent got the boot. They have not returned to the Birmingham Oratory (other than possibly to collect their possessions). However, Fr Chavasse is back in situ at the Birmingham Oratory (or at least until today this link showed him back in situ). Notwithstanding what the last link might say, Fr Dermot Fenlon and his confrères are not.
It's worth noting that the same Oratory spokesman who fed the information to the Times referred to above also subsequently:

"confirmed unequivocally that the (Birmingham Oratory) Three are entirely guiltless of any wrong-doing whatsoever, including, specifically, sexual misdemeanours or homophobia."

So, to conclude none of this makes any sense at all. Three men who regarded something that was imprudent as being imprudent and are "entirely guiltless of any wrong-doing whatsoever" got the boot - that's an intriguing form of justice.

Dare one suggest without accusation of paranoia that what happened at the Birmingham Oratory last year is just part of a wider agenda? I suppose I could always ask Fr Harrison.....