Monday, 16 May 2011

Where are they now? Part 3 - Fr Gareth Jones

Catholic Paterfamilias blog - 15.5.2011
Apologies for the delay in getting the third part of the trilogy up. The Blogger problems on Thursday and Friday caused mayhem (and I have a life outside of blogging).
You might remember Fr Gareth Jones from the Birmingham Oratory saga as the canonist used by Fathers Selden and Harrison.

Ruth Dudley Edwards, in one of her Standpoint articles, described Father Gareth Jones as a "bizarre choice as canonical adviser" and stated that "As a cleric, Jones rarely stays long anywhere: in the Birmingham Oratory, he was twice a novice under Fenlon and was twice asked to leave because he did not fit in."

Anyway, Fr Jones got the chaplaincy at Cardiff University a few months before The Birmingham Oratory Three got their marching orders.
As some will recollect, the reason for the vacancy at Cardiff coming up for Fr Jones to step into was that his predecessor in the position made some comments regarded as thought crimes in Nuchurch circles. What the predecessor said was:
“Let me tell you of course before you go too far, most of the offences are being committed by homosexuals.” He continued in this vein, saying, “stick to the facts: the vast majority of the abuse cases in this country – certainly in America – were not taken against what I would call children, but 95% of the time, taken against teenage boys. Now what does that tell you? Now that is a fact."

The quote above was taken from an old online edition of the the Cardiff University student newspaper on Thursday of last week. However, it would seem that their website has been updated since I copied it and the original article from which the quote was taken is no longer available online.

The predecessor even had the temerity to say the above in front of a live TV audience. Now I have to confess that I have not read the Ryan report and cannot comment on it. However, the predecessor was the communications officer for the Archdiocese or Cardiff and I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of what he said.

Having the temerity to say publicly what he had said, the predecessor obviously had to go (can't have the good ship Nuchurch being rocked by anyone talking about facts and the like - heck they might next go completely off piste and talk about Humanae Vitae or something equally damaging to the Nuchurch brand).
So we have the predecessor out and Fr Jones in at Cardiff. Then a few months later we have Fr Jones in Birmingham and out go Fr Dermot Fenlon, Fr Philip Cleevely and Br Lewis Berry (remember that's after Fr Jones had been in and out and in and out of the Birmingham Oratory trying his vocation).

If anyone is struggling to keep up with all of this in and out stuff, just think of it as being a bit like the clerical equivalent of a Key Stone Cops movie - but without the laughs.

My guess is that Fr Jones won't stay long as a university chaplain. He's on the way up the slippery pole of clerical promotion and has a patron in high places. Wales has proven to be fertile grounds for promotion before for others - so why not again?

Oh yes, in case anyone has forgotten, Fr Jones was one of those who made Fr Dermot Fenlon homeless by removing him from his home. Wouldn't it be interesting to know exactly what Fr Jones' patron knew about the reasons for the removal of the Birmingham Oratory Three from their home?