Vincent nichols

Catholic bishops split over Brexit as Archbishop accuses Osborne of ‘ludicrous’ scaremongering

Archbishop Peter Smith, the Catholic Archbishop of Southwark – whose diocese covers all of London south of the Thames – has accused George Osborne of ‘ludicrous’ scaremongering in the EU referendum. The Archbishop, talking to Vatican radio, does not explicitly say that he supports Brexit. His line is that he is ‘undecided how to vote’. But according to my sources, in private he has been telling ‘anyone who cares to listen’ that he favours the Out campaign. ‘It seems that Peter Smith wants to leave the EU – he’s made that very clear,’ a Catholic bishop tells me. Here’s an extract from the Catholic Herald report on Smith’s interview. It’s surprising and refreshing to

‘Farce’ and ‘verbiage’ behind the scenes at the Pope’s synod: an Aussie archbishop spills the beans…

Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane is one of the bishops who’ll be voting on the final report of the Synod on the Family at the Vatican tomorrow. He’s ‘quite a character’, I’m told by a priest who knows him. But anyone who’s been reading his startlingly frank and witty diary of the Synod, published on his diocesan website, will have already worked that out. There are cardinals and bishops who, after a few jars, will let slip what really goes on at these occasions. And then there’s Archbishop Mark, who – although no doubt great company in the pub – doesn’t need any prompting to spill the beans. He hasn’t broken any rules, mind. There

Cardinal Nichols attempts to silence faithful priests. This will backfire

[Update: On looking more closely at the list of priests, I’m astonished by some of the names I see there – clergy I wouldn’t have described as conservatives, let alone traditionalists. It reinforces my sense that vast numbers of priests, however much they admire Pope Francis, are worried about the direction of this pontificate – or, rather, its lack of direction.] Cardinal Vincent Nichols has slapped down nearly 500 priests who signed a letter to the Catholic Herald expressing concern about the Synod on the Family this October, which is to debate sensitive questions of sexual morality. This is a significant blunder by the Cardinal that exposes both the inflexibility of his

Keith O’Brien stripped of the rank of cardinal – an extraordinary disgrace for the Scottish Church

Keith O’Brien, former Cardinal Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, was today stripped of the rank of cardinal by Pope Francis. Technically he has resigned. But the statement above leaves us in little doubt that O’Brien has had the red hat forcibly removed from him. He’s the first cardinal to lose his title since Louis Billot, a French Jesuit who resigned as cardinal in 1927 in protest at the Church’s condemnation of the far-Right anti-Semitic Action Française movement. Billot was the only cardinal to resign in the 20th century. [Update: see discussion in the thread over O’Brien’s title. This he has not lost, de jure, but de facto he is no longer

Communion for divorced: Pope Francis has created a crisis

The Vatican Synod of Bishops on the Family begins on Sunday amid a degree of chaos unprecedented in recent Catholic history. And I’m afraid it’s the Pope’s fault. Francis kicked off proceedings in February by asking the retired German Cardinal Walter Kasper to address the world’s cardinals. Kasper used the opportunity to float his proposal – which he’s been advocating for years – that divorced and remarried Catholics should be allowed to receive Holy Communion. Kasper has now told the Catholic News Service: I had the impression the pope is open for a responsible, limited opening of the situation, but he wants a great majority of the bishops behind himself. But some of the most

Kieran Conry scandal: Cardinal Nichols faces questions about a cover-up

Cardinal Nichols this morning faces his biggest crisis since he became Archbishop of Westminster in 2009. On Saturday Bishop Kieran Conry – head of evangelisation for England and Wales – resigned as Bishop of Arundel and Brighton after (at least) two affairs with women became public. Now Conry has told the Mail: In some respects I feel very calm. It is liberating. It is a relief. I have been very careful not to make sexual morality a priority [in his sermons]. I don’t think it got in the way of my job, I don’t think people would say I have been a bad bishop. Conry goes on to say that ‘I

Bishop Kieran Conry had affairs with two women, one of them married

Update: The Mail has now published its allegations against Bishop Conry. They’re much more serious than I imagined. He appears to have behaved disgracefully; by his own admission there is more than one woman involved. I’ll quote only the last paragraph, which goes to heart of the matter: the responsibility of the Catholic Church for allowing this man to run an important diocese during years of rumours, well-founded in at least two cases. Clare Kirby, the lawyer for the estranged husband, said last night: ‘My client is considering pursuing a possible High Court action against the Catholic Church because they’ve known for years that the Bishop has been having affairs and