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UK News

Bishop criticises New Evangelisaton Council

The bishop responsible for evangelisation in England and Wales has questioned the Pope’s decision to create a New Evangelisation council.

Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton, in an interview with BBC Radio 4′s Sunday programme, appeared to say that the Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation, which focuses on re-evangelising Europe, is superfluous.

He also said he was not convinced by the notion that secularisation lies at the heart of the Church’s decline in Europe.

Read more: Bishop criticises New Evangelisaton Council

Bishop knew of child

A CATHOLIC bishop knew one of his priests had fathered a child - but allowed him to carry on in his role for FOUR YEARS. Peter McDonough, 54, stunned the congregation at St Patrick's Church, in Collyhurst, when he told them he had a son - as revealed in the M.E.N. last month.
Catholic priests must remain celibate unless they are converts from another religion. But in a letter which he sent to friends who were not at the service, he reveals he told Salford Diocese Bishop Terence Brain about the child in 2005. Yet he was allowed to continue at St Patrick's Church. The Bishop has confirmed the claims. The letter claims the Bishop was happy to let Mr McDonough remain in the priesthood as long as he stayed celibate. But Mr McDonough says in the end it was his decision to resign and ‘take responsibility’ for his son. Bishop Brain confirmed that he knew about Mr McDonough’s child four years ago. But on Friday he said he did not want to comment on why he let him carry on as a priest. 'Difficult journey' Mr McDonough, who is deaf and served the region’s deaf community, confessed to his congregation from the pulpit. Using sign language he told parishioners he had fathered a four-year-old boy and as a result would be leaving the priesthood. His letter begins with the former priest apologising and revealing that he has ‘very sad news to share’ before stating that he has ‘resigned from the Salford Diocese’. He adds: “It has been a long and difficult journey for me in the last few years. Over four years ago I informed the bishop that I have a son. He was very understanding and supportive and said that I could continue in the priesthood as long as I remained a celibate.” Mr McDonough, who spent the last 27 years serving the region’s deaf Catholic community, continues: “The mother of my son has given me full support in this.” He says that the boy ‘is growing fast and is continually asking questions, which has made things very difficult for us. I also need to think of his needs and rights’. Mr McDonough, who parishioners said will be sadly missed, reveals he sought therapy to help him deal with the situation. 'Difficult' He says: “I have been attending a course of therapy, spiritual direction as well as a lot of discussions, discernments and prayers and I have reached a decision where I feel it is right for me to become proactive and become a full time father and to protect the good name of the Church.” Mr McDonough will stay in his role as secretary of the Catholic Deaf Association. But Bishop Brain’s decision to have let him continue as a priest was criticised by Patricia McKeever, editor of the Catholic Truth newsletter. She said: “Father Peter McDonough has been living a lie for the past four years with the full support of his Bishop. "The Bishop’s advice to this priest, to continue in the priesthood, is at odds with Catholic emphasis on the centrality of the family.” But ward councillor John Flanagan, who is a Catholic, backed the Bishop. He said: “The whole ethos of the Catholic church is that if you do something wrong you can change that. And there are vicars who have families who have converted. “To criticise the Bishop is wrong. He has accepted that Fr McDonough broke his vows but has told him he can go on if he does not break them again. I think that was right.”

Bishop knew about deaf priest's love child

A few days ago it emerged that a deaf Catholic priest, Father Peter McDonough, seen in this video signing about the messages of Our Lady of Fatima, had fathered a child. The boy is now aged four, and starting to ask questions about his parentage. This prompted Father Peter to tell his stunned flock in the Salford diocese the news and to resign. Although it has taken the msm two weeks to catch up on this, it then emerged that Bishop Terence Brain knew about Father Peter's love child from the start but allowed the deaf priest to continue in parish ministry.

Father Peter has been involved with the Catholic Deaf Association.  He was ordained by John Paul II himself and recently celebrated his Silver Jubilee. The association's conference will be held in the Salford diocese in 2009.

Undoubtedly, Father Peter will be condemned by the 'scribes' and others who demand adherence to the letter of the law. Undoubtedly, he has broken his vows of celibacy.

But the real scandal is that he has had to resign, and that the Catholic Church has lost a parish priest its members will sorely miss.

According to the RNID, There are about nine million deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK. One of them is a woman I've become good friends with, through my son's friendship with her son. Rubbena Aurangzeb-Tariq, deaf from birth and married to a hearing man with a hearing son and daughter, is a talented artist, art therapist and heavily involved in working with and on behalf of the Asian deaf community in Britain. Through her, I have been privileged to have gained a small insight into the community of deaf people in Britain, the intricacies, beauty and sometimes humour of BSL, the isolation that can arise.

People with visible disabilities, or carrying the white stick of the blind, are immediately 'known' on sight to the rest of us. With deaf people, there is nothing to tell us beforehand.

It is understandable that many deaf people make their lives within the deaf community and don't venture out into the hearing world, which must seem hostile, frightening and unforgiving.

A few, like Rubbena and Father Peter, do find it within themselves to cross that divide and gift our hearing world with their presence. They become bridges between the us and the sounds of silence. Such inviduals are rare, and the courage they possess is immense.

Without wishing to presume on a relationship about which I know nothing, just imagine for a second the overpowering love that Father Peter must have felt for the mother of his son, who he is still in regular contact with, for it to override his vow to God as well as all these other inhibitions put in place by his disability. It must have been even more powerful, given the scandal that he must have known would certainly follow. How can such love not have been of God?

And imagine the  courage of Bishop Terence Brain in deciding to allow this rare and unusual priest to continue in his minstry, bringing his godly gifts to the people of the Catholic Church. Bishop Terence must surely have seen this priest's holiness to act thus.

With so many ex-Anglican priests now in Catholic ministry, wives and children attached, what harm could it possibly bring to the Catholic Church to let Father Peter remain a priest and in his parish?

Of course I know the answers to all these questions, answers about canon law, due process, dispensations, Rome and the rest. There was never a chance for this priest, and the Church's loss has been his son's gain.

But wouldn't it have made Jesus weep?

If Christ could once make the blind see, why won't He do it now?

Ruth Gledhill is on Twitter.