From NSS Newsline - 16 october 2009

Thursday 22 October 2009

Catholic Church braces itself for more damning revelations

The Catholic Church is bracing itself for more revelations about its disgusting cover-ups of child abuse in Ireland.

The new report of the Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation, which runs to 700 pages, will be published at the end of next week and will show that the Church failed to rein in predatory priests who were known to be abusing children.

They include 19 clerics in the Catholic hierarchy, including Cardinal Desmond Connell who last year dropped a court challenge to stop the commission getting access to 5,586 secret Church files. Seven of the bishops who served in Dublin are dead. Yesterday, Mr Justice Paul Gilligan ruled that all but one chapter of the report of the Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation be published. Chapter 19 — and some 21 references to a cleric who is awaiting trial that are peppered throughout the report — will be temporarily censored in case it prejudices any criminal proceedings relating to the unnamed priest.

Up to 450 people have made abuse allegations against former priests since 1940.

Lib Dems pass secularist resolution

The Lib Dem regional conference passed the following resolution last weekend:

Conference notes:

1. That Britain is becoming more multicultural every day and virtually every religious faith in the world is now actively practised in the UK;
2. The steady decline in attendance at traditional Christian Churches and
3. That the Church of England is still tied to the Monarchy and the State;
4. That much discord in the world arises from strong religious belief or none.

Conference believes the time is right to separate all religious belief from its ties with Government and the Monarch at all levels so that all such belief and none is seen to be treated equally across the whole Electorate, reflecting today’s modern British society where humanity and equality are seen as paramount and religious belief is simply personal. We ask Government to set up a Commission to implement this proposal.

The motion was proposed by Chris Marriage and the summation was by NSS honorary associate Dr Evan Harris, MP.

"Faith schools" gobbling up public money

A report in the Times Education Supplement reveals that although "faith schools" are supposed to pay 10 per cent of their capital costs they have, in reality, paid only 7.5% – leaving the taxpayer to pick up the extra £18.4 million.

The TES reports: "The growing burden on the public purse comes as spending on improving all schools’ buildings has increased significantly with the Building for the Future (BSF) programme, which aims to refurbish or rebuild every secondary in England. Ministers agreed to scrap the 10% contribution from voluntary aided faith schools taking part in the BSF. The scheme has so far spent £150 million upgrading 25 faith schools."

The land and buildings of voluntary aided schools are normally owned by a charitable foundation – meaning that the churches continue to own the buildings that the taxpayers are funding and will use that public money to discriminate in admissions if it suits their purpose.

Keith Porteous Wood of the National Secular Society said: "If the Government is going to relieve the churches of their responsibility to pay their way then they should also lay upon them the responsibility of acting fairly in admissions. That such huge amounts of public money should go into shoring up religious discrimination of the most blatant kind is disgraceful."

David Cameron assures "faith leaders" that Britain needs the church

Conservative leader David Cameron had the first of what is likely to be an endless series of meetings with "faith leaders" this week. The vicars, priests, imams and rabbis are anxious to get in early with their demands for privilege and special treatment.

They repeated the self-created myth that "faith groups" make a "vital contribution" to society – citing "faith schools" and charities. Mr Cameron reportedly promised a "fairer deal" for such organisations – presumably meaning more public money into their coffers.

Then he spoke about the crucial role of the family in building society and maintaining values. Lastly he identified personal and social responsibility as being fundamental to the positive development of society, emphasising that government is limited in what it can do to solve certain problems. According to the Adventist News, Mr Cameron stressed that society "desperately needs the church if it is to head in the right direction".

New Tory MP declines to take religious oath

A new Tory MP has declined to swear a religious oath as she took her seat in parliament. Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, did not recite the traditional oath, which includes two references to God, but instead said: "I do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance" to the Queen.

"I count myself an atheist, and I thought it was far better to be honest about that. I acted in accordance with my beliefs," she said afterwards. Ms Smith said that she had no problems working with religious groups and had done so in her election campaign. She would continue to do so "in the service of Norwich North".

At 27, she is the youngest MP, and one of her two sponsoring MPs for the Commons initiation ceremony was the oldest Conservative MP, 79-year-old Sir Peter Tapsell, who represents Louth and Horncastle in Lincolnshire. The other was Devon MP Angela Browning, who, said Ms Smith, had been especially helpful to her in her election campaign.