Thursday, 22 February 2007

A Studious Day

Today was one of those rare days when I could focus on the more 'intellectual' dimensions of priestly ministry. For most of the day our parish hosted a seminar for priests on marriage, led by our Chancellor, Bishop John Arnold, and in the presence of our 'local' auxiliary, Bishop Bernard Longley.

Priests tend to revert to 'seminarian mode' when they are gathered together en masse for such occasions, but I must say it proved to be very helpful. The numbers of marriages are at an all time low in this country, which partly explains why I haven't been personally involved in preparing couples for the sacrament for over a year now, despite working in large urban parishes. It's easy, therefore, for one's canon law to get a bit rusty, so it was useful to be taken through the various forms and procedures (once again!) and to be reminded of such things as sanations and the Pauline and Petrine Privileges. There were also issues which certainly hadn't been covered by my Roman training - such as the validity of tribal marriages and weddings involving illegal immigrants.

Then I dashed off to the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), part of the University of London, to address the Catholic Society on the Crusades and the Inquisition. I was slightly apprehensive about what sort of audience I would encounter but the small group that turned out was very friendly. The potentially more critical members of the audience may have attended the other talk being given in the SOAS buildings this evening - the speaker being George Galloway MP, leader of the Respect party and former Celebrity Big Brother contestant. My talk was organised by the Chaplain, Fr Joe Evans of Opus Dei: a great chap, who took me to a local Italian ristorante afterwards to celebrate the Chair of St Peter.

Anybody interested in my reflections on the 'Black Legend' of the Church can look at my articles on the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, courtesy of the Faith Magazine site.

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