RELIGION: Put in place a system for dealing with asylum seekers of which the UK would be proud

In the TABLET magazine this weekend
It is the Government and a section of the media that is obsessed with Channel boat crossings, not the general public, we point out in our leader this week. A recent poll found that immigration in all its aspects rated only eighth in a list of public concerns, well below inflation, the cost of living and the NHS. A decent and sensible government – and Rishi Sunak was chosen by Conservative MPs because he was thought to be sensible – would start again from scratch, identify the correct legal and moral imperatives, and put in place a system for dealing with asylum seekers of which the country would no longer be ashamed, but proud. 

Bishop Paul McAleenan described the reports of overcrowding and dangerous conditions at the Manston migrant centre in Kent, where nearly 3,000 people are being held while they wait for a response to their asylum claims, as “worrying and must be addressed as a matter of urgency”. Patrick Hudson reports that Bishop McAleenan, who speaks for the bishops’ conference on migrant issues, said that, “Regardless of how or why people have made the journey here, they must be treated with dignity and respect.”

Those held at Manston “like all others who have found their way here, are human beings, made in the image of God”. Unscrupulous leadership and shortsighted policy-making have impoverished the United Kingdom and diminished its international standing. But the roots of the current crisis lie deep in imperial history and constitutional muddle; Nicholas Boyle argues in the magazine this week that Britain must alter the way it is governed if it is to survive. And in his column Madoc Cairns follows the logic of Catholic Social Teaching to support for the strikes spreading across the country. It’s what Cardinal Manning would have wanted.

As the November midterms approach, the Democratic party is hoping that their differences with Republicans over abortion might save them from a heavy defeat. But our US correspondent Michael Sean Winters argues that they may be misjudging the issues that most concern voters. A government inquiry has laid bare the devastating life-long impact of child abuse, but says little about its causes or how it might be prevented.  The distinguished psychiatrist Gwen Adshead helps us fill in some of the gaps. There are more different translations of the Bible in English than in any other language, with a rich diversity of styles and approaches, each with its own character and style, strengths and weaknesses. John Barton reminds us that they are all the creation of fallible scholars. And Barbara Dickson, Scotland’s best-selling female singer and actress, tells Peter Stanford that her life has always been infused by faith.

In View from Rome, Christopher Lamb wonders if a small group of priests belonging to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is fuelling fear about the Church’s synod process. Mgr Michael Nazir-Ali, who was received into the Catholic Church and ordained a priest for the ordinariate last year, has warned that lay people calling for the Church to develop its teaching on the ordination of women and on gay relationships “need to be catechised, perhaps even evangelised” and that “the bishops will have to say that certain things are excluded”. Nazir-Ali did not mention the word “discernment”, nor did he reference Pope Francis. “The Catholic Church has a way to settle these matters,” he told a group of bishops meeting in Bangkok, “and you must not give that up. Because the lesson from what has happened to the Anglican Communion and also some liberal Protestant Churches is that that way lies confusion and chaos.”

In the news pages, Christopher Lamb introduces the key points from the landmark report that takes the synodal process on to its next stage. Catholics worldwide have expressed the desire for a more welcoming, inclusive Church that eradicates the misuses of power, and want the role and vocation of women to be addressed urgently. Chris has also published the latest in his podcast series, The Church’s Radical Reform. In this episode, he goes inside a synod gathering in Australia, where a moment of crisis almost derailed the whole process. Listen here.

Brendan Walsh

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