Our request to film the service of "translation" at the Birmingham Oratory was turned down by Press Official Peter Jennings. His reason was stated as,"The worlds media will be there and there is simply no room on this occasion". The event was broadcast live by Catholic EWTN, and there was only one other camera crew in evidence.
One of our reporters, who was an accredited reporter in Iran before leaving to seek asylum, also tried to view the Remains on display at the Oratory on the previous day but was prevented from entering by the police, perhaps his "middle Eastern appearance" gave cause for concern.
Pictures taken after the service are on our website at http://www.astonvision.co.uk/ and show jubilant members of the Oratory after the happy event.
We are really puzzled on reflection by Mr Jennings attitude to us. Firstly we approached him directly after we had requested permission from the Cause postulator Father Chavausse and was told to deal directly with him. Mr Jennings was extremely busy at the time and we were told to come back after the news of the Rednal grave side experience was made public the next day, " you can ask me anything you like, in fact I would welcome it" was his reply as he showed us out of his office at the now redundant St Philips Sixth Form centre adjacent to the Oratory.
However, we were not able to do this and sent another email to the postulator pointing out that we did not want to film the whole service but just the procession of relics to add to our existing material about the Newman heritage.
There was an AGM of the Friends of Newman to be held on Tuesday 28th October and we requested to record Father Chavausse's talk to the meeting. No reply was received by us and after the meeting Mr Jennings approached us to say "why had I questioned his decision, "you have been told that no filming will be allowed, I'm in charge".
As we entered the Oratory on the Sunday morning Mr Jennings approached us and asked why we had brought our cameras, "take them out or I will ask the police to remove you".
I explained that we had brought them to record people arriving and for interviews afterwards.He went to find Father Chavasse to tell him that we had brought cameras, we were allowed to take our seats and calm ourselves for the service. My Iranian colleague was somewhat bemused by this episode, and did not use the camera during the service but took a few shots outside.
We are really saddened by these events and suggest that the Press Officer reflect on how The Venerable John Henry Newman would have viewed the matter, not in a "kindly light", possibly. Bishop Rowell commentes that: “Newman chose as his motto ‘heart speaks to heart’, which says so much about his pastoral care that went back to his time as an Anglican. ‘The burden of souls is on me forever’”.
We trust that the Oratory Cause remembers these fine words, and really seeks to promote his Cause amongst the ordinary folk out there. Standing in the way of the Media is not in the Cardinal's best interests.
Prayer for Cardinal Newman’s beatification
Eternal Father, You led John Henry Newman to follow the kindly light of Truth, and he obediently responded to your heavenly calls at any cost. As writer, preacher, counsellor and educator, as pastor, Oratorian, and servant of the poor he laboured to build up your Kingdom.
Grant that through your Vicar on Earth we may hear the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter into the company of the canonized saints.”
May you manifest your Servant’s power of intercession by even extraordinary answers to the prayers of the faithful throughout the world. We pray particularly for our intentions in his name and in the name of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.