Catholic hierarchy 'disgraced' itself by ignoring Pope's exhortation

The Catholic Herald has lodged a formal complaint with the Vatican's worldwide head of communications in protest at the failure of UK bishops to issue a public response to Pope Benedict's first Apostolic Exhortation.

The Herald has described the Pope's Sacramentum Caritatis as "one of the most important documents of his pontificate so far".

The 131-page tract contains "wideranging theological points", according to the paper, and "a number of practical instructions to enhance the quality of worship across the world".

But according to Herald editor-inchief Damian Thompson, the Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales has "disgraced itself" by failing to make any public mention of the document, a lapse that, he claims, has "effectively killed the story" in the UK.

Three paragraphs were belatedly published on the individual websites of the English and Welsh bishops, comparing unfavourably with the "long and comprehensive response" released on the day of publication by bishops in Ireland.

Writing in his Daily Telegraph blog, Thompson described the behaviour of the bishops as "downright weird" and suggested that some of them may have been unhappy with the contents of the Exhortation.

Herald editor Luke Coppen told Press Gazette the Papal work was a "wonderfully attractive document that represents the core of what the Catholic Church is about". Despite Thompson's comments, Coppen said the paper had not fallen out with the Church hierarchy and he hoped a "positive, constructive approach" would ensure such an opportunity to promote the church's message was not overlooked in future.

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