HERE, a well placed priest in Westminster gives his perspective on the appointment of Father Hugh Kennedy:
I hope you are well and that you are back in Larne safe and sound. What a dreadful business to be caught up in. Mind you living and working where you have I'm sure it was small fry in comparison; frightening nevertheless.
I have been following the latest twist in the Hugh Kennedy saga with some interest and have made a few enquiries of those in the know. HK is correct to say that he is joining the chaplaincy team, and the diocese is also correct to have him down as chaplain to the convent. It so happens that the role of the chaplain to those sisters involves some overlap with student work, such as students attending the sisters Mass in the convent chapel. More Hall is the West London site of a larger Catholic Chaplaincy to the Universities and Colleges of London. It is considered the "jewel in the crown" as the sisters live in a vast property in one of the most exclusive areas of London where properties routinely fetch in excess of 5 million pounds. The convent has a huge amount of room and these are let to students, who also can avail of Mass with the sisters. Most of the students tend to be overseas ones if I remember correctly.
|Chaplaincy HQ - Newman House - Gower Street, London|
For his efforts HK will live in a most beautiful and well appointed mews house beside the convent which they also own. If he is part of a chaplaincy team it will be the one based in Gower Street, made up of priests, nuns and lay people. It is an efficient set up with no room for slackers or any hint of misbehaving. I find it inconceivable (if you will pardon the use of the word) that HK will not have been subjected to, and passed, the very rigorous safeguarding procedures of the Archdiocese (some of the most stringent anywhere, designed and overseen by Cardinal Nichols himself, as well as Statutory Authorities like the Police, Social Services, University of London Welfare Office, etc). Long gone are the days when Ireland could ship awkward priests over to England and Wales. There is no way that HK would be able to take up this appointment without being vetted, and that will have included all the details surrounding his extended leave of absence, which is well documented in the public domain. It is standard practice here for names to be Googled as a first step. I would imagine the Vicar General, who makes the appointments, will have said to Noel Treanor "lets review the situation in 3, 6, 12 months." HK will be on probation.
I am sure that he will be aware that living in one of the finest sinecures in the diocese will come at a price. HK will be watched. Rather like the Swiss Guard who note every coming and going at the Vatican, especially those "out of hours", so too his little pad is beside a convent where his comings and goings will be noted and reported. He needs to mind himself. West London is a million miles away from West Belfast and there is no deference to clergy or titles. I hope it works for him of when all is said and done, and whatever the truth of his private life and his struggles, he is a talented and gifted man who has much to offer. Its just that his appointment to West Belfast was a huge error both for the people, and I have no doubt he now sees, for him. Lets hope he fares better in West London. Good luck to the man. He will need it.