Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Corrupt bishops: why it is a problem: Part 3

I ended my last post by saying that, when they elected Bishop Conry as chairman of the department of Evangelisation and Catechesis in 2009, the bishops of England and Wales were fooled. What, exactly, were they fooled by, and how can we avoid falling into the same trap?

Conry is not a pantomine villain. Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith, a priest of Bishop Conry's diocese, Arundel and Brighton, reminds us

He was very popular with many people, and his kindness to the sick on the Lourdes pilgrimage and his rapport with the young will be long remembered.

Many traditional priests and Faithful in Arundel and Brighton saw another side of his character; Bishop Conry's open-mindedness did not extend to the Traditional Mass. It must be said that Bishop Conry was a divisive figure, and leaves a divided diocese: feelings about his resignation are, well, polarised. Nevertheless, the fact remains that for many, he was just terribly nice. He didn't stand on ceremony, he was relaxed, he had friendly chats with those on the margins of the Church and they came away from these meetings with a happy feeling, he accommodated himself and his diocese to the adoption of children by homosexual couples, he was capable of warm friendships... Aren't you beginning to see the problem?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Corrupt bishops: why it is a problem: Part 2

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Newly ordained priests of the Fraternity of St Peter
In my last post I argued for the moral seriousness of clerical infidelity. It may seem amazing that this would be necessary, but it is; the urge to instrumentalise these tragic cases to undermine the discipline of clerical celibacy is so strong, that liberals, who would normally be enraged by male authority figures taking advantage of vulnerable women before moving on to another victim, come over all indulgent and say that the Church is cruel to them in asking them to fulfil the vows which these men, presumably voluntarily, undertook.

There is more to say about these cases, and it was summarised very well by Rorate Caeli:

Is the bishop speaking for himself, or is he speaking on behalf of those blackmailing him? Is there truly such thing as a "moderate" bishop, or is he being "moderated" by the enemies of the Church out of fear that his duplicitous behavior will be revealed?

Let me spell it out a bit more. Bishop Conry was famous for his ‘liberal views’. Reading some of his remarks with the benefit of hindsight, it is impossible not to see his various women-folk behind his shoulder. Their influence can take a number of slightly different forms.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Corrupt bishops: why it is a problem: Part 1

It is hard to think of a precedent in England and Wales for what has happened to Bishop Kieran Conry, though there are plenty from other countries. The downfall of Cardinal O'Brien over the border in Scotland is an obvious one, a closer parallel, however, is afforded by the career of late Bishop of Argyll and the Isles (in north west Scotland), 'Roddy' Wright. I discussed this on this blog because Mgr Basil Loftus had declared that Bishop Wright had merely wanted to get married to the woman he loved. How sweet. Loftus neglected to mention that the wretched Wright had been having affairs with two women, one of them married, simultaneously, and eloped (this was back in 1996) with the one by whom he had not had a child; other affairs had apparently preceded this.

I have no wish to engage in prurient judgmentalism about Bishop Conry, but precisely because this is a new thing for us in England and Wales it is important to consider what we should learn from it.

What Basil Loftus would like us to conclude - and Catherine Pepinster, editor of the Tablet, was quick to make this point on Twitter - is that it is further evidence that mandatory clerical celibacy should be ended. This reaction has become such an ingrained reflex among liberals that they haven't stopped to think about the circumstances of this case. What sort of 'marriage' would have suited Bishop Conry or Bishop Wright? Some sort of free-wheeling polyamorous ménage, one assumes, open to women who are inconveniently married to other men, men who aren't necessarily very happy about sharing the marital bed with their bishop.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mass at St Walburge's, Preston

Allow me to interrupt the flow of appalling revelations about Bishop Kieran Conry with some good news! Yesterday the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, a priestly institute committed to the Traditional Mass, took formal possession of the stunning historic church of St Walburge's in Preston, with a splendid Mass in the presence of Bishop Michael Campbell of Lancaster, the Ordinary.

I couldn't make it, sadly, but here are some photographs taken by Martin Gardner: his complete album of the occasion can be seen here.

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St Walburge's is not just large and a nice old church - it is staggering, one of the gems of Catholic architecture in England.

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Bishop Campbell, who assisted at the Mass and preached from the fabulous pulpit.

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Mgr Gilles Wach, centre, is the Superior of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. He is French, although the Institute's seminary is in Italy, near Florence. To his right (on the left of the photo) is the Rev Scott Tanner, a Institute seminarian who hails from Reading, currently a transitional deacon.

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Bishop Campbell is in purple in the centre, Mgr Wach in blue next to him. To the right of Mgr Wach (going left, in the picture) are two priests of the Institute: the recently ordained Canon Francis Altiere, who was with the LMS on the Walsingham Pilgrimage, and Canon William Hudson. Canon Altiere, an American, is going to be the shrine custodian at St Walburge's. Canon Hudson is currently the only English priest of the Institute; he is based in Brussels.

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Bishop Conry of Arundel and Brighton resigns

Update: the Mail on Sunday breaks a story about two relationships Bishop Conry apparently admits to having, here. Extract:

Although the letters do not disclose a sexual relationship, the affair lasted more than a year and involved the married woman spending at least three nights at the bishop's detached property in Pease Pottage, West Sussex.

The Mail on Sunday has also seen a love letter from the bishop to a second woman, whose name we are not publishing for legal reasons.

The bishop insisted that the affair with the mother of two was not the reason for his resignation. He said he had quit over a different relationship.

Confronted at his home last night, he said: 'This has nothing to do with your enquiries. It is totally unrelated. This relates to a relationship of six years ago. So be careful what you write. This had nothing to do with your earlier questions.'

Approached by this newspaper in June, the bishop denied any sexual relationship with the married woman but admitted she had stayed at his house twice, adding: 'She is not the only woman who has stayed here.'


His statement, to be read in parishes in his diocese this weekend, from the diocesen news blog.

Bishop Kieran Conry has offered his resignation as Bishop of the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton. In a statement he said:

Statement by Bishop Kieran Conry
I am sorry to confess that, going back some years, I have been unfaithful to my promises as a Catholic priest. I would like to reassure you that my actions were not illegal and did not involve minors.

As a result, however, I have decided to offer my resignation as bishop with immediate effect and will now take some time to consider my future.

I want to apologise first of all to the individuals hurt by my actions and then to all of those inside and outside the diocese who will be shocked, hurt and saddened to hear this.

I am sorry for the shame that I have brought on the diocese and the Church and I ask for your prayers and forgiveness.

There will be no further comment.


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Video on the Dome of Home


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This is an excellent presentation of the apostolate of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest in New Brighton: the history of the church, the purpose of the shrine and so on. It even has me in it! And footage of the LMS Pilgrimage there which took place in August.



The Dome of Home from Philip Chidell on Vimeo.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Cristina Odone: doublethink on divorce and remarriage

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Forgiveness is never impossible. You just need to repent and queue up here.
I knew Cristina Odone had some odd views on divorce, and I even referred to them the other day, but I was taken aback by this passage in an article by her in the Telegraph.

How can my Church bar Suzanne, a friend whose husband spent the nights at his laptop, gambling away the family’s income? If she had not divorced him, after his broken promises to reform added up to nought, she risked her children’s future. Surely no priest can say she’s guilty of breaking God’s law? Nor is Suzanne’s case the worst: one priest, who offered to give me communion despite Church rulings, knew battered wives who’d finally found the courage to divorce their abusers – only to realise they would be divorcing their Church as well.

Such tales anger me. As did the practice of annulment, where you could effectively buy the Church’s collusion in untying the marital knot.


Is it possible that she is so muddle-headed that she thinks the Church bars people from Holy Communion for separating from an abusive spouse?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Michael Davies: ten years today. Pray for him.

Michael Davies died ten years ago today.

The Conference and Requiem Mass in his honour is taking place on Saturday 4th October in St Mary Moorefields, London: details and booking here. The Requiem will be High with a professional choir singing some great polyphony; the celebrant will be Fr Anthony Conlon. It will be at 4:15pm and anyone can turn up to that.

I was just becoming active in the Latin Mass Society at the time of his death, and sadly I never met him. But like so many people attracted to the Traditional Mass, one of the first things I did after chatting to some trads was, on their recommendation, to read Michael Davies' great trilogy, 'Liturgical Revolution' (Cranmer's Godly Order, Pope John's Council, Pope Paul's New Mass), which I can still recommend to everyone. Like all his works it is clear, thorough, and fair-minded. It opened my eyes to a perspective on the crisis in the Church which had been hidden from me up to then. Extensive further reading over the following years has confirmed the truth of it.

There is an excellent appreciation of him on Rorate Caeli. I include below, from it, the note sent by Cardinal Ratzinger when he learned of Michael's death.
‘I have been profoundly touched by the news of the death of Michael Davies. I had the good fortune to meet him several times and I found him as a man of deep faith and ready to embrace suffering. Ever since the Council he put all his energy into the service of the Faith and left us important publications especially about the Sacred Liturgy. Even though he suffered from the Church in many ways in his time, he always truly remained a man of the Church. He knew that the Lord founded His Church on the rock of St Peter and that the Faith can find its fullness and maturity only in union with the successor of St Peter. Therefore we can be confident that the Lord opened wide for him the gates of heaven. We commend his soul to the Lord’s mercy.’

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger,
9 November 2004.

Say a prayer today for him. Requiem aeternam dona ei Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei.

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