Sunday, 30 December 2012

Universal Church or Individual Church?

Mac, at Mulier Fortis, perhaps inadvertently, touched a raw nerve with me in her post
One by One.

The post deals with the latest Bishop of England and Wales to step up to the mark and condemn the British Government's attempts to legalise same-sex "marriage."

Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham Archdiocese has issued a pastoral letter and also plans for the same letter to be read out at Masses on the Feast of The Holy Family, (January 13th in my Missal).

By a rough reckoning that means that some half dozen or so Bishops have taken similar actions, all welcome but all rather late in the day.

They have also taken these actions "domino" fashion; that is, not so much in the name of the Lord as in domino chequers, those that, once lined up, all begin to move once the first one moves.

                   *Thirty three Lone Rangers would be so much more effective than one

That is rather a pity, I feel.

An all out statement or a general pastoral letter agreed by the Bishops of England and Wales, would have had so much more punch to it.

As it stands, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, may get the impression that we are not too gifted on the coordination front; he may feel that he has enough strength behind his 'initiative' to proceed with his ill thought out plans.

I am trying not to be churlish; the moves by the various Archbishops and Bishops are most welcome, it's just that they would have more effect if they came from the one true Church as opposed to the Church in Shrewsbury, Portsmouth, Westminster or Birmingham.

The fact that pastoral letters are being issued and that the Feast of The Holy Family has been highlighted as the day (in Birmingham) to deliver the contents to the faithful may not so much have been prompted by this post HERE as by the priest who originally suggested that such events should take place.

He would not like to be named, he is much too humble for that, but we could offer up some prayers on his behalf while we also pray for all of the Bishops to get behind the initiative.

* Estimated number of Bishops in England and Wales


  1. Better one than none. But I take your point and ask another. Which bishops would disagree to the extent that the Conference is unable to issue a statement on behalf of them all? The bishops don't appear to have a problem on other issues.

  2. Nothing from +John of the Church in Hallam yet. We had a pastoral letter about grandparents this morning but no mention of contrary to natural law so called 'SS Marriage'.

    +Campbell of the Church in Lancaster has also spoken

  3. Bishop Conry of A&B has stayed firmly in the traps. When his pastoral letter goes online at the diocesan website read it and weep.

  4. To be fair, the statement initially released by Archbishops Nichols and Smith WAS issued by them as President and Vice-President of the Bishops' Conference of England & Wales, which is why it went out first on their website rather than on Southwark's or Westminster's.

    Archbishop Smith then spoke out publicly as Archbishop of Southwark, and Archbishop Nichols has done the same.

    My argument is that the Bishops' Conference is LESS powerful than all the individual Bishops, as it is too easy for any one Bishop to say "oh, that's dealt with by Bishop so-and-so... not my pigeon!" We need all of the Bishops to "ratify" the statement from the Bishops' Conference, as each Bishop is, in Canon Law, autonomous.

  5. Agreed, Mac. We have had occasion to lambast Bishops’ Conferences on other blogs – as has the Holy Father himself some time back. The voices of individual bishops are more powerful than a ‘canned’ declaration from the bureaucracy – an instance of where the ‘whole’ is not greater than the ‘parts’.

    When the 200+ US bishops signed on to the Dallas Charter here some time ago, one name was conspicuous by its absence – Bishop Bruskiewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska (now retired, unfortunately).

    And why was the good bishop’s name absent? Because, as he stated - correctly and emphatically – “they don’t speak for me!”

    It is good that some UK bishops have spoken out - however, belatedly. More need to find their voices and not abdicate their responsibilities by hiding behind the bloated bureaucracy that Bishops’ Conferences have become.

    Conferentia delenda est – ubique!


  6. Mac, sorry, I did not mean to distort your meaning. I do believe that a concerted effort is better than sporadic sniping - enough of the military metaphors, you get my drift. Same applies GOR, we just have to agree to disagree. A Holy 2013 to you both.