A wonderful two days spent this week at St. Edmund’s College, Ware for the annual residential conference of the Confraternity of Catholic clergy. St. Edmund’s is a gem of the English Catholic church boasting a chapel designed by Pugin and some truly fine relics.

It also boasts an impressive array of spiritual giants amongst its historic staff and students. Fulton Sheen tutored for a spell as did many of the early Anglo-Catholic fathers who followed Newman to Rome. And the impressive Adrian Fortescue was on the staff for a time, a name forever linked with the best of English liturgy. What a place it is, the history positively dripping from its walls.

The conference was, as ever, impressive. There were excellent talks, excellent company and excellent food. I remain very proud to be a member of this august body which contains some genuinely fine clerics. At the end of the conference the members voted on a statement to be released regarding  the recent Synod on the family. Here it is in full.

The British Province of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, at our Annual Colloquium, in St Edmund’s College, Ware, expresses gratitude to the Fathers of the Extra- Ordinary General Synod on the Family for affirming, in a climate of challenge and confusion, Christ’s unchanging teachings and the Church’s constant doctrine regarding marriage, the family, and the true meaning and purpose of human sexuality. We particularly appreciate their upholding the importance of the family as the foundation of civilisation, confirming marriage as an indissoluble union between one man and one woman, affirming the teaching of Humanae Vitae on the essential procreative nature of the marriage act, and the brave refusal to accept the ideological colonization of those who promote same-sex unions. We are certain that thus remaining in the truth of Christ will bear great fruit for the Church and for souls.

We continue to pledge ourselves to proclaim the beauty of marital love, of
supporting faithful families in their courageous witness, and in encouraging and accompanying those who have been wounded by our broken culture, to be healed and made strong again in Christ.

We recognize the special concern shown by the Synod Fathers for the
divorced and civilly remarried. We pledge ourselves to minister to those in
this situation, according to the mind of Christ, and the Law of his Gospel.
As pastors, we strive to help them discern the will of God in their lives,
as the Synod has recalled: ‘this discernment can never be detached from the exigencies of truth and the charity of the Gospel proposed by the Church’. The discipline of the Sacraments, especially the Most Holy Eucharist, must faithfully reflect the Church’s solemn doctrinal teaching. We express relief that the Synod Fathers did not heed attempts to separate doctrine from sacramental and pastoral practice.

Finally, in ministering to all the families and individuals entrusted to our care, we note the special value of the magisterium of Pope St John Paul II, and, in particular, his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio. We remain committed to the great work of being joyful Ministers of God’s Mercy, and pledge ourselves to faithfully follow the bold but gentle example of the Good Shepherd who never abandons His sheep.


As the Synod on the family drew to a close I was teased by a former Anglican colleague who simply said “Welcome home!” I had to laugh. He is right. It was/is hard to believe this Synod was a product of the Catholic church with its fine reputation for clarity and fidelity to revealed truth. Instead it contained all the hallmarks of an Anglican equivalent. From overly politicised divisions, stemming from obsession with the sexual revolution and relativist thinking, to an agenda centred on this life not the next.

Little wonder the final document was also thoroughly Anglican in feel; it said nothing new, the language bureaucratic and platitudinous and the real importance found in what is absent not said. Meaning the end result- failing something heroic from the Holy Father-  will be further division due to intended ambiguity that allows all and any to take from it what they will.

We already see it happening. Faithful Catholics breathe a sigh of relief because nothing changed on paper. Modernists cheer because victory is won! Doctrine may not have changed on paper but the ambiguity created provides the smoke-screen they needed to usher in change via the back door. And what is more they tested the water and were not scalded. Cardinals publicly endorsed the sexual revolution over the teaching of the faith and remain in office without censure. So now they know they can push yet harder. At present they are clearly supported, despite heterodox views, by the very body they want to overthrow. What crisis for the church of the Apostles…did John Fisher give his life for nothing?

It isn’t a case then, at this stage, of asking “who is right?” At this point we must step back and acknowledge the bigger picture. When we do a daunting image emerges; one that, however painful, must be transmitted to every soul who still cares for the church. Those who would yet guard the deposit of faith, with their lives if necessary, that it may survive without taint for future generations.

In this cause those who upheld the faith heroically on the floor of the Synod deserve our thanks. They won a battle, at some cost, but let us not pretend they won the war. It was important that the final document of this confused and confusing synod contained no change in doctrine, this helps the Catholic cause and avoided deep scandal, but such small victory does NOTHING for the cause of truth long term. It means little if the modernists continue their march unfettered and with renewed vigour. We should fear what they plan next given their clear power and influence as they walk away from this Synod.

So despite an embarrassing loss in this Synod  (using a stacked deck, so take heart) the modernist spectre remains a growing menace. And it  MUST be overthrown if we are to rid the church of the gravest menace to  faith in recent history; if we are to avoid the pit into which, lamentably, Anglicanism has fallen. To stop the rot of the dictatorship of relativism. To stand by the faith of the saints and martyrs of old.

That is not a sensationalist conclusion. The evidence stares us in the face. Helpfully, albeit tragically, elements within the Anglican church have already mapped out where this path of liberal relativism leads within the Christian faith. It is no co-incidence the most bonkers examples of practice are found where the liberal agenda has enjoyed most success. That is currently America and Scandinavia though England is fast catching up.

Nor is it co-incidence that where liberalism flourishes there you find disunity. Consider how clergy in the C of E now require bishops, out of communion with one another and aligned to different parties, just to hold the ship together. Unity comes from shared proclamation of truth not ambiguous statements designed to please all. Which is why the very fabric of the Anglican communion is unravelling. Christian decline is sharpest where relativism dictates. A truth within Catholicism too, we face the same storm at present, as the decimation of faith in Holland and Belgium make clear; liberalism leads to decay.

It strikes me this Synod was only helpful then in that it made an inescapable truth clear. There is deep division within the Catholic body which fast approaches crossroad from which Anglicanism already departed…and in the wrong direction. Ever since Vatican II prelates have been unwilling to confront this reality, papering over differences for fear of conflict at best. Advancing a false cafeteria Catholicism at worst because they themselves are in thrall of the menace. And so the spectre has only grown stronger, the threat more serious. Soon it will be too late.

If we allow synodal models of government within Catholicism, where the tricks oligarchs apply to manipulate democratic process in the world can then be used against the faithful, Satan will win the day. I have no doubt about that. Only divine intervention will then save us. Rigged synods, stacked decks,  vague documents and creeping reform are quite as effective as nails and thorns in pinning Jesus Christ to the tree. They serve well as fatal blows against his Church whose vocation never was to reinvent the faith afresh in every generation but to guard the faith in fidelity that his voice may be heard.

It is all rather gloomy then isn’t it? And the confusion of this latest papacy really isn’t helping regardless of whether you think Pope Francis is a part of the modernist game or just another victim.

What can we do then? We who, despite being concerned, have no voice in Synodal process and no way of effecting change at high levels of ecclesial life? How do we keep heads above water and remain optimistic when the battle for the life of the church falls into our laps.

Firstly by recalling victory is won. As long as we hold the line, profess the faith without compromise and keep eyes fixed on Jesus, all will be well.

Secondly by prayer, fasting and the sacraments. This battle is spiritual not political.

Thirdly by witnessing to faith within faithful parishes. We must no longer shrug our shoulders and put up with poor liturgy and bad teaching. Complain when clergy are not upholding the faith. Vote with feet and support those who are struggling to swim against the tide of relativism. Back the solution not the problem with your presence. Then parishes will come together where the faith is lived out in fullness and these can shine as lights in the darkness to recall people to where they should be. I have no doubt at all that God will bless them.

And finally dare to be a living confrontation to the lies. Dare to live out the faith courageously and unashamedly. I have long believed that society will not be healed until the church is healed and that the church will not be healed until the family is healed…so be that family that witnesses to truth. Be the holiness the church needs to recover.  Don’t look for the solution- be the solution. Be the change you want to see. This battle will be won one soul at a time. Sign up with Jesus today.

A final thought. What is presented here is my lived experience as one who entered Rome following the collapse of Anglo-Catholicism. What is so, so obvious to me is that the game is the same, the tactics of the modernists identical. The only question then is this- can Rome hold out where Anglicanism caved in….

….the answer to that will be written in the coming years and months. And it will depend on how many Catholics today cared enough to do something about it. How many were the concerned clergy and laity who did nothing out of fear in the years leading up to Anglican collapse? How many rue their timidity now as the house falls around them. The time to bury heads in sand is over. Now is the time to stand up for the faith and to fight against the modernist heresy. Lord Jesus give us the wisdom, inclination and courage to fight this battle for you and never give in to despair. Recruits should sign up at Mass in any faithful church.


We are very grateful to Pat, a long standing member of Saint Anselm’s congregation, who has given up a lot of his time this last week to give the church a much needed lick of paint. As well as freshening up the panels in the main body of the church in a brilliant white, the sanctuary walls have been painted regal blue to mark it out as sacred space.


This week the work will be finished and there is no doubting how much better the church looks. The walls had become tired, the magnolia paint having yellowed and chipped in many places. But now our walls reflect the fact that this ours is a modest but beloved church. A place in which we always strive to offer our best to God.


A reminder that the clocks go back on Saturday. Somebody is bound to arrive an hour early for Mass. Which will, at least, give much time for spiritual preparation! Maybe I shouldn’t warn you at all?!


Today is the feast of a spiritual giant. A man whose shadow falls over the entire last century. If all you can remember is the terribly old man in Rome, then you must educate yourself about the vibrant young man whose courage inspired an entire nation to overthrow Nazism. A man who  later overthrew communism too.

What an extraordinary hero he was. A saint whose refusal to give in to fear and pessimism held the church together, in unity and love, for so long. A great biography is “Witness to Faith” by George Weigel. For those who prefer the television I recommend the DVD “Karol” This is a life everyone should ponder and learn from.

As well as his acts of heroism, Pope John Paul II was a great theologian. And it is a scandal that more has not been made of his seminal writing on the family during the current Synod in Rome. Fortunately this is now changing and the signs are that the small groups of Cardinals, having dealt a crushing blow to the modernist agenda (yippee), are now calling for a renewed look at familiarise consortio–  JPII’s masterpiece on the family. Do follow the link and read it yourself. Here is robust Catholic teaching on the family that needs renewed emphasis in our day.

The Catholic church was blessed by God. Not many people have living memory of two phenomenally good Popes. But we do in JPII and Benedict XVI. Indeed you cannot separate them as they worked together, hand in glove, for years. We must thank God for all they achieved during this turbulent and ever changing era. I have no doubt they will both go down in history as genuine “greats” of the Catholic world.

Pope Saint John Paul II pray for us. Pray for the Synod on the family as it comes to an end. Pray that the bishops of our day might heed the great wisdom contained in your theological writing. Pray for the family and hold the church together by your powerful intercession. That we might overthrow the heresies of our day and proclaim the faith in fulness.


The Autumn Raffle takes place this coming Sunday. Lots and lots of tickets went out….but not all have returned! So please get them handed in ASAP -the end of the 11am Mass this Sunday- for your chance of winning a fabulous prize, whilst helping raise funds for our parish.

Thus far prizes on offer are:

A champagne tea for two at the Hotel du Vin (pictured)

Two tickets to the Goya exhibition at the National Gallery

Tickets for a show at the Assembly Halls in Tunbridge Wells

A family meal at a local public house

Marks and Spencers vouchers

A silk headscarf

An assortment of beauty products

An authentic Havana cigar

A brace of pheasant for the pot

A brace of duck for the pot

As well as various bottles of booze and some smaller prizes. There are even two booby prizes- a T shirt and second hand romantic novel of questionable taste.

Finally don’t forget to organise a team, or come as an individual, for our Quiz Night to be held in the Hine Room on Saturday 28th November at 7:30pm. Tickets will be priced at £5 and you are asked to bring your own refreshments.


Yesterday I shared the best speech coming out of the Synod on the family thus far. How telling that this robust defence of church teaching came from a lay woman not a Cardinal! Yet it is not surprising because, if this chaotic Synod has taught anything thus far it is simply this; modernist bishops have abandoned the faith or never really understood it. And given that they are educated men we must settle on the former. Faith is being abandoned in pursuit of something else.

Perhaps Pope Francis should therefore stop the Synod and change tack. Instead of pushing for greater catechesis of engaged couples and families he should push for greater catechesis of clergy. After all if they should remain ignorant or dismissive of the Catholic faith then what good will any catechesis be that they offer? It would do more harm than good and hasn’t this been the story in Catholic schools and colleges for over a generation in any case?

If that seems harsh then consider the sub standard level of argument being promoted by the modernists at this Synod and then tell me I am wrong. For repeatedly we witness arguments put forth which are so intellectually weak as to be laughable- yet nobody is laughing because the threat is grave and it is real. Indeed so bad is it in certain cases that I would expect a better contribution  from the St. Anselm’s Sunday School.

A) Conscience is everything. Cardinal Blase Cupich wins the award for most ridiculous statement thus far. In an interview he came up with this;

People must] come to a decision in good conscience … Conscience is inviolable… I think that gay people are human beings too and they have a conscience. And my role as a pastor is to help them to discern what the will of God is by looking at the objective moral teaching of the Church and yet, at the same time, helping them through a period of discernment to understand what God is calling them to at that point. I think that we have to make sure that we don’t pigeonhole one group as though they are not part of the human family, as though there’s a different set of rules for them. That would be a big mistake.

Really? The yardstick by which sin is to be defined is personal conscience? What planet is he on? We only need to re-read his words and replace ‘gay people’ with another group whose sexual behaviour is less acceptable in modern society to show the weakness of this argument. Would we say the same to a prolific swinger who engages in sex with strangers or a pedophile? Would we say that, so long as they don’t feel guilty, all is well? What about wife batters? Forget the issue of homosexuality, we will learn nothing useful about that matter here, for the argument is so weak as to be risible. It is the logic I am attacking.

Conscience is important but it is far from reliable as a guide to our moral state and spiritual health. Ultimately, as the victims of abuse cry out to heaven, sin is not just between us and God. And all too often we delude ourselves about sin and the truth is not in us. Here is what Cardinal Newman had to say on the subject.

Conscience is the highest of all teachers, yet the least luminous … [because] the sense of right and wrong, which is the first element in religion, is so easily puzzled, obscured, perverted … so biased by pride and passion, so unsteady in its course.

B) A delight in gradualism The modernists, being lovers of a false mercy with no regard to justice, delight in the idea that we could dispense with doctrinal statements to meet people where they are. The suggestion is made that people would then be guided to live a better Christian life. But on the evidence of parishes where permissiveness reigns I would not hold your breath for it!

Of course there is merit in our being gentle with people. This approach can help at the grass roots and evangelistic level. We do need to accept sinners where they are and ensure they encounter welcome and acceptance. But as a formal way for Cardinals to deal with mortal sin? It is totally lacking. Confusion creeps in when the Church falls silent. Just look at the famous “who am I to judge?” misquote.

To reveal the flaw in the gradualist argument let us change the issue once more and step aside from the crusading agendas. Now imagine the following conversation in a confessional near you…

Penitent: I am a serial killer but not yet ready to give up killing. I do so want communion – can i receive the host if I just cut down a bit?! 

Priest: No problem. You know the aim. I welcome you at the altar in the name of Jesus Christ who is mercy! What a grace filled step in your search for holiness my dear brother Hannibal Lecter.

Penitent: By the way you are next on my hit list. Your rump just screams out for grilling. 

Priest: Oh…hang on?! 

It doesn’t work so well when the sin involved scandalises us does it? And that is the point. Either something is wrong or not and social acceptability really shouldn’t come in to it. But it seems to where the modernists are concerned.

C) More power to national churches When I hear modernists desire autonomy at a national level I have to stop myself from banging my head against a wall. Are they mad? Are they living in a bubble? Have they not watched the disintegration of the Anglican communion in an age of mass communication? Have they not paused to consider that the greater the level of liberalism/lack of clarity the greater decline regardless of denomination?

People hunger for God’s truth not a for set of changeable rules according to your branch of the club!

Just imagine if the church went down this road. Overnight Catholicism would collapse and a raft of new protestant bodies would emerge. Each teaching something different. Each claiming the ability to discern God’s will. In America the church would no doubt tell us that homosexual sex is no longer sinful but Africans would not. They would however encourage polygamy. The situation would be so ridiculous as to be funny. Could we go on holiday for guilt free gay sex (if that is your bag) or to take up another wife in good conscience? And how would this play out on the day of judgement?

God: Sorry you refused to be faithful to your wife and I do not know you. 

Me: But my friend had three wives and you let him in? 

God: yes but he is from Uganda not Pembury! 

Conclusion: The highlighted arguments, all of which have been aired during the synod in defence of changing teaching, make a mockery of the faith. And they all have a common thread besides being so weak as to be vacuous. Have you spotted it?

They all depend on relativist principles to make any sense at all. The notion that truth is not fixed but might change according to place, person and circumstance. But that never has been, and never can be, the teaching of the Catholic faith. Indeed Pope Benedict went so far as to name it a modern heresy that needs defeating. He called in nothing less than the ‘dictatorship of modern relativism’

That, in truth, is what the church is wrestling with at present. An assault on faith coming not from without but within. From those who duty was to guard the faith but who abandoned it long ago in pursuit of political and secular ideologies. What we have then is a division; between those who still stand by the faith of the ages (sadly seeming a minority) and those who have fallen victim to the heresy named by Pope Benedict-  ‘that dictatorship of relativism’. And where the Pope himself chooses to stand is currently the million dollar question, though the signs look anything but good.

So let us keep praying. Let us hold the line no matter what chaos may follow. Let us number ourselves amongst those whom the church will one day thank, when the heresy is finally defeated. And let us thank God that this Synod is drawing people out from under their stones. By their fruits ye shall know them. And one only needs to dissect the logic put forth in the arguments to unveil the truth in all its glory. I feel that, no matter how bad the outcome, the way forward will be much clearer from here.



The Synod on the family is bringing clarity to the church. Three things seem obvious. First there exists deep division between those who uphold the faith of the ages and those who have conformed to the spirit of the world. Second the gravest danger posed by the modernists does not centre on any one particular issue but in a scheme to devolve power away from Rome to national churches. Thirdly that things are not going smoothly for them, hence the need to rig things, and some brave souls are standing up to the assault on the faith and calling the church to sanity.

One such person is Dr. Anca-Maria Cernea, a Romanian. She made the following presentation to Pope Francis and the Synod bishops on Friday. It is the best analysis I have seen of what is really going on within Christianity in the 21st Century. And her words only gain gravitas when one considers the author’s own experience of living out the faith against the backdrop of a communist tyranny.

Your Holiness, Synod Fathers, Brothers and Sisters, I represent the Association of Catholic Doctors from Bucharest.

I am from the Romanian Greek Catholic Church. My father was a Christian political leader, who was imprisoned by the communists for 17 years. My parents were engaged to marry, but their wedding took place 17 years later. My mother waited all those years for my father, although she didn’t even know if he was still alive. They have been heroically faithful to God and to their engagement. Their example shows that God’s grace can overcame terrible social circumstances and material poverty.

We, as Catholic doctors, defending life and family, can see this is, first of all, a spiritual battle. Material poverty and consumerism are not the primary cause of the family crisis. The primary cause of the sexual and cultural revolution is ideological.

Our Lady of Fatima has said that Russia’s errors would spread all over the world. It was first done under a violent form, classical Marxism, by killing tens of millions. Now it’s being done mostly by cultural Marxism. There is continuity from Lenin’s sex revolution, through Gramsci and the Frankfurt school, to the current-day gay-rights and gender ideology.

Classical Marxism pretended to redesign society, through violent take-over of property. Now the revolution goes deeper; it pretends to redefine family, sex identity and human nature. This ideology calls itself progressive. But it is nothing else than the ancient serpent’s offer, for man to take control, to replace God, to arrange salvation here, in this world. It’s an error of religious nature, it’s Gnosticism.

It’s the task of the shepherds to recognize it, and warn the flock against this danger. “Seek ye therefore first the Kingdom of God, and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.” The Church’s mission is to save souls. Evil, in this world, comes from sin. Not from income disparity or “climate change”. The solution is: Evangelization. Conversion.

Not an ever increasing government control. Not a world government. These are nowadays the main agents imposing cultural Marxism to our nations, under the form of population control, reproductive health, gay rights, gender education, and so on.

What the world needs nowadays is not limitation of freedom, but real freedom, liberation from sin. Salvation.

Our Church was suppressed by the soviet occupation. But none of our 12 bishops betrayed their communion with the Holy Father. Our Church survived thanks to our bishops’ determination and example in resisting prisons and terror. Our bishops asked the community not to follow the world. Not to cooperate with the communists.

Now we need Rome to tell the world: “Repent of your sins and turn to God for the Kingdom of Heaven is near”. Not only us, the Catholic laity, but also many Christian Orthodox are anxiously praying for this Synod. Because, as they say, if the Catholic Church gives in to the spirit of this world, it is going to be very difficult for all the other Christians to resist it.

Oh and whilst on the subject of blistering speeches given at the Synod. You simply must read what Cardinal Sarah had to say. Another voice of reason amidst the chaos. Another man of faith speaking to those whose grasp of the faith seems confused at best and lost at worst.


Catholic blogger Mark Lambert has written a wonderful review of his first experience of an Ordinariate Use Mass which was held at Warwick Street.  Do click on the link to read the whole but here is a snippet:

A solemn Mass in the Ordinariate use. It was beautiful and included some lovely prayers for the congregation to say in anticipation of receiving Holy Communion. Mass was ‘ad orientum’ and the first time I have been to a Mass using the Ordinariate use. … The rich, evocative language and sincerity of prayer are elements I find extremely appealing. They seem to deepen the personal engagement and sense of prayer one feels while praying the Mass. It was beautiful!

Mark’s post also praised the excellent sermon delivered on that occasion by Revd. Dr. Stephen Morgan, a clergyman of the Portsmouth Diocese. The text is supplied in full. He preached on Newman and also praised the Ordinariate vision and championed our cause. When we see non Ordinariate members grasping the point and purpose of what we are about, and when others discern the beauty in our liturgy, this is very good news for us indeed. Here is a snippet from the sermon which put another broad smile on my face:

So long as the Catholic Church in this country was largely a chaplaincy to the Irish diaspora, not forgetting the few converts and the even fewer, brave, admirable recusant families, she was well equipped enough. But the collapse of Anglo-Catholicism and of liberal-Protestant Nonconformity, and large-scale immigration from other Catholic countries, with their own religious cultures and even distinct, ancient rites, has meant that an Anglo-Hibernian Catholicism needs complementing. I know, I just know, that John Henry Newman, reflecting upon the need for missionaries to Britain today, for a “few such highly-endowed men” in the light of his own motto would instantly see what Benedict XVI was about in establishing the Ordinariate. He would recognise that yours is a crucial part of the New Evangelisation; yours is a crucial part of the future of the Catholic Church in this Country as she goes about fulfilling her Divine Master’s command; yours is indispensible to our being able to give an account – one at least that our country is able hear and not reject as entirely culturally alien – to our being able to give an account of the hope that is in us.

After anxious days following Synods in Rome I was in need of cheering. These compliments on the life of the Ordinariate have done that. How wonderful to see the Ordinariate go from strength to strength despite being in it’s infancy. Yesterday I lunched with our Ordinary, Mgr. Newton, and shared with him my sincerely held belief that if we can only get a handful of parishes on their feet, in the next few years, this will be fine progress indeed. After all the Oratorians are also thinly spread in terms of parishes but they contribute very richly to the life of the Catholic church in this land.