A fabulous conference


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.

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