Saving the English Church

An excellent article appeared in the Catholic Herald. Click here to read in full. Written by Stephen Bullivant it reflects on the vocations crisis and suggests a solution is staring bishops in the face, were they only to move away from a ‘one size fits all’ way of thinking and embrace the fruits of the new evangelisation. Then struggling parishes, instead of closing, could be handed over to emerging groups – like the Ordinariate – who have the clergy and vision to enable them to flourish. Our story in Pembury being proof positive of this claim.

From the article….

If I were a bishop…what I’d be praying for is a group with dozens of young and energetic clergy, thoroughly immersed in British culture, and with years (if not decades) of pastoral experience…which brings us to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Given the kinds of statistics I’ve outlined – that is, too many churches for the numbers of priests and worshippers we actually have – it’s no wonder that many bishops have readily borrowed ordinariate priests for their dioceses. Anglicanorum Coetibus was, in this sense, a unexpected windfall of additional clergy….yet the current model of plugging gaps in ordinary diocesan provision is, not in the long run, a sensible one for either party….

Christ’s Church has plenty of room in it for such a body…such a thing will not, of course, appeal to everyone (including not all former Anglicans). But then why should it? This vision…offers a niche way of “being Church” that complements, rather than competes with, the default normal parish offering.

Do read the whole article. And then pray the bishops are also reading and taking note. How the Ordinariate could fulfil its vocation, and do great things, if only more people would embrace rather than resist it and see it as a blessing rather than a threat. On both sides of the Tiber I might add!

A tip of the biretta to Stephen Bullivant from all of us in Pembury! The photograph above shows me presiding during Anglican days at St. Barnabas in Tunbridge Wells.

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24 thoughts on “Saving the English Church

  1. Hello Fr Ed,

    Agree entirely with the thrust of your argument and we already see parishes that have been saved from closure by handing them to groups such as the FSSP and ICKSP by Bishops who I was going to say are enlightened but will say instead are Catholic.
    Other Bishops are more than happy to see the rotten fruit they garnered from misleading the Faithful with false interpretations of VAT 2, continue to rot the Church and close parishes – are these Bishops really Catholic or are they working to undermine the Church? A debate that the laity ought to be discussing with their PPs and with their local ordinary when he visits.
    God Bless,


  2. Gardening

    If one wants to renew a tired garden a lot of weeding and pruning is needed before new seedlings can be planted. The seedlings have to be nurtured to some extent even before the renewal work can get under way.

  3. Much as I should like to see the renewal of the Church through Summorum Pontificum I am troubled by the niggling thought that wily bishops might just be dumping white elephants on ICKSP and FSSP. Can ICKSP really sustain two vast Victorian buildings in Preston, for example? I should like to believe so and hope that their faith in Providence is fruitful but I am not entirely confident of the Bishop’s agenda.

    1. Giving rose sharply here and at Precious Blood after the arrival of the Ordinariate- sometimes congregations of struggling parishes rejuvenate when an injection of vision and energy arrives. Which is not to say we dont struggle- we do- but it is better than any could have foreseen. Please God it will be true for the FSSP and ICKSP also.

        1. Note you haven’t responded MV. So I will observe that you are clearly an educated man with wide historical and theological knowledge and you often make interesting comments on this thread. All of this makes your juvenile name calling and deliberate rudeness even more inexcusable. Plus, if you really are a member of the Anglican clergy, this sort of behaviour is a disgrace to your cloth.
          Next time you feel tempted to make sarky totally uncalled for remarks and generally to act like the annoying kid in the fourth year, just remember that such kids are never ever quite as bright as they think are and that they don’t actually impress anyone.

          1. Rude?

            I would not be offended by anything MV has written, because I think I can suggest what might be behind his failure to answer some questions and make some spurious comments. From my experience I’d consider it to be displacement activity to divert attention away from the key points. To my mind that can be caused by fear arising when one can only answer a question by delving into oneself. It happens outside the religious world too and often leads to someone (not as far as I know the case with MV) making accusions against others – sometimes against a colleague or against a mamager who has had to take someone to task – I’ve been there. I note that Pope Francis has said some thing similar recently when addressing the Curia.

        2. Have you not thought that he might be on holiday without access to the Internet, sick, or so busy that he hasn’t time to respond to trivial comments.

          1. Yes I have and I discounted it on the basis that anyone can access this on their phones nowadays and this has now been hanging round long enough to smell. This is not the first time MV has been needlessly rude nor is it the first time he has been evasive when called out on something . And being rude is anything but trivial as you, with the greatest of respect Fr. Barry or Baz, as MV addresses you, is not trivial.

  4. That’s a very generous respons Pat. Nonetheless I find MV’s behaviour unedifying at best and totally unacceptable at worst. If he can’t observe standards of civilised behaviour he should keep off this blog.

    1. Mary,

      Don’t you think MV could be winding us all up for some reason? He exhibits a whole range of quite interesting, almost split personality, behaviour. I quite enjoy his esoteric contributions myself.
      If he is an Anglican ‘priest’ it could be he has a love-hate feeling for Rome. He would be a interesting case for psychoanalysis.

      1. I find Mary B’s attacks on MV quite rude as well. I wonder why she does it. Is it a phobia against Anglicans? She also may not realise that some people do not use their phones on holiday and that there are places (especially in North Norfolk) where mobile signals do not exist. People cry out for 4G elsewhere when 2G would be a nice improvement in parts of Norfolk.

        1. Ah David I agree entirely about MV and his “interesting” personality. Which is not however one I would want.

          Fr. Barry. I don’t have a phobia against Anglicans and I am amazed that anyone could draw that conclusion from a challenge by me to MV to explain why he was gratuitously rude to Pat (and this is not by any means the first time) . I do have a phobia, if you want to put it that way, about rudeness and bullying whether Anglican, Catholic or atheist.
          I also know all about mobile reception in north Norfolk as it happens. But I find you jumping to the conclusion that the only reason MV has failed to answer me is that he is on holiday somewhere like Cromer slightly naive. He has form for this; it is his established modus operandi when he has been caught out or clearly doesn’t want to answer. Check previous postings.

          1. Mobile signals are almost non existent around Walsingham.
            Our Lady is quite rightly encouraging vertical, rather than horizontal communication!

          2. I think folks need to be a bit kinder to MV. Assuming that his reference to Patrick was intended for me, it implies that he did not check his facts and I am not in the least bit offended. MV seems to have a clear tendency to avoid the issue when someone challenges one of his statements. There are very few ways he could offend me and using a different name is not one of them – if MV does ‘hit the nerve’ my response will so inform him. As for his being ‘out of reach’, he seems to find time to make the sort of statements Mary B (and myself) have complained about.

  5. Pat,


    This is, incidentally my attempt to do clever things with emojis. Probably will appear on the blog as something rude and/ or inappropriate. If so apologies!

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