Since the beginning of Lent the cardinals who will elect the future pope have been passing this memorandum around. Its author, who goes by the name of Demos, “people” in Greek, is unknown, but shows himself a thorough master of the subject. It cannot be ruled out that he himself is a cardinal.
STATEMENT REGARDING THE MISSIONARY SOCIETY OF ST PAUL
On Thursday 17th February the Vicar General, Rev Canon Michael Harrison released the following statement to clergy of the diocese of Northampton.
At the end of February four priests of the Missionary Society of St Paul, ministering in parishes across our diocese will be leaving.
The general and regional superiors for the congregation have taken the decision to remove the priests from our diocese.
In March 2021, Bishop David received a letter request from the general superior in Nigeria that one of the MSP priests, serving in Northampton diocese should be removed from a parish and return to Africa. The priest in question did not wish to return and, given no reason for concern to remove the priest, out of compassion for the priest, the diocese of Northampton stated that this was an internal congregational matter for the MSP leadership. Following several further requests for the priest’s removal, the congregation stated in November 2021, that they would remove all MSP priests from the diocese of Northampton in January unless the diocese deliver the priest to them. Once again, the Diocese stated that this was a congregational matter and Bishop David would be happy for all MSP priests to remain serving in the diocese of Northampton and neither he nor the diocese would intervene in an internal congregational concern.
Eventually, it became obvious the intent of the congregation would be to remove all priests from ministry in the diocese of Northampton and Bishop David requested a timeframe, which, in mid-February was agreed to be the last weekend of February.
The missionary society of St Paul (MSP) have been active in ministry in our diocese since 2005. During these years, many MSP priests have ministered in parishes across our diocese. Currently in ministry in our diocese are Fr’s Francis Eyo (St Ethelberts, Slough), Joseph Udoh (Our Lady of Peace, Burnham), Livinus Onyebuchi (Our Lady of Lourdes, Aylesbury), Eustace Durugbo (St Margaret of Scotland, Luton) and Pius Duke (St Joseph’s, Bedford).
Bishop David offers his sincerest gratitude to the priests for their support in celebrating the Sacraments for the people of God in the parishes entrusted to them and assured them of his prayers in their continued ministry.
Word from Nottingham clergy is that the new bishop, David Oakley, is at war with the superiors of the Missionaries of St Paul in Nigeria.
The St Paul’s wanted one of their missionaries back from Oakley.
The priest refused to go back, and Oakley seems to have supported the priest.
Now, the St Paul’s are removing ALL their priests from Oakley’s diocese.
And the danger now is that the St Paul ‘s will withdraw all their priests from all English dioceses.
This will not endear Oakley to his fellow bishops.
Soon to be cardinal Archbishop Arthur Roche is no fan of Oakley’s. It appears that Roche did not regard Oakley as bishop material?
Is he now being proven right?
If you want the lowdown on Oakley ask Father Marsden
I was angered and disgusted by this priest, wearing Tridentine vestments basically preaching hate.
His diatribe was a display of absolute ignorance and intolerance.
Mass goers should not be subject to hate like this.
The problem, of course, is that Egan, the bishop of that diocese, has taken on so many weirdo priests from all kinds of places.
And, he fast tracked John Paul Lyttle to ordination and the disaster he has become.
IMPORTING FOREIGN PRIESTS
Importing foreign priests brings its own problems with it.
Sometimes, their English is not good, or they have very heavy accents that make it difficult to hear what they are saying.
If they come from places like Africa, they bring with them cultural baggage about things like sexual orientation and gender.
Occasionally, because of a background in poverty, they desire to build up wealth quickly and not always in appropriate ways. There have been instances of foreign priests setting up car sales businesses in church carparks, etc.
I think bishops in the West would be far better looking for new ways of involving people in ministry – permanent deacons, etc.
And if we want to kick-start vocations again, we are going to have to address what is putting people off becoming priests.
Q. My wife is a serious Christian and a faithful churchgoer. She is a member of a reverent and active congregation. Her pastor is a man who gave up a lucrative profession to become a priest. My wife receives the Eucharist every Sunday, and she believes fervently in the real presence.
As I understand my own Catholic Church’s teaching, the Eucharist my wife receives is invalid because she is an Episcopalian and her priest’s ordination is invalid. I have a hard time not believing that Christ is present in the bread and wine consecrated by an Episcopal priest. Jesus is supposed to be present when people gather in his name. Doesn’t that apply to my wife’s church service? (Lynchburg, Va.)
A. As is commonly known, the Catholic Church recognizes the validity of the sacrament of baptism when it is administered according to many non-Catholic rites — including the Orthodox Church and all the main-line Protestant communities.
When someone from one of those traditions decides to enter the Catholic Church, no “rebaptism” is needed. All that is required is a simple profession of faith and acceptance into the Catholic Church.
With the Eucharist, though, it is a different matter. The sacrament of the Eucharist can be confected only by a priest, and so the validity of the Eucharist depends on the validity of that particular priest’s ordination. And here, as you point out, is where the problem occurs.
The position of the Catholic Church is that ordination to the priesthood, according to the Anglican ritual is invalid. (The Episcopal Church is the American branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion.) The history of this position is long and involved, but I will summarize it.
In the late 1800s Pope Leo XIII established a commission to study the question. It concluded that in the 16th century when King Henry VIII broke with Rome, the bishops who first joined him had been Roman Catholic bishops and had clearly been ordained validly.
But under the reign of Henry’s son, King Edward VI, the makeup of the Anglican ordination ritual took a decidedly Protestant swing. The intent of the ritual was no longer to confer the sacrament of holy orders as the Catholic Church had viewed it stemming from the time of the apostles. The papal decree “Apostolicae Curae” in 1896 confirmed that position.
In the late 20th century, under the impetus of the ecumenical energy generated by the Second Vatican Council, scholars began to revisit the issue with the encouragement of Pope John Paul II. But after considerable research, no reason could be uncovered for reversing the findings of Leo XIII’s time.
In a papal document in 1998 (together with a companion elucidation by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), the issue was laid to rest, and the invalidity of Anglican orders was held by the Catholic Church to be a settled matter. (As a corollary to that theological position, today when Anglican clergy wish to become Roman Catholic priests, they are ordained once more in a new ceremony.)
It is important to note that this position on the validity of orders is intended in no way to question the sincerity of Anglicans. God can minister his grace in all sorts of ways and through many channels. I have no doubt that the Lord is touching your wife’s life though her participation in the Episcopal liturgy. My inclination would be not to trouble her with deep theological distinctions.
The post above is the official position of the Roman Catholic Church.
But does that mean that when Anglicans gather for a Eucharist Service that Jesus is not really present to them?
Jesus said: “Where two or three gather in my name I will be with them”.
Every time sincere Anglicans gather together in Jesus’ name, he is with him.
And, the same is true for Presbyterians Methodists, Baptists, etc.
Whenever I go to a Protestant service and there is Communion, I receive Communion with everybody else, unless my going would offend anybody. I just check it out beforehand with the minister.
In doing this, I am entering into Communion with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
At The Oratory in Larne, we do not restrict Holy Communion to Catholics but give Communion to people who believe in Christ and want to respectfully receive Communion.
Transubstantiation is, according to the teaching of the Catholic Church, “the change of the whole substance of bread into the substance of the Body of Christ and of the whole substance of wine into the substance of his Blood“. This change is brought about in the eucharistic prayer through the efficacy of the word of Christ and by the action of the Holy Spirit. However, the outward characteristics of bread and wine, that is the ‘eucharistic species’, remain unaltered. In this teaching, the notions of “substance” and “transubstantiation” are not linked with any particular theory of metaphysics.
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that, in the Eucharistic offering, bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ. The affirmation of this doctrine was expressed, using the word “transubstantiate”, by the Fourth Council of the Lateran in 1215.It was later challenged by various 14th-century reformers, John Wycliffe in particular.
It’s interesting that the term transubstantiation was not used for the first 1200 years of the Church’s history.
In spite of that, the Church had the real presence of Christ.
I wonder what Jesus thinks of all the rows there have been about His gift of the Eucharist to his followers.
A VERY INTERESTING PERSPECTIVE ON THE WEST v RUSSIA CONFLICT
This lecture gives the background to the role the West played in the story.
I wish to begin the present by expressing my congratulations to you upon your election as the Abbot General of the Order of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance.
As you may recall, I, Bishop Pat Buckley, was the individual who made a number of evidenced-based allegations against the former Abbot of Mount Melleray Abbey, Dom Richard Purcell, OCSO. Sadly, these allegations were unjustifiably ignored by the leadership of the Order for a considerable period of time; thereby, creating an even greater scandal that could have been avoided by the order following the norms of Canon Law, and the Constitutions of the Order.
You, Dom Bernardus, and Mother Pascale Fourmentin, the Abbess of Arnhem were tasked by the then Abbot General, Dom Eamon Fitzgerald, OCSO to conduct a “Regular Visitation” of Mount Melleray Abbey.
You and the co-visitor had as the “primary object” “to establish if there was any substance to the allegations”. It was reported on the OCSO website that the “investigation concluded that the allegations were unfounded”. But, we were then informed that Dom Richard Purcell for a personal reason offered his resignation as the Abbot and Ordinary Mount Melleray Abbey, and that the then Abbot General having received the consent of his Council, accepted the resignation, which became effective on November 25 2021.
I am mindful that you have now been elected to the venerable office of Abbot General, however, I do not resile from my previously and publicly stated position that this so-called “regular visitation” was nothing more than a sham. It was a misguided and intellectually indolent attempt to give a thin veneer of credibility to a man, a monk, a priest, and an abbot who was well-known and notorious on the Irish gay scene. And, it is legitimate to enquire whose agenda was being served by this “regular visitation”?
Respectfully, I submit you and your co-visitor were never going to find any evidence of Purcell’s misconduct at Mount Melleray Abbey, because deviant individuals like Purcell are pathologically careful about ensuring that they leave no evidence that would expose their duplicitous lifestyle. Did you honestly expect to find a receipt and/or a payment to “The Boilerhouse”, the Dublin-based gay sauna on the monastery credit card statement? If you did — that displays an extraordinary level of naïveté. Did you and Mother Pascale expect the ordinary monks of Mount Melleray Abbey to have any idea about Purcell’s lifestyle?
I submit that Richard Purcell was very careful about keeping his gay lifestyle well-hidden from his monastic brothers. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the gay lifestyle, he took risks while “on the scene”, and his hubris eventually led to his downfall.
Prior to his exposure — Purcell, like a parasite, utilised the resources of the Abbey, to have a comfortable life. And, do bear in mind, he was travelling the world on a frequent basis under the pretext of conducting visitations of the daughter houses founded by Mount Melleray Abbey. Furthermore, Richard Purcell was a frequent visitor to Dublin on “church-related” business. In fact, his lifestyle was completely at variance with his professed vow of stability; he [Purcell] was more like a Jesuit than a Cistercian.
Using any yardstick, Richard Purcell was a very talented man. It is a great shame that he chose to lead a lifestyle that was completely at variance with his monastic vows. Due to my exposure of his behaviour, I have learned a great deal about Purcell, however, this is not the place to address those issues; but, it does seem to me that he laboured with a tragic harmartia.
You are respectfully advised that Fr. Richard Purcell was not the only Irish Cistercian Abbot to be active on the Irish gay scene. There was another individual, however, because he is no longer an office-holder and an old man; I will not name him publicly; but, if he misbehaves in the future, and his misconduct comes to my attention — I will do so without hesitation. But, this new fact should not come as a surprise. I have personal experience of being propositioned by a deceased abbot of Mellifont Abbey; so, this gay culture is not new within the Irish Cistercians.
Of course, history shows us that sexual misconduct has always been a characteristic of monastic life. And, that should not come as a surprise because monastic life mirrors and reflects wider society. The history of monasticism shows decline, reform, and renewal. However, it is deeply surprising that the Cistercians appear to have learned absolutely NO lessons from the sexual scandals that have enfolded the Church for the past three decades.
No, I have some questions for you that I will set out, hereinafter.
Dom Bernardus, when you went to Mount Melleray Abbey, were you and your co-visitor aware of Richard Purcell’s known sexual misconduct?
Were you and your co-visitor aware that Dom Eamon Fitzgerald, your predecessor in office confirmed to me during a telephone conversation that it was known within the Order that Purcell had sexually misbehaved?
Were you and your co-visitor aware that the Order considered/hoped that Purcell’s misconduct was a “one-off”?
Were you and your co-visitor aware that the allegations of Purcell’s misconduct were brought to the repeated personal attention of the Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, Alphonsus Cullinan?
Were you and your co-visitor aware that he [Bishop Cullinan] failed to preventively suspend by Decree the Faculties of Richard Purcell within his own canonical territory?
Were you and your co-visitor aware Ordinary of the Diocese of Waterford & Lismore responded to the allegations by giving his approbation to Purcell by publicly concelebrating the Eucharist with Purcell on a number of occasions?
Do you accept that actions of Bishop Cullinan in his failure to act on the allegations were scandalous and a demonstrable example of institutional hypocrisy?
Do you consider Cullinan’s behaviour to be exacerbated by the fact, he [Cullinan] is the Chairman of the Irish Bishops’ Council for Vocations?
Did you and your co-visitor ask Dom Eamon Fitzgerald about our telephone conversation?
Did Dom Eamon confirm that he acknowledged to me during our telephone conversation that Purcell’s sexual misconduct was known within the Order, ie, the anal sex at the guesthouse at Mount St. Joseph Abbey was a one-off? Thus, Purcell’s sexual peccadilloes were known and covered-up by the Cistercians. Do you accept that as an accurate statement of fact?
If Purcell’s behaviour was known about and covered-up — what else are the Cistercians covering-up?
Why was Purcell’s known sexual misconduct tolerated by the leadership of the Order?
Would the current leadership, i.e,, you and the Council of the Order tolerate Purcell’s behaviour?
Do you think Richard Purcell should seek voluntary laicisation? If not, do you consider that he should be forcefully laicised and dispensed from his monastic vows?
Is there a culture of covering-up sexual misconduct within the Cistercians of the Strict Observance?
Today, would the Cistercians cover-up/ignore an allegation of sexual misconduct involving a child?
Because, if the response of the Order is anything to go by with respect to Richard Purcell — I am not convinced the Cistercians are institutionally capable of responding appropriately or swiftly to an allegation that involved an abbot and/or any other form of religious superior that involved a child. Do you accept that is a reasonable and proportionate inference to take in light of the callous indifference that the Order showed with respect to the known misconduct Richard Purcell?
So again, I asked the question — today, how would the Cistercians respond to an allegation involving an abbot with a minor? Is there a procedure within the Order that is to be followed if such an allegation is made? Is there a similar procedure for a non-ordained monk?
Again, this is a legitimate question, because of the known scandal on Caldey Island involving the deceased Cistercian monk, Fr. Thaddeus Kotik.
Due to my unique ministry, victims of misconduct often reach out to me because I am considered to be a neutral figure. Consequently, if an individual contacted me in the future and told me and provided demonstrable evidence that they were a victim of the deceased Cistercian, Fr. Kotik – would I be ignored by the Order? Would I still be dismissed as a crank? Is child safeguarding within the Cistercians nothing more than a sham?
In your first days as the new Abbot General, I would urge you to remind the Order that it needs to extirpate the deeply erroneous idea that abbots are incapable of wrong-doing.
When a number of individuals who have been professionally retained to commence canonical procedures to remove Richard Purcell — they remarked that the Constitutions of the Order of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance were dated, and needed to be updated to reflect contemporary safeguarding measures. And, that is something which needs to be reviewed and addressed by the Order as a matter of considerable urgency.
Let me assure you, I took no pleasure in exposing Richard Purcell. Indeed, I was very sad that I was forced to take this course of action, because Mellifont Abbey is a place that I love dearly and is very close to my heart.
As I believe transparency is good for the Church, I will place a copy of this correspondence on my blog; if you reply, unless you indicate to the contrary – I will publish your reply, however, for the avoidance of doubt, if you request me not to do so — then you reply will be kept confidential.
All of us in the West, and here in the UK and Ireland, have a massive moral obligation to give urgent practical help to Ukrainian refugees.
Those of us who are Christian have an extra responsibility to welcome these refugees.
When we welcome these refugees, we literally welcome Jesus Christ.
If we fail to welcome then then we ate letting Jesus Christ down.
These are the six questions Jesus said he will ask us on Judgement Day;
1. Did you feed the hungry?
2. Did you give a drink to the thirst
3. Did you clothe the naked?
4. Did you care for the sick?
5. Did you visit prisoners?
6. Did you welcome strangers into your home?
I have already registered with the UK Governent to host refugees in the house I live in.
It is a very large house with several spare bedrooms.
My priestly colleague Father Paul has one spare bedroom in his apartment, and he has also signed up.
I’m sure others from The Oratory will be offering practical help and support too.
EMAIL FROM OUR FRIEND ROBERT NUGENT ON THIS TOPIC
Maybe you can do a post on the blog calling out the Church to take some action for the refugees from Ukraine. There are 1355 Parishes in Ireland for 4.5 Million Catholics. Many of these parishes have properties that can be used to temporarily house families. These families are mainly women and Children as Men have not been allowed leave Ukraine. Kinga my wife has been helping on the border.
Example would be Knock, there are many empty properties that could house 250-300 people with local schools and services. Look at the Knock youth centre that has been empty for 2 years. Also many of these Ukrainians are Orthodox so we should allow them to practice their faith and allow Priests to minister to them.
If every Catholic Parish just took 20 women and Children it would mean 27100 have a place to go. While immigration is a hot topic for some right wing Catholics, we have to look at the humanity of the situation and not let politics get involved.
I personally don’t support any side in this conflict, I have no faith in either side, But I do have faith we try to help those families who need stability until this all gets resolved. The Church has to open the doors now, and us laity will help fund them with clothes, money, food, etc.. We are not looking for money from the Church, just access to the properties. For example in Ballina the Church has several houses for priests in the town and a very large residence for the Bishop. The 4 priests in the separate houses could live with the Bishop for a while and allow Families to use the houses. The Clergy have to lead by example in this crisis, not just asking for prayers, but leading by example.
Robert hits several important nails on the head there.
Bishops, priests, and religious orders should lead the way on this and put their money where their mouth is.
You will always find an excuse for not doing the right thing:
My insurance will not cover me for this.
I like to keep my home private.
My partner will not allow me to do this.
I have a weakened immune system.
I’m afraid they might rob me.
I only have one bathroom.
Forget the excuses.
If you are a good human being, you will do this.
And if you are a card carrying Christian – then my friend, you have no excuse whatsoever!