A parishioner was quite shocked to find that "Call to Action" - the dissident group calling for change in all sorts of areas of Church life - held a meeting in the neighbouring parish (run by the Benedictines of Ampleforth). Apparently members from the two dioceses of Liverpool and Lancaster were present. The minutes below are freely available on their web-site, so I will leave you to ponder them for yourselves.
The only comment I make, apart from noting that there are two regular Sunday Extraordinary Form Masses in the same Deanery, is that I find myself in complete agreement with the reasons they give for holding the meeting. I suspect I am in agreement with them only in letter and not in the spirit of the aims!
"To speak freely" - often within the Church today many who continue to hold the same views of the Faith of their fathers and mothers have not felt at liberty to speak freely.
"To engage in dialogue" - often those who question heterodox practices or liturgical abuses receive absolutely no answer from the powers that be or are stonewalled and sidelined.
"To revisit Vatican II" - Along with Pope Emeritus Benedict, the present Holy Father and many others, I too am all in favour of revisiting Vatican II and interpreting it in the same way as all other Church Councils and teaching - in continuity with our Tradition.
"Be consulted about the future of our Church" - I can't ever recall being consulted about any of the willy nilly changes to liturgy and practice that seem to have become usual in many parts of the Church - not things that are publicly announced by the Holy See but all those little add-ons that accrue to the Mass with no official sanction and the deliberate mis-application of norms (such as the abuse in the number of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion).
The real call to action is the one Pope Francis is giving us - to be faithful to Jesus and His Church.
1. The meeting started with Sr Mary Feane in the Chair and Fr Paul Browne taking the minutes. Later Ray McGarry was elected as acting Chairman and Angela Bolton as acting Secretary.
2. We then spent a few minutes introducing ourselves to our neighbour, in couples, and sharing our reasons for attending .We each then shared what we had just learnt with the whole group.
3. Reasons given for attending the meeting included:
to be able to speak freely
to engage in dialogue
to revisit Vatican II
to be consulted about the future of our church.
Some thought that more consultation should be our number one priority – building up a relationship with the bishops: we want dialogue instead of dictatorship.
We have a strong tradition of teaching on social justice – we need to build on this. We need to have an equal say, a sense of ownership (it’s our church!), the lack of which leads to injustice and powerlessness.
Others lamented the loss of ecumenical trust, the lack of ecumenical dialogue and discussion, for example in the way the new Mass translation was imposed and designed (in part) to move us away from agreed versions of common Christian prayers, such as the Creed and the Gloria. Another example was the introduction of the Anglican ‘Ordinariate’ for members of the Church of England wishing to join the Catholic Church as a body, without consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Archbishop of Westminster – or any of our bishops.
4. The meeting agreed that the Lancaster and Liverpool groups would continue to meet as one group for the foreseeable future. But it was suggested that, because we were such a large group (c 20), in future meetings we might discuss a topic in our two diocesan groups before reporting back to the whole group.
5. Someone else suggested that we invite a bishop next time, just to listen. He could give us his considered feedback at a later date.
6. The next meeting will be on Tuesday, 29 January, 7.30 - 9pm, at the Parish Centre of the Anglican Church of St John the Divine, Hewlett Street, Coppull, Lancashire, PR7 5AH. Hope you can make it – and maybe bring a friend.
Angela Bolton, Acting Secretary.
ACTA: Third Meeting of the Lancaster & Liverpool Group
ACTA: Third Meeting of the Lancaster & Liverpool Group
Coppull, Tuesday 26 February 2013
1. After refreshments (and moving rooms) the meeting began with prayer at 7.55pm. Ray McGarry was in the chair and Angie Bolton took the minutes.
2. Apologies for absence were received from: Agnes Dobson, Anton Fernandopuille, Bernard Hayes, Clare Cobb, Ewa Bem, Gavin Young, Gerry Proctor, Maureen Connell, Nick Young, Pauline Volks, Richard Sloan, Stephen Hoyland, Tony Slingo and Val Farrell (14).
3. Present were: Alex Walker, Angie Bolton, Ann Marie Cullen, Ann Miller, Anne Foley, Bernard Traynor, Chris Cullen, Claire Ball, Denis Cullen, Dympna Magee, Elizabeth Kelly, John Sullivan, Julie Dale, Kathy Bamber, Maryrose Fitzsimmons, Moya Duffy, Paul Browne, Ray McGarry, Simon Dale, Susan Bamber, Theresa Swan and Terry Duffy (22).
4. The minutes of our second meeting were accepted without amendment.
5. Under matters arising, John Sullivan reported on the three tasks he’d undertaken at the last meeting:
a. to seek a 30-minute meeting with Bishop Tom Williams (acting Bishop of Liverpool) simply to inform him that this group exists and to explain our raison d’être, expanding on our national mission statement. Not asking him to do anything, nor to agree or commit to anything. The bishop flatly turned down his request, thus ‘highlighting why ACTA exists in the first place’, as John commented. In a second message, Bishop Tom said that as he was very busy (Archbishop Patrick was convalescing and then retiring) a meeting would be impossible till after the summer. Concern was expressed by several members of the group at the way in which John’s very courteous request had been handled so ungraciously.
b. John sent his (amended) document concerning the Selection of Bishops to ACTA’s core team, as this is a matter of potential concern to all dioceses in the future, as well as of current concern to the several dioceses awaiting bishops at the moment. The document duly appeared on our website. He had also emailed a copy to each member of our group.
c. John also contacted The Tablet to see if they would be interested in publicising his proposals. But, he told us, after an initially positive response, there had been no follow-up.
Paul Browne made available hard-copies of our letter to the Papal Nuncio asking simply what were the criteria and what was the process for appointing a new Archbishop of Liverpool. Paul composed the letter, as agreed, but in the end it was thought more prudent for Angie Bolton to sign it and send it from her address. Several members of this group affirmed the letter by email and their names were added. No response had yet been received.
Terry Duffy made available hard-copies of the A5 pamphlet he’d agreed to produce, based on our mission statement, explaining who we are and what we are about, and advertising the date, time and location of our next meeting. There is now a potential template that could be further customised, and used to advertise an ACTA meeting in one of our parishes, for example. He had already emailed a copy to all members of the group.
6a. We are invited to send two members to the ACTA Leaders’ Conference at Hinsley Hall, Leeds, 6 - 7 May 2013. John Sullivan agreed to be our second representative, joining Ray McGarry who had already booked.
6b. We are also invited to submit two suggested topics for discussion at that meeting. The first, we agreed, should be the criteria and the process employed in the appointment of new bishops and the need for genuine consultation with the laity and priests of the local church concerned. This is a matter of current importance to those of us living in the diocese of Liverpool – but it’s a matter of national concern as well. Several English dioceses are waiting for new bishops, East Anglia for two years now, apparently. One of us declared this topic to be a ‘game-changer’. That it would have a ripple effect: if we could get the method of selecting new bishops changed it could be the start of a new and healthier culture in our church.
We decided that our second discussion topic for the Leaders’ Meeting should be the New Mass Translation (imposed in Advent 2011). In particular we proposed that, just as, by decree of Pope Benedict XVI, the Tridentine Mass is now legally available always and everywhere a priest and a ‘group’ of laity want it (regardless of the wishes of the local bishop in whose name all sacraments are celebrated), so we who welcomed the Mass as reformed by Pope Paul VI in obedience to the decree of the Second Vatican Council, and want to carry on celebrating it, should be allowed to use the translation we have been using for the past forty years. Much discussion ensued: and it became clear that we objected not only to the new text itself but also to the way in which it had been steam-rollered through and imposed on us, with merely token consultation with the bishops and no consultation at all with priests and people.
One of us considered that this topic ‘matters even more than the selection of bishops’. It was claimed that there was ‘profound unhappiness about the new translation’ in our church. This certainly was true of our meeting. Strong exception was taken to the whole business: both the product and the process by which it was produced and imposed on us. Imposed first by Rome on our bishops, thus seriously disempowering them in the area of liturgy and usurping their right, specifically recognised in the Council’s Liturgy decree, to commission and approve the official vernacular translation of the new Latin text of the Mass, renewed and reformed according to the principles laid down by the Pope and the rest of the world’s bishops at Vatican II. In defiance of which, this new ‘translation’, first imposed on our bishops, was then (in 2011) imposed by our bishops on us, priests and people; the priests expected to promote the product even if they were privately appalled by it. As one of us pointed out, both the method by which bishops are still being secretly selected and imposed on us, and the way in which this new translation was secretly created and imposed on us, are two blatant examples of the ongoing abuse of power. (As was the scandal of clerical sexual abuse of children and the subsequent cover-up, and indeed effective collusion in it, by so many bishops and religious superiors.)
As time was running out, we left it to John Sullivan to exactly formulate our proposal, which he subsequently did like this:
The New Translation of the Missal
We’re asking for (i) an opportunity to discuss the deep unhappiness caused both by the lamentable and unhelpful quality of the language it uses and also by the way it was imposed without any serious consultation with the People of God; followed by (ii) an exploration of ways to change this situation so that the language of the Mass – so central to the framing, nurture and expression of our faith – can more effectively communicate God’s invitation to receive, respond to and share His love.
6 c. We also made a third suggestion to the Leaders’ Conference: that as a matter of urgency they appoint a professional ACTA National Press Officer. Chris Cullen suggested Paul Vallely (leading British writer on Africa and development issues, active in Traidcraft, the CIIR, Christian Aid and CAFOD, now associate editor of The Independent, correspondent of The Church Times and a director of The Tablet) and it seemed that those of us who know of him agreed that he would be eminently suitable.
7a. We did not discuss married priests (or the imminent ‘Eucharistic famine’) at all.
7b. But we did discuss the New Mass Translation (see 6b above). It was agreed that Paul Browne should write a letter to the Archbishop of Liverpool (when we have one) and to Bishop Michael Campbell of Lancaster, asking for permission to use the ‘old’ (Vatican II) translation, in which he would refer to the canon law that recognises the right, and sometimes even the duty, of the laity to raise matters of concern with their bishops.
8. We agreed that our next meeting would be on Tuesday 16 April, 7.30-9pm, at the same place: the Parish Centre of St John the Divine, Hewlett Street, Coppull, Lancashire, PR7 5AH. As the room is not available until 7.30pm, could I ask that people aim to arrive promptly at this time and no earlier? Many thanks.