Sunday, 19 January 2014



By: The Reverend Dr Martin Pulbrook
Minister - Unitarian Church - Blackpool, England.
Sermon - Sunday 12th Janauary 2014

If I had been given a thousand pounds for every time I have heard or read that Unitarianism did not have creeds - in other words that it was a non-credal religion - I should be a very welcome man. And I wish to spend some time today investigating this commonplace assertion, which I hope to show to be an over simplification, and a misleading over-simplification at that, or a rather more complex situation. 

I am a proud Unitarian. But that is not my only religious affiliation. I am also very honoured to be a member of The Oratory Society, holding since 1999, membership card number 16.

The Oratory Society is the religious organisation of Bishop Pat Buckley in Larne, the liberal and dissident Catholic cleric. Let me read you his "Credo", which was published in the booklet setting out the founding Constitution of The Oratory Society. I have on occasion used this "Credo" as a reading at Services, and I imagine that there is very little in it that any Unitarian will have difficulty with. It is a truly remarkable statement for a Catholic priest to have made - if only the Catholic Church as a whole held similar views:

I believe in this world it is impossible to understand God.
I believe that God made this wonderful universe and all that exists.
I can find God in nature, in animals, in birds and in the enviornment.
I believe that God made all men and women.
That he made them all equal.
And that he loves and cherishes them all equally.
I believe that the whole human race is the family of God.
I believe that there may be intelligent life on other planets.
And if so they too are part of God's family.
I hold that religion and faith are two different things.
That religion can be both good and bad.
And that it is spirituality that counts.
For me your religion is an accident of your birth.
Or a gift of God's great providential diversity.
There is no one true church.
All churches and all religions contain aspects of the truth.
But only God is Truth.
No man is infallible.
A Buddhist or a good atheist is as acceptable to God as a good Catholic.
I believe in people, especially suffering people.
I believe in the power of weakness.
I believe that all men and women will be saved.
I believe in a packed heaven and an empty hell.
And even Satan might get another chance.
I believe in the freedom of God's sons and daughters.
I believe that dogma is often evil.
I believe that life is a journey towards God.
And that no one has the right to insist you go a certain road.
I believe that God and reality are too big for my poor words.
I believe therefore that I am only at a beginning.
Only knocking at a door.
And I believe that the best is yet to come.

Do you either agree generally with the sentiments of this "Credo" - as I do - or perhaps (which might be true of some, perhaps a tiny minority) dislike it and disagree with it? We are a free and non-compulsive religion grouping, and so of course you are perfectly at liberty to reject this "Credo" if that is your preference. But those of us who can go along with it have already, from first principles, disapproved the contention that Unitarians are against all Creeds. Against specific Creeds, yes; but against Creeds uniformly and in the abstract, no. So a greater selectivity of definition is required.

Just before this address we sang the famous anonymous hymn WE BELIEVE IN HUMAN KINDNESS. The origins of this hymn are obscure, and it it is not mentioned at all in Julian's Dictionary of Hymnnology (1892) - which is strange. But it is included in the Essex Hall Hymnal (1896), and was most probably written at some stage in Victorian times. But that is by the way. The same issue, precisely, arises with the humn as with Pat Buckley's "Credo". If we can go along with the hymn, we are clearly not, as Unitarians, "against all Creeds". 


  1. Did Mr Buckley write that creed? There is nothing in it that any faithful catholic could disagree with. The problem is with Mr Buckley as a person. He's not wise.

    1. What a bollix-not you pat but that anonymous gobshite

  2. Good Man Martin. I have been growing and am being affirmed in the realisation that our faith is bigger than the confines of one denomination. This morning I presided at Morning Prayer in our Church. It must be the guts of 20 years since I stood before a congregation with the "aproval" of those in charge. I was neither nervous nor full of myself, it just felt like the natural thing to do. Martin Pullbrook sounds like a very interesting person. Does he have an email? Good wishes & prayers to one and all. Sean

    1. Sean,

      Great that you presided over Morning Prayer.

      Martin Pulbrook is a very special man indeed.

      He does not use email. But his address is The Walnuts, Enniscoffey, Mullingar. Co. Westmeath.


  3. This has been for many years the bedrock of my own faith and my favourite prayer.Inspiring.Mike

  4. An excellent creed. As for the above disrespectful contributor I have to ask, what is your issue with Bishop Buckley? I am a person who is spiritually feed in the Oratory in Larne. I have a lot of issues with many of my former RC Bishops, I bet you pay up and bow to them! Scary people in my view. Have you read the UN 'words' on your Bishops and their 'most evil' actions in the worldwide abuse and coverup of crimes against young people (to say nothing of money laundering)? I take NO pleasure in pointing to the 'plank' in your eye.

    You have a serious problem, your behaviour makes Bishop Pat looking like 'snow white'.

    Let us pray for each other.

    Friend and attendee of the Oratory Society, Larne.

  5. UN panel confronts Vatican on child sex abuse by clergy! WOOO, even I became very disturbed by the info in these confrontation - how do they sleep at night, pure evil indeed.

    Paula - Belfast

  6. Scicluna, the Maltese bishop, has previous said prelate who failed to do the right thing with paedophile priests must be held accountable. Get these Irish Bishops into the court rooms for 'real crimes'!! Oh sorry the only crime is to help people!!

    Did Bishop Walsh protect someone??


  7. Can anyone enlighten me on the story from Italy today, I heard it on the radio? Did a Nun in Italy give birth? Will you be brought to court for this one Bishop Pat?


  8. The Vatican was being questioned over its implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, which it ratified in 1990. Since then it has repeatedly failed to submit reports on the progress it has made in protecting minors from predatory priests and other clergy.

    Guess who ends up in court? The UN needs to grow some balls and haul these vile creatures into a courtroom.


  9. The Catholic Church has a history of protecting their clergy who abused children.
    It really only punished clergy who committed the dreadful crime of falling in love with an adult woman or makes a living without their permission.

    Reinforced by doctrine which states that the deepest part of Hell was reserved for women who caused a priest to lose their vocation.

    However in this it shares, with the other Abrahamic theological patriarchies, a deep seated unease with female sexuality.

    A very, very ILL group of people and followers.

    Dr Brian - Dundalk

  10. It must have been really fun to see those Vatican officials squirm uncomfortably under the onslaught. The RCC has been allowed to get away with things for too long. Take their wealth from them and pay the 'innocent' their due.


  11. The church should get rid of few unethical clergy to restore its honor and dignity. These includes Bishops or Cardinals, please clean our Church, please!


  12. But critics of the Vatican were sceptical, given that as recently as last month the Holy See refused to provide the panel with key information

    On this matter alone Pope Francis like all his predecessors and despite his fine sounding words (and words is all they are at the moment) appears to be more concerned with protecting the church than assisting the law to bring the perpetrators of such heinous crimes to justice. It seems that there is no redemption for this institution that time and time again averts its eyes, denies and refuses to acknowledge the full scale, nature and horrific ramifications of the crimes committed under its aegis.

    Bishop Pat for Pope please, at least what you see is what you get.

    Patrick - Dublin Social Worker

  13. Thank you, Independent Bishop, for being braver than other cowardly Christians and others, by opening a comment section for this recent event!!


  14. The Catholic Church should respect thelaws of the lands they work in when it comes to sexual abuse. The law of the land comes before the weaker, ineffective canonical law that serves to forgive the abuser and ignore the victims.
    It is time the Catholic Church gave up its obsession with chastity as a holy act of self deprivation.It is part of the root cause of the long history of subverted continuing sexual abuse over many centuries. My Father used to say that if you deprieve one part of a man it will emerge in other strange ways, simple psychology, but I really think he was n to something! He was a humble coalman who raised 9 children.


  15. The church should not be allowed near children.


  16. This is very wrong what the church has allowed. I wonder when they will go after Muslims for these same crimes? The UN is very biased in so many ways.


  17. What is curious is that the sex abuse by the UN itself was actually revealed in a UN report (
    However, it appears that so far not only has nothing been done to hold the offenders accountable, but nothing serious has been done to prevent the ongoing abuse which is apparently happening at a rate which makes the Catholic Church offenses sound like a Sunday afternoon picnic.
    I think the issue is not any impliction that the RCC should not be held accountable. It is really whether the UN are the right ones to carry this out.


  18. Watching and listening to the first U.N. proceedings of the Holy See made me nauseous. Sex abuse cover-ups for generations, pornography, pedophilia, ignoring extradition requests for prosecution, and then.....stealing babies for sale and human trafficking in Spain, Ireland and elsewhere. Although this event is unprecedented in {Catholic Church} history, can we not skip proceedings that are "not binding" but bring the Vatican before the International Criminal Court for justice for "crimes of aggression" and force them to try these perpetrators? This is NOT Christianity, and sadly not even remotely a sign that any of these men or women are Christ followers. And though I don't advocate for millstone drowning or violence...Matthew's gospel was pretty clear about justice:

    But whoso shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble, it is profitable for him that a great millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depth of the sea. Matt. 18:6.


  19. Go after the rabbis while your at it. Equal opportunity!


  20. The Pope needs to do the right thing. And send this Archbishop back to the Dominican Republic, to face his crimes. He has been shielding this man. It's time to stop shielding pedophiles. And I was hoping he would be the one to set the example.

    Stephen Shea

  21. After almost a year from becoming pope, Francis is showing the world that he chooses to protect child predators and those who cover up their sex crimes, instead of protecting innocent children. He has yet to take any decisive action to hold bishops accountable for enabling and covering up sex crimes against kids today. Church officials still think they are above the law.
    Tragically the sex abuse and cover up within the church hierarchy is still going on to this day. Cardinals and bishops are still not removing accused predator clergy, and they are still not reporting to law enforcement. Their so called “zero tolerance” policy is not being followed by the bishops who created it. They don’t have to, because there is no punishment to force the bishops to change their ways of protecting their image and the institution rather than protecting innocent kids. Until they are held accountable by outside forces, nothing will change and children are still be sexually abused within this archaic secret institution. It is becoming more clear that Pope Francis can not be counted on to remove and fire these criminal bishops.
    Silence is not an option anymore, it only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others. Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, 636-433-2511, "SNAP" the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests,