Tuesday, 27 February 2018

LANCASTER DIOCESE

Dear Bishop Pat

Please could you give me some advice. I am unlucky enough to be a Catholic in the Diocese of Lancaster, England where Bishop Michael Campbell OSA has ruled for 10 years. During that time he has ruined a perfectly good Diocese with poor Leadership, poor decisions and he has has given his Secretary, Father Robert Billing, a young and inexperienced Pastor free reign to govern in the Bishop’s name. The Clergy are spoken to like children and some of the emails and letters they receive from the Bishop’s Office are disgraceful. I am friendly with some Priests and Deacons who can’t wait for change and I know that they are also delighted to see the back of the Bishop’s secretary. The final nail in the coffin for me was 3 weeks ago when I attended holy Mass in my local Parish of St Monica’s Blackpool, when after the final blessing, the Priest briefly announced that the Church was closing for good with immediate effect. No consultation, no discussion, no letter from the Bishop, end of. I wrote to the Bishop and received a reply from his Secretary reminding me that the Bishop is a successor of St Peter and that was the end of it. I accept that our numbers are dwindling and money needs to be spent on the Church, but can a Bishop just close a perfectly good Church without consultation or communication?

I phoned the Presbytery (we are twinned with another Parish) but the Priest said it was a direct instruction from the Bishop’s secretary as they weren’t prepared to spend money on a new boiler and not enough people attended Mass to make the Church viable. I offered to pay for the new boiler but apparently it is too late and the Church is now closed.

An elderly nun friend of mine also wrote to the Bishop about the matter and she received a very rude response from the aforementioned Bishop’s secretary advising her to butt out and telling her that she has been reported to her congregation for daring to communicate with the Bishops office.

Bishop Campbell is retiring and that is good news as is the fact that we are told his Secretary is moving abroad to study Canon law (a course on how to treat people may be a better use of Diocesan funds). The bad news is that several of us now have nowhere to go to Mass. We are elderly, our families paid for this Church and we are not very mobile. The thought of travelling to our twinned Parish where the newly ordained Priest in his 20’s wears a biretta, cassock and says Mass in Latin is just not for us. 

Any advice you could give about who to write to to formally complain would be appreciated. 

Thank you and God bless.


Dear Lancaster Friend,

Thank you for your letter.

I have known Michael Campbell since 1984 - 33 years - as he is from Larne where I live. He is a person without a personality and a man who does not possess the common touch. 

He lived in a religious order most of his life and has a closed, conservative mind. He got the Lancaster job after years of licking up to Cardinal Murphy O'Connor.

I would regard him as having little common sense or pastoral sensitivity. He is a "company man" through and through - a parrot repeating company policies.

The real solution to your problem that he is leaving in 6 weeks time.

Hopefully his successor, a priest of the diocese, will be much better.

I would leave it till June and then write a long letter to the new bishop expressing all your concerns.

If that does not work you can write to the Papal Nuncio and Rome.

Be ready to be a voice crying in the wilderness.

In the summer let us know how you get on.


71 comments:

  1. Thank you Bishop Pat. Your advice is sensible and now that I have calmed down a little I will hold off as you say and write to the new Bishop. I have asked for some quiet time in the Church to say goodbye but my request has been denied. At 72 years old I just don’t have the appetite to move to a new Church or attend a Latin Mass, but I will pray about it as I will for you and your work. God bless.

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    1. Remember the same Christ is in your sitting room.

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    2. Thanks for the advice. Will do. Take care.

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  2. A friend receivd an email from Billing BD (Hons) which if the media got wind of it would be enough to crucify him - arrogant, unprofessional, ill-tempered, litgious-sounding bluff - in short the antithesis of Gospel values.

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    1. You must load it on here and it must go to Nuncio and Rome

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    2. Well kindly tell your friend to give it to the media! Idiots like this Billing have done enough harm and it’s time he and his ilk were stood up to!

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    3. Really? REad the abuse Jesus dished out in Matthew 23.

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    4. Jesud did NOT "dish out abuse"
      How dare you talk in those blasphemous terms!
      You have some nerve but it doesn't wash with me...

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    5. You need to chill, 15:57. Seriously.

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  3. If he had ever been a 'conservative' Catholic, as you claim, then no amount of grovelling to Murphy-O'Connor would have got him a mitre. The Bishop is famed in conservative circles for ordering a deacon in his diocese (who is faithful to tradition) to close his well regarded and much read blog because he didn't like the conservative content. (He is one of yours, Pat not one of ours).

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    1. That would be Deacon Donnelly. Anyone have a link to Gorgeous's Facebook page? I can't find it.

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    2. Type Jack Byrne into the Facebook search engine and there ye go.

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    3. Was that the ridiculous 'Protect the Pope' blog? So boring, nothing like Wise Catholic blog

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  4. Pat, do you encourage men to contact you to be ordained, what qualities would a man need to be ordained at the oratory. Would he need a theology or philosophy degree?

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    1. You have to be gay if you want to be ordained from Maynooth. Armagh archdiocese double-checks. The PP of Keady is on the supervisory board.

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    2. A Maynooth Diploma in Grindr Studies would help.

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  5. In my opinion, to say a bishop has 'ruled' is negative and unproductive. It is sad and sometimes tragic that churches are closed, services slashed and worst of all religious orders simply pulling out of a town with their money when the townspeople in the past gave that money for a presence in their town - most unjust. But the good news is that we can learn what is going to last and what isn't and so we can start to build on what we know will last and where the donors (the people) can retain a say in what they support.

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    1. Why is all this happening when Vatican II was the source of renewal, indeed a 'New Pentecost'?

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    2. I don’t think the author is necessarily complaining that the Church has been shut, more around the manner in which it was done. No communication, no consultation, a brief announcement at the end of Mass and an awful response from the Bishop’s Secretary who do well to remember his place.

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    3. While I agree that the circumstances surrounding this closure lacks tact and demonstrates very clearly the continued failure of clergy (in all levels of Orders) to communicate effectively, can I make two observations:

      1) The lack of numbers in our parishes is not all down to the priest. We cannot, with one breath, criticise the Church for not listening to and working with us laity and with another abdicate responsibility for an abject failure to evangelise this new generation;

      2) @07:45, in response to the tired argument that empty churches are the fault of Vatican II: this does not hold up to even the most basic fact check. Indeed, the council was called in response to, among other things, the falling congregations in former Catholic nations in the West. While I commend my brothers and sisters who belong to communities of the traditional liturgy, it is absurd to believe that a return to such pomp and ceremony would see every church full and no church closing.

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    4. The decline only kicked in after the Council. CARA, at the liberal SJ university, Georgetown in Washington D.C. has some sobering statistics.

      http://cara.georgetown.edu/frequently-requested-church-statistics/

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  6. To suddenly announce to mainly elderly parishioners that their place of worship was being discontinued was certainly behaving without "pastoral sensitivity" - to use Pat's phrase. What a very thoughtless and cavalier attitude to display towards people who might at least have expected the courtesy of being informed and preferably consulted before the final decision was taken. Instead the attitide of the bishop appears to be "We'll do whatever we want... None of your business!"
    I am not impressed.
    Verdict: Could do much better..

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  7. Very sorry to hear you've lost your church building. All Saints in Jaywick, Clacton On Sea was closed about 18 months ago and recently was put on the market at £200,000. It's not on the market now, so we'll see. I'll leave a link below to photos of it on google. I've looked at your church and if I've got it right, perhaps it would be valued similarly? Club together and if it comes on the market, buy it! If you can't then find a priest willing or allowed to say Mass, there are many "Old Catholics" online from more traditional to more liberal, choose one that suits and present your candidate from among you, for Priesthood...pie in the sky? Maybe, maybe not. Hire a community hall to begin with and have the Mass as you know and love it, only without communion, to begin with. I hope the new Bishop will be better, but I'm not convinced this closure will be undone, though I will gladly be proved wrong. As for those parishoners who wish to endow their Churches with benefactions..be warned by this.. it is THEIR (Clerical Club) Church, not yours! Walk away! YOU the people of God are The REAL Church! Call Men (and Women?) YOU consider worthy to be your Priests! Love and prayers for you all whatever you decide. https://www.google.co.uk/maps/uv?hl=en&pb=!1s0x47d9136c84f24837%3A0xe14edd8e19874c50!2m22!2m2!1i80!2i80!3m1!2i20!16m16!1b1!2m2!1m1!1e1!2m2!1m1!1e3!2m2!1m1!1e5!2m2!1m1!1e4!2m2!1m1!1e6!3m1!7e115!4shttps%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2Fp%2FAF1QipN3pnZfDK5ksXkfFtw0sE3f9wgW09DgydCZuVXE%3Dw213-h160-k-no!5sall%20saints%20jaywick%20-%20Google%20Search&imagekey=!1e10!2sAF1QipP4bQx8ABiW7EVJ6D1l0nryFZlaal9Agcm48aZB&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi57v60nMfZAhXC2KQKHcs_BAwQoioIkQEwDg

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  8. The church is a bit like the Roman empire. Outlived it's usefulness and is now wearing out. Interesting comment about buying the church and contacting the Old Catholics. I once tried to track them down and was unable.

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    1. 8.31 Sean: You say the Church has outlived its usefulness - I presume you also include the Anglican Church to which you are now attached? Why sign up if you have this conviction? I think you seem lost and confused!

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  9. Sure.y the church building belongs to the parish, not the bishops or priests.
    He can stop saying mass ther, but it is not his to sell.

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  10. The doomsday scenarios predicted in this blog today robs me of all hope - but only if I see the world and the Church through the prism of this blog. While I acknowledge the huge challenges, I also recognise the societal, cultural, intellectual and historical realities that impinge on religious faith- Catholicism particularly - I remain hope-filled that those who choose to be faithful to the Church and its teachings will keep the memory of Jesus sacred. The vile, anti Catholic venom and the vengeful comment from Tom at 00.00 do nothing for meaningful dialogue. Tom's "whatever you decide" argument is deeply flawed and ill thought out. Join the Oratory Tom!

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    1. That’s an over-the-top response to Tom’s post. Try to practise a sense of proportion.

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    2. 16.20: I still stand by my posting at 12.15: Having re-read Tom's piece, it is even more confusing. Did Tom have a negative experience with the Church that he would write such muddled, misleading ideas. He should join Pat at the Oratory. Seriously - but even there he won't find the parousia! Pat is recruiting.....

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    3. Describing 00.00's comments with words like 'vile, anti-catholic venom and vengeful' is a complete waste of time. Flawed his comments may be but, please, less of these nasty descriptives. One positive will suffice and help the discussion.

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  11. How are you getting on while you are on your hols, Pat?
    Any up-date?

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    Replies
    1. I am not on my hols. I am having some necessary dental treatment which is 25% the price it is at home.

      I am very sore today.

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    2. Pat .. Truth or dare time...
      Did you get implants.. yes?
      If you need to, take two paracetamol every four hours over the next two days .. That will help you I think....

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    3. Hope the dental treatment went ok and you feel better soon Pat.

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  12. So what do you think of georgous new Facebook page.
    He sure must have loved his photo from when he was a seminarian.

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    1. https://www.facebook.com/michael.j.byrne.5

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    2. Pat, I would say, if you yourself have a Facebook page, that Micky Jack has “blocked” you so you can’t see him lol

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  13. Not sure pat that u should have went there for your teeth prob.
    Brilliant dentists at home.

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    1. 4 times the price.

      Could not afford it.

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    2. 13.42: Couldn't afford it??? Has all the sham wedding monies dried up? Did you not take your partner in the trip? Why Fr. Paul. Interesting....

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    3. It costa a thousand pounds to have one screw in false tooth.
      My friend had a whole set...over 30 gran

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  14. As a general principle I don't think religious order priests should be made bishops. In many cases they will not have served in parishes so cannot relate fully to diocesan priests. Basil Hume came to Westminster thanks to lobbying by the Duke of Norfolk. Imagine if had been proposed that a priest of Westminster diocese be Abbot of Amplecash?

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    1. What about a priest of the diocese of Rome being elected general of the Jesuits? ��

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    2. Exactly. They used to say that there were three things that a Pope didn't know:

      1. How much money the Fransicans have;

      2. How many nuns there are in Rome; and

      3. What the General of the Jesuits is really thinking.

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  15. Pat can you reply to me on Facebook as looking to get in contact with you about a wedding

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  16. You need to call me on UK 07488 374364

    OUTSIDE UK 0044 7488 374364

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  17. When I ring it just goes to voice are you able to talk now

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  18. Dear Bishop Pat,


    As your blog does not allow me to reply can I ask that you contact the concerned Lancaster Diocese person.


    Firstly they are WRONG there was a massive consultation in the Diocese and it was the previous Bishop before Bishop Campbell and therefore it was continued by Bishop Campbell.


    Blackpool cannot keep SIX parishes with most empty with fewer numbers and rather than pay for a boiler for a parish that failed the building report then the person should use the money to take transport to the Mother Church the sacred Heart.


    Please also advice her or him to write to the Bishop elect at his current parish as soon as possible and he will definitely read it as when he goes to Diocesan offices then he will have mountains to get through more so parish closures like EVERY diocese in the UK is doing. but write to the New Bishop direct more as everything in the office will go to the lay admin staff first.


    It is the sign of the times.


    God Bless

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    Replies
    1. Thanks. There was a consultation 10 years ago but no decisions were made and the fact is that it isn’t right to shut a Parish by a Priest making an announcement before the final hymn to say it is shutting immediately. I was there!

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  19. If Pope Francis is so popular why are there there massive amounts of church closures as announced recently by Glasgow, Wrexham and Lancaster? Surely it's standing room only nowadays? A week or two ago a poster here said that not only was Francis the best Pope ever but also the most popular. If that's truly the case, presumably it's being translated into bums on seats?

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  20. 15.52 That was a good reply. I have read "Fit for Mission" and I suspect it was all in those documents. I Also understand that it is a sign of the times. I have always worked with the public through letters and over the phone. I must admit I have been horrified by the harsh tone coming from the bishops office. Quite autocratic and bullying. At the end of the day, it's not what you say, it's the way that you say it. Honey works better than vinegar (as I am sure you already know)
    A lot of the parishioners will not have read Fit for Mission. In fact I was told by one parishioner that Catholic are not allowed to read or meditate. Only in Lancashire is reading a book seen as showing off!

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  21. Tbh Frankie or whoever has no bearing on my faith.
    I still have faith and spirituality, but know I don’t commit sin by not going to mass on a Sunday...I’ve only came to my senses recently.
    Also I don’t need any pope or bishop in my life... I do appreciate a holy priest, but they are rare theses days.
    So to whoever said that Frankie should be putting bums on seats...catch yourself on and stop cloning Magna...you will never fill his boots...he is a one off

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    1. Any holy priest will respect and pray for his bishop whether good, bad or indifferent. Shouldn't we do the same. Even if it is to pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit for them or the gift of conversion. Not attending mass on Sunday and promoting the fact may well be sinful as it is a gift of God thrown aside. But, we are all on our own journeys.

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    2. Oh give over preaching, I usually do go toSunday mass, but what I’m saying is..it’s not a sin not to go.
      All my life I thought I was committing sin if I did this or didn’t do that with regard to my Rc upbringing.

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    3. Absolutely we are all on our own journeys...and as someone who reared my family, worked to put them through uni, worked until retiring age for a poor salary.
      Looked after an ill relative and now almost 80, I think I know how to conduct my life without the interference of some old goat bishop that never did a hands turn in his life.

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    4. Yes you pray away, it’s good for you,but leave others to make their own decisions.

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  22. Cardinal Tobin of Newark sent tweet that read: “Supposed to be airborne in 10 minutes. Nighty-night, baby. I love you.” Said it was meant for his sister. Boyfriend more like.

    http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2018/02/23/diocese-says-cardinal-nighty-night-baby-tweet-was-meant-for-sister/

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    1. What man would send such a message to his sister? Surely a Francis appointee?

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    2. How stupid do they think we are?

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    3. They think we are very stupid. This cardinal is 65, the first-born in a family of 13. At a conservative estimate his youngest sister must be around the 40 year old mark. Why would he say "nighty-night baby" to her?

      This same comedian, who deleted the Tweet, hosted an LGBT pilgrimage to his cathedral.

      Did he study in Maynooth?

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  23. 17.12 Totally agree

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  24. Manga at 16.15. When was there an announcement about church closures in Glasgow recently?

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  25. Pat, hope you're warm where you are. The waterfall at Downhill in Co Londonderry has frozen solid!

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    1. There are hailstones the size of pebbles in Butlersbridge. There'll be no daily Mass for me tomorrow, I fear.

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  26. It was Edinburgh that got a letter to all parishes last Sunday from Archbishop Cushley about closures.
    Archbishop Tartaglia has been waiting few years now after his big announcement but all has gone quiet just linking parishes and giving clergy more work.
    Maybe the problem is not wanting to rock the boat as Scotland awaits its New Cardinal in June or November.....

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    1. Didn't Glasgow announce in 2014 a raft of parish closures?

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  27. Nolan live is about Malachy Finnegan just now

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  28. Bbc 1 now...absolutely disgusting

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