The Outcast

The outcast: Bishop Egan of the Diocese of Portsmouth
Today's must read - and its a shocker that will render you speechless - is Protect the Pope's piece on the involvement of Mgr Marcus Stock, General Secretary to the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, in the letter signed by Greg Pope to Catholic parliamentary MPs in the wake of Bishop Egan's exemplary defence of the Blessed Sacrament.

Protect the Pope picked up the story from Life Site News's Hilary White that gave more details of the letter from Greg Pope reassuring Catholic MPs that there will be no official reproach and certainly no refusal of Holy Communion to those who have voted for, among other policies, 'same-sex marriage'.

According to the words of Pope Francis, it is those who are outcasts in society - those who are shunned, persecuted for the cause of right, who face the rejection experienced by Our Lord -who obtain Salvation, rather than the self-assured, those who want to just get along moving with the tide of society, who just wish to 'fit in' into a comfortable religiosity that has no convictions and ultimately, no true faith.

We can be assured then, that Bishop Egan has the support of Pope Francis for his bold, courageous and holy stand for truth, justice and above all, for his call to politicians to respect the Most Holy Sacrament by abstaining from Holy Communion until they come back into communion with Our Lord and the teaching of His Church.

“No prophet is accepted in his hometown”. It was a place where he never worked miracles because “they had no faith”. Jesus recalls two biblical episodes: the miracle of the healing of the leper Naaman, and the meeting of the prophet Elijah with the widow of Serapta who shared her last morsel of food and was saved from famine. “Lepers and widows – Pope Francis explained – in those days were the outcasts of society”. And yet, these two outcasts, welcomed the prophets and were saved, while the people of Nazareth did not accept Jesus because “they felt so strong in their faith”, so sure of their faithful observance of the Commandments, they felt they had no need for other salvation”.
“It is the tragedy of observing the Commandments without faith: ‘I save myself because I go to the Synagogue every Saturday, I try to obey the Commandments, I do not want to hear that the leper or the widow is better than me!’ They are outcasts! And Jesus tells us: ‘if you do not put yourself on the margins, if you don’t feel what it is to be an outcast, you will not obtain salvation’. This is humility, the path of humility: to feel so marginalized that we need the Salvation of the Lord. He alone saves us, not our observance of the law. And they did not like this; they were angry and wanted to kill him”.
- Pope Francis, 23 March 2014

Pray for Bishop Egan and pray for the turncoats, the cowards and the traitors that surround him. It must be a lonely job being a faithful Bishop who cares more for the Opinion of his Lord than the compromises and denials of the Faith that emanate from his spiritually worldly brothers who prefer the opinion of men. God help him and may God have mercy on those who have turned away from his bold stand for Jesus Christ.

Write to Bishop Egan and thank him. You may have other choice words for his brother Bishops. I am certain that Bishop Egan doesn't bear a grudge against them. I think His Lordship must have known that in stating the truth fearlessly and reading the riot act to British parliamentarians, that only those Bishops in Heaven, like his model, St John Fisher, would back him.

I suppose if you are going to stab a brother Bishop in the back and hang him out to dry, its best to do it with as much gracious 'collegiality' as possible. What does Cardinal Vincent Nichols and the majority of the Bishops Conference think Holy Communion is? Candy? Bread? Wine? Would they prefer the comforts of this world to the point of bringing God's wrath down from Heaven upon them and the unrepentant criminals in Parliament they seek to confirm in their sin?

What a way to be remembered in Church history. What a way to be remembered by those who are Faithful to Christ. What a way to gain the whole world and lose your immortal soul! And for what?! Westminster?!


Bishop Philip Egan
Bishop’s House, Bishop Crispian Way,
Portsmouth, UK
Phone: (44) (0) 23 9282 0894

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
Archbishop’s House
Ambrosden Ave.
London, UK
Phone: (44) (0) 020 7798 9033


Liam Ronan said…
I wonder if there are now despairing groans emanating from within the bowels of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and within some wider ecclesiastical circles querying darkly:

"Will no one rid us of this turbulent bishop?" - [With apologies to Henry II and St. Thomas à Becket]
Good post, Laurence. While praying for and supporting Bishop Egan, it is also worth remembering that Marcus Stock and Greg Pope have absolutely no jurisdiction in the diocese of Portsmouth whatsoever.

Bishop Egan has consistently spoken about the need to stand out against the culture of secularism and that we should be prepared to experience the attacks of the world when we do. I'm sure he is prepared for the onslaught.
Anonymous said…
The Monsignor ought to be laicised. This is heretical. The Comference needs to speak out urgently to correct this grave error and sack those involved.
Lisa Powers said…
There is no evidence that Pope Francis supports Bishop Egan's stance on refusing politicians communion, in fact quite the opposite.

Canon 915 which is often evoked does not requite communion to be withheld from politicians although some notable bishops advocate that eg Cardinal Burke.

Perhaps Bishop Egan should have taken more care to have consulted his fellow bishops and acted collegially first if he wanted their support.
Genty said…
I fear this is only the opening salvo in an attempt to isolate any bishop not in full communion with the Magic Circle.
This must have had the approval of VN and marks his first stamp of authority since his elevation.
Mary's Dowry is looking decidedly rough around the edges these days.
Nicolas Bellord said…
I cannot help feeling this is a real watershed event. The evidence that we are faced with a major apostasy is just stacking up.
Liam Ronan said…
@Deacon Augustine,

You have written (correctly so) that:

" is also worth remembering that Marcus Stock and Greg Pope have absolutely no jurisdiction in the diocese of Portsmouth whatsoever."

It might be very worthwhile for some member(s) of the Faithful of those English and Welsh dioceses other than Portsmouth to write directly to the General Secretary of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales (via registered post) in order to have a written clarification issued from the General Secretary as a matter of urgency confirming that Messrs. Stock and Pope's earlier communication to MPs on behalf of the Conference in respect of their (MPs) reception of the Holy Eucharist following votes cast in contradiction of Church doctrine does not apply to and is not binding on the priests or Faithful of the Diocese of Portsmouth.
This official clarification, I suggest, is owed to both the MPs and Faithful of England and Wales as a matter of justice and charity.
Get it on the record first and then, "let all of the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out."
Nicolas Bellord said…
Lisa Powers: Of course Canon 915 does not require communion to be withheld from politicians! Even they can be in a state of grace.

What the Canon says is:

Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.

To publicly vote in favour of abortion is surely one of the gravest sins imaginable. Effectively you are enabling the killing of thousands of innocent human beings at any time from conception to death. I would have thought that absolution should only be given on condition of some kind of reparation such as a public announcement of your deep regret at the very least.

To refuse to acknowledge that your voting in favour of abortion was sinful is persevering in this sin in view of the scandal you will be continuing to cause. The American Canon Law Society's commentary on this canon says that the pastor or church authority must warn the sinner that he can be denied holy communion.

Bishop Egan told LifeSite News:

When people are not in communion with the Catholic Church on such a central thing as the value of life of the unborn child and also in terms of the teachings of the church on marriage and family life – they are voting in favour of same-sex marriage – then they shouldn’t be receiving Holy Communion.”.

Bishop Egan explained that rather than a punitive measure, the denial of Holy Communion is “always an act of mercy.” It is done, he said, “with the hope and prayer that that person can be wooed back into full communion with the Church.”

“Nobody is forced to be Catholic. We’re called by Christ and He’s chosen us, it’s a free choice. We live under the word of God. It’s not my truth, it’s God’s truth. One would hope that in that case it would encourage someone to come back to seek communion with the Lord with the truth and say I’m sorry I got lost.”

Now that first paragraph is referring to Canon 916 which says that a person in a state of mortal sin should not present himself for communion. In the second paragraph he talks about denial of holy communion and this seems to me to be warning that such a penalty can be imposed under Canon 915.

Imposing such a penalty is up to the local pastor or church authority; in this case the local Bishop.

The Daily Telegraph subsequently reported:

‘The Church’s head of parliamentary relations has since written to Catholic MPs and peers assuring them there are no plans to deny communion to those who supported gay marriage in the free vote in parliament last year.’

In seems to me that this 'head' - Greg Pope - was speaking out of turn. What Bishop Egan does in his own diocese in no way comes under the jurisdiction of the Bishops' Conference which under Canon Law has very limited powers and certainly none in this area. How does he know there are no plans and what right has he to say there are none?

Quite egregiously he has undermined the warning given by Bishop Egan. It is particularly scandalous that Greg Pope has a track record as an MP of voting against the teachings of the Church and to my knowledge has not repented or publicly disowned what he had done.

Then we have another spokesman for the Bishops' conference saying: “The statement was approved by the General Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference after appropriate consultation. ‘There are no plans by any Bishops in England and Wales to deny communion to Catholic MPs who voted in favour of same sex marriage legislation last year,’” the spokesman said.’

Well that may be factually correct that there are no plans to use Canon 916 but the effect of the statement is to undermine the warning given by Bishop Egan.

Nicolas Bellord said…
As to the possible views of Pope Francis on the subject he evidently thinks on much the same lines as Bishop Egan:

Lisa: You said:

There is no evidence that Pope Francis supports Bishop Egan's stance on refusing politicians communion, in fact quite the opposite.

Where is your evidence for statement?
Anonymous said…
Pelosi and Biden were outrageously given Our Lord, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity at the Mass at St Peters to which they were specifically invited and formally seated in a particular spot. The Holy See would have had all of the pertinent information on their ongoing grave and obstinate egregious evil-doing, and yet the sacrilege which would have been foreseen was permitted to be done. There was no possible excuse for this scandal of the highest degree. Reparation!!
Anonymous said…
You think Bishop Egan ought to have dealt with this fundamental matter in a political way? The bishop has a solemn duty to act in accordance with the unchangeable deposit of Faith and morals - there is no discretion.
Lisa Powers said…
Nicholas Bellend - my assertion comes from a reading of things Francis' has said about Canon 915 over the years, and his (lack of)action when a bishop.

Most Canonists disagree with Burke's narrow over-interpretation of Canon 915's applicability to politicians voting records on abortion or other social policy areas eg same sex marriage.

The Tablet recently had a good editorial on this topic, perhaps you should read it!
Pétrus said…
@Nicholas Bellord

Nicholas - I really don't think your interpretation of Canon 915 really carries much weight in this instance.

When it comes to Canon Law the Church has an ecclesiastical court - the Apostolic Signatura. Outside the Holy Father himself, its prefect really is the authority in matters such as this.

Now, if the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura was to give some sort of guidance in how Canon 915 should be applied...well that would be worth listening to.

It would appear that he seems to share your reading of this Nicholas - isn't that a kicker.
Nicolas Bellord said…
Petrus: You are right. I am merely a retired hack lawyer. In practice when dealing with Bishops, religious and clerics I had merely peripheral dealings with Canon Law - unfortunately my experience of it is that it is simply not enforced or much used - particularly when it came to child abuse.

Lisa: I asked for specific evidence of your assertion about Pope Francis not just vague generalities - we have had the "spirit of VII" - we now seem to getting the "spirit of Pope Francis" rather than what he actually wrote as per the link I gave you.

"Most canonists" please name me three.

In what way has Cardinal Burke over-interpreted Canon 915?

As I have explained Canon 915 does not refer specifically to politicians but those others persevering in manifest grave sin.

So it is a question of whether these politicians are persevering in manifest grave sin. Voting in favour of abortion is "grave matter" as offending the ten commandments viz Catechism of the Catholic Church para 1858. Voting in Parliament is certainly doing something 'manifest'. Not resiling from that act and repeating it is "persevering". One can assume that the conditions for mortal sin were fulfilled as per CCC para 1857. (Incidentally as a Tablet reader do you accept the doctrine surrounding mortal sin?).

If you have committed a mortal sin and not repented then you must not present yourself for Holy Communion (Canon 916) and the relevant pastor or church authority can deny you communion (Canon 915) although the American commentary suggests that a warning should first be given. Bishop Egan seems to have given that warning.

In what way do you consider the above argument to be flawed? If you feel Cardinal Burke has over-interpreted then what is your interpretation? But please remember this is positive church law and you therefore have to give it some meaning i.e. you cannot pretend that it is never of any effect.

As to the Tablet leading article please let me have a link to this or let us have a copy. I do not have access to that august journal.
Nicolas Bellord said…
It is interesting that Conor Burns voted in favour of the Same-Sex marriage regulations as recently as 5th March 2014. I would have thought this was good evidence of perseverance in grave sin. Other Catholic MPs such as Edward Leigh voted against these regulations. Perhaps same-sex marriage is not in the same ballpark as abortion but it is surely still a grave sin to give status to buggery and undermine the concept of marriage.
Anonymous said…
Abortion and same sex depravity are sins that cry out to heaven. Lawmakers who purport to legalise these egregious intrinsic evils are much more guilty than anyone else as they actually create the public system for these evils to operate on an ongoing basis and involve the whole of society in responsibility for these evils. These public evils affect many many more people than private acts and are the cause of the murder of every baby killed under and by dint of those "laws". They are a direct attack on life, marriage, family and the common good. It would be a mortal sin for a priest to give Our Lord and Saviour to such a person who is more than merely "in a state of mortal sin ". The Faith and morals don't change as the truth doesn't change. And you will not learn the truth from the anti-Catholic "The Tablet". See Fr Vincent Fitzpatrick on this and the fact that the Canon simply codifies what's mandated by the moral law.
Anonymous said…
Laurence, For some reason I can't paste links here. Can you advise?
Anonymous said…
The best First Holy Communion sermon on Gloria Tv - Exhibiting proper respect for the Blessed Sacrament (today's date).
Nicolas Bellord said…
Sorry just to correct an earlier post I should have written "from conception to birth" not "conception to death" although no doubt in the long run there will be voting on euthanasia and possibly even infanticide (as in Belgium).

By the way I read somewhere that someone was giving rights to plants; I wonder what they would say about someone in a coma for whom the callous term is often "just a vegetable".
Nancy Danielson said…
To deny the essence of the personhood of a son, daughter, brother, sister, husband, wife, father, mother, is to deny the essence of God, our Creator, and makes one an apostate to our Catholic Faith. It is not possible to condone slavery, same-sex marriage, or abortion, and remain in communion with Christ and His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.