Alan and Angeline have written another post about their experience of dissent in the Archdiocese of Liverpool, seeking to ‘demonstrate some of the connections and persons involved in the institutionalized dissent in Liverpool and how these now link in to ACTA.’ They continue a thread they engaged in with Louis.
Alan and Angeline write:
“Amongst the important points made by the thoughtful comments of Louis is the line: ‘Dissent is firmly established in the diocese, yet it is not seen as dissent, but just another way – the correct way – of being Catholic. Sometimes it feels like there is a schism in all but name’.
We also strongly agree with Louis when he says he is speaking out because Liverpool has reached a ‘critical point’. Our late friend Fr. Mike Williams served as a priest in the Archdiocese for 7 years. He told us that he had heard priests saying it was ‘not Catholic’ to pray the Rosary and referring to lay people who disagreed with the liberal agenda as ‘dissenters’.
In 2002, we were required to attend a marriage preparation day in the Archdiocese of Liverpool. After a morning of relativistic group discussions and a video of a stand-up-comedian speaking about sexuality, the long-term Archdiocesan catechists [moderated comment] led a session on sexuality. [moderated comment] One began by stating that ‘the Church has changed its teachings on sex-outside of marriage, contraception , divorce and homosexual relationships.’
Alan immediately challenged this and asked her to show where this was written down. [moderated comment] One replied:’What I can say, is that there have been certain conversations, in certain places, with certain people’. Alan responded that this was not the way the Church taught as teachings come from Sacred Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium. [moderated comment] One of the catechists jumped up and drew an inverted triangle on the flip-chart to represent an inverted hierarchy. He told the group that we had an ‘old-fashioned model of church’ as, ‘since Vatican II, the Church now teaches based on the decisions of the laity.’ (In reality, the entire third chapter of Vatican II’s Constitution Lumen Gentium deals with the theme ‘The Church is Hierarchical’).
Angeline then said that it was disappointing that Jesus Christ had not even been mentioned throughout the whole day. [moderated comment] One of the catechists chillingly replied ‘You may be comfortable with that name dear, but others here may prefer to speak of a transcendental reality’.
When Alan suggested that the whole programme for the day represented the kind of moral relativism that Pope John Paul II had refuted in Fides et Ratio, [moderated comment] One of the catechists jumped up, pointed at us, and wrote ‘Challenging’ on the flip-chart and apologized to the other couples that we had ‘spoiled what was meant to be a bit of fun.’ We were not given chance to say anything else and, after a catechist laughed at us with an engaged couple who were already living together, we left the day feeling bullied and deflated.
We handed in a feedback form offering to help on future events but never received any reply! We also wrote a letter with a summary of the day’s content and our treatment to Archbishop Kelly. He responded swiftly with a polite and sympathetic letter, but no concrete action was ever taken. Indeed, [moderated comment] one of the catechists remained in post for several more years, expressing dissent on homosexuality at church events. With Fr. Tony Slingo, she was also able to lead a day on marriage and family life attended by Archbishop Kelly, Bishop Tom Williams and Bishop Vincent Malone as part of the ‘Listening 2004′ programme.
[moderated comment] When one of the catechists retired and a post for marriage and family catechesis was advertised. Alan now had an MA in Theology and Christian Ministry from Franciscan University of Steubenville – with modules included on marriage/family, bio-ethics and catechesis, as well as a BA in Theology from Liverpool Hope University, with the Christ’s and Notre Dame Prize for Highest Final Year Single Hons. He had also worked as a PR/Education Officer giving pro-life talks to students in schools across the Archdiocese and had experience in a Justice and Peace team working with young people from broken families on the streets of Salford.
Alan applied for the job and attended with others for interview before a panel. On the panel was Maureen Knight – Advisor for Faith Formation – a close friend of Fr. Chris Fallon. It will be remembered that Fr. Chris Fallon is the author of the doctoral thesis which Louis has highlighted in relation to priestly formation.
A priest in casual lay clothes was also on the interview panel for the marriage and family post. At the end of the day, Alan was invited to attend again the next day as it transpired that two posts may in fact be available. The next day, Alan joined another group for interview before a new panel which now also included Fr. Tony Slingo. A number of professional people were being interviewed that day. Several hours later, Alan received a telephone call from Fr. John McLoughlin to inform him that the panel had now decided not to appoint anyone to either of the posts. Several years later, Alan met one of the others who attended for interview and that gentleman was convinced that it had been the orthodoxy of the applicants which had precluded them – perhaps this can never be proven objectively.
What we do know with certainty is that Fr. Tony Slingo himself took on the work for some time. A doctor friend of ours suggested that this was a conflict of interests – an interviewer getting the job he had interviewed others for! Our late friend Fr. Mike Willimas told us that, some weeks after the interviews, all the clergy in the Archdiocese received a leaflet from the Pastoral Marriage/Family Dept telling them how to avoid ‘homophobia’. He said that Alan was better off out of it.
The Archdiocese of Liverpool website explains that Maureen O’Brien was eventually appointed to the role of Co-ordinator for Marriage and Family Life in 2009 – and says that she brings to the role ‘her own experience as a single mum.’
In 2005, Maureen wrote a book entitled A Call to My Heart. On pages 48-49, Maureen says that, one morning, she was driving along the M58 motorway when ‘God showed me that I was standing with him in the Heavens’. She continues: ‘God told me: ‘When Jesus was on earth, He (God) was in Heaven and in Jesus at the same time.’ I thought of the Holy Spirit. ‘Oh I see’, I said ‘Three persons in one God.’ ‘No,’ He said. ‘One Spirit in three, not three persons in one.’
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches clearly: ‘The Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three Persons, the ‘consubstantial Trinity’.
As Blessed Pope John Paul II discussed in his Theology of the Body, one’s understanding of the Blessed Trinity as an eternal and life-giving communion of persons – a Koinonia – has huge ramifications for one’s conception of marriage as a permanent communion of persons which is open to life. The suggestion in Maureen O’Brien’s seemingly ‘private revelation’ does not appear to speak of communion but of one person playing various roles. That sounds a lot like the ancient Modalist heresy.
In 2010, we were asked, by our then parish priest, to represent the parish on a local PAWG (Pastoral Area Working Group). We took along a copy of Catechesi Tradendae hoping to be able to promote some orthodox catechesis in the deanery – now renamed a pastoral area under the Leaving Safe Harbours Programme.
At the meeting, there was some suggestion that a lay-person could be employed and even subsidized to study for a BA in Theology at Hope University. Alan considered applying as he already had such a degree.
At the follow-up meeting, it rapidly became clear that a retired lady had already been to see Maureen Knight and was now running the PAWG group. This had been achieved without any consultation with the local representatives and yet this was meant to be a local consultation group. We wrote to our parish priest a report of the two meetings. In the report we expressed concern that Hope Univesity should be chosen for anyone being formed for lay work because Alan had encountered anti-Catholic rhetoric in a couple of his courses. For example, an entire module on Judaism attempted to blame the Catholic Church for the Holocaust and tried to plant the idea that this should preclude any claims to absolute truth in the future. Alao, the university now has two tabernacles next to each other – on a shelf in the chapel – one for the Catholics and one for the Anglicans. We never received any written response to either of our reports.
In 2013, Fr. Tony Slingo was involved in the Liverpool ACTA group and has also advertised it in his parish newsletter.
In recent years, there have been a number of official Archdiocesan pastoral days aimed at pastoral care of divorced and remarried Catholics. No-one seems to grasp the nettle and realize that giving incomplete evangelization and marriage catechesis to engaged couples will only lead to more divorce in the future. It is a demonstable fact that couples who cohabit and contracept are several times more likely to divorce. For a Catholic Archdiocese to behave like this is a little like chopping up the carriages of a runaway train to keep feeding the engine. And recently, Catholics in the Archdiocese were asked to send in completed questionnaires to be collated by the same team for the Synod.
Finding no official opportunity to spread the Faith we set up Torch of The Faith in 2008. A key part in this decision was to provide orthodox catechesis on marriage and family; catechesis which is faithful to the permanent tradition of the Faith including the content of Humanae Vitae. A few orthodox priests in the Archdiocese have asked us in to give catechesis to engaged couples and RCIA groups. Amazingly, we even used to get into Cathedral House!”
Alan and Angeline conclude:
“With ACTA now gaining ground in the Archdiocese and bishops failing to reply to the concerns of orthodox lay people, it is very clear that a strong and orthodox bishop is now urgently needed in Liverpool. Countless souls depend in it.”
The problem of grave dissent among some of the clergy, chaplains and teachers in the Archdiocese of Liverpool
Alan and Angeline’s excellent website: