Bishops’ Conference official publicly rejects Bishop Egan’s teaching about denying communion to pro-abort & SSM politicians

Two weeks ago Lifesite news reported Bishop Egan as saying that excommunicating Catholic politicians who were pro-abortion or same-sex marriage was an act of mercy. This week the Daily Telegraph reports that Greg Pope, the Head of Parliamentary Relations at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference has written to Catholic MPs and Peers to assure them there are “no plans to deny communion to those who supported gay marriage”.  In fact Bishop Egan was only re-iterating the Church’s discipline expounded by Pope Francis (when Cardinal of Buenos Aires), Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura.

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.”

The Daily Telegraph reports the following about Greg Pope’s letter as the Bishops’ Conference’s Head of Parliamentary Relations:

‘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.’

Greg Pope is a former Labour MP who has a track record of voting against the moral doctrines of the Church. Wikipedia records that Greg Pope supported same-sex adoption, abortion and voted in favour of various early day motions in support of contraception. As well as acting as the Bishops’ Conference’s Head of Parliamentary Relations Pope is the deputy director of the Catholic Education Service.

Despite being pro-abortion, pro-same-sex adoption , and pro-contraception Greg Pope was appointed deputy director of the Catholic Education Service unanimously by the interview panel chaired by Bishop Malcolm McMahon, the Chair of the CES and Archbishop-designate of the Archdiocese of Liverpool.

M Donnelly: The question arises, on whose authority did Greg Pope write to tell Catholic parliamentarians that they can continue to receive Holy Communion if they support  same-sex marriage?

59 comments to Bishops’ Conference official publicly rejects Bishop Egan’s teaching about denying communion to pro-abort & SSM politicians

  • Joseph Matthew

    But the more basic question is what is Greg Pope doing claiming to be a fully believing Catholic? He is not. Bishop Egan is.

  • shaun the sheep

    Of course not. We all know the majority of bishops desire to please men, not God. How utterly and thoroughly sad. I repeat: How utterly and thoroughly sad.

  • Benedict

    GP does not speak for individual Bishops, nor can he speak for the Bishop’s Conference unless there is a consensus, and he most certainly does not speak for the diocese of Portsmouth.

  • Lynda

    It isn’t Bishop Egan’s teaching. It’s the doctrine of the Faith and the natural moral law, neither of whch is changeable. These apostates should be declared excommunicate.

    • Wake Up England

      As Rifleman so accurately put it, most of our bishops are “Duffers in Mitres”.

      We deserve better bishops who uphold the Catholic Faith as summarised in the Catechism, not the hopeless cowards who are, for the most part, the current successors to the Apostles.

      Cardinal Nichols: Why do you allow the scandal of Birth Control, Abortion referrals and sex-change operations to continue at the hospital of St John and St Elizabeth (less than four miles from where you live)? By tacitly allowing these evils to continue un-challenged in your own arch-diocese are we, the faithful, to infer that you approve of what is going-on at this Catholic hospital? AS a simple laymen, Your Eminence, I find your silence impossibly inconsistent with the Catechism which I bought at your Cathedral.

      Is the catechism wrong? Or are You?

  • shaun the sheep

    One other thing, doesn’t Pope John Paul II in Veritatis Splendour (somewhere, don’t know where) say that we Catholics have the right to expect and demand orthodoxy from our bishops and priests? Is there a mechanism for this? Wouldn’t that be a fitting subject for a synod? Why do we just sit here bemoaning that the lunatics are now firmly in charge and have been for the last 40 years at least? How do we change things? Well, I can think of one way, friends. YOur donations to the Church. And I am being very serious here. Channel your money to holy and faithful orders of priests and religious. Money is probably the only way, in human terms, we can affect change. You could even write a little note to your bishop to say what you are doing and why. Although I am presently unemployed, when I am able to help financially, I intend to give money to traditional priestly orders.Why continue to prop up a broken and corrupt system?

    • Hi Shaun
      Is it this bit you are thinking of?
      Para 5 “I address myself to you, Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, who share with me the responsibility of safeguarding “sound teaching” (2 Tim 4:3), with the intention of clearly setting forth certain aspects of doctrine which are of crucial importance in facing what is certainly a genuine crisis, since the difficulties which it engenders have most serious implications for the moral life of the faithful and for communion in the Church, as well as for a just and fraternal social life.”

    • Lynda

      As always, you get to the nub of the matter. Do you know how much the apostate bishops, priests, theologians despise Veritatis Splendor? It ought to be the basis of moral theology. Every Catholic over 15 years ought to read it. It shows clearly the duty of theologians to adhere to the deposit of Faith and morals, to serve the Church and maintain orthodoxy.

    • Lynda

      114 to 116 of VS outlines the duties of bishops and priests regarding the faithful and morality.

  • The Pope is Francis- not Greg!

  • Kinga Gray Grzeczynska LL.B

    Does this mean that medical staff who perform many abortions during a week, are allowed to receive Holy Communion without any redress to their ethical and moral conduct at their place of work or occupation?
    The same question applies to abortion clinics and their staff who consciously know with an informed decision that on that day they have 10 or 20 women booked in to terminate their pregnancies.
    Also does the same apply to teachers or ancillary staff in Catholic High Schools who promote contraception and terminations?
    How is it that we have reached this stage where Catholic Bishops will allow these acts to take place without standing up and rebuking such erroneous teachings and practises?

    To the priests and Bishops who have never seen an abortion I say this:

    Have a look at the evidence of clinical abortions and the methods used. Babies born alive have had their life taken away by a medic stabbing the back of their upper necks with a knitting needle or the baby being left to die in a bucket.
    The graphics of such horrors may be too much for some readers to stomach. However, the truth is sometimes very unpleasant.

    Life is precious and a gift from God. Politicians are not God.

    I fully support the Bishop of Portsmouth, Bishop Egan and his statement.
    If his fellow Bishops do not support him then the question must be asked:
    Why are you a Roman Catholic Bishop and why are not supporting the sanctity of life?

    Kinga Grzeczynska
    Roman Catholic Lawyer

    • Lynda

      The majority of bishops and priests haven’t taught and propounded the fundamental morals for decades. That is why people are not disturbed by the truth in any way when they attend Mass and can casually receive Our Lord committing sacrilege on top of the other unconfessed mortal sins.

    • Margaret Allain

      Indeed. Unless the Bishop’s Conference denies this man’s apostasy, then we no longer have obedience to Bishop’s who are leading the flock astray.

  • Joanne

    Will the Cardinals & Bishops of England & Wales support Bishop Egan or the herettal MPs like Gregory Pope? Or will there be the usual SILENCE? It is sickening to watch the Catholic Church lose every time someone objects to Church teaching. Where are the soldiers for Christ we became in the sacrament of Confirmation?

  • Kinga Gray Grzeczynska LL.B

    It is reported by the BBC that the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon. David Cameron has sent a message of congratulations to the first same sex ‘marriage’ couple, which took place today. Little wonder that this act of new legislation took place in the dark of the night where there was no daylight.

    What happened to Register Offices working in normal office hours? Can the public expect to see these Offices opened 24/7 now that this precident been set?

    Well Prime Minister, I see you in a new light – surrounded in moral darkness.
    Bitterly disappointing to have the true meaning of marriage changed.

    Kinga Grzeczynska

    • JabbaPapa [Julian Lord]

      Little wonder that this act of new legislation took place in the dark of the night where there was no daylight.

      How perceptive !!!

  • shaun the sheep

    M: No it was more direct than that. I’m pretty sure it was in an official Church document. I can’t remember where I read it but it was in recent days. It more or less said the faithful have a right to authentic teaching from their pastors.

  • shaun the sheep

    No worries. As I said, it might not have been in VS, but I thought it was in the writings of Pope John Paul II. This is the problem – I read so much and then I forget what I read or where I read it!

  • Nicholas Dyson

    The maxim is if any bishop speaks at variance to the teaching authority of the church then the faithful owe them no obedience they are in fact in schism.

  • Benedict Carter

    Lots of people crying that Greg Pope has no authority to say such things.

    But that reaction – understandable enough – fails to note that the reality of the modern Church is that many Bishops have out-sourced their responsibilities as shepherds to highly-paid laymen, quangoes, bureaucrats: those the previous Pope called witheringly “professional Catholics”.

    For these people, the Church is defined as “me and people like me”. If you spot a parallel with the EU bureaucracy or with the Soviet Nomenklatura you would be right.

    Any future Pope worth the name would have to dissolve entire Bishops’ Conferences, pay off the entire “professional Catholic” class, and re-build from scratch (with any lay involvement being voluntary, subject to the Oath against Modernism, and with no authority whatever to speak publicly at any time). One thing Pope Benedict XVII (me!) would definitely do is appoint to dioceses ONLY those men formed by the Traditionalist Orders (particularly SSPX men) and amend Canon Law so that Bishops may meet together nationally but once a year, and from that meeting can come no delegated authority of anything that properly belongs to each Bishop in his own diocese. Which is total responsibility for the flock in that diocese.

    You must understand: the rot is total. Therefore expect things to get much worse. I think the actual schism with which the Church is riven will become official in the months and maybe few years ahead with the likes of ACTA and its local Episcopal and lay allies in other countries roaring around inside the Church like a lion devouring its prey (if that sounds familiar, it’s meant to), the Cardinals and the Episcopate irrevocably split.

    And the Pope? I won’t say what I think or this comment of mine will not be posted by Mrs Donnelly.

  • Denis Jackson

    If Bishop Egan has gone out on a limb and Cardinal Nichols is not going to catch him, the message is clearly : be charitable to everyone , as Welby is telling his flock. The official Church stance then is one of not condoning SSM , but not judging individuals who approach the Table of Communion . Maybe it is only by great Love that real change will happen and hearts will be transformed.

  • Dominic MacCarthy

    Canon Law restricts the legislation of a Bishops’ Conference to 27 very specific issues – Holydays of Obligation, how much of the Divine office deacons say, Friday penance etc. It does not give them, still less their agents (Mr Pope) any right to interfere in a particular diocese on matters of Church doctrine and discipline.
    Bishop Egan’s superior is Pope Francis, not the Archbishop of Westminster or the Bishops’ Conference apparatchiki. Portsmouth is in any case in the province of Southwark, but there again, the powers of the Metropolitan are extremely limited.

    How “Catholic” MPs can expect to vote for so-called “gay marriage”, contrary to the most basic and fundamental teachings of Holy Scripture and the Church for 20 centuries, and still to be regarded as good Catholics, I cannot understand. At the very least they should have abstained from voting – hardly satisfactory for an apostolic Christian – , but to vote for gay marriage is to vote for the diabolical confusion sown by the Evil One, as Pope Francis called it back in Buenos Aires.

    Bishop Egan has the courage to say the true but unpopular thing. You can draw your own conclusions about any of the Bishops’ Conference who oppose him……“The issue is now clear. It is between light and darkness and everyone must choose his side.” (G. K. Chesterton)

  • Richard

    I am considering reducing, amount to be decided, the amount of my weekly offering to my church. If I get a payrise in July, I would not be increasing my donations.

    The money that I would save will be sent to Portsmouth Diocese to help Bishop Egan with his work.

    If I do it on my own, it will only make me feel better. If others join me, it will be much more significant.

    Any thoughts?

  • Catholic at Rome

    Cowardly heretics in the cloth always get less cowardly laymen to do their bidding…just look at the history of the English Reformation for starters….

  • Bernadette

    It beggars belief that someone like Greg Pope can be acting as Bishop’s Conference Head of Parliamentary Relations and deputy Director of the Catholic Education Service. He doesn’t even believe in the teachings of the Catholic Church, and worse – goes on to give permission to others who are likewise, to receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

    Someone should inform Pope that it is just his surname……. the appointed one is named Francis.

  • Will it come to the point where a bishop or two will have to act unilaterally on this issue? If priests, bishops and archbishops – maybe even cardinals – are providing communion to people in mortal sin, that what state is the church really in? What’s the point of my worrying about mortal sin, if the hierarchy don’t?

  • Augustine


    “The Church values every human person as made in the image of God, from conception until natural death. It is to protect the inviolable dignity and infinite value of each person that the Church stands against abortion, euthanasia, and any deliberate practices which lead to the destruction of embryos.

    Similarly, the Church has an exalted vision of human sexuality, believing that life-long marriage between a man and a woman has a God-given essential purpose for society. Marriage is intended as the stable, natural and loving context in which new human life is introduced and nurtured in the world.”

    This clear explanation of Catholic Teaching is found at the Catholic Education Service website.

    Sexual gifts and powers which speak of love and new life therefore find their rightful context here. In defence of this key principle the Church opposes any using of sexual activity outside of the bond of marriage or any practices which remove sexual behaviour from its intended procreative logic.

    For the good of individuals and society as whole the Church cannot fail to address these matters which touch upon the foundations of life and love itself.

    Catholics are aware that many find these teachings hard to understand and see that many suffer deep wounds arising from a loss of these values in our present culture. The Church seeks to offer a clear way forward with patience, forgiveness, healing, and compassion.

  • Augustine


    Blessed John Paul II issued an Apostolic Letter “Apostolos Suos” on the Theological and Juridical Nature of Episcopal Conferences on 21 May 1998.

    The following day at a Press Conference, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger explained that a statement issued by an episcopal conference cannot be considered authoritative unless the bishops adopt it unanimously, because the truths of the faith are not decided by majority votes.

    Cardinal Ratzinger pointed out that the Pope’s letter upheld the position of individual bishops who might be in the minority within an episcopal conference, but remain the authoritative teachers of their own dioceses.

    He emphasized that each bishop carries personal responsibility for the work of the episcopal conference, and that responsibility cannot be delegated to committees or staff aides.

  • John M

    Is this the Bishops’ Conference trying to dictate to a bishop how to implement Church teaching in his own diocese?

    Oh the irony.

    Let’s not upset our politicians eh, very typical of the ‘Magic circle’ of bishops that dominate the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

  • Dear Mrs. Donnelly

    Thank you for highlighting this important issue which tears at the hearts of those who love Christ, the Church and souls.

    If there was one thing needed this weekend in the UK, it was a clear affirmation by the episcopate of Christ’s teaching in the true nature of marriage. Instead there has been a lamentable silence.

    If this letter has indeed been written by Mr. Greg Pope, then matters are made even worse.

    If so, it also marks a continuation of the grave, public scandal of Mr. Greg Pope’s appointment in 2010, by a panel chaired by Bishop Malcolm McMahon, to the deputy-directorship of the CES. Even though over 90% of students are leaving the Church each and every year, this is a nettle which few wished to grasp at the time or even now.

    We wrote about this last weekend in relation to Cardinal Burke’s explanation of Canon 915, Bishop Egan’s Life Site News interview, and the appointment of Bishop McMahon as Archbishop-elect of Liverpool.

    Many people on Merseyside are focusing on Bishop McMahon’s friendliness to the Traditional Latin Mass. And indeed, this is a reason to rejoice. However, as we wrote last weekend, if the restoration of the Sacred Liturgy is to be more than merely formal or limited to externals, then we must all repent of our sins and follow Christ in holiness of life. In these times, such a response is more urgent than ever and does not allow for collusion with grave, public scandal.

    St. John Fisher – Pray for us.

  • Francis

    Bishop Egan does not own communion, it is the Lord’s Table not his, and to deny it for the spurious reasons he gave brings the church into disrepute. In any case, there are many Catholics who refused to sign the anti-gay marriage postcards distributed by the hierarchy to send to their MP’s and who no doubt continue, in good conscience, to receive communion. Is Bishop Egan recommending that they be refused communion as well? How will priests in the Portsmouth diocese carry out the bishop’s policy? The mind boggles!

  • Bob Hayes

    After the 2010 general election The Tablet complied a list of eighty-three ‘Catholic MPs’. While there a good Catholics on the list some of the names – how should I put this? – would raise more than a few eyebrows. How about?

    Mike Hancock (LD, Portsmouth South) – ongoing scandal

    Jack Dromey (Lab, Birmingham Erdington) – NCCL official while P.I.E. was affiliated

    Mark Menzies (Con, Fylde) – plastered over two of today’s Sunday papers

    Denis MacShane (Lab – whip withdrawn) – gaoled over expenses

    Let’s face it, while there are some good Catholic MPs, many are – at best – nominal Catholics, while others appear to use ‘Catholic’ merely to enhance a CV perchance they may one day seek a cushy ‘job’ outside Parliament.

    • Rifleman819

      I had the deep misfortune to be at Cardinal Vaughan School at the time [Mr] Dromey was there. More Karl Marx than Charles Borromaeo.

  • BJC

    Do the Greg Pope’s and Conor Burns of this world ever think about the hurt and distress they cause their fellow Catholics by abusing the Blessed Sacrament and openly defying the teachings of the religion they profess to be part of? When will they give an apology to the hard-working Catholic mums and dads out there who go about their business without a grumble, humbly accepting the teachings of Jesus Christ? What is it with these people that they think they are so important that the rest of us have to put up with their belly-aching and bad example? All I’m seeing in the words of Conor Burns and Greg Pope is a great deal of self-centredness.

  • Augustine


    Sandro Magister has written a very interesting account of the introduction of Same Sex “Marriage” in Argentina.

    President Cristina Fernández Kirchner with her husband, the deceased ex-President Néstor Kirchner, were the main promoters of SSM. They saw the-then Cardinal Bergoglio as the number one enemy because he promoted and defended what the Church has always taught.

    Cardinal Bergoglio wrote: “It is not a simple political fight…….but rather a ‘move’ from the father of lies that intends to confuse and trick the children of God.”

    And last December, Protect the Pope posted a very disturbing video showing pro-abortion protesters trying to desecrate the Cathedral of San Juan in Argentina. After unsuccessfully trying to get into the building, the women burned a life-sized effigy of Pope Francis – see at 3.00 minutes – to demonstrate their hatred for Pope Francis upholding traditional moral teaching on the Sixth Commandment.

  • JabbaPapa [Julian Lord]

    Bishop Egan has every Authority to remind the Laity of these FACTS.

    Mr Pope has no such mandate.

    End of story.

  • frebonius the 2

    It seems that just because Greg shares the name pope, he seems to think that he is just that: The POPE!!!!

  • Teresa

    It seems to me that The Catholic Education Service is far more concerned that its schools promote the orthodoxies of liberal ideology than that they promote Catholic Teaching . Greg Pope’s appointment as deputy director to the CES is revealing of where the sympathies of that organisation lie. I do not believe an orthodox, traditional Catholic, however well qualified , would ever have been appointed to that role . Most Catholic schools are Catholic in name only; I believe there is a 90% lapsation rate for pupils once they have left?

  • Benedict Carter

    “Maybe it is only by great Love that real change will happen and hearts will be transformed”, says Denis.

    Maybe Denis is unaware of Catholicism 101.

    Real change Denis comes from a real repentence for sin and a firm intention to amend one’s life, helped by the Sacraments and fervent prayer, the aids Christ has left us through His Church.

    • Hi Benedict – following ‘Deus Caritas Est’ I became interested in what ‘Love’ actually is. We have so many different definitions in common use. Pope Benedict focused me on the fact that God is Love and so that everything that we have revealed about God, good, beauty, truth, must be consistent with Love. As such I do not see a disconnect between great Love and real change. To love is to rejoice in the ‘true good’ of another and to seek the ‘true good’. This ‘true good’ is always to come closer to God. Real love therefore seeks real change in repentance for sin and a firm intention to amend one’s life.

  • John M


    As a Catholic teacher, and quite an orthodox one at that, I would dispute your view of what happens in Catholic schools. The catholic schools I have taught at (and do teach at) do not teach ‘liberal ideology’. The Catholic RE curriculum is pretty sound, and is (at least at Primary School) well based in scripture.

    As to lapsed Catholics, most of the Catholic children who arrive at our schools come from families that do not attend Mass regularly. The schools can hardly be blamed for this. The primary instructors of children are their parents, holding schools responsible for a failure in parental responsibility is a bit much (but that seems to be the general norm these days).

    I can personally attest to having seen strong conversions to deep Catholic spirituality, from both non-Catholics and less-committed Catholics alike, as a result of Catholic education. There is nothing inherently wrong with the Catholic education syllabus, at least at Primary school anyway.

    • Lynda

      Thats great! – What part of the world are you in??

      • Teresa

        John M , I am a teacher in a Catholic Secondary and have been for over 20 years . I am also a parent whose children attended both Catholic primary and secondary schools . I trained in a Catholic Teaching College and many of my friends are still teachers in Catholic schools. . I agree with you that Catholic Primary schools are not faced with the same problems that Catholic secondary schools are ( Sex Education, discussion about Catholic teaching on issues such as abortion etc.)I think you misrepresented my comment – I did not claim that Catholic schools “teach ‘liberal ideology’ I said that “The Catholic Education Service is far more concerned that its schools promote the orthodoxies of liberal ideology .” these are two very different statements and I stand by what I have said. I accept that you hold a sincere and different view and have had a different experience of Catholic Education and I am glad that not everyone has had the same experiences as I have had.

  • Dominic MacCarthy

    The Daily Telegraph reports the following about Greg Pope’s letter as the Bishops’ Conference’s Head of Parliamentary Relations:

    ‘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.’

    Greg Pope is a former Labour MP who has a track record of voting against the moral doctrines of the Church. Wikipedia records that Greg Pope supported same-sex adoption, abortion and voted in favour of various early day motions in support of contraception. As well as acting as the Bishops’ Conference’s Head of Parliamentary Relations Pope is the deputy director of the Catholic Education Service.”

    Shouldn’t we all be demanding Greg Pope’s resignation, before he pontificates any further? Why should diocesan monies, going to support the Disneyland that is based at Eccleston Square, be abused to put wine and canapes on his table?

    He has no right to contradict a diocesan bishop. The bishops’ conference haven’t met to discuss the issue, apparently. Even if they did, any resolution of the type he pretends to be issuing, would only be valid with the support of 2/3 of bishops voting, and being ratified by the Holy See. Mr Pope or his boss are illegitimately making up policy on the hoof to suit their own view of the Church.

    Each local bishop is free to decide and to make statements similar to that of Bishop Egan. They should not let themselves be intimidated by Mr Pope and his party.

    • Lynda

      How on earth was he given the job in the first place. Such employees ought to have to agree to uphold the doctrine of the Faith as ought teachers in Catholic schools. Yes, the bishops ought to have issued a public correction and disciplined him.

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