Westminster priest behind dissent group Call to Action and Prof. Beattie’s speaking engagement

Readers of Protect the Pope have contacted us to point out that one priest of the Archdiocese of Westminster is behind both the dissent group Call to Action and the invitation to Prof. Tina Beattie from Westminster’s Justice and Peace Commission to contribute to Westminster’s Year of Faith lecture series. The name of this priest is Fr Joe Ryan.

Fr Ryan is the chair of Westminster’s Justice and Peace commission, the parish priest of St John Vianney, Vincent Rd that is hosting ‘An afternoon with…Tina Beattie’, the convener of Westminster’s Call to Action group, and one of the original seven priests who started Call to Action through their letter to The Tablet.

Here is an extract from the minutes of a recent meeting of the Call to Action North London group chaired by Fr Ryan that gives an insight into his role:

  1. Fr Joe welcomed everyone to the meeting and opened the meeting with a reading and a prayer.
  2. All present introduced themselves and explained why they had decided to attend the meeting.
  3. Fr Joe explained the background to the original letter printed in The Tablet.  There was an open meeting which was attended by 15 members of the Clergy from various Dioceses.  7 of those who attended the original meeting signed the letter which was submitted to the Tablet by Fr Derek Reeve.  This is how the group originally became known as the Portsmouth 7.  The original 7 formed the Core Group of A Call To Action but this has now increased to 12 or 13 members.The group then looked at some of the letters of response that were received and printed by The Tablet which included both messages of support welcoming the views of the group and those against. After the original letter was printed in The Tablet the various members of the Core Group received messages of support from around 70 members of the Clergy.  A meeting was arranged at St John’s Church in Waterloo for all those who had expressed an interest and was well attended. 

Fr Joe Ryan is making much of a meeting he had with Archbishop Nichols about Call to Action, which has been reported on the We are Church website and Independent Catholic News.

“The first open meeting they organised on 18 July attracted 70 Catholic priests and deacons who shared concerns and discussed the future of the Church. In advance of the second meeting, some organisers had met with Archbishop Vincent Nichols at what was described as a “very good meeting”. Fr Joe Ryan of Westminster Diocese reported that “he agreed that something needs to be done” and “will observe our movement”.”

If this is an accurate recollection of Archbishop Nichols words they are hardly a ringing endorsement of Call to Action, but are being presented by Fr Ryan as implying tacit support of his dissent movement.

Protect the Pope comment: Fr Joe Ryan is clearly attempting to organise a dissent movement among English clergy and laity along similar lines to the Austrian Priests Initiative and the Association of Irish Priests. His invitation to Prof. Beattie following her ban from speaking at Clifton Diocese and San Diego University is also clearly meant as a public display of support for a Catholic theologian who dissents from major doctrines of the Catholic faith and who specializes in writing deeply offensive material about some of the most sacred beliefs of the Faith.

I will not presume to suggest a course of action for Archbishop Nichols about one of his priests. That is between him and Fr Joe Ryan. But the fact that a parish priest and office holder of the Archdiocese of Westminster is providing a public platform to someone who so defiantly dissents from the Catholic Faith cannot be ignored. The fact that Prof. Beattie has been invited to speak in the name of Westminster’s Justice and Peace Commission, and hosted in a parish of the Archdiocese will be seen around the Church as the Archdiocese of Westminster yet again giving public support to scandalous dissent.




21 comments to Westminster priest behind dissent group Call to Action and Prof. Beattie’s speaking engagement

  • Joseph Matthew

    The bishops have rightly referred to David Cameron’s efforts to introduce gay marriage as shambolic. A good word to use in this case as well.

  • rifleman 819

    Deacon Nick ,
    They love snappy numerical titles, don’t they?
    The Portsmouth 7…….somehow scares me.
    What about a new handle? The Tablets 666?
    But compared to Catholics 1.2Billion…they are not up to much are they?

    • Deacon Nick Donnelly

      Rifleman 819, obviously they want to be put in the same category of the Guildford 4 or the Birmingham 6, nurturing the fantasy that they are fighters for justice against an oppressive Establishment. Fr Ryan is an Irish priest involved in J&P campaigns, which may explain the parallels he is drawing through his self-description, ‘the Portsmouth 7′. The difference being the Guildford 4 and Birmingham 7 were innocent victims of gross injustice, the Portsmouth 7 have written a letter in The Tablet and organised a few meetings to express dissent. Not really similar at all. Deacon Nick

      • rifleman 819

        Deacon Nick ,
        Precisely so.
        The more I think of this the more I think of the USMC aphorism I have mentioned before “Shape up or ship out”.
        The slightly “Guantanimo” resonance is revealing .These people are middle-aged…too young to have been around 1962-65 and are like beached hippies, unaware that their age is rapidly passing. That explains the panic I think.
        But I believe that the Church offers them the chance to see what the Magesterium teaches …they consider it …if they don’t like it …they can depart honourably.
        But for the prevention of the undermining of the Faithful they must realise that that is all the Church can do…otherwise they must face church discipline and its consequences.
        They can hire their own halls, do their own photocopying…start their own church if they want but they seem to be delusional as to the outcomes of all this agitation.
        Be prepared for a media onslaught on the Sunday Today programme ,the Guardian, the Tablet etc.
        Philip Egan and Mark Davies have their measure- that is why they are running scared.

  • spesalvi23

    I can only hope the CDF gets involved – better sooner than later.
    Very important is an articulate, intelligent, dedicated counter-movement to those elements.
    Preferably a mix of orthodox / traditional clergy and real Catholic lay persons.
    It must be fearless, united, organised, structured and well planned!

  • On the wider front the picture is much more promising than these old libs cannot and will not see.

    There is a new Movement of Catholic Priests – ‘The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy’ – orignally formed 2/3 years ago in America and is now flourishing. The Confraternity is deveolping rapidly in England. Something like 100 or more priests will attend their regular meetinsgs and they have excellent speakers. All the Members of this Confraternity are 100% Catholic and orthodox and of course 100% Papists. Perhaps Nick you could blog on this and inform our own priests with more details about the ‘Confraternity of Catholic Clery’ – you may like to join yourself! GOD BLESS, Frank Swarbrick

  • Bob Hayes

    The Westminster Justice and Peace Commission seems to be organised by and around Fr Joe Ryan, with contact details referring to his parish address and phone numbers sharing the same Harringey area code. Various J&P outreach and project worker posts seem to exist or have existed. Are these paid posts? Is Westminster J&P paying people to dissent from the Catholic faith. I think we should be told.

  • In show business any publicity is good publicity. These stars were given a wonderful dream in the `Spirit of Vatican II” A Church which would teach what they wanted taught, and an institution which they could shape and from as they wished. But the dream is fading and like nasty little children they have retreated to a corner to find some other toy to play with and build a dream on. `The Portsmouth 7` with its feeling of espionage,`Call to Action` as though the whole Catholic world was ready to rise and follow; what we really have is tired men not happy where they are but lacking any motivation to move on to somewhere else. God knows we have had plenty examples of this in the last 40 years with the Catholic Womens Network, the New Agers, and not forgetting Tina Beattie. We can only pray that as death draws near they will all come back to the land of the living, and accept the Church for what it is, the Body of Christ and not their own.

  • Bob Hayes

    Mary O’Regan’s ‘The Path Less Taken’ blog carries an interview with Archbishop Gerhard Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.- http://thepathlesstaken7.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/my-visit-to-vatican-to-interview.html

    His Eminence made the following observation: “Everyone who is Catholic must ask themselves if they are cherry-picking points from the Church’s teachings for the sake of supporting an ideology. Which is more important, an ideology or the faith? “…cherry-picking points from the Church’s teachings for the sake of supporting an ideology” seems to be exactly what the dissenters are doing.

  • Dominic MacCarthy

    Fr Joe Ryan is a Parish Priest. Did he take the required Oath of Fidelity on taking up his post?

    If he did not, then he has not properly taken possession of his parish and can easily be removed.

    Alternatively, he should be summoned in to take the Oath of Fidelity immediately.

    If he did take the Oath, then it may be that he has broken it and perjured himself.

    If he cannot in good conscience take the Oath and keep it, then if he is an honest man, he should resign his parish.

    The Oath consists of the Nicene Creed plus the following:

    “With firm faith I believe as well everything contained in God’s word, written or handed down in tradition and proposed by the church–whether in solemn judgment or in the ordinary and universal magisterium–as divinely revealed and called for faith.

    I also firmly accept and hold each and every thing that is proposed by that same church definitively with regard to teaching concerning faith or morals.

    What is more, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman pontiff or the college of bishops enunciate when they exercise the authentic magisterium even if they proclaim those teachings in an act that is not definitive.


    I, N., on assuming the office __________ promise that I shall always preserve communion with the Catholic Church whether in the words I speak or in the way I act.

    With great care and fidelity I shall carry out the responsibilities by which I am bound in relation both to the universal church and to the particular church in which I am called to exercise my service according to the requirements of the law.

    In carrying out my charge, which is committed to me in the name of the church, I shall preserve the deposit of faith in its entirety, hand it on faithfully and make it shine forth. As a result, whatsoever teachings are contrary I shall shun.

    I shall follow and foster the common discipline of the whole church and shall look after the observance of all ecclesiastical laws, especially those which are contained in the Code of Canon Law.

    With Christian obedience I shall associate myself with what is expressed by the holy shepherds as authentic doctors and teachers of the faith or established by them as the church’s rulers. And I shall faithfully assist diocesan bishops so that apostolic activity, to be exercised by the mandate and in the name of the church, is carried out in the communion of the same church.

    May God help me in this way and the holy Gospels of God which I touch with my hands.”

  • Simon

    Ah, the devil himself has been identified. Oh dear. Is Christianity all about who to criticise, excluding rather than including? Fr Joe does not seem to be a scribe or a pharisee.

    • Deacon Augustine

      It isn’t all about who to criticise or exclude, but according to Our Lord sometimes these things are necessary:

      Matt 18, 15 But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and reprove him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother.
      16 But if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more, *that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand.
      17 *And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican.

      When the ordained betray their promises to preserve the deposit of faith in its entirety, they not only offend against the canonical rights of the faithful to receive the deposit of faith in its entirety, but they commit grave sin against faith. No doubt some of the concerns of this group are reasonable requests for reform in matters involving prudential judgment, but once they challenge the deposit of faith they cross a line and materially exclude themselves.

  • George Gregory

    Fr joe by his dissent is damaging the Church of the Diocese of Westminster entrusted to Abp Nichols. He has a duty to act.

    The CDF should only get involved if Abp Nichols cannot deal with these disidents himself, or they form a threat to whole Church, it is not the Holy Sees job to interfere in a competant bishops diocese but then there seem to be so many incidents of less than competant leadership in Westminster, from the sale of the Tablet in his Cathedral to the Soho Masses, from burning incense before pagan gods to the Vaughan School fiasco.

  • Lynda

    Simon, one is free to reject the teaching of the Church, as you and Dr Beattie do; however, the Church cannot accept the rejection of Church teaching (the Truth) put forth by Dr Beattie to be represented as being within the Catholic Faith, Catholic theology, but must always vigorously oppose such erroneous ideas. If one rejects teaching of the Church, one must do so honestly, from without, and not misleading people by pretending to be in communion with the Church, or one of its theologians. Veritatis Splendor deals with this issue of what a Catholic theologian actually is.

  • Francis Clark

    Any organisation that is against the church should be suppressed and any clergy involved should be suspended

  • Simon

    I recall similar views about the nature of the truth being expressed by the Taliban. Off with Fr Joe’s head. Afraid you are displaying all the characteristics of a sect, not a Church.

    • Deacon Nick Donnelly

      Simon, what is your understanding of the nature of the Church? Do you really think criticising someone is equivalent to the act of beheading? Deacon Nick

  • Simon


    Of course I don’t. I just want to point out that when one perceives the world and one’s beliefs in absolute terms, with no room for interpretation, you share your manner of thinking with all fundamentalist groups, protestant, catholic, Muslim, and so one could go on and on. The Church is a framework within which truth is being discovered. It is big and secure enough to deal with contesting searches for truth. That is why we refer to the Holy Spirit as the giver of truth. Relax. The windows of the Church have been opened. The Pope does not need protection. He is a big boy. By the way, the Catholic Church has taken it upon itself to behead people in the name of truth or at least parts of the Catholic Church believing that are the receptacle of all truth have done so.


  • Rifleman819

    Simon ,

    I truly think you are in the wrong organisation.

    The only interpretation for the Catholic Church is what She teaches unequivocally. The Truth , and note the capital, was not discovered but revealed 2000 years ago.
    ROMA LOCUTA, CAUSA FINITA-what part of that don’t you understand?

  • Bob Hayes

    The minutes of A Call to Action’s joint Lancaster and Liverpool diocese meeting peddle the usual shameful clichés such as, ‘we want dialogue instead of dictatorship’ and ‘revisit Vatican II’. Follow link from: http://www.acalltoaction.org.uk/documents/cat_view/1-minutes?orderby=dmdate_published

    The first meeting was held at St Mary’s, Leyland – although the next is scheduled for a local Anglican venue.

    St Mary’s is the venue for the joint Liverpool, Lancaster and Salford dioceses ‘Crossing the threshold’ resource day for parishes on 2 February 2013. It is to be addressed by Archbishop Kelly, Bishop Campbell and Bishop Brain – and is being promoted on the A Call to Action website – http://www.acalltoaction.org.uk/event/eventdetail/25/-/how-can-we-reach-non-churchgoing-catholics – are the ‘freedom-fighters’ hoping to ambush the bishops?!

  • Elena

    There can be no meaningful discussions with people who can only ‘argue’ by throwing insults at others and trying to belittle the people they don’t agree with. It is my experience that these people risk being viewed as freaks by those they disagree with and the population at large. How can you possibly hope to persuade others your opinions are cogent and valid if this is the only way you argue? In this stream of correspondence there are only two correspondents who can be taken seriously; one, Lynda, sympathetic to your views and the other, Simon, is the only one opposing them. The remaining contributors have made no case to support your cause. You do a disservice to the cause by alienating people like me who may be sympathetic to your ideas but cannot deal with people who think they win arguments in this way.

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