Why didn’t Bishop John Arnold answer my email about Tina Beattie? Deacon Nick Donnelly

A week or so before Prof. Tina Beattie was due to deliver her lecture as a contributor to the Archdiocese of Westminster’s Year of Faith lecture series I sent Bishop John Arnold an email to express my concern.  I have yet to receive a reply from Bishop Arnold two days after Tina Beattie presumably went ahead and gave her talk at St. John Vianney’s parish.  Here is a copy of my email:

Dear Bishop Arnold
I am writing to express my concern that Prof Tina Beattie has been invited by Fr Joe Ryan to contribute to the Justice and Peace Commission’s Year of Faith lectures, and will speak next week at St John Vianney’s parish.

I think there are a number of reasons to be concerned about allowing Prof Beattie to be officially engaged to speak by one of the diocesan commissions, but the most pressing concern is her public defence of Catholics supporting same-sex marriage.  In August 2012 Prof Beattie signed a letter published in The Times proposing that Catholics could in conscience support same-sex marriage, and on the day of the important vote in the House of Commons Prof Beattie wrote a piece in The Guardian arguing that society would benefit from same-sex marriage. On the 18th April Prof Beattie will be defending same-sex marriage as a participant in the Westminster Faith Debate, ‘‘Do Christians really oppose gay marriage?

I note that the title of Prof. Beattie’s lecture,Lumen Gentium – Mary, justice, ecumenism and sacramentality, indicates that she may not talk about same-sex marriage but there are two points to be made about this. First, in St John Vianney’s newsletter last weekend Fr Ryan admits that there is ‘ considerable controversy about having such a speaker’. Prof. Beattie is a controversial figure because of her public dissent from many teachings of the Church, early abortion, contraception, ordination of women, homosexuality, etc. She is known as a controversial dissenter from the Faith of the Church. Second, frankly she can’t help expressing her dissenting orientation, as exemplified by a sermon Prof Beattie gave at Victoria Methodist Church, Bristol (27/01/13) on ‘Behold Your God: Reflection on the wonder of being. During her sermon Prof Beattie drew a parallel between Jesus’ self-disclosure in Luke 4:14-21 and a homosexual person ‘coming out’. She said, ‘ The Gospel tells us of Jesus’s coming out – a coming out that was as scandalous to those who heard him as any coming out would be today.’

Through her writings in The Tablet, The Guardian, and on her various websites, Prof. Beattie expresses serious dissent from major teachings of the Catholic faith. Here is a summary:

  • In an examination of the morality of abortion Prof. Beattie justifies  the argument that the embryo is not a person by using the doctrine of the Trinity. http://www.thetablet.co.uk/article/14789
  • Prof. Beattie uses the doctrine of the marriage between Christ and His Church to support gay marriage. http://www.thetablet.co.uk/article/162433
  • Prof Beattie condemns as ‘perverted’ a CTS booklet defending the Church’s doctrine on divorce and contraception.
  • http://www.thetablet.co.uk/blogs/355/17
  • Prof. Beattie describes the Mass as an ‘an act of (homo) sexual intercourse…’. ‘God’s Mother, Eve’s Advocate’, p.80.
  • Prof. Tina Beattie imagines the apostles and women disciples having sex in her meditation The Last Supper According to Martha and Mary (2001) which the publishers describe as ‘part fiction, part Biblical reflection’.
  • Bishop Arnold, for all the above reasons please stop Prof. Beattie’s lecture next Saturday at St John Vianney’s parish.
    Even though I am a deacon of the Diocese of Lancaster, and live in far away Barrow-in-Furness, I often attend Mass at St Peter in Chains, Stroud Green, because my wife works in London. They have a wonderful children’s Mass at 11.15 and a great children’s choir. You are very blessed having so many young families participating in some of your parishes.
    God bless

    Deacon Nick Donnelly
    Protect the Pope comment: I understand from others that the Archdiocese of Westminster’s policy regarding emails like the one I sent to Bishop Arnold is to ignore them and not respond. But we have to keep trying to raise our concerns.


    21 comments to Why didn’t Bishop John Arnold answer my email about Tina Beattie? Deacon Nick Donnelly

    • There is a simple answer to your question Deacon Nick, Bishops do not answer letters or emails.
      At least, in 24 years of writing I have never had a response.

    • Rifleman819

      Bishop John Arnold is presumably no fool(Trinity, Oxford and the Middle Temple)…but perhaps has developed “Episcopus Auxilarius Ostrichiensis”…a well known tendency at a certain level of leadership to have a brush , pan and look for a carpet to raise.
      Happens in all organisations , all over the world.

    • Michael Petek

      Tina Beattie.

      Richard Dawkins.


    • Joseph Matthew

      I had a similar response from the Justice and Peace commission. When I contacted them, the person who responded said that she was personally opposed to abortion. When I showed her that Dr Beattie has a different view, there was no response. So much for justice. Mother Teresa said that the biggest cause of the loss of peace in the world is abortion.So why call this a Justice and Peace group ?

    • Simon

      Maybe he only responds to letters raising serious matters? As a busy Bishop, John Arnold is more than aware of his priorities and you have not identified one of them. Protection is not his job – open the doors, open the windows…………………………..

    • Wake up England

      He didn’t reply to my email either; or the telephone voice message I left him.

      I fear we have to accept the glaringly obvious: By allowing Tina Beattie to go ahead with her lecture on Church property, Archbishop Nichols and the powers that be at Westminster Cathedral (and the Parish Priest concerned, Father Joe Ryan) are in sympathy with Tina Beattie’s views. I find this startlingly difficult to comprehend, but what other conclusion is the Man in the Pew to draw? With this sort of thing going on it’s no wonder The Pope feels unable to cope. God help and protect us.

      I hope and pray all this is being watched carefully in Rome and that our new Holy Father and his team act decisively and FAST to protect the Faithful in Britain. We deserve better than being left to wallow in such a scandal. I fear that if Rome does not step in, we shall be hearing more from Tina Beattie and her ilk.

    • Lola

      Deacon Nick,

      Perhaps, you should send a copy of your e-mail to +Abp P Smith of Southwark who is Vice President of the Bishops Conference (and Charles Wookey @ CBCEW). If RCDOW continues to ignore Parishes/Priests who openly support same-sex marriage, then those parties are in direct conflict with his Department’s campaign in support of traditional marriage.

    • I received a reply from the Arch-diocese from a similarly worded complaint to Bishops Arnold & Sherrington. Needless to say for privacy reasons I can’t reveal what was said word for word, but can tell you that I was not impressed by the reply.

      Let’s put it like this. They have been given reassurances that Ms Beattie will not say anything contentious on the night!

      So Bishops Arnold & Sherrington – That makes it ALL alright then does it? All the rest of the dissent can be swept under the carpet.

      Thank you Bishops for undermining the genuine catechesis that is going on in faithful Catholic parishes.

      What is the point of correctly catechising our children and teenagers in our parish when our Bishop’s can not be even bothered to defend the faith?

      They have failed us by undermining our work. I genuinely can not believe it.

    • Wake up England

      Very well put, Ora Pro Nobis.

    • Pat

      Yes, Deacon Nick, that is typical modus operandi of Westminster Archdiocese. I know for a fact because I saw the correspondence, that on occasions when people used to write to Abp Nichols complaining about the Soho Masses, if the person complaining gave no evidence of dissent, then they would receive polite replies basically reassuring them that there was no problem with the Masses, they were in accordance with Church teaching, etc, etc. Whenever anyone wrote and provided firm evidence of dissent at the Soho Masses – deafening silence. In other words, they will only fob people off when they think they can get away with it. And then they wonder why concerned Catholics write to Rome . . . and people MUST keep doing that about all these issues.

    • JohnH

      At Garabandal, in Northern Spain, in the 60s a message was given that “Many Cardinal and Bishops would be leading the faithfully to perdition”. Worth checking out foryourself.

    • Sally Clarke

      Why didn’t Bishop Arnold reply: bad manners.

      But maybe that is better than the bad mannered and agressive letter I received from my own Bishop, Bishop Conry, of course.

    • Pat

      Let’s not cloud the issue. The local Ordinary declared that Garabandal was not of supernatural origin back in 1996 and the Holy See accepted the decision:-

      Bishop Vilaplaua of Santander Speaks
      The Alleged Apparitions at Garabandal

      In response to continuing inquiries about the alleged Marian apparitions at Garabandal, Spain, the local bishop, Msgr. Jose Vilaplaua of Santander, released the following statement Oct. 11, 1996, on the 36-year-old event.

      “Some people have been coming directly to the Diocese of Santander (Spain) asking about the alleged apparitions of Garabandal and especially for the answer about the position of the hierarchy of the Church concerning these apparitions.

      “I need to communicate that:

      “1. All the bishops of the diocese since 1961 through 1970 agreed that there was no supernatural validity for the apparitions.

      “2. In the month of December of 1977 Bishop Dal Val of Santander, in union with his predecessors, stated that in the six years of being Bishop of Santander there were no new phenomena.

      “3. The same bishop, Dal Val, let a few years go by to allow the confusion or fanaticism to settle down, and then he initiated a commission to examine the apparitions in more depth. The conclusion of the commission agreed with the findings of the previous bishops, that there was no supernatural validity to such apparitions.

      “4. At the time of the conclusion of the study, in 1991, I was installed bishop in the diocese. So during my visit to Rome, the visit which happened in the same year, I presented to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith the study and I asked for pastoral direction concerning this case.

      “5. On Nov. 28, 1992, the Congregation sent me an answer saying that after examining the documentation, there was no need for direct intervention (by the Vatican) to take away the jurisdiction of the ordinary bishop of Santander in this case. Such a right belongs to the ordinary. Previous declarations of the Holy See agree in this finding. In the same letter they suggested that if I find it necessary to publish a declaration, that I reconfirm that there was no supernatural validity in the alleged apparitions, and this will make a unanimous position with my predecessors.

      “6. Given that the declarations of my predecessors who studied the case have been clear and unanimous, I don’t find it necessary to have a new public declaration that would raise notoriety about something which happened so long ago. However, I find it necessary to rewrite this report as a direct answer to the people who ask for direction concerning this question, which is now final:

      “I agree with [and] I accept the decision of my predecessors and the direction of the Holy See.

      “7. In reference to the Eucharistic celebration in Garabandal, following the decision of my predecessors, I ruled that Masses can be celebrated only in the parish church and there will be no references to the alleged apparitions and visiting priests who want to say Mass must have approval from the pastor, who has my authorization. It’s my wish that this information is helpful to you.”

      My regards in Christ,

      + Jose Vilaplaua Bishop of Santander Oct. 11, 1996

    • Augustine

      Auxiliary Bishops only have a limited amount of authority within a diocese. It is the Archbishop who makes policy – and the Auxiliaries would be expected to support him.

      I can’t remember Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue making waves – until he ceased being an Auxiliary in Westminster and became Bishop of Lancaster.

      But Bishop Arnold should still have replied out of courtesy.

      • Nicolas Bellord

        Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue when Auxiliary in Westminster always answered letters and agreed to see one on difficult issues. A great example of a true shepherd.

        • Augustine

          I agree – a true shepherd.

          And when he became Bishop of Lancaster he showed great courage and leadership especially with “Fit for Mission” and “Fit for Mission – Schools”. He also faced down the local Catholic-founded adoption agency, Catholic Caring Services (CCS), which was attempting to enact homosexual adoption contrary to Church teachings.

          I remember hearing that his “Fit for Mission” documents did not make him flavour of the month with some of the other Bishops of England & Wales.

          But Deacon Nick comments “I understand from others that the Archdiocese of Westminster’s policy regarding emails like the one I sent to Bishop Arnold is to ignore them and not respond. But we have to keep trying to raise our concerns.”

          So if it is apparently now the Archdiocese’s policy not to reply to letters or emails, the fault lies not with Bishop Arnold – but with his boss.

    • Lynda

      There is manifest obstinacy in serious sin – on the part of many Bishops and priests. They ought not to be receiving Holy Communion! This is what has almost destroyed the Church – our spiritual and moral leaders being allowed to freely, egregiously and blatantly attack the Faith. If half the Bishops and priests need to be dismissed for the good of souls (including their own) so be it – the Church would become honest in its operation again and grow rapidly, bringing many souls (back) to God.

    • Perhaps a typed letter, sent by recorded delivery, is the answer – much harder to ignore. I’m told that Bishop Alan Hopes would be more sympathetic to people trying to defend orthodox Catholicism, but presumably this one is not his responsibility.

      • Rebecca

        Eccles Bhp Alan Hopes is a holy man and a good bishop, but I would say respectfully like other holy prelates he won’t rock the boat speaking out publicly against other bishops. Unfortunately the Bishops in this country are a tight knit bunch…

        • Augustine

          There is also a big difference between an Auxiliary Bishop who is not responsible for making Diocesan Policy and a Bishop or Archbishop who does make policy.

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