Bishop Burns joins the liberal backlash against Benedict, saying conservatism has had its day

Bishop Tom Burns has joined Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor and Bishop Kieran Conry in the liberal backlash against Pope Benedict that seems to been gathering momentum among some of the English and Welsh bishops. Bishop Burns told The Tablet:

‘The Bishop of Menevia, Tom Burns, said that following Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, it was time to reform the Vatican’s“monarchical style and turgid bureaucracy” and introduce greater consultation and a “root and-branch review of the method of appointing bishops”. He told  The Tablet:“Conservatism has had its day. It doesn’t work. Despite all Benedict’s efforts, the Church is losing its place in society – yet the search for God and meaning remain high.”He added: “It’s time to reopen the doors and windows for a new blowing of the Spirit, a freedom of speech to search for ways ahead that will address key issues like remarriage after divorce; re-examining ethical issues; developing a simpler and humbler Church stripped of status and elitism.”

Bishop Burns said Benedict XVI had been “gentle, shy, kindly, erudite, patient, non-confrontational”,that his visit to Britain in 2010 was“riveting stuff, acclaimed widely”and that he didn’t put a foot wrong. But he said that the new Pope should be someone “who can bring about much-needed change, and take others with him, rather than become enmeshed and smotheredby bureaucracy, politics and  status.”

Cardinal Murphy O’Connor has expanded on the interview he gave to Radio 4′s Today show which has been interpreted in the media as supporting a change in the Church’s ethical teaching on contraception:

‘Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor,who will play a crucial role in the cardinals’ meetings before the conclave next month, said on Tuesday that there should be a “richer sense of collegiality” in the Church. In a lecture on the Second Vatican Council at Our Lady of Grace and St Edward, Chiswick,west London, he said: “Many people today – and I include myself in this – feel that there should be a richer sense of collegiality in the Church. Not so much in making new doctrine. But we need to face the questions that lay people seriously ask. If we are to answer them effectively, the Pope needs to build a bridge with the bishops. The Pope has to be a listener. In respect of collegiality, the legacy of Vatican II has not been as fully implemented as I would have liked.

Protect the Pope comment: The liberal media strategy about Pope Benedict’s resignation is now clear, followed by the likes of Bishop Burns, Tina Beattie and Mark Dowd. Praise Pope Benedict’s state visit to the UK and then either explicitly or implicitly criticise his pontificate, and that of Blessed John Paul II. Whenever you hear liberals using the word ‘listening to the laity’ you know that what they really mean is changing the doctrines of the Church, particularly on sexual morality, according to the tastes and behaviour of one of the most poorly catechized generations in the history of the Church. After mentioning ‘listening’ the liberals usually go on to mention the ‘sensus fidelium’ which they re-interpret as meaning allowing the Church’s teaching to be determined by an opinion poll much like government policy. Again this is code for allowing contraception, re-marriage after divorce, married priests,  etc, etc.

Bishop Burns comment that ‘conservatism’ has failed because ‘ the Church is losing its place in society’ shows a complete misunderstanding  of the pontificates of Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, and an impoverished understanding of the Church’s prophetic role.  The responses of Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, Bishop Conry and Bishop Burns are all very disappointing, but unsurprising.

43 comments to Bishop Burns joins the liberal backlash against Benedict, saying conservatism has had its day

  • Lola

    My grandchildren attend a Diocese of Menevia CINO school where “God’s Greatest Gift” by Bernadette Wilson (Imprimatur by Bishop Guazzeli) is the catechetical material for First Holy Communion. We had to undo each lesson my granddaughter was fed by unsound catechesis when she was preparing for First Holy Communion. And, we continue to do so. Their Parish has had 8 priests in 11 years where children from the Catholic Primary school attached to the Parish do not darken the doors of the Church. Except, of course, when they come to solicit collections from Parishioners to get them out of debt. The school has not held a Nativity play for the past three years but, goes out of its way to celebrate Halloween. Complaints to the Diocese has fallen on deaf ears. And this is what I have to say to Bishop Burns: God will hold you accountable for the unsound catechism Catholic children in the Diocese of Menevia are being taught! By then, you will wish that you had been a good shepherd. You will wish you had learned more quickly about hewing closely to the Truth. You will wish you had learned sooner about not putting your own thoughts ahead of God’s teachings. You will wish you had understood more deeply about avoiding self-promotion and not seeking praise.

    God help you, Bishop Burns.

    • Michael Petek

      Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock?“You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock.“Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them.
      “They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered.“My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them.”’”

      Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: “As I live,” declares the Lord GOD, “surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock; therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep. So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I will deliver My flock from their mouth, so that they will not be food for them.”’”

      (Ezekiel 34:1-10)

  • Joseph Matthew

    This is the Bishop Burns who preached a sermon associating Catholics loyal to Tradition with a clericalism that leads to paedophilia. These liberal bishops love to listen to the laity but it has to be the right sort : Tablet in hand and contraceptives in the pocket. Try asking them to do something about a priest who teaches heresy and you are accused of being a mere member of the laity who should know his place.

    • Michael Petek

      LifesiteNews reports that Matthew Hoffman gave a talk in Brazil in which he identified contraception – as I prefer to call it the Satan Pill – as the root perversion underlying the sexual revolution, and showed how the contraceptive mentality leads to fornication, divorce, the objectification of women and children, abortion, sodomy and worse.

      He is so right.

      Every misuse of the sexual faculty is adequately dealt with under the Sixth Commandment. But only contraception and artificial reproduction engage the First, because they tamper with the very process by which a human being is created. God alone has a total dominion over the creature, because He alone is its Creator, and He alone decides what (and whom) to create or not. We are not at liberty to change the facts on which His unique dominion depends. Contraception and artificial fertilisation effect a veritable insurgency against the kingdom of God, something no king in his kingdom could ever tolerate.

      So, bishops, priests, and deacons, this is for you. Failure to open your mouths and tell the truth about this egregious idolatry may count against you when you stand before Christ at the Last Judgement.

  • Michael Petek

    I’m a layman, so any liberal should find the following worth listening to.

    Read my lips. God has reserved to Himself the final stage of the process by which a new human being is created. The use of contraception after commencement of the natural sexual act (within or outside marriage) and the attempt to fuse human gametes by artificial methods of fertilisation, are acts of idolatry. They are the highest form of worship which man gives to himself as his own god, whether in addition to our Creator or instead of Him.

    Now, liberals, what part of the First Commandment don’t you understand?

    • Trisagion

      I love this. Not just a sin against the sixth commandment but the first too. Fabulous. Of course all sins are essentially sins against the first but the intimacy of the sexual act and its link to God’s fundamental nature as Love itself, makes sins against the sixth particularly wicked.

  • Wake up England

    The Church of England makes up its “doctrines” by popular vote (The Synod). Do we really want to be like them? A recipe for fragmentation when one faction disagrees and breaks away; and then that faction has another disagreement and splits in two until you have thousands of “denominations”. This is what happened after the Rerormation. Disaster.

    About three weeks ago we had North American prelates advocating the merits of Abotion pills; now in Germany we have the same thing; Britain is now jumping on this bandwaggon. God preserve his Holy Church and us from these Bishop-traitors. Of course they want to lever power away from The Pope and implement their own presentations of Christianity. Let us pray that the new Pope is strong and fearless in separting the wheat from the chaff, because if this disobedience is allowed to continue for very much longer the Church is in Grave, Grave peril

  • Matthew Hazell

    Pray for the lay faithful, deacons and priests of Menevia, that they would be given the grace, patience and humility to persevere in the Catholic faith.

    Pray for Bishop Burns, that he might turn away from the spirit of the age in order to hold on to the truth and hand on the Catholic and apostolic faith.

    Pray for the Cardinal Electors, that they would listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and elect a virtuous, holy, faithful man to lead Christ’s Church.

    And pray for Pope Benedict!

  • Stephen

    Let us pray that these people will be converted before they lead more souls to Hell.

  • Simon

    ‘Heretic, off with his head’ Grow up, please.

  • AkP

    How clearer can the Bible be about both re-marriage after divorce and same sex activity. Surely a Bishop knows his Scipture. As for “Conservatism has had its day. It doesn’t work.” How about “Liberalism has had it’s day. It does not work” God help us all and preserve us from dissenting Bishops – oh how sad to even write that.

  • Louis

    There is an inherent contradiction in Bishop Burn’s narrative. The church has already been stripped of “status and elitism”. The Church, and Catholics who hold to the faith of the church as it has been received from the apostles are generally treated with contempt by modern society: it is modernist prelates who crave “influence” in society (and engage in futile “deals” with politicians to achieve that end). “Bureaucracy, politics, and status” that sounds more like the ambitions of the bishops’ conference, and their vision for the Church, than the papacy: the papal resignation speaks volumes about the renunciation of power and status. The Lord said nothing about holding our place in society.

    Reform in the Church is always necessary, as the Pope has pointed out, when he juxtaposed the “hermeneutic of reform” against the “hermeneutic of rupture”. Moreover, he did not just say “hermeneutic of continuity” (which can be dangerously manipulated in a reactionary direction) but of “the ‘hermeneutic of reform,’ of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us.” The Church, pre-eternal, belongs to the Lord, and is a great gift to us, not something which we create. Modernist prelates and the clericalised laity completely miss the plot: one might think the Church belonged to them.

    Clericalism is a perennial problem, manifest today in the legions of clericalised laity who have lost all sense of their own dignity as laypersons. The apostolate of the laity, of laity bearing witness to the catholic and apostolic faith in the world through their everyday lives, has been neglected. What we have in this country is an institutionally modernist “fortress church” obsessed with clerical matters (orders and jurisdiction) closed off from the world in their fuzzy cocoon. Can one blame people for turning away from this kind of church?

    What is the point of praising the Pope then damming his legacy? To what extent has the magisterium of Benedict XVI been received by these modernist clergy and pseudo-clergy? It is astonishing that they cannot recognise the radical reforming nature of this great pontificate (Archbishop Kelly of Liverpool does), a last great flowering of the vibrant Catholic reform movements of the mid-twentieth century that were sabotaged or repudiated by the soixante-huitards.

    The Pope is a great listener (as Archbishop Kelly publicly testifies). I too would like to see greater collegiality within the Church (it will bring us closer to the Orthodox churches), but that has been impeded not by the Pope, but by modernist clergy and pseudo-clergy who promote an ideological form of Christianity which capitulates to the epistemological assumptions of modernity. What they offer is not the Gospel of life, but of death, masquerading as an angel of light.

    I cannot fathom why Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, who comes across as a decent man, chose Gaudium et Spes as his episcopal motto. Clerics sitting in a political legislature, e.g. the House of Lords (a sphere for the lay apostolate), where they could exert “influence”, are contrary to the spirit of Gaudium et Spes. Likewise, the document quite clearly proscribes contraception. The mind boggles.

  • comte de Frebonius

    To read the above is so painful, especially on this the Feast of the Chair of St Peter. May he , together with St Paul aid the Church in its this time of trial!

  • Spesalvi23

    Its just so sad seeing them all stuck in their little horizontal box.
    Most dissenters have lost their vertical connection.
    Their blabber is so absolutely banal compared to the spiritual strength and intellectual brilliance of the Pope.

  • Gurn

    These Bishops are complete idiots, the guy said that the Church is losing its place in society and his answer is to liberalise it into irrelevance.

    Even if the Church was liberalised to their liking people and society would still quite simply be totally indifferent, just look at the Church of England and just how ‘relevant’ that thing has become. They never stop to consider the dominant culture of materialism and hedonism which is the true reason for the Church’s reduced ‘relevance’ in ‘society’ although I think what Tom Burns really means by ‘relevance’ is weak submissive conformity with fashions and trends.

    This Bishop is hopelessly inadequate if he was honest with himself he would convert to Anglicanism because he is essentially a closeted Anglican. Interesting how The Tablet demands you pay a hefty annual fee to read this article… I wonder why.

  • Lynda

    How do such heretics who politicise Church doctrine get to be made Bishops while the loyal orthodox priests are sidelined and never considered? All the wrong criteria have been applied systematically for decades. Where is the oversight, the protection of the doctrine of the Faith? Blessed Michael, protect us.

  • cymro

    There are some good priests in memevia and despite the small numbers of priests there is a weekly celebration of the Traditional EF mass somewhere in the Diocese. One of the Swasnea parishes with a good orthodox priest has the 40 hrs devotion each year and the children at 1st Holy Communion kneel to make their Communion. As for Bishop Toms comments about consultation he has caused great heartache in the Parish of Aberystwyth which is being investigated by Rome due to compliants from parishioners there and more recently he has cancelled the annual Pilgrimage to Lourdes without any consultation with the Directors or officials.

  • ConfusedofChi

    Met Bishop Burns when he was Chaplain to the Arms Forces. Thought then his understanding of the Eucharist was a little floppy, at least what I thought he was implying at the time. Was surprised when he was consecrated a bishop! Maybe I should be on the interview panel………………..

    Is this all to do with “power grabbing”?

  • Karla

    Off topic

    Cardinal O’Brien gives his backing to idea of married priests


  • Bob Hayes

    Conversation, over lunch with my sister yesterday, turned to the Church and speculation about who might be the next Pontiff. Discussion then moved to Doctrine, whereupon my sister – an ATHEIST – pronounced that she hoped whoever was elected Pope would be a firm adherent to Doctrine, ‘because it’s based on Scripture and cannot change to fit society’s whims and fads’.

    So it seems that an atheist of forty-plus years standing has a clearer understanding of the Catholic faith than messrs Murphy-O’Connor, Burns, Conry and their fellow-travellers. I pray that these men seek God’s counsel and do what is honest: either uphold Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium or ask the next Pontiff to relieve them of an office in which they appear no longer believe.

    • Denis

      Yes Bob your sister, God bless her, has integrity and honesty, some of our “bishops” do not. The Sunday programme hosted by Edward Stourton had more of the same. Weasely clerics who now show their true colours.

  • Tom Burns wants a “root and-branch review of the method of appointing bishops”. Mistakes have certainly been made, as this article shows.

  • Genty

    I don’t think anyone could be surprised that the Magic Circle is back to its old tricks. They have learned nothing and forgotten nothing (apologies to Talleyrand).
    What larks if the present Nuncio is asked to stay in post.

  • Rifleman819

    For Lynda,
    You have hit the nail on the head.”The Magic Circle” of chippy, under-brained and over-promoted bishops in England and Wales, disloyal to a fault, should be removed from the selection process for their peers.
    They much like the red piping on their cassocks but don’t enjoy doing their job-no one with an orthodoxy will get anywhere on any list whilst this gang of mediocrities call the shots.
    That’s why they dislike the Ordinariate-these men are generally cleverer and very orthodox in doctrine.Therefore they are a threat.These bishops fail to see one very important point-they do not “own” the episcopate in England and Wales-it is not the English and Welsh “vaguely Catholic ” church but a branch of the Universal church on its holy and sacred Mission to these islands.
    The Nuncio needs to bypass these clowns with better men.

  • Hunted Priest

    How refreshing to hear Bishop Burns admit that he should not have been appointed bishop in the first place and that what was now needed was a “root and-branch review of the method of appointing bishops” to prevent such unsuitable candidates been chosen in the future. At least I think that’s what he said.

    As a priest I am deeply ashamed of such bishops – they are a disgrace.

  • According to Bishop Burns

    “…it was time to… introduce… a root and-branch review of the method of appointing bishops”.

    He may have a point here!

  • Mersey Mercy

    Headline: Leading Catholics Speak Out

    Headline should read: Mis-Leading Catholics Speak Out!

    St Peter – Pray for us.

  • Karla

    Off topic:

    Unreal. 1:35 This BBC news anchor talking about priestly celibacy says ‘shoudn’t the Roman Catholic Church go into the 21st century like everyone else’

  • Mersey Mercy

    Again, sorry for being slightly off-topic but this 65 yo woman’s letter has all the hallmarks of a Tablet reader!’s-gay-marriage-stance-stroke-her-pen190213

    • Bob Hayes

      ‘The woman, who now works with animals and lives in northern England’ trills the article, but we are not told who she is. This article strikes me as the equivalent of the ‘a close friend said’, ‘a government adviser said’, ‘a neighbour said’ etc. form of journalism. In is well known that many of these ‘people’ are in fact pure fantasy, created to provide the publication’s proprietor with a platform to espouse his views.

  • buckle

    The problem with the present generation of clerics is that they inhabit a black and white TV world of TUC congresses, Wilsonian socialism and democratic principles as a virtue. Truth has come to be decided the majority vote – 51% is all you need. Yet, ironically, whenever democracy is made available in the Middle-East, the indigenous population reject the Western values to which these Bishops have become attached these last 50 years and to which they believe the Faith should bend. This irony is lost on our clerical betters as they continue to consort with politicians who issue orders to murder, en masse, the uncooperative Arabs.

    The British Catholic Church is now in state of schism and has been since the 1970′s – in centuries past would have been excommunicated. I wish the bishops would formally declare schism and get the matter over and done with so the laity would then be free to decide where we stand.

  • Aggie B.

    So happy to see so o o many lay persons standing up for the TRUTH (i.e. Jesus Christ – the same yesterday, today and forever!!!). With you guys “on the ball” our Holy Church is in good hands. Let’s all continue to pray that the Holy Spirit takes control in all circumstances, and that the Spirit continues to give us all the COURAGE to speak out in the face of all that is not of God – Our Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).

  • Riflemen819

    Dear All,
    What are we actually looking for?
    10-15 youngish , orthodox episcopal candidates…well educated, worldly wise …who will not dance to the secular world’s jig.
    We know they exist…we know the names of such men………get them and their CVs to the Nuncio at Wimbledon …now!

    As for some of the present episcopal crew…whose rumps sit so smugly on comfortable cathedrae… saddens me that they unworthily share an honourable and holy Office with men like St.John Fisher

  • Tom Sharpling

    I read with rather a deep sigh the foregoing comments and the comments by Bishop Tom Burns of Menevia that brought them about. We have been here before, of course, when, in the Diocesan Yearbook, the Bishop linked the Traditional Mass and all that went with it directly with the peadophilia crisis in the Church. We now hear that continued conservatism in a future Papacy will spell the death of the church.

    Of course, we all know that this is absolute nonesense, when the comments are taken at face value and may guess that this is not actually what Bishop Burns meant by these comments. But there is the point. There should ber absolutely no ambiguity. Why should the dedicated Priests of the diocese spend their time and effort trying to explain and clarify these ill considered and naive comments. It should have been perfectly clear in any article written what was intended and meant.

    As a side issue, there are those that would argue that the Church would not benefit from a less conservative approach. When one considers what it means to make more of an impact in the world, this cannot simply mean reducing ther organization of the Church to exactly the way worldly organizations operate, simply to court popularity. Such was never the mission of the church. It is a highly grave and serious matter to simply alter traditions and practices that have been there for centuries, and of course there is a clear danger of making our worship and liturgy and beliefs so “relevant” that it is no more than collecting the weekly shopping from the local supermarket.

    Finally, there is much to be said for that highly under-rated virture of silence. If one does not have anything constructive to say , or cannot adequately explain what one means, then perhaps it is better simply to remain silent for the benefit of all.

  • ForFaithForever

    The Word of God as Expressed in the Holy Bible is Eternal and Forever

    The Roman Catholic Church must Cast Aside Trendiness and Modishness
    and Uphold Traditional Christian Moral Values upon Marriage and that
    Co Habitation is Sinful

  • I really don’t understand this “conservative approach” thing. Bishop Burns just needs to stick to the Doctrines of Holy Mother Church. Not conservative, just want Jesus Christ wants. As for “root and branch” I am more in favour of “boot and crunch” as far as this bishop is concerned.
    I really feel as if I belong to a different church at times like this.

  • ‘Call me Tom’ was the preferred term address for His Grace from the time of his appointment to Menevia,with a £5 donation to charity by anyone who insisted on his proper form of address.political-science professor

    His Holiness Emeritus will be remembered long after ‘Tom’ has gone to his eternal rest as the following from Fr. James V. Schall, S. J., the American political-science professor concurs:
    “When Benedict XVI talks of “retirement,” it means very little, in a way. He is a man of mind. Mind remains the same waiting to be thought, be it that of Plato, Aquinas, Samuel Johnson, or Chesterton. Few in the world have really been willing to come to terms with the reordering of mind that this man has accomplished in his long and fruitful life. It is in this reordering that the real seeds of our future lie.”
    Sadly ‘Tom’s’ legacy, from some of the comments above, will be his failure to feed his sheep and his inability to pass on the Deposit of Faith.
    Until this generation of liberal Bishop’s are replaced, (and that constitutes the majority, with two or three notable fairly recent exceptions) our prayers for our country where never more needed as well as our Nuncio – that they will not succeed in having him removed.

  • [...] UK bishops calling for changes to Church teaching on contraception and divorce [...]

Leave a Reply to Aggie B. Cancel reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>