When will our Bishops’ Conference act on Pope Francis’ express wish that they investigate lack of orthodoxy?

Pope Francis, in his La Civiltà Cattolica interview, expressed the desire that national bishops’ conferences investigate ‘lack of orthodoxy’ rather than the CDF. The Holy Father’s actual words were:

‘ It is amazing to see the denunciations for lack of orthodoxy that come to Rome. I think the cases should be investigated by the local bishops’ conferences, which can get valuable assistance from Rome. These cases, in fact, are much better dealt with locally. The Roman congregations are mediators; they are not middlemen or managers.’

This raises the question, when will the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales act on Pope Francis’ express desire that they take on responsibility for investigating lack of orthodoxy in our Church from the CDF?

Our Bishops’ Conference would do well in this regard to follow the example of the US Bishops’ Conference who have an Office of Doctrine and the appointment of a doctrinal watchdog. Fr. Peter Ryan, a Jesuit priest known for his defense of the Church’s bioethical teaching is the recently appointed executive director of the U.S. Bishops’ Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs.

CNA explain that ‘The Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs is responsible for executing directives of the U.S. bishop’s committee on doctrine, ensuring that work done by Catholic theologians in the country upholds Church teaching.’

Protect the Pope comment: A question for our readers, who would you nominate for the post of doctrinal watchdog for the Bishops Conference of England and Wale’s new Office of Doctrine? And who would you hope they investigated as a matter of priority?


12 comments to When will our Bishops’ Conference act on Pope Francis’ express wish that they investigate lack of orthodoxy?

  • Daniel

    I’m not entirely sure what the position of doctrinal watchdog would entail, and whether it would be a full-time or part-time task. Obviously you would want somebody orthodox and very intelligent like Fr Aidan Nichols OP or Fr John Saward, but if the post were full time it would prevent them doing other important things. Maybe it could just be anyone who has a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and accepts its teaching?

  • I think that Daniel has it right. Both Menevia and Arundel and Brighton would be ideal starting points.

    • Denis

      As an outside observer I read reports of how the closure of St Wnifred’s church, Aberystwyth was managed. I don’t profess to know much of Bishop Burns, but the whole affair seems to smack of depressingly familiar lack of openness and candour with the parishioners who were directly affected.
      To me at least it has that unpleasant aura of the great unwashed (ordinary parishioners) being told to mind their own business or what was that other expression, hold their tongues.

  • Mersey Mercy

    I think the problema would be that they would all end up doing internal investigations on each other, as quite a number of the E&W Bishops are “unorthodox”. One only has to look at Bishop Hendricks of Southwark and his “like” for ACTA UK’s Facebook page. Not the action of an “orthodox” bishop surely?

  • Mersey Mercy

    Daniel, Richar – Liverpool HAS to be the starting point – although any Doctrine Office would need to be based in one of the Canary Wharf towers in London – as that is the only place big enough for all the priests that would be needed to undertake the job!

  • Anna

    Doctrinal watchdog?

    We already have one in the chairman of the Bishop Conference Commission for Evangelisation and Catechesis, the very able and doctrinally courageous Bp Kieran Thomas Conry, he was after all appointed to this position by his equally orthodox brother bishops.

    Talk of a fox looking after the hen house, this is obviously what Francis intends to do throughout the world – God preserve us!

  • BJC

    The question has to be asked, why are people writing to Rome in the first place? One assumes it’s because they’ve written to the Bishop already and either been ignored or given the brush-off. It’s symptomatic of a wider problem which is poor governance and a luke warm faith among our Bishops and clergy (with of course honorable exceptions). Far be it for me to say it but the Holy Father has to “wake-up and smell the coffee”. Its not as if its not obvious.

  • Amanda Peter

    What do we do if the majority of members of the bishops conference are in dissent themselves? How does a blind man restore sight to himself? To whom to the laity go if the Catholic leadership in our country is anything but burning for the salvation of souls in a very sexualised and secularised society. Pope Francis is looking for women to have a more prominent place in the church in an all male priesthood. Could some women possibly be included in ensuring our Bishops/clergy remain obedient to Holy Mother Church in their teachings. Behind every successful man there is woman.

  • Rifleman819

    The answer lies with the Nuncio.We are not the English and Welsh Catholic Church.We are the Catholic church in England and Wales.Some seem to have overlooked this rather fundamental distinction.

    The shivers have gone down the spines of a certain Emeritus Cardinal ,a current Archbishop and diocesan bishop as they realise that the Nuncio is warmly solliciting suggestions for the episcopate of the future from outside the Mediocre Zone.

    The next 2-3 years are critical. A red hat has still been withheld…and I think it might go elsewhere than upon the obvious head.

  • Nicolas Bellord

    Amanda: It is instructive to have regard to the history of the Church in Portugal. In the 18th century the Marquis of Pombal remodelled the Church in Portugal upon an Anglican model with the King appointing Bishops and purportedly deciding on doctrine. Liberalism entered the Church in a big way; the quality of Bishops deteriorated; some were so awful that the Patriarch wrote to the Vatican that the appointment of one Bishop by the King could only be construed as being an attempt to bring dishonour on the episcopacy as he had moved in with a lady who kept a bar and bribed the police to ignore the licensing laws to the fury of the local Mayor. Four Bishops were sent to Vatican I with strict instructions to oppose infallibility. At that point the laity rose up, fed up with lax moral teaching, and demanded that they should support the doctrine of infallibility. The three remaining Bishops were forced to vote in favour of infallibility – the fourth Bishop had been sent home by the Vatican for drunkenness. The cosy relationship of the hierarchy with the Government eventually broke down culminating in the expulsion of most of the religious and the exiling of the Patriarch in August 1917. It took the personal intervention of Our Lady that same year to get the Portuguese Church back on track.

    I am afraid that we may have a long way to go!

    As to women in the Church I have often thought that it needed some tough Lady Abbess to tell the men not to be so bloody silly.

    We should pray to Our Lady!

  • Rifleman819


    Very instructive and timely warning…we need another Abbess Hilda from the 664AD Synod of Whitby….she would sort them out.A Catholic Hattie Jacques, perhaps?!

    The trouble is that once the episcopal Zombies of the Mediocre Zone get a grip on appointments they will try to influence matters so that their younger clones are candidates for vacant Sees.
    Well we are in the era of Sea-change over See-change, aren’t we?
    We shall see………oh!

  • Ioannes

    Bishops’ Conferences are the problem, not the solution. A bishop’s primary task is to uphold orthodoxy in his diocese. Some US bishops have realized this, but I can’t recall the last time an English bishop excommunicated anyone.

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