A Call to Action dissent movement infiltrates the 9th Birmingham Diocesan Justice and Peace Assembly

The dissent movement A Call to Action has infiltrated the Archdiocese of Birmingham’s 2013 Justice and Peace Assembly through being included as one of the afternoon workshops. ACTA’s  2012 Heythrop document, available on their website, outlines the extent of their dissent from the Catholic Faith, including calls for the ordination of women and hostility to the hierarchical nature of the Church. The Heythrop document also contains repeated threats that if their demands are not met they will move from ‘dialogue’ to opposition, including withholding donations to the Church through the  ’No to Peter’s Pence’ campaign and setting up parallel institutions.

The 9th Birmingham Diocesan Justice and Peace Assembly Programme and Registration document outlines the following:

The Workshops

1. Pax Christi/Coventry deanery: Paul McGowan
2. Birmingham J&P Commission: Claire Lawrence
3. Citizens UK Birmingham: Sr Helen Ryan & Saeed
4. Church Action on Poverty: Liam Purcell
5. St Chad’s Sanctuary: Colette Power
6. Labour Behind the Label: Ilana Winterstein
7. HM Prison Olney: Charlie Sweeney
8. CAFOD: Helen Moseley
9. Progressio: Daniel Hale
10. ACTA – A Call to Action: Jean Riordan
11. St Peter’s J&P Leamington Spa Jenny Armstrong
12. Jubilee Debt Campaign: John Nighting

ACTA’s workshop summary states:

‘Find out about a new movement promoting reform, change and full implementation of Vatican II in our Church, by means of dialogue between laity, religious and clergy’.

Protect the Pope comment: No doubt there are ACTA members in the Archdiocese of Birmingham who are relishing the prospect of their dissent movement infiltrating a well-established diocesan event in Birmingham. That’s why its important that Catholics attending the 9th Justice and Peace assembly are warned about the true nature of A Call to Action. There are two ACTA’s, there is the PR face of ACTA which presents the movement using ‘soft’ words like ‘dialogue’ and ‘reform’ and then there’s the real ACTA that is aggressive and defiant in its dissent from the doctrines and discipline of the Catholic Church. The real ACTA shows its face in its internal documents, such as the recent document from the Portsmouth ACTA group, which includes the following passages:

‘It seems that, as the Catholic Church attempts to meet the changing demands of life in a pluralistic society, particularly in our American and European settings, a more general concern has now developed: that the credible views of non ordained members of the Church, where they may vary from orthodox teachings of the Church, are to be valued less than those of the ordained members.’

‘The concept being promoted by the Church hierarchy seems to argue that:

a. the re-assertion of previous theological certainties and Catholic identity will solve all issues;
b. the problems within the Church itself, for example priestly sexual exploitation of minors, are caused by social developments outside the Church;
c. an outward expression of classical theological continuity, as in the ‘Year of Faith’, will somehow resolve all doubt and return us to a romanticised past of theological wisdom and pastoral coherence.

Trapped within such a powerfully religious culture, preaching the importance of continuity and inhibiting development in belief, the Catholic faith is promoted as a kind of spiritual armour, impervious to the demands of a pluralistic society.

Such conclusions seem to suggest that:

a. Catholic religious identity is of prime importance;
b. the Church’s problems are usually someone else’s fault;
c. expression of doubt is to be seen as disloyalty to the Church;
d. negotiation of the Church’s theological certainties is unacceptable;
e. primacy of conscience is denied;
f. self-determination is prohibited;
g. clericalism is triumphant.

‘In the views of some, a Church drugged on such mythical piety should send a chill down the spine. The history of the Church shows that extreme expressions of similar views have sometimes led to holy war. In resisting such Church authority, power and discipline however, one of the problems we encounter is the temptation to go ‘off-piste’ in the pursuit of single issue causes. This can lead us to seek out dramatic, individual changes in the Church to reflect immediate demands of life spent in a modern pluralistic society.’


The true nature of A Call to Action’s dissent exposed at 2012 Heythrop meeting, part 1 http://protectthepope.com/?p=8173

The true nature of A Call to Action’s dissent exposed at 2012 Heythrop meeting, part II http://protectthepope.com/?p=8197




20 comments to A Call to Action dissent movement infiltrates the 9th Birmingham Diocesan Justice and Peace Assembly


    I think that the modern “justice and peace” movement has always been susceptible to this kind of subversion from organisations that seem to see Christ’s church as … what was it? Oh, yes, an “NGO”.

  • As one who has lived in the Portsmouth Diocese for the past 40 years I do not know who these people are, though one name I do know. They have spent their time ensuring that nothing Catholic is taught in our schools or parishes, and in many parishes they have set up groups of dissenters to lay down `traditions` contradicting the Faith. Their result was a thousand catholics stopped going to Mass almost every year for the past 40 but they did not give a damn about the Faith as long as they were in charge and deny the practice of the Catholic Faith to faithful Catholics at every opportunity. Our young people have been lost to the Faith because of the pride and arrogance of these people. They lack both the humility to be a Catholic and the honesty not to be one. They disgust me. Yes, that is very `judgemental` isn`t it.

    • “They lack both the humility to be a Catholic and the honesty not to be one”. When you’re counting Catholics in order to tell us how large the Church is you’re always happy to include these people. Seems to me a case of having your cake and eating it. There’s an obvious problem with the idea of a smaller “purer” church – that’s a cult. Your headline is misleading. They have not infiltrated the “9th Birmingham Diocesan Justice and Peace Assembly” they were, for better or worse, invited. Presumably by a clergy who have the unenviable job of trying to avoid schism by attempting to find some middle path between keeping them and you both happy. One group of people I really feel sorry for are bishops. So much hatred they endure from all sides – it’s worse than being Prime Mininster without the sex or financial renumeration.

      • Dilly

        “One group of people I really feel sorry for are bishops. So much hatred they endure from all sides – it’s worse than being Prime Mininster without the sex or financial renumeration.”

        I so agree. Do look at “Anthony Miller”‘s comment halfway down the page in the blog below, for an example of the treatment of the Anglican Bishop of Southwark.


        • Rifleman819

          Dilly ,
          You are sharp and observant, aren’t you?

          Anthony tends to self-immolate from time to time.

        • I am pulling his leg – it was national news though so we are entitled to comment.
          We have a lot of time for the Rev Nick Baines.
          He signed our petition against the Westminster Council Flyering Zone and gave us a lot of good PR.
          He’s even made it onto the club site
          We even brought him some scripture sucky sweets back from Barbados

          Couldn’t get any RCC clergy to get their hands dirty with politics – but to be fair that isn’t supposed to be their job.

        • I would point out too that the FORMER Anglican Bishop of Southwark has yet to give a convincing account of how he came by his black eye

        • Also he is not just Anglican he is CofE so in my view a kind of civil servant till they dis-establish themselves… So I thought I’d ask if he could help us and he did. Seems fair enough to me…. After all thelocal catholic church nicked one of his Vicars so tis give and take. Sure Baines doeant mind he has a sense of humour…. As to the former Bishop of Southwark well he has questions to avoid… But really he did little more than have one too many as the Christmas party

    • Lynda

      True. They are enemies of the Church, and they control many of its institutions, and the (mal)formation systems of most clergy, religious and lay.

    • Denis

      “They lack both the humility to be a Catholic and the honesty not to be one.”
      I agree absolutely.
      ACTA present a repugnant self indulgence that wants a church “built around me.” They are elderly and frankly daft, but rather like the September wasp, still capable of inflicting a nasty sting.

  • Pat

    Looking at the roll call of groups attending, I’d say that ACTA will be at quite at home there. The J&P umbrella has long harboured groups and individuals associated with dissent from Magisterial teaching.

    • Bob Hayes

      Yes indeed, Pat. A quick look at Birmingham J&P website reveals that a recent past speaker at the Annual Assembly was none other than Tina Beattie. Meanwhile prominent local J&P Commission member Brian Davies offers a glowing write-up about A Call to Action in the Commission Newsletter (Issue 23 / Spring 2013). Brian is evidently keen to man the barricades as he writes:

      ‘As the J&P Commission has already proposed, we are ready, along with
      others, to contribute to a diocesan vision that moves beyond the very clericalist framework that was the basis for last year’s consultation.’

      So the message from this Birmingham J&P stalwart is very clear: Move aside Archbishop Bernard, the revolution is under way.

      Arundel and Brighton, Plymouth, Westminster, Birmingham – where next?


  • Karla

    Off topic

    CDF confirms Church ban on Communion for divorced/remarried


  • Rifleman819

    Deacon Nick ,

    As the High Kommand of ACTA ponders the last throw of the dice I’m reminded of the similarities of history -like Hindenburg and Ludendorf planning the “Kaiserschlacht” for March 1918…..a final all- or- nothing assault which -if it succeeds…wins the war.If it fails…defeat is certain.

    And so any tactic is permissible-any deception justified.

    There is an essential dishonesty and lack of integrity in this Janus-like group. [Moderated comment]

  • Well I had a plough through of part I and II which took quite a while

    If you take out all the parts that are not clearly matters of dogma/doctrine
    some genuine concerns most sane people in the church still remain.
    The top three of these which are probably the most important from an operational point of view would be (in my view)

    9) Eucharistic famine – shortage of priests;
    3) Married priests; (a lot of people aren’t happy about the RCC bending the rules for the ex-CofE Vicars although it is seldom said)
    7) Failure to implement Vatican II (okay this could mean almost anything but how far Vatican II should or shouldn’t have gone/go is a question that absolutely no one ever agrees on so I think it’s valid).

    Below this are some grey areas which are a matter of practice (or involve practice as well as docrine) or haven’t year been defined as doctrine but aren’t actually heresy which I isolated down to…

    1) Fear; (whatever that means)
    5) Lack of collegiality; (whatever that means)
    6) Lack of subsidiarity; (whatever that means)
    8) Bishops to really engage with us, to really hear us; (whatever that means)
    22) Lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender/ Questioning concerns; (how to not be homopobic but implement the Church’s teaching on homosexuality is a problem?)
    30) New Missal translation; (since when were there not moans about translation)
    34) Primacy of conscience;
    36) An hierarchy who by saying nothing and not responding [to the questions many Catholics think important] appear to just be stalling until the clouds pass so life can go back to their ‘normal’; (I’d point out a “hierarchy who say nothing and dont respond” is one of your problems too).
    43) Man made laws of the Catholic church overshadowing what Christ taught; (debatable as to if all the laws of the church are actually God’s)
    44) Injustice in the Catholic church; (very clearly has existed in the recent past)
    45) For all the baptised to have a voice that is listened to; (erm…)

    I had to laugh at
    72) Rome the big issue, creating a climate of fear, which stifles reasoned argument & growth towards the Kingdom;
    What did they think Rome’s for?

    That said John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis I have ALL openly slagged off the Curia as a bureaucratic, logistical and inefficient. It clearly does have problems… although how you solve them … that’s “above my pay grade”.

    There’s some truth in almost everything and in their very long whine which is so long you cant fit it in on only one post … there are some valid issues that could do with some level of debate?

  • Bob Hayes

    ACTA has also infiltrated the Diocese of Shrewsbury’s Justice, Peace and Social Responsibility Commission.


    • Nicolas Bellord

      But if your read this bulletin from the start it appears that the Bishop has sacked most of the J&P commission including the editor of the bulletin who draws attention to the ACTA meeting. ACTA have merely infiltrated a dead body.

      • Bob Hayes

        I think you are right Nicolas. I suspect the advert for ACTA was included in a fit of pique by one of the outgoing commission members. It should be noted that one of the outgoing commission members reports:

        I am delighted to have been invited by the National Justice and Peace
        Network to join their Media Group and help provide resources. Part of my role will be to develop a Youth Resources Page for the NJPN website: an exciting new challenge working alongside supportive activists from all the National Justice and Peace from all over the country.

        Meanwhile NJPN coins the curious phrase ‘A Call to Faith in Action’ as the byline for its conferences.

  • Brian Austin

    As a member of the Birmingham Diocesan Justice & Peace Commission, I feel I would like to respond to this article.
    First, I do not think that a 1 hour workshop involving just 20 people in a full-day assembly with probably in excess of 100 present can be termed ‘inliltration’ of the assembly. The two main speakers at the assembly were from Caritas Social Action Network and Housing Justice, not from A Call to Action.
    In actual fact I attended that workshop myself, in order to find out about ‘a call to action’ and I must say that I do not recognise very much of what you find offensive there. I certainly did not recognise it as a ‘dissent’ movement.
    To put the record straight, the ‘mission’ statement of acta is as follows:
    “We are a group of Catholics, some of whom are ordained, brought together by our love of Christ’s church and our anxiety about its future. Still inspired by the Second Vatican Council we want to contribute fully to the life of our church so that we may be a more effective sign of the Kingdom of God. To do this, we believe that an atmosphere of openness and dialogue both with each other and with our bishops needs developing. We desire to help create a climate of trust and respect for all where this dialogue my be fostered.”
    I don’t find anything here that can be referred to as ‘disent’. On the contrary, I would regard it as very pro-church.
    I hope these comments are helpful.

  • Claire Lawrence

    As a member of both the Justice and Peace commission in Birmingham and ACTA I echo what Brian has said. I attended the ACTA conference last week- it is all about dialogue and realising the vision of Vatican II. I certainly feel That I would like my church a church that listens to its people and is open and loving rather than rule bound and distant. Pope Francis does not need protecting from groups like ACTA in fact from things he has said he seems to want this kind of development.

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