Building the crucifix in Pembury

Fr. Ed Tomlinson has posted the following photos of the rebuilding of their “new” Crucifix, which now stands temporarily outside St. Anselm’s Chirch in Pembury (ready just in time for the Ordinary’s visit):


Ün Thursday afternoon, on the hottest day of the year thus far, three good men joined me at Saint Anselm’s to help reconstruct our new external statue. No small task given its size!


The task was made all the harder because those who had deconstructed the structure had cut through all the screws instead of undoing them. It was therefore a case of removing useless metal and inserting new fixtures.


With the sun beating down it was important to keep the workers hydrated. Jugs of cold squash and cups of tea helped spur us on to victory…


The structure, which once stood in Begbroke Priory in Oxfordshire, is 19th Century and made of seasoned oak. Great for durability, less great for driving screws into! But thanks to the expertise of my father-in-law, Peter Woodhouse, work carried on at pace! The structure is only temporarily situated by this wall where it is a little obscured. Once the new parish room is built it will move to a more prominent position facing the road. A clear sign to all that there is a Catholic Church on this site.


Once constructed a cold beer was the reward for all. My thanks to the aforementioned Peter, to another Peter and also to Bernie. A job well done.

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Bishop Tony Palmer, friend of Pope Francis, died yesterday in tragic motorbike accident

As Deborah Gyapong sadly reports:

Bishop Tony Palmer, Rest in Peace
Posted on July 21, 2014

Bishop.Tony.PalmerSad news that Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches Bishop Tony Palmer died yesterday after he collided on his motorbike with a drunk driver who apparently had crossed into his lane. After eight hours of surgery, he succumbed to his injuries. …

Tony Palmer is the friend of Pope Francis who recorded a greeting from the Holy Father that Palmer brought to a leadership conference for charismatic leaders in Texas last January. …”

Here is a video of the message:

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Fr. Paul Burch of Coventry suggests praying daily for Church Unity

The following is an extract from the Coventry Ordinariate Mission’s weekly newsletter, written by Fr Paul Burch, pastor of the mission:

we_are_one_in_the_spirit - klein“We believe in it, we are the fruit of Pope Benedict XVI’s very practical efforts to achieve it, and we are called to facilitate it as a community of the Ordinariate – I’m talking of course about Christian Unity. Unity is one of the principal reasons that the Ordinariates exist, and for unity we must work hard and pray hard.

I was asked to put together some prayers for the Unity of Christians to begin the procession of reparation and reconciliation during the Walsingham pilgrimage last month; I could find no better than the Invocations for Unity from a text devised by Fr Paul Couturier. It struck me as we prayed them in the Anglican shrine church in front of the Holy House, that they would be an excellent set of prayers for members of the Ordinariate to pray frequently. So I commend them to you and ask that you find some time each day to pray them – even the busiest of us can make 5 minutes for something so important”.

You can find the prayers here.

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Fernand Portal

Fernand Portal 1881Fernand Portal was born in 1855 in the South of France and after school he entered the  seminary, being ordained a priest of St. Vincent de Paul’s Congregation of the Mission, also known as Lazarists or Vincentians, at the age of 25. The Lazarists are a congregation of secular priests with religious vows, with a vocation to work among the poorest and most under-privileged, who also became the inspiration for the Society of the Holy Cross in the Anglican Church, to which many of today’s Ordinariate priests belonged.

Father Portal had originally hoped to go to China as a missionary but unfortunately his poor health prevented that. As a result of tuberculosis he had to make a prolonged stay on the Portuguese island of Madeira, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It was there that in 1890 Fr. Fernand made the acquaintance of Charles Lindley Wood, Viscount Halifax, whose son was also suffering from tuberculosis.

Lord Halifax, a prominent Anglo-Catholic, dreamt of a greater rapprochement between the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches and this was an idea which he shared with Fernand Portal. It was thus that the two men became lifelong friends and worked together on this ecumenical project.

Father Portal even obtained permission from Pope Leo XIII to approach leading figures in the Anglican Church and begin preliminary conversations. This led to a discussion on the validity of Anglican orders, on which Fernand Portal and Lord Halifax hoped that some kind of agreement might be possible. In 1993 Fr. Portal wrote a brochure called “Les Ordinations Anglicanes” and Lord Halifax succeeded in getting together a group of leading Anglican theologians to respond to this brochure.

Soon the press got wind of this first ecumenical debate and some lively reactions ensued, not least from those in the Catholic Church who feared modernism, especially Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val. Father Portal founded a periodical which he called the “Revue Anglo-Romaine” and which aimed to present the Anglican Church favourably to French Catholics.

Leo XIII himself held true and set up a commission to study the question of the validity of Anglican orders, in which Cardinal Merry del Val played a fundamental part and which sadly led to the promulgation in 1896 of the Papal Bull Apostolicae Curae, declaring Anglican orders to be “absolutely null and utterly void”.

Fernand PortalImmediately the Revue Anglo-Romaine had to be discontinued and Fernand Portal was transferred by his superior general, being given a position at the major seminary at Châlons-sur-Marne. However, it was not long before he was called to Paris as director of the newly-founded St. Vincent de Paul seminary, to which Fr. Portal, who was a fervent disciple of John Henry Newman, did not hesitate to invite Anglican and other Protestant guests. He founded a new journal, called the “Revue Catholique des Églises”, which in turn led in 1908 to a severe reprimand by Cardinal Merry del Val, who in the meantime had become Secretary of State.

The Revue was discontinued, Portal was accused of modernism, relieved of his post at the seminary and forbidden either to publish or to speak in public.

Father Portal was exiled and continued his priestly work among children from poorest neighbourhoods, which he had never given up during all the time as seminary professor and director. However, he was not to be deterred in his mission, so that, when he returned to Paris some time later, still forbidden to speak in public, he opened his home to students, priests and leading Anglican and other figures.

During the second decade of the twentieth century the general climate became more conducive to dialogue with other Christians, especially after Lambeth launched the idea of a union of churches, and so with his friend Lord Halifax, Fernand Portal approached another friend, Cardinal  Désiré-Joseph Mercier, Archbishop of Brussels and Malines in Belgium, and together they were able to initiate the famous Malines Conversations in 1921, which developed into a serious dialogue tacitly approved by both sides and brought forth, among other things, the highly regarded paper “L’église anglicane unie, mais non absorbée” (The Anglican Church, united but not absorbed) by Dom Lambert Beauduin in 1925.

Lord Halifax - ausschnittCardinal_MercierFernand Portal at the end of his life

These conversations continued until the deaths in 1926, only months apart, of Cardinal Mercier and Father Fernand Portal and formed the basis of what later became ARCIC after Vatican II. One can also fairly say that Fernand Portal was among the fathers of “Anglicanorum Coetibus”, as he had always been a protagonist of the “Uniate” solution for the Anglican Church, and so it is perhaps not insignificant, although probably unintentional, that the Ordinariates’ monthly journal is entitled “The PORTAL”.

Fernand Portal - tombFather Fernand Portal is buried in the crypt of the monastery church of Our Lady of Unity (Notre-Dame de l’Unité) in the village of Pugny-Chatenôd near Aix-les-Bains in the Alpine region of eastern France. Today the monastery is the home of twenty contemplative sisters of the Communauté de Bethléem, whose apostolate is to pray for Church Unity.

Next Tuesday I plan to visit Fr. Fernand’s tomb and the Sister Prioress has accorded me the privilege of talking to the assembled sisters about the Ordinariates. The Ordinariate Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Birmingham will be accompanying me with their prayers and I have been sent a note of greeting from Mother Winsome and the sisters which I shall be able to hand over to the French sisters during my visit.

The monastery church was deliberately built in the style of an Orthodox church to stress the universality of the sisters’ apostolate.

monastere ND de l'unité

I have in fact been invited to take part on Wednesday 23 July in a Day of Spiritual Reflection (“Halte spirituelle”) in the Catholic parish of Aix-les-Bains, to which Pugny-Chatenôd belongs. I shall be giving a talk on the Holy St Swithun Aix-les-Bains from NWSpirit in the Anglican tradition and on the Personal Ordinariates. The event will take place in a former Anglican Church, St. Swithun’s, which was built for the English community in this thermal spa town in the 1870′s. Queen Victoria was a frequent worshiper there and actually donated the reredos for the church. In the morning we will be doing a walking tour of Aix in Queen Victoria’s footsteps, and at the end of the afternoon our priest affiliate from Grenoble will celebrate a Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit in the Ordinariate Use with special permission of the Ordinary and his bishop.

GRIMAUD - EGLISEThis is the first Ordinariate event which is to take place in France. It will be followed on the Feast of the Assumption by a Friends of the Ordinariate day in the parish of another of our priests affiliate, at Grimaud near Saint-Tropez on the Côte d’Azur. Father Scott Anderson, our spiritual director, will be celebrating mass and preaching at all the services, so we should both be grateful for your thoughts and prayers on these two occasions.

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“Danny Boy” in Rheine

Please allow me a personal reflection.

As I was returning from communion at Mass this morning at the parish church which I regularly attend, St. Dionysius in Rheine, Westphalia, my heart took a joyful leap. Our very proficient organist, Peter Petermann, began to play a communion meditation which was a variation on “Danny Boy”.

Grandad and me well over 60 years ago

Grandad and me well over 60 years ago

I had never heard the Londonderry Air played on the organ before and my mind turned immediately to my grandfather, John Francis Murphy, who came from Ireland and was always singing. One of his favourite songs was indeed Danny Boy and in my mind I could hear him singing along with the organ. This week was in fact the thirty-sixth anniversary of his death and I felt that this organ voluntary was a very fitting tribute to a dear man.

I am sure that you and he will forgive me for remembering how we used to call the song as teenagers (the “London Derrière”) and today I really felt as though Rheine was indeed a sort of shadow behind London.

David Murphy

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Second Reading of the Assisted Dying Bill in the House of Lords

House of LordsOn Friday I watched the last two of nine hours of debate on the Second Reading of Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill in the House of Lords on BBC Parliament television.

At the end of the session the Bill was given a unanimous Second Reading and now progresses to the Committee Stage, which, it was also decided unanimously, will be a committee of the whole House. These unanimous votes might make this appear more ominous than it actually was. In fact the debate was very balanced. Lord Beecham carried out a rough tally and found that the over 130 speeches for and against were totally balanced – and this was my impression too. There was no venom, all of the speeches were well argued and showed a desire to find a just, equitable and morally acceptable solution. I am sure that the Committee Stage will be a long and arduous process. In any case, subsequent commentators believed that the Bill has no chance of being passed in its present form.

Lord FalconerLord Falconer, a former Lord Chancellor, had introduced his Bill at the request of the Supreme Court which had had to deal with several cases of assisted suicide and was of the opinion that this matter should be settled in Parliament rather than in the courts. In fact the term “assisted dying” is not really appropriate and the emotive word “euthanasia” bandied about by some opponents of the Bill is way off the mark. What the Bill would provide for is in fact “assisted suicide” and I feel that the name of the Bill should be changed accordingly. A patient with a terminal illness who has been given less than six months to live would be entitled to request two concurring doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of medication and to assist the patient in taking it. The patient’s mental state would be examined and depression would not be allowed as a motive. It is, in any case, not about doctors (and most certainly not the State) taking the life of a patient.

In the speeches of those opposing the Bill, among whom were bishops of the Church of England, a woman Rabbi, Muslims and Hindus, great emphasis was placed on the dignity of life, the importance of palliative and hospice care as well as counselling, and particularly the problem of the so-called “slippery slope”, meaning that what was intended at first as an exceptional situation would probably one day become generally acceptable, even usual (as is the case with abortion nowadays), and that some elderly, ill or disabled persons, who felt or were made to feel that they were a burden on caregivers and that their life was worth less than that of a healthy younger person, might find themselves forced or encouraged, or feel morally obliged, to end their own lives. Most of these speakers found the safeguards of the Bill insufficient.

I shall only quote from one of the speeches. It was made by Lord Carlile, a Liberal Democrat barrister, who gave one of the best speeches I heard and made some noteworthy points, especially on the question  of “choice”. Here are some excerpts from what Lord Carlile said:

Lord CarlileLord Carlile of Berriew (Liberal Democrat):

“My Lords, … we have heard some marvellous speeches, analytical and deeply personal in equal measure. …

However, during this debate there has been running what I submit to your Lordships is an ethical and philosophical fallacy about the primacy of choice. … I challenge the presumption of the primacy of choice. We are denied many choices in life in the greater public interest. For example, one of the choices that we are denied is that of killing or even injuring those who attack and injure us. If we do, we may have a defence in court but it is very different from a choice.

I suggest that the slippery slope that we are really discussing here is more in the context of what legitimate choice is than in this proposed legislation. Exactly the same kinds of arguments about choice are deployed in the United States of America to justify the availability of guns. At the bottom of that slippery slope we know lie the bodies of the many innocent victims. As this Bill continues in this House, we should continue to debate that philosophical question.

How big a question does the Bill really ask? Earlier in the debate, the noble Lord, Lord Joffe, said that the Bill was not a radical innovation in the law. With great respect to the noble Lord, he could not be more wrong. Indeed, a few minutes later, the noble Lord, Lord Brennan, reminded us that this Bill dismantled the Hippocratic oath. As the Guardian’s editorial put it this morning, the Bill attempts to “redraw the moral landscape”.

I therefore ask the noble and learned Lord (Falconer – the proposer of the Bill – Ed), before he sits down at the end of the debate, to answer some questions for which we need the answers if we are to be able to judge fairly how the Bill should proceed. They include: why has he not redrafted it in the light of the recent Supreme Court judgment so that the arbitration of these cases would not be by two random and favourably inclined doctors but Lady Neubergerthrough the courts? As the noble and learned Lord knows, the courts are very accustomed to these kinds of decision, as they are in vegetative syndrome cases and in cases relating to Jehovah’s Witnesses’ refusal to have operations, on which the courts decide on a regular basis. I urge on the noble and learned Lord that that provides a much better template than two doctors. On this aspect, I agree completely with the noble Baroness, (Rabbi) Lady Neuberger.

… Would he please answer the question of the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy, about whether there will be inquests and inquiries after deaths, as he proposes should take place? These and many other questions require answers.

To sum up, I quote the Guardian leader again: “Reshaping the moral landscape is no alternative to cherishing life and the living”.

Certainly I shall approach the Committee Stage in the spirit of cherishing life and the living.”

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Good news from St. Thomas More, Scranton: Parish growth makes three new projects possible

In this month’s parish newsletter, Fr. Eric Bergman presents three capital investment projects totalling $30,000 – and that is alongside the $12,000 annual debt repayment for the recent restoration of the newly purchased church. These projects are only possible because the parish is growing significantly – a very good sign.

Dear Members and Friends,

  • While my family and I were at Wrigley Field on June 24th, watching our beloved and hapless Chicago Cubs, I received a phone call from my sister-in-law, Sandy Campbell. fire on Church Avenue, ScrantonThe house adjacent to our garage was on fire, and she was concerned for the welfare of the church property. She stayed here for hours, giving us updates all along, as the brave firemen of the city of Scranton finally got the blaze under control. To say the least, it was a memorable game, but not for what happened on the diamond. The house that burned was a total loss, and there now stands just feet from our garage an excavator waiting to complete the task of transforming a double block house on Church Avenue into a vacant lot on Church Avenue. As is the case with so many close calls, though, there is a silver lining. I called the owner of the (former) duplex this week and asked if he were interested in selling to our parish this lot that immediately abuts the St. Joseph Church campus. He is, and this is good news indeed, since the acquisition of this property would provide the children of our parish with a large and unpaved play area for the first time since our community made the move to Providence. In fact, this was one of Kristina’s only reservations when, years ago, I first raised with her the possibility of making our home here: she lamented that there was no yard for our kids. The only catch, of course, is that we don’t have the money to purchase this land and expand our parish’s literal footprint in this section of the city. Thus, I appeal to you: if you can help make possible the expansion of our parish campus, and the provenance of a yard for our children (which we expect will cost us less than $10,000), please contact me as soon as possible. In anticipation of your prayers and gifts, whatever you might spare, I thank you.
  • While important, the above project, which circumstances brought to the fore, was a late addition to my letter to you this month. That is, I believe our priority ought to be St Thmas More Scranton sanctuary stepsmaking the nave of St. Joseph Church accessible to people who are wheelchair bound or have difficulty walking. Though the descent from the sanctuary into the nave is only three steps, it presents a frightening and perilous obstacle to a good number of those who worship with us. Moreover, we don’t have even a railing to assist communicants approaching the altar rail. Therefore, we solicited a quote for the construction of an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant ramp that would allow our neighbors to enter the church without difficulty so to assist at Mass. The price tag for this project is over $5,000, but the benefit we will derive from it is of inestimable value. There are right now people who hesitate to pray with us because they can’t easily get into our church. Please let me know if you can contribute towards the cost of this important construction project, so we can welcome all who are called to worship at St. Joseph Church.
  • I ask you to consider yet a third project. The rapid growth of our parish and its Christian education programs has exposed a deficiency in the apportionment of St Thomas More scranton church and rectoryclassroom space. We have a large parish hall in which we hold Sunday School, and we use the Altar Boys’ Sacristy and the Green Room beside the stage as classrooms, but we have no place to go for class when those spaces are simultaneously occupied. For example, we would like to have a program for children during our Wednesday evening adult education offerings, but there is no room big enough to accommodate all those who would participate. Plus, our nursery is in our Parish Hall. Where can babies and toddlers be supervised while their parents attend events in the hall? To address these shortcomings and others, our hope is to be able to transform the large Rectory basement, which has its own entrances, into classrooms for our growing parish. A contractor who has been very generous to our parish in the past estimates the necessary work for this to cost $15,000. Again, if you discern you are able to make a donation to enable the expansion of the St. Thomas More Parish Christian education program, please get in touch with me.

Contributions for all three projects are needed, but designated funds go towards the project for which they were given. Also, capital improvements, such as we are now
contemplating, are not subject to the cathedraticum of ten percent that we must send
to Houston for all operating income, so the entire amount stays here in Scranton. As a
further incentive, we will move forward with a project only if we have the funds secured.

St Thomas More Scranton - outsideI assure you of this because we remember our kind benefactors who lent us money two
years ago to restore our property. This month we have begun paying them back, having reduced our original indebtedness by over $6,000 since January 1 of this year.

Even as we move forward, then, let us not forget those who laid the financial foundation for our present prosperity: we will continue the second collection for the building fund on the first Sunday of the month until our debt is repaid, and you may make additional
contributions towards this purpose at any time.

With prayers that all of you may enjoy some rest during these summer months, grateful for your work that has fostered the growth of our parish, I am,

Yours in Christ,

The Rev. Eric L. Bergman

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