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A major centre for Eucharistic Adoration and the Old Mass? It’s the latest episcopal surge forward

Bishop Davies is striking a blow for the reform of the reform

By on Friday, 3 June 2011

Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury (Mazur/

Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury (Mazur/

Coming on top of all the post-papal visit developments (Friday abstinence, the recovery of some holy days of obligation, the episcopal welcome for the ordinariate, the bishops’ pastoral letter on the new Mass translation) on which I commented in my last blog, the news that Bishop Mark Davies, the new Bishop of Shrewsbury, has agreed to the establishment of a foundation of the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest at the threatened landmark Church of Ss Peter and Paul, New Brighton, represents another considerable, though local, episcopal surge in a generally Ratzingerian direction.

Bishop Davies’s appointment to Shrewsbury, incidentally, was an important one. This is not some rural diocese in the back of beyond. It covers not just Shropshire and, illogically, the Wirral (which surely ought by rights to be in the Archdiocese of Liverpool): the diocese is enormous, and, like Portsmouth, bizarrely irrational in its boundaries: it covers the parts of Merseyside south of the River Mersey, the southern parts of Greater Manchester (which surely ought rationally to be in the Salford diocese), parts of Derbyshire, and almost all of the county of Cheshire as well.

Back to developments in New Brighton. According to Bishop Davies’s press spokesman: “The principal aim of the new foundation will be to provide a centre in the Diocese of Shrewsbury for the celebration of Holy Mass and the other Sacraments in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The presence of the Institute – a Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right – will also enable the church to become a centre for Eucharistic devotion and Adoration, allowing the faithful to come to pray for an increase in faith and love for the Most Holy Eucharist”.

Now, if you’re not used to reading official statements from diocesan press officers—issued not just to the Church press but to all the secular press in the area, don’t forget, this is a big story locally – written in such devotionally high-powered language, there are two good reasons. The first is that the diocesan press officer concerned is one Simon Caldwell (whom I appointed some years ago to the staff of The Catholic Herald for his combined ability and orthodoxy): the second is that he is faithfully representing here the mindset of Bishop Davies, a thoroughgoing advocate of Pope Benedict’s reform of the reform, who as well as talking the talk is now seriously walking the walk.

We may now, I sincerely trust, look forward to a series of such appointments from the new nuncio (Bishop Stack’s to Cardiff was a blip, for which Archbishop Mennini wasn’t responsible). This is, I hope and assume, the way things are now going; and to their credit, many of our existing bishops, since the papal visit, have sensed this and are beginning to accommodate themselves to it so that a gulf doesn’t open up between the old and the new: hence, the pastoral letter from all the bishops, and all the other developments, I wrote about in my last post.

Just how wide that gulf could potentially be was demonstrated this week by an anonymous comment on Fr Ray Blake’s excellent blog after his passing on of this very welcome development from the Shrewsbury diocese:

Last year I wrote to my bishop and suggested that he invite a priest from one of the traditional priestly societies into his diocese. His response was extremely dismissive. In his reply he said: “Since the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, Catholics are no longer prepared to be treated as children – ruled by bishops and talked down to by priests. I cannot imagine many of our people taking kindly to priests formed in the traditional seminaries to which you refer.”

I think I can say with confidence that he has never met, or spoken to, a priest or seminarian from any of the traditional priestly societies. This is the kind of blind and dismissive attitude that is all too common in this country and nothing will improve until some of our bishops undergo a Damascene conversion.

Much will depend on how things go in New Brighton, of course. But I have every confidence, given the Institute of Christ the King’s record in challenging circumstances all over the world, that this will be a success, pastorally and evangelically. And maybe, in the new atmosphere that seems to be developing in a whole range of areas in the English Church’s life, this will have an influence on other dioceses and on other bishops as well (incidentally, I know I should include the Welsh Church as well, but it makes for a clumsy sentence, and now Swansea have been promoted to the English premiership, maybe we can consider Welshmen to be honorary Englishmen? But I digress: this is mere geriatric babble).

Naturally, proponents of the Latin Mass Society are delighted. In his blog, the chairman of the LMS, Joseph Shaw, comments delightedly that “This is a tremendously exciting development”, and continues by saying that “This is a famous church which has been closed since 2008, and needs a good deal of tender loving care to flourish again. It sounds as though the Institute could solve a problem for the diocese in preserving its architectural heritage, at the same time as bringing a really exciting new apostolate to the Catholics of the region”.

Well, indeed. It’s clear that Bishop Davies wants this project to be not just a segregated Mass centre for lovers of the Old Mass, but a shrine for Pope Benedict’s central liturgical belief that we have One Mass, in two forms. Inevitably, there will be sour comments from predictable quarters. Already, a statement by a diocesan spokesman that “the members of the institute will work in close collaboration with Fr Philip Moor, the parish priest of Holy Apostles and Martyrs church, since it is the wish of Bishop Davies that this shrine church will express the harmony between the two usages of the one Roman Rite” has been denounced as “weasel words”, presumably because it didn’t openly state the (to him presumably horrendous) possibility that the Novus Ordo (HORROR OF HORRORS) might also be celebrated there (though conversations on this have not yet come to any conclusion). How really tiresome these radtrads can be: what the chap wants is some kind of redoubt, where he and those like him can repair, and pull up the drawbridge against the rest of us.

The saving of this iconic church and, even more, the circumstances in which it will be saved, are portents of wonderful things yet to come for which we should all devoutly pray. The snipers from both extremes – the self-proclaimed (but bogus) traditionalists, who think that tradition isn’t something living but a mere restoration of past glories, and the supposed liberals, notable for their extreme illiberality towards those who believe in the Church’s real traditions, which were affirmed and not cancelled by Vatican II – can go jump into the Mersey.

  • Gbarry658

    The boundaries of Shrewsbury follow the traditional county boundaries of Cheshire and Shropshire. Only somebody not from the Wirral would think it belonged in Liverpool. There wouldn’t be many Catholics in Shrewsbury Diocese if you lopped off the North of Cheshire and added it to Salford and Liverpool.

  • Gregory

    Ohhh, you two will “definitely” get into trouble for calling it “The” Wirral. 

    Anyway, yes, it’s a wonderful development and, between the burgeoning EF scene in Liverpool (seven regular parishes and counting, well it’s six really because there’s one that we’re not allowed to mention!) and the presence of ICKSP in New Brighton, the banks of the Mersey are truly proving fertile ground for the establishment of all things connected to the Motu Proprii of 1988 and 2007. Who’d have thought it?

    Yes, Liverpool is looking quite enviously toward Shrewsbury now, especially given that His Grace, Archbishop Kelly is due to retire in 2013. Maybe a transfer bid will be submitted over the water in a couple of years! Although I do note that His Lordship, Bishop Davies is a Mancunian…

    …certainly he’s one to watch.

  • Anonymous

    “illogically, the Wirral (which surely ought by rights to be in the Archdiocese of Liverpool): the diocese is enormous, and, like Portsmouth, bizarrely irrational in its boundaries”

    Neither illogical nor irrational. It encompasses Shropshire and Cheshire as their boundaries were when the diocese was founded in the 19th century. It’s just that Cheshire has been hacked about with so much since.

  • Anonymous

    sorry, you got in before me!

  • Et Expecto

    Congratulations to Bishop Davies.  This is a very welcome development.  Let us hope that other bishops can follow the example, now that the armour is pierced.

  • Thoughtful Pug

    Now that is great news. Genuinly great news. Thank you Bishop Davies.

  • Ratbag

    Mr Oddie, I do wish you’d do your research properly.

    The parts of South Manchester which you refer to (i.e. Wythenshawe, Newall Green, Baguley etc.) were originally part of Cheshire (therefore, south of the River Mersey) until Manchester Corporation bought the land in the 1930′s to create an overspill housing estate and incorporate the said lands into Manchester.

    Shrewsbury Diocese existed before this was done.

    God bless Bishop Mark!

  • Gbarry658

    No worries – | was raised in Reddish (just like Bishop Davies) so am particularly sensitive to the north of the Mersey/South of the Mersey debate.

  • crouchback

    I’ve never been to New Brighton, I hope all goes well, but it will turn out to be a Curates Egg if the project trys to be all things to all men.

    The Novus Ordo is holed below the water line.  The  Traditional Latin Mass without  an Archbishop Lefebvre willing to stick his neck out would have resulted in the Latin Mass Society as an historical re-enactment group donning fancy vestments and throwing thurifers about the place.

    What’s the point in the Canons trying to rebuild, only to bring out the 1960′s mass every now and again..??

    Our parish priest said in 1968 “They told us they were going to renew things….not throw the bloody lot out”

    The Novus Ordo is what you get when you throw the bloody lot out.  It’s finished, it didn’t work and the Canons shouldn’t try to let it linger…’s dead lets not try and bring it back to life.

  • W Oddie

    It’s simply ludicrous to say the novus ordo is dead. It’s what over 95% of us still use and recognise. We are Catholics too, for heaven’s  sake. I am very glad indeed to see the increasing use of the Old Mass. But let’s keep things in proportion. This kind of radtrad gibberish IS NOT DOING THE CAUSE OF THE EXTRAORDINARY RITE ANY GOOD. On the contrary: it just plays into the hands of bishops who want to impede it. Talk sense, man.

  • W Oddie

    This kind of thing is exactly  what I mean when I talk about “self-proclaimed (but bogus) traditionalists, who think that tradition isn’t something living but a mere restoration of past glories”. 

  • W Oddie

    Sorry; my origins are on the other side of the pennines, in the West Riding, so of course I don’t really know what I’m talking about: Lancashire and Cheshire, though I have only the warmest feelings for them (well, not QUITE the warmest, but warm enough under the circumstances) are a foreign country to me. So, thank you for your guidance.

  • crouchback

    Come off it William who are you tying to kid.

    I moved to this parish in 1987, the late parish priest published the parish statistics every year on the parish bulletin. He started from 1968, by 1987 they had lost nearly 50% of mass attenders….since 1987 they have lost at least another 50% .

    If that’s not dead…what is..?? The Novus Ordo is E-Coli for the priest, first it turns him into a gibbering wreck, then he wrecks the parish, and all the parishes wreck the Diocese….and the diocese wreck the church. Which where we are right now. The church is in ruins. Worse, much worse than when St Francis was rebuilding in the 1200′s.

    By some miracle we have Pope Ratzinger who was personally involved with Archbishop Lefebvre, now we have the Traditional Mass back….but only just.  In 200 years time people will look back and see that the Church got better when the Novus Ordo deadly priest bug was left to rot.

  • crouchback

    95% of what…??? the rotten stump of a once thriving church.

    Real catholics go to the Traditional Mass.

    End of.

  • Bellevuetarn

    The Bishop is rightly to be congratulated. My hope will be that his is not and will not by the agency of others become some sort of cosmetic gesture toward those who, most legitimately and justifiably, cling to what is sure and certain and which cannot be said to epose their Faith to dilution or adulteration. All well and good, so far, but Mr Oddie, really, when you write ‘The snipers from both extremes – the self-proclaimed (but bogus) traditionalists, who think that tradition isn’t something living but a mere restoration of past glories, and the supposed liberals, notable for their extreme illiberality towards those who believe in the Church’s real traditions, which were affirmed and not cancelled by Vatican II – can go jump into the Mersey.’, you do nothing to help matters.

    In the first place, who are you to judge the internal forum and take to yourself the right to denounce some as ‘bogus’, as though you knew what ‘traditional’ means and as though you really understood the position from which they protest that which you, rightly in this case, called the illiberality of false liberals who have sought these past 40 years to wipe them out? 

    I am sorry to rain on your parade, Mr Oddie, but there is no ‘harmony between the two usages of the one Roman Rite”. Two usages of the one Roman Rite do not exist. One is the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church and the other is the eucharistic service (sive Missa) of Paul VI. They are not two expressions of the one reality and you must stop touting and promoting the false idea that error has rights. However much you say so, it will never be so – repeating the lie will not make it true.

  • Bellevuetarn


  • Bellevuetarn


  • Bellevuetarn

    Who are you to judge?

  • Bellevuetarn

    Mr Oddie never does his research properly for fear that the results might not fit with his pre-conceived agenda

  • Ratbag

    Apology accepted, Mr Oddie. Those who were transplanted from the overspills of Manchester told me all about life South of the Mersey at the dawn of the new Manchester districts of Wythenshawe etc.-  the relics of when it was part of Cheshire are around in the shape of signposts bearing the old shield of CCC i.e. Cheshire County Council. Yes, still around and freshly painted.

  • Ssas

    Me Oddie probably knows that the “extraordinary rite” represents a completely different religion, which is why the Bishops have always made life difficult for its adherents. The Mass which most clearly promotes the “French Revolution” in the Catholic Church (Cardinal Suenens) is, of course, the Novus Ordo Missae. I have no doubt that the Novus Ordo was largely responsible for the closure of the church in New Brighton in the first place. Catholics who have received the grace of seeing the deep crisis in the Church, and I do not count Mr Oddie as one of these, will observe the strong link between the New Mass and the closure of churches. Now it is suggested that the re-opened church in New Brighton should perhaps be bi-ritual! There is none so blind as those who will not see.

  • AgingPapist

    Real Catholics become Eastern Orthodox. If they have half a brain.

  • AgingPapist

    I remain unconvinced a restoration of old eucharistic rites involving sitting before the golden breadbox, centers for eucharistic processions and related rites will have anything to do with increasing respect and devotion for the eucharist. Those already inclined to believe in transubstantiation and Jesus’ physical presence in the golden box will do so. They don’t need more of the same.  Those who don’t go near a church, let alone kneel to take communion on the tongue, as Pope Benedict and his radtrad friends want to see, will be of the same mind still.

    The bishop of Shrewsbury, in fact all bishops, need to spend much more time on restoring Lauds,Matins, and Vespers to even the smallest parish. There is a much more critical need there than in the area of enhanced eucharistic devotion.

    On another subject, there are some very ugly Novus Ordo masses and there are some very truly excellent ones. Complete with chanted propers, Mass ad orientem, some latin, and plenty of smells and bells. They are far better than any Tridentine Mass without exception. The bishop of Shrewsbury instead of currying favor with Rome and the mindless traditionalists, should pay more attention to improving what Pope Paul VI produced in 1969.

    Long live a reformed Novus Ordo.  They’re far more beautiful than anything Pius V produced when carefully choreographed and sung in beautiful churches.

  • Rodrigo Ferreira

    Mr Oddie, thank you for this post and for all your work at Catholic Herald. Your last paragraph express in a simple form the same things I have in my heart. May we end the extremes and Evangelize in peace. What is the point of discussing “what kind of Mass” are we going to celebrate if we cant celebrate it together? It is simply a sin that we cant stand together to Christ. Obviously the are important points of clarification so that everyone can live its faith properly, but that cant drive us apart, because we are family! We are not some sort of philosophical club that believes that a men is risen from death! We are not a political party, we are the Spouse of Christ, we are family. I am Brazilian and we have the same problem here with liberals. They complain even with celebrate the Novus Ordo with a little more reverence.

  • AgingPapist

    Bellevuetarn, Anathema to you. You’re a heretic if you call the Novus Ordo Mass “the EUCHARISTIC SERVICE (sive Missa) of Paul VI”.  You have, in effect, relegated the official liturgy of the Church to the status of a Reformed Church” communion service. This is a blasphemy.  Why, the priest might as well be wearing a Geneva gown with bands and distributing communion in the form of little cubes of stale bread and cheap plastic cups of grape juice.  Shame on you!

  • AgingPapist

    Are we not talking about cultural tastes when liberals complain about Novus Ordo masses having too much “tradition” or are too “dignified”?  Is this  criticism an issue of the Mass’s theological content, or are liturgists simply stuck in a never ending 1960s twilight zone? The world of pseudo folk practice in an age of protest over the Vietnam War and the cultural revolutions occurring at the time? The same with ultratrads.  Why must they think the Mass as celebrated from the Council of Trent to 1962 is the ONLY liturgy the Church should tolerate?

    I think the pope is thinking of a return to tradition which involves a far broader landscape of liturgical praxis than just what happened to the liturgy since the 16th century.  Maybe the Church should go back and look more closely at Justin Martyr’s description of a 2nd century eucharist, or, perhaps, the Apostolic Constitutions, Book VIII. Maybe look again at the beautiful description in the writings of bishop Serapion in Upper Egypt, the Liturgy of St. James, and the liturgical sources in the west Syrian and Alexandrian tradition to get ideas on how to resolve differences between Tridentinists and Paulinists.

    Otherwise, the reform of the reform debate begins to bog down in fights over mere rubrics, vesture, good and bad liturgical custom, pomp and circumstance (should we have it or not?), and whether we should tolerate all or just some Latin. When it is English which is the lingua franca today .

  • James

    Never mind which version of the Mass will be celebrated here. The important thing is that this building will be preserved and remain in use as a Catholic Church. One can but hope that this is a sign that the Church in England is at last realising, before it is too late, the importance of its glorious architectural hertage. Spritually inspiring buildings, visible to all, can touch even hardened atheists and are, frequently, more reliable and steadfast witnesses to the Faith than people. Bigotry, intolerance and sexual scandals turn many away from the Church, not so its architectural heritage.

  • Charles Martel

    Ah, AgingProtestant again. You’re quite a schizophrenic, aren’t you? You think the Mass is magical hocus-pocus and superstition, but you promote Orthodoxy? Yep, just a sad troll. Do something useful with your life.

  • SOSJ

    Where is the respect in the sneering language you use to describe the tabernacle?

  • mike hurcum

    I have a question. Living abroad for 40 years I see my old diocese of Clifton has a new bishop. He is from Portsmouth. A diocese which of late has not had good orthodox catholic press. Now perhaps no one will have an opinion on him, but I do ask will he follow the trend of the 70′s priests or follow the blooming resurrection as Benedict instructs. As for the aging papist’s instructions to join the Eastern Orthodox, what is his comments on the early English synods of pre-middle ages, and which theology should we take up. Does he she or it recommend the toll house theology, the new theology of Symeon the New Theologian or the other theologies that are causing such devastation among the Byzantinies.Such as Orthodox Bishop Kallistos Ware who wants women priests

  • Sthelensrcbarry

    what a shame an otherwise excellent piece by a writer who i admire has been ruined by his pop at our new Archbishop, would like to know why Mr Oddie has a problem with Archbishop-Elect Stack? Thanks

  • CFM

    what a load of pompous nonsense. “Walk humbly with your god” is the covenant, whatever the language.
    the Church is suffering because it has become an old boys club for the clergy. I live in hope that it will survive despite them.

  • Gsalem

    These people do not know you, I unfortunately do. You are just a sociopath, hanger-on, social service sponger.