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Archbishop calls off Methodist ordinations

By on Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Liverpool Cathedral (Photo: Press Association)

Liverpool Cathedral (Photo: Press Association)

The controversial proposed ordination of Methodist ministers in Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral in July has been called off.
On the advice of the Vatican Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool has withdrawn the invitation he gave to the Methodist church last year.
In a statement last week the archbishop said he had always recognised that “the occasion would be a symbol”.

Given “the iconic reality of the Metropolitan Cathedral far beyond Merseyside it would be watched, interpreted, scrutinised quite properly by many. And symbols are dangerous things; they can explode,” he said.

“Every pattern of ordination known to me is at the service of communion and an occasion for profound renewal of the most personal, hidden demands of discipleship. Spotlights, controversy, fear of misinterpretation undermine the prayer and discipleship into which the Spirit would lead us,” Archbishop Kelly said.

The proposed ordination service was roundly attacked by Catholic bloggers earlier this year. One called it “sacrilege”, while others criticised it for the confusion it would bring.

“It might result in people who protest against Catholic truth… conducting a service in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament in whose presence they don’t believe,” Ben Trovato wrote on the blog Countercultural Father. He continued: “It might lead people to imagine some equivalence between Methodism and the One True Church founded by Christ.”

Archbishop Kelly gave permission for the ordination service last autumn when he was approached by the Rev James Booth, chairman of the Liverpool Methodist District.

Methodist ordinations take place in conjunction with the annual Methodist Conference. Buildings of other denominations are often used because the Methodist have fewer large churches of their own.

Archbishop Kelly said the event “was not just a question of a large enough venue. It could also be a word about the ecumenical journey to which we have been long committed, which was re-affirmed when Cardinal (Walter) Kasper visited Liverpool at Pentecost in 2010 and yet more powerfully by Pope Benedict during his visit to this island last September.”

But over the last few months, while convalescing following his hip replacement surgery, Archbishop Kelly said he had “time to reflect” on his decision.

“I found myself often wondering if what I had encouraged was inappropriate at this time and a possible scandal in the original meaning of that word, a stumbling block for an ordination and for the ecumenical journey.”

He said he was “not entirely surprised” when learning that “this was the judgment of the Holy Father’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity in their interpretation of the principles set out in the ecumenical directory of that same Pontifical Council”.

Sadly, he said, he would have to withdraw the invitation. “I recognise that this decision will bring pain to some, relief to others, and confusion to many. I am very aware that it gives rise to very practical problems for the Methodists only two months before their ordinations,” he said.
“I can only apologise for any drift for which I am responsible and pledge that I will continue to be as faithful as I have for all the nearly 50 years of my life as a priest to the ecumenical journey to which the Second Vatican Council committed every Roman Catholic,” he said.
Mr Booth said he had been delighted when Archbishop Kelly had agreed to the ordination “in the glorious building that is the Metropolitan Cathedral”.

“There had been careful conversation about how the Methodist ordination service could appropriately and properly be held in the cathedral, honouring and respecting both Roman Catholic and Methodist tradition and understanding, while at the same time affirming the ecumenical journey that we share and the fact that the destination of that journey is not yet reached,” he said.

“To say that I am disappointed that this decision has had to be taken would be an understatement, but it is a decision that I, and the Methodist church, must respect and understand,” he continued.

Referring to Archbishop Kelly as “a colleague and friend” he said he knew it was “a decision he has not taken lightly, but under that discipline of belonging that, as Methodists, I hope we understand”.

The Methodist ordinations will now take place in the Anglican cathedral in Chester.

One of those who had been due to be ordained in the Metropolitan Cathedral, Mark Rowland, said in his blog that the withdrawal of the invitation “reflects the rather colder wind that is now blowing for our ecumenical dialogues and relationships”.

He said: “The 21st century will look very different to the 20th in that regard and it is perhaps regrettable that we did not seize more fully the opportunities that were then available but are now fast slipping away, if they have not already gone.

“If this can be a wake-up call to us all as to the urgency of the ecumenical task then it has the possibility to be a blessing, but I suspect it may simply be a sign of what is to come.”

  • Rich


  • Mark Rowland

    I can understand the point on sacredness though it is difficult for Methodists I think to believe that the offering of worship to the Most Holy Trinity does not respect that sacredness. I think that maybe the central difficulty is how we regard one another.

    I myself believe that the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ is truly present in the consecrated bread and wine of the Eucharist. A normal part of my ministry is to take the consecrated elements from the Eucharist so that those who are housebound can receive Holy Communion. If you ever have chance, look at Charles Wesley’s hymns on the Lord’s Supper which affirm both the real presence of Christ in the Sacrament and the Eucharistic Sacrifice – see, for example, the hymn “Victim Divine”.

    The World Methodist Council (to which I am a delegate of the British Methodist Church) will be receiving a report when it meets this summer of the International Commission for dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the World Methodist Council. That report is, ironically enough, concerned with Baptism, the Eucharist and ordained ministry. I have not yet seen the text, but I will certainly be reading it with a renewed interest in the light of these events.

  • Ben Trovato


    Glad you understand the point about sacred space, even if you are slightly mystified about how strongly we feel about it – to the exclusion not only of Methodists using it to worship the Triune God, but also of any use outside Catholic liturgical practice.

    I think it fair to say that the fact that we are dealing not just with worship, but specifically ordination, about which our theologies differ substantially, makes this more problematic (about which, more below).

    With regard to the Real Presence, perhaps I should have worded my point with greater precision; and maybe I am extrapolating a bit too much from the Methodists I know personally. However, my experience is that their (and therefore I thought, possibly erroneously, Methodism’s) understanding of the Real Presence and ours are actually substantially different.  They would certainly not genuflect to a Catholic tabernacle in adoration, for example.  But I do not know, on reflection, if they are typical in that: would you think such an act of adoration appropriate for a Methodist?  

    But I do think there are problems here, not least because we sometimes use a common language but with different meanings.  Thus we may both talk about the Eucharistic Sacrifice, but (again as I understand it and correct me if I am wrong) Methodists do not believe anything like Catholic doctrine in this regard.

    These were merely two illustrative points to suggest that from a Catholic perspective there may be more at stake than is obvious from where you stand.  There are many more such points I could make, should you be interested.

    But as you say, the central difficulty may be how we regard each other; or more specifically, how we regard you (I cannot comment on how you regard us). That is, in all honesty, that we believe that wherever you disagree with Catholic teaching, you are in error.  That in no way denies your sincerity or good works. 

    But to give a platform, and thus seeming approval, to error in a Catholic Cathedral (itself a symbol of our apostolic unity with the See of Peter) is profoundly problematic.  When it relates to something as essential as ordination (which is again profoundly linked to our belief in the apostolic succession), it is particularly so.  You clearly have a very different understanding of the nature of ordination from ours.  You believe that you are doing what Our Lord commanded when you ordain; we clearly believe you are mistaken to think that.  Letting such a service take place in a Catholic Cathedral would blur that clarity, which I believe would not be in the service of Truth, and therefore not in the service of Love.

    (I hope disqus keeps my paragraph breaks this time!…)

  • Parasum

    If so, that is horrible, but unsurprising. Do you know of evidence for this ? Thanks.

  • Parasum

    Maybe doing that does not drive a coarch and horses throught Methodist ecclesiology – it doesn’t follow that Catholic ecclesiology would be undamaged by allowing Methodist rites in a Catholic church. So the parallel is not a complete one.

    To be on good terms is right, and is required of followers of Christ – but not at the cost of committing a sin against the Faith & the Church. That would be a repulsive as helping a friend with a robbery – that is not friendship, nor required by it; it’s a form of evil-doing, and no appeal to friendship should be allowed to change that, for such an argument would be specious. If a friendship collides with obedience to Christ, He must still come first. He made a similar point Himself.

  • Parasum

    That’s because there is only one Church, that in union with Peter. Ephesians – not by a Pope BTW ! – goes on and about things being one: 

    ” 1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

    This is from Eph. 4 – unity is a constant theme of the letter. And, of course, “there is One Mediator, between God and men, Jesus Christ the Righteous”.

    None of these are plural – each is but one alone, unique; & not from man, but from God. There can be two Churches only if there can be two Baptisms, two Gods and Fathers of all, two faiths, two Spirits of God. And, it seems safe to say,  two Gospels, two Redeemers, two Christs, two salvations, two Calvaries, two Resurrections, two Bibles, two economies of salvation, two Crucified Messiahs, two Righteousnesses of God, two hells, two Heavens.

    If there is “one Body and one Spirit, one hope”, how can there be two of any of these, or ten, or a thousand ? Any doctrine or practice that challenges the God-given – not man-made – unity of the Church of God, of which Church Catholics are by no desert of their own the unworthy members, is an untruth. This of course makes the sins of Catholics worse than anyone else’s, because the the CC has received far more Divine light – Newman points that out in one of his early Catholic sermons. If only the point were emphasised today. 

    Equality is unimportant – people are very unequal, in graces, talents, intelligence, wisdom, holiness, virtues, opportunities, & in a thousand other ways. Equity is far more important. They are not the same thing. It is neither equitable nor just to give the Church the same status as heresies and schisms: one is from God, the others are not. It would be immoral to say that something contrary to God’s Revelation in Christ could be no more true than a denial of it.

  • Josephsoleary

    John Paul II made a public act of repentance in 2000 and called for the purification of memory. Regrettably he did not disown the institutions of Crusade and Inquisition explicitly. Nonetheless, it is hard to see how one can glorify these institutions as great contributions of civilization without running the risk of approving their activities — pogroms, burning Jews alive in their synagogues, expelling Jews from their homelands, forced baptisms, judicial murder of Jews — to mention only the evils concerning Jews.

  • Josephsoleary

    The attacks on the archbishop of Liverpool are quite unjust. He was merely following a Vatican directive.

    ·         From the Directory for the Application of the Principles and Norms on Ecumenism (Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, March 25, 1993), para 137:
    ·         Catholic churches are consecrated or blessed buildings which have an important theological and liturgical significance for the Catholic community. They are therefore generally reserved for Catholic worship. However, if priests, ministers or communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church do not have a place or the liturgical objects necessary for celebrating worthily their religious ceremonies, the diocesan Bishop may allow them the use of a church or a Catholic building and also lend them what may be necessary for their services.

  • Josephsoleary

    Nick, you should tone down your langauge about abortion — it applies equally to the abortions permitted by the principle of double effect — should you use that language in those cases you would inflict unnecessary trauma on the mothers.

  • Josephsoleary

    The Church allows divorce under the Pauline and Petrine privileges (the former with some biblical warrant).

    You miss my point entirely about the Resurrection — I did not say it was irrelevant full stop — I said it was irrelevant to the specific issue of authoritative church interpretation of Scripture as a matter of Protestant/Catholic dispute.

    The Church teaches orthodox Christianity and thus implicityly interprets many points of the BIble — but in this respect, to repeat, the Church does not differ significantly from Lutherans, Calvinists or Anglicans.

  • Josephsoleary

    ·         It sounds as if the Vatican has reversed its policies faced with an outcry from traditionalists: Directory for the Application of the Principles and N·         From the Directory for the Application of the Principles and Norms on Ecumenism (Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, March 25, 1993), para 137:·         Catholic churches are consecrated or blessed buildings which have an important theological and liturgical significance for the Catholic community. They are therefore generally reserved for Catholic worship. However, if priests, ministers or communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church do not have a place or the liturgical objects necessary for celebrating worthily their religious ceremonies, the diocesan Bishop may allow them the use of a church or a Catholic building and also lend them what may be necessary for their services. 
    ·         From the Directory for the Application of the Principles and Norms on Ecumenism (Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, March 25, 1993), para 137:
    ·         Catholic churches are consecrated or blessed buildings which have an important theological and liturgical significance for the Catholic community. They are therefore generally reserved for Catholic worship. However, if priests, ministers or communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church do not have a place or the liturgical objects necessary for celebrating worthily their religious ceremonies, the diocesan Bishop may allow them the use of a church or a Catholic building and also lend them what may be necessary for their services.

  • Josephsoleary

    So it is the popes who practiced ecumenism that you are really criticizing –thanks for making this clear at last

  • Josephsoleary

    Vatican II is the real enemy it seems. Calling for Abp Kelly’s head is just a tactic in that campaign. The hatred of ecumenism comes from fear — fear based on a fragile sense of identity.

  • Josephsoleary

    THe Vatican invited Archbishop Rowan Williams to celebrate Mass in Santa Sabina, even though there are many Anglican churches in Rome — which shows you that the directive is to be interpreted in a generous sense. When Archbishop Rowan was in Tokyo, the Roman Catholic Cathedral was put at his dispositions. Anglicans and Catholics are sister churches, as Paul VI said.

  • Josephsoleary

    A Reluctant Sinner is really a puzzle — deeply involved in ecumenism but highly critical of Vatican ecumenical policies as a dilution of Catholic truth. Can you understand him?

  • Josephsoleary

    Very “condescending” to suppose I have not read Dominus Iesus (I have written a lot about it). The reason I quoted it is to show that EVEN Dominus Iesus subscribes to what you thought no Pope could ever say, viz. that the Church of Christ is present and active in other Christian churches, and that God saves non-Christians precisely through their religions.

  • Bwaj

    Thank you for clearing your beliefs on that Ben, however, the Catholic Church is founded on the three Catholic creeds which do not use the word ‘TRANSUBSTANTIATION’ nor refer to the Papacy directly. I believe in both as a Catholic, however, ‘THE THREE CREEDS’ concentrate on the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation, Death, Resurrection, Ascension of Our Lord and His Second Coming as ‘Judge’. One Baptism for the forgiveness of sins (i.e. cleansing of original sin and pre-Baptismal personal sins) as well as the Virgin Birth. Luther actually did believe in ‘THE REAL PRESENCE’ and ‘TRANSUBSTANTIATION’ and said so explicitly. The head of the CofE (or so he believed) was King Henry VIII upheld ‘THE OBJECTIVE REAL PRESENCE OF JESUS’ in the Eucharist – ‘THE TEN ARTICLES’ (AD1536). In ‘THE SIX ARTICLES’ (AD1539) he stated to deny ‘TRANSUBSTANTIATION’ was a felony and a heresy which an individual was to be executed for by burning. He also allowed private Masses, said ‘COMMUNION in both kinds was not essential’, that priests should practise celibacy, that vows of chastity were binding on men and women in religious orders and that ‘AURICULAR CONFESSION’ was necessary for salvation. Although ‘THE SIX ARTICLES’ entered ‘THE STATUTE BOOK’ in 1540 and were repealed in the name of Edward VI they were placed back on ‘THE STATUTE BOOK’ by Queen Mary I. It was not because Queen Mary I was a RC that 
    Cranmer and his ilk were burnt for heresy – it is because they were condemned under ‘THE SIX ARTICLES’. Where King Henry VIII and Luther both erred was their rejection of ‘THE MASS’ as ‘sacrifice’. Luther and King  Henry VIII also believed in the necessity of faith and Baptism.


  • Bwaj

    Twaddle. As for your diabolical rant against ‘self-mortification’ which hardens the body against sexual sin which leads to damnation. St. Paul was chosen by Our Lord and St. Paul tells us ‘I harden my body with blows.’

  • Bwaj

    Only low Church Anglicans who were never allowed in the CofE until Elizabethan times. The Thirty Nine Articles have never been binding on the laity and most of the clergy reject them. Anglo-Catholics definitely do as would King Henry VIII who would have burnt at the stake any Anglican who denied ‘THE OBJECTIVE REAL PRESENCE’, ‘TRANSUBSTANTIATION’, ‘PRIVATE MASSES’, ‘CLERICAL CELIBACY’ etc.,. In fact Henry VIII stated there were three Sacraments – Baptism, the Eucharist and Penance. ‘THE THIRTY NINE ARTICLES’ in fact does not reject that there are seven Sacraments but claims erroneously only two came from Our Saviour in the Gospel. In fact there are three direcr Sacraments commanded verbally in the Gospels – Baptism, the Eucharist and Penance. Holy Unction is referred to in Mk:6.13 and Jms:5.14-15, however, some Christians refuse to accept a Sacrament as a Sacrament unless Our Saviour commanded it verbally in the Gospels. They forget Our Lord did not Ascend to Heaven until forty days after His Resurrection and after this the Church , from Pentecost, would be guided by the Holy Spirit.  

  • Bwaj

    The Orthodox reject Papal infallibility and the Papal primacy as ‘ultra-traditionalists’ understand it . In the early Church the Pope was ‘first among equals’. Rome held first place and the Pope honourary position by Divine decree as Successor of St. Peter. Orthodox Christians also accept the Creeds and the first Seven Oecumenical Councils. So do the Old Catholic Churches, many Anglican Churches and the Lutheran Churches. Like the Catholic Church, the Orthodox and Old Catholic Catholic Churches, all accept seven Sacraments, TRANSUBSTANTIATION and the sacrifice of the Mass. Anglo-Catholic Anglicans, both in the Anglican Communion and after their conversion to the visible Catholic Church, have always accepted Papal infallibility and the Papal primacy as Rome teaches it. Not only now as Catholics, but, before their conversion when they were Anglican ‘High Church Anglicans’ or ‘Anglo-Catholics’ accepted the Creeds, the first Seven Oecumenical Councils (in many cases all the Councils of the Catholic Church), all seven Sacraments, the objective REAL PRESENCE of Our divine Saviour in the Eucharist, the sacrifice of the Mass offered for the living and the dead, TRANSUBSTANTIATION, Eucharistic Adoration, Benediction, Stations of the Cross, Marian devotions including the Rosary, the Angelus, Regina Caeli etc.,. Praying for the souls in Purgatory.

  • Bwaj

    It is clear from the way you write you are lacking in Christian charity. A person lacking in charity (i.e. love) can not be a Christian and especially not a Catholic. St. Augustine tells us this.

  • Ben Trovato

    I notice I am now ‘Ben’ and no longer ‘Trovato’.  Do I conclude that you no longer find my ‘arrogance disgusting’?
    As for clearing (do you mean clarifying?) my beliefs, I do not think they were ever unclear – only misrepresented.

    Not sure how the rest of what you wrote replies to what I wrote, but for the record…

    Luther, of course, called the Mass all manner of abusive things: he was explicitly rejecting Catholic doctrine on several points and inventing his own.  He also appropriated Catholic vocabulary to mean different things, which is one of the causes of today’s misunderstandings.

    As for Henry, he rotated according to his passions.

  • Ben Trovato

    I wish we could claim the credit for correcting a misguided policy, but I think it has far more to do with a truly intelligent and holy Pope.

  • Mark Rowland


    I’m not going to take the sacred space point much further, other than to say I think that does beg the question of the issue of holding concerts in Catholic churches which I think someone raised elsewhere.

    Methodists as a whole have a wide range of belief on the nature of the Eucharist. John and Charles Wesley had a very rich theology of it which was heavily in the debt of the early church and the teachings of the Fathers. They do indeed articulate a notion of Eucharistic sacrifice in terms of participation in the sacrifice of calvary although not, I don’t think, in quite the terms of the Council of Trent. I like to quote John Wesley’s letter of December 30, 1745 in which he said “We believe there is, and always was, in every Christian Church (whether dependent on the Bishop of Rome or not) an outward priesthood, ordained by Jesus Christ, and an outward sacrifice offered therein by men authorised to act as ambassadors of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” In his preface to the Hymns on the Lord’s Supper entitled “The Christian sacrament and sacrifice” he says,”All comes to this (1) that the sacrifice in itself can never be repeated; (2) that nevertheless, this Sacrament, by our remembrance, becomes a kind of sacrifice, whereby we present before God the Father that precious Oblation of His Son once offered. And thus do we every day offer unto God the meritorious sufferings of our Lord, as the only sure ground whereon God may give, and we obtain, the blessings we pray for.” Today, sadly, many Methodists would be unaware of these words and some would want to distance themselves from them. One of my hopes for our mutual dialogue is that it might allow us to recover the richness of this Wesleyan teaching. Bishop Michael Evans in his article on Methodist Catholic relationships “Called to be Holy” refers to it “Although [the Hymns on the Lord's Supper] do not express fully the teaching of either Methodists, or Catholics on the Eucharist, we have much to learn together from what Charles teaches about sharing in Christ’s Sacrifice, and the special presence of Christ in our sacrament.”

    I know a few Methodists who genuflect. As one of them I don’t think it inappropriate, but it is only a minority of us.

    There is clearly much work to be done before we can be visibly united in one communion of faith, mission and sacramental life. The risk it seems to me is that we both write each other off. There are plenty of Methodists who see these events as a sign that there is no point engaging in dialogue and seeking mutual understanding with the Catholic Church. Having been reading some of the blogosphere, it’s clear there are Catholics who would see little point in dialogue with Methodists. The mutual enrichment of which Bl John Paul II spoke is very much needed but it’s not an easy path.

  • Andrew Wood3

    Some days ago there was an entry by Tcmulvihill. A well articulated response by an ‘ordinary’ Catholic woman who was thinking about leaving the Church. Did anyone of you ask or try convincing her to stay? No, not one of you. Perhaps her mistake was to say she was a woman? Short shrift there then!

    I’m now 62 and left the church in my teens.I only read this blog today because a Methodist colleague of mine mentioned the story about the Methodists and Liverpool Met Cathedral. Having read the arguements ,insults and a few sage words (not many really), do I regret my decision? Absolutely not! It reminded me of the medieval debate about the number of angels on a pin head. Interesting but irrelevant.

    During my life I have met many good people from all races, religions (and none). The one thing they share is goodness of thought, generouress of action. Perhaps some of the contributors here could learn from it

    And finally, using words like heretics? It may be historically and dogmatically correct but please remember words carry intent. We don’t use coloured and n****r any more and quite right to.

  • Nat_ons

    Note well: the Decree asserts only that liturgies in separation from the Roman communion are to be regarded as capable of giving access, not that they do so per se. The Anglican Orders and Rites of 1962-65 were drawing closer to Rome’s usus antiquior, having sought and received validation (in part) from the schismatic (but at that time still broadly orthodox) Old Catholic Rite(s). And hence, given the drawing together of Methodist ministry and Anglican priesthood, a Methodist liturgy conforming to its firmest orthodox and catholic expression could indeed be considered capable of an access to the community of salvation .. not that it was in any way equivalent to Catholic Mass, Hours or Devotions.

    Yet even this minimum is not the case today in most Anglican communities (although perhaps less so in more orthodox Lutheran and Methodist faith groups). That dire truth is, however, no excuse for the barbarity of the language used in regard to all such devout (but increasingly heterodox and anti-catholic) Christians by some of the I’m-Mr-Angry polemicists here .. not even if they do claim to be acting in the fullest of fidelity to the ‘usus antiquior’ with all its doctrinal basis (which respected the freedom of the Holy Ghost to move as he willed, while not compromising on the absolute character of divine Sacrament in the church catholic, and the universal demand of salvation in Church i.e. in the body under Christ’s name).

    Anyone who had his clear head on when reading the Catholic Herald in 1961 or 1966 would have understood that Council Fathers of 1962-65 were speaking of the ‘orthodoxy’ and ‘catholicism’ being expressed even then, in complete accord with what had preceded it, from Vatican I back to Trent, and beyond. It was the ‘magic circle’ looking forward to the Age of Aquarias of a wholly new world in the Spirit, at one in all faiths, religions and ideologies (as at times presented in the worst notions of the lowest common denominator available from the World Council of Churches e.g. on reproduction, sexual morality, and priestly ordination in Sacrament) which has blinded all too many to the realities of true ecumenism in catholic orthodoxy - already spelled out by Pius XI in his ‘Mortalium Animos’ (1928).

    There was no expectation whatsoever, in hope (if not in the ‘spirit-of-opinion’ mindset) or in fact, that a divorced, lesbian, marxist Lutheran, Episcopal or Non-Conformist minister may at one time - not too far off -  be celebrating a Roman approved ‘ethnic-table-service/ Clown Mass’ divine liturgy for a ‘pro-abortion/ pro-gay-marriage/ pro-ending-of catholic-schools/ hospitals/ adoption services outreach’ while in full communion with the pope (or with any sort oversight in communion with him). Neither that nor anything like it, approaching it, nor in sympathy with it was ever going to happen under Paul VI, John Paul II let alone Benedict XVI (thanks be to God) whatever else some may have enjoyed peddling to the contrary.

    God bless, Nat.

  • PamBG

    Methodist ordinations are always carried out in many places of worship near the location of Conference.  The Cathedral was not singled out and there are a number of places of worship of various denominations that are going to be used this July.

    I understand the theological problems that Catholics might have (really, I do, I studied theology with Jesuits).  I understand why the Vatican felt the need to order that the Cathedral not be used for these purposes.  I even understand why some Catholics might want to call Protestants “heretics” (one cannot be a heretic unless one is a Christian, after all).

    What I do regret, however, are the minority voices here and on other Catholic blogs which have equated non-Catholic Christians with evil-doers and the proposed hospitality that was offered as if someone had proposed breaking all the ten commandments at once.  As a Methodist minister, I have only had positive experiences on the ground with Roman Catholics in Great Britain and I’m quite sure that a lot of these heated comments and adjectives would not meet with the approval of the Vatican either.

    Thanks to all my Catholic brothers and sisters who have taken a positive stance toward the proposal and thanks to all who have disagreed with courtesy and a temperant tone. 

  • Harper

    That the Archbishop should have extended such an invitation is in itself appaling. All that has been achieved is a feeling on the Methodist side of insult. This would have been avoided had Archbishop Kelly thought before he acted. In all Christian charity, it was completely wrong to suggest that any Catholic Church would be suitable for a non-Catholic ordination. That a lay Catholic like myself should know this, but not- apparently- the Archbishop of Liverpool demonstrates how the teaching knowledge and authority hierarchy has deteriorated. Good and charitable ecumenical relations is one thing, but the dying out of the 1960s tambourine generation cannot come fast enough. Perhaps one day, several hundreds of years hence, when the current cathedral has fallen down due to design failures, Lutyens great Cathedral will be built on the foundations he laid. I for one will be delighted from beyond the grave!

  • Gregmurphy

    Which particular mitre, Fr K?

    The “Santa Mitre” red one, as lined with white cotton wool around the edges to achieve a fake seasonal snow effect, as decorated on the hanging tassels with gold Christmas baubles to complete the whole festive look, as sported, on his episcopal throne no less, at the Nativity Midnight Mass of 2009 (which, suspiciously, didn’t reappear for the televised equivalent in 2010)?

    Yes, I did say Santa. Not a mispelling, though I know what you’re thinking.

  • Rev.David Griffiths

    As a Methodist Minister I find many of the comments in these blogs both sad and hurtfurl, and would like to comment on this blog in particular, since it contains several inaccuracies.

    All who are baptised in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are primarily baptised into Christ, and not one particular denomination of the Christian Church. As a Christian with a particular kind of Roman Catholic understanding of the Sacrament of Baptism, you may not agree with this, but if, for some reason, you wished to transfer to, say, the Methodist Church, your Baptism within the Roman Catholic Church would not present any problem because you have already been baptised “into Christ.” I am sure that would be equally the case if I felt led to become a Roman Catholic.

    Over the last 46 years or so I have worked in this country and West Africa alongside colleagues who have been Roman Catholic priests, some of whom have seen no difference whatsoever in our ordination to ministry within the Christian Church, other than how we function, and the Church authorities to who we have been accountable. In the end we have all been accountable to Christ. Others have made it very clear by word or attitude that their particular ordination to ministry was ‘a cut above’! Yet other have painfully accepted the differences thrust upon us by the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, and longed and prayed for these to be changed.

    The “One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” does NOT refer to the Roman Catholic Church, but to the whole of Christ’s Church, militant and triumphant, who are accountable to Him. Peter’s Great Declaration of Faith in Matthew 16 verses 13 to 19 did NOT mark the foundation of the Roman Catholic Church. It was an affirmation of faith by a particular disciple and apostle of Christ who still had a long way to go. It was his declaration upon which Christ built His Church, and not the fisherman.

    If our unity in Christ is to be found in our unity within the Bishop of Rome, what does that have to say about the Church’s unity over the centuries under those popes whose characters have been far less savoury that the present pontiff?

    Ultimately our faith as Christians is not rooted upon a series of doctrinal and credal statements and beliefs, but acknowledging Jesus as Saviour and Lord, and working this out in our daily living. We all do well, whatever Christian denomination to which we belong, to heed the words of St.Paul in his Letter to the Christians in Philippi when he wrote that there is not difference whatsoever between those who recognize Jesus as Saviour and Lord, for we are all one in Him.

    And didn’t Jesus say something about loving one another as much as we love ourselves? How can we say we do this when we read some of the hurtful things in these blogs?

    This applies to our ordination to Christian ministry as well, regardless of denomination.

    David Griffiths (‘Retired’ Methodist Minister)

  • Gregory

    This “door closing” is rather sad, I agree. For example, Extraordinary Form Masses in accordance with Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae are celebrated in the Metropolitan Cathedral. But only privately. The doors to the laity are not allowed to be opened. Nor are such Masses to be publicised i.e.the times, precise locations etc.

    Yes, very sad. So let’s see. Methodist ceremonies – allowed (by Liverpool but not by Rome). The Ancient Mass – disallowed (by Liverpool but not by Rome). Can anyone spot the pattern here?

    Still, as I type, there are many protestant schoolchildren in Liverpool who are currently gearing-up for their “High School Prom” event (yuck) to be held at…tadaaa, the Metropolitan Cathedral Crypt which will fling its doors wide open for such fun. Oh, but it’s okay, don’t worry, because the thumping disco and general adolescent capers (n.b. but there won’t be any alcohol allowed because the young ones in attendance will all be under 17 and, in any case, Liverpool’s youngsters have no ability to smuggle booze and other substances beyond their teachers’ noses, so thankfully they will all be on their lily-white best behaviour – phew) will all be taking place at least 40 yards away from the tabernacle housing the Blessed Sacrament, which will be beyond a closed door (those closed doors again!) and in a designated party area which apparently isn’t deemed “sacred”. Amazing, really, and quite handy actually, that there are just so many expansive spaces within the inner precincts of the Metropolitan Cathedral and its Crypt that, it seems, were never to be regarded as “sacred”. Truly Lutyens was a visionary!

  • Ben Trovato


    You are of course free to assert your beliefs: that does not make them binding on me.  

    You say: “All who are baptised in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are primarily baptised into Christ, and not one particular denomination of the Christian Church.”  But I (and the Catholic Church) believe there is only One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.  We do not believe in several denominations of that Church, but rather in that Church and those who are to a greater or lesser extent in relationship with it.

    You may disagree with the foundation of the Petrine office, but there are good scriptural and traditional grounds for believing in it, in the way we Catholics do.

    So we disagree – but that does not mean we cannot be in charity with each other.  It might, however, mean that actions that imply a greater level of agreement than exists (such as allowing ordinations we do not recognise as valid in our sacred sanctuary) would be inappropriate.

  • Randall E. Winn

    What is the nature of the “confusion” of which you speak?

    Do you really think that the doctrine of Apostolic Secession is weakened by recognizing that Protestants exist, and even have clergy?

    Frankly, your faith seems weak.

  • Randall E. Winn

    If the issue is the line of Peter, it is noteworthy that Peter was a married man
    8:14-15; Mk 1:29-31; Lk 4:38-39)
    Institutions that deny Popes the ability to marry must be heretical. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get along.

  • Randall E. Winn

    “…we wrote and compiled the Bible in the first place”

    Uhm, no. That Council preceeded the Catholic/Protestant split, so each side of that split can legitimately claim equal shares in that worthy effort.

  • Nick

    “> “Institutions that deny Popes the ability to marry must be heretical.”

    Sorry, that was very weak logic. You have to study the difference between  doctrine and discipline.
    It seems you don’t even understand the meaning of the world “heretical”.

  • Nick

    > “That Council preceeded the Catholic/Protestant split, so each
    side of that split can legitimately claim equal shares in that worthy
    effort.  ”

    No, only the side that maintained continuity with the primitive Church – in apostolic succession, and in  keeping their faith. By the way, our side is the one who still _cares_ about  faith and doctrine. Many Protestant communities have already succumbed to relativism and sentimentalism – they disagree on Bible interpretation with each other, but think it simply doesn’t matter. And without a Magisterium, they can only splinter and splinter and splinter – there are already 30000 protestant communities and these days even pop stars form their own “churches”.

    I suggest you study the ancient Church Fathers and see how was the early Church. It was organized, hierarchical and sacramental.

    I suggest the book “Rome, sweet Home” by Scott Hahn.

  • Parasum

    Matthew 23 does not exactly suggest that Jesus thought love was important. No-one has used the savage & insulting language found in that chapter. Not many Christians would allow themselves to speak of others as a “synagogue of Satan”, as Revelation does.

  • Parasum

    The document completely ignores the serious differences between Catholics & Methodists. This is fair to neither body.

    “How can we bring the Gospel to the people of today, as the first Christians, St. Felix and other missionaries were able to achieve inspired by the Holy Spirit?”

    St. Felix was a Catholic Christian – not a generic Christian, not a Methodist.  Arius was a Christian – but a heretic as well. There can be no communion between heretic and Catholic. Baptists shatre some grounmd with Muslims – but they are scarcely going to co-operate in preaching the prophetic status of Jesus. St. John is very severe in Revelation against those whom he calls “antichrists”, apparently for denying the Incarnation. Friendship with & graciousness to other Christians is entirely desirable – but co-operation in what affects the contents of the Faith, such as the bishop appears to want, is out of the question.

    “Together we are sent forth to proclaim the Good News to all creation and
    to make disciples of all nations, including the individuals with whom
    we share our lives.”

    False – the Church whom Christ called together has that mission, but Christ sent forth no heretic Apostles. They were united, as Acts 2 says – not separated. However unintentionally, the bishop’s words are all too likely to mislead people. 

    Is Jesus Christ active outside the Catholic Church ? Certainly – otherwise no one could be converted. But He has one Bride, not 80 or 800. Not all forms of friendship are equally intimate – there is a relation between God & His Church, which is not the relation between God and those who are not in His Church. *Not* because of the Church, but because Christ is faithful to her.

    The logic that justifies ignoring the differences between Catholics & Methodists also justifies ignoring the differences between Methodists & Jews, Methodists & members of other religions, & Methodists & atheists. Conversely, if it is “bigoted” or “parochial” to insist on the God-given Uniqueness, Holiness, Catholicity, & Apostolicity of the Church in union with the Pope of Rome, Benedict XVI (and those are  widespread objections); it is equally  “bigoted” or “parochial” to insist that a crucified Palestinian Jew is the Unique Saviour of mankind. The Uniqueness of the Church is a result of the Uniqueness of the Lord of the Church; they are the same Uniqeness.  So if Methodists – & many other Christians – are untroubled by holding one “parochial”  doctrine about Christ, how can Catholics be criticised for going a step further, and holding another as well ?

  • Ben Trovato


    I beg you to look again at Matthew 16.  When Our Lord said ‘You are Peter’ what was going on?  He was giving Simon a new name.  When God names something, it has an effect: calling something into being or into its true nature.  Consider: ‘Let there be light: and there was light;’ and the naming of Abraham.  For ‘My Word does not return to me empty…’

    So God-made-man names Simon, Peter, a word meaning rock; and in his next breath says ‘and on this rock I will build my church.’  How could he not be talking to and about Peter at this moment.  What would be the point of re-naming him ‘Rock’ and then using rock to specify something else, not previously referred to.  And he continues: ‘And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’  The smbolism of keys is clear: the keyholder is one trusted, who can allow or deny access; Our Lord spells out the power of the keys: ‘Whatever you loose on earth…’

    Note ‘you’ throughout” Our Lord is addressing Simon, the Rock.

    Of course Simon then fell, denying his Lord three times; and this led to the three-fold re-confirmation of office: ‘Feed my sheep.’

    So your point about regrettable Popes adds nothing to the argument.  We know that the office does not protect the Pope from personal sin: it is a gift to the Church, not to the individual.  The astonishing thing is that, despite some very dodgy Popes, none has departed in his formal teaching office from the teachings of the apostolic Church.  For, as Christ promised, ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against her’ (the Church).

    To suggest that the Rock is not Peter seems to me to  straining the text to make it fit your belief, rather than allowing the Word to shape your belief. Perhaps that is why Protestantism, ultimately, does not work: each person interpreting the Bible differently…

  • Mark Rowland

     “There can be no communion between heretic and Catholic.”

    It would seem that you reject the teaching of your own church:

    “[People] who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in
    communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is
    imperfect.” (from Unitatis Redintegratio)

  • Desdaly

    Reverend Griffiths, please forgive the narrowminded arrogance of my fellow Romas Catholics, and may God forgive us.

    Father Desmond Daly

  • Harper

    AgingPapist “The Orthodox Church must replace Rome”. What planet do you live on? If you think the (R) Catholic is unecumenical and “non-inclusive” towards other Christians, women etc, familiarise yourself with their policies. You are in for a shock.

  • Parasum

    “It reminded me of the medieval debate about the number of angels on a pin head. Interesting but irrelevant.”

    Like more than a few things “everyone knows” about the “Middle Ages”, that’s a myth.

    “The one thing they share is goodness of thought, generouress of action.”[sic]

    Unfortunately, there a lot of very “good” who are anti-Christian, *because* they are good. Goodness is no substitute for having the true faith. “The virtues of the heathen are but splendid vices”. rtue & faith should go together.

    The word “heretic” is justifiable, because there is such a thing as heresy, and to spread is deliberately it is an atrocious crime. AIDS doesn’t damn the soul – but heresy can.

  • Lee

    Dispose this man. To even think of lending what is nothing more than a severely comprimised but still Catholic Cathedral to heretics deserves severe rebuking. Does anyone think they could have done this in the days of St Pius V or St Pius X, The Lord Forbid !!!

  • Lee

    Are you an Anglican because I was and I can tell you that the Anglican definition of ‘Catholic’ is nowhere near the definition held by orthodox and neither Catholics. The fact that there are ‘differing strands’ in Anglicanism which add, remove, change or just omit entire segments of Canons in Mass or in church readings. The Thirty Nine Articles are highly ambiguous because they were formulated in such a way so as to appease the puritanical heretics and those who were still closet Catholics. I think you need to look at The Thirty-Nine articles properly.

  • Rev.David Griffiths

    Thank you, my friend. I realise that the hurtful comments in these blogs are not representative of many other Roman Catholic sisters and brothers in Christ, both in the priesthood and amongst the laity.
     David Griffiths

  • Rev.David Griffiths

    Sorry Ben, I do find being told that I am free to assert my beliefs rather patronising. Of course they are not binding upon you, but then, neither are your beliefs binding upon me,. You quite rightly write about the need to be in charity with one another. Our Lord uncompromisingly declared that the world with only know that we are His disciples when we love one another. But that love becomes strained when those who testify to His Lordship in our lives question whether or not those with whom we disagree on doctrinal matters really do belong to Christ and His Church.

    I have no problem whatsoever acknowledging that the Pope is the head of the Roman Catholic Church. I do hope and pray that the day will come when you and others who express similar views will recognize that all who own Jesus as Saviour and Lord belong to the Church Universal, both militant and triumphant, are one in Him. It does not matter whether we are Orthodox, Catholic (of the Roman Variety), or Protestant in its many forms. What matters is that we belong to Christ, and if we belong to Him, we belong to one another.
    Sounds pretty scriptural to me.
    Blessings to you and yours,
    David Griffiths

  • Rev.David Griffiths

    Christ described Simon as ‘the Rock’, but it was upon the rock of  his Great Confession that the Lord built His Church.

    Read your New Testament again and you will discover that it is Christ who is the Head of the Church, and it is Him to whom we are all ultimately accountable, not frail human beings.

    David Griffiths

  • Ben Trovato

    No Christian denies that Christ is the head of the Church.  That is not the issue.  

    However, your continued assertion “Christ described Simon as ‘the Rock’, but it was upon the rock of  his Great Confession that the Lord built His Church,” without any justification or explanation, and apparently in direct conflict with the clear meaning of the passage in the Gospel simply baffles me.  You have not addressed any of the points I raised in discussing this passage: if I am mistaken show me where – but simply to reassert your statement does not really advance the discussion.