The first Roman Catholic bishop in House of Lords since 16th century

From The Times:

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor set to be first Roman Catholic bishop in House of Lords since 16th century

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67 Responses to The first Roman Catholic bishop in House of Lords since 16th century

  1. Father Bartoloma says:

    I think that they should uninvite him at the last minute and invite Archbishop Burke instead.

  2. Romulus says:

    Fr. Blake wonders if CMOC’s new prominence will cast a shadow on his successor as chief spokesman for the Church in Britain. He seems to wonder also if this is an intentional bid to create a rivalry between the two.

  3. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    I have always thought that, despite huge leadership problems, +Cormac is, at heart, a good man. He will, therefore, hopefully turn down any offer to the Lords. Besides, would he sit as a Lord Spiritual or as a Lord Temporal who just happens to be a bishop?

    It would be disasterously divisive for the Catholic Church in England if he accepted. Who would speak for the Church? Lord Cormac or the future Archbishop? Reporters would simply interview their man or try to play the Archbishop and Emeritus against each other. Retirement from public life would be best, perhaps to a monastery.

    So far this is all hypothetical, and I remain sure that +Cormac will make the right decision. I do not mean to judge him before anything has happened.

  4. Geoffrey says:

    We should all try and be happy about this historic news; perhaps it will be a good penance for this first Friday in Lent! :-)

  5. O'Neill says:

    Besides, would he sit as a Lord Spiritual or as a Lord Temporal who just happens to be a bishop?

    A Lord Temporal. Lords Spiritual are only 26 bishops of the established Church of England. They do not carry the title of Baron (Lord). Even retired English Anglican bishops sit as Lord Temporals, as do bishops of other Anglican Churches (Lord Eames of the Church of Ireland, for example).

  6. Fr Edward says:

    What about Canon 285 section 3?

  7. Mike says:

    I suppose it’s somewhat better than the Rev. Ian Paisley in terms of protecting the Catholic Church’s interests, but not by much….

  8. Augustine says:

    The Cardinal himself won’t matter too much. It will be a foot in the door for the Catholic Church.

    Sadly I fear this may just be another ridiculous Brownite attempt to curry favour with disaffected Catholics. The traditional Catholic vote to for the socialists has been diminishing for the last ten years. This is a gimmick, as was talk of reforming the Act of Succession; nothing is going to change too soon…

  9. John Enright says:

    Fr. Edward:

    The section you cited says:

    §3. Clerics are forbidden to assume public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power.

    Any way you cut it, the House of Lords really doesn’t exercise civil power.

  10. Luigi says:

    Fr. Edward: What about Canon 285 section 3?

    My thoughts exactly, Fahter. Although it would have taken some digging to supply the appropriate canon. And a Cardinal no less. Hmmm… What say you, Fr. Z?

    Father Bartoloma: I think that they should uninvite him at the last minute and invite Archbishop Burke instead.

    LOL! The Fathers are sharp today.

  11. Dominic says:

    The present Labour Government has shown it is dismissive of Catholic concerns on the most important moral matters: abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, euthanasia (the law on which has been weakened by the Mental Capacity Act), same-sex partnerships, adoption, marriage, etc. The Church’s position has been voiced clearly; Gordon Brown, like Tony Blair, has rejected it.

    There is no point in Cardinal Murphy O’Connor becoming a Cardinal. It will not serve the causes that Catholics are concerned about one iota. It is a cynical gesture towards Catholics from a Government that rejects Catholic moral principles but wants to curry favour.

    Cardinal Murphy O’Connor should have put this into touch as soon as the idea was raised. Surely Pope Benedict will.

  12. Simon Platt says:

    The House of Lords does exercise civil power. It exercises power pretty much the same way as the Commons does. Peers are members of Parliament with similar powers to MPs’. The Lords makes law, and holds the government to account in much the same way as the Commons does.

  13. Paolo says:

    Can someone explain how a Cardinal, a prince of the Blood, can possibly sit among his inferiors?

  14. Dominic says:

    Sorry, I meant to say there is no point in Cardinal Murphy O’Connor becoming a member of the House of Lords. I thought that I should clarify that in case others thought I intended to say what I did, lol :-)

  15. O'Neill says:

    The Bishop of Urgell is ex officio head of the Andorran state.

  16. Mark M says:

    John Enright:

    Even if we believe that the House of Lords is powerless, kowtowing to the Commons, etc., the fact is that as a matter of law it is a public office, which does exercise a degree of control over civil life. I therefore understand this to be incompatible with CIC 285§3, no matter how much good a Catholic Bishop could do there.

    O’Neill:

    Yes, but that’s simply titular, isn’t it? Does he ever do anything to exercise executive power?

  17. Dell says:

    That could prove problematic. Which would be the Catholic leader and voice of England and Wales – The Archbishop of Westminster or the Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster?

  18. John Enright says:

    Simon Platt:

    Sorry, but the Lords are not equivalent to MPs in virtually any aspect. Their positions are mostly for show. Their assent is not necessary for legislation; they only have the power to delay implementation thereof. Even now, Lords no longer wields judicial power since the institution of the Supreme Court.

  19. Simon Platt says:

    … but surely the Archbishop of Westminster is not the catholic leader & voice etc. – just the most prominent and, if a cardinal, senior catholic in the land. Important – but not as important as all that.

    And presumably Card. Murphy-O’Connor will still be that, at least until his successor is made a cardinal, whether or not he sits in the Lords.

  20. O'Neill says:

    “but surely the Archbishop of Westminster is not the catholic leader & voice etc. – just the most prominent and, if a cardinal, senior catholic in the land.”

    Surely he’s equal with the Cardinal Primates of Scotland and Ireland.

  21. Simon Platt says:

    Dear John,

    I’m afraid you’re wrong. The circumstances in which the Lords can be constitutionally overuled are very limited and and very time consuming. The Lords have considerable power, especially over legislation.

    The Supreme Court point is irrelevant here. When this comes about it will separate out some of the work of the Lords in which the Cardinal, were he ennobled, would not participate in any event.

    Interested readers can find out about the work of the House of Lords here: http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/HoLwork.pdf

  22. Prof. Basto says:

    Any way you cut it, the House of Lords really doesn’t exercise civil power.

    I disagree. Canon 285 §3 does indeed come into play here.

    The House of Lords is one of the Houses of Parliament, even if it has less powers than the elected House of Commons. As a member of the House of Lords, Card. O’Connor will have a voice and a vote in all parliamentary proceedings in that House, including votes on bills, resolutions, etc.

    Several statutory instruments require the approval of both Houses of Parliament. The House of Lords gets to vote on all bills except money bills. Yes, its objection to the passing of a bill can be overriden under the procedure created by “Parliament Acts”, but only in the subsequent yearly session of Parliament. And only a few bills were ever passed over the objection of the Lords. So the approval or disapproval of a bill in the Lords does carry weight. Also, in the last session of a Parliament, it is impossible to use the procedure of the “Parilament Acts”, so rejection by the Lords kills a bill.

    So, Card. O’Connor should either decline the appointment, or accept the peerage title and apply for a permanent leave of absence under the Standing Orders of the House of Lords (in effect disclaiming his right to sit and vote in the House) or ask for a special dispensation from the Pope

  23. Simon Platt says:

    Dear O’Neill,

    Sorry. You’re quite right. Of course.

  24. TNCath says:

    This does not sound like a good idea to me at all. Aside from the obvious inclusion of a member of the clergy in politics, it also muddies the waters of the division between the Anglican “established church” and the Catholic Church. Moreover, wouldn’t this be seen as a sort of “victory” for the Anglicans that they have a Roman Catholic bishop in “their” camp? I see opposition to this idea from both sides of the fence and hope the Pope won’t allow it to happen.

  25. scholastic says:

    Could he in good conscience do it? There is a reason no bishop has been in the House of Lords for 400 years. I can’t believe Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor could do that.

  26. Michael (UK) says:

    I would welcome +CMOC joining the House of Lords. Once we have got over the current ill-tempered in-fighting within the Church and have got back to simply being Catholic Christians then I think we’ll all be glad to have a Catholic voice in the Lords.

    Michael (England)

  27. Tecumseh says:

    I wonder if he will say mass there. Not the traditional mass, that will never do, he\’s more the bells and whistles type. Although that might wake up the old Buffers who lye sleeping in the Lords waiting for their \”expenses\” to be paid.

  28. Jon Streep says:

    *I wonder if he will say mass there. Not the traditional mass, that will never do, he’s more the bells and whistles type. Although that might wake up the old Buffers who lye sleeping in the Lords waiting for their “expenses” to be paid.*

    You don’t like anyone, do you??

  29. veritas says:

    Is it right that an unelected repositry for the present and former Prime Ministers’ friends and cronies should be given some legitimacy by the addition of a Cardinal?

  30. Richard says:

    How would he vote on abortion – especially in the wake of the disaster he made at the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth?

  31. Richard says:

    It is nonsense to say that ther is not already a Catholic voice in the Lords. There are several lay Catholics in the Lords who make the voice a good deal more heard than the English bishops. Take for instance Lord Alton.

  32. Simon-Peter says:

    Is that even legal?

    I hope not. I’d rather my bishops didn’t make laws, especially considering the dubious constitutional status of the upper house in the UK at the moment. I’m sure it would do much more harm than good…and for what? A title? No thanks.

    And I wholly agree with this undermining his successor. His Eminence should retire from media life, I’m sure he has some good books to write too.

  33. Andrew says:

    Were the Cardinal to be created a Baron for Life, in accordance with the Life Peerages Act 1963, he would take his seat in the House of Lords as a Lord Temporal. The only Lords Spiritual are those 26 Anglican bishops who are Members of the House of Lords; they lose their membership when they resign. The peerage of the Lords Temporal is inalienable, and could only be removed by Act of Parliament.

    Although it is the Upper House, the House of Lords’ powers are limited vis-a-vis the House of Commons. It cannot hold up a money bill for more than one month, or any other bill introduced in the Commons which was passed by the Commons in two successive sessions, provided that two years elapsed between Second Reading of the bill and its final passing in the Commons – with the exception of a bill to prolong the life of a Parliament, which it can refuse to pass (this is actually a very important clause, because it is a bulwark against tyranny).

    Hence, canon 285, 3 would apply – since by virtue of being a Member of the House of Lords, the Cardinal would be a legislator, even if he chose not to speak or vote – and so it would need to be dispensed. After all, what is the point of being a legislator if you don’t legislate? And one can imagine the uproar if a controversial bill was before Parliament, e.g., concerning human fertilisation and embtyology, and the Cardinal didn’t vote.

    According to ‘The Times’, the matter was discussed by the Holy Father and the Prime Minister last week. By virtue of canon 87, 1, the Cardinal could ask his successor as Archbishop of Westminster to dispense him, since the dispensation is not reserved to the Apostolic See. However, it would be unthinkable that this would happen without the Pontiff’s consent.

    The Cardinal would have to swear – or affirm – allegiance to the Crown, as do all Members of both Houses of Parliament, in these words: ‘I, N. N., do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.’ This is also the oath sworn by new British citizens. In the UK, there is no written constitution, so allegiance is sworn to the Crown. In response to Paolo Rodari, by virtue of his being a British citizen, the Cardinal already has a duty of allegiance to the Crown in common law, even though we don’t make a big song and dance about pledges of allegiance, etc.

    Despite the above, whether it would be appropriate to ennoble Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor is a different question.

    By the way, as much as people may want Archbishop Burke to be a life peer, he is disqualified because he is not a British, Irish or Commonwealth citizen. Sorry!

  34. Andrew says:

    Sorry, folks, before someone points it out to me, the second clause in the second sentence of the second paragraph should read ‘provided that one year elapsed between second reading of the bill and its final passing in the Commons’. Sorry.

  35. Flabellum says:

    It is sincerely to be hoped that Ruth Gledhill is as ill-informed on this as on so much else. Ma Pepinster’s report of her conversation with Gordon Brown smacks of the usual Tablet kite-flying that takes no notice of the prohibition on clerics becoming members of national legislatures, whether or not they belong to a political party.

  36. Katrina says:

    Probably someone else has already pointed this out but if CMOC is made a peer he will be the ONLY BISHOP in the House of Lords. The Anglican ‘Bishops’ are not Bishops.

  37. vox clamantis says:

    I hope the Holy See advises the Cardinal-Archbishop of Westminster that it would be inopportune for him to join the House of Lords with the same grace and courtesy that that prelate had Archbishop Burke removed as celebrant for the Latin Mass Society’s Mass at Westminster Cathedral. I rather suspect that Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor wouldn’t have sided with St. John Fisher under Henry VIII but then no other English bishop did then either. “Non omnes episcopi episcopi,” noted St. Jerome.

  38. Romulus says:

    The Bishop of Urgell is ex officio head of the Andorran state.

    I can think of another bishop who’s head of a small state.

  39. John Penta says:

    Yes, Romulus, but that one is about as special a case as they come.:)

    Andorra, though, the co-principality is part of a treaty of rather ancient origin, as I understand it – it’s a situation that’s far older than the (1983?) provision of canon law, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was grandfathered along when the 1983 CIC was implemented.

    I see Canon 285 section 3 being an issue with the Lords elevation, yes, but only insofar as it would seem to require a dispensation from the Holy See…Which, in any case, seems to be being sought by Downing Street, if this is true. That’s simply good diplomacy, whether or not +CMOC’s successor could dispense from it – The Pope is still the ultimate authority on these matters, after all, and it’s polite to check if an ennoblement would make life awkward for him.

    Whether or not it should be done? Probably. I don’t see it having a high impact, but neither was Robert Drinan necessarily the most influential of Congressmen.

  40. Prof. Basto says:

    Romulus,

    The rule is an invention of the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

    – Vatican City

    It is clearly not intended to bind the Roman Pontiff himself, since the fact that the pope as Sovereign of a State has been constantly affirmed as good and necessary to safeguard the independence of the Church’s Supreme Pastor and the liberty of the Holy See; hence it is a special case, and the Pope’s temporal rule is ultimately an aid to guarantee his freedom in the discharge of the spiritual petrine ministry.

    What is more, given that this rule is of ecclesiastical, not divine law, the Pope, who is the Supreme ecclesiastical legislator, is not bound by it. And if it is possible to argue to the contrary, it is also certain that the Pope can dispense from all laws that are not divine, but merely ecclesiastical.

    – Andorra

    The Bishop of Urgell has been ex officio head of State for centuries, a situation that was accepted by the Church after the promulgation of the 1983 Code. I don’t no if an specific exemption was formally granted, but surely, Popes can and have dispensed clerics from this rule. Since there have been several Bishops of Urgell since 1983 who were co-Princes of Andorra, and there was no opposition by the Vatican, it is safe to assume that the Vatican treats the Andorran case as a special case, and treats it as an exception to the general rule (and indeed it is a special case, since Andorra is a Catholic State that has the Bishop of Urgell, whoever he may be, always, per constitutional norm, as its ex-officio co-prince; this is a very ancient tradition, and probably it was not the intent of the 1983 legislator to force the change of that ancient status enjoyed by the Bishop of Urgell).

    – Paraguay.

    Fernando Lugo has been laicized for his insistance in becoming President of Paraguay without having obtained dispensation from Rome (the Pope denied the dispensation and Lugo ran for office anyway and won). Now that he was laicized, he is no longer a cleric and the rule does not apply.

    Will Cardinal O’Connor ask for dispensation? If not, or if one is denied and he becomes a Life Peer anyway, will he be laicized?

    The worrysome thing is that no dispensation was granted, and none seems to have been sought, and yet the press is reporting his promotion to the House of Lords as a done deal.

  41. Fr. Guy says:

    Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor’s predecessor, Cardinal Hume, was offered this same thing, to sit in the House of Lords while in office, and declined. His predecessor, Cardinal Heenan was made the same offer and declined. His predecessor Cardinal Godfrey was made a similar offer and declined. His predecessor, Cardinal Griffin was also offered this and declined.

    So, don’t get too excited gang. I doubt it will happen. It isn’t the first time the idea has been floated and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

    The senior Catholic in the House of Lords is the Duke of Norfolk and that’s as it should be.

    The Archbishop of Westminster is NOT equal to the Primates of Scotland and Ireland. They are Primates. He is not.

  42. Romulus says:

    Thanks, John and Prof. Basto. For the record, I view any move to admit CMOC to the Lords as a threat to the Church’s unity in Britain. For CMOC to accept — even with the necessary dispensation — would be intolerable for the new Archbishop. Rome must understand this. I cannot imagine the Holy Father undermining a new appointee in this manner.

  43. Prof. Basto says:

    Fr Guy,

    On precedence:

    In the House of Lords, if the Archbishop of Westminster were appointed a Life Peer, he would hold the rank of Baron (the only avaliable to life peers), and hence he would still be outranked in the order of precedence by the Duke of Norfolk.

    The “Archbishops” and “Bishops” who outrank Norfolk are the “Lords Spiritual”, a category composed solely by the 26 Anglican clergymen who have an ex officio seat in the House. Cardinal O’Connor would belong to the “Lords Temporal”, since he would sit in the House not in virtue of his See (as the 26 Anglican clergymen do), but in virtue of a peerage title.

    Of course, in the Church, O’Connor, as Cardinal and Archbishop, outranks Norfolk, a layman. But not in the precedence within the House (governed by Act of Parliament) or in the official order of precedence of England & Wales.

    Which only adds to the indignity of the proposition that Cardinal O’Connor should accept to sit in the Lords, where fake holders of the ancient sees of Canterbury, London, etc have precedent over the laity but he, the only true Bishop, wouldn’t, and would be treated as a “temporal” member by the rank of Baron, not as an Archbishop.

  44. Petrasancta says:

    “Surely he’s equal with the Cardinal Primates of Scotland and Ireland.”

    Scotland does not have a Cardinal Primate, or indeed any primate. The two metropolitan sees of Glasgow and St Andrews and Edinburgh are equal in dignity (Glasgow being “specialis filia ecclesiae Romanae”). Currently the archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh is a cardinal but then so was the last archbishop of Glasgow. Neither is answerable in any way to the other.

  45. Graham says:

    + Cormac is head of the church in England and Wales.
    + Keith is head of the church in Scotland.
    + Sean is head of the church in Ireland.

  46. O'Neill says:

    Ah, I stand corrected. So Cardinal Brady, as a Primate, would be the most senior bishop in the UK?

  47. O'Neill says:

    ….by Fr Guy and Petrasancta that is.

  48. Charivari Rob says:

    In addition to any of the “usual” questions about a priest holding civil office, doesn’t this present the potential for a member of the House of Lords voting on Papal sucession?

  49. Prof. Basto says:

    C. Rob,

    Yes. But that’s not the big question. The Cardinal would still be bound by all ecclesiastical rules in the papal election; Before 1983 it was ok. for clergyman to hold public office, even political and elective office. Under the 1917 Code and prior legislation there was no prohibition against that activity.

    Many 19th century legislators in my country were clerics. One of them was even elected president of the Chamber of Deputies of the few times during the period of the Brazilian Empire.

    Even in the 20th Century, a few priests were elected to Congress in Brazil, before the enactment of the 1983 Code.

    Cardinals Mazarin and de Richelieu were members of the Sacred College and held public office as Ministers of the King of France.

    King Henry of Portugal was a Cardinal (and was in Sacred Orders) when he succeeded to the Crown. He was a Prince and a cleric when promoted to the Sacred College. He remained Cardinal and King until his death.

    Cardinal Henry Benedict Stuart, Duke of York (a heir of the deposed King James II, who was a Catholic) claimed the Thrones of England and Scotland, and the title of King of France (Jacobite claim), and styled himself Henry IX. We would become Dean of the Sacred College, and no one tought at the time that it was innapropriate for a Cardinal Bishop to claim a Throne, because back then there was no rule against Cardinals holding public office.

    The thing is that that in the opinion of the 1983 legislator such merger of clerical life and public office was not good, was to be avoided and so Pope John Paul II created this new rule, which is now part of the laws of the Church. Under this rule, Card. O’Connor cannot become a member of the House of Lords, unless, of course, a dispensation is granted.

  50. mpm says:

    Not being European, and therefore nobility-challenged, I look at this
    from perhaps the opposite point of view as most who have posted, and
    it is this. Yes, that Bishop of a very tiny sovereign state has
    a few Princes attached to his court (curia), and I wonder if being
    one of said Princes presents a “problem” of, so to speak, “loyalty.”
    I’m only speaking theoretically — if the UK wishes to honor Cardinal M-O’C
    that’s their business.

    Any thoughts on the principle there?

  51. Flabellum says:

    If the Prime Minister (or the Monarch) wish to honour Cormac Cardinal Murphy O’Connor they have a good range of honours that can be bestowed without the complication of a life peerage. Basil Hume flatly rejected any suggestion of a life peerage; Anthony Howard (his biographer) was able to see letters from Jim Callaghan and from Margaret Thatcher offering Basil Hume a peerage and Anthony Howard also said that subsequently, in 1998, Tony Blair made a verbal offer of a peerage, which was likewise refused. However he was awarded the Order of Merit shortly before his untimely death. As with the Royal Victorian Order, the Order of Merit is in the sole gift of the Sovereign but carries no rank apart from the initials OM after the name.

  52. joy says:

    Lord Temporal-that makes him a Time Lord?

  53. Fr. Guy says:

    There is one episcopal conference for England AND WALES. However, the archbishop of Westminster is NOT the head of the Church IN WALES. Rather, Wales has its own hierarchy and its own Metropolitan Archbishop whom the Archbishop of Westminster does NOT outrank (except insofar as he may be a cardinal). The Church in England and Wales only act in conjunction when a decision is made by the episcopal conference that is comprised of the hierarchies of the two countries.

    As for Scotland, the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh is most definitely a Primatial See. According to the late Michael McCarthy’s “Heraldica Collegii Cardinalium” the primatial see of St. Andrews and Edinburgh was never revoked and is still in existence. Whereas, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Westminster is, like the Archbishop of Baltimore, simply considered a kind of “primus inter pares” because of the importance of Westminster as the senior metropolitan. McCarthy is an eminently reliable source. He did a great deal of research in compiling that book.

  54. Fr. Guy says:

    “Ah, I stand corrected. So Cardinal Brady, as a Primate, would be the most senior bishop in the UK?”

    No. He’s the Primate of All Ireland (and the Archbishop of Dublin is the Primate of Ireland) but he is not Primate of all the UK. His primacy only extends to Ireland so he’s not senior to any bishop in Scotland, England or Wales. As a Cardinal he only takes precedence (as in processions, etc.). He has no more jurisdiction because of being a cardinal and outside of Ireland he has no jurisdiction at all.

  55. John Penta says:

    Flabellum presents a neat compromise, honors-wise. The thing is that, to some extent, you need people “on the inside” who can present the Church’s case without being bound by the strictures that attach to being an active diocesan bishop, yet aren’t bound by strictures such as bind, say, the nuncio.

    In my opinion, it’s expecting too much of laypersons such as the Duke of Norfolk (or their MP counterpart) to expect them to “carry the Church’s load”. That, frankly, is the hierarchy’s job. It’s the job of a theologian…or at least a canon lawyer.

  56. Philippe says:

    This was supposed to be about a Catholic bishop but now they speak of Card. Cormac Murphy-O’Connor. I don’t understand.

  57. Flabellum says:

    I don’t think that Cardinal Hume turned these offers down lightly, or sinply out of personal humility. If he had thought it good for the Church he would have accepted, as he reluctantly accepted the call to the See of Westminster. I do not believe that the interests of the Church have changed in this regard.

  58. Petrasancta says:

    from the website of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh:

    “On the Restoration of the Hierarchy in 1878, Scotland was divided into the Province of St Andrews and Edinburgh, with a Metropolitan See and four Suffragan Sees of Aberdeen, Argyll and the Isles, Dunkeld and Galloway; and the Archdiocese of Glasgow was created, directly subject to the Holy See.”

  59. RedShirt says:

    I do remember reading at the time of Cardinal Hulme\’s death that he had discussed (obtained dispensations?) with Rome and agreed with the British Goverment (there was talk of him having signed some paperwork in hospital – not sure if this was accurate) plans for Catholic Bishops to sit in the House of Lords. Nothing ever came of it, probably because it was part of the botched and now-shelved House of Lords reforms.

  60. Adam says:

    Cardinal Murphy O’Connor’s heraldic motto is ‘Gaudium et Spes’. Given this manifest devotion to the Vatican Council, we we shouldn’t expect him accept a peerage should we?

    cf. Cardinal Ruini Secularism and the Common Good.

  61. Newminster says:

    Graham,
    Wrong! Wrong!! Wrong!!! And it really is time that we got our heads round this one. The prelates you mention are bishops in their own dioceses. They are not answerable to any other diocese and no other bishop, except perhaps their auxiliaries, is answerable to them.
    The sooner the media get this concept into their collective fat heads (if they ever do) the better. There is only one head of the Church OF England and that is the Queen and there is only one head of the Catholic Church IN England and that is the Pope. Reporters have simple minds, as do their editors, but that is no excuse for us to fall into the same trap.
    Of course it would help if we did away with these silly “Bishops’ Conferences” so beloved of our bureaucratic ecclesiasts!

  62. Michael UK says:

    It was not me gov’ – post under my name 27/02 12:34.
    However, my genuine response – never.

    Fr. Patrick Begley, in the 1950’s was a member of Carlisle City Council, he also did a bit of wheeling and dealing in second hand goods. He built a parish and two churches froma zero position. A very great priest who gave his life to Mother Church – but maligned by his inferiors ater his death – he was an ‘old-time’Catholic cleric.

  63. Flabellum says:

    I guess the Catholic Media Office at Ecclestone Square, or whatever it is now called, has never bothered to supply the media with an FAQ explaining the independence of diocesan bishops under the Holy Father, the limited powers of archbishops over their provinces, that the Archbishop of Westminster is only President of the Conference of Bishops if appointed by his peers, that a Cardinal has no additional jurisdiction, and that the Conference of Bishops cannot act independent of the Holy See.

  64. prof. basto says:

    “…and that the Conference of Bishops cannot act independent of the Holy See.”

    Although they do act independently, and that’s a disgrace.

    When they know that a document is not going to receive the recognitio of the Holy See, usually they just issue that document as a statement of the Commitees of the Conference (on Liturgy, on the Doctrine of the Faith), instead as a formal document of the plenary assembly of the Conference; or they issue it as an informal statement by the plenary assembly rather then as a formal document.

    Although not binding and not part of the Church’s law or magisterium, such informal documents end up being cited by most bishops and acted upon by them as if they had the force of official acts of the Conference approved by Rome.

    Its a disgrace.

  65. James Bogle says:

    I am surprised at the inaccuracy of some comments. Thanks to Fr Guy for putting some of them right.

    Any way you cut it, the House of Lords really doesn’t exercise civil power.

    Wrong. It has considerable civil power. For starters, peers have the right to initiate legislation. They have more opportunity to start private members bills than MPs do, who can only do so by ballot.

    a Cardinal, a prince of the Blood

    No. A Cardinal is a prince of the cloth. One is a prince of the blood by being born so.

    Which would be the Catholic leader and voice of England and Wales – The Archbishop of Westminster or the Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster?

    There are lay leaders and clerical leaders. He is a clerical leader and only one of them. Each Diocesan bishop is responsible directly to the Pope.

    One of the problems the Church currently is experiencing is that only the clergy are seen as the leaders in the Church. The lack of recognition of lay leaders has upset the delicate balance between lay and clerical that used to exist for the health of the Church.

    Yes, Romulus, but that one is about as special a case as they come.:)

    It is clearly not intended to bind the Roman Pontiff himself, since the fact that the pope as Sovereign of a State has been constantly affirmed as good and necessary to safeguard the independence of the Church’s Supreme Pastor and the liberty of the Holy See; hence it is a special case, and the Pope’s temporal rule is ultimately an aid to guarantee his freedom in the discharge of the spiritual petrine ministry.

    Andorra, though, the co-principality is part of a treaty of rather ancient origin, as I understand it – it’s a situation that’s far older than the (1983?) provision of canon law, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was grandfathered along when the 1983 CIC was implemented.

    Special cases make bad law, especially if they relate to the supreme power.

    It is a modern, post-Enlightenment, falsehood to think that those in positions of high power are somehow exempt ordinary rules. The Pope is both Supreme Pontiff/successor of St Peter AND a sovereign head of state. If he can be so then why not other clerics?

    The solution is that proper exemptions from Can 285(3) must be given and if they are unfairly and unreasonably denied then this is one of those areas where individual conscience can prevail over unjust law. We are not speaking of a dogma or a doctrine here but a minor law of convenience, chiefly aimed at hypocrites like Fr Robert Drinan SJ, the pro-abortion voting Congressman-cleric, or the quasi-Communist Liberation theology dictators like those clerics who served in revolutionary regimes in Latin America.

    It is not a canon principally directed against the Bishop of Urgell or Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor and they should be readily exempted from it. Otherwise the law would simply be unfair, unjust, hypocritical and against the good of the Church.

    It is a simple historical fact that the clergy were represented in every legislature of Christendom until the the Bonapartist revolution began to secularise Christendom. In many Christian countries they were not only legislators but were often the First Estate after the King. This was the system of government for most of the Church’s history.

    To pretend that this is contrary to some doctrine is therefore simply nonsense.

    What is more, given that this rule is of ecclesiastical, not divine law, the Pope, who is the Supreme ecclesiastical legislator, is not bound by it. And if it is possible to argue to the contrary, it is also certain that the Pope can dispense from all laws that are not divine, but merely ecclesiastical.

    It is nonsense to suggest that the Pope is not bound by any law, including law of his own making. He is bound by his own law until he changes it, otherwise the papal power would simply be lawless. He can, of course, change the law readily BUT he must do so or else he is bound by it.

    And, of course, the Pope can dispense himself, if there is a dispensing power contained in the law in question, which there is when it comes to clerics holding civil political office.

    In my opinion, it’s expecting too much of laypersons such as the Duke of Norfolk (or their MP counterpart) to expect them to “carry the Church’s load”. That, frankly, is the hierarchy’s job. It’s the job of a theologian…or at least a canon lawyer.

    This is just nonsense – and specious nonsense, at that.

    It is the job of every baptised Christina to “carry the Church’s load” – a solemn duty and obligation laid on each and every one of us who wishes to go to heaven and not to hell.

    Clericalism is NOT Catholicism.

  66. James Bogle says:

    In my previous post the 2 paragraphs after “Yes, Romulus” should ahve come out italicised since they are not mine.

    Now to the much-muddle question of the role of the laity.

    The secular laity (as distinguished from the religious laity i.e. the consecrated) have the particular task of forming the temporal order according to the mind and will of Christ.

    That is our vocation and we cannot funk it.

    There is more confusion about the role of the laity in the Church than on many another question. It is not merely to “pay, pray and obey” as some ignoramus put it. Still less is it to “hunt, shoot and entertain” as the foolish Msgr Talbot put it before he finally went insane (and don’t get me wrong – I’m all in favour of hunting, shooting and entertaining. I just don’t think it is the whole of my lay vocation).

    The relationship between the laity and the clergy is a little more complex.

    Some clerics will say, when it suits them, that we are all equally members of the Church, each with our place and function in it, and then, when it suits them, they will say but only the clergy can rule in the Church and the laity are merely foot-sloggers who must just obey.

    This kind of caricature of the respective roles is highly misleading and merely leads to movements like “We are Church” trying to democratise the Church and women wanting to be priests.

    Distinguo.

    The baptised all share in the three roles of Prophet, Priest and King and the highest of these is the role of Prophet (according to St Thomas).

    There is a further division of roles between the temporal and the spiritual. The clergy – the ministerial priesthood i.e. bishops, priests, deacons, and those in minor orders – rule over the spiritual sphere (which is the higher) and teach, govern and sanctify the Church, spiritually.

    But the Church is more than simply the clergy. It is all the baptised.

    The job of the laity is to rule over the temporal sphere of the Church which, especially in a Christian state, includes the government, the law, the forces, the bureaucracy, education and so on.

    It is our job to mould these, so far as we can, according to the mind and will of Christ and in that sense, we teach, sanctify and govern the temporal order.

    The spiritual is higher than the temporal, as the soul is to the body, but one cannot exist without the other and each co-exists in proper balance and proportion.

    The T-line model of the Church, if I may call it so, whereby the laity form an egalitarian and amorphous mass of foot-sloggers along the base line and the vertical line is that of the clerical hierarchy that rule over them is a false model.

    In some ways it resembles a neo-gnostic dictatorship of clericalist perfecti reminiscent of some of the early heresies in the Church.

    The fact that it is now a rather prominent view, particularly among bishops, may be, I suggest, one part of the reason for the mess that the Church is currently in.