Diocese of Clifton: “liberal in the best sense of the word”

Damien Thompson of Telegraph.co.uk has a very interesting piece about how the older form of Mass is getting traction in the Diocese of Clifton, in England.  A good point is made: "By allowing the Pope’s wishes to be implemented naturally, without interfering, he is showing that he is liberal in the best sense of the word."


I never thought I’d say this, but three cheers for Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton, two of whose parishes have begun celebrating the ancient Latin Mass five times a week, including on Sundays.

The Latin Mass has returned to Clifton

St Augustine’s Downend in Bristol and St George’s Warminster now offer the Extraordinary Form of Mass (formerly the Tridentine Mass) as a direct response to Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio this summer. The bishop sees no problem with this – and good for him. Will other bishops follow his lead?

Fr Alexander Redman, the parish priest of St Augustine’s, told me the news via Facebook yesterday. And here is the evidence on his parish website. The 1962 Missal is used for the early Mass on Sundays.

It’s interesting that the Bishop of Clifton has a reputation as one of the Church’s more liberal (not to say Left-wing) bishops. By allowing the Pope’s wishes to be implemented naturally, without interfering, he is showing that he is liberal in the best sense of the word.

Now we need to know whether other dioceses are following the Clifton example. As I reported the other day, the Bishop of Leeds, Arthur Roche, has written an ill-advised letter implying that he wants to restrict the use of the traditional Missal – something he does not actually have the power to do.

The point is this: if two parishes in a diocese as small as Clifton have spontaneously adopted the Extraordinary Form, then there must be many more parishes in dioceses the size of Birmingham or Southwark that would like to do the same.

Please keep me informed, either by posting here or sending an email to editorial@catholicherald.co.uk. We need to find out exactly what is happening on the ground.


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  1. Bernard says:

    Miracles are happening, graces are flowing. Please God this will happen quicker than we thought.

  2. I’ve just visited the parish website of St. Augustine’s via the link provided by Father Z.

    I was very taken with the parish announcement :
    “From the Feast of The Holy Cross, the Roman rite will breathe through both lungs.”

    I don’t I’ve seen it put better than that.
    Congratulations, Father Redman.
    God bless you always.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I live in this diocese. Prinknash Abbey (near Gloucester, an hour north) probably has some influence on liturgical tradition (the Abbot noted that the TLM has the largest number of under-30s for them on Sundays). The Latin Mass Society came to the Cathedral back in June for a Saturday 1pm Low Mass, but I don’t know how it was received (it was advertised). I’m not a TLM fan (my first experience was with a clickety-clack priest in Arizona, who got through the three “Domine, non sum dignus” in the time I could manage but one), but I might go to Downend some day.

  4. LeonG says:

    Prinknash Abbey is essentially Novus Ordo. However, with some help from another unnamed traditional organisation there has been interest shown there by priests of its rapidly declining community in celebrating The Latin Mass once again. It is down from about 40 monks or so in the early 1960s to an ageing 14 or so today.

    Perhaps The Latin Mass may save Prinknash from its absolute decline and eventual closure. The post-Vatican II & NO experiment has been a disaster there. Recently, they have left their vast modern monastery building for their former historical hunting lodge where they were once a thriving and youthful community.

    Where Bishop Declan Lang is concerned from what we can assess he would welcome almost anything, so this liberal weakness could well help in a diocesan liturgical restoration and stimulate his personal interest in the process. I will pray that one day whenever people who are interested in the Gregorian tradition address the Bishop of Clifton for a recommendation, he will refer them to a renewed Prinknash Abbey that has rediscovered its traditional liturgies and holy office in Latin, as former bishops of Clifton used to do. The loss of this has been painfully felt by many of us who have close associations with this Subiaco Benedictine Community.

  5. la mamma says:

    I’m happy to hear that Prinknash may be on the road to recovery. Though I live in Clifton, I’ve only been there once, hoping to find another Pluscarden (re-established by members of the Prinknash community in 1948 and flourishing) but ’twas not to be. It just seems to be common sense, doesn’t it, to look at success in the Church and think, ‘so what are they doing right? How can we emulate that?’ And so, perhaps Prinknash could look to her daughter, Pluscarden and find what? Gregorian chant, sung traditionally in Latin.

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