Congratulations to the Diocese of Portsmouth in England

I read with interest about the appointment of the new Bishop of Portsmouth, His Excellency Most Rev. Bp.-Elect Philip Egan, vicar general of the Diocese of Shrewsbury, Vicar General of the Diocese of Shrewsbury.

I noted with additional interest that my friend the great P.P. of Blackfen, His Hermeneuticalness Fr. Tim Fingan liked the appointment, which says a great deal.  Fr. Finigan wrote, inter alia,

“Mgr Egan and I were in the same year at the English College back in the day. He is a thoroughly sound chap and I am delighted that he has been given this responsibility by the Holy Father.”

I noted with even more interest that The Bitter Pill (aka The Tablet) that they seem nervous about this new bishop:

Mgr Egan has written a book “Philosophy and Catholic Theology: A Primer” and has publicly defended Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae, the document that banned artificial contraception, describing it as infallible teaching.

Ooooo!  Imagine such a thing as upholding the Church’s teaching!  A bishop!  Perhaps we should go back to calling that weekly RU-486?

By contrast, the best Catholic weekly in the UK, The Catholic Herald, had this from the pen of William Oddie:

The choice of Mgr Philip Egan to succeed Bishop Crispian Hollis at Portsmouth is [The Nuncio] Archbishop Mennini’s first real appointment (it is generally thought that the appointment of Mgr Peter Brignall as the new Bishop of Wrexham was probably already in the pipeline), and it is a cracker. If you want an idea of Mgr Egan’s theology, you might like to look HERE at a talk he gave in 2009, on the authority of Humanae Vitae (in which he argued that its teaching was proclaimed infallibly from the ordinary Magisterium).

From his appointment, we can deduce a number of things. First, that Archbishop Mennini has considerable respect for Bishop Davies, who he clearly sees as the kind of bishop we need more of in this country: he almost certainly found out about Mgr Egan, who has so far maintained a fairly low profile, from Bishop Davies: the fact that he has followed his advice shows what kind of bishop he is now looking to appoint.

He goes on to say:

The Congregation for Bishops (which in Cardinal Marc Ouellet now has a firmly Ratzingerian prefect, who may well with this appointment be confirming that England’s problems have at last been noticed in Rome) will soon be making a good number of other episcopal appointments in England, and they will be relying on Archbishop Mennini’s advice. East Anglia is vacant; Plymouth, Brentwood and quite a few other dioceses will soon likewise be sede vacante; a good third of the dioceses of England will over the next year or so have new bishops.

And it looks as if Bp. Davies in Shrewsbury has played a role.  Also, since the Nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, is still pretty young he is not likely to “go native”.  He surely doesn’t want this to be his last job.  Moreover, Card. Ouellet is still the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and men such as Card. Burke.  Card. Murphy-O’Connor, however, turns 80 on 24 August and will no longer have a voice in the Congregation as a member.

What this appointment suggests to me is that the tide has shifted over there.  A the pieces are in place for a revolution of the English Church along the lines Pope Benedict invoked when he made his state visit and beatified John Henry Newman.

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  1. English Hermit says:

    God is good.The tide is turning here in the “showcase of vatican 2.”

  2. John UK says:

    There is a very good write-up on this appointment here:

    by Fr Hugh, O.S.B, an Ausralian monk at Douai in England.

    Kind regards,

    John U.K.

  3. Pastor Bonus says:

    God be praised! Let us pray that the Lord will give us more shepherds like this Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland, we most certainly need them.

  4. jbosco88 says:

    An interesting move – he was appointed (not ‘inherited’ by +Mark) and apparently celebrates the Extraordinary Form regularly.

    Plus, it looks like the Diocese of Shrewsbury is suffering greatly under +Mark, vocations are sky rocketing. Damn these Lock Step Sheep and Papist Throwbacks!

  5. APX says:

    is still pretty young he is not likely to “go native”.  

    Not to sound like an over-sensitive wet blanket, but perhaps there is a better way of wording that than “go native”? [No. There isn’t.]

  6. Stephen D says:

    I could almost see the drops of sweat on the Tablet piece which has the new bishop “describing Humanae Vitae as infallible teaching” as though there were some doubt in the matter!

  7. jbosco88 says:

    If it makes liberals jump from foot to foot, his appointment must be a good thing. Now wait for the intimidation to begin.

  8. Supertradmum says:

    The feedback I am getting from the English is very hopeful. The young people who know Bishop-Elect Egan are very pleased and tell me he is “solid”. Good sign.

    England has been 50 years under the cloud of liberalism in the Church and this appointment bodes well for the future. Pray for leaders. East Anglia has been vacant for a year.

    I shall refrain from less than professional comments.

  9. acricketchirps says:

    @ APX: After the end of so many years the English being a force for civilization (no; no scare quotes) in the world, the ironical usage of “go native” is perfect. Stop being an over-sensitive wet blanket.

  10. asperges says:

    Good news indeed. Perhaps now the cartel of Eccleston Square will be broken. Bp Davies (Shrewsbury) really has something about him; more of his ilk could make a real difference and shift the gear from a generally unimpressive hierarchy to something inspiring with proper leadership qualities. God knows we need it.

  11. Marianna says:

    Father, what you say here about Mgr Philip Egan sounds wonderful, but believe me, reformig this Diocese of Portsmouth will be like turning round the biggest ship ever built. For the sake of the readers’ health, I won’t even begin to describe the liturgical abuses I’ve witnessed over the years.

  12. Tantum Ergo says:

    I believe that in the interest of traditional British composure and reservation, any celebration or jubilation over the pastoral recovery of England should be expressly on the muted side.


    Sorry, I couldn’t control myself.

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