Bp. Egan’s first address as the new Bishop of Portsmouth

The other day I watched the live stream of the consecration of the new Bishop of Portsmouth, England, Most Rev. Philip Egan, who was a collaborator with the outstanding Bishop of Shrewsbury, Mark Davies.

At the end of the Mass in Portsmouth, the newly minted Bishop Egan gave a brief address that quickly had me sitting up straight.  Here is the transcript:

Dear fellow pilgrims on life’s journey, we inhabit a remarkable century, the 21st, which despite the current economic distemper, is witnessing momentous advances in every domain of human knowledge and endeavour, with new discoveries and new applications in science and engineering, in computing and cybernetics, in medicine and bio-technology, in the social sciences, arts and humanities, all of which manifest the limitless self-transcending reach of human experience, understanding and judgement and the cloud of burgeoning possibilities for human deciding, undreamt of by those who’ve gone before.
Indeed, even as we speak, Curiosity is roving among the sand-dunes of Mars, in anticipation of a manned space-voyage to the Red Planet. [I like this reference to Curiosity.  I’ll bet some of the people listening thought they were on Mars during what the Bishop says a little farther along…] With all these exhilarating developments, the Catholic Tradition must engage, the old with the new, in a mutually-enriching critical-conversation.
Yet the ordination of a Bishop, as Successor of the Apostles, in communion of mind, will and heart with the Pope, as the chief Shepherd, Teacher and High Priest of the diocese entrusted to him, who, like the Master, must lay down his life for his flock, reminds us that human needs ever remain essentially the same: [This is a mistake liberals make: they think man has evolved beyond certain things, such as humility before God.] the need to love and to be loved, the need for a purpose and vocation in life, the need to belong to family and community, the need for mercy and forgiveness, for peace and justice, for freedom and happiness, and most profoundly, the need for immortality and for the Divine.
All these fundamental desires, hard-wired into the human heart: theology expresses in the word ‘salvation,’ and we profess that every child, woman and man on this planet can find that salvation. [The goal of the Church is not to promote an earthly utopia.] There is a Way – and it’s the Truth! It’s the true Way that leads to Life, real life, life to the full, a life that never ends. There is a Way, and it’s not a strategy, a philosophy or a package-deal. This Way has a Name, because it’s a Person, the only Person in human history who really did rise from the dead, a Person alive here and now: Jesus of Nazareth, God the Son Incarnate. He alone can save us. He alone can give us the salvation our spirits crave. He alone can reveal to us the Truth about God and about life, about happiness and humanism, about sexuality and family values, about how to bring to the world order, justice, reconciliation and peace.
This message of Good News, and the civilisation of love it occasions, [v. Culture of Death] we Catholics must now communicate imaginatively, with confidence and clarity, together with our fellow Christians, and all people of faith and good will, to the people of England, this wonderful land, Mary’s Dowry. We must offer this salvific message to a people, sorely in need of new hope and direction, disenfranchised by the desert of modern British politics, wearied by the cycle of work, shopping, entertainment, and betrayed by educational, legal, medical and social policy-makers who, in the relativistic world they’re creating, however well-intentioned, are sowing the seeds of a strangling counterculture of death.
My brothers and sisters, today, the Feast of Our Lady of Ransom, of England’s Nazareth, let’s go forth from this Mass with joyful vigour, resolved in the Holy Spirit, to help bring about the conversions needed – intellectual, moral and spiritual – for everyone-we-meet to receive Jesus Christ, the Gospel of Life…. Please pray for me to the Lord Jesus, whose Heart yearns for us in the Blessed Sacrament, that I might be a humble and holy, orthodox, creative and courageous, Bishop of Portsmouth, one fashioned after the Lord’s own.

WDTPRS kudos to Bp. Egan!

In other news, as I watched the live stream of the Mass with a priest friend who knows Portsmouth well, I was told that during the time of the former bishop Marian hymns were not allowed during Mass.  What did we hear during the Mass of consecration?  Marian hymns.  The order of service book is HERE.

I am sure that a video of the whole Mass will eventually be available.  In advance, however, there had been some discussion of the challenge Bp Egan’s appointment would bring for the liturgical mafia of Portsmouth, including the celebrated composer of the Alleluia Cha Cha, Paul Inwood.  Inwood wrote a new Te Deum for the occasion of the consecration.   Te Dium.  But that’s another topic altogether.

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  1. thereseb says:

    I wish they had sold tickets for the discussions between the Director of Liturgy and Bp Egan, where the music of the Mass was discussed. On an unrelated note, there is a snippy post on Pray Tell (a blog associated with Mr Inwood) in which the maestro argues passionately about the lack of proper authority for plainchant propers.(go to the Contributors panel, select Paul Inwood and see August 12). Indeed, should the new Bishop be inclined to get a picture of the interesting views of his clergy, this would be a great place to start, as several have posted there under their own names. Another place would be the diocesan newsletter back copies, which, as with the Shrewsbury Voice, have their own tale to tell.

  2. Marianna says:

    There shouldn’t be any need to make Paul Inwood’s post redundant. If the new bishop insists on decent music, the great musician will pack his bags voluntarily!

  3. Hmm, traditional Mariam hymns or ch ch…. I dunno, it’s a hard choice.

  4. Peter from Jersey says:

    Thanks to a commenter on the Hermeneutic of Continuity, there is a link to the Mass:
    The whole ceremony (over three hours) is viewable on the Net, at
    http://www.churchservices.tv/portsmouthcathedral/recorded/MEWG4qH#. Or you can read Bishop Egan’s address at http://www.portsmouthdiocese.org.uk/press/docs/2012-09-24-Address-at-Episcopal-Ordination.pdf

    I suspect that Bishop Egan will try to work with the team he has inherited and avoid conflict. He will not do exactly as readers of this blog would choose but we should respect his decisions and avoid personal comments like those concerning Paul Inwood lest they complicate his task.
    At the Southern end of the diocese I am encouraged by the start our new bishop has made. I would add that the reflection on Lourdes of 2011 by Bishop Crispian is well worth reading too.
    Aren’t we lucky!

  5. Athelstan says:

    “I was told that during the time of the former bishop Marian hymns were not allowed during Mass. ”


    Was a reason given?

  6. Peter From Jersey: readers of this blog…?

    Speak for yourself. The readers here are pretty diverse!

  7. FaithfulCatechist says:

    “economic distemper” That’s a wonderful expression!

  8. Pastor Bonus says:

    ‘The desert of modern British politics’ what a totally apt expression for our current political establishment. God bless his Lordship.

  9. Peter from Jersey says:

    Fr Thank you.
    Indeed. The readers are diverse. It just seems to me that some comments occasionally may be better left unsaid. Particularly when dealing with individuals and their employment we had best be polite and charitable.
    It seems that Bishop Egan commissioned Paul Inwood to compose at least one part of the Mass. I expect that the bishop knew what he was doing and I will give him the benefit of any doubt.
    Now the reference at the end (not in your extract) to the bishop of Shrewsbury, “Bishop Mark too, you have given me an inspiring example of what it means to be a brilliant diocesan Bishop” is significant given the removal, by Bishop Mark, of a couple of trustees and employees.
    Some of your readers, Father, seem keen to express their thoughts with a great deal of feeling.

    If any of your readers has access to the summaries of the documents of Vatican II prepared by the diocese for the Year of Faith (see the diocesan website) as they stand now, and after review by the new bishop, we will learn much and have as much fun as thereseb (comment 1) regrets missing.

  10. Cornelius251 says:

    I have a question I hope someone might answer, but it really doesn’t have much to do with the content of this post…
    The Bishop said:
    “the only Person in human history who really did rise from the dead”
    Could someone explain this in terms of Lazarus and others whom Jesus raised from death during his earthly ministry. In my own thinking I reason like this: Perhaps it is said this way because Jesus is the only person to have risen from the dead under their own power, whereas Lazarus and others did not so much rise (of their own power) but were rather raised by the power of God.
    Thank you in advance.

  11. thereseb says:

    I feel I should point out that I never commented on Mr Inwood’s employment prospects in my comments above.

    As the gentleman reaches the grand age of 65 this year, (the normal retiring age for his generation in the UK) I have always assumed that he would be about to take a well earned rest after a long and successful career, and if this is the case, I would like to be the first to wish him a fruitful long and happy retirement, in a Diocese where many senior citizens actively seek to retire.

  12. aragonjohn7 says:


  13. Pingback: WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON EDITION | Big Pulpit

  14. Laura98 says:

    This is a wonderful article to (almost) start the day with! Sounds like a terrific start and I’ll be sure to include him in my prayers. England (and America) could use more plain-spoken bishops like this! May Our Lord and Our Lady both bless him!

  15. gracie says:

    Paul Inwood’s music promotes modernism and protestantism. It is marvelous to see that Bishop Egan is correcting this situation.

  16. frjim4321 says:

    Hmmm, next time I’m accused of leading everyone down a rabbit hole let’s remember how a string that started around the topic of a halfway decent first episcopal address morphed into a snarky critique of a well known Catholic composer. Particularly revealing is the cruelty of those who seem gleeful that a good man’s livelihood may be in jeopardy.

  17. Peter from Jersey says:

    Quite right threseb.
    I think that you identify correctly how this will develop.
    Any new bishop has to gain the trust and loyalty of the clergy and of the diocesan employees and this may present a challenge in the best of times. So we must wish Bishop Philip well.

  18. gracie says:

    Paul Inwood’s job is to serve the Church. It’s not the Church’s job to serve Paul Inwood. If Mr. Inwood complies with Bishop Egan’s musical directives then by all means keep him. Otoh, if the composer seeks to undermine the new Bishop either directly or through passive resistance then he needs to be fired and replaced with someone who will do the job he’s been hired to do.

  19. frjim4321 says:

    gracie, I don’t think treating artists as disposable commodities lines ups very well with our statements on the dignity of work.

  20. No need to personalize any of this. Surely, the first priority of any good bishop appointed to turn a diocese around must be to throw the rascals out (of the chancery, that is).

  21. gracie says:


    “I don’t think treating artists as disposable commodities lines ups very well with our statements on the dignity of work.”

    The only person who can turn an artist into a disposable commodity is the artist himself if he fails to deliver the work he’s been hired to do.

  22. Ttony says:

    Fr Jim: “Hmmm, next time I’m accused of leading everyone down a rabbit hole let’s remember how a string that started around the topic of a halfway decent first episcopal address morphed into a snarky critique of a well known Catholic composer. Particularly revealing is the cruelty of those who seem gleeful that a good man’s livelihood may be in jeopardy.”

    Two questions: if Bishop Egan’s first address was “halfway decent”, please could you tell us which bit (I’ll assume that “half” is metaphorical) of it didn’t meet the mark. Second, does the livelihood of a good man come before the proper direction of Liturgy in a diocese? Nothing to do with Paul Inwood, but your words suggest that the Diocesan Director of Liturgy’s tnure has led to a “right” to that particular job, which trumps the Head of the local Church’s right to put into the post the person who will act as his agent.

  23. Simon_GNR says:

    If I may offer a small correction….He’s not “Most Rev. Philip Egan”, he’s “Right Rev. Philip Egan”. In England only archbishops are “Most Rev.”: bishops are “Right Rev.”

  24. frjim4321 says:

    please could you tell us which bit (I’ll assume that “half” is metaphorical) of it didn’t meet the mark

    The “Mary’s Dowry” piece seemed totally disjoint from the rest of the address and seemed to just be thrown in there because it’s de rigueur these days for a prelate to mention Mary toward the end of a speech whether it’s pertinent or not.

  25. AnAmericanMother says:


    All questions aside regarding what constitutes “well known” and if that means “reasonably competent” . . . I don’t know the man, and whatever my initial reaction to “Alleluia” and “cha-cha” anywhere in proximity, that’s not dispositive . . .

    But, with that said, it looks like Mr. Inwood threw the first stone. Bad-mouthing your new boss on a public blog is a good way to start a “snarky critique” going.

    P.S. Google “Mary’s Dowry” – this title for the Realm of England dates at least to 1350. My Lord Bishop is engaging in the good old rhetorical practice of ‘kenning’.

  26. frjim4321 says:

    Speak for yourself. The readers here are pretty diverse!

    Well, I do my part!

  27. As for the “obligatory” mention of the BVM, it did seem curious that Bp. Egan mentioned Sept. 24 as the feast of Our Lady of Ransom–which is in the EF–while in the OF in England it is instead the memorial of Our Lady of Walsingham. Which,indeed, might make one wonder what kind of Sept. 24 Catholic sermon in the realm of “Mary’s Dowry” might fail to mention Mary. Except, perhaps, on the part of those unfamiliar with such intrinsically Catholic allusions.

  28. Dad of Six says:


    Henry Edwards, that will leave a mark.

  29. Minnesotan from Florida says:

    Lazarus (and others) were raised “back” into this life. It was not, in essence, different from resuscitation, although sufficiently remote from death to be miraculous. Jesus was raised from the dead into a new kind of life, having a body which though real and tangible (how’s that for an expression that in property tax law seems self-contradictory?) was of a “mechanical” quality otherwise unknown. Thus, it seems to me, the Bishop’s expression was absolutely true.

    With regard to Mr. Inwood, I know of his work only “Lord, You Are the Center of My Life,” which seems to me to have excellent fidelity in its text to Psalm 16 (Hebrew numbering). I did not know that he lived in England. Clarification of why on this blog his work is, apparently, “politically incorrect” would be much appreciated, although one might prefer to observe FrJim’s indication that Paul Inwood is rather a marginal thing compared with the Bishop’s remarks.

  30. The Masked Chicken says:

    The only person who can turn an artist into a disposable commodity is the artist himself if he fails to deliver the work he’s been hired to do.

    Oh, I think a mob hitman can turn him into a very disposable commodity!

    The Chicken

  31. The Masked Chicken says:

    Speak for yourself. The readers here are pretty diverse!

    Yeah, I’m from another species.

    Speaking of England, I have often thought of a nice shoppe that could be made on the High Street where they sell down jackets while telling you jokes. It would be called Ducks and Covers, of course.

    The Chicken

  32. Deacon Augustine says:

    AnAmericanMother, I wasn’t aware that Mr Inwood had been “badmouthing” the bishop on a blog. Could you direct me to that site please?

    I must admit to finding the man’s taste in music pretty ghastly – the sort which I would inflict on my teenagers in a locked darkened room as a punishment – however, to some degree, musical quality is a subjective matter. However, I would be far more concerned to discover a Director of Diocesan Liturgy who referred to the Body and Blood of Christ as the “consecrated bread and wine” and who denied the “Real and substantial Presence of Christ” in the Eucharistic species. I am sure Mr Inwood would never have the temerity to do that and continue in position with integrity.

  33. Deacon Augustine says:

    Henry Edwards – absolutely correct. Monday was the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham, the National Marian Shrine of England, and it has been central to Marian devotion here since the apparition of Our Lady in 1061. It was the main Marian pilgrimmage site in all Europe prior to the “Reformation” and it is entirely normal to make reference to the “Dowry of Mary” on this day.

    I can only assume that a priest who didn’t know that would not be English – the alternative would be that he doesn’t pray the Divine Office!

  34. AnAmericanMother says:

    I was simply referring to the first post in the series, where it appears the gentleman is ‘arguing passionately’ against the bishop’s liturgical preferences.
    Of course, I do it all the time (or at least roll my eyes a lot) . . . but I don’t work for the bishop here. If I did, of course, I would moderate my views . . . or go somewhere else.

  35. irishgirl says:

    Bravo to Bishop Egan for his inaugural sermon!
    Speaking of Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury: my priest-friend in the north of England (Salford diocese) sent me a letter this past week with a quote of Bishop Davies regarding praying for the dead at funeral Masses (or ‘Requiem Masses’, as they still call them), instead of ‘celebrating their life’. His Excellency hit the nail on the head! When my friend called me last Saturday, I told him that Bishop Davies seems to have more common sense than nearly all the hierarchy of England and Wales put together!
    And regarding this ‘composer’ in the Portsmouth diocese: he should be ‘made redundant’.
    I think that whenever a new Bishop comes into a diocese, he should ‘clean house’ in his chancery and ‘put his own men’ in there!

  36. AnAmericanMother says:

    I don’t necessarily disagree with the idea that a new bishop should put his own men in.
    But I do think that any new leader should take some time to get to know the existing staff, review their work, etc. before making any major changes. The ‘received wisdom’ is that a new manager in private business should take about a year to observe the way things are running before just jumping in and altering everything. (That of course is assuming that it’s not an emergency salvage operation, that everything is running pretty smoothly, and that there are no really bad actors that have to be dealt with instanter.)
    Not to mention that most people are fairly agreeable to adapting to a new boss, unless (as one of Conan Doyle’s characters said) ‘it touches my honor or my soul.’ This composer might surprise everybody and start writing chant-based polyphony or verse anthems. I might start liking Marty Haugen before that happens, but anything’s possible.

  37. Peter from Jersey says:

    American Mother
    I think you are right. This is reinforced by employment law which provides some security for the employee. No diocese should pay large amounts of redundancy (compensation for loss of employment) unless really necessary.
    At the Southern end of the diocese I am very pleased with what we know about our new bishop. Now he need support and prayers (as does his predecessor now in well earned retirement.)

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