The formula for a thriving Church

SIR – It seems to me that your two articles in the pre-Christmas edition (December 16) – revealing Portsmouth’s Bishop Philip Egan as your Catholic of the Year and including Fr James Bradley’s feature on the revival of Catholicism in Greenville, South Carolina – had distinct and illuminating similarities.

Although separated by the Atlantic Ocean, the character and energetic sense of mission of Bishop Egan and Fr Bradley’s account of the impressive rise of Catholic witness in a part of the United States have a lot in common and much to commend to the wider Catholic Church.

I have one declaration of interest to make: for a number of years I had the privilege of having the now Fr Bradley in my serving team in my former parish church. He was conscientious and reliable then – as I’m sure his reports are now.

As a priest in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham here in England, Fr Bradley knows full well that nothing is achieved by surrendering basic Catholic truths and that the faithful laity will not be empowered or motivated by a clergy which has lost all confidence in the One Holy Apostolic Church’s claims. One only has to look at the Church of England to see that.

The obvious similarities are that both the bishop and these American churches have triumphed by being loyal to the traditional Catholic faith, by promoting dignified and reverential liturgies and by appealing to the sacrificial nature of the Church’s laity – and not “dumbing down” the Faith “once delivered to the saints”.

Surely there is a clear message to those prelates and ecclesiastical commentators who believe that the Catholic Church can only survive if we continually seek to undermine fundamental Catholic beliefs, reduce the Sacred Liturgy to a “parish bean-feast” and ignore the views and potential of the faithful in the pews.

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