Friday 21 July 2023

Thrones and Dominions

The word is "Enthronement". Even the Church of England, which is usually better at resisting the dumbing down of canonical and liturgical vocabulary, has lately taken to saying "Installation". But on either side of the Tiber, a Diocesan Bishop is enthroned. Still, Bishop Stephen Wright preached well on Wednesday. He clearly has a deep spirituality.

There was also a speech by a self-identified survivor of clerical sexual abuse, one Maggie Vickerman. Neither her case, nor those to which she referred, had anything to do with Bishop Robert Byrne CO, if they really happened at all. How do we know? At most, they were long before his brief time in this Diocese. If anything, certain people with some responsibility for them were in that sanctuary. Nor did Ms Vickerman make any attempt to disguise her theological agenda.

As to Bishop Byrne's tenure, this could not have been an executive summary of this. That would have been impossible, since they bear no resemblance to each other. It is all here, including on the ludicrous definition of "grooming" that was used to hound Canon McCoy to his death, and including on the nonsense about Timothy Gardner. Something has changed since 3rd May. What is it? And where is the original report?

I do not resile from this, this, this, this, this, this, thisthisthis, thisthis, this, thisthis, this, this, thisthisthis or this. Rather, I reiterate every word of each and all of them. There was no cathedral sex party. The move from the old Bishop's House to the new one made a profit. There was no allegation of sexual assault against Bishop Robert Byrne CO, who should sue every media outlet that had suggested one.

I may not, but I may, accept the present report when Bishop Byrne had done so, and to the extent that he had done so. His Lordship has yet to do so to any extent. At least while that remains the case, then I reject the whole thing out of hand, and so should you. The sum total of the charge sheet against Bishop Byrne is that he did not automatically do as he was told by the hired help. But Pat Buckley does not like Bishop Stephen Wright, so Bishop Wright must be all right. And he did preach well. He clearly has a deep spirituality.


  1. Should +Byrne have kept up his friendship with Gardner?

    1. Someone in the Church has to have a pastoral relationship with convicted paedophiles. In any case, the Dominicans tried to have Timothy Gardner laicised, but Rome refused, which must have been for some reason, and he maintains his innocence, protesting that he pleaded guilty under duress. At least when it comes to convictions in this country, unless I personally witnessed the offence, then I believe in the innocence of almost anyone who professes it, and so should you.

      Fr Gardner had not been sent to prison, which says a lot in itself, and he had to live somewhere. Bishop Byrne tried to find him work in the Diocese as an archivist, involving little contact with adults and none with children, and then a post at an overseas seminary, which is an entirely adult institution, and which is often located miles from anywhere. We think of Ushaw as remote, but in much of the world, the middle of nowhere really is the middle of nowhere. Living in the guestroom of a bishop's private quarters does not afford access to children. Indeed, it is hard to imagine anywhere less likely to do so. It is right up there with a seminary, or a diocesan archive.