Friday, July 13, 2012
More on bishop-elect Egan
For those who may not have read the comments on the last post Andrew Beards has left quite a substantial contribution on the new bishop of Portsmouth which I thought merited being an item in itself.
Mgr Phil has been a close friend for over twenty years. We have done the Longergan circuit together in Germany and the US. About 50 per cent of the time together we spend laughing! (No, make that 75 per cent!) Those of our friends who were able to come to our 25th wedding anniversary two years ago would remember (then) Fr Philip and Fr Gerald with Fr Elkin for our lovely Mass at St Mary’s Barnard Castle. Fr Phil preached and even managed to get Lonergan in there!
I can't speak highly enough of him and I think William Oddie's comments are right, although I even think they are an understatement! On earth, Bishop Mark Davies and the new Nuncio are the agents here. And this does confirm all kinds of good things we have been hearing about our new Nuncio from different sources. In heaven I know Mgr Phil (who kindly made the time to email me and Tina yesterday) sees one of the key players as St John Vianney, whose heart he had been praying before and on whose feast day he was ordained.
People are picking up on all kinds of things about Bishop-elect Egan, including his talk saying Humanae vitae is infallible – no disagreement there!
I would like to add a couple of things here, from among the many I could add (I am sure I am not saying anything here that would go beyond what one should). Firstly, Bishop-elect Egan shares completely the Holy Father’s vision of the liturgical reform of the reform. Like many of us he humbly accepts certain liturgical permissions which the Church has allowed in the last couple of decades but would not be at all sad to see these changed back to what they were, should Mother Church decide.
He is a very good Latinist having studied classics at London University before seminary. When head of studies at Oscott he was one of the priests there who, before Summorum Pontificum, worked to get novus ordo Latin Masses in the seminary and with some success. We used to meet up regularly at Oscott in a period of about five years when we were both in Birmingham, and we would start our time together with Mgr Phil saying a private Mass: novus ordo Latin, eastward facing (latterly). When Summorum Pontificum came along Mgr Phil wanted to conform his mind, as normal, to that of the Holy Father. I know he is very positive about it and all that happened at New Brighton, for instance. He just has been too busy of late to take things further personally. But when I saw him not so long ago he was asking me about courses to train up altar servers in the EF, with the thought he could send some of his on one.
The second point: Mgr Phil will be the most highly qualified theologian among the Bishops. He has a Ph.D. in Theology and, as far as I know, while other Bishops have honorary doctorates none have one of these! Also he has a book and serious academic publications. I know the other Bishops know this. For better or worse, since Vatican II there has been great deference paid to qualified theologians – often for worse. I don’t want to get into negative waters here, but suffice it to say this is why the last Holy Father and this Holy Father have been promoting Bishops who are also theologians. That Mgr Philip is such among the Bishops will mean a great deal – and, in addition, Rome keeps on looking at such Bishops for further needs it has!
Greetings once again to everyone,
Hope to see you again soon