Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bishop Hugh Lindsay

This blog has been quiet as I`ve been away for a week. However on my first night away I learnt by text that bishop Lindsay, the tenth bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, had died.
Whenever bishop Lindsay`s name was mentioned, over the years, among Catholics who were attached to the Extraordinary Form, it`s fair to say that he was not popular. He was bishop of this diocese between 1974 and 1992. I wouldn`t envy anyone the job of bishop either then or now. However, while I respected bishop Lindsay for seeking to be faithful to the directives of the Holy See, his readiness to write letters to the Catholic press arguing against those who were attached to the Extraordinary Form grated on many. Why couldn`t he be more like bishop Wheeler of Leeds, we wondered, who clearly had sympathy with those who were attached to the `Tridentine` Mass?

So it was with some trepidation that I applied to study for this diocese, especially as the Discalced Carmelites, where I had been a novice, wrote a letter to the bishop which mentioned my enthusiasm for the `Tridentine` Mass. However I was admitted to seminary and ordained by bishop Hugh. By the time I came back from further studies in Rome in 1992 he had retired and Bishop Ambrose had authorised a weekly Sunday EF Mass in Newcastle with which I got involved, saying the Mass there every fortnight.

Although retired, bishop Lindsay continued to be well-known for his letters to the Catholic press. As I often agreed with the people he was arguing against, I kept a low-profile if I was at any event where bishop Lindsay was present!
Then I started blogging. In July 2007 I received an email from bishop Lindsay regarding the publication of a book, Catholic Social Justice – Theological and Practical Explorations, which Damian Thompson had drawn attention to for its unorthodox views. Bishop Lindsay was concerned to make clear that the book was not a publication of the bishops` conference nor a teaching document of any kind. From that point on I knew bishop Lindsay was a reader of Forest Murmurs. From then until his death, I got to know him well and found him ready to give help and advice with this blog, sending me articles he thought I might be interested in. Bishop Lindsay prided himself on keeping up with technology too: he told me he was featured in the Sunday Times business supplement in the 1980`s for being the first church leader in Britain to have a computer terminal on his desk.
I can honestly say that in our email correspondence I found bishop Hugh Lindsay to be the most supportive bishop I have ever come across. While he made it clear that he did not necessarily agree with me, he accepted there was room for a diversity of opinion. The last time I saw him was at the cathedral for a silver Jubilee Mass for Fr Leighton. He came up to me afterwards and I was quite overwhelmed by his encouragement and support for my ministry here at Forest Hall.
We had corresponded again at some length in the last few weeks with the result that I arranged to make the journey to his home at Grange-over-Sands this coming Friday to have good talk about everything. I was devastated to get the message about his death last Monday as there were questions I`d wanted to discuss with him for over twenty years or more, to which I`ll now never know the answer, as well as to talk to him about more recent events. I had hoped that he might have agreed to make an appearance at the forthcoming Ushaw LMS training course to heal some old wounds.
The Times obituary can be found here.
In bishop Lindsay we had a bishop who knew and loved this diocese. May he rest in peace.
Versa est in luctum cithara mea (Job 30:31)


Anonymous said...

Welcome back Father. I knew little of Bishop Lindsay, being relatively new to the Diocese, but it's clear from your text, and from others I've heard speak of him that he was a very good Bishop indeed and will be missed. RIP

Anonymous said...

Beati qui custodient judicium et faciunt justitiam in omni tempore.


Anonymous said...

I knew him only in his Cumbrian retirement, but I found him a very good preacher and confessor.

Anonymous said...


I was always impressed by his clarity of thought and writing style.

I had actually drafted a letter to send him to elicit his views on certain matters but like Fr. Brown will now not know what his response would have been - in this life anyway.