Friday, March 21, 2014


Pope appoints Bishop Malcolm McMahon as Metropolitan Archbishop of Liverpool

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday named the current bishop of Nottingham, Malcolm Patrick McMahon to be the new Metropolitan Archbishop of Liverpool.

Archbishop-Elect McMahon’s Mass of Installation as Archbishop of Liverpool will be celebrated at 12.00 noon on Thursday 1 May 2014, the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday in the Metropolitan Cathedral, Archbishop-Elect McMahon said:
‘I am honoured and humbled to have been appointed by our Holy Father Pope Francis as Archbishop of Liverpool. I promise to do my best to repay the trust that he has placed in me, and which the priests and people of the Archdiocese of Liverpool are being asked to put in me from today.
‘I would like to thank Archbishop Patrick Kelly for his many years of service in this Archdiocese, and Bishop Tom Williams, who has been Apostolic Administrator since Archbishop Kelly’s retirement last year.
‘I am grateful to my family and friends, my Dominican brethren, and the priests and people of the Diocese of Nottingham for their support, guidance and friendship. I am naturally sorry to be leaving Nottingham, my home for the last thirteen years, and I will miss the people there; I hope that the prayers of my Diocese will come with me as I prepare to bid them a fond farewell shortly after Easter.
‘The Archdiocese of Liverpool has a long and proud history, rich in the tradition of missionary discipleship. We just have to think of the many priests, deacons, religious and laypeople who have done so much to proclaim the Kingdom of God and who gave their lives in his service, and the Archdiocese’s parishes, churches and schools are living witnesses to God’s love for us. The rich and living Catholic heritage of the Archdiocese should inspire us and challenge us, and I know that I can rely on the prayers and support of the Catholic faithful as I take up the challenge which lies ahead of me.
'I am also looking forward to working with my fellow Christians from other Churches and communities, people from all religious traditions, and civic and political leaders, building up the good relationships which already exist between us, in our endeavour to serve the common good.
‘From the day of my installation I will do my level best to lead, guide and serve the people of this great Archdiocese, in Liverpool, west Lancashire and the Isle of Man, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. There is much work to be done, because the challenges which we face as a community are real. But we are a people of hope; just as the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King is visible for miles around, speaking to us of God’s presence in our midst, I pray that all of us in the Archdiocese of Liverpool will be living signs of God’s eternal love, proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ in all that we say and do.
‘I ask for the prayers of our heavenly patrons, Our Blessed Lady Immaculate, Saint Joseph and Saint Kentigern, and the entire Catholic community as I begin my ministry as Archbishop of Liverpool, and I assure you of my prayers in return. Let us make the words of Pope John Paul II, spoken here in the Metropolitan Cathedral in 1982, our own:
“Send forth your Spirit, O Lord! Renew our hearts and minds with the gifts of light and truth. Renew our homes and families with the gifts of unity and joy. Renew our cities and our countries with true justice and lasting peace.”’

Born in London in June 1949, Malcolm Patrick McMahon was ordained to the priesthood in 1982. He was ordained bishop in the Cathedral Church of St Barnabas, Nottingham, on 8 December 2000.

In 1992 he was elected Prior Provincial of the English Province of Dominicans, based in London. He was re-elected in 1996 and held office until 2001.

Archbishop-Elect McMahon is Chair of the Bishops' Conference Department of Education and Formation and is National President of Pax Christi, the International Catholic Movement for Peace. He is also Chair of the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales (CESEW) and Chair of the board of trustees for the Catholic Trust for England and Wales.

Text from page 
of the Vatican Radio website 

Bishop Malcolm McMahon, Bishop of Nottingham, it is said is to be named the new bishop of Liverpool, England and there are rumors that Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor wishes him to be his successor when he retires.

These are some of the things Bishop McMahon has said of the liturgy:

Bishop of Nottingham

When I was a boy most people went to Mass with a missal in their hands, or devotional
books like The Treasury of the Sacred Heart, which helped them to follow the Mass and to participate in it. There was a general trend in those days, going back to Pope St Pius X (d. 1914), urging the faithful to ‘participate actively’ in the Mass. In the 1960s, the Second Vatican Council (or Vatican II) took up and continued the same theme.

Back then, of course, Mass was in Latin. People used their missals to understand more deeply the prayers of the Mass, and they also knew how to sing in Latin. At the very least Latin is as important for our culture and worship as Hebrew is for the Jewish people. Since Vatican II, Mass in the vernacular language (English in our case) has become widespread, but it began as, and remains, a concession. Vatican II envisaged that the Mass would ordinarily be celebrated in Latin, and it stressed the need for the faithful to be able to say or sing together in Latin the parts of the Mass which pertain to them, and it commended the use of Gregorian chant, saying that it should be given pride of place in liturgical functions.

More recently, in the autumn of 2005, bishops from around the world gathered in Rome for an Extraordinary Synod to mark the end of the Year of the Eucharist. The bishops put a series of suggestions to Pope Benedict, one of which proposed that Mass at international gatherings should be in Latin, and ‘that the possibility of educating the faithful in this way [should] not be overlooked.’ The pope responded with his exhortation Sacramentum caritatis in 2007 in which he endorsed this particular proposition in its entirety. Many of our parishes are fortunate to be able to welcome Catholics from all over the globe and from a wide range of language groups, making Mass often a truly international gathering which manifests the catholicity of our Church. Many of our parishioners are fortunate enough to be able to travel abroad, going to Mass at international gatherings. On these occasions the catholic, i.e. universal, nature of the Church becomes especially apparent, and it is most appropriate to celebrate this by the use of Latin, the official and universal language in the Western Church, and to sing our timeless heritage of Gregorian chant.

It is a mistake to assume that the Mass should be translated into simple English, because the Mass never is and never can be fully understood. Even a translation should give us a glimpse of the unsearchable beauty of God. The Mass is a mystery whose depths we can never plumb, whose treasures we can never exhaust, all the while drawing more riches and grace for us. Pope Benedict reminds us that it is God’s gift and God’s work, or it is nothing at all. To emphasize the central position of Christ in the Mass, the Pope asks us to ‘turn towards the Lord’, Conversi ad Dominum – the ancient call to prayer in the early Church:

The idea that the priest and people should stare at one another during prayer was born only in modern Christianity, and is completely alien to the ancient Church. The priest and people most certainly do not pray one to the other, but to the one Lord. Therefore, they stare in the same direction during prayer: either towards the east as a cosmic symbol of the Lord who comes, or, where this is not possible, towards the image of Christ in the apse, towards a crucifix, or simply towards the heavens, as our Lord Himself did in his priestly prayer the night before His Passion (cf. John 17.1). In the meantime the proposal made by me... is fortunately becoming more and more common: rather than proceeding with further transformations, simply to place the crucifix at the centre of the altar, which both priest and the faithful can face and be led in this way towards the Lord, whom everyone addresses in prayer together.’
The image of our crucified Lord on the altar does not obstruct the priest from the sight of the faithful, for they are not to look to the celebrant at that point in the Mass. The priest is not more important than the Lord; we are to turn our gaze towards the Lord. These are norms which should become widespread if we are to worship more in keeping with the mind of the Church, and expressed by Vatican II. Pope Benedict adds,
‘The Eucharistic celebration is enhanced when priests and liturgical leaders are committed to making known the current liturgical texts and norms. Perhaps we take it for granted that our ecclesial communities already know and appreciate these resources, but this is not always the case. These texts contain riches which have preserved and expressed the faith and experience of the People of God over its two thousand year history.’ (Sacramentum caritatis, 40)

For the faithful to participate actively at Mass, as has been mandated by successive popes as well as the Second Vatican Council, they must be familiar with the texts and chants. It is for this end that this book has been produced, and I warmly commend it.

Rt Rev Malcolm McMahon, O.P.

Bishop of Nottingham
Memorial of St Scholastica, 2010 

My Comments: If this man is named the new Archbishop of Liverpool, I suspect the more progressive types in the Church, those who like the liturgy as celebrated in Los Angeles last week for their so-called Religious Education Conference which they have the temerity to say is in continuity with the 1962 Missal, that they will say that Pope Francis is still just following the recommendations made to Pope Benedict as to whom will be bishops. They will say this even more than a year after Pope Francis election. 

I don't think so!


James said...

You mean Archbishop of Liverpool, Father. It's excellent news.

Joseph Johnson said...

If we had had more bishops like this during and immediately after Vatican II things would have developed a lot differently.

We need more bishops like this man and Archbishop Sample of Portland, OR.

Wilbur Whipple said...

Nice news. Now if they could just put the wrecking ball to that architectural blasphemy that they call "Liverpool Cathedral"!

Anonymous said...

It might be mentioned that the "Latin Missal for the Laity" including Bishop McMahon's preface is a Latin-English missal for the OF (Novus Ordo) Mass,‎

consistent with Vatican II's intent that, while provision for the vernacular in special circumstances was made, the Mass should ordinarily remain in Latin.

Because of the unintended transition to an all vernacular liturgy, the laity no longer needed or used such hand missals at Mass. This resulted in the demise of the "missal devotion" that (I believe) was in part responsible for the flourishing of deep spiritual devotion in the liturgy during the decades preceding Vatican (and which Joseph Ratzinger in his memoirs credits for his early spiritual growth). The 1960s saw a "perfect storm" of multiple factors whose confluence resulted in the collapse of Catholic belief and culture. One of these factors surely was the disappearance of missal usage by the laity. (This is emphasized to me by the fact that, in my own case, the use of a Latin-English OF missal even at vernacular OF Mass is a key to my recognition and practice of no less an intense spiritual devotion at OF Mass than at EF Mass.)

Van said...

Thank you, Pope Francis!

Sean Benedicts said...

Slight confusion - there were rumours that Cardinal Cormac wanted him as his successor back in 2008 (I find that surprising if true, I've nothing against +Cormac but they are rather different people, but there certainly were such rumours). But that ship has sailed, Archbishop Vincent Nichols (then Metropolitan Archbishop of Birmingham) succeeded Cormac as Archbishop of Westminster and of course has recently finally been made Cardinal. Much-deserved too. So there's nothing to succeed to.

For context, England and Wales (Scotland is always treated quite separately) consists of some 22 dioceses of which 5 are Metropolitan Archdioceses - Liverpool is arguably the second most important Archdiocese after Westminster, certainly in the past many of the incumbents have exercised authority second only to Westminster. The province includes six other dioceses covering the whole of the north of England.

Splendid appointment.

Sean Benedicts said...

PS - shame about his cathedral. The Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, sometimes known as "Paddy's Wigwam"* is not particularly suited to traditional styles of worship - for one thing it's "in the round".

Actually I have something of a soft spot for it, but not as a cathedral. I'd much rather have the massive Anglican one

(ironically, designed by a Catholic, one of the Gilbert Scotts)

*Liverpool is very closely associated with Irish immigration.

John Nolan said...

In 2010 Bishop Malcolm chose to mark the tenth anniversary of his episcopal consecration by celebrating a Pontifical High EF Mass at Holy Cross Priory in Leicester, the first English bishop to do in his own diocese since the 1960s (auxiliary bishops had done so, but that's not quite the same thing). Fortunately Nottingham cathedral still had the cappa magna last worn by Bishop Ellis, who incidentally confirmed me back in 1958.

Despite his liturgical preferences he has the reputation of being something of a liberal (traddies would not touch Pax Christi with a bargepole - during the Cold War they were notable fellow-travellers) but he is a good communicator and preacher, as one would expect in a Dominican.

Regarding Joseph Johnson's comment, the English hierarchy was notably conservative at the time of Vatican II, but like most people at the time were swept along by events. Bishop Ellis cordially disliked the vernacular Mass but felt he had to obey the Pope and accept what then appeared to be the sensus Ecclesiae. Cardinal Heenan's reactions to the 1967 Missa Normativa are well known.

Within the last week there has been a surprising episcopal appointment in England. Fr Robert Byrne, who founded the Oxford Oratory in the 1990s, has been appointed an auxiliary bishop in Birmingham. He is the first Oratorian to have been made a bishop since Edward Bagshawe was consecrated as Bishop of Nottingham in 1874. In Oxford the Oratorians took over a run-down parish and transformed it into a power-house of liturgical and musical excellence, and spiritual outreach. Within twenty years the congregation increased five-fold. For forty years now I have regarded the Oratory as my spiritual home, whether London, Birmingham or (increasingly, since it is the nearest) Oxford.

John Nolan said...


Thanks for the link to the Holy Cross Missal. I'm surprised I haven't come across it before. The Dominican influence is shown in some of the chants and the inclusion of Sequences (e.g. Laetabundus for Xmas Day) which are not in the Roman Rite. It's interesting to compare the translation here with the official one adopted in 2011. And
unlike the current bilingual CTS Missal it gives the Graduale Propers, which are necessary if following a sung Mass.

The second picture above shows the 2010 Mass at Holy Cross. I was shocked to realize that the bald-headed geezer at the bottom right of the picture is probably me.

rcg said...

@John Nolan: PI will be disappointed that there are no horns showing....

Sigfrid said...

Actually, bishop McMahon was in LA at that very conference and returned just a few days ago - he spoke on ecumenism and inter religious dialogue. He has also in the past made comments supportive of female ordination and an abolition of mandatory celibacy. See Rocco Palmo's report on him for a more balanced picture of this bishop.

Anonymous said...

I have read that the new Archbishop of Liverpool doesn't support women's ordination and is quoted to that effect here:

Deo gratias if that is the case, Jan