A Call To Action News Update

I was writing a post about an email I received on Wednesday from the small group of pseudo Catholic dissenters known as A Call to Action (ACTA for short), when I noticed Deacon Nick Donnelly had beaten me to it (as usual).

The email states:
...the second annual ACTA DAY CONFERENCE, open to all supporters, which will be at Newman University in Birmingham on Saturday October 26th2013, from 11am to 5pm
We are fortunate to have three distinguished speakers – Prof. John Sullivan from Hope University on “Ecclesial Citizens, not sheep”, Prof. Ursula King from Bristol University on “The Church in Dialogue with Women?” and Gerry J. Hughes S.J. on “Where do we go from here?” There will be questions, discussion and the establishment of the new governing body of ACTA.
One priest I mentioned this too expressed surprise at the inclusion of John Sullivan; "I thought he was sound" he exclaimed. I suppose it is useful as a measure of orthodoxy if nothing else.

I wrote a post exposing ACTA's agenda here which garnered considerable traffic. In that post, I addressed many of their issues, and demonstrated a proper understanding of each. They claim to be about reasonable dialogue, but I have tried to engage with them in this regard on their website forum and it appears they are not, actually interested in dialogue. Tony Castle posted a thread asking why Latin was important, I answered politely and was blocked as "A spammer, hacker, or otherwise bad person". What a strange understanding of dialogue! In fact what they mean by dialogue is that you will accept their opinions, contrary to what the Church teaches. This is reiterated on the publicity for their Day Conference which only welcomes supporters. Their argument can be reduced to the premise that the Church should listen to the world, not God, and change accordingly. Anyone who has studied Catholic theology, or indeed history, will see how at odds with Catholic theology and how ill conceived such a premise is.

Their true objectives are pretty well hidden on the website, but if you look under ‘Case Studies’ you’ll see a list which includes:

1. Rejection of Humanae Vitae
2. Ordination of Women priests
3. LGBTs to be allowed to have full sexual relationships; the Church is neither to criticise this or call it sinful
4. Married non-celibate priesthood to be allowed
5. Divorced and remarried to be admitted to Holy Communion
6. Magisterium of the Church to be replaced by a Magisterium of the People made up of clergy, ‘theologians’, and lay people

Although I think that dialogue is, in fact, essential to understand any position, the information given has to be accurate. Unfortunately, ACTA deal in misinformation. If they want to pursue their anti-Catholic agenda, they are free to do so, but they should do so away from the Catholic Church which they do not represent and cannot align themselves to. There have been lots of dissenters from the Magisterium throughout history, they've had the good grace to announce they are no longer in communion with the Catholic Church and become Protestant.

The fact is, the Catholic Church is by no means simply “the western church of the Latin rite”; rather, it’s a network of dozens of churches, all unified by their association with the Pope, who acts as a physical point of unity for the Church. The simplest working definition of a Catholic is a Christian who is in communion with the bishop of Rome.

My reason for posting this is to raise awareness that ACTA is not a part of that Church, our Church, and in pretending to be, it endangers souls by leading them away from the truth.

I am also extremely concerned that our bishops and priests are not more vocal about this group. How did they get permission to meet in the Archdiocese of Southwark's Amigo Hall for example?

In an age when the Church's teaching is so badly understood, and so rarely taught accurately, an organisation like ACTA has the potential to wreak havoc among the faithful. For this reason alone, I think it should be publicly denounced by the bishops, so that no one is in any doubt about their opposition to the Catholic truth.


  1. Surely those priests and deacons who are members of this group should be interviewed and disciplined by their bishop?
    Is Archbishop Mennini aware of the sinister aims of this organisation?
    And, finally, has the Catholic press focused on their activities?
    Thanks for the post, Mark.

    1. They are very good questions Richard! I wonder what ++Mennini would make of this? I was thinking Bishop Egan or Davies would speak out, but you have to wonder how much trouble that would cause for them with the bishop's conference? My overall impression is that we, the people, are much more affronted about this than the clergy, who simply see it as a lot of fuss about nothing. Certainly that was what I heard about Marcus Stock attending as reported by Protect the Pope here: "This further recognition follows Mgr Marcus Stock, the General Secretary of the Bishops Conference, attending ACTA’s first national conference at the Diocese of Leeds". Pastoral Centre, Hinsley Hall." I was told he attended because they ask for a bishop to be present, but none were willing to go, so he went as a sort of a compromise. Apparently he wasn't very impressed with what went on, but came away thinking they were a load of heretics living in the past and hanging on to the "spirit of Vatican II". My point is that in these days of poor catechesis, stuff like this has more chance of getting a grip, and the people need to be told in explicit terms, what is and is not Catholic.

  2. I'm willing to bet that the BBC will cover this with an undisguised breathless enthusiasm...
    ... Then add it to their stats to show that they provide news coverage of Catholic events...

  3. ACTA are not easy for Bishops to deal with. They are a disparate group. Your list of objectives is accurate in as much as they are objectives held by members but not all members would sign up to all the objectives. Some members might not sign up to any of them but are unhappy about something else, for example the way their parish or their diocese is being run (although interestingly no members will be protesting about their bishops’ failure to follow proper Catholic teaching). That is why their narrative about dialogue is doubly clever. Firstly it provides a common cause for those who don't necessarily agree with each other. Secondly if anyone challenges them they can be dismissed as someone who wants to close down discussion.

    The most interesting part of your post is then reason you (correctly, I think) give for the Faithful's vulnerability to this seductive approach - poor understanding of the Church's teaching and poor teaching of it. It would be better if bishops addressed this weakness directly rather than spent effort opposing ACTA.

    Having said that, you are right that nothing should be done to create the false impression that this group is legitimate; no use of church buildings for meetings for example.

    The really good news is that most of the members are fairly old people whose influence will diminish in a fairly short space of time. The bad news is that, whilst that might make things seem more comfortable, it won't solve the underlying problem of poor understanding of the faith.

    1. Excellent appraisal PTP, and how I wish what you say would happen, i.e. that Catechesis would be made a priority by our bishops, it would make all the difference! As a matter of fact, I wonder what exactly it is they do all day. A two pronged approach, Catechesis & clear distancing from ACTA would sort it out completely, don't you think?

    2. PTP's comments are spot on, but I think we are thirty years late to solve this simply. I'd broaden out the discussion to suggest first, that there is no indication that I can think of that the Hierarchy has the desire or will, or even the capability, to take on heterodoxy and heresy within Church structures head on (eg Roehampton, Gay Masses); and there is no forum for anti-liberal - trad is the wrong word but I can't think of a better one at the moment - Catholics to demand (I don't think that's too strong a word - discuss) not just sound doctrine in their parish but rapid rebuttal of ACTA-type unorthodoxy whenever it crops up in E&W.

      I know I bang on about it a lot, but the National Pastoral Congress in Liverpool in 1980 reframed Catholicism in England and Wales and has made it impossible for there to be a single focus for orthodoxy accessible equally to all Catholics (one of the reasons the Internet seems to be so feared and disliked in Eccleston Square) by empowering a confederation of small approved groups each to represent Church teaching in a particular context.

      Our Bishops appear to be in thrall to the constitution of the CBCEW: until those chains are broken, not only will things not get better, but the rate of decline will continue to increase.

    3. Oh dear, that is a sad assessment, but I fear you could well be right. I don't understand how people could devote their lives to the Church, and yet be so disinterested in explaining its message. One source of hope, perhaps, are the wonderful, young, orthodox priests we have coming through the seminaries at the moment. Men inspired by Ratzinger to become priests and who understand the power of the liturgy.

  4. English (and Welsh) A Call to Action has nothing at all to do with the US organisation Call to Action, When I joined Acta I had myself assumed a vague link between the two, but then I only had a very general idea about the American group. In fact the name A Call to Action came from the Tablet's header to Fr Derek's original letter, and the American organisation is the most extreme of several such organisations and no link was intended with it. Attempts were made to change the British name when the confusion was realised but there were already many members by then, and so it was decided to stick with it.

    1. Even if that is the case Thomas, are you suggesting it was mere coincidence that the organisation chose this name? If you research these organisations, you tend to find the same people behind them.


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