Saturday, 2 July 2011

Annual General Meeting

The League's Annual General Meeting took place on Thursday 30 June 2011 at St Silas' Church, Kentish Town, London. Fr Graeme Rowlands celebrated an Anglican Mass in honour of the First Martyrs of Rome and spoke of the abiding central importance of nothing less than the visible reunion of the Church for which the martyrs had given their lives, as the only true objective of those who seek unity on the foundation of the faith of the Apostles.

Trustees serving on the Executive are elected on a rolling basis each year. Alongside Fr Mark Woodruff (Priest Director), David Chapman (General Secretary), Fr Christopher Stephenson (Membership Secretary) and Fr Graeme Rowlands (co-opted annually ex officio as Priest Director of the Sodality of the Precious Blood, which is historically associated with the League as a fraternity of celibate clerics for deepening priestly life, ministry, spiirtuality and fellowship), Cyril Wood was re-elected as Treasurer and Mrs Mary Bacon and the Revd James Bradley were elected as trustees.

Fr Christopher Stephenson's appointment as Priest Director of the Apostleship of Prayer was ratified. He is currently pastor of the Scarborough parish mission of the Traditional Anglican Church in Britain.

Tributes were paid to Miss Mary Lamb, our long serving trustee who died in December 2010, and to Canon Colin Tolworthy who has retired after a nearly ten years of invaluably steady support and wisdom on the former Council and the present Executive.

Here is the Report on the League's work in 2010 by the Priest Director:
The Catholic League’s objects are to promote fellowship among Catholics; the reunion of all Christians with the Apostolic See of Rome; the spread of the Catholic Faith; and deepening the Spiritual life. It was founded in 1913 and is registered under the Charities Act 1993, Charity Registration No. 232443.

It is an association of members, governed by the Trustees who meet on a regular basis. The Trustees are drawn from among the members. The Constitution, as revised in 1999 and again in 2008, also provides for a President (Fr Michael Rear), who acts as Visitor to ensure that the Trustees apply the rules and assets are applied in accordance with the objects of the League. There are no paid employees of the Charity.

Contacts and collaboration were fostered throughout the year with other organisations working for Christian Unity, such as the Anglican Centre in Rome, the Ecumenical Marian Pilgrimage Trust, the Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Society for Ecumenical Studies, the Society of St John Chrysostom, the Sodality of the Precious Blood and, through Fr Mark Wooduff, the national ecumenical instruments, including Churches Together in England.

The two journals published by the League continue – The Messenger containing substantial articles and the Newsletter containing news, notifications and intercession lists. A Special Edition of the Messenger (April-August 2010), Anglicans and Catholics in Communion: Patrimony, Unity and Mission, carried detailed analysis and comment on the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus, its implications and prospects. A second impression was required in December, owing to its extensive distribution and sustained  demand for its documentation. The League has also substantially supported the creation of The Portal, an informative online magazine for members of the Ordinariate and all those interested in knowing more about its development and impact.

In the autumn, the League also transformed its website on the lines of a blog, in order to keep track of fast moving developments and meet the need for swift comment and news. It also serves, as before, as a general ecumenical resource. It can be found at

At the Annual General Meeting in June 2010, members gave their unanimous support to the trustees’ view that the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus and the prospect of the foundation of an Ordinariate in England as a form of corporate reunion for Anglicans with the Catholic Church represented in large part the culmination of the League's objectives. Trustees also signalled their intention to work in support of Christian Unity between the Anglican and the Catholic Churches in the new situation in light of this, not least through encouragement to members who, at least for the moment, remain members of the Church of England at the same time as promoting the League's overall objects.

It soon became clear that the Ordinariate would be established at some point early in 2011, but that it would need considerable support and resources. Accordingly, the trustees called an Extraordinary General Meeting of members to confirm the policy they had previously endorsed, and to seek express approval to use the League’s resources to assist the foundation and work of the Ordinariate. Bishop Alan Hopes, auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Westminster and Episcopal Delegate of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales for the Implementation of the Apostolic Constitution, was invited to address an Extraordinary General Meeting of the members, which took place in October, to explain his understanding of the way ahead for an historic development for Catholics and Anglicans (and their unity), and to lay out any particular needs. This was the first time that a Catholic bishop had addressed a meeting of the members of the League in its history.

The proposal to confirm support for the policy and the use of the League's assets and resources was approved unanimously and consequently the executive of trustees awarded a substantial grant of £65,000 to establish the office of the new Ordinary and the central operational services of the Ordinariate in an initial two years (£5,000 towards set up in 2010, and £30,000 in each of 2010 and 2011 towards operational costs).

The Executive also agreed to respond to a request to set up a dedicated fund to receive donations for the proposed Ordinariate until its own financial systems are in place, so that there are resources to help it and its groups from the outset. This means that the Ordinariate can also benefit from the Catholic League’s charitable status and receive donations attracting Gift Aid. The fund is known as the Newman Fund and, for the duration of the need for the facility, all donations and Gift Aid will be restricted to the work of the Ordinariate.

Sadly, at the close of the year we said farewell to our much loved and longstanding trustee, Mary Lamb, who died in December. Mary’s company as a fellow pilgrim to Walsingham and Bruges, and her shrewd insight as a trustee will be sorely missed. May she rest in peace.

In August, the Executive co-opted Mary Bacon to strengthen the number and capacity of the trustees. Mary had previously served for many years on the Council and Standing Committee and it is excellent to welcome her back.

During the year, the following grants were approved:
  • £65,000 over two years (£35,000 in 2010, £30,000 in 2011) to the establishment and operation of the Ordinary’s office
  • £400 to Pusey House to defray the costs of conferences on the Ordinariate
  • £5,000 towards The Portal online magazine
  • £1,000 to the Ecumenical Marian Pilgrimage Trust’s 2011 biennial event

According to the longer term vision set out by the trustees and endorsed by members, the Catholic League will be actively supporting the establishment of the Ordinariate in 2011, as well as continue to represent the objectives of its members - whether Catholic, Anglican or belonging to any other church communion. In the light of Pope Benedict’s impressive and inspiring visit to Great Britain in September 2010, and the Beatification of Blessed John Henry Newman, we will continue to support efforts towards the visible unity of the Anglican and Catholic Churches. A second Special Edition of the Messenger is planned once the Ordinariate is more firmly established, to build on the previous edition’s work of documentation and analysis.

We are also planning to commission a thoroughly researched history of the League and its work from 1913 to 2013, the Centenary, and a series of lectures and events to mark achievements on the way to visible unity and to encourage the way ahead.

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