Sunday 22 March 2015

Groundhog Day

It's almost a year to the day since I wrote this about Radio 4's Sunday
It's rare that you get a Conservative MP on Sunday - it's usually Labour or Liberal Democrat MPs who appear on the programme - but Conor Burns MP was invited on today to criticise his own Catholic bishop for excommunicating him over his vote for gay marriage. (This is a classic Sunday story.)
I may not be a Catholic but I've become slightly more clued-up on Catholic matters over the past couple of years or so, and if there's one English 'bogey-Bishop' for the likes of Edward Stourton and his fellow liberal Catholic Tabletistas, it's the new(ish), conservative-traditionalist Bishop of Portsmouth, Philip Egan. And, lo and behold, here he was being slated on Sunday - just as he's been slated in recent days in The Tablet
In fact, although I've never heard about  the story before, as soon as an unnamed bishop was mentioned as being the 'villain of the piece' I guessed it might be Bishop Egan. 
After the Bishop was well-and-truly bashed, Edward Stourton said, curtly, that they'd asked Philip Egan to come onto the programme to respond, and he'd said "No." I wonder why.
Well, this morning's Sunday began with the following:
Edward StourtonWelcome to Sunday. The Bishop of Portsmouth has told his priests that they must review the charities they deal with to make sure their aims are compatible with Church teaching. A Catholic MP for the diocese tells us what he thinks is wrong with Bishop Egan's list of guidelines:
Catholic MP: I think it's very legalistic. It's very rigid. And my worry about it? It will cause people worry and anxiety and perhaps have them step back from involving themselves in things that could otherwise be very good for them and very good for their communities.
Edward Stourton: We'll also have the Bishop's response. 
That Catholic MP turned out to be Conor Burns MP again.

(And, needless to say, The Tablet have been covering the story too - and noticeably less favourably to the Bishop than The Catholic Herald). 

It's déjà vu time again!

This time, however, Bishop Egan did appear for interview - and we'll see how that turned out later.

The sort of Church teaching that Bishop Egan has in mind is that concerning matters like contraception. As he's a Catholic social conservative, he disapproves of  such things. 
Edward Stourton: As an example he cites the case of a domestic dispute resolution charity which has been endorsed by the gay rights organisation, Stonewall. The Bishop argues that becoming involved with such a charity could be seen, and I'm quoting here, "to constitute formal cooperation in gravely immoral acts" [and listen to Ed tone of voice. It changes when it comes to that quote from a straight tone of voice to a loud and somewhat incredulous one - as if he's telling us all that he doesn't believe such things].
After Mr. Burns had slated the bishop in an interview - with Ed Stourton's help ["And you think this will be actively damaging to the people it's sent to?", "You're a Catholic yourself. What do you think the Pope would make of it?"] - Bishop Egan duly appeared [in a pre-recorded interview]. 

It was pretty much inevitable what was going to to happen next - and it most certainly did happen. Ed Stourton went for him - repeatedly interrupting him, asking much longer questions that usual and sounding (especially for Ed) unnecessarily fired-up. 'Unfriendly' and 'hostile' were the words for it. 

Now, if that isn't Ed's liberal Catholic bias coming out into the open again, I'm not quite sure what is. 

This may not be the kind of bias that matters to you but it's pretty clearly bias nonetheless, and a BBC presenter shouldn't be showing it.

P.S. For any passing visitors from the Spectator (h/t Damian Thompson), please click on the link below (to this self-same blog) for the full context:


  1. As with everything else, they take their lead on religious stories from Progressive sources.

  2. "As an example he cites the case of a domestic dispute resolution charity which has been endorsed by the gay rights organisation, Stonewall."

    No mention anywhere that "Catholic" MP Conor Burns is a homosexual?

    1. Or that Ed "Other Projects" Stourton is on the Tablet board?

  3. Have you counted how many times Madeleine Teahan from the Catholic Herald has been on the programme in the same period as I have heard her many times.

    1. Yes, she's been on three times in the past three years. Whether that counts as 'many' I'm not sure.

      Her first appearance followed the rumpus that ensued after our second-ever post, which showed around 25 'Tablet' contributors over a roughly two-year period as compared to O 'Catholic Herald' contributors.

      The power even a little blog like ours can have, eh!

  4. Bishop Phillip egan has been responsible for more Catholics leaving the faith he's a credit to the Anglican churches


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