From Bishop Philip

Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth

Registered Charity number 1199568

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Pope Francis holy door

Pope Francis has declared 2025 to be a Jubilee Year, entitled ‘Pilgrims of Hope’ and this year, 2024, is to be a Year of Prayer in preparation.

To mark this, I write below a Letter to Clergy and Laity about what the Jubilee Year is. I also ask everyone this Year to reflect on the ‘Our Father’ and the seven Spiritual Works of Mercy:

Just as the corporal works of mercy are directed towards relieving corporeal suffering, the aim of the Spiritual works of mercy is to relieve spiritual suffering.

The works include:

  • Admonish the sinner. (Give correction to those who need it.)
  • Instruct the ignorant. (Share our knowledge with others.)
  • Counsel the doubtful. (Give advice to those who need it.)
  • Comfort the sorrowful. (Comfort those who suffer.)
  • Bear wrongs patiently. (Be patient with others.)
  • Forgive all injuries. (Forgive those who hurt us.)
  • Pray for the living and the dead.


From Bishop Philip

Dear Friends,

As we embark on the new year 2024, the Holy Father has invited us to prepare for the Jubilee Year of 2025, entitled ‘Pilgrims of Hope’. In his letter promoting the Jubilee Year, Pope Francis recalls the suffering and hardships that many of us experienced during the pandemic.  In a time where many countries also suffer the effects of war and the climate crisis, Pope Francis sees the Jubilee Year 2025 as an opportunity to restore hope, a time of renewal and rebirth.  The Jubilee Year will begin on 24th December 2024, with the opening of the Holy Door at St Peter’s Basilica and will draw to a close on the feast of Epiphany, January 2026.

In preparation for the Jubilee Year, the Pope has proclaimed this year 2024 to be a year of prayer in preparation.  It will focus on that prayer given to the disciples, the ‘Our Father.’  The Our Father not only reminds us that God is our Father but also reminds us of the union we share as brothers and sisters in Christ.

The word jubilee derives from the Hebrew, ‘Jobel’, which means ‘a ram’s horn.’  The instrument would be blown indicating the start of the year.  In the Old Testament, for the Israelites, the jubilee was a time of universal pardon. In the Book of Leviticus, the Lord says, “And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family.” The year was seen as a time to re-establish relationship with God, with each other, and creation.  This would see misappropriated land returned to their owners, debts forgiven, Hebrew slaves set free, and a fallow period for the land to recover. In the New Testament, on the Sabbath day in the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus reads the Jubilee prophecy (see Luke 4:16-21) from the prophet Isaiah (61:1-2) and proclaims that it would be fulfilled through him, “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn…”  The true jubilee is Jesus Christ himself.  While in the jubilee of old slaves were set free from bondage and united with their families and homeland, in Jesus, we are freed from the bondage of sin and death.  Jesus unites us to our true family, the family of God (the Church), and to our true homeland, heaven.

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FROM BISHOP PHILIP: It is with deep sorrow and grief that I have learned of the death of Queen Elizabeth
II this evening. A woman of faith, service and duty: We remember Queen Elizabeth II in our prayers and offer
up thanks to God for a woman who served the people of our kingdom tirelessly for over seventy years. We
pray for the repose of her soul and that the Father receive her into His Eternal Kingdom. Our prayers and
thoughts are also with the royal family at this sad time

September 8th 2022

RELICS OF ST BERNADETTE – at Portsmouth Cathedral on 8/9 Sept.

The Dominican Sisters at Sway are thinking of going and will have one or two places in their minibus. If there were a significant number of people they may think about hiring a coach.

Contact the Sisters if you are interested.

Tel: 01590-681874; email:


The largest youth gathering of Catholics in England will be taking place at the OVO Arena, Wembley on Saturday 4th March 2023, with the theme ‘Rise Up!’.

All young people in our parishes, or at school or university are WELCOME! The only stipulation is that they are in atleast year 9, so around 14yrs old. There will be loud music, bright lights, and moments of stillness. Tickets for the event  and any questions you have about the event can be answered by emailing or phoning 07780 221686


If you are going to be aged 16 or above by July 2023, you are invited to join with like-minded young people from across the diocese to journey on pilgrimage to Lisbon for World Youth Day. This world-wide gathering is planned to take place 1st - 6th August 2023.

This is a life changing experience for all those who accept the invitation and this pilgrimage, led by Bishop Philip, is set to be the best one yet! But hurry, spaces are limited! Please register your interest ASAP to get your name on the list. Fill out this form:


BoP PL30 130322 (Lenten Campaign).pdf
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The Eucharist tells us who we are: we receive the Body, Blood, Soul & Divinity of Christ, because WE ARE in our own, limited existence the Body, Blood, Soul & Divinity of Christ. (20th Sunday prayer: “..we receive your very self”; also: 27th Sunday prayer: “that we may be refreshed and nourished by the Sacrament whichwe have received, so as to be transformed into what we consume”)

For other ideas on how we may enter fully into this Year of the Eucharist and for more information see:

28th November 2021

SUNDAY OBLIGATION REMAINS SUSPENDED: but Bishops of England & Wales encourage everyone to honour the Lord’s Day: see full text here:


15th November 2021

Bishop Philip writes...

Earlier this year, we undertook a Diocesan Survey, It is called A Thousand Voices: The views, hopes and fears of the lay faithful in the Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth. Over these weeks, I am highlighting some of the results – this week, what you said about Service and Outreach.

69% thought that local foodbanks were among the most important opportunities for the church to support those in need. Over 80% had opportunities to support both foodbanks and overseas aid through their church. There was some mismatch between what people found important, and what they could support: e.g. 61% considered ‘children living in poverty’ important but only 32% had opportunities to support them through their church. Participants were asked to choose five ‘most important’ opportunities for the Church to service the poor and those in need. 20% skipped the question; of those who answered it, foodbanks, children, and poor people in the developing world were the most frequently selected.

151 gave a written response. The largest number (34) stated that all the matters were important and/or it was difficult to choose only five (‘5 choices are too few, all need support’). 31 comments indicated they would like the parish to meet local needs: As a parish we hardly get involved or lead any charitable work in the local community or the old people’s homes. The Church should focus where there is a gap in provision, not replicate what is there ... We need to focus on the poor in the parishes, this is harder than giving money away to those we do not see. 20 of these comments concerned elderly and/or isolated people (‘There is an epidemic of lonely people ... Most are older, unable to get out much and with very few friends or family locally’). Four specified the SVP. In contrast, nine comments were about overseas help: three mentioned seafarers; CAFOD, FairTrade, Bamenda and overseas missions were also named.

Nine comments expressed concern about the interface between the work of the church and politics. Four of these stated that they dislike supporting CAFOD because of its political stance; two stated that climate change should not be included in the question and two expressed caution about acts of charity generally (‘Most people in trouble are so because of problems needing specialist help. We need to be careful we do not cause further harm by being enthusiastic amateurs!’) Seven respondents urged the church to work with other denominations or Local Authorities (‘There is so much need in our town; there are also great ecumenical opportunities’) and two of these stated that help should be not only be available to Catholics. Six expressed the view that the church should focus entirely on spiritual matters (‘The emphasis needs to be on our Immortal souls not concerns of this world!’) and five commented on abortion, two of whom were firmly ‘pro- life’ whilst three expressed an opposing view (‘Stop this fixation on abortion please’).

Five people wrote about support for those with physical needs or disabilities; four commented on people with mental health issues or learning difficulties and four wrote about marriage and family life. Three commented on prisoners or ex-offenders. There were also 25 comments that were impossible to categorise under the groupings mentioned; these ranged from animals to music, to social media. It is likely that some people take to their hearts, issues that have a particular appeal to them. For instance, one respondent wrote, ‘I’m a nurse; anything related to health care’. Asked to identify the opportunities to help ‘through the Church you attend’; rounded percentage figures showed some mis-match between people’s priorities (reproduced in Column 2 in the table below) and their opportunities to serve (Column 3). In particular, although 61% considered ‘children living in poverty’ important, only 32% had opportunities to support them through their church. To a lesser degree, the same is true for homelessness, the environment, and care for the elderly, those with dementia and those with other forms of mental ill health. In contrast, only 28% found ‘Aid for poor in the Diocese; important but 48% had opportunities to support this cause through their church.


123 respondents gave written answers; 23% skipped the question. 53 people stated that there were opportunities in their church, of which 40 named an activity: 17 mentioned the SVP, 3 mentioned Stella Maris, and other activities included care of immigrants; drug and alcohol rehabilitation; missions; street pastors; and visits to people in hospitals and prisons. 13 people stated that opportunities existed but they didn’t know what (‘I believe that there are Catholic parishioners who do involve themselves with most, if not all, of these causes’).

In contrast, 29 stated that their church did little or nothing to help those in need (‘Sadly our church does not appear very active’), although eight of these recognised the financial help provided by the church (‘The only opportunities that exist are the opportunities to give money which obviously helps, but doesn't encourage a deeper commitment to fulfil our commitment to the poor’) and a further eight qualified their response by stating that they were not aware of what their church does (‘there may be some provision but I'm not aware of it’). Seven people expressed either a desire for their church to work with other churches, or a recognition that this occurs (‘Some that I have ticked as YES are via Christians Together organisations’); six expressed the view that the church should not be involved in charitable work, of whom three objected specifically to the notion that the Church should be involved with the environment and climate change (‘I regard this topic as highly political and speaking more to a pro- pantheistic view of the world and thus heretical’). Two suggested that those in need would be better supported by organisations outside the Church.

9th November 2021

Bishop Philip writes..

Earlier this year, we undertook a Diocesan Survey. It is called A Thousand Voices: The views, hopes and fears of the lay faithful in the Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth. Over these weeks, I am highlighting some of the results – this week, what you said about Mission and Evangelisation.

40% had asked friends and family to accompany them to Mass (although some of these might have been dependents such as young children). The most commonly-mentioned inhibitor to evangelisation was the liturgy. 78% were ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ confident to share their faith with others. 30% believed that the main route to better mission is reform of church and/or clergy. Question 23 read, ‘If you go to Mass regularly would you invite a friend or family member who does not (currently) go to Mass to come with you (Tick all that apply)’. Quantitative answers were as follows:  At first glance it might appear that many respondents were enthusiastically inviting others to church: 40% had asked friends and family to accompany them to Mass and only 4% ‘would never ask anyone to come with me to Mass or any Church related activity’. However there are reasons to treat these figures with caution. First, the sentence ‘I have already asked friends and family to come to Mass with me’ made no distinction between family members who are in no position to refuse such an invitation (e.g. dependent children) and others. Second, participants were able to tick more than one question (and answers totalled more than 100%) although the statements were mostly mutually incompatible; it is therefore impossible to tell which of two or more ticked statements was more accurate for any participant. Third, although only 63 respondents agreed that they ‘would never ask anyone’, 123 gave reasons why they ‘would never ask anyone’, casting doubt on the first of these figures, and finally, 16% skipped the question.

Among the 123 written responses, 30 gave reasons connected with the liturgy. 17 referenced boring services and the way the mass is celebrated (‘Because I am ashamed of the appalling way Mass is celebrated’) or a general concern that people may have a bad experience of liturgy. 13 referenced the complexity of the mass for the uninitiated (‘Mass is complicated and not something open to visitors; how can they understand when most in attendance do not?’); one of these specifically referenced Masses in Latin. 13 stated that their faith was personal (‘Beliefs are a very personal matter’) and 11 said that they did not wish to impose their own views on others (‘I don't feel I am well placed to preach to others’.) Five people mentioned personal embarrassment (‘Sadly, too embarrassed’) and five cited embarrassment at what their friends and family might experience (‘miserable people, a poor liturgy, dreadful singing and a rambling, pointless homily’). 14 people said they had no one they could ask (e.g. ‘I don't know anyone close enough to ask’). Nine cited a general lack of welcome in their church (‘don’t feel that the church is a welcoming place. Better in other religions’), and one of these indicated concern that Christians of other denominations could not receive communion. Three people specifically said they were ashamed of the church more generally (‘Right now I could not do this as I am ashamed of the behaviour of the church, and I do not feel that I could encourage others to take up a relationship with it’) and three specifically qualified their answer by saying they would not ask because of their perception of the priest (‘My Priest is very unfriendly; wouldn't encourage anyone until he leaves’). In contrast, nine indicated either that they had asked others to accompany them or would ask others, although three of these restricted this to family only.

Asked, ‘How confident do you feel in being able to share your faith with others?’ 78% selected ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ confident and only 5% selected ‘not at all confident’ (17% skipped the question). Participants were not invited to provide written answers. Question 49 invited participants to provide up to five answers to the question, ‘As Catholics, we believe that each person is called to bring people closer to Jesus through His Church. What, if anything, needs to change to realise that vision?’ 59% provided at least one answer to this question; 49% gave at least two; 41% gave at least three; 32% gave at least four and 16% gave five answers. 41% skipped the question altogether. 318 respondents (30%) urged the need for clergy reform and/or for church reform regarding its approach to a series of aspects of Church teaching. For example, The encouragement of the priest who should try to get to know his flock. Consider the plight of women in loveless marriages who divorce and cannot remarry in the Church. 17 of those who mentioned clergy specified sexual abuse scandals (‘A genuine realisation of just how much terrible damage has been done by the covering up of abuse cases’). 82 respondents stated that personal witness was key to realise the vision and a further 74 respondents shared the need for our parishes to be welcoming, inclusive and to offer a sense of belonging. (‘For everyone to have a role within the family of the church and feel valued’).

58 respondents called for more catechesis and formation for the laity and 49 people wanted better experience of liturgy (‘A need for more beauty and reverence in the liturgy’). Other themes included, Communication (39 comments, e.g. ‘Better connection with people’); Investing in youth (24, e.g. ‘Make it more relevant to the young’); Beauty of the sacraments and/or scripture (23, e.g. ‘Encouraging more reading of the Bible’); Proclamation (22, e.g. ‘We must be willing to speak about our faith’); and Personal encounter (20, e.g. ‘The need to really develop a personal relationship with Jesus’).

Other themes, each mentioned by fewer than 2% of respondents, included a need for guidance (12); to be educated (12); empowering the laity (11); engaging in ecumenism (11); initiatives (10); listening and consultation (5), the Homily (5); and greater visibility (4). 23 people stated either ‘not sure’ or ‘I don’t know’. A further 144 comments could not be categorised and covered a plethora of individual suggestions ranging from ‘Genuine interest in the other person’ to ‘Changing people’s world view’; from ‘Reclaiming Catholic tradition’ to ‘Make it more fun so people want to join and then they will convert’, and from ‘Keep trying’ to ‘Don't try too hard’.

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7th November 2021


At this time, the COP26 Climate Change Conference is taking place in Glasgow.

World leaders and experts are discussing how best to tackle the environmental emergency the world faces. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide them towards a good outcome. Let us also ask the Holy Spirit to change our own attitudes and

lifestyles, so that we will be more virtuous stewards of God’s creation. 

 Sadly, much popular discussion about climate change, however welcome,is shallow or functional: the loss of animal habitats, the mess passed on to the grandchildren, melting ice-caps and rising sea levels, the damage caused by extreme weather. Vested interests focus on the climate emergency whilst ignoring the emergency of poverty and inequality, excessive consumption and the  throwaway culture. What is missing here is an important ecological triad: love of God - love of humanity - love of creation. This integral vision - love of God and love of humanity leading to love of creation – should make us as Catholics people of immense ecological passion. We love the Earth because God has made it: the Spirit hovered over the waters. He has given it to us so that in Christ we can build a Kingdom of justice, peace and love for all. This is why ecological concern must be about more than recycling however important. The way we treat the Earth is linked to the way we treat others, and vice versa. 


 The Church’s vision is gloriously comprehensive. God has created this passing world in all its beauty, splendour, diversity and interdependence. Every creature is a ‘sacramental’ with its own intrinsic grammar pointing to Him. There is a hierarchy of creatures, plants and animals, with humanity the summit of His work. Human beings, made in God’s image and likeness, lie at the crossroads between the visible and the invisible, with bodies that come from the earth and souls that come from above, and God has entrusted the whole world to our care.


He loves this blue planet, so precious and fragile, the third from the Sun, speeding through space at eighteen miles a second: He loves it with a limitless love. To damage it, to squander its resources, to mistreat animals and wreck the climate, to abuse fellow humans or to deprive those less fortunate of what they need, is to commit a grave sin. 

 Today, the Earth our sister cries out to us. The way things are going is not right. We need to change, to do our bit. We must hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. In Christ and in the Holy Spirit, we must seek to resolve the crisis by adopting a simpler, more sustainable way of living, with less consumerism, within a new economic order advantageous to the needy. What can we do? As Catholics, we should work with other environmentalists to promote the care of  creation and the integral ecological conversion that is needed. 



Bishop Philip Egan



Oct 26th 2021

Welcome to e-News for this last week of October. To begin, a big announcement: I’m delighted to say that our Diocese of


 will now be joining the Global Fossil Fuel Divestment announcement on 26th October! Read more:

Two weeks ago, the Bishops of England issued a brief statement called Sunday – It Is Our Day.

It announced that the usual canonical obligation for Catholics to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation is to be restored on the First Sunday of Advent (28th November 2021).

Here is the statement.

On 19th July, the current legislative powers which assist the mitigations against the covid-19 virus transmission will be rescinded by HM Government.

Nevertheless, there will be an encouragement to personal and corporate responsibility in this area; as the Prime Minister said in his most recent statement “The pandemic is not over.”

Even without this legislation in place, the Church in England and Wales will be adopting a cautious approach to capacity and activity within our buildings, especially at corporate acts of worship.

We are mindful of the certain fact that the Covid-19 virus is still circulating in society.

Vaccines provide genuine protection against the worst effects of the virus, yet we recognise the legitimate fear on the part of some who otherwise desire to gather for Holy Mass.

It is our continuing judgement, therefore, that it is not possible at the present time for all of the faithful to attend Mass on a Sunday thus fulfilling their duty to God.

It is hoped that it will be possible for all Catholics in England and Wales to fulfil this most important Church precept, that of the Sunday Obligation, by the First Sunday in Advent 2021.

In the meantime, all Catholics are asked to do their best to participate in the celebration of the weekly Sunday Mass and to reflect deeply on the centrality of Sunday worship in the life of the Church.

Bishop Phillip

Diocesan Annual Report 2020

The 2020 Diocesan Annual Report has now been published and submitted to the Charity Commission. 2020 of course was an extraordinary year with the COVID pandemic. Our faith is a great comfort during challenging times, providing solace and hope. As the Church emerges from the pandemic, we thank God that our Diocese has enormous potential and on behalf of the Lord, I express profound gratitude to everyone for their work. The Annual Report provides an excellent review of all the great work that has been going on across the Diocese. It also gives detail of the financial accounts and is available on the diocesan website at the following address:



Vice Voce Summer Issue 2021.pdf
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My Five Hopes for the Year of the Eucharist

Bishop Philip July 2021

I have five hopes for our current Year of the Eucharist.

The Year will run until Christmas 2022.

These are my prayers and aspirations:

1. Let us grow so much in our faith that we always acknowledge Jesus Christ to be really and truly present and active in the Holy Eucharist.

2. Let us see the Mass as the source of our life’s activity.

3. Let us practice regularly spending time with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration

4. Let us beg the Eucharistic Lord to fill us with His Holy Spirit, sending us out to transform the world in loving mission and service

5. Let us reach out in welcome to others, those outside the church, the non-practicing and the needy, in order to draw them to Jesus in the Eucharist

“I urge you with all the strength of my soul to approach the Eucharistic Table as often as possible. Feed on this Bread of the Angels from which you will draw the strength to fight inner struggles, the struggles against passions and against all adversities, because Jesus Christ has promised to those who feed themselves with the most Holy Eucharist, eternal life and the necessary graces to obtain it”

(from a speech at Pollone to youth by Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati)

PASTORAL LETTER FROM THE BISHOP appointed to be read in all churches and chapels of the Diocese of Portsmouth on 6th June 2021, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.


My dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord, I am writing to you with an invitation. But let me first wish you today a very happy Feast Day, Corpus Christi, when we adore the most precious treasure Christ has given His Church, the Gift that exceeds all praise, the Blessed Sacrament of His Body and Blood. It is a sublime mystery, before which we can but kneel in silent astonishment - to borrow Charles Wesley’s words - “lost in wonder, awe and praise.”Today we return to Holy Thursday, to the Last Supper, when Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist and the priesthood that perpetuates the Mass until the end of time. My brothers and sisters, on our altars, it is the same Jesus Whom St. Thomas acclaimed “My Lord and my God,” and of Whom St. John, the beloved disciple, seeing Him on the beach and hearing His voice, said excitedly: “It is the Lord!” In every Mass, Jesus actually speaks His Word to us in the Scriptures and then, as the bread and wine is changed into His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, He gives us the gift of Himself, the Bread of Life, a love-gift that is stronger even than death. These last eighteen months, for all of us, have been difficult. The pandemic has brought much suffering, anxiety and disruption. It has also disrupted our spiritual and ecclesial life. We have often been unable to get to Mass or Confession, and the first sacraments for our children have had to be postponed. Yet valiant efforts have been made, with live-streaming and other initiatives, and I thank all of you, clergy and people, for your witness, self- sacrifice and service. The situation is presently looking more hopeful, so let us continue to pray to the Good Lord for a final resolution of this crisis. With things improving, I come to you with an invitation. I wish to invite you to join me, and everyone across the Diocese, in keeping from today a Year of the Eucharist, supported by our current focus on St. Joseph. I wish this Year of the Eucharist to bring about a deep spiritual renewal, a deeper love for Jesus in the Mass and in the Sacrament of the Altar. I invite you to return physically to Mass, if you haven’t already, and to attend Mass more often, keeping the Feast days. I also invite you to pay visits to church – why not go as a family? - to bask in the Real Presence and to receive the peace of heart, liberation and gifts of love He offers. How you keep this Year is up to you, but I ask that periods of Eucharistic Adoration be organised and for everyone to undertake prayer and lectio divina. I have established five shrine churches: Portsmouth Cathedral, Sacred Heart Bournemouth, St. James’s Reading, Jersey St. Thomas and Guernsey St. Joseph, where you can go on pilgrimage and gain an Indulgence. I also hope this Year will help us to link better liturgy and life, so that the more we love Jesus in the Eucharist, the more we will love Him in the needy and in creation. After all, Mary and Joseph cared for Jesus’s practical needs every day. Our diocesan patron St. Edmund of Abingdon was noted for his works of charity; he often gave away his fees. And Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, patron of our youth, who from the age of 13 was a daily communicant, said: “Jesus pays me a visit every morning in Communion and I repay Him, in the little way I can, by going to visit His poor.” Let me share with you two major concerns I have, for which I ask you to pray. Nine out of ten Catholics do not attend Sunday Mass: how can we fan their faith into a flame? Ninety-nine per cent of people living in our Diocese do not know about the ‘Bread of angels,’ how can we reach out to make them more welcome? Remember: when we kneel before the Lord in the Eucharist, we adore not only a Sacred Object but a Sacred Person, Jesus Himself. More, Jesus is not just present: He is active. From the altar, He wants to fill us with His Holy Spirit. He wants our hearts to burn within us. He wants to set us on fire with love, enthusiasm and passion. So, when you adore Him, ask Him for the Holy Spirit; ask Him for the gifts of the Spirit; ask Him for the Holy Spirit to send you out to help transform the world with justice, love and peace. Another point, The Mass primarily is not about us; it’s about God. It’s not about what we do, but about what God does. It’s not about worship or warm feelings; it’s the work of the Blessed Trinity. When we come to Mass, the Holy Spirit unites us with Jesus in His self-offering to the Father, and just as, out of love for us, He lays down His life on the altar, so He sends us out to do the same for others. People often have vague, even wrong ideas about the Mass. The Mass is the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary in which He is the Victim. Jesus invites us to join ourselves to His sacrifice and to offer up to the Father our own lives, our thoughts, words and deeds, our sufferings, joys, hopes and fears. This is why the Mass is the source and centre of our Christian life. I hope that during the Year of the Eucharist, there will be many opportunities, online and in your parish, for catechesis and for sharing personal testimonies. Let me end with a story. My parents died a little while ago: please pray for them. But occasionally during Eucharistic adoration I have had from the Lord a holy intuition that they are now with Him in that state of “refreshment, light and peace” the First Eucharistic Prayer speaks of. We are never closer to our departed loved ones than when we are with Jesus in the Eucharist: they are with Him and He is with us. Indeed, the Eucharist creates the Church across space and time; it makes us one body, one spirit in Christ; it generates our parish communities, the Lord uniting us with Himself and with one another in the bond of charity. It is sad that often in the Catholic Church, that within our Diocese, parishes, schools and families, there is a lack of love, a failure to practice the Lord’s command: “Love one another as I have loved you.” This leads to a culture of disunity, disaffection and fault-finding. Let us earnestly pray that this Year of the Eucharist will cause a new cascade of love across the Church, uniting us all in common purpose: Bishop, clergy and laity, husbands, wives and children. In this way, the Church in our Diocese will be more like what she is meant to be: a light, a lumen gentium, a light to everyone around. Thank you for listening. I know I have said a lot here, so please do take a copy away with you to read at home. Meanwhile, let us pray for one another. And today, have a happy Feast Day!

In Corde Iesu,

+Philip Bishop of Portsmouth


30th May 2021

Year of the Eucharist begins soon

In our Diocese of Portsmouth, we will begin a Year of the Eucharist starting on the Feast of Corpus Christi, 6th June 2021. As you know, in these years 2020 to 2022, I am inviting everyone in the Diocese to undertake by God’s grace a period of intense, spiritual renewal.

The purpose ultimately is to help us realise our diocesan ambition of Bringing People Closer to Jesus Christ through His Church. We are always totally dependent on God and His grace and on the gifts of the Holy Spirit He pours out upon us through the Holy Eucharist. In other  words, we wish to be renewed in faith so that we will be better equipped for service and mission. The Year of the Eucharist, which will follow on from the Year of the Word, will be a unique opportunity for the Diocese as a whole, for parishes and schools, clergy and faithful, families and individuals to rekindle our love for Jesus Christ really and truly present and active in the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist and the Blessed Sacrament we adore outside of

Mass: It is the Lord! (cf. John 21:7) By a happy coincidence, the Holy Father has made the year 2021 a Year of St. Joseph and so as we begin a Year of the Eucharist, I recommend prayerful reflection on the passages in the Gospels that speak of St. Joseph and which can draw us closer to the Child he loved and cared for. Over the next weeks in e-News, I will share with you some ideas about how we can keep the Year holy, including details of our three Shrine churches where you can obtain a special Plenary Indulgence.

(Bishop Philip)

17th April 2021

On behalf of the clergy and people of the Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth, I wish to express to Her Majesty the Queen our heartfelt sympathy and the promise of our prayers upon the loss of the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, her dear husband and father of her children. Personally, I have always admired the Prince’s loyal and kindly support of the Queen in her public duties and his good-natured engagement with those whom he meets and serves in his role as her Consort. I also express gratitude to him and to Her Majesty for their witness of over seventy years of marriage and family life, which in these turbulent times gives us all an outstanding example of fidelity and stability. Now that his earthly labours are over, may the Lord show him mercy and take him to Himself in the happiness of heaven.


Bishop Philip


Thanks to Fr. PJ Smith, I’ve recorded a video of the Stations of the Cross . This recording uses the beautiful set of Stations we have here in St. John’s Cathedral, Portsmouth. The whole video-liturgy takes 30 minutes. You can download it here: .


Mothering Sunday 14th March


Today, Sunday, 14th March 2021,

is the Fourth Sunday of Lent.


It’s mid-Lent Sunday: traditionally, Laetare Sunday (‘Rejoicing Sunday’) from the words of the Introit Laetare Jerusalem, ‘Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her; be joyful all who were in mourning’.


As Pope Innocent III said: Today is the middle of Lent, so some relaxation ought to be provided, lest the faithful break down under the severity of their Lenten fasts. So rose vestments can be used, flowers too.


Simnel cakes were often baked for the day.


But this Sunday in England is also Mothering Sunday – and we wish all mothers a very happy day!


In mediaeval England, today was a holiday from work when people went home to the mother church in which they were baptised.


As families gathered, they gave gifts to their mothers, hence Mothering Sunday, a day we pray for our mothers too.


Please remember to say a prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary next Sunday for your mother and grandmother.


Here are some prayers from the Book of Blessings. As intercessions, they could be added to the Bidding Prayers:


1. For our mothers, who have given us life and love, that we may show them reverence and love, we pray to the Lord. R.


2. For mothers who have lost a child through death, that their faith may give them hope, and their family and friends support and console them, we pray to the Lord. R.


3. For mothers who have died, that God may bring them into the joy of his kingdom, we pray to the Lord. R.


Bishop Philip

Stations of the Cross


Thanks to Fr. PJ Smith, I’ve recorded a video of the Stations of the Cross .


I am conscious that for one reason or another this Lent some of you may not be able to get to church to do the Stations.


This recording uses the beautiful set of Stations we have here in St. John’s Cathedral, Portsmouth.


The whole video-liturgy takes 30 minutes. So this Friday – or even now if you prefer! - why not set aside some time to follow the Via Crucis?  It is the way to heaven.


The texts I use here are the ones I composed for the excellent booklet Eddie Morton designed and produced, with its striking illustrations.


You can download   it from You Tube     


it will help you to follow the prayers.


Bishop Philip


(If it asks you to sign in to You Tube just click ‘No Thanks’)




Recently, Canon Chris Thomas, Secretary to the Bishops’ Conference, sent an email to all the bishops about a recent meeting of the Places of Worship Task Force, which he had attended. I thought it worth sharing with you. He promised further clarification in due course about some of the points below.


“There was a significant discussion on singing. The return of congregational singing indoors is not envisaged for some time and is probably only possible after 21st June when Step 4 of the Government Roadmap has been successfully reached. However, the following was noted:


Step 1a – 8th March – no change on singing from the current position (of a single voice or 3 voices spaced if essential to the act of worship) however, singing may take place in schools and children’s choirs (including choir schools).


Step 1b – no earlier than 29th March – it is possible that there could be managed outdoor singing providing that social distancing is maintained, and the congregation is orientated in a unidirectional way.


Step 2 – no earlier than 12th April – outdoor singing permitted but no change to indoor singing. Amateur choirs may be able to sing from this date.


Step 3 – no earlier than 17th May – resumption of indoor professional performances within buildings.


Step 4 – no earlier than 21st June – possible resumption of indoor congregational singing, subject to clarification nearer the time.


It certainly will not be permissible to have congregational singing indoors for Easter .


It was also stated even beyond the relaxations envisaged at Step 4 (21st June) a degree of social distancing will be required moving forward.


There is research being done on this by PHE through examining situations across the world on the effects of the relaxation of social distancing and face coverings.


More guidance on this is expected in May.”


Bishop Philip

Catholics admitted to Hospitals

It is important when a Catholic is admitted to hospital, the family ensure that the Catholic Chaplaincy is contacted so that appropriate support can be given. As access to the hospital may be restricted, it is suggested that the patient have a note to give to hospital staff on admission notifying staff that they are Catholic and would appreciate the Catholic chaplaincy service. This could be followed up by a telephone call from the family to the ward making the request.

Lent begins this Wednesday!

This week we begin the great and joyful season of Lent, a time of God’s grace and a time of great renewal for us all. Let us pray that by our Lenten works of prayer, self-denial and charity, we may grow in holiness and thus become brighter beacons of light in the darkness of these times, drawing many more people closer to Jesus Christ through His Church. Try to get to Mass this Wednesday if you can, and to receive the ashes.

Ash Wednesday is a penitential day, a day of fasting, and a day of abstinence from eating meat. On Ash Wednesday, the Church blesses ashes and after the Gospel of the Mass, the priest sprinkles them on a person’s head or imposes them on their forehead with the Sign of the Cross. He says: Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return. Or: Repent and believe the Gospel.

Dust and ashes were used in many ancient religions to signify death and mortality. In the OT, ashes were also used as a sign of sorrow for sin and repentance and to see someone signed with ash is meant to evoke sympathy and prayers for them, for their conversion and for their restoration to grace and well-being. In our own times, to wear ashes on Ash Wednesday in a busy, secular culture is a great witness. It reminds others that time is passing and that one day we will all die. Now is the time to change. Now is the time to love God more deeply. Now is the time to love and support of our neighbour, especially the needy. Bishop Philip


Sunday evening, 31st January, at 5 pm


I invite you to join me for a short presentation called

 “The Role of Faith in the Time of COVID”



Don't worry, you can watch the event live on our YouTube channel.

Just copy and paste this link into your web browser on the night:

If you have any issues, please email


I’m the first speaker in a series organised by the Archdiocese of Edinburgh and St. Andrews on Faith in the Time of COVID.


The talks are all at 5pm on Sunday evenings and last 20 minutes followed by 10 minutes for questions – just half an hour in total.


The other speakers include

7th February: Dr. Mary Rice Hasson, fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. where she directs the Catholic Women’s Forum, an initiative responding to Pope Francis’s call for Catholic women to assume a higher profile within the Church, and to think with the Church in addressing the problems of today.


14th February:The Scottish philosopher, commentator and broadcaster Professor John Haldane from St. Andrew’s University, a former papal adviser to the Vatican, is speaking on Sunday 


21st February, the series ends with Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown MP, the former Prime Minister.


Diocesan Day of Prayer and Fasting for an End to the Coronavirus Pandemic

Bishop Philip writes...

Many thanks to everyone who joined in the diocesan Day of Prayer and Fasting for an End to the Coronavirus Pandemic last Friday, 27th November. I’ve had a number of emails expressing gratitude and telling us what happened in their parish or area and what they did to join in. I was most impressed to see the numbers here in the Cathedral during the day, and also in the middle of the night.

Bishop Philip Advent 2020.pdf
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Bishop's pastoral letter come back to me[...]
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Day of Prayer to End the COVID Crisis

Bishop Philip writes...

When the new lockdown measures were announced by the Prime Minister last Saturday, the government advisors who were present showed various slides about the crisis. The pandemic seems to be worsening. This makes it all the more urgent that we pray to the Lord for a speedy end to the pandemic. To this end, I am inviting everyone across the Diocese, clergy, religious and laity, to keep with me a special Day of Prayer and Fasting for an End to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

The Day is called

Twenty-Four Hours with the Lord”

and will take place on Friday 27th November 2020.


This is the last Friday of the Church’s Liturgical Year before we enter the new Year with the First Sunday of Advent (29th November). We can pray earnestly for a speedy end to the pandemic, for the safety and protection of all, especially our family and friends, for the health of the sick and the strength of those who care for them, for those suffering financially or in other ways from the pandemic, for patients in hospitals and the residents of care-homes, for all medical staff and key workers, for government leaders, scientists and advisors, for the discovery of an effective, ethically-sourced, vaccine, for patience, perseverance and mental well-being and for all who have died and those who mourn them.

There will be a twenty-four hour long programme of Mass, prayer, Rosary and Eucharistic Adoration live-streamed from here at the Cathedral, of which you will be invited to join in as much as you can. I hope too that there will be various opportunities and other ideas to join in the Day at home and in your own parish communities.

Here is the proposed programme:


0730    Eucharistic Exposition and Adoration


0810   Morning Prayer


0825   Reposition of the Blessed Sacrament


0830   Mass (prayers and readings from Mass in Time of                   Pandemic)


0915    Eucharistic Exposition and Adoration


1015   Rosary (The Five Joyful Mysteries)


1155   Reposition of the Blessed Sacrament


1200    Angelus and Midday Prayer


1215   Mass (prayers and readings from Mass in Time of                   Pandemic)


1300   Eucharistic Exposition and Adoration


1305   Rosary (The Five Luminous Mysteries)


1500   Liturgy of the Passion


1700   The Chaplet of Divine Mercy

1925   Reposition of the Blessed Sacrament


1930   Evening Prayer


2000   Mass (prayers and readings from Mass in Time of                   Pandemic)


2015    Eucharistic Exposition and Adoration


2100   Rosary (The Five Sorrowful Mysteries)


2230   The Seven Last Words of Christ


2330   Rosary (The Five Glorious Mysteries)


2350   Night Prayer (Compline)


2400   Eucharistic Vigil: “Watching with the Lord”


0730   Benediction and Reposition of the Blessed Sacrament



Today, 1st September, is the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. This Day was established by Pope Francis to encourage the Catholic community around the world to pray for our common home. The Day is inspired by Pope Francis' landmark encyclical Laudato Si’, which calls on "every person living on this planet" to care for our shared Earth. He calls us all to celebrate this opportune moment to “reaffirm [our] personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation, as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.”


Here is a prayer we can say today:


All-powerful God,

you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures.

You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.

Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty.

Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.

O God of the poor,

help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,

so precious in your eyes.

Bring healing to our lives,

that we may protect the world and not prey on it,

that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.

Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain

at the expense of the poor and the earth.

Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,

to be filled with awe and contemplation,

to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature

as we journey towards your infinite light.

We thank you for being with us each day.

Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace.

Bishop Philip

With great joy – albeit with a bit of trepidation – we look forward to the reopening of our churches for the sacred Liturgy this weekend and also Ordinations and other events too! More in e-News:

May God bless you, granting you all a deeper faith and joy.

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21st June

It’s great news that our churches are now gradually reopening, although this is a process that will vary from place to place. It depends on everyone’s generosity. Read more in this week's e-News:


I wish you a blessed few days ahead, safe and sound.


9th June

From Bishop Philip

It looks as if the government is set to allow the reopening of our churches, perhaps from next week (15th June). As I have said before, I reluctantly went along with the mandate to close our churches back in March, in part because of the safety aspects and in part not to be out of step with other dioceses. However, I have always felt it was not a right decision, especially given that shops, newsagents and even off-licenses were open. First, humans are natively spiritual persons, with emotional, mental and psychological needs and a pandemic with a major lockdown is surely just the time when people need to visit and pray in a church? And secondly, for Catholics, a church is not simply a ‘place of worship’: it’s the place where Jesus Christ is really and truly present among His people feeding and healing them in the Sacraments, instructing them with His Word and caring for them with His love. Consequently, I have been actively supporting the Bishops’ Conference in its efforts towards (safe) reopening and I wrote to the Secretary of State and to all 34 MPs in our Diocese to enlist their support. In the Diocese, our Crisis Management Team has drafted guidelines for parishes to reopen churches for private prayer (Phase One) and for the public celebration of the Sacred Liturgy (Phase Two). What is clear is that as in other sectors of life - transport, shops, work - reopening our churches, while COVID-19 remains a threat, is do-able but will not be easy. Local arrangements and resources will vary and it might be a while before some churches can reopen. In Guernsey, churches have already been reopened and so we will have much to learn from the experience of Fr. Bruce and the parishioners there. Those who are sick and those in the “vulnerable” category will be asked not to enter. Arrangements in churches will need to be in place with stewards to ensure hygiene and social distancing. Your parish will need you to help and volunteer! Many other arrangements will need to be put in place, especially when eventually the celebration of the Liturgy resumes. Please keep this matter in your prayers. We want our churches to reopen (safely) as soon as possible. Let us ask the Lord for a speedy end to the pandemic and for His guidance at this difficult time.

14th April,  Bishop Philip writes...

Dear Friends,

A very happy Easter to you! For us as Catholics, this Holy Week and Easter have been like no other. We’ve not been able to go into church let alone celebrate the Mass and the dramatic liturgies of the sacred Triduum. Even so, I’m amazed and grateful at the creative ideas of our clergy and parishioners in order to keep in touch. Many parishes have taken to live streaming the liturgy or emailing parishioners or even taking to the simple ministry of the telephone. Our schools too – teachers, governors and pupils – have been doing some amazing work supporting the families of front-line workers and also those who are vulnerable, poor and alone. The coronavirus crisis is a wake-up call for us all. I am saddened to hear of the medics who have died after contracting it. Again, the other day in the supermarket, many of the shelves were empty. Much of normal life is now disrupted and we wonder when and even whether things will ever be the same again. Yet this is why as Christians our faith and example is crucial. We need to pray for an end to the virus, for the sick and those who care for them, and for those who have died. But more, we need to assure people of God’s love for them: that He is on our side and offering us His grace. And we need to communicate His love: that Jesus Christ His Son gave His life for us on the Cross and promises us resurrection and new life. Meanwhile, once again, Happy Easter! May God fill you with deeper faith, with His love and with joy. Thank you, clergy and people of the Diocese of Portsmouth, for your witness and example at this difficult time. With the strength of the Lord in our hearts, let's keep up the good work of Bringing People Closer to Jesus Christ through His Church.

Bishop Philip

Message from Bishop Philip

"The COVID-19 pandemic is causing us all great harm, disruption and anxiety. As Catholics, we must tackle this crisis with spiritual as well as human resources. God’s Word is being proclaimed. The Sacraments are available and pastoral care to God’s people in their need is being offered. Although we cannot gather for public liturgies, we must pray.


Let us pray earnestly. Let us pray for a speedy solution, for those who are sick, for the protection of the elderly and the vulnerable, for those in self-isolation, for all who are suffering anxiety and worry, for the homeless and needy, for the well-being and financial security of all, for the NHS medical staff and all who care for the sick, and for the repose of those who have died. Let us turn with confidence to God our father, invoking the intercession of our patron saints, Mary Immaculate, St. Edmund of Abingdon and Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. May St. Michael and our Guardian Angels protect us."




Further Measures in Response to the Challenge of the Coronavirus

DECREE 24th March 2020

In response to new government restrictions for the sake of public health and safety, the following measures are to be put in place with immediate effect.

These measures are to be read in conjunction with those put in place by the Decree of 19th March 2020, and in some cases modify or supersede them.


1. Churches. All churches and chapels in the Diocese of Portsmouth are to be closed with immediate effect until further notice. Priests will continue to say a daily Mass but without the faithful present.


2. Baptisms. Baptisms are to be deferred until a time when the government signals that people can gather again safely. In danger of death, baptisms may be celebrated privately with the necessary hygiene precautions and with strictly limited attendance.


3. Matrimony. Weddings are to be deferred until a time when the government signals that people can gather again safely.


4. Sacraments to the Sick and the Dying. It may no longer be possible to administer the Sacraments upon request except to those in danger.

Visits by the clergy to such people, especially when in care homes and hospitals, will need to follow the advice of those on infection control.


The Further Guidelines attached to the Decree of 19th March 2020, even if modified in the light of the latest government advice, remain in place, especially the need for the laity to avail themselves of alternatives to attending Mass, the necessity of prayer, concern for the needy and the importance of materially supporting the Church.


Given on this 24th March 2020


Bishop of Portsmouth


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pastoral letter coronavirus 19032020.pdf
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