Leading The Post-Vatican II Battle For Catholic Schools, Daphne McLeod, RIP …editor
The sad news of the death of Daphne McLeod [above] has just arrived in my inbox, emailed by a mutual friend who has written to say that she first went into hospital about a month ago. Then, yesterday morning she had “taken a turn for the worse” and passed away yesterday evening, Sunday 3rd January, at about 7 p.m. I’m not sure of Daphne’s exact age but she was somewhere in her nineties.
Daphne was one of the first people to realise the damage being done to Catholic education, following Vatican II. She had been the Head of an infants’ school and was possessed of a strong Catholic sense, which included realising the importance of sound teaching in the Faith.
After she retired, Daphne worked voluntarily in her parish, schooling the Confirmation class. Once, on a visit to her home for a few days’ holiday, I had the pleasure of attending one of her lessons after Sunday Mass. Having been trained in the days before the insistence on the importance of “modern methods” of teaching, I was astonished to see the way in which Daphne wove every imaginable technique into that one lesson; as they indulged in some juice and biscuits, the pupils listened closely to her suitably short introductory talk, volunteered to read a parable, dramatized it (working together as a group), were set to do a related drawing, discussed the meaning of said parable and engaged in a lively Question and Answer session, so that Daphne could gauge their learning. It was a classic A1 performance by any standards. She’d have flown through any Ofsted Inspection.
Daphne was so convinced of the dangers posed to Catholic families by the modernist books being used in religion lessons post Vatican II that she set about studying the diocesan approved textbooks and then alerted bishops, priests, parents and teachers to the dangerous content. To this end, Daphne worked through an organisation called Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (For Church and Pope), in time taking a leading position (Chairman) within the group. In this way, Daphne was able to organise meetings and larger conferences in and around London, as well as accepting invitations to address audiences elsewhere – happily including a Catholic Truth audience in Glasgow!
As well as being a first class teacher-model, a true Catholic educationalist, Daphne was a good personal friend, as I know myself; when I was fighting modernism in my own neck of the educational woods, Daphne offered sound advice and proved to be a kind and faithful friend. It’s a while since we spoke on the phone now, but I feel a real sense of loss, as will everyone who knew Daphne, I have no doubt. May she rest in peace.
This tribute speaks volumes. May she rest in peace!
I could have written a great deal more so the above is just a flavour of Daphne’s character and evident love of the Catholic Faith. May she rest in peace.
May she rest in peace. Many owe her a great debt of gratitude for her services to the Faith. Some of her catechetical talks ‘What We Catholics Believe’ are still available online at http://www.proecclesia.com (scroll down main page to Catholic Audio). I found a brief history of PEEP co-written by Daphne and others back in 2001:
Background to Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (For Church and Pope)
In the last thirty-five years, many Catholics have become increasingly concerned about the growing crisis in the Church. This “genuine crisis” has repeatedly been acknowledged by our Holy Father Pope John Paul II, but especially in his encyclical Veritatis Splendor (The Splendour of Truth – section 5). It has manifested itself in this country in the following ways:-
• Mass attendance in free fall
• lack of belief in and reverence for the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament
• a declining number of Catholics frequenting Confession
• far fewer baptisms, confirmations and marriages
• a reluctance to encourage non-Catholics to convert to the Faith coupled with an increasing prevalence in false ecumenism
• failure to teach the authentic Catholic Faith in Catholic schools, resulting in a staggering 90% lapsation rate among school leavers
• a deliberate shelving of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
• disregard of virtually all Vatican directives
• open dissent from the Magisterium at all levels in the Church
• a drastic reduction in vocations to the priesthood and the religious life
• a conspicuous lack of forthright preaching on faith and morals
• the spread of radical feminist, pagan and New Age ideologies and practices within the Church
All these have been confirmed by various reports and official statistics and they demonstrate only too clearly that, if nothing is done, the Catholic Church will virtually cease to exist in this country in 20 to 30 years time.
Formation and Emergence of Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice
In 1981, members of a number of established lay initiatives, loyal to Church and Pope, came together to form an ‘umbrella’ group to co-ordinate an organised orthodox response to the crisis within the Church by making representations to the Bishops of England & Wales and to the Vatican. Under the banner Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, a national committee of individuals representing all the member organisations was formed. This organisation would act as a focal point for gathering and disseminating evidence to illustrate how the Faith was being undermined, thus giving a voice to the ‘silent majority’ of practising Catholics who were particularly concerned about the lack of sound Religious Instruction being imparted in schools. This work continues today at a local level in dioceses throughout the country. Two national meetings – in Preston in 1981 and at Porchester Hall in London in 1982 – brought Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice into the spotlight.
Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice’s continuing emergence was given added impetus in 1985 with the convocation of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops called by Pope John Paul II to examine the impact and implementation of the Second Vatican Council in the Church throughout the world. The bishops’ decision to authorise a Universal Catechism of Catholic teaching in the light of Vatican II appeared to endorse the concerns of Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice and other concerned Catholics throughout the English-speaking world. It was hoped that a new Catechism would help to combat the widespread ignorance of the Faith among ordinary Catholics, many of whom had been educated since the Council. In many cases, parents were victims of modern catechesis and in consequence were themselves unable to pass on the Faith to their children. Such problems were exacerbated by the continuing problem of Catholic schools being unable – and in many cases unwilling – to support parents who were sufficiently knowledgeable about the Faith and who were worried about what their children were being taught.
In anticipation of the Synod and as its own response to the preliminary period of consultation called for by the Bishops of England and Wales, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice held the first of a series of weekend seminars featuring distinguished clerical and lay speakers, at High Leigh Conference Centre in Hoddesdon. These would continue on a bi-annual basis until 1997, highlighting the magnitude of the crisis within the Catholic Church in general and the Church in England & Wales in particular. These meetings collected a nucleus of well informed concerned lay Catholics who were eager to resist any false interpretation of Vatican II documents and to challenge the vague, so-called ‘spirit of Vatican II’ invoked to justify all kinds of dissent.
Development of Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice
It became clear that to resist heresy and dissent within the Church’s infrastructure – whether it be schools, parishes, seminaries or diocesan chancery offices – it would need to take more effective action to get its message across to the Catholic population at large and to the bishops. Coinciding with the start of the Decade of Evangelisation announced by Pope John Paul II, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice re-evaluated its role to concentrate on three key areas of concern to all Catholics which are not being addressed by any other organisation:
• Religious Instruction
• Dissent from Catholic teaching
• Abuses of the Liturgy and Sacraments
It was further decided to raise its public profile by publishing a regular newsletter called The Flock for the thousands of bewildered Catholics of all ages throughout England and Wales, who had made known their support for the organisation. The Committee recognised the importance of making the ‘Catholic-in-the-pew’ aware of the serious, and often surreptitious, undermining of the Faith that was going on around them. To help achieve these aims, it was decided to encourage the distribution of recorded talks, the publication of leaflets and booklets on issues of current concern, and to hold study days and conferences to focus attention on specific issues. Attendance at parish and diocesan meetings, coupled with direct approaches to priests and bishops, would challenge examples of any blatant opposition to the teaching authority of the Church.
The appearance of the English version of the new Catechism of the Catholic Church in 1994 was a wonderful answer to the prayers of faithful Catholics. The Holy Father described it as “a sure norm for teaching the Faith”. The Catechism is also a wonderful riposte to the agents of dissent, and it provided Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice with the perfect focus for its activities in resisting that dissent.
With the publication of the Catechism and the Papal encyclical Veritatis Splendor, which attacked the notion that objective truth in religious matters did not exist, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, responding to these clarion calls from Rome, mounted the first of the series of conferences known as Faith of our Fathers.
The Faith of our Fathers Conferences
The ground-breaking 1996 conference – the first of five over as many consecutive years – was held at the Westminster Central Hall on the feast of the English Martyrs. It was attended by well over 2,000 faithful Catholics from all over the United Kingdom and was also a showcase for over 50 various Catholic apostolates. The keynote speaker was Mother Mary Angelica, the dynamic Poor Clare nun from the USA, whose spectacularly successful EWTN Global Catholic Network was already helping to promote the Faith and combat dissent. Along with Mother Angelica, the Chairman of Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, Mrs Daphne McLeod, received a prolonged standing ovation for her devastating exposé of the agenda behind modern catechetics and its total ineffectiveness.
The Holy Father called for the three years before the Great Jubilee of 2000 to be dedicated respectively to the three persons of the Holy Trinity. In response to this, we dedicated the 1997 conference to Jesus Christ, the 1998 conference to the Holy Spirit, and the 1999 conference to God the Father. Each year, the theme of the conference reflected the dedication, with the year 2000 itself being dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity. Following her spellbinding performance in 1996, Mother Mary Angelica returned as keynote speaker in 1997. In 1998, Professor Alice von Hildebrand was the keynote speaker, with the indomitable scourge of dissident feminists Donna Steichen speaking in 1999, along with the international President of Una Voce, Michael Davies. The keynote speaker in the year 2000 was Rod Pead, Editor of Christian Order magazine, whose powerful and inspiring talk made a fitting climax to this series of conferences. In the space of five years, well over 7,000 people attended Faith of our Fathers to hear 26 talks from top Catholic speakers, including four from the U.S.A and six priests. Five hours of video footage and 25 hours of audio-tape have been recorded and widely distributed. The conferences have also given a showcase to around 100 different Catholic apostolates – both large and small – all loyal to Church and Pope. People have attended not only from all over the U.K. and Ireland, but also from Europe and, indeed, from all over the world.
From its inception Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice has been placed under the patronage of Our Lady of Walsingham, St Thomas More and St John Fisher. Also, it has taken as its “motto” St Paul’s exhortation to the Church of the Thessalonians to “hold fast to what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21) Responding to that plea, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice maintains that true loyalty consists not in sycophantic platitudes, but in working for the Church and using every endeavour to advance and propagate the Faith. “If our bishops are failing to do that …”, said the late Fr Paul Crane at Hoddesdon in 1991, “…then it is our duty in charity and loyalty under God … in season and out of season … to reproach our bishops as often as is necessary.” His words echo those of St Thomas Aquinas when he said “Fraternal correction, including that of prelates by their subjects, is a precept of Charity. If the Faith were in danger, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate – even publicly.” Summa Theologica II, (ii) Q.33
Such work requires courage and perseverance. It is necessary not only in defence of the Faith but as part of the overall objective to restore to our country a truly Catholic culture – the birthright of this and future generations.
Thank you for that history of Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (PEEP) – a lot of it had gone from my memory, so much appreciated. One thing that remains vivid in my memory is Rod Pead’s address to the PEEP Conference in the Methodist hall in Westminster – truly electric; my ears are still ringing. The hecklers in the gallery just could not contain their fury – brilliant!
I didn’t know Daphne personally, though I may have met her at one the CT Conferences, not sure. Anyway, she leaves a great Catholic legacy and will doubtless be well rewarded by Our Lord for her fidelity to the faith at a time when even the highest prelates in the Church are throwing it away. I’m sure there are many Catholic adults who once attended her classes owe her a debt of gratitude for her teaching ability and fidelity to our holy religion. God rest her soul.
She was once called into the royal presence of the cardinal of the day in Westminster – I can’t remember if it was Cardinal Hume or Murphy-O’Connor but I think the former.
Anyway, the Cardinal was pleasant, of course, but in his own good time, when Daphne remained unfazed by his evident concerns about her “activities”, he asked her, meaningfully, where, again, was she employed – which school? In other words, a Headship vacancy may well be advertised soon! Daphne smiled and said that she was now retired. Game, set and match!
That is the sort of thing that goes on in the Deep Church – only we didn’t know that’s what it was at the time.
A friend in England has emailed with the details of the above encounter, much of which I’d forgotten. It makes for very interesting reading, text of his email follows:
That comment you put on the Daphne thread. It was Cardinal Hume, because I was with her. He really bullied us when we first got in, but we firmly and politely stood our ground and then he backed down and started to be more reasonable. We also noticed that the room we were in had an open door at the back (not the door we entered in) and we commented afterwards that we both felt that someone was behind that door, either listening or taping. It felt like that.
Also the time when he phoned her up and told the PEEP committee to remove the resolutions or he wouldn’t speak at the 1st conference. We unanimously told him we were keeping the resolutions and it was up to him if he came or not. He did come, and the rest was history, as encapsulated in Rod Pead’s article ‘Via Media in a Red Hat’. http://www.christianorder.com/features/feature_1996-06-07.html
There was also the time that Cardinal Hume phoned her up shrieking at her about the Clare Richards RE book, because of Daphne getting it banned by the CDF.* Although he did have the good grace to phone her later that evening and apologise. I’ll never forget that. Daphne said his apology was a real lesson in humility.
Happy days! Compared to now.
*CDF = Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome.
“There was also the time that Cardinal Hume phoned her up shrieking at her about the Clare Richards RE book,…”
That surely was one of the last great victories for Catholicism in this country! I love to hear the sound of cornered rats shrieking. 😉
I have just posted that information – see my comment @4.56pm, where I publish an email from a friend in England on the same subject.
I am also now remembering the news that (again thanks to PEEP) the then Cardinal Ratzinger went into a room where the bishops of England were present, singled out Bishop Peter Smith and crashed a copy of Clare Richards’ heretical book down on the table in front of him, demanding an explanation.
Whether he did that in front of the rest of the bishops or summoned him to his office, I can’t recall.
I have my photo taken in Cardinal Ratzinger’s office, by the way, she said casually… Just a teaser. Watch for the book release 😀
A true hero of the Faith – may she rest in peace!
I met Daphne at the first FOOF conference she organized. She was a stalwart, faithful Catholic of the variety that made lily-livered bishops quake in their boots. She will be sorely missed in these islands.
(IIRC, there was a wee Scots lass presenting at that conference as well who was also impressive.)
Goodness! An impressive wee Scots lass, known to thee, but not to me? Please give her the link to this blog and my email address – we need to get her working with us, asap.
Please and thank you!
Rest in peace, Daphne, and may God reward you for stoutly defending what so many others have betrayed.
I can’t remember for certain, but I’m almost sure that Daphne and you shared the platform at the same CT conference. Take another look at her photos above and see if they ring any bells. If so, we’ll have to give the photographer a raise 😀
I met Daphne McLeod at one of Catholic Truth Conferences some years back, and, am sure she was one of the Speakers. She rose to the task of defending the Catholic Faith, and I agree with Athanasius that many owe her a debt of gratitude for her teaching ability and fidelity to our holy religion. May she rest in peace.
She definitely was one of the speakers – always an excellent speaker.
Daphne McLeod is a legend across the whole of the UK – she will be remembered with gratitude by all who met her, for years to come. May she rest in peace.
“Legend” is the word.
God, rest her soul. May she rest in peace.
Reblogged this on Nelson MCBS.
Thank you, Nelson.
A short note to one and all…
I should have mentioned in my introduction that Daphne has a son, Michael, so perhaps we could all remember a prayer for him, too, at this time.
No matter their age, it’s always sad when our parents depart this life, so a remembrance for Michael’s consolation would be – I’m sure – a welcome charity.
I’m not in contact with Michael, but I did ask a friend to try to let him know that we are posting tributes here, for his interest, so if you’re reading this Michael, our heartfelt sympathy goes out to you. God bless.
What sad news. I will say prayer for the repose of Daphne’s soul and for her family at this time.
That Daphne is so well known – and widely admired – is a great testament to her years of diligent hard work and fidelity to the faith.
She produced many very useful resources to aid poorly catechised contemporary Catholics and I have certainly made use of these, such as her audio talks (ideal for car journeys) and the booklet “what every Catholic child should know about the faith”.
Thank you for everything Daphne and may you rest in peace.
May you rest in peace, Daphne, and be assured of my prayers. Whether you are in Purgatory or Heaven, please pray for us.
Dear dear Daphne a truly AMAZING lovely Lady ….so gentle and kind …she did so much a long life well spent doing good RIP dear Soul a race well run
https://www.effinghamandfetcham.org.uk/uploads/4/0/8/9/40894629/2nd_sunday_in_ordinary_time_-_17-01-2021__revised_002_.pdf……..DAPHNES .RIP MASS DETAILS
I’ve just received the following information by email, today…
Further to the last advice that Daphne’s funeral will be at 11 a.m. on Monday 25th January at Our Lady of Sorrows, Effingham, it is now confirmed that it will indeed be streamed live on the church’s YouTube channel below. Then, with a possible delay of up to a day, it will be available to watch for a couple of weeks.
“Effingham and Fetcham Catholic Parish”:
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