LifeSiteNews has thoroughly investigated the background of the man who helped the Bishops of England and Wales to convince the British government to lock Christian churches against private prayer. Jim McManus, who acted as a fixer between the Catholic bishops and the government, is not everything that he must have seemed when he received a medal from the Vatican in 2011.
Tipped off by a Welsh Catholic desperate for the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales to understand in whom they had placed their trust, LifeSiteNews has spent two weeks under the most extraordinary conditions to verify her information.
The investigation has uncovered that Jim G. McManus, 54, the Vice-Chair for the Healthcare Reference Group for the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW), is James Gough McManus, the former minister of an LGBT church who was convicted in 1999 of 11 counts of theft against Northern Counties Trust, a HIV/AIDS charity he reportedly helped to found. He also was named in a legal investigation into his role at the National Health Service’s Barking and Dagenham Primary Care Trust.
After LifeSiteNews contacted McManus about these and other aspects of his multifaceted career, he did not respond personally. Instead we received an email from his solicitor Shubha Nath. An article at the Barking and Dagenham Post about McManus’ 2010 trial was also taken down. (At time of publishing this article, it was still available on Google cache here, but that has now been removed. LifeSite has saved a copy here.)
In late March the CBCEW explained that McManus played a key role in convincing the government to close churches after guidance from the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government directed that “places of worship should remain open for solitary prayer” during the current coronavirus lockdown. In addition to serving as Vice-Chair of the CBCEW Healthcare Reference Group, McManus is the Director of Public Health for the Hertfordshire County Council.
“Professor [sic] Jim McManus has spoken with a senior civil servant and it was quite clear they just had not thought through the issues of infection and security of churches and when he made these points clear, they were appalled and agreed they had made a mistake,” the Archdiocese of Westminster stated.
In an April 1 article on the church closures, published in The Tablet, McManus explains that he had attended a briefing with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson less than a week before the churches were closed.
But now Catholics are questioning the wisdom of the CBCEW in relying so heavily on the judgement of a man who has twice been in serious trouble with the law.
LifeSite has confirmed with Teesside Crown Court that James Gough McManus was convicted by a jury of 11 counts of theft against Northern Counties Trust on March 9, 1999 and sentenced on the same date to 21 months’ imprisonment. He was found not guilty on a charge of theft against his former employer Cleveland County Council.
The English LGBT magazine “Gscene” recalled the trial in its May 2019 edition. In its “Twenty Years Ago This Month” retrospective, the magazine wrote:
Big news in May [sic] 1999 was the jailing of the former Director of the Sussex AIDS Centre, Jim McManus, who received a 21 month prison sentence for stealing £15,000 from Northern Counties Trust, an AIDS Charity he helped set up in Cleveland [Middlesbrough, England]. The judge Michael Taylor told McManus that his defence had been a “tissue of lies,” and there were “no redeeming features” to his case.
McManus’ trial in 1998 attracted attention for an unusual reason: according to the BBC, it was the first time a witness was allowed to give testimony from home. LifeSiteNews reached out to the witness, LGBT “Pride Radio” personality Jonathan Morrell, but did not receive a response.
McManus does not currently list his role with Cleveland County Council on his online CV but includes on his Hertfordshire University page references to publications in which he identified himself as a Cleveland County Council HIV worker. Two of the articles are in Health Education Journal, June 1994 and September 1994. A 1995 article, entitled “Promoting sexual health: the local government contribution” is not listed on his academic page.
Eleven years after his conviction, in April 2010 the Barking and Dagenham Post reported that McManus was due to stand trial in September that year for obtaining money from his then-employer, the NHS’s Barking and Dagenham Primary Care Trust, “through deception” and failing to inform them that he had “awarded contracts worth over £8,000.” It is unclear whether the trial in fact took place. The original link to the Barking and Dagenham Post article (here) is now dead, but the article is still available on Google cache here.
According to his LinkedIn profile, McManus worked for the Barking and Dagenham PCT from January 2005 until October 2008. McManus also mentions his fellowship in the Faculty of Public Health, using the post-nominal title FFPH. In 2008, he was cited by the FPH as a “New Fellow” in the name “James Gough McManus,” the name under which he was convicted in 1999. (See page 19.)
LifeSiteNews has written to McManus to inquire about the eventual outcome of the scheduled trial reported by the Barking and Dagenham Post.
LGBT activism included pastoral ministry in gay church
Last month LifeSiteNews reported that McManus, who displays both the Vatican flag and the rainbow “pride” flag on his Twitter profile, has a history of LGBT activism and support for LGBT education in UK schools.
However, LifeSiteNews can now reveal that McManus, the Secretary of the Scottish Homosexual Rights Group in 1985, had by 1995 given up his childhood Catholic faith and become a clergyman in the LGBT-centered Metropolitan Community Church (MCC).
In 1995 the Newcastle Evening Chronicle interviewed young Reverend Jim McManus about a film featuring a sexually active gay Catholic priest. The MCC pastor explained that when growing up as a Catholic, he “had always been told that homosexuality was wrong.”
“It was not until I was at university in Glasgow studying Theology that I decided I could not stay in the Catholic Church,” McManus told the Evening Chronicle.
“I thought God made me this way, and there must be a reason why.”
He began to train as an Anglican minister but left his first assignment after Anglican parishioners “did not accept the fact he is gay.”
McManus explains in that article: “I spent years defending why I am gay and Christian. Now I couldn’t care less what people think about my sexuality or my Christianity. I’m living my life the way I think God wants me to.”
He condemned Catholic doctrine about homosexuality, stating: “Telling people its alright to be gay so long as they remain celibate is like putting them in front of a sweet shop [i.e. candy store] and saying, don’t go in. It really is pathetic.”
LifeSiteNews has spoken to a clergyman at Edinburgh’s Augustine United Church, the Rev. Max Reay, who confirmed that the former Rev. James Gough McManus is Jim McManus, the current Director of Public Health for Hertfordshire County Council.
Reay confirmed that Rev. McManus had come to Edinburgh in 1995 as part of a pastoral team from the Newcastle MCC. According to an online history of the Edinburgh MCC, McManus took part in Edinburgh’s first gay Pride parade and encouraged the new congregation’s establishment. The Edinburgh MCC community has now merged with Augustine United Church.
A 1995 issue of “Pulse,” a “monthly magazine for Gay Men,” reported that McManus performed extra-legal “marriage” ceremonies at Pride Scotia that year.
“Some performances were being conducted well away from the main stage. Such as the marriages being conducted by the Rev James McManus, team pastor with the Metropolitan Community Church Newcastle. Maybe next year someone will be lining up to do the divorces – honest only kidding folks,” Pulse reported.
McManus, who still today describes himself as a theologian, attempted to make a name for himself in the discipline of queer theology. In a 1996 article titled, ‘The Messianic Reason of Theology in a Lesbian and Gay Context: A Statement of Faith’, McManus twice sympathetically quotes homosexual “theologian” Robert Goss, once with Goss saying “God identifies with our erotic practice.”
McManus also quotes Goss saying “[a] queer liberation theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified with the liberation goals of its community.”
In the same article McManus describes “coming out” as “sacramental,” arguing that “God is the one who makes me ’come out’.”
“The process of coming out, coming into acceptance of self, and of coming into relationship, are all things which have a significance which can truly be called sacramental,” he writes.
“In a lesbian and gay context, sanctification can be seen as a part of the process of coming fulfilment, of coming to be oneself, of coming out,” McManus says in another part of the article.
“It is not whether but how we can be lesbian or gay and Christian that is the question for the next century,” McManus wrote.
An online edition of Scottish LGBT publication “ScotsGay” dated 1997 claimed that McManus was eventually suspended by the MCC for “action unbecoming a minister.” LifeSiteNews has attempted to confirm this suspension with the Governing Board of the MCC, but has not received an answer.
Gay porn in ‘safer’ sex campaign
During this part of McManus’ career, he was working as an HIV/AIDS worker for Cleveland County Council and the Northern Counties Trust for People Living With AIDS. LifeSiteNews has obtained photographs of the pornographic “Safer Sex” posters sponsored by McManus’ Northern Counties Trust in the early 1990s. They are available for viewing online at Wikimedia Commons and in the archives of the Wellcome Collection museum and library.
LifeSiteNews has chosen not to link directly to the pages due to the nature of their content. They include full male nudity, exposed genitalia, and homosexual sexual acts. The obvious intent of the posters is to arouse sexual excitement in homosexual male viewers.
LifeSiteNews has asked McManus if he advocated the use of the images in the Safer Sex campaign.
Advocacy for same-sex ‘marriage’
In 2002, McManus published an article in which he identified himself as both a “gay man” and a Catholic. In 2003 he became the Vice-Chair of the Health and Social Care Advisory Group to the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW). Nevertheless, McManus continued his LGBT activism and in 2006 publicly opposed Catholic doctrine concerning marriage, saying there were no “grounds” for restricting marriage to “differently-sexed couples.”
In July 2006, the Gay & Lesbian Psychiatric Review (Vol. 7, No. 2) published a statement by Jim McManus, together with Peter Hegarty and Meg Barker, on behalf of the Committee of the Lesbian & Gay Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society. Titled “Public Statement on the Recognition of Same-Sex Relationships,” the article commended the British government for establishing Civil Partnerships but demanded legal recognition for same-sex “marriage.”
“In conclusion,” they wrote, “we welcome the recognition of same-sex civil partnerships in the UK, but do not recognise the restriction of marriage rights to differently-sexed couples as valid or defensible on psychological or other grounds.”
Strangely, an online version of this statement has been posted with McManus’ name removed from the byline. His name remains, however, in the original edition of the Gay & Lesbian Psychiatric Review, as does the information that McManus was a member of its editorial board, as well as of the “Directorate of Public Health, Barking & Dagenham Primary Care Trust.”
Despite his continued roles in the Catholic Church, McManus is still an LGBT advocate. Last year, he gave the following speech prior to the raising of the rainbow “pride” flag at Hertfordshire County Council.
A copy of his prepared notes was subsequently posted to Twitter.
Earlier this year McManus was involved in promoting a scheme encouraging workers to wear rainbow-coloured staff ID lanyards as part of a Hertfordshire County Council “LGBT+ Allies Scheme.”
In an article in the The MJ, McManus wrote:
“Hertfordshire CC is working locally to put one building block of that in place through our LGBT+ Allies Scheme, which was developed by the county council’s LGBT+ Staff Group last August. An ‘ally’ is a worker who pledges to be a visible supporter and advocate for LGBT+ co-workers by wearing a noticeable rainbow-coloured staff ID lanyard. With over 530 supporters in just six months, we are fostering a more open and supportive working environment.”
Pro-life credentials in doubt
McManus, who is also the Chair of the Board of Governors of the Catholic Anscombe Bioethics Centre in Oxford, is a high-ranking member of the pro-abortion Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH).
On March 30 the Westminster government authorized women in England to kill their preborn children at home by using both pills for a chemical early abortion. A government spokesperson from the Department of Health and Social Care said that the change was being made on a temporary basis only and is time-limited for two years, or until the coronavirus crisis is over. It was the third time the abortion law had changed in the space of a week; the government had first announced the change and then reversed the decision within 24 hours.
On April 8 the ADPH, of which McManus is Vice-President, stated in a policy document that it was “essential” that this policy was delivered.
The ADPH document also calls for such “essential services” to be “extended across the United Kingdom.”
The same ADPH document also links to another policy statement published on March 26 (before the re-instatement of permission for home abortions) which called for a “[t]emporary transition to provide extensive range of sexual and reproductive care through remote (online/telephone/postal) ways of working.”
A celebrated, influential figure within the Catholic Church in England and Wales
The source who first alerted LifeSiteNews to McManus’ colorful internet footprint stated that McManus “will need to resign from his position as the Vice-Chair of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales healthcare group and cease all formal and informal ties to the Bishops’ Conference―immediately.”
But Vice-Chair of the Healthcare Reference Group is not the only role McManus has recently played in the Catholic Church. LifeSiteNews has ascertained that McManus was a Knight and then a Grand Knight of the Knights of St. Columba sodality in Birmingham between November 2008 and July 2012.
Jim McManus stated on his LinkedIn CV that he was a Trustee of the Diocese of Birmingham from 2009 to 2014. A spokesman for the Diocese told LifeSiteNews that a Jim McManus was indeed a Trustee from October 2011 to February 2015 but would not confirm that it was the same man. The spokesman had no further comment.
McManus has also stated on his LinkedIn CV that he has been a Companion of the Knights of Malta since 2008. However, Philippa Leslie, a spokeswoman for the Companions of the Knights of Malta would neither confirm nor deny that McManus belongs to the auxiliary group.
Most surprising of all, perhaps, is that McManus was awarded the Vatican’s Good Samaritan Medal by Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski for his services to the “sick and suffering” in February 2011.
The award was granted to McManus less than four years after the Good Samaritan Medal was given to Thomas Williams, the Auxiliary Bishop of Liverpool and then-Chair of the CBCEW’s Healthcare Reference Group, by Cardinal Barragán. According to Zenit, McManus gave a paper at the July 2007 event.
This may not have been the first time all three men were together. According to Independent Catholic News, Cardinal Barragán, Bishop Williams and McManus were all scheduled to take part in the annual Catholics in Healthcare seminar on June 28, 2003.
Bishop Williams told LifeSiteNews Tuesday morning that he didn’t know that McManus had been convicted of theft, had served as a clergyman in the Metropolitan Community Church, had reportedly performed extra-legal “marriage” ceremonies in Edinburgh in 1995, or made a statement in favour of same-sex “marriage” in 2006.
“This is dreamland, as far as I’m concerned,” Williams said. “I haven’t heard any of that.”
The auxiliary bishop also said, “As far as I know, Jim is extremely pro-life.”
The current Chair of the CBCEW’s Healthcare Reference group is the Rt. Rev. Paul Mason, Catholic Bishop of the Forces.
Academic honorifics lead to questions
At least two of McManus’ academic honours are in doubt. Although he is styled “Prof” or “Professor” and in some news reports and academic websites “Dr”, LifeSiteNews has been unable to ascertain which academic institutions granted him these honorifics. Although he lays claim to many diplomas, McManus does not cite any university degree more advanced than a Bachelor of Divinity from Glasgow University.
St. Mary’s University, Twickenham, London, lists a “Professor Jim McManus, University of Hertfordshire” as one of its trustees, but the University of Hertfordshire would not confirm to LifeSiteNews that he is their “Professor”. The London School of Economics acknowledges him as a “Visiting Professor in Practice with CPEC (Care Policy and Evaluation Centre) at LSE,” but did not specify from what organization he was visiting.
A “Dr. Jim McManus” claiming membership of the now-defunct “Heythrop College, University of London” is listed as a member of the Centre of Philosophy and Theology at the University of Nottingham. McManus has elsewhere stated that he was a “Visiting Research Fellow” at Heythrop College. A spokesman for the Centre of Philosophy and Theology could not confirm where Dr. Jim McManus received his title.
Attempts to contact the archives of Glasgow University to establish McManus’ earliest academic achievements were inconclusive, thanks to the coronavirus lockdown in Scotland. And despite the pleas of Catholic laity in England, Wales, and Scotland, the churches across the UK also remain shut.
LifeSiteNews has reached out to the CBCEW, the Anscombe Bioethics Centre and Bishop Paul Mason for comment. Jim McManus’ solicitor has indicated that McManus will answer our questions within 7 to 10 days.
Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski died in 2016.