Monday, June 24, 2013

Bishops: Pastors not Princes

The Pope's meeting with the Nuncios of the world over the weekend was interesting, apart from the empty chair. It was one of the few insights into the future.

There had been speculation in one or two quarters that the Pope might decentralise the nomination of bishops, possibly by handing over the task to local Churches, Episcopal Conferences, in other words. Instead he stressed that the main task of a Nuncio is to choose Bishops, over and above their diplomatic responsibilities. That is highly significant when everyone in Rome is holding their breath, wondering if the Pope 'from the other side of the world' might even abolish at least some functions of the Curia.

Just a little gossip, I wonder if he met Archbishop Adriano Bernardini, the Nuncio to Italy, who was the Nuncio to Argentina until 2011, who is described as particularly distasteful to Bergoglio!

The Pope has said nothing new, he wants "Bishops to be Pastors not Princes", which we all want but neither however does he want intellectuals, they'll do "more good in universities", I wonder if he had anyone special in mind.*

We do need Pastors who can reach out to the poor. In England and Wales perhaps there has been too much emphasis on pastoring the Tablet reading lower-middle-classes, few of us priests and bishops are willing to go to the peripheries, and apart from Bishop Egan I don't think there too many doctorates on out bench of Bishops, which is a weakness.

The Westminster clergy tell me the new Bishop of East Anglia, as far the clergy were concerned was the most pastoral and fatherly of their bishops, so it is quite appropriate as our first Franciscan bishop.

It will be interesting to see if we can find men in England who do not follow the traditional path of our Episcopate, of after ordination a short time in a parish followed by a succession of administrative jobs around Eccleston Square, Cafod or some other Catholic charity, which certainly has not led to outstanding administrators, nor exceptional Pastors.

Perhaps readers might send the Nuncio names of exceptional Pastors, I am sure he would be glad to have a few more names, and he'll probably send them a nice letter, which are always welcome.

*I of course mean Christoph Maria Michael Hugo Damian Peter Adalbert (Graf von) Schönborn, O.P, both a Prince and an intellectual and a Beethoven lover. 
JPII rather admired Prince Adam Stefan Stanisław Bonifacy Józef Cardinal Sapieha who stood up to Nazi persecution with true heroism.

5 comments:

Jacobi said...

Bishops should be pastors. But above all they must be teachers, teachers of the Catholic Faith.

For three generations now, Catholic education in the UK and elsewhere in Europe has been effectively abolished in Catholic schools. The result is that Catholics do not know their faith, parents are unable to pass it on, and perhaps worst of all, clergy still refuse to stand up in the pulpit and preach Catholicism, although they are happy to give a nice L C D comment on the gospel of the day which could equally be given by any Protestant minister. It is a rare event now for a priest at the New Mass to preach or even hint at Catholic doctrine.

The new generation of bishops chosen with the help of the Nuncios must once again preach Catholicism and require their priests also to do so.

Victoria said...

"Catholics do not know their faith, parents are unable to pass it on, and perhaps worst of all, clergy still refuse to stand up in the pulpit and preach Catholicism, although they are happy to give a nice L C D comment on the gospel of the day which could equally be given by any Protestant minister. It is a rare event now for a priest at the New Mass to preach or even hint at Catholic doctrine.


Unfortunately this is my experience in Melbourne
Australia.

Angelo Cardinal Fratelli said...

I think that we need a combination of brains and heart to fix our broken church, and yes, if a bishop wishes to act princely then he must be held to princely burdens of ruling, guiding and sacrificing himself for the people. Princes don't just sit in nice chairs, they go out and protect and should be willing to raise an army of prayers and a legion of charity if it must be so. The problem is that many want the benefits without the duties...

He who wishes to be first must be the servant of all. That is what a true prince does- in the person of Jesus Christ, our Heavenly Prince of Peace who ruled from the rugged cross.

RichardT said...

Another interesting quote from the Pope's speech about bishops is "that they may be husbands of one Church without being constantly in search of another."

Part of his opposition to "ambition" in the episcopate.

This sounds very like what Fr Blake has written about here on several occasions; good to see that the Pope is thinking along the same lines.

Cosmos said...

I agree with Jacobi: "The new generation of bishops chosen with the help of the Nuncios must once again preach Catholicism and [both allow and] require their priests also to do so." In other words, what we really need are Catholic Christians leaders.

Scholars are great, if they are not so enamored by their academic successes and the free exchange of ideas that they explain-away, water-down, or distort the Faith.

Missionaries to the poor are great if they will admit that poor people can sin, that some kinds of poverty are a result of their vices, and that the Gospel is not a social/politcal program.

Christian princes are great, if they acknowledge that their stations and positions exist for the service of Christian civilization rooted in the Gospel, and for no other purpose.

The problem is most influential men are only willing to preach part of the Gospel because the rest is both politically incorrect, and a threat to their reputations and positions.