Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A New Bishop

Mafia of the Mediocre? The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales
My diocese is waiting for a new bishop, I must confess I haven't written to the Nuncio to express my opinion on who should be our next bishop. In part because I don't think a parish priest's opinion is taken very seriously, unless of course he has skeletons to pull out of closets of one those mentioned as a possible bishop and in part that I am rather pleased by the new generation of diocesan bishops, no-one is perfect but Davies, Egan, O'Toole and Stock (who have I forgotten?) seem pretty good choices, I would be happy with any of them. I am not sure who we should thank, Cardinal Nichols or the Nuncio.

Like younger priests, younger bishops seem like a breath of fresh air. Fr. David M. Friel suggests there are two important factors that surround the formation of younger clergy, one is child abuse, the other Summorum Pontificum.
I agree with him on child abuse, it is a major factor which affects younger priests and the choice of younger bishops, we cannot continue as we had before, bishops and priests cannot cover-up, lie and certainly not give the impression of being themselves amoral. I am not exactly sure I would agree with him on Summorum Pontificum, at least not where bishops are concerned. I suspect it is more the eight years of Benedict XVI, (of which SP was a part) but more the sense of doctrinal solidity he brought, his teaching on the centrality of Christ to the Church and the importance of the priesthood to the Church. Summorum Pontificum though important, symbolised the end of the Church in rebellion against its own history, that period of self hatred. Benedict made moving ground solid. Seed does not grow in ground that shifts but flourishes in solid ground.
Rorate publishes a letter from Archbishop Lenga some of it can be dismissed as 'cultural' but the following struck me as being particularly pertinent:

In our days the voice of the majority of the bishops rather resembles the silence of the lambs in the face of furious wolves, the faithful are left like defenseless sheep. Christ was recognized by men as one who spoke and worked, as one, who had power and this power He bestowed upon His apostles. In today’s world the bishops must liberate themselves from all worldly bonds and – after they have done penance – convert to Christ so that strengthened by the Holy Spirit they may announce Christ as the one and only Saviour. Ultimately one must give account to God for all that was done and for all what wasn't done.
In my opinion the weak voice of many bishops is a consequence of the fact, that in the process of the appointment of new bishops the candidates are insufficiently examined with regard to their doubtless steadfastness and fearlessness in the defense of the faith, with regard to their fidelity to the centuries-old traditions of the Church and their personal piety. In the issue of the appointment of new bishops and even cardinals it is becoming increasingly apparent that sometimes preference is given to those who share a particular ideology or to some groupings which are alien to the Church and which have commissioned the appointment of a particular candidate. Furthermore it appears that sometimes consideration is given also to the favour of the mass media which usually makes a mockery of holy candidates painting a negative picture of them, whereas the candidates who in a lesser degree own the spirit of Christ are praised as open and modern. On the other side the candidates who excel in apostolic zeal, have courage in proclaiming the doctrine of Christ and show love for all that is holy and sacred, are deliberately eliminated.
In England I would have said in the past this was indeed the case, factionalism was preferred over faith, this was when one of the key players was a notoriously poor judge of character. I am not sure it is so true now, at least not here, at least at the moment - but time will tell.

18 comments:

Sean W. said...

I have heard it said sometimes that the faithful who are especially pleased with their pastors would do well to write favorably of them to the Nuncio, that they may be considered for elevation to the episcopate; and that Nuncios, hearing so often of the disobedience or even just imprudent decisions of priests, are pleased to hear kind words spoken about them for a change.

Bruvver Eccles said...

Bp Hopes of East Anglia is pretty good.

Simon Reilly said...

If you are going to write, request that your diocese be dissolved and reincorporated into Southwark: there is no warrant for suffragen sees in a declining territory.

Genty said...

For what it's worth I wrote some time ago to the Nuncio suggesting two names I believed worthy of elevation. Very quickly I received a courteous reply from the Nuncio's office and thanks for my interest.
I think that this Nuncio does listen. The problem lies with meddling at the Vatican end.

Michael Crabb said...

Don't suppose The Reverend Monsignor Guido Marini can speak English? If he'd ever fancy leaving Rome for a while where better then a nice Bishopric by the sea at A&B?

JARay said...

A priest friend of mine told me that Bp Stock seems, to him, to have a real concern for his priests.

El Codo said...

Bishop Robert Byrne can also be added to the list of orthodoxm excellent new appointments.
El Codo

akp5401 said...

That section you highlighted is exactly how the faithful in my neck of the woods feel. Which is why I wrote to the Nuncio regarding our Bishop-less See, and encouraged as many others to as possible. In fact my letter could have been taken from his, although I didn't write so elequently! We are at a point of 'make or break' a good, strong, faithful Bishop will make the difference. An ineffectual (or worse)we will be in great trouble. Like Genty commented above - I received a courteous reply and others have too. I pray daily to St. Joseph that we will get a good Bishop.

El Codo said...

''Where there is no vision,the people perish''.A colleague has just returned from the North west of UK with horror stories about the collapse of the Faith in this once well known devout part of our islands.When I was serving in the Forces you heard the expression...''There is no such thing as bad soldiers,only bad officers''!

Gungarius said...

Bishop Finigan sounds good.

JARay said...

I read that the Wednesday General Audiences in Rome are attracting less and less of the Faithful.

Fr Ray Blake said...

It is winter!
The picture on Rorate shows the square half full.

Independent said...

When the Duke of Wellington reviewed his troops he commented "They may not frighten the enemy but they certainly frighten me". Can this apply to bishops?

kfca said...

With respect, Father, I disagree and am relieved to see this latest report on Rorate Caeli, the second of this kind in recent months, Never before seen - empty streets .

In the current climate, where Pope Francis' 'enormous popularity' often seems to be used as a stick to moderate or beat back those who would dare to criticize either his style or a number of the otherwise bizarre and false theological beliefs that he has expressed, it seems necessary to examine whether it has any foundation in fact. And to clarify, "popularity with whom?".

Nor should we be under any illusion about how high the stakes are: we have seen dioceses and whole nations secede from the Church before and She has always grown stronger and more resplendent in Glory; but in our day it does look increasingly likely that the otherwise unthinkable may happen, and that the Diocese of Rome itself may be in the vanguard of a latter-day secession from the Church. As Cardinal Pell reminded us after the Synod, we have survived long years without a [true] Successor of St Peter before, and there is no reason to suppose that we may not have to do so in future.

Whichever readily available proxy we employ, such as the various permutations of 'Pope' and 'the Church' etc in the main languages that one can assess on Google Trends x country for the past decade, or the Amazon sales listings by category and context, along with a wealth of anecdotal evidence from internet hits on online articles (favourable v disfavourable to this pontificate), to accommodation bookings in Rome (characteristics of pilgrims v tourists), etc, I have been unable to find any evidence at all that these claims of his popularity have any basis in fact. As for the recession, or time of year being used to explain these phenomena, one can make adjustments for seasonality and economic factors where warranted, but over the past 24 months, in comparison with the last decade, and especially in respect of the latter, since around Q4 08/09, it is hardly necessary to do so.

And what of the Church's reception of Pope Francis now? There is simply no evidence that he has been widely accepted by the faithful anywhere (even in Argentina!!!). Nor that, for example, these almost daily homilies from the chapel in the Papal Lodge are being widely disseminated any longer.
The Popes reception in the Philippines has been an exception and it is worth examining if there were any unusual conditions which led to the huge turnout at the papal Masses. (We know how readily situations can be manipulated and then misrepresented, (whether intentionally or otherwise) e.g. for the bicentennial of the establishment of your own Diocese in July, it has been claimed that priests may have to cancel Sunday Masses, that Catholic schools may be obliged to attend, and so the organisers, knowing that their event may be the only place the faithful can hear Mass, may harbour a reasonable expectation that it will be very well attended, and we may find its success presented chiefly in terms of approval for the guest speakers, not all Catholic, they plan to inflict upon the faithful).

In any case, the MSM has long since specialised in the art of 'engineering' celebrity, and it does seem that this is what has happened with Pope Francis - we know that that same sinister shadow, reminiscent in character to the Politburo's of old, which loomed deep over the recent Synod, also controls groups regulating editorial and content policies for the MSM - but this strategy only has traction where interest in the subject can be maintained, and there is growing evidence that the general public is now thoroughly bored with the novelty presented by this pontificate, and growing resentful of the over-exposure.

Nor should it surprise us that the Pope has himself been speaking of 'surprises'.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Maybe so, but the usual place for winter audience is inside in the Aula. Italians hate standing outside in the cold.

Nicolas Bellord said...

kfca: 50th anniversary not 200th! But what an inspiring pastoral letter we had from our Administrator Archbishop Peter Smith to-day. Perhaps we will see a spring in A&B?

Aloysius Gonzaga said...

The nomination system, at least in our country (Canada), and I suspect in most other Western nations, is nothing else but an exercise in mediocre men appointing like-minded mediocre men. Those are not the words this Bishop chooses, but this is what he is describing. What are the chances that liberal Bishops will nominate successors who are unlike themselves? Almost no chance at all. The Church needs to find a way out of this process of self-perpetuating mediocrity. A strong-willed Pope might have made a difference, but we are out of luck on this under Pope Francis.

Supertradmum said...

We need saints for bishops, not politicians. A and B is very different than Southwark and I do not want to see it gobbled up in the bigger diocese again. Small is beautiful.