Wednesday, July 11, 2012
It is not orthodoxy but goodness we need
I am really pleased about the appointment of the new Bishop of Portsmouth, pray for him, his clergy and people.
I have a friend staying with me lately he is involved in seminary formation, in a seminary distant from the English speaking world. We have been speaking about the qualities needed in bishops, priests and seminarians.
I suspect first and foremost most readers of this blog would say being orthodox was the first quality that should be sought. Though it is important it, I would suggest it is not as important as pretty basic qualities, such as honesty, transparency, truthfulness, personal integrity, kindness; the lack of some of these qualities in some bishops, for example in Ireland, seems to have been disastrous for the Church.
Being a good person seems pretty basic but I can't really remember that it was much sought, or encouraged or developed in my time in the seminary, it was certainly welcomed when it was found but not actively sought nor actively encouraged, indeed many of those who formed seminarians seemed not to be themselves actually "good". They might have a whole lot of other skills such as administrative or academic ability or even affability but not first and foremost "goodness".
This is important because "goodness" is the beginning of sanctity, its absence suggests that the Holy Spirit is absent in someone's life. Orthodoxy isn't meant to be an arid negation of belief but a but a positive affirmation of truth that is a manifestation of God's Glory. God's Glory has a moral dimension which is revealed in simple human goodness, a goodness that speaks and reflects with evangelical clarity of God's goodness.
I am sure things are different now, from my seminary days. I was talking to a priest who spent time with a recently with a bishop who had spent time with the Pope, I was so pleased when he said that what delighted him wasn't so much his cleverness but simply that he was evidently good.
Whatever other qualities Mgr Egan has, I pray that chief among them is simple "goodness". It is that quality that should distinguish Christians from others and be the basis of the "New Evangelism", it should be the first and most notable characteristic of a Bishop.
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