Thursday, 20 June 2013

But what can a Bishop do?

                       Get rid of the magic wand and pick up the crozier

I hope that, one day, some interested soul will conduct a review of the past fifty years in terms of practical initiatives as introduced by the Bishops of England and Wales.

To catalogue them and to identify those that were successful and those not.

It would not be an arduous task; the list, I suspect, could be written on the back of a penny catechism.

I can recall one outstanding bit of jiggery pokery, the introduction, back in the 1970s of the pernicious secondary school RE programme called "Weaving the Web".

Maybe I am falsely accusing their Lordships, perhaps "Weaving the Web" was slipped on to the agenda while they were at the annual Eccleston Square Golf Tournament or some such other vital function of the post Vatican II era.

But the fact is, they allowed it to rumble on ad nauseum, spreading disaffection wherever it was taught ('Jesus was a Prophet, you know').

How could the Bishops transform their act today to inspire the hearts of the faithful and foster unswerving loyalty (rather than fear) from their priests?

Here is an episcopal shopping list; it's not long. The Bishops would not have to labour from dawn to dusk to implement it.

In fact, they would have to 'do' very little, just act as leaders. That, in itself would be a great start.

1. Jointly review the Catholic Education Service and create a curriculum for Primary and Secondary Schools designed to inspire love and instil knowledge regarding the Catholic Faith.

2. Assess the ration between priests and parishes and carry out a ten year projection regarding human resource provision. Then, act as Pope Emeritus Benedict suggested they should and look to creating a federated parish system so that groups of priests, living together under one roof could provide for clusters of parishes - it's not sufficient to wave banners stating 'Don't close our parish' something has to be done to ensure provision of the Mass and Sacraments, now.

3. Re-evaluate the policy of taking young priests from developing countries and dropping them into a parish in the middle of nowhere, expecting them to shepherd the flock in a manner often quite alien to the sheep themselves.

4. Require all religious under their command to wear clerical dress or a habit at all times in public.

5. Write a 'Catholic Charter' setting out, bullet point fashion, all the key areas concerning religious/political matters eg No Catholic should approve of homosexual acts as they constitute a mortal sin, All Catholics must oppose Government plans for Same Sex "Marriage" etc.

6. Restore reverence within their churches; genuflection, altar rails, centrally placed tabernacles and altars, rather than tables, to come back while Mass crèches and Extraordinary Ministers to go.

7. Issue a directive regarding liturgical practice, no female altar servers, Masses celebrated Ad orientum, no dancing or shenanigans on the sanctuary.

8. The EF Mass to be provided at least once each week at every church (and not at 4.15pm)

9. Legion of Mary, SVP and Pro Life groups to be encouraged in every parish.

10. Establish a new role for the nuns of the Diocese, give them direction and objectives and targets to achieve.

I am sure that you will be able to add to this list but, even if they could only implement these ten points, just think what changes would be wrought.

And still time for a round of golf on Wednesday afternoon!


  1. Excellent suggestions. I'm a big fan of #s 6 & 7, especially centrally located tabernacles, real altars, male only altar servers and ad orientem.

    There is a shocking level of ignorance of liturgical norms even among "trained" servers and sacristans. If the rubrics were tightened up—I'm talking about the OF Liturgy, of course—and adherence to the rubrics was mandatory, that would help establish consistency and help those of us who train servers and sacristans to provide precise guidance for the reverent celebrant of Holy Mass.

  2. I don't think the Pope would like much of that. Too retro; too forties.

  3. Here in the LA archdiocese, at the Religious Education Congress, they named the theme: "Enter the Mystery". The mystery of course, is how is anyone going to learn about the Catholic faith with a convention full of dissidents, modernists and heretics? Excellent list, especially 6&7.

  4. Another excellent post Richard. Let us hope that the Bishops - or at least some of them, agree. Indeed how could they not agree, how could any true Catholic - Bishop or not, disagree with your practical and feasible proposals? I suggest a copy be sent to every Bishop of England, Wales and Scotland. A waste of time, I hear some say, maybe but maybe not! Keep up the good work. B.

  5. The damage that been done by Weaving the Web (wtw) is now clearly visible for all to see. Empty pews and people not understandimg the true Faith. I know of a very highly respected academic priest from the archdiocese of Liverpool, who warned the late Archbishop Worlock NOT TO ALLOW the wtw into catholic schools. The Archbishop would not listen to this priest. Indeed he even punished the poor man for speaking out.
    But the priest was right. I read his column every week in the catholic press. He survived the punishment of + Worlock and his auxiliary Bishop and has proven himself to be a good leader in his own right.

    Why is it that we have very learned priests who advise well and teach theology to a very good standard and they are not listened to?
    The Bishops in England and Wales need waking up. They have been 'asleep' too long. If they do not want to be true to Rome and follow Pope Francis, then I suggest they retire and let some other man do a better job.

  6. There is a petition on to the Holy See asking that Canon 915 regarding denial of the Blessed Sacrament to those persisting in manifest grave sin be enforced. Could you post on it? Thanks.

  7. O, what a tangled web we weave ...