Bloggers: Why Not Interview Your Bishop?

I lay awake last night and the idea came to me that I could interview my Bishop for this blog. The one thing that keeps coming back to me is the idea that all of our Bishops feel quite distant. We get pastoral letters every now and then but I don't feel like I know my Bishop very well. I'm going to see if he will allow me to interview him for the blog.

It is important that Bishops don't feel like Catholic bloggers are out to 'get' them, or that they wish to set them up in some kind of a 'sting' operation. As I lay awake I came up with some questions I would like to ask my Bishop, if he were to be so gracious as to allow me to ask them and reply to them...

  • What is the most exciting thing about being a Bishop? What is the most daunting thing about being a Bishop?
  • Are you excited about the new translation of the Mass? Why?
  • Bishops come in for a degree of criticism for not teaching the Catholic Faith in its fullness, on certain parts of the Catholic blogosphere. Do you think this criticism of the Bishops is fair? If so, why, if not why not?
  • What is your favourite food?
  • How regularly do you go to Confession? How regularly do you recommend that your flock should go to Confession?
  • How do you like to relax?
  • Which papal encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI has made the deepest impression upon you? Why?
  • What steps have you taken to implement Summorum Pontificum? Do you think the liberation of the Latin Mass represents an exciting opportunity to expose the Faithful to the riches of the Church's spiritual tradition?  Pope Benedict XVI has noted its popularity, especially with the young. Would you consider learning the Latin Mass? If not, why not?
  • What is your favourite film? Also, who is your favourite composer and/or band of all time?
  • Many Catholics feel that the shrinking of Catholic families is evidence that Humanae Vitae was not taught faithfully to the laity by Priests and Bishops and that the Church still suffers greatly in the 'contraceptive age'. This has led to a shortage of Priests as Catholic families shrunk and many gave up their faith. What could be done to encourage more Catholics to be open to life and to be generous to God and His Church?
  • What steps could be taken to foster greater respect for the Holy Eucharist?
  • To which Saint(s) do you have a particular devotion? Why? Do you pray to the Saint(s) regularly?
  • In what ways could the impression of distance between Priests, Laity and their Bishops be overcome?
  • Who is your favourite Bishop in the Church's rich history and why?
  • Pope Benedict XVI has commented on the need for Priests and Bishops to see their vocations in terms of intimacy with and fidelity to Christ and His teachings. He stresses the need for Priests and Bishops to be men of deep prayer. Do you think there is too much over-burdensome administrative work in the role of the modern Bishop that hinders his relationship with Jesus? How could the Church help Bishops in this way?
  • Is there one spiritual devotion that you would recommend to your flock? Why?
  • Who is your favourite Catholic author?
  • Studies have revealed that among Catholics, knowledge of the Catechism is very weak. Do you think that the Church in England and Wales places too much emphasis on social justice and not enough emphasis on catechising the Faithful and the teaching of the Faith? What could be done to re-educate the laity about the Faith?
  • Do you have any pets? Did you name them after Saints?
  • Do you think that Freemasonry within the Church is a problem? If so, why? If not, why not?
  • What is your favourite quote of all time?
  • Are you concerned by the way in which sex education is taught in Catholic schools? What, in your view, could be done at a Diocesan level, to protect children from today's overtly sexualised culture? How can we encourage children to respect marriage and the Church's teaching on chastity?
  • What do you see as the greatest threat to the Catholic Faith over the next 25 years?
  • How could the Laity support their Bishop more?
  • What is your favourite site of Pilgrimage? Why?
  • If you could be a Bishop all over again, is there anything that you would do differently?
  • What, in your view, will bring men and women who have lapsed from the Faith back to the Faith in the United Kingdom?

Well, those are a few questions. What would you ask your Bishop?


James said…
Beat you to it!
Caroline said…
What is he doing to foster vocations?
Jack Regan said…
I don't usually comment on blogs, but this one caught my eye. Hopefully what I offer here will be taken in the right spirit.

I live in your diocese and in some ways I would like to see this. +K is a fascinating guy who would give some brilliant insights if asked many of those questions, I am sure.

I would also like to see "the blogs" be integrated into the wider conversations within the Church. In order for this to happen, the culture of the blogs will need an adjustment. With the changing face of the Catholic web, they will have to make this shift sooner or later if they don't want to become obsolete.

I really hope they do. In many ways, they have a lot to offer.

However, as it stands, right under this post, you use the phrase 'Magic Circle.' This is a good case in point: I would suggest that it's one of the other. Not both!

God Bless :)

Do you know who coined the phrase?

You might be surprised.
Jack Regan said…
Indeed I do. I read that post at the time. Problem is though, it's seen as derogatory. I have never seen that term used in a supportive, affirming capacity.

I hope you don't think I'm going on the attack here. Genuinly not. I speak as somebody who would like to see the blogs brought into the conversation, but who perhaps also feels that a few tweaks are needed if that's going to happen.

I have a very strong feeling that the Catholic internet is going to change dramatically over the coming decade. That change has already started. The important conversations will probably be carried out online and those of us who run websites have a tremendous opportunity to shape those in a positive way.

Hopefully useful thoughts. All shared with respect and hopefully the fruit of prayer :)
The door swings both ways, if you don't mind my using the expression.

There is a great deal of suspicion and cynicism from many vocal Catholics who are loyal to the Magisterium and the Pope, towards what they see as a 'culture' within the Bishops Conference.

That 'culture' is viewed as being one that dislikes traditional Catholicism, that dislikes the theological and liturgical positions of the Pope, a culture that promotes social action at the expense of Teaching of the Faithful, a culture that cosies up to the Government, rather than acts as a thorn in its side, a culture that frowns upon transparency. This, I think, is what is meant by the derogatory term - the 'magic circle'.

Now, it has to be said that there is also a great deal of suspicion and cynicism among those in the Church (which may include some Bishops) who are suspicious of those priests and laity who vocalise openly their concerns about that culture which has become known as the 'magic circle'.

Those suspicious and cynical about that part of the Church have described their opponents or critics, is a better term, as 'Taliban Catholics'.

More than that, I would expect that while the phrase would probably not be used by Bishops openly, there may be some who use the phrase to denounce these critics or, rather, these persons who believe it is their duty to hold Bishops to account and encourage them to be holy Shepherds, faithful to their teaching mission, to Christ and the Pope. I don't know for sure, I just wouldn't be that surprised.

What emerges is a schismatic vision. Two camps within the Church who form something akin to a Church within a Church...and we're not even talking about the Ordinariate! It is painted as, and it is not too melodramatic to say that what is taking place is a battle for the soul of the Church. It was a battle that was thought lost by those who revere the long and Sacred Tradition of the Church. Summorum Pontificum was a game changer. It liberated the old and it is now the new. It is attractive to the young who are brought into the Mystery of the Mass, while the 'old guard' believe it belongs in a museum.

Here we have two distinct and discernibly different visions of the Church. Here we have two visions which the Holy Father sees as being unified and united within the reform of the Sacred Liturgy, rather than being directly opposed each other, seeing the old refining the new and the new the old.

Somehow the two 'sides' or 'camps' need to engage with each other, but I have no idea how this could occur and in a way doubt that it ever will. In the end, the matter is resolved by odedience to the Pope. Unfortunately, only one 'camp' is going to like that suggestion!

I get the impression from nearly all the blogs that I read that those who are in the more traditional camp find that talking with those in the 'new Church' camp as being a bit like Catholics talking to Protestants.

For example, I don't know whether any of our Bishops have done it, but if just one Bishop celebrated the Traditional Latin Mass openly, what would happen to him? Is there not a feeling that he might be, perhaps, ostracised from the rest of the Episcopal Conference?
georgem said…
If you weren't a priest what career might you have pursued?

What do you remember most about what you were taught about the Catholic faith at school?

How did your parents react when you said you wanted to be a priest?

Whose influence was greatest in your decision?

Did you think of refusing when asked to be a bishop? If so, why?

How many times a day do you pray?

Are you proud to wear the Roman collar in public, ie when travelling?

Name the poem/book/film about the Catholic faith which has touched you most?

How can the internet be used as a tool for evangelisation?

Do you think that Christian beliefs are under attack in the UK?

How should the bishops make their voices heard regarding the persecution of Christians in non-Christian countries.

Should they?

If the Pope asked you to be a missonary, which country would be your choice, (with reasons)?
Anonymous said…
There is no doubt there is a low level intensity civil war going on in the Church at the moment. It's obvious. The side that will win will be the one that sticks to the gospel because that will be the one thing that outlives us all.

How can the two sides come together, if at all?. Well both sides will have to swallow some pride that's for sure, but I think the "liberals" will have to bite the bullet the hardest. They will have to face up to the fact that their understanding of the nuts and bolts of the faith isn't good and stop standing on their pride. When you stop listening to what someone like Daphne MacCleod has to say and put your fingers in your ears when she speaks then quite frankly "Houston we have a problem". The other thing that liberals will have to face up to is their cowardly streak. The gospel is supposed to give you the courage to stand your ground and face your enemies down but "liberals" just run away and try avoid the conflict. It's killing the faith. Man-up and get on with it. What do "traditionalists" have to do?. I think the main thing is to be less scary - this more than anything seems to put "liberals" off.

Will any of this happen?. I don't know. We may have got beyond that and the only thing that will settle the issue is demographics. A lot depends on how many of the so-called "liberals" are genuine in their misunderstandings and how many are covert dissenters who are deliberately manipulating the Church from the inside for their own ends. There seems no doubt these people exist and they are the real trouble-makers.

Finally, what can we both do?. I think the main thing we can do is to recognise the true source of the conflict in the Church is the devil - he is our common enemy. Our Lord told us "the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy" (Jn 10:10) and he's certainly doing that. If we want to find out the true source of the seductive doctrines and flattery we need look no further. He is preying on human weakness and pride yet again and turning us against each other.

Anonymous said…
So many of these questions are loaded that your claim not to be getting at bishops is a tad disingenuous. I thought real Catholics were supposed to support their bishops, not be all the time trying to catch them out. Interesting how people who claim to be really good Catholics so often display attitudes that are thoroughly unCatholic. Perhaps we need to be more concerned about God than just about being Catholic.
Joan said…
One more bullet point for your interview:
After your lecture did you walk past on the other side?