Wednesday, 7 February 2007

A Meeting with the Cardinal

The priests of the Hackney and Tower Hamlets deaneries (of which I am a member) had a meeting this morning with His Eminence the Cardinal and Auxiliary Bishop Bernard Longley (who is, apparently, an occasional visitor to this blog). This was designed to be a 'joint reflection,' with the Cardinal talking to us for half an hour about a number of issues and then an opening up for discussion to all those present.

There was a good atmosphere, thanks in large part to the Cardinal's personal warmth and the relatively small size of the group (there were about 25 priests present).

H.E. talked in particular about the need for priests to live a solidly priestly life, with space for prayer, retreats, regular confession and recreation. He also mentioned the need for appraisal, which should be located with the bishop (and spiritual director) rather than becoming another part of diocesan bureaucracy. How ghastly it would be to have parish inspections in the style of the corporate world! This is the purpose of episcopal visitations, after all.

We also discussed the needs of immigrants, the purpose of Pastoral Letters (which one priest said should address particular issues of the moment, such as the present adoption debate, rather than always being the same theme and on the same Sunday every year) and whether an Episcopal Vicar could help with Confirmations. This has been suggested since, during the post-Easter Confirmation season, some of our Auxiliaries have been doing as many as nine Confirmations a week. The consensus was that it would be best for a bishop to minister the sacrament or, failing that, in extremis, the parish priest, since the people have no understanding of who or what an epicopal vicar is. One priest advised a return to eighteenth century France, where a bishop stuck his hands out of his carriage as he passed a village and confirmed those who were waiting - a time efficient model, perhaps, for our modern age! Who, though, would pay for a new set of episcopal carriages?

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Anonymous Jonathan Brogery said...

I will pay for one, providing it is scarlet and for stabling for six for ten years.

11:20 pm  
Blogger Fr Nicholas said...

How very kind - should I be passing through Archbishop's House, I'll let then know!

9:17 am  

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