Re: State of the Church: Diocese by Diocese
Hello dear brothers and sisters in Christ!
I hope this thread will become a wonderful resource as other threads on this site have done. Our deacons, priests, bishops, religious, and lay ministers are so very important in ensuring that we meet the express mission of the pilgrim people of God in building the Church, and we must be always and in all ways vigilant in giving our support in prayers, penance, and alms as well as at times fraternal correction. Bishops are human beings and are, like the rest of us, sin-tainted creatures, subject to errors. Regrettably, a bishop's errors and the added problem of discretionary authority make his errors serious. Like all people, bishops come in a variety of flavors and fragrances, many of which are not to our particular taste, and like some olfactory-gustatory experiences, are not very inviting.
Fr Roger Hunter-Hall and his co-author Steven Wagner, despite what appears to be a methodology problem, have nevertheless produced a very valuable contribution to our understanding of the state of the Catholic Church and the situation of the dioceses and their CEOs, the bishops.
In summary, Hunter-Hall and Wagner, provide us with five very convincing characteristics of the successful bishop:
(1) successful bishops attribute their success to the Holy Spirit.
(2) successful bishops are joyful.
(3) they assume personal responsibility for the outcomes that are their priorities.
(4) they are personally involved in leading men to discern a vocation. They are personally involved in promoting the morale of their priests, and they are investing themselves in programs of evangelization.
(5) bishops are unwilling to acquiesce to decline. They are intent on doing their part to help the church flourish.
Hunter-Hall would have been more complete if they were to have enumerated the same number of characteristics of the unsuccessful bishop. I'd like to propose the following based on the Hunter-Hall model of the 5 Characteristics (with the proviso that I am using my own bishop and Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany (NY) as a general model):
(1) an unsuccessful bishop abuses discretion or relies too heavily on underlings or delegates his authority to subordinates in matters requiring his personal pastoral and paternal attention; discretion takes the place of the Holy Spirit;
(2) an unsuccessful bishop is not cheerful or joyful and does not inspire his flock with evangelical enthusiasm and joy in their faith;
(3) an unsuccessful bishop delegates his responsibility for outcomes to subordinates;
(4) an unsuccessful bishop is not personally involved in discernment for vocations and uses discretionary authority as a weapon rather than a tool; he fails in promoting the morale of his priests, ministers, and flock; he fails in his pastoral and paternal obligations and fails in his teaching and evangelization obligations by not inspiring the faithful to build the church, becoming overly focused on ulterior activities;
(5) an unsuccessful bishop accepts the decline of his dioceses faithful, parishes, vocations, ministries and does not take proactive and decisive steps to ensure that his diocese flourishes;
(6) an unsuccessful bishop surrounds himself with administrators and bureaucrats, insulating himself from his priests, religious, and flock;
(7) an unsuccessful bishop is not paternal or fraternal but is arrogant and distanced;
(8) an unsuccessful bishop frequently is too long in the one diocese and is literally burnt out and ineffective;
(9) an unsuccessful bishop becomes the victim of his own unwieldy administrative system and its lethargy;
(10) an unsuccessful bishop does not seek his flock's inputs and concerns; he ceases to himself discern.
Share with us your impressions of your diocese and whether your bishop is successful or unsuccessful. Don't forget to provide your bishop's name and his diocese and your recommendation of a truly successful bishop!
Thanks very much!
Pax et Bonum!
Harold William Vadney III