Thursday, March 4, 2010


What do you do when you do not like your bishop?

When still a seminarian there was a student/friend of mine who left to go to another diocese where there was a bishop that he liked more. He was there for a while and then as things go they changed bishops and he was once again unhappy.

Liking or disliking a bishop is more than just having a preference for a boss or even a politician. Bishops are more to us than that. We all belong (hopefully) to a parish and the parish is just part of a larger entity known as the local Church of which our bishop is the head. This is not a company with a CEO, it is more like a large family with a patriarch. And it is a hard job. Terribly hard. Especially in this difficult times.

Did you know that it is difficult even to find priests willing to become bishop? I think no sane man would do it unless he was an upper level saint. As one person once said, “Anybody who wants to be a bishop deserves to be one.” The glory days are way over.

And so we have a consecrated man as our see, a combination of administrator, politician, father, teacher, chief priest, healer, and at times, because it is necessary, CEO. Is there any other job requiring so many hats? And he is expected to be good at all of them plus be a saint if possible.

“It’s lonely at the top” is an understatement. A bishop makes decisions and they are wildly popular with some (these people remain quiet) and condemned as damnable by others (and these are quite vocal.) This past week I made a decision on socks for our uniforms in the school. You would have thought that I required each student to be flogged. I can’t imagine making decisions on whether a school or parish remains open.

Hopefully you like your bishop. But perhaps you do not. It may be that your bishop, in your eyes, is making terrible mistakes. You don’t have to like him but love him. Pray for him. Or this whole thing falls apart. I know some are facing terrible things in their lives because of how a decision of a bishop is effecting them but do not let hate enter your soul – do not become what you hate – do not, in trying to “save the Church” lose your soul.


MJ said...

Great post! I am not a fan of this bishop but this gives me a different perspective and I will pray for him.

Cracked Pot said...

We tend to see the Bishop from our own viewpoint. "What has he done for me lately?" Thanks for helping us to see the broader perspective. Interesting is your statement that ". . . it is difficult even to find priests willing to become bishop." I didnt' think they had a choice. But in retrospect, I recall that Father Ratzinger consulted his spiritual director before becoming a bishop. He thought that the spiritual director would advise against his accepting the offer.

Anonymous said...

There is an online site Rosary for Bishops if anyone is interested

I agree in normal circumstances we have to bear with wrongs patiently (spiritual work of mercy).
Also to have the wisdom to know when you should go somewhere else - is hard to discern but sometimes it is necessary.

Matt W said...

Most everyone wants to have a great leader, but very few want to be faithful followers.

chloesmom said...

I don't have an opinion on my bishop because he is practically invisible. Dunno the reason for this. Our diocese of Valleyfield, Quebec, Canada, is mostly French-speaking, so perhaps all his activity is on the French side. He visits our parish anually to officiate at Confirmation and makes an annual fund-raising appeal, but beyond that there isn't a peep out of him -- about anything, AFAIK. Anyone else have a virtually invisible bishop?

Anonymous said...

I love our Bishop. That said, I know he isn't perfect and sometimes does things we don't like or understand. Living here in the Cleveland Diocese, there are some painful parish closures and mergers going on (my parish among them). The thing of it is, we laity are largely responsible for this. How many of the people who are protesting loudly about the closures/mergers moved away from their inner-city parish, or only attend at Christmas and Easter when it is more festive? How many of these people encouraged their children to consider Holy Orders? How many properly supported these parishes and schools monetarily and with their talents (and volunteerism)? How many of us prayed for vocations or for our Pope and our Bishop?

Bishop Lennon is not responsible for any of these things. This is something that has been brewing for the last 20-30 years or more, and he has only been here for five years or so. We laity need to take some responsibility, and take the steps needed so this never has to happen again.

My husband and I and many of our friends at our parish and our new friends from our partnered parish have been praying a daily Rosary novena throughout Lent specifically for Bishop Lennon, that he be granted wisdom and strength from the Holy Spirit to make the proper decisions. I invite any of my fellow Catholics in the Diocese to do the same. We may not get the results we want, but it can only do good.

God Bless - Susan from Akron

Carol said...

Sometimes it's not just familial bickering. Sometimes there are criminal bishops. Sometimes there is a bishop elsewhere who goes on tv to say that the priest wasn't in clerical garb when he touched the boy, so it wasn't a matter of wielding the power of authority over him.. and ours has also at least once busied himself with covering up the scene of a dead priest at a man-party; the priest who tried to expose this was dragged into the media, too, while "the diocese" tried to break him. And more.

But sometimes, in this glorious and unglorious family, there is a pastor who comes out and looks us in the eye and says, "I know. I know. But he is still your bishop. Please treat him well when he comes to the RCIA next week." Had ours not asked that, we wouldn't have upheld it.

Listen, Ohio, you're very lucky! Thank God for Bp. Lennon, and for every pastor who is determined to help us give Christ His holy bride.

MaryMargaret said...

Oh, this post puts me in mind of a truly great post by The Curt Jester

Jeff's post is laugh out loud funny, and makes many of your points, Father.

Anonymous said...

He wants to sell Camp Christopher! Why? Thanks for your thoughts Father, I will pray for our Bishop.

Anonymous said...

I have not heard about Camp Christopher. Residential property values in that area have skyrocketed, so there could be a windfall. It's a nice place for a retreat, I've been there many times. There was just a nice retreat there last weekend for teens. Liability insurance for day camps, etc., for children may be through the roof, and the programs might be a big loss to the diocese financially. Retreat and camp sites are great to have, but maybe this has become too costly.

Meanwhile, this bishop does not seem to have a sense of the history of the diocese, nor does he seem to appreciate the importance of ethnic diversity - if the Hungarians and Slovaks are any example.

Victoria said...

"Sometimes bishops make decisions which are condemned"

The bishop in the Netherlands who decided that sexually active same sex attracted people could decide for themselves whether they can receive Holy Communion or not springs to mind.

" A bishop makes decisions which are wildly popular with some."

See above