28 July 2009

Mgr Richard Moth

Great news from Rome of the appointment of Mgr Richard Moth as the new Bishop of the Forces.

Someone said to me, recently, that since the restoration of the hierarchy in 1850, in England and Wales, there has been a Benedictine in the team. I was, therefore, interested to read that the Bishop elect "has been a Benedictine Oblate for 30 years." Does this count?

I wish you the very best, My Lord, and you remain very much in my prayers.

At the same time, join me in offering prayers to the Holy Spirit, that He might send us a Bishop, too, for Birmingham.


  1. As someone who is serving in the Armed Forces and is a Catholic (oh, and church going !) I have a perspective on this new appointment. I haven’t a clue who Bishop-Elect Moth is, never met him, and so can’t say much about him. However, I have been reflecting on the way we get new bishops. Essentially, we are given them. No bishop one day, then one suddenly appears. He comes from on high, appointed by the Holy See. The process by which he emerges is covered in secrecy and fog, and I’m not really sure how the Holy See comes to the decision as to who is the best person for the role. Most certainly, no one asked me. I doubt whether most of us who make up this Diocese were asked. I think that’s the way it is. I do wonder how people in the pew feel when they are suddenly told that they have a new bishop, priest or whatever. We are expected to be grateful and welcome the new incumbent. The Church presumably knows best, and we take what we are given. I’m increasingly uneasy about that. It smacks of paternalism ... “There you are, now, here’s the bishop we’ve decided we’re giving you and you will unquestioningly accept him and be happy with our decision”.

    I don’t say any of this in any way against the new bishop. He’s just been told he’s going to do the job. Although, I suspect that he will be quite pleased with himself, notwithstanding formulaic protestations about his unworthiness which will be forthcoming. I just feel uneasy about a process that for the most part ignores the people whose bishop he is to be. We don’t get asked. We just get asked to pray. I guess in the belief that God will guide the Church to appoint the right person. Ever thought that God might chose to speak more directly through the voice of the people who are the Church ? So why not ask us directly ? I remember from my history studies that one of the main ways in which the Papacy over the centuries has secured its authority over the Church has been by reserving to itself the appointment of bishops, making them dependent on and answerable to the Holy See. It wasn’t always that way. Bishops in the early Church were acclaimed by the people, chosen by the local church. Until the Papacy started to flex its muscles and take control. Many of the powers and privileges that the Papacy takes to itself were not always taken for granted. The Papacy worked hard to get them, and keep them. Much of it has to do with power and authority. Occasionally Rome gets a bit of shock. I recall that in the last few years the clergy and people of a diocese in Switzerland were not happy with the bishop given to them, and Rome had to change its mind. I don’t necessarily want Rome to change its mind, but I would have liked somebody to have asked me what I thought would be the kind of person I / we / the faithful wanted to be our bishop. But nobody did, and there was no mechanism available for me to express an opinion. That doesn’t seem right. And as one of the praying and paying faithful in the pew, I wonder why I've been left out of this decision and have been handed a fait accompli. Just doesn't seem right to me. Oh, I know someone will tell me that the Church isn't a democracy and the mind of the Church comes through in the decisions and actions of a centralised Papacy and Curia. I just don't buy it.

    Oh well, having had my gripe about the process and the way the Church does things, we will welcome the new bishop. I guess it’s not his fault. He'll have a fine time as Bishop to HM Forces, and we will be nice to him, and look after him well. And we will keep putting our money on the plate, and going to Mass on Sunday and doing all the things we do to keep the Church going in this bit of life.

  2. servingblogger,

    Do you get to appoint your next in command? Do you have a say in that? If not,how do you view that restriction in your choice of career?

  3. I only know him as a relative. He has always been a kind and gentle mannered person, eager to help, good humoured and tireless. I can't imagine him being any less in his new appointment. We wish him well.

  4. I've been away, so sorry not had a chance to reply to your great comments.

    I'm not sure what to say in regard to the appointment of Bishops, other than we can all make our thoughts known, not least to God. It is right that it is the Holy Spirit who guides the Church and, therefore, we need to have Faith that the Pope will make the best decision for us in this regard. I'm quite sure that over the years there have been protestations (think the diocese of Linz in recent times) and it is true to say that there were acclamations of Bishops in times past (think St Ambrose of Milan) but today we accept the hierarchical Church and know it is not a democracy. Anyone in a leadership role has to guard against paternalism in its worst traits but should cherish the role of Father where it is appropriate.

    Here in Birmingham we are awaiting the appointment of an Archbishop to guide us. I'm quite sure that I am unlikely to be asked who I would like it to be. The Pope will appoint a man suitable to the task, and if my daily prayers are answered (as I'm sure they will be) then he will be a holy and pastoral shepherd known to HH Benedict XVI.

    As for the technical detail about the appointment of Bishops, then it is all covered in Canon Law but I hope you will forgive me not going into chapter and verse here.

    And finally, again, we pray for Bishop-elect Richard Moth.

  5. He's a good man and the ordination was great!

  6. Thanks for your comment, John, it certainly seems to have been a very joyous affair.



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