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Diocese urges Vatican: let our bishop retire

By on Thursday, 31 May 2012

Bishop Hollis, 75, has had treatment for cancer (Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)

Bishop Hollis, 75, has had treatment for cancer (Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)

The Diocese of Portsmouth has urged the Vatican to allow 75-year-old Bishop Crispian Hollis to retire.

The bishop, who reached retirement age last November and has been undergoing treatment for bowel cancer, is on “light duties” but is still responsible for the diocese.

A statement said there was “growing disquiet” about the length of time it was taking to appoint a successor.

Valerie Cockell, a parishioner, was quoted as saying: “Bishop Crispian has served us well for over 20 years. For most of that time he was in good health and has been an energetic and pastoral bishop. Now that he has had health problems he should be allowed to retire and rest.”

She added: “It is, frankly, cruel to require any priest or bishop to continue in office to the age of 75 but when someone is not in the best of health it is shameful to keep them in office.”

Today Bishop Hollis celebrated a farewell Mass with his clergy.

In his homily he was expected to recall the moment he was installed as bishop 23 years ago.

In an advance copy of the homily sent to media he said it was “an awesome thought to realise the precious nature of what was being entrusted to me” as bishop.

The bishop said: “As a teacher and pastor, I was entrusted with God’s word and the life and flourishing of His people in this diocese. I prayed for courage to face that challenge and I prayed also for wisdom not to succumb what can be a besetting sin of some bishops – the capacity to produce instant wisdom and an authoritative answer to every question.

“Without wishing to seem romantic, I have sought to love you all, to be aware of your great gifts and to do my best to enable those gifts to flourish for the good of the whole Church and for your own good too.”

Bishop Hollis said that “time and again, I’ve been moved by your unselfish commitment and faith… I’m fully aware that a bishop is powerless without the collaboration, cooperation and support of his clergy.”

He said that his years as bishop had been “immeasurably good for me”, but added that it was “time to move on”.

“I have fought the good fight,” he said, “I have kept the faith and – more or less – I have finished the race. I hand over to my successor, whoever he may be, with confidence and all I ask of you is that you will love him as you have loved me and cherish – and humour – him as you have done for me.

“Bless you all and thank you, from the depths of my heart.”

Full text of Bishop Hollis’s homily

FAREWELL TO THE CLERGY
Basingstoke – May 31st 2012 – Feast of the Visitation
I know that I am tempting fate to say that this is a last farewell, but with holidays upon us and the increasing busyness of these summer months, this seemed to be the best time to celebrate this farewell Eucharist and festive lunch with as many of you as possible.

To do so on this feast of the Visitation is particularly poignant, as we remember that extraordinary encounter in which Elizabeth recognises the presence of Christ in the womb of Mary and when we too recognise that same presence of Christ in one another and in the work that we do together. Elizabeth rejoices in the presence of the Lord and I have this long sought opportunity to rejoice in that same presence of the Lord that is in you and in your ministry.

We have heard again those wonderful words of promise from the prophecy of Zechariah – “In those days, ten men, from every language, will take a Jew by the sleeve and say: ‘we want to go with you, since we have learned that God is with you’”. It’s been a joy for me to have seen this happening in your lives and in your ministry.

St Paul reminds us of the need for integrity and honesty in our loving and we pray for the capacity to ‘fight the good fight’ of faith and to have an open heart to care for the poor and disadvantaged.

Mary’s song of rejoicing comes with the Magnificat and we can justly appropriate Mary’s words as we rejoice in the evidence of the power of God at work in our lives and in our pastoral care of one another and of our people.

In preparing for today, I went back to the homily I preached at my Mass of Installation in January 1989. I came to that day very diffident and unsure of myself and yet, paradoxically, strangely confident. This was very largely because of the history of the diocese with which I had been entrusted and because I was surrounded by the fruits of the work of those who had gone before me. It was somewhat of an awesome thought to realise the precious nature of what was being entrusted to me.

As a teacher and pastor, I was entrusted with God’s word and the life and flourishing of His people in this diocese. I prayed for courage to face that challenge and I prayed also for wisdom not to succumb what can be a besetting sin of some bishops – the capacity to produce instant wisdom and an authoritative answer to every question. The wisdom for which I prayed was that I would be able to listen and to discern, to recognise and discover the Spirit at work in your lives and ministries and in the life of the diocese. Your gifts are the raw material for the work of any bishop who seeks to work collaboratively with those who are his prime helpers for the mission and communion of the Church.

It’s not for me to assess whether or not my prayers have been answered; you are better judges of that than I am. What I do know, however, is that, with me, you have given yourselves most generously to God, so that together we have been able to minister to all “under the guidance of the Gospel.”

Without wishing to seem romantic, I have sought to love you all, to be aware of your great gifts and to do my best to enable those gifts to flourish for the good of the whole Church and for your own good too. There are times in a so-called hierarchical church when barriers are set up or exist between bishops and the clergy. I have tried my best to break down those barriers to enable warmth and friendship between us to flourish. I am very aware of how many mistakes I have made – and I am sure you are aware of many more – but through your forgiveness, for which I now ask again, I am enabled today to rejoice with you in the work and life that we have shared.

Time and again, I’ve been moved by your unselfish commitment and faith and I have often been very proud to say within the diocese, and outside, how blessed we are in our priests and our deacons. Through the Spirit and through your love and commitment, we have achieved much – and I’m fully aware that a bishop is powerless without the collaboration, cooperation and support of his clergy. Largely because of what you have done, my successor will inherit, in financial terms, a not inconsiderable ‘war chest’ as a result of the Living Our Faith campaign which you so generously supported. He will inherit a restructured diocese with which to face some of the challenges to the mission and life of the Church in the 21st century. Most importantly, he will inherit a body of clergy who know how to work collaboratively and who, working with courage and maturity, are ready to take full responsibility for the task of proclaiming and living the Gospel.

23 years is a long time to be in one place and you have been very patient with all my shortcomings. I thank you for that with all my heart. These years have been unimaginably good for me, though I can’t pretend that I have absolutely enjoyed every minute of them. You have given me the space and understanding in which it has been possible for me to grow – I am particularly appreciative of all the love and support that flowed over me during my recent illness – and for me you have made these years rich beyond measure.

But now it’s time to move on: “I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith and – more or less – I have finished the race.” I hand over to my successor, whoever he may be, with confidence and all I ask of you is that you will love him as you have loved me and cherish – and humour – him as you have done for me.

Bless you all and thank you – from the depths of my heart.

Bishop Crispian

  • CM

    Bless you Bishop.

  • South Saxon

    Wait until August when ++Cormac turns 80. Then, we may hope to see the appointment of new bishops of the same orthodoxy as the Bishop of Shrewsbury. Perhaps Archbishop Mennini is holding off until the Cardinal loses his place in the Congregation for Bishops.

  • Et_Expecto

    It is possible that you are correct, South Saxon, but it is not much over six months since Bishop Hollis tendered his resignation.  Usually the time taken to to appoint a replacement is between six and eighteen months, so there is nothing unusual here.  It is most likely that the cause of the delay is the search for someone suitable.

    Portsmouth is not the only diocese where an appointment is awaited.  East anglia is a far more urgent case.

  • nytor

    Let’s hope so. The southern bishops – Hollis, Budd, Conry, Lang – are amongst the worst and most liberalised of all the hierarchy and appointments not in their mould are heartily to be desired. Portsmouth needs a decent new bishop, not another in the Worlockian image.

  • johnnewbery485

    and he is still active even though all appointments have vanished from the list in the Herald! Currently he is helping to cover masses at St Patrick’s Hayling Island in the absence through illness of the Parish Priest Fr John-Paul OCSO.

  • Charles Martel

    Am I alone in feeling that there’s far too much about ‘me’ in all this. I just can’t quite imagine Bishop Charles Borromeo twittering on about how he hadn’t enjoyed every minute of his career. For crying out loud! You weren’t put into that position – paid for by the donations of the faithful – to have fun! Our Lord never promised us any fun on this Earth.
    Sorry if I sound mean, but I just don’t feel anything of the Catholic spirit in all this. We don’t care about the ‘war-chest’; we care about how much you have taught the Faith and untaught heresy. This is nothing but the same old clubby, smug, trite stuff that has been the bane of the post-conciliar Church in England.

  • Burt

    oh please yes I wanted him to retire so long ago. He was much too young to retire of course. But dear fellow you have been quite simply a part of the problem why faith is wrecked in this world. FAIL.

  • Burt

    feel bad already about what I said, but I do feel so mad how you modernists wrecked the Faith..not one of my kids consider themselves catholic, and I apportion some of that guilt to you too!

  • Matt R

    Yes someone suitable, whose appointment would not be interfered with by certain liberal cardinals in the Congregation for Bishops.

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

     
    THOSE WHO HAVE PROBLEMS WITH VAT.II, PLEASE REF. : APOSTOLIC LETTER FOR THE YEAR OF FAITH – THE DOOR OF FAITH – NO.5

  • Isaac

    Dear Burt, your kids may yet return to the faith. Continue to persevere in prayer and penance for them. May St. Monica intercede for you.

    As to feeling mad and apportioning guilt: our Lord and the saints have shown us a better way, haven’t they? Let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide us as to how we may “rebuild” His church.

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

    ORTHODOX, LIBERAL, MODERN, CONSERVATIVE……THESE WORDS OCCUR FREQUENTLY IN PEOPLES’  WRITING AND SPEECH.

    GROUP IDENTITIES LIKE FOR EXAMPLE A CHURCH OR THOSE WHO REPRESENT SUCH IDENTITIES LIKE BISHOPS ARE SUPPOSED TO LOVE AND CARE FOR ALL PEOPLE – THE BISHOP THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH HAS TO LOVE AND CARE FOR ALL. SO PEOPLE NEED TO BE SYMPATHETIC AND UNDERSTANDING TOWARDS HIM, NOT MAKING TOO MANY DEMANDS ONLY IN TERMS OF ONE’S OWN SOUL-DISPOSITION.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OTCKAYXC6V65WVJUPZFYCCUEUU Lee

    a person wrote that ”
    It is, frankly, cruel to require any priest or bishop to continue in office to the age of 75 but when someone is not in the best of health it is shameful to keep them in office”, such modernistic thinking that whoever made such a comment needs to look over their history. A Bishop is a cleric FOR LIFE and whether he is ill or not, his ministry of Christ’s Kingdom upon Earth means that enduring pain is part of experiencing Love for Christ !

  • Father KM

    Vatican II sucks, I don’t care what a paragraph of an ap letter that the pope has to dutifully put out says. The Church is in chambles and some still feel the need to dilusionally parrot a defense Vatican II!!

  • Charles Martel

     Dear Fr. Poovathinkal,
    I didn’t say I have problems with Vatican II; I criticised the state of the post-conciliar Church in England.

  • nytor

    Why is a Cistercian monk doing parish work hundreds of miles from his monastery?

  • fizzypilgrim

    I lived some of the finest years of my Catholic life when Bishop Crispian, although he was already Vicar General in Clifton was above all a fine exemplary parish priest. I have visited the Plymouth diocese recently and am well aware of the shambles Vat II and its supporters have created. That should not prevent those of us who are or have become traditionalists from lacking in human kindness towards our pastors as well as the poorest of our brethren. Bishop Crispian has given himself totally, as he always did in Clifton. In those days many thought he would proceed to Westminster and the fact that he did not must be associated with mutterings I have heard here in Italy. An inferior man took his place. I pray for him now as I hope he will for me – the last bride he married in Clifton.

  • The Cardinal

    Et_Expecto:

    You are wrong on several counts.

    (1) Your name is spelled incorrectly. It should be Et_Exspecto.

    (2) On the advice of the then Nuncio, Bishop Hollis submitted his resignation to Rome two weeks before his 74th birthday — i.e. at the beginning of November 2010, twenty months ago, rather more than the six months you suggest. The resignation was accepted before Christmas 2010, but he was asked to continue as bishop until a successor was appointed. The Nuncio then resigned through ill health and the consultation process did not begin until May 2011. The process was concluded before Christmas 2011, but the name proposed by the Congregation for Bishops was intercepted by two Roman cardinals on its way to the pope, and a different name substituted who had not been consulted on at all. That candidate turned it down, so the process had to start all over again. It is rumoured that not one but two further consultation processes have taken place since then. An additional complication is that the Congregation for Bishops can only handle four cases at a time, which explains why in some parts of the world there has not been a diocesan ordinary for a decade or more.

    (3) East Anglia is in fact the junior in the list of dioceses in England and Wales awaiting an appointment. Bishop Hollis’s resignation was submitted long before Bishop Michael Evans died of cancer, and even Bishop Hollis’s resignation was not the first on the list. Bishop Edwin Regan of Wrexham, who is now 78, has been waiting for a successor for even longer.

  • JabbaPapa

    A question for that monk’s superior, not for this forum — there has always been a smattering of monks doing diocesan pastoral work far from their monasteries — there’s a parish church not a mile from here which is being run by some monks from a monastery in northern Spain.

  • Benedict Carter

    Thank God this man is set to retire. 

    Any delay one HOPES is due to the Holy Father’s desire to appoint an orthodox Catholic to the diocese.

  • Benedict Carter

    Correct. VII is a crock of ****.

  • http://nathaniel-campbell.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel M. Campbell

    One wonders whether this isn’t another good argument in favor of returning to the ancient practice of a diocese’s clergy electing their bishop rather than having everything run out of Rome.

  • Parasum

    Maybe St. Charles Borromeo would not have been a Saint, if he had lived when Twitter was available. The Net is an occasion of sin in countless ways.

    STM that what you are looking for is a bishop who will reform himself & the flock Christ gives him (like St Charles, maybe). Correct ?

  • liulan991

    tinyurl.com/73huk6r

  • Mcarroll

     The trouble with that is that the country would be over run by liberal Bishops.

  • maideqi

    tinyurl.com/73huk6r

  • fizzypilgrim

    Jesus made few commands about bishops. He left that for the Holy Spirit working in the Church He founded. He had no need to talk overmuch either about love: He was love, Word of the Father who was and is love, giver of the Holy Spirit of love. I, who have passed from being a Vat II enthusiast to becoming a traditionalist would ask that we all bear that for Bishop Crispian. I believe that he loved God with all his heart. Let him offer his failings to God now as I hope to do constantly.