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Pope Francis has taught me the value of humility, says new Bishop of East Anglia

By on Friday, 14 June 2013

Bishop Alan Hopes Photo: CNS

Bishop Alan Hopes Photo: CNS

Pope Francis has shown that it is vital for bishops to be humble, the new Bishop of East Anglia has said.

Bishop Alan Hopes said that “humility,” “simplicity” and “true pastoral love” were the three qualities needed for every bishop and were the qualities displayed by the new Pope.

He said: “Bishops have to remain humble, your example is so important for priests and society and beyond.”

The Pope appointed Bishop Hopes as the next Bishop of East Anglia on Tuesday.

Bishop Hopes, a former Anglican priest, said that ecumenism would be a priority in his new role.

He said: “There will be many priorities of course and ecumenism is so important. I always remember the pope who appointed me, Pope John Paul II, he said that the ecumenical road is a one-way street – we cannot turn around and come back. Ecumenism is terribly important.”

Bishop Hopes added that on the announcement of his appointment, the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, sent him a “beautiful email” which “bodes well” for their work together.

Bishop Hopes also said that since his ordination as a Catholic priest the challenge of secularism had increased.

“I think secularism is a bigger challenge mainly because secularists have become rather more voluble and are listened to,” he said.

“I think it means that we have got to become more creative in the way we talk about the Gospel and how we get our teaching across. Our teaching is beautiful and we should be proud of it. We shouldn’t be afraid to tell people what we believe. We mustn’t be afraid.”

Bishop Hopes said that he was “very, very sad indeed” to be leaving the Diocese of Westminster, where he has served as auxiliary bishop but “extremely excited” about his new role.

During his time in the Diocese of Westminster he participated in a prayer vigil outside an abortion clinic in central London. He said his participation was “very challenging, but it was very important to be there”. He added that the Gospel of Life was a “wonderful Gospel. We all have to witness to it.”

  • Andrew Young

    The funny thing about humility; just when you acknowledge you have it, you have lost it!

  • Benedict Carter

    I am going to stick my neck out even further than I usually do.

    I don’t think that Pope Francis is at all humble.

    Humility is a state of mind, so say all the Saints, where one sees oneself as useless, worse than anyone else, because one knows that one is nothing, and can do nothing, and be nothing, without God.

    Pope Francis’ “humility” seems to me on the contrary to be rather haughty in nature, strident. A humble man wouldn’t open his mouth to say some of the unkind things he has said; or at least, would learn from his mistakes.

    All my intuition is saying this is not going to end well. Know that feeling when all the pressure guages are in the red zone, and rising? That’s how I feel about this Pope.

  • paulpriest

    Well Benedict technically you’re undermining your argument because as St Francis de Sales said true humility emanates from the person you least expect or suspect.
    It’s the great secret foundational mediator of all virtue..the leveller yet the leaven.

    Tell you what – how about a deal?
    How about a little moratorium where you can comment on anything the Pope says

    You can agree/diasagree as much as you wish
    praise or condemn or condone or attempt to refute the arguments
    whatever you want

    …but not impute any motive or infer any intention…
    until say he’s had enough time to settle in?

    Say October 4 – Feast of St Francis?
    Then see if you’ve changed your mind about him?

    Paul VI had a hell of a time settling in and he had Ecclesiastical giants at his beck and call…who is left among them except Ratzinger & Arinze?
    Francis hasn’t got the curial support and guidance to help him get his act together – it’s a different set up – nerves can make one loose tongued – thoughtless – plus it’s a non-hispanic culture and the language with its differing acceptable euphemisms and its jaw droppingly inappropriate allusions vary greatly from His Holiness’s homeland.

    Give him a little break…
    Just for a while…
    Then if there’s no improvement in your estimation you can actually telephone me and repeat your grievances vociferously ad nauseam..

  • Benedict Carter

    No, though I will try to watch and wait a bit longer as a result of your post. Putting Marini down in the way he did a moment before he stepped onto the Loggia was a disgrace, not the act of a humble man but of a bully.

  • paulpriest

    Say more rosaries – but keep your powder dry – who knows what’s in store?
    Chinese curse of living in interesting times?
    Would we really want it any other way?

  • scary goat

    LOL. Good one.

  • Hermit Crab

    I think Bishop Alan Hopes was sincere when he said that “Bishops have to remain humble – your example is so important for priests and society and beyond.”

    He also said that “humility,” “simplicity” and “true pastoral love” were “the qualities displayed by the new Pope”.

    A soul becomes more humble the closer it is to God, the more it feels its utter worthlessness. It regularly spends time in prayer, away from the exterior world, alone with God, in the interior life. It is like Mary’s soul rather than Martha’s.

    Now a soul like Martha’s, busy about many things, will probably not have a deep interior life. It will not be humble.

    Does Pope Francis have a deep interior life? Does our own Archbishop of Westminster have a deep interior life? Or are they too busy about many things?

  • firstparepidemos

    I’m puzzled. When did Pope Francis put down Msgr Marini? I thought that he had refused to remove him as papal M.C. Have I missed something?

  • James M

    “Pope John Paul II, he said that the ecumenical road is a one-way street – we cannot turn around and come back. Ecumenism is terribly important”

    ## Balderdash, gammon, piffle, tosh and bilge. Of course the Church can turn back – it’s on the road to Hell, so it needs to. Doesn’t the bishop, & didn’t JP2, know that repentance is “turning around”, and abandoning evil for that which is good ? The sin of ecumenism needs to be repented of – just like all sins. To persevere in evil is a very bad sign indeed. Did these people even go to a seminary ? Their spiritual formation sems to be nearly non-existent.

  • Ian Williams

    Bishop Hopes is a bit of a curate’s egg. He’s a decent bloke who was a good parish priest in Chelsea, but his record as Bishop with responsibility for England and Wales’ Liturgy Office is distinctly lukewarm. He has shown little inclination to make the hard decisions necessary to root out the empire building and politicking of the lay liturgiocracy that runs the department day to day, or even to acknowledge that all may not be well in his area of responsibility. The last two appointments to sees in England and Wales showed some firmness of vision, but I fear this looks like the same old comfortable magic circle stuff.

  • Hermit Crab

    I pray Bishop Hopes will prove your fears excessive.

  • Grant MacDonald

    Being gay … left handed or black is just as natural …!

  • KevinBeach

    I feel uplifted by Pope Francis’s effect on people. Thank God that we have a world-wide media to disseminate his words and actions so quickly.

    But when I read the comments about him from some of the online contributors my heart sinks. This is Peter, the first of all Bishops, appointed by Jesus to lead his Church and guaranteed against evil in doing so. The mean-spirited, acid-tongued comments that are made about him by just a handful of persistent malcontents display a spiritual sickness that would be best dealt with in private with a really good confessor, not by vomiting it over the pages of a Catholic paper.

  • aspiring lay capuchin

    what does he mean? you mean he didn’t know it (about humility) before? If so he is a rather poor priest/bishop. Pity the people of East Anglia then!

  • AlanP

    Para 821 of the Catechism states that certain things are required to respond to the call for Christian unity: renewal, conversion of heart, prayer in common, fraternal knowledge of each other, ecumenical formation, dialogue, and collaboration. Now, if you are saying the Church can go back on this, fair enough, but I thought traditionalists claim that the Church can never go back on any teaching. Not only are you saying that it can, but you even describe ecumenism as a “sin” and “evil”! Well, I can assure you I have no intention of repenting of the “sin” of wanting to work towards Christian unity.

  • Benedict Carter

    Amen to every word of that. These people are committed to the construction of an ersatz Church preaching an ersatz Catholicism.

    Indeed, both already exist.

    The Catholic Church promised by God Himself to withstand every attack of the devil and of hell is almost totally hidden today. A remnant.

    These must be the Last Times. Learn about Garabandal and how what Our Lady said there plans out. If it is true, it must be within our lifetimes.


  • Benedict Carter

    Dear Alan, It goes like this.

    We have the Catholic Faith, revealed by God to the Apostles and expounded over the many centuries. We are told in Scripture that there will be false teachers who in the end will nearly mislead even the Elect. We are told to shun new teaching if it contradicts old. We are told by Doctors of the Church to disobey even legal ecclesiastical authority if it teaches us another Gospel.

    Old comes before new in our priorities AT ALL TIMES.

    We are faced today with a new teaching. It is not centred on Christ but on Man. It’s priority is social action not the worship of the Blessed and Holy Trinity. It is a religion of this world for this world and is founded on the values of this world.

    Catholicism is founded by Christ for Christ and for the salvation of souls, which is the supreme law.

    When faced with innovations in teaching that contradict and are meant to contradict, earlier teaching, we MUST hold to the prior teaching and reject the innovations. That is our DUTY as Catholics.

    If one does not hold to that and obey it, one is not a Catholic.

  • Benedict Carter

    A new religion has new teachings, a New Mass, a new Code of Canon Law, a new Catechism, a New Evangelisation, new movements.

    It ISN’T Catholicism!

    Call this new religion “Masonic Christianity” if you will.

    Whatever – it comes from hell.

  • AlanP

    You seem to be saying that the Church as we know it today, with a New Mass, new Catechism, new Evangelisation, etc, isn’t Catholicism. But it is the Church which most of us know! So, according to you, I and millions of others who attend the “New Mass” are not really Catholics. Presumably that applies to the Pope and most of the hierarchy also. Have I got that right?

  • Benedict Carter

    No, your ” … according to you, I and millions of others who attend the “New Mass” are not really Catholics” is incorrect. As usual, you assume that a condemnation of this new religion equals a judgement on the faithful who have been fooled by it. It does not.

    The whole thing is such a sorry mess for many reasons, but one of them is that the Church and this new anti-Church exist EVEN inside the same people. We see this most precisely in the very evident schizophrenia of these last few Popes: one day they preach Catholicism, sometimes in beautiful ways, the next they are preaching something wholly in contradiction to the Faith. This is the “diabolical disorientation” Our Lady told Sr. Lucia would take over the leaders of the Church and that it would start ” .. at the very top”.

    Have we not seen Fatima come true in our own lifetimes? Why do you think the second half of the Third Secret has been suppressed? Everyone who has read it and has said something about it publicly acknowledges that it refers directly to a crisis in the Church and a collapse of faith amongst the Bishops and others.

  • Hermit Crab

    A ‘remnant’, or perhaps ‘a bruised reed’, or ‘smoking flax’.

    You may be right about the times. OLJC said of Himself, quoting Isaias:

    “The bruised reed He shall not break: and smoking flax He shall not extinguish: till He send forth judgment unto victory.”

  • la Catholic state

    But being left handed or black is not immoral. Homosexual acts are.

  • AlanP

    I don’t think we will ever agree (not in this life anyway). For most Catholics, “the teaching of the Church” is what is in the Catechism of 20 years ago, or alternatively it is what is taught by the Pope. Yet you seem to reject both of these. So what makes you so sure that your interpretation is objectively correct? Is there an “authentic” catechism of the past which you are prepared to accept? If so, what does that say about previous catechisms? If a catechism had been produced 1900 years ago (when the nature of Christ had not been defined), would it be as complete as later ones? You refer to Fatima, but the messages delivered there do not have a higher standing than any encyclical nor, I would suggest, than the teachings of Vatican II.
    I do not accept that there are contradictions between past and current teaching. There is of course “development of doctrine”, and, because words are imperfect tools, they can change their meaning somewhat over many years, and interpretations can change in emphasis.
    I would suggest that, whether you realise it or not, you “pick and choose” the beliefs you find most congenial to yourself. I think we all do to some extent.

  • James Callender

    Pope Francis is NOT Peter… His name begins with an F not a P.
    The Pope is obviously the Successor to Peter, but not actually Peter…
    I thought catechesis among some folk was bad but this takes the biscuit,.

  • Ghengis

    If by humility they mean the absence of arrogance then its virtuous but if their version of humility means the absence of confidence in truth then its just another form of equivocation and no virtue at all. Also, if by humility they mean showing off, bragging about how humble they are, that would also be a waste of time.

  • Benedict Carter

    Lots of people appear to be listening. Deo gratias.

  • Benedict Carter


    To those who tell me that claiming the Vatican II revolutionaries set out to subvert the Catholic Church, indeed, to create a ‘new’ Church based on a new theology, is wrong, proof positive (of what many of us know already to be right) is now available to persuade even those whose heads remain stuck in a large sandbank.

    As we know, the Vatican II-ists love to yell that the Lectionary – the book of readings that accompany the Missal – has much more of the Bible in it arranged over its three-year cycle than does the 1962 Lectionary (the last for the Old Mass).

    Despite this claim being thoroughly Protestant in itself in my book, what they DON’T tell you is what Scriptural passages were found in the Lectionary for the Old Mass but are found NOWHERE in the Novus Ordo’s Lectionary. i.e., they were deliberately removed in order to promote, by cherry-picking the Bible, a new Catholicism and a new Church.

    The texts that were deliberately omitted can be found here. When you have read them (it’ll take just a few minutes), you will clearly understand what Tradionalists are trying to tell you (with increasing success, I am delighted to say):

  • Benedict Carter

    In addition to the Gospel passages omitted, the Una Voce position paper also says,

    “A much longer list could be made of passages which are optional in the 1969 Lectionary, and of verses omitted from readings of the Epistles. A particularly striking example of the latter is the passage from the First Letter to the Corinthians (11:27-9) warning against the unworthy reception of communion, which is read on both Maundy Thursday and Corpus Christi in the 1962 Lectionary, but is not found anywhere in the 1969 Lectionary.

    This list …. illustrates the difference in spirit between the two Lectionaries: the ancient Lectionary selects passages on the basis of different principles, and in a number of ways emphasises what the new Lectionary wishes to de-emphasise.

    This underlines the general point that each Lectionary is an integral part of its respective Missal, and reflects its spirit and preoccupations.”

  • Peter

    Perhaps the Holy See has made a grave mistake in beatifying John Paul II, as he so evidently set the Church on the road to hell by causing her to persevere in evil.

    Or perhaps you and other like minded reactionaries belong to a religion which exists only in your minds.

  • Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

    Much of religion is only BUSINESS. We need to be cool.
    When Christians sell Religion, it is like Judas’ own work.

  • Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

    THANKS. Well said.

    (This is Peter = Peter’s office holder)

  • Benedict Carter

    I’m not a reactionary in the first place, but a Catholic.

    You have already shown yourself here to be anything but.

  • Angela

    It is good to have a Bishop at last, I hope he will have a long and happy ministry here in East Anglia

  • KevinBeach

    I didn’t say the Pope is Simon Peter; I said he is Peter. Or, if you prefer, any of the names used for Peter, e.g. Kepha, Cephas, Petros, Petrus, Pierre, Rock.

    Jesus identified Simon as a Rock and declared that he would build his church on that Rock and that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it. According to the teaching of the Catholic Church, Peter’s authority has passed down to each Pope in succession. So each Pope becomes Peter – the Rock.

    Is that enough catechesis for you?

  • Gabriella Valente

    Humility as defined by Thomas Aquinas, someone who should be acceptable to the most conservative opponents of Vatican II, : “The virtue of humility”, he says, “Consists in keeping oneself within one’s own bounds, not reaching out to things above one, but submitting to one’s superior” (Summa Contra Gent., bk. IV, ch. lv, tr. Rickaby).

    The important aspect of the virtue of humility is to obey the magisterium of the church with the faith that even though the men be evil and deceptive, yet god will still lead them to right choices. It was the scandal of corrupt popes and clerics which lead Martin Luther to reject the “papist” church, he could not bring himself to be humble to those he believed to be sinners. So, in my humble opinion if one wants to remain Catholic, one must accept the authority of the church in humility. (Truly no pun intended)

  • mark

    No you’re not, you just believe in yourself and your interpretive skills, that’s all.