Who would want to be a Bishop?

Who would want to be a Bishop?

Indeed, who would want to be a bishop? The grapevine suggests that many are refusing the request, and that is no surprise. The experience of the latest recruit to the ranks, even in his first week, would give anyone food for thought, and caution about saying yes.

I knew Ger Nash well in the days when I was allowed to minister, (before the women’s issue in the Catholic Church undid me)  and always both liked him, and was impressed by him, his commitment, his work rate, and his care for people. 

As we know, shortly after his recent appointment as Bishop of Ferns. he gave an interview to his local paper, the Clare Champion, – he being a good Clareman. I would presume that he was familiar with the paper, and probably knew the interviewer well, so he was relaxed and at ease leading him to talk freely, perhaps.  I’m sure he was also influenced by all the work he has been involved in these past few years, aimed at training and developing lay people for work in various forms of ministry. During the interview he stated that he believed all ministries in the Church should be open to all baptised catholics. Of course that implied that all ministries, including ordination, should be open to women also. I was not particularly surprised that Ger Nash would believe that, but I suppose him saying it publicly just after he had been chosen as bishop did surprise me a little. Considering that I had been, and continue to be, suspended from ministry for saying something similar, I took it as an indication of how things had changed in the Church.

Unfortunately I was wrong. Things have not changed that much.  Within a couple of days Ger is quoted in an article in The Irish Catholic, saying that he got it wrong, and that he fully agreed with the teaching of Pope John Paul and Francis that women could not be ordained in the Catholic Church. As they say nowadays, End Of…..

I have had no reason to be in any contact with Ger since I’ve been out of ministry, so I don’t know what really happened. I will just speculate.

It seems to me that Ger believes what he said in the first interview, that ministry should be open to all. Anyone who has worked with lay people, and particularly with women would find it hard not to accept that. 

So am wondering if somebody got to him, somebody in authority?  We can only guess who that might be, so there is no point in naming names. I also suspect that the choice of outlet for the ‘clarification’ is significant. The Irish Catholic would be very much a favoured paper for the Irish hierarchy. Finally, the content and tone of the second statement, and even the language used, particularly referencing Pope John Paul, was very different to the first one.  Could it be possible that Ger was ordered, (maybe strongly advised) to make a statement, even told what to say, and where to publish it?

I can’t be certain about any of these things, but I strongly suspect that is what happened. 

One of the effects of this very unpleasant episode at the start of his life as a bishop must be that Ger will be very much looking over his shoulder from now on whenever a microphone is put in front of him. I wish Ger success in his new venture, and I hope  that he will be be able to bring life and energy to the faith in Ferns diocese.  Most of all, I hope that this recent encounter with the media will not prevent him from speaking strongly in favour of the equality of all the Baptised, and all the implications of same when he sits with his new colleagues at Bishops Conferences.