Sunday, 20 May 2012

Bishop Mark Davies sacks Diocesan Trustees

"The Tablet" reports that Bishop Mark Davies is making redundancies in the Curial Offices of the diocese of Shrewsbury affecting co-ordinators for Justice and Peace, Youth Ministry and Marriage and Family Life.  It often seems to me that many Curial offices are rather overladen with self-perpetuating bureaucracies, so well done Bishop Davies.  Several members of the diocesan trustees have opposed the proposed redundancies and seem to have been sacked by the Bishop!  The Bishop has appointed three new Trustees - all priests of the Diocese.

Here is the text of the report.  You can read it on the "Tablet" site here.

Five trustees of the Diocese of Shrewsbury have been dismissed by their bishop after they opposed planned redundancies in the diocese.
The five were sacked after they voted against a plan to make three members of diocesan staff redundant and voiced concerns about the way the diocese is being governed.
Three new trustees - all priests - supported the redundancy plan and their votes enabled the motion to be passed. Within days of that meeting the five - four laity and one priest - received a letter from the Bishop of Shrewsbury, Mark Davies, telling them they were being "released from their duties". Another trustee resigned as a result of what happened.
John Mulholland, speaking on behalf of the sacked lay trustees, said they were "dismayed" at the planned redundancies affecting co-ordinators for Justice and Peace, Youth Ministry and Marriage and Family Life.


Richard Collins said...

Bishop Mark Davies cannot go up many more notches in my estimation - he is the breath of fresh air so badly needed in England and Wales.

Anonymous said...

+ MD is the type of bishop we need more of.

Most dioceses are overburdened with bureaucracy - and the accompanying salary bill - ultimately paid for by the laity, many of whom derive no benefit from the rash of employees with their various briefs.
It used to be the case that priests who undertook such roles freely were acknowledged/rewarded by a touch of aramanth on the cassock and a sash, but.....

Chloe said...

May GOD BLESS Bishop Davies!! I am from Shrewsbury Diocese, if I wasn't I would move here! We are so, so blessed to have him. Ursula

Chloe said...

Does anyone know which of the Trustees have gone?

Jacobi said...

Over the last 50 years Catholic Mass attendence has dropped by some 60% and the number of priests by about 40%

That means the ratio of priests to laity has actually improved. So why the increased lay bureaucracy which has so widely developed and which we all have to pay for?

While people's jobs may be at stake, nevertheless, rationalisation is overdue - as in other walks of life. Sooner or later this nettle will have to be grasped.

If the number of parishes were reduced in line with Mass attendance then the priest shortage would be much reduced - for a while at any rate. At present some priests look after two, even three parishes.

Transport wise parisioners nearly all have or can share cars after all.

Patricius said...

What does a "co-ordinator" do?

Introibo said...

A Catholic Bishop at last.

Fr P said...

I am bound to say that Bishop Davies is singularly bad at 'taking people with him' in decision making. There is a lot a anger in the diocese, and not from the old leftist guard. Many straightforward priests are not consulted, and all power is in the hands of very, very few.

Barrel full or vinegar - not a tea spoon of jam!

Sorry to be negative, I'm sure its all for the right reasons, but a little effort at consultation, or interest in the opinions of the ordinary clergy would go a long way. He doesn't have to be a martyr, or the confessor for the neo-conservative faith. We would be very happy for him just to be our bishop and lead us all.

Gerry said...

Dear Fr P,

Looks to me like he is leading!
Whom should he consult? Everyone? Just the clergy? Just the laity?
What should do after this consultation? Go with the majority?

The Bishop's job is to lead, not consult.

Gerry M.

Et Expecto said...

Bishop Davies could precipitate a very dangerous situation in the Diocese of Shrewsbury. We should all be very worried.

1 There could be an increase in the number of young men applying to train for the priesthood.

2 The closure of churches might stop.

3 Mass attendance might increase.

4 The faithful might have respect for their bishop.

Worst of all, bishops with a similar outlook might be appointed to other dioceses in England and Wales, and the Church might begin to prosper. Surely that is the last thing tyhat we want!

Anonymous said...

Amen! I am in Shrewsbury Diocese too. What a relief to have a 'real' Roman Catholic bishop who is leading us. Perhaps the disenchanted priests should consider that they should be'going along with him'. A little more respect for his position would increase our respect for them! Continue the excellent work Bishop Mark.

Fr P said...

Dear Gerry,

Of course a bishop is there to lead. I suppose that I would rather trustfully follow than be coerced.

If the priests are co-workers with the order of bishops and not just curates, it would be good to be acknowledged as such.

He could consult the 'College of Consultors', then do what he thinks best.

matty said...

Oh dear oh dear this all makes me sad. If what we read is true then this isn't just about releasing some trustees or getting rid of some paid staff. It's about the human and Christian way to behave in doing these things and that's where Bishop Davies can fall short. He reappoints trustees then without the good manners of speaking to them send them a letter shortly after getting rid of them. The same with the redundancies it appears it's done in a harsh way without sensitivity. Right or wrong the decisions there is no excuse for bad manners and unchristian methods.
Bishop Mark I have heard acts very much as I am the bishop - if that's the way he wants to lead then perhaps he could remember the gentle and kind way of Christ. His priests are his team, his face and voice to the people - more importantly Christ's face and voice. Work with them surely rather than dictate. Psychology alone tells us that gets the best results.

Gerry said...

Despite such caveats as "If what we read is true" & "I have heard", Matty asserts:

"He reappoints trustees then without the good manners of speaking to them send them a letter shortly after getting rid of them"

Do you know that the bishop didn't speak to them, or are you guessing? Can you provide evidence of the bishop's lack of manners?

As to "the gentle and kind way of Christ" - have you read the Gospels?

This diocese (Shrewsbury)is in a very poor state - there are priests (whom I could name) who regularly disobey the teachings of the Church & teach others to do the same. Our new bishop is trying to clean house, just as Christ did!
Let us support him.

matty said...

dear Gerry
The trustees themselves say the rotational system and their letters came out of the blue!
your comment about whether I have read the gospels misses my point - I know of when Christ had to be firm - when you are the leader and introducing a new system which requires some who have served a long time to be asked to leave I believe sensitivity and communication are vital and christian.
As for the diocese being in a poor state - that does annoy me for you sweeping deny the wonderful work priests are doing making God known to their people, teaching people about Christ, saying Mass reverently for their people, encouraging prayerful and personal relationships with God, hearing confessions (and yes they do) and supporting their parishioners in many other spiritual and pastoral ways and much more. We might disagree about ways and methods but please don't wipe out these dedicated priests work and dedication.

Omphalomancer said...

Shrewsbury shall be a name as stirring to the heart as the glories we have lost....
I was born in the post conciliar days of the last Vatican Council. I grew to awareness accompanied by well meaning matriarchs playing the guitar at school, with no music in my parish and with what I only now realise was the faint smell of sanctity that lingers after benediction but all too quickly fades.
As I grew older I experienced a Papal Visit with huge numbers of volunteers co-ordinated by volunteers and I felt involved.
I listened as my father talked about the National Pastoral Congress and at the time failed to understand the the tone in my fathers's voice because at that time I had never encountered fear and bitterness.
I endured the Year of Youth. "You are the Church of today, the hope of tomorrow." and the subsequent years of Youth Ministry. I even had the experience of watching the fruits of that ministry as one after another the Salopian Ministers of that charism chose other paths to follow.
I watch a church turn into a business. Governance, procedure and guidelines slowly drowned the faith of our fathers. Now the faith of our parents included everyone. Let us not judge that this practises invited in those that hurt us because was Jesus not hurt?
Shrewsbury certainly became well known. Eucharistic Services flourished as empowered lay people compensated for the lack of priests that meant they might have to drive an extra ten minutes to the neighbouring Church. How sweet it was to hear the plea for father to leave Zimbabwe and Minster to us as our need is so great! Catechists taught by their actions and words that it was "...better to have no priest than to have one who said mass in Latin."
Shrewsbury had become a collection of pastoral areas: a cattle barn, a pig sty and chess pool. It's priest languished in their golf clubs, hobnobbed with the high and mighty and went to meetings and achieved...casts amounts of paperwork showingbthat there was no hope.
When I was sick they did not come to visit me, they did not nourish me they did not bring me dignity for they themselves were overworked and under appreciated.
So +Mark has had a cabinet reshuffle. good.
Throughout my life I hungered, and ye gave me not to eat; I thirsted, and ye gave me not to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye did not clothe me; ill, and in prison, and ye did not visit me.

P Cannon said...

Bishop Mark Davis was known by his peers at Ushaw as "Dark Mavis". How can anyone take him seriously. Christ came to serve Mark Davies comes to be served. When are we going to stop "worshipping the likes of Fr. Henry and Bishop Mark Davies and start following the teaching of Christ.

P. Cannon said...

Looking at FR. Henry, and Bishop Mark Davies they have something very strikingly similar. The way they dress. Has anyone not read the scriptures. Matthew 23:5_7. Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteriesa wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’

Anthony Dickinson said...

Hark! do I hear the sound of axe's being ground? We now seem to be in the realms of name calling - how very sad and how very pathetic.

I can assure P Cannon that no-one worships Bishop Davis or Fr Henry. Those of us who work for the coming of God's Kingdom here on earth are just very pleased to have the occasional voice in the wilderness. An all too rare occurrence here in the UK.

I suggest those who read this instantly offer up an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be not only for the intentions of Bishop Davis and our host but also for their detractors. Let us also remember the poor people who have lost their jobs ... not just in Shrewsbury Diocese but also over the years in all the other Diocese at the hands of diocesan officials i.e. the many not reported, simply because they jumped rather than be pushed.

And lastly and most importantly for those orthodox men who, over the past 20-30 years, having felt a calling to the priesthood, have had it snuffed out at the hands of interfering overbearing diocesan officials pushing their own sad and tired agenda.

Mary, Queen of the Clergy - pray for them!

P. Cannon said...

It is not name calling but a statement of fact. That is precisely what they called him. If you wish to know - ask him yourself. It is no secret.

Damask Rose said...

Dear Fr P

Surely Bishop Davies is leading?

"If the priests are co-workers with the order of bishops..."

Never head of that before. I always thought that bishops and priests were like father and son, and the same following through for priests and deacons.

Fr P, perhaps you could send Bishop Davies a card saying you appreciate his strong leadership and so forth. I'm sure Bishop Davies will appreciate the support from his priest, his spiritual son. If priests in Shrewsbury Diocese are a little disgruntled at the moment, perhaps this is the time that the Bishop most needs support and prayers. (It can be lonely at the top.)

Didn't Jesus lead his disciples? I always thought it was a monarchial system.

God bless you Fr P. Look after yourself and thank you for saying yes to Jesus calling you to the priesthood.

Well, after P Cannon's post at 19.51, I hope, Fr Henry, that you put your green sash on at next Sunday's Mass and Bishop Mark Davies rocks.

I'm all for pomp and circumstance and I'm tired of bland, cream coloured, modern church interiours that don't even have a statue of the Sacred Heart.

P Cannon said...

With concern over wasting money. Has anyone bothered to ask what it is costing to ship over a heart for the priest to venerate, complete with Bishop and two clergy.

Damask Rose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Damask Rose said...

P Cannon said...
"With concern over wasting money. Has anyone bothered to ask what it is costing to ship over a heart for the priest to venerate, complete with Bishop and two clergy."

P Cannon, I think that comment really sums you up.

I'm really looking forward to St Vianney's heart coming over. I've had a devotion to St John Vianney since I was a young teenager, and I really want to go on a pilgrimage and take my son with me to vist Fr Vianney's heart - a heart that burned with love for all souls. It's a lovely present that Bishop Davies has given his priests.

God bless all priests!

Anonymous said...

I too thank God for +Mark Davies. He is an exceptionally prayerful and courageous leader - a blessing not just for my diocese, but our country and the whole Church.

May the Lord continue to strengthen him, and Our Blessed Mother, to whom he is so devoted, protect him.

And thanks be to God for you Father Henry, and for all faithful priests who work tirelessly in the vineyard of the Lord.




Simon Platt said...

Having counted to ten I think I'm ready to post a comment in reply to P. Cannon:

P. - I gather that you are not sympathetic to Bp. Davies. Do you really think that the style or content of your comments here help your case?

Simon Platt said...

Incidentally, Bp. O'Donoghue did something similar in Lancaster diocese a few years ago, and was similarly opposed. I think though, that it was an absolutely necessary corrective to the mission of Christ's church in Lancaster diocese, and I am confident that Bp. Davies' actions are similarly justified.

(I mean, of course, that I think that these are corrections that help the dioceses concerned to undertake their missions more faithfully.)

Anthony Dickinson said...

P Cannon - I'm sorry to argue but it IS very much name-calling!

I'm really not interested if it is true. It was obviously some year's ago and is simple switch around of the first letters of the good man's christian name and is actually very childish.

YOU ARE SPREADING GOSSIP! Which is not very Christ-like - is it?

Worse still you then on go to publicly dig yourself deeper into the pit of your own making by besmirching the relic of St Jean Marie Vianney. Shame on you.

I should read up on him if I was you - he had to deal with similar detractors back in the day.

I pray that St Jean Marie Vianney intercedes for you.

matty said...

St John Vianney's heart.....ostentatious mitres.......statues of the Sacred Heart......insistence on black vestments......worries about the interior colours of this really what Christ asked of us?

St John Vianney's life gives inspiration we do NOT need to see, make pilgrimage to or venerate a heart.

God's love, Christ's ways, prayer and love in action.


Anthony Dickinson said...

Some quick reasons why these things you criticize are important…..

“St John Vianney's heart.....” important because of the tangible link it gives us with a saint. A visible reminder to those of us sinners struggling with life that we should aim to be Christ-like.

“ostentatious mitres.......” important because a mitre is a mitre is a mitre and reminds us that a bishop is a successor of the apostles and again another tangible link with Christ also symbolic of the flame of Pentecost hovering over the heads of Our Lady and the Apostles as they gathered together afraid and unsure.

“statues of the Sacred Heart......” important because what greater icon is there to exemplify Christ’s love for sinful, fallen humanity and His Church?

“insistence on black vestments......” a valid option given to us by the Church and one which I ‘prefer’ as it reminds me of my own mortality and judgment. White is lovely but my soul at times is black and I would rather go to my God saying “have mercy on me a sinner” than “look at me – see how my soul is just like it was at my Baptism”. O that it was!

“worries about the interior colours of churches....” important because a church building is supposed to lift our minds upwards just as “incense arises as a fragrant evening sacrifice” so the care and the detail are important.

“is this really what Christ asked of us?” Christ asks many things of each of us.

“St John Vianney's life gives inspiration” indeed it did but his life was more than that. He sought to reconcile man to God in a very hostile world.

“we do NOT need to see, make pilgrimage to or venerate a heart” – that is YOUR opinion my friend but my opinion is “Oh YES WE DO!” We are all on our pilgrim journey and those signs of the past that have a sweet odour of sanctity around them should be sought out at every possible opportunity.

“God's love, Christ's ways, prayer and love in action” exactly and there we agree! As exemplified by many good and holy popes, bishops, priests, religious and lay-folk down the centuries to this very day.

I would rather continue steadfastly in the faith of my forefathers than adapt that faith to fit with the current age as many seem to be doing today.

To quote Dean William R Inge “Whoever marries the spirit of this age will find himself a widower in the next”.

Fr P said...

Damask Rose,

Priests are called 'co-workers' in the rite of ordination and in the Catechism (CCC 1562). The Bishop-priest relation is not 'Father - Son', although there is proper subordination.

He does't need to be alone at the top. Many of us in the diocese would be happy to be with him wherever he leads. It would be good to make the journey walking with him than finding out where we're going when he's miles ahead with a couple of friends. And we've ALL got to be with him - thats the shepherd's job - not just to go off with his loyalists, and leave the rest to catch up or wander away.

I'll send him a card and light a candle. Its Our Lady Help of Christians on Thursday - our patroness.

matty said...

Anthony - I did not say they were of no value, my point was that there was at times excessive emphasis on such things sometimes to the exclusion of simpler more vital issues that bring us to God. We must beware of our Pharisaical tendencies, all of us.

Fr P - I feel for you and your fellow priests who are struggling at the moment knocked by the way you seem to be excluded and even criticised. If Bp M thinks what he is doing is so important then have there been meetings to explain and to encourage you to discuss his thoughts and to encourage you to walk alongside him.
Thank you for all your dedication. I hope the shepherd and sheep unite along the road soon and us laity can then also have less concern that the shepherd is lost on the horizon with the few whilst the many wonder what's going on and where.

Anonymous said...

What fun!!

I have been studying abroad and I come home to find a mutiny in the diocese, and insults and slurs thrown childishly and (more to the point) uncharitably at the best Bishop England has had in a long time, too long. It is long over due, and this is just the begining. (I'm sure the detractors know this, but they are kicking and screaming because their fight, fortunately, is lost) The old guard has gone, and the new one is here at last.

The priest complaining here should really reflect on their comments. Has the Bishop done the wrong thing? No, probably not, so what the complaining about? Sheesh, people complain if the Bishops do nothing and complain if the they do something, talk about a thankless job.

The sad thing about the detracting comments here is they are NOT catholic. The comments about the mitre and the relic of the Holy Cure are particularly sad. Catholicism 101. Its worth noting that in Abbe Trochu's book the Cure himself prized his relic of St Philomena and would spend as much money as he could on the most expensive vestements, for the Glory of God, not for him to be looked at.

The uncharitable and degrading comments are discusting. Please reflect on what your saying, and start supporting this man that we are blessed to have.

Thomas Fisher

Sixupman said...

A priest of my youth, a Fr. Patrick Begley [his brother a missionary], gave his life to a single parish which he created from a 'green-field' site. He oversaw the building of three churches and a large school. In an obituary of another priest, Fr. Begley was scoffed at and denigrated by clergy who were not fit to polish his shoes. Those clergy had become detached from the Catholic Church in which I was brought-up and now oversee parishes of diminishing returns. The critics of +Davies and Fr. Henry remins me of such.

By the way, what about Calumny and Detraction?

Greying Cleric said...

I had the privilege of being at seminary at the same time as Bishop Davies, though a couple of years below him.
He was an inspiration to me then and continues to inspire me now. Without his fine and unassuming example of fidelity to prayer, charity, consistency and orthodoxy, I'm not sure that I would have stayed the course.

Juris said...

What a fascinating discussion!

Those who have suffered the loss of their employment in any diocese have recourse to employment law should they need its protection. Sadly, few staff in diocesan posts are in unions unless they are teachers or other professionals and this can result in their being taken through often complex consultations at great haste with little support.

Putting aside any alleged discourtesy, if due process is not adequately followed in consulting over it entail redundancies, then the employer puts itself at risk of being challenged in a court of law.

What is particularly regrettable is the track record of various Catholic dioceses in England and Wales and their agencies over many years in forcing employees toward compromise agreements (at best) and their use of kangaroo panels (usually selected so that the preferred outcome for the employer is reached) to hear grievances and/or adjudge appeals.

With regard to replacing trustees as it is alleged to have happened in. In the case of Shrewsbury, the diocese - being a charity - will surely have a governing document such as a set of Articles of Association. Bishops, as members of trustee boards, must abide by charity law, to say nothing of moral conduct and fair play. If what is described is the true version of the recent events, the model of leadership in this saga is more reminiscent of that of a Laird than that of a Pastor. Replacing lay trustees with ordained trustees is ludicrous and at such short notice somewhat Machiavellian, if not impish.

RC dioceses are pretty poor at the protection of and care for staff when it comes to HR matters. It's not peculiar to Shrewsbury. As well as several hair-raising stories of blatant discrimination within church organisations even in the last two years, I am aware of two or three cases in one particular diocese; had the appellant not effectively been silenced by fertive and immoral plotting of senior clergy and managers, any Emploment Tribunal would clearly have found in favour of the aggrieved employee at employment tribunal and so caused significant embarrassment to the reputation of the Church.

And finally, back to leadership styles:

A successful Machiavellian leader consists of five crucial characteristics and traits. These traits are the deciding factor in whether or not the leader will be successful. These necessary characteristics include:
- being feared or loved but not hated
- having the people’s support
- convincingly displaying virtues
- using one’s own arms
- intelligence

Without these five qualities a leader has no hope at becoming a successful Machiavellian leader.

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."

Si proni congruat, ergo portem.

Kiwi Viet said...

From a convert- I'm shaking my head at Fr P's cynicism--- He reminds me of the "polite tyranny" I had as a teacher with the LGBT brigade and the femonazis. The church really need do more to root such priests out- only then it will get more vocations--- what a fool he is !

frankkly said...

Ex Expecto said:

1 There could be an increase in the number of young men applying to train for the priesthood.

There hasn't. Or, at least, not in sufficient numbers to compensate for the number of retired priests.

2 The closure of churches might stop.

It hasn't. Where it has been minimised is by priests taking on 2 and 3 churches with no account taken of their increased workload in also taking on the schools and other interests attached to the parishes. Trying to unite different churches into one 'worshipping community' appears to be an impossible task.
The other paper covering the cracks is the import of priests from places like Africa and India. They are holy men, very welcomed into the parish to offer Mass for the Faithul but are ill equipped to manage the administrative demands of an English parish. Leading the parish forward to a new missionary future seems possible only by those who are truly exceptional leaders and administrators - surely such priests are needed 'back home'?

3 Mass attendance might increase.

Attendance at most churches continues its inexorable decline with very few youngsters attending Mass once they enter secondary school. The average age in most churches might have reached over 70 by now.

4 The faithful might have respect for their bishop.

Let us pray that bishops are respected for the post they hold, if not for their personality.

Ex Expecto seems to have been overly optimistic