Two days after the announcement of Pope Benedict’s resignation Bishop Kieran Conry, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton and head of the Bishops Conference’s department for Evangelisation and Catechesis, criticised the pontificate of Pope Benedict in the pages of The Times newspaper.
Ruth Gledhill, the Times’ Religious correspondent reports that Bishop Conry criticised Pope Benedict on the following grounds:
The Right Rev Kieran Conry accused the Holy Father of over-centralising the Catholic Church.
‘Bishop Conry called for the centralised structure of the modern Church to be changed. “There is a need for the Roman Curia, the central administration, to be reviewed. That was not one of Pope Benedict’s strengths. It needs reviewing because it is not working very well. There seems to be a degree of centralisation that is not really necessary which might indicate that there is a degree of inefficiency. He said the consequences of centralisation, while not too serious, had been noticeable. “I don’t think it has impinged seriously here or anywhere but it just slows things down. It does not allow a degree of local autonomy which would make life easier.
The Right Rev Kieran Conry accused the Holy Father of leading the Catholic Church away from some of the reforming ideals of the Second Vatican Council:
“A return to the traditional autonomy of local bishops, a characteristic of the early Church, was one of the calls from the Second Vatican Council. The aim was that Rome should work more collaboratively with the local bishops,” Bishop Conry said. “That has not really developed.” Instead, more and more power had been gathered in at the centre, in Rome.
The Right Rev Kieran Conry accused the Holy Father of having a negative impact on many Catholics in the pews through the introduction of the new translation of the Mass
“Liturgically is where it has impacted most obviously on the lives of Mass-going Catholics,” he said. “We have a new translation of the Mass texts which was really imposed by Rome. There are bits of the translation that people are simply not happy with, words such as ‘consubstantial’ in the Creed. Before that it was ‘of one being’. “Had we been able to make local decisions we would have stuck with the original. It has not had a massive impact, but at the same time it has had an impact that is felt.”
Bishop Conry concludes by damning Pope Benedict with faint praise about his response to the crimes of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests:
“On how the Church had handled sex abuse, he said the relevant body, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by Cardinal Ratzinger before he became Pope, had been efficient. But he added: “Perhaps being more pro-active would have been helpful. It might even have been useful to set up an office specifically for dealing with the phenomenon of clerical child abuse. At present it is done by a congregation which is busy also on other stuff. “It might have been useful to dedicate an office to this issue and ask local churches to address the issue more forcefully and encourage victims to come forward. I also think it would be useful for the Pope’s successor to have had first hand experience of dealing with this.”
Highlights from the Right Rev Kieran Conry’s recent career as head of Evangelisation and Catechesis in England and Wales:
- Bishop Conry has stated that his local adoption agency was right to drop the word “Catholic” from its name in order to survive after the Government legislated for gay adoption.
- He told priests in his diocese that they should not allow the ‘Hail Mary’ to be included at the end of the Prayers of the Faithful.
- Bishop Conry accused Cardinal Keith O’Brien of using inflammatory language in his passionate defence of marriage against the legalisation of same-sex marriage
- He described the faith as ‘something we’re trying to market that brings happiness, satisfaction and friendship
- Bishop Conry criticised Pope Benedict for creating the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation saying to BBC Radio 4:
‘I think the Church has a problem in its own proclamation of the Gospel and you wonder why you’d set up this office for evangelisation anyway, because the whole mission of the Church is evangelisation, the proclamation of the Gospel. I don’t think we’re doing that terribly well.
Protect the Pope comment: It’s been obvious for years that Bishop Conry has been out of sympathy with Pope Benedict XVI, the successor of St Peter. But what hasn’t been clear until now is the depth of his dislike of the Holy Father. To publicly criticise Pope Benedict in The Times two days after the announcement of his resignation, accusing the Holy Father of having a ‘negative impact on Catholics in the pews’ reveals that the Head of Evanglisation and Catechesis has a real antipathy towards Pope Benedict. Do other bishops on England and Wales share his antipathy towards the Holy Father?