Let all Conferences of Bishops broadcast meetings LIVE

Here is one reason why The Catholic Herald is the UK’s best Catholic weekly.

Though … now I think on it… I am open to correction.  Has any other Catholic publication in the UK suggested that the Bishops Conference meetings be broadcast live so that bishops could be accountable to their flocks?

The Bishops of England and Wales should broadcast their plenary meetings online

The US bishops’ conference is a model for the Church everywhere – if only our bishops followed it

By Mark Greaves on Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The US bishops’ conference this week has been gripping. Its powerful speeches and shock, cliffhanger election have been televised, live streamed, live tweeted and heavily blogged to millions of Catholics around the world.

It’s not the only bishops’ conference meeting this week. The bishops of England and Wales are currently gathered together at Hinsley Hall in Leeds, discussing – well, no one exactly knows. [Why is that, exactly?] We have some idea of the topics – the papal visit, academy schools, the new Mass translation – but no concrete news will emerge from their meeting until a press conference on Friday morning.

Of course, it is a much smaller conference: there are about 30 or so bishops, compared to more than 400 in the US. And it is naturally quite defensive with the media [“naturally”… a loaded word] – perhaps because of its history as a persecuted Church. But it needn’t be so.  [The persecuted speak in the public square with surpassing eloquence.]

One of the items on the agenda is how best to build on the “Benedict bounce”. But what better way to energise the faithful than being totally transparent about what issues are being talked about and what decisions are being made? A more open bishops’ conference could inject the same shot of excitement into the English Church as is present this week in the US.  [My view was that Benedict XVI’s visit was going to energize the base.  The base would, in turn, begin to ask priests and bishops to be energized as well.  THAT was the problem in advance and in retrospect.]

Things have improved recently. As I write the text of a speech by the outgoing Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Faustino Sainz Muñoz, given to the bishops at their conference, arrives in my inbox. That would not have happened last year.

Even so, my plea to the bishops is: get the cameras set up. [HEY!  The Vatican now has a bunch of hi-def cams.  I am willing to buy the conference in England a couple o’ webcams.  Anyone want to join me?] Arrange interviews. Make the voting and minutes public. There will be criticism, and snide commentary; [sunlight] but nothing you can’t handle.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Bryan Boyle says:

    I have 3 webcams here that aren’t doing anything. Not high def, but certainly better than nothing.
    Let me know the address, and they’re on the way…

  2. Supertradmum says:

    When we lived in Canada in 2000-2002, we watched the famous C-Span Bishop’s Conference (US) when the scandals were just coming out. (Oops, no pun intended). For several days, we watched the bishops, especially Bishop Wilton Gregory, being obviously rude to Bishop Bruskewitz and Cardinal George. It was very interesting and sad. I think these conferences should be televised and put online. Just as I have been at deanery meetings, as a guest, and was shocked at how the priests argued and were rude, I saw the same behavior on the telly.

    Maybe the new regime will be more civil.

  3. TNCath says:

    I’m all for it. The “good old boy network” has gone on long enough. If the bishops want to chit chat in private, let them do so over drinks in their hotel rooms. However, when it comes right down to making decisions that affect the faithful, then it’s time for the bishops to account for themselves.

  4. DHippolito says:

    Fr. Z, why do you think the nuncio to Britain tried to get the Telegraph’s relgious blog taken down? People who are infatuated with their own sense of power and entitlement are scared to death of technology, whether they’re Chinese Communist apparachiks, Islamist Iranian apprachiks or Roman Catholic apparachiks. The issue isn’t ideology or theology, but the human lust for power that crosses all ages, eras, ideologies and theologies.
    Besides, we’ve seen this fear of popular technology before in the Church…say, 500 years ago during the Reformation.
    Power is a drug that consumes its addicts.

  5. Geoffrey says:

    “…so that bishops could be accountable to their flocks?”

    “…when it comes right down to making decisions that affect the faithful, then it’s time for the bishops to account for themselves.”

    I am all for watching these meetings live, but only due to my love of Holy Mother Church. The Church is not a democracy–Deo gratias! Bishops are not elected politicians accountable to their constituents; bishops are accountable to God. Let us not bring egalitarian democracy and the false virtues of the French Revolution into the Church any more than they already are.

  6. Magpie says:

    A writer of the Irish Catholic said the same thing on his blog entry:

    The Irish Catholic is not a very good newspaper imho. It publishes orthodox and heterodox articles and letters.

  7. Sixupman says:

    The E&W BC has been the ruination of Catholicism in the country and continues on its merry way without let or hindrance – almost/certainly neo-Protestant to a man. They should take lie-detector tests at to the belief in, inter alia, The Real Presence, et al. The results would not give way to many surprises, I am sure!

  8. pattif says:

    I don’t want a bishops’ conference that is accountable to the laity in the way that Parliament is accountable to the electorate, but I would like a bishops’ conference that is sufficiently proud of what its members have done/are doing to bring people to God that it wants us all to know about it. I would also like a bishops’ conference that had sufficient confidence in the lay faithful to invite us to pray with them about the issues that confront them (and, by extension, all of us). For example, I do not want another announcement of the closure of a seminary without even being given the opportunity to pray for its survival.

  9. irishgirl says:

    Geoffrey and Pattif-Amen to what the both of you said!
    And I’m on ‘the other side of the pond’!

  10. VetusMores says:

    I shudder to think of the USCCB as a “model” for anyone.

  11. DHippolito says:

    The Church is not a democracy–Deo gratias!

    Oh, please, Geoffrey! This excuse has been used for centuries to justify episcopal corruption, arrogance, entitlement, even heresy! For the latter, just look up what the president of the German bishops’ conference said about Christ not receiving God’s wrath for sin.

    Bishops are not elected politicians accountable to their constituents; bishops are accountable to God.

    Tell that to St. Ambrose, whom the populace of Milan selected despite his objections. Tell that to all the bishops who were chosen w/lay input before the Reformation.

    Let us not bring egalitarian democracy and the false virtues of the French Revolution into the Church any more than they already are.

    How about the true virtues of the American Revolution, Geoffrey? Those are far different than the ones the French Revolution brought. The Founding Fathers advocated a system of checks and balances, and mechanisms for redress of legitimate grievances. Where do you see those, particularly the latter, in the Church, Geoffrey? How do you keep bishops from blatantly ignoring Canon Law?

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