Pope Francis made major headlines when he chose not to live in the Vatican palace, but in smaller rooms at……, to carry his own luggage, and to drive a battered used car. This is fully in keeping with the Gospels and the practice of the early church – but in marked contrast to the ostentation and sumptuary of some of his predeccors, and some bishops. He has recommended similar simple lifestyles for his bishops, saying that he preferred them as shepherds of the faithful, to have on them “the smell of the sheep”.
Not all bishops have yet taken on board this new corporate culture, but here’s one who very decidedly does – Bishop John Keenan, newly appointed to the see of Paisley, Scotland:
New Catholic bishop chooses to live in deprived housing scheme
AS Scotland’s newest Roman Catholic bishop he could easily have opted for the opulent residence set aside for a man in his position.
CULTURAL SHIFT: Bishop John Keenan has said he is moving in order to be closer to the deprived and excluded members of society. Picture: Jamie Simpson
But Bishop John Keenan, who grew up in a high-rise in Maryhill, Glasgow, has shunned the more comfortable address to move into a parish house in a housing scheme in an area of multiple deprivation.
Explaining his decision, Bishop Keenan said the Catholic church was going through a cultural shift and would have to “adapt and change in order to be close to the people of our times”.
His first move as the new Bishop of Paisley has seen him decline to take up the detached sandstone villa in the town, in Renfrewshire, used by his predecessors, and move instead to a church property in Greenock’s east end.
In his first wide-ranging interview since being installed last month, Bishop Keenan has told of his concern that those in destitution have been “abandoned by society and the church”, adding he would reflect “a church out on the street not one that’s comfortable in the chapel”.
Echoing the stamp put on Catholicism by Pope Francis, the 49-year-old said there were still structures within the church restricting its ability to reach out to those on the margins of society.
Bishop Keenan said: “Exclusion is a scandal for a country that calls itself Christian.”
He has also spoken of the need to strip some power and responsibility in the church away from the clergy and hand it to lay members, adding he supported the Pontiff’s call for a “new reformation” within Catholicism.
via Herald Scotland.
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