New prelate says Francis right to rattle cage of bishops

A newly appointed bishop in England says he believes Pope Francis was right to “rattle the cage” of bishops.

Bishop-elect John Arnold of Salford said he believes the Pope has made some bishops rethink their priorities.

A former barrister who was auxiliary bishop in Westminster, Bishop Arnold has pledged to follow the Pope’s exhortation to stay close to his people.

“I do believe that a bishop belongs among his people,” the bishop-elect said.

“Sometimes, as Francis says, that is to lead, sometimes to simply be with and sometimes be round the back to make sure no one gets left behind,” he told The Tablet after his appointment was made public last week.

Last month, Pope Francis asked new bishops not to be tempted to try to change their people, but to love them and pray for them, even when they have erred.

A year ago, Francis told new bishops to be pastors, not princes.

Bishop-elect Arnold said his first priority will be to listen and learn about the diocese.

But he said he would continue to build on relationships established with other local faiths in areas such as “peace, justice, equality and education”.

He also raised the possibility of moving out of his episcopal residence for Salford, a manor house that has an historic listing, although there are no plans to sell the property.

Bishop-elect Arnold said he accepted the appointment “with much trepidation but [i] will do all I can to serve the people, priests, and religious of this diocese as we all seek to respond to Pope Francis’ call to be ‘missionary disciples’.”

“I have much to learn in this new experience, after 31 years of priesthood spent entirely in Westminster.”

At Salford he succeeds Bishop Terence Brain, who had reached retirement age of 75.

Bishop-elect Arnold paid tribute to his predecessor and expressed his gratitude.

The Salford diocese covers Greater Manchester and North East Lancashire.

Bishop-elect Arnold studied for the priesthood at the Gregorian University in Rome, where he obtained both a license and a doctorate in canon law.

He is the chairman of the trustees of Cafod, the official Catholic aid agency for England and Wales.


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