Dunedin’s Dooley meets the Pope

Dunedin’s Bishop, Michael Dooley met with Pope Francis in Rome on Saturday.

Bishop Dooley (top left) is among the 74 newly-appointed bishops from 34 countries in Africa, Asia, Oceania and Latin America including those as diverse as Algeria, Myanmar, Cameroon and Indonesia attending a 12-day seminar learning about the roles and responsibilities of bishops.

Bishop Dooley is intrigued by the meeting.

“I found it fascinating to listen to bishops who came from countries that had great challenges with poverty and violence.

“At breakfast, a bishop from Central Africa told me how his Vicar General had been shot and killed last month in a robbery,” he told CathNews.

The vast cultural differences were reinforced when discussing priestly vocations, he said.

“One Nigerian bishop had 150 seminarians for his Diocese, a Vietnamese bishop had a seminary in his Diocese with 500 students”.

With enormously different challenges, Bishop Dooley is impressed with the participants’ openness and genuine concern for people.

“We have very different environments to minister in but a common mission in Christ,” he said.

No to power, rich in relationships

Describing Pope Francis’ address as ‘energetic,’ Bishop Dooley said the pope encouraged the new bishops to be people of prayer, to be shepherds who consult with their ‘flock’ and to share the passion and cross of Jesus.

Revisiting his strong anti-clericalism message, Francis told the new bishops to “Just say no to abuse – of power, conscience or any type,” reports Crux.

He also warned the new bishops about being dominating leaders, saying that bishops must reject the clerical culture that often places clergy on a pedestal.

“The bishop can’t have all the gifts – the complete set of charisms – even though some think they do.

“Poor things,” he said.

“Don’t think you are lords of the flock – you are not the masters of the flock, even if some people would like you to be or certain local customs promote that,” the pope told them.

“Be men who are poor in things and rich in relationships, never harsh or surly but friendly, patient, simple and open.”

Prayer is who you are, and what you do

Pope Francis encouraged the bishops always to pray, saying prayer is not just one of a bishop’s daily tasks, but rather must be the foundation of everything a bishop does, reports America.

“It is easy to wear a cross on your chest, but the Lord is asking you to carry a much heavier one on your shoulders and in your heart: he asks you to share his cross”, he said.


In perhaps a sideswipe at the outspoken and self-serving Archbishop Vigano, Pope Francis encouraged unity within the Church and among bishops.

“The Church needs unity of bishops, not lone actors working outside the chorus, conducting their own personal battles,” Francis said.

Bishop Dooley: a man of the people

A Southland farm boy, Michael Dooley used to watch over his father’s flock.

Leaving the farm, Dooley completed an apprenticeship as a fitter and turner and didn’t expect to enter the seminary, let alone become a bishop.

He completed a bachelor of theology degree at the University of Otago and later earned a master of theology degree in Melbourne.

A few years back, Dooley offered land behind St Peter Chanel parish in Green Island, South Dunedin,  to be used for a community garden.

He described the land as a “blank canvas” for the community to establish its garden.

Dooley relates to Pope Francis’ view of the church and its place in the world.

”Rather than being a fortress mentality, it’s an idea of engaging with the world,” he told the ODT.


Additional reading

News category: New Zealand, Original, Top Story.

Tags: , ,