Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Bishop Doug Warren RIP

The Emeritus Bishop of Wilcannia-Forbes, Bishop Doug Warren, has died at the age of 93.

Bishop Warren

Ordained for the diocese in 1942, Bishop Warren was bishop of Wilcannia-Forbes for some 26 years, between 1967 and 1994.

Those were the difficult years that saw a catastrophic collapse in the number of priests and religious across many dioceses across Australia, including Wilcannia-Forbes (where the number of priests on the books declined from 46 in 1966 to 32 by 1990, and 23 by 1999), in the rush to embrace the spirit of the Council and jettison the traditional.

Please remember him in your prayers.

And the fate of the diocese?

Meanwhile, neither the people of Wilcannia-Forbes nor even the Apostolic Administrator appear to be much the wiser about what the likely future for the diocese is.

The diocese has now been without a bishop coming up to four years this June, following the resignation (in disgrace) of Bishop Toohey.  And the diocese has had a succession (it is now on number three) of Apostolic Administrators in that time.

You may recall that a number of proposals have been floated - and rejected - variously by local priests and Rome.

A Christmas missve from Bishop Kennedy of Armidale suggests nothing is likely to change any time soon:

"I offer you my greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus. As the new Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Wilcannia Forbes I assure you of my prayers for you and your priests, and of my intention and desire to serve you to the best of my ability.

I can appreciate that the uncertainty surrounding the future of the diocese must have an impact on you. I too now live with this uncertainty; I do not have any knowledge as to what that future might be, nor do I know how long it will be until that future becomes clearer. I have not been asked to prepare the diocese for any particular eventuality. In this sense we are all being asked to walk together in faith, hope, and love.

Whatever the future of the diocese may be, the life of your parish community continues. During the Year of Grace and the Year of Faith each of us as individuals and as a community are being called to make our contribution to the Church's New Evangelization. This takes place, above all, in our families and parishes, so please remain involved and active in the life of your parish. The Church also lives out her mission in our Catholic schools and in the services provided through Centacare. They need and deserve our ongoing support.

Whilst I will visit the diocese as much as I am able, the reality of my circumstances as the Bishop of Armidale dictates that I will mostly be an administrator from a distance. To this end I will be very reliant upon the cooperation and assistance of the priests and the heads of diocesan agencies. In particular, I will meet regularly with the College of Consultors (the body of priest advisors) on my visits to the diocese. I have also begun a consultation process with the priests to assist me in the appointment of a suitable delegate who will undertake additional responsibilities as he will act as my official delegate in the diocese.

I take this opportunity to thank Bishop Kevin Manning for the service he has given to the Church of Wicannia-Forbes over the past two years. I also thank the priests of the diocese for their labours in the vineyard of the Lord in rather uncertain circumstances."

You may have read elsewhere that the new Nuncio had an Audience with the Pope the other day.  Let's hope his riding instructions including sorting out some decisions on Wilcannia-Forbes inter alia!

Keep the people of the diocese in your prayers.

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