Pope praised for "forward thinking" UK appointment

The London Times has portrayed Pope Benedict XVI's first appointment of a bishop for the UK as a departure from the style of his predecessor Pope John Paul II.

The paper's Religion Correspondent Ruth Gledhill describes the new Bishop of Northampton - Monsignor Peter Doyle (pictured) - as a "popular parish priest with a record as an enthusiast for building bridges with Protestant churches".

A Catholic source told The Times: "The new Pope is not too different from John Paul II in terms of his theology but from the point of view of the appointments he is making, they tend to be forward-thinking, loving people rather than head-in-the-sand dogmatic types."

The Pope is understood to have taken a close interest in the appointment. Another source said: "The last Pope and previous ones tended to rubber-stamp episcopal appointments and move on to the next business. This Pope is asking to look at them all and is scrutinising them closely before he signs them off."

A former rugby playing prop forward and a hopeless but enthusiastic golfer, Canon Doyle has been parish priest of St Peter's, Winchester, since 1991.

Peter Jennings, spokesman for the Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, said: "It is a good appointment. Canon Doyle has a lot of pastoral experience with ordinary Catholics, which is the most important thing."

Canon Doyle, 61, who was ordained by the late Derek Worlock, former Archbishop of Liverpool, said: "As a bishop I think the primary responsibility is to be neither traditionalist nor liberal but just to be faithful to the Lord and hand on the Gospel."

"I am not an academic and I am not an administrator. I am more a pastoral man." His priorities will be to get to know the clergy and the people of the diocese, to evangelise and to dialogue with other faiths as well as people of no faiths.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster, said: "The new Bishop is an excellent pastor, who will be a fine shepherd for the people of his diocese."

Pope Benedict appoints first British bishop (London Times 24/5/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Church in England and Wales
Diocese of Northampton

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26 May 2005