The Papal Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Charles Brown, has laid out what Pope Francis wants to see in bishops he will be appointing across the world.
Archbishop Brown, a Notre Dame graduate and former New York Archdiocese official, gave some very interesting insights in a little noticed interview on Sacredspace 102fm, a Catholic radio programme on West Limerick 102fm, which was picked up by the IrishCatholic.ie.
It seems the days of great academics pontificating and becoming bishops is past and Francis wants pastoral men, shepherds in the best sense, as his leaders.
The Pontiff is looking for “true shepherds who know their sheep” in appointing new bishops to vacant dioceses across the country.
Archbishop Brown revealed the directions he received from Pope Francis himself in a meeting with nuncios from all over the world. “He wants men who are true pastors, true shepherds, men who know their sheep,” Archbishop Brown said. “He doesn’t want people who are hyper-academic. He doesn’t want people who are detached from their people, or who want to lord it over their people.
“He wants shepherds who are with their sheep, who - as he said very memorably - have the smell of their sheep on them.”
Archbishop Brown said he believed new men appointed in Ireland to various episcopal positions mirrored that.
“These are the men who will bring the Church into the third millennium, who will bring the Church forward into this next chapter. So it is a very exciting moment, I think for the Church in Ireland,” he said. “I see enthusiasm at all these ordinations of bishops. I see men of prayer, men of faith - courageous men who are unafraid to speak with boldness about the beauty of the Christian faith - to communicate the Catholic Faith without fear. That is a very impressive thing for me and that is the way forward for Ireland.”
Archbishop Brown stated that in his meeting with him the new pope showed himself as a man “filled with the spirit of the Gospel” and who had great spontaneity and a sense of humour.
A Podcast of the interview is available here.