Page 5, 23rd February 1996

23rd February 1996
Page 5
Page 5, 23rd February 1996 — Bishop tipped for Thames

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Locations: Portsmouth


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Bishop tipped for Thames

Keywords: Religion / Belief

Valley diocese BY JOE jENKINS AN AUXILIARY bishop in Birmingham has been tipped to head the new Thames Valley diocese. The Rt Rev Terence Brain, Bishop of Arnudarsa, has emerged as hot favourite for the new post. Speaking to the Catholic Herald this week, he refused to be drawn on the appointment. "I don't know Who the bishop might be. We need someone with a bit of zip, a good one," he said. But when asked if the diocese needed a young bishop, he replied: "you don't have to be young to have a bit of zip." At 58, Bishop Brain is five years younger than Birmingham's other auxiliary, Rt Rev Philip Pargeter. Nicholas Coote, assistant general secretary to the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, told the Catholic Herald: "Every auxiliary bishop would far prefer to take over his own diocese than play second fiddle to a senior bishop. There are two auxiliaries in Birmingham. Of course, the new bishop could come from any auxiliary position, but he would not be an old man. Someone in their seventies would not be a good bet". Plans for the diocese, which will span the Thames basin along the borders of the Birmingham and Portsmouth dioceses, were rekindled last year following largely fruitless discussions held in 1984. The as yet unnamed diocese would forge closer pastoral links between parishes in Oxfordshire and Berkshire and their bishop. According to sources, no concrete decision on the diocese will be made until after Easter, when committees from both dioceses have consulted each other and considered the petitions of Catholics in the Thames Valley. Speculation is also rife over the location of the diocese= cathedral. Douai Abbey has already been suggested as a favoured site. According to the Bishops' Conference, it is unlikely that the new bishop will be chosen from any of the existing full bishops of the dioceses of England and Wales. It is also possible that neither auxiliary in Birmingham will be selected because of their existing ties with the counties under discussion and out of consideration for the Portsmouth diocese. In his Lenten pastoral letter, Rt Rev Crispian Hollis, Bishop of Portsmouth, told his diocese; "There has been a widespread and gratifying response, responsibly and seriously undertaken," regarding "the consultation about the future of the diocese." He continued: "The process is still in hand and there isn't likely to be any decision before Easter. As a diocese, we are in very good heart. "Whatever the ultimate outcome of the consultation, many changes and developments need to take place," he concluded. It has become clear that there is some disparity in the pace of the consultations in the two dioceses, but not, according to Fr Toni Farrell, a spokesman for the Birmingham Diocese, through any lack of enthusiasm. "We are some way behind Portsmouth in our own consultation," Fr Farrell told the Catho& Herald, "but we are a much larger diocese.'

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