BISHOP WORLOCK of Portsmouth last week called a meeting of all his priests to propose a 12-point plan for consultation "at every level" throughout the diocese — between laymen. priests and bishop.
Speaking to them nine days after he was installed as Bishop, he said it was necessary to set up organised machinery for dialogue as well as to promote an atmosphere of easy cordiality if the recommendations of Vatican 11 were to be enacted, Though he joked at the image he had of promising to be "what the Americans call an aggiornamentoed bishop", he added seriously that he did regard his role "not as a dictator, benign or otherwise. but as a co-ordinator".
And in order to do his lob properly, he felt it a "vital necessity" first to consult his priests and people, discover their problems. tap their resources. and then to build up "mutual assistance between parishes and groups of parishes".
He added : "No man has all the talents, and we must share what we have", 1. His first plan is to meet with each of his deaneries during the next two months, talking over "the major points of interest and difficulty existing in the area".
He wants all priests concerned to take part "regardless of seniority", and—"please no whitewash".
Eventually, he hopes deanery meetings will become instruments for pooling finance, talents and experience in youth work, liturgical developments, catechetics, social welfare among the member parishes.
2. Secondly, he plans to visit each parish regularly, going to hospitals, old people's homes, convents. schools and to the sick in their homes. "Then we will have a service in the church at which I will confirm, and 1 shall also want to meet and thank your active parishioners".
3. Confirmation for adult converts at four centres spread through the diocese. for children in the parishes, each choosing his own sponsors.
4. Enlarging the diocesan schools commission to include representatives from all over the diocese and .adding lay experts.
5. Enlarging the finance committee and adding lay consultors. 6. Setting up a liturgical commission of priests and laity, who will, among other things, canvass the opinions of congregations.
7. Setting up an ecumenical commission of priests and laity. "Work for unity is not to be restricted to annual unity services. There is great scope for active collaboration in social matters, such as housing and the integration of immigrants".
8. Appointing priests to serve as advisers to congregations of nuns, helping them reexamine the service they can best give under the Welfare State and studying the renewal of their life called for by the Vatican Council. On January 15 he will meet all the nuns of the diocese at Portsmouth Cathedral.
9. Meetings with youth workers and child welfare workers throughout the diocese.
10. Evening out the distribution of priests in the diocese. "Some well-established parishes may have to adjust themselves to the idea of fewer Masses so that other areas with no priests may have Mass".
11. Encouraging vocations by holding ordinations in the parishes, making them social occasions for all the families.
"It's no good our merely concentrating on the schools without involving the families of the parish".
12. Giving copies of the Council decrees to all the priests and arranging talks on them for the nuns.
Bishop Worlock then asked the priests to help laymen "in their difficult work in the secular sphere by encouragement, not patronisation".
Lay organisations, he said, "if they are really prepared to examine their roles and revitalise themselves, have a part to play in the Church's mission". But fewer and fewer people today were organisationminded.
"For this reason I feet that it is upon the family that we must concentrate . . . Our whole problem will be to show the relevance of the Church's life and teaching to the life the laity live and the problems by which they are beset.
"To do this we may have to experiment, not as a gimmick, but to establish the best means to help".
He said he would be glad to give permission for experiments such as house Masses— "provided that these are seen as a missionary apostolate and not as minor chapels-of-ease or rewards for the pious".
After various experiments had been tried and proved successful, parishes would no longer have to seek permission. he added.