Bishop Christopher Butler is to retire from his post as area bishop responsible for Hertfordshire and take up a form of ministry entirely new to the Catholic Church in Britain.
Although Bishop Butler will remain an active auxiliary bishop of Westminster and continue to share in the Bishop's collegial responsibilities for the diocese, his new ministry will consist of writing, lecturing and working for adult Christian education.
Mgr James O'Brien Mgr James O'Brien, aged 46, rector of the Westminster Diocesan Senior Seminary at Allen Hall, Chelsea, London, has been appointed by Pope Paul as the new area bishop in Hertfordshire to replace Bishop B utler.
Diocesan bishops are now expected to offer their retirement at the age of 75, Although the same regulation does not apply to auxiliary bishops, Bishop Butler, who was 75 on May 7, considers that the pastoral responsibility of an area bishop should now pass to a younger man.
In September Bishop Butler will leave St Edmund's College, Ware, where he has been living, and take up residence in Clergy House, Westminster. Apart from those who serve in administrative posts in the Vatican and those who arc retired, bishops are normally expected to have direct pastoral responsibility for a geographical area, either as a diocesan bishop or as an auxiliary. Bishop Butler will therefore become Britain's first "freelance" bishop.
Mgr O'Brien, his replacement as area bishop, was educated at Wood Green and the Jesuit Grammar School, St Ignatius College, Stamford Hill. He studied for the priesthood at St Edmund's College and was ordained by the late Cardinal Griffin in 1954.
After his ordination he served as assistant priest in St Laurence's parish, Feltham, Middlesex until 1962 when he was appointed to the Catholic Missionary Society. In 1967 Mgr O'Brien also took charge of the Catholic Enquiry Centre until 1968 when he was appointed as rector of Allen Hall. He was a member of the Westminster Senate of Priests from 1971 to 1975 and has served on the Commission for Priestly Formation since 1975.
The team to accompany Cardinal Hume and Archbishop Worlock to the 1977 Synod of Bishops in Rome was announced this week. The five attending the two archbishops will be Mgr Kevin Nichols, the national adviser on religious education; Miss Josephine Clemson, head of the religious education department at St Edmund Arrowsmith Comprehensive School, Wiston, Liverpool; Mgr Leo Alston, a Southport parish priest who will be helping with translation work; the Rev Mr David Miles-Board, director of the Catholic Information Services and Mgr George Leonard from the Catholic Information Office.
The theme of the synod is Present day catechetics, with particular reference to religious formation of children and young people. It will last from September 30 to October 30.