The College of Bishops of England and Wales has recently been conferring at Villa Palazzola, the summer retreat of the Venerable English College.
Which raises the inevitable question: what do bishops discuss during these times away?
By comparison with their Anglican colleagues, the topics must be somewhat limited. They cannot discuss doctrine, for example, since that is reserved to those way above their pay grade. Nor can they talk about ordaining women or marrying gays – the mainstay of endless Anglican episcopal gatherings at ‘secret’ venues in the Midlands and dreary sessions at the Adelphi Hotel. For Catholics these matters are settled for all time.
Probably they fall back on old favourites, like Pastoral Reorganisation (aka closing more churches); fresh initiatives in Evangelisation (aka closing more churches); and, of course, the importance of celebrating Mass facing the people.
Obviously, all this cannot be much fun.
But we hope that they return refreshed and renewed for the daunting tasks which lie ahead.