Bishop finds biography 'too flattering'

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 12/05/2012

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Contemplating the publication of his biography, Bishop Len Boyle jokes, "it's too flattering".

The Good Shepherd, launched yesterday, included all the good but not the bad, he said, laughing.

The bishop, who says he knows Invercargill backwards, is in town this weekend for a family reunion to mark the 150th anniversary of his Irish ancestor John Boyle.

"There is a real community spirit in this city, it's a nice size that encourages involvement," he said. Now retired in Dunedin, the former head of the Roman Catholic Church in Otago and Southland still debates issues concerning the church.

He agrees there is a lot of criticism of the church, and attendance at mass has fallen. "It is a different world now than when I joined the priesthood in 1961," he said.

He was not surprised by recent media reports that suggested New Zealanders were atheists.

He had seen signs that fewer people were practising, and church membership was falling years ago at a bishop's conference in Rome.

"We still have a core of good people to lead and we hope they will pass faith onto others.". He said it was a good sign that the Auckland seminary was at full capacity. One of this fondest memories was being friends with the late Pope John Paul II. He recalls how they bonded over common ailments and hip replacements.

"We were deep in discussion and the other priests thought we were debating theological issues."

He has met the current pope a few times and was impressed with how Pope Benedict XVI was dealing with issues plaguing the church, such as child abuse.

"It took courage for him to meet people involved, I am sure it was not easy for him," he said.

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