What’s it like to be a bishop in the United States? A new study provides a rare glimpse:

Catholic bishops don’t get enough sleep, don’t get enough exercise, are subject to constant demands on their time — but are satisfied with their lives. That, at least, is what the first study of U.S. Catholic bishops in decades has learned.

“These are guys who get up in the morning, pray for almost two hours a day, work nearly 10 hours … and get about six and a half hours of sleep at night,” said the Rev. Stephen Fichter, a research associate at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University. “It [the research] definitely changed my impression of them.”

Fichter is the lead author of “Catholic Bishops in the United States”, published last year, based on a 2016 survey by CARA and personal interviews. More than 200 Catholic bishops current and retired responded. Fichter presented the findings last week during a lecture at St. Mary’s University in Minneapolis.

While most Catholics may know their bishops through confirmation ceremonies and other religious occasions, few have a clue what they do during the day or their challenges, hopes or frustrations, Fichter said.

“The responsibilities never stop,” said one bishop quoted in the book. “There’s never a tiny pause, any day of the year.”

Bishops grapple with these demands even as the number of their priests decline, parishes merge and close, and reports of clergy abuse and lawsuits continue across the nation — an issue not explored in depth in the research.

“One bishop said, ‘My desk is magnet for all negativity in the diocese,’ ” Fichter recalled.

That bishop described how the stacks of papers on his desk illustrated the problem. Some were letters from parishioners upset that he transferred their pastor. Some were from Catholics who said he was too liberal; others from people who said he was too conservative. There was a stack of angry correspondence about priest sexual abuse, many incidents stretching back to tragedies “before I was even ordained.”

The vast majority of bishops, 95%, agreed strongly or somewhat strongly that secular culture “is hostile to the values of Catholicism,” the survey showed. And 62% viewed criticism of the church in the secular media as somewhat or a great problem to them.

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