Tuesday, June 29, 2010

ELECTING A NEW BISHOP?



Bishop J. Kevin Boland of the Diocese of Savannah submitted his resignation to Pope Benedict in April upon reaching the canonical age of 75 for retirement. Bishop Boland remains bishop until a new bishop is appointed by our Holy Father. There is no time line for the naming of a new bishop. It could be tomorrow or in two years.

In the meantime, we pray for the man who will be our bishop because he is out there, but it is only known to a small group of people who it will be or could be. It would be the papal nuncio of our country and the Congregation for Bishops in Rome and Pope Benedict eventually. But right now, only God knows.

In this country the process for naming a new bishop is a bit of a secret and I do pray that one day we will have more transparency. Usually the papal nuncio has a list of priests who he has determined might be a good candidate here, there or elsewhere. These names have been submitted by other bishops. Sometimes priests are polled by the nuncio about whom they would recommend. Sometimes priests are asked about the suitability of a potential candidate. All of this is under "pontifical secret." So I can't tell you if I've ever been asked to comment on someone or I think I'm excommunicated. Not a pleasant thing in the Church.

Do you think this process should be more democratic? Should leaders, both clergy and laity, be consulted about their vision for the Diocese, its problems and the type of person who would be the new bishop? Should there be a more open vetting of the various candidates that could be named? By extension of this, we could even apply it to the pastor that will be assigned by the bishop to a parish. What about that. Be nice!!!

At any rate, at St. Joseph Church, we are praying in one of our petitions of the General Intercessions on Sunday that God will guide the process that will lead us to a new bishop and that the one who God calls through the Pope will hear and answer God's call. Apart from that, we have to leave it in God's hands and, oh yes, the papal nuncio, the Congregation for Bishops and Pope Benedict XVI.

13 comments:

Seeker said...

"If it's not broke, don't fix it." Too many liberal laity to mess things up. sorry! But more transparency would be nice. All authority with the Pope.

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Well, I could see how if we let laity involved, it could be their favourite priest that does the crazy liturgical abuses gets elected Bishop, so I don't think that should be the case....

I think the vetting for Bishops should be more open but still with the same process that we have

A Bishop should have a love for the Liturgy and a love to save souls. Plain and simple.

Marc said...

The laity's only role in the Bishop selection process should be prayer. I'll leave the vetting to God and those with whom he has entrusted that authority.

More transparency in the process would be interesting, but why do we need that? Are we not talking about the Church Christ founded? The Church against which the gates of Hell will not prevail?

I don't think the Pope needs my help. Who I am to scrutinize his decisions?

Robert Kumpel said...

Democracy has its limits.

The Holy Father is the boss. Anyone who takes two minutes on the internet can easily find out who the members of the Congregation for Bishops are. A few more minutes of searching will reveal their mailing addresses. Anyone who has concerns or hopes for their diocese can write. Otherwise, we should leave it alone and pray, lest we end up in the same conundrum as many Protestant sects

pinanv525 said...

For heaven's sake keep the laity out of it! I do not believe that everything has to be transparent.
I am a bit sick of the so-called "open society" mantra. There is a lot that is none of our business and a lot more that we do not need to know. Would you trust most of the people you know with secret or sensitive information? I wouldn't.

Anonymous said...

The process should be a whole lot more transparent. The lack of transparency can leave many priests wondering what behind the scenes favors are being repaid. It can also leave priests feeling a bit isolated from the Church that they vow to obey. When that happens they can fell justified in doing some things their own individual way. Not a good thing.

This is not a laity issue, other than the laity can can help get the new bishop up to speed with the pulse of his new diocese.

A benefit, however, of the secrecy is that potential candidates are not influenced by knowing that they are such.

Anonymous said...

The best thing that can be done is to pray that our Church's leaders choose the best man to be Bishop while maintaining secrecy.

Anonymous said...

Why does anyone need to be involved in this?..The Pope should just appoint who he thinks best and the rest of us should concentrate on other things. The democratic way has led to nothing but division in the Church and Parishes for years. I am all for giving the Vicar of Christ more authority to do the things he needs to do. If I hear one more time that the Holy Father would like to do something but is blocked by this or that person or office I think I will scream. What do we have a Pope for if he can not do what he thinks best for the Church? If a decision turns out wrong it can be overturned by the next Pope. Their Pontificates are not endless, but bureaucracy is. It takes 2 or 3 Pontificates to implement things once they are decided anyways. (Still waiting on Veterum Sapientia) Cardinals vote for a particular Pope because they think he can best govern the Church. Why do they then insist on blocking his every move afterwards? As for the laity, we have enough to do. Let's stay out of mixing up our roles. We have done that long enough as well. Everyone has their place and maybe the focus should be on that for a change. Even the Pope.

Anonymous said...

the process is already wide open: people are voting with their feet. The concern for the Church leaders is not perverting the selection process to placate a vocal or active group, but to have faith that people will follow a good shepherd. As the subsequent post indicates, the people not follow weak leaders.

Pater Ignotus said...

The selection of bishops directly by the pope is a relatively recent phenomenon, one that has evolved since the middle of the 1800's with the centralization of administrative power in the Vatican.

Prior to that time the "input" from dioceses in need of a new bishop was substantial. Other than for the suburbican dioceses of Rome, Cathedral Chapters put together a list of three names (a terna) and submitted this to Rome for the final choice.

Discretion is needed, of course. Those considered but not chosen don't deserve to have their non-selection broadcast.

There are influential arch/bishops in most countries who have substantial say with the powers-that-be when it comes to choosing bishops. For many years the archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Hickey, was well responsible for many (most?) of the choices made for the USA southeast of the Mason-Dixon line. Curlin, Boland, Boland, Donoghue, etc, were tapped through his influence. Card. Rigali seems to be in that position nowadays for much of the eastern USA.

The vetting process must be daunting, and I do not envy those who must endure it or oversee it.

I have concluded that many priests who get "the call" from the papal nuncio are declining the promotion. "Please tell the Holy father I am deeply honored and humbled, but I cannot accept." How else does one explain a 19 month "vacancy" for Charleston, SC?

I don't think the present process is good for the Church in general. I cannot imagine any other organization leaving it's CEO post open for up to two years while a successor is found. This is damaging to dioceses - if you don't think so, talk to some folks over in S. Carolina.

The wags, however, note that not having a bishop in office isn't always the worst thing . . .

Jody Peterman said...

I'm not sure what I think. Because we have a great Pope, it's easy to say just let the Pope decide, but that procedure got us a bumper crop of liberal homosexual Bishops in the 60's and 70's. Some of the greatest Bishop's in the early Church came about from the people demanding that this individual be named Bishop. Some had to become Priest first...

Robert Kumpel said...

If there WAS more “transparency” in choosing bishops, I believe it could open up a can of worms that would do more harm than good.

Let’s take a hypothetical situation (drawn from reality): Suppose that during the selection process for Cardinal Mahony’s successor in Los Angeles, the terna was reduced to two candidates. For the sake of argument, let’s say that Archbishop Gomez of San Antonio was a finalist along with an auxiliary bishop from Los Angeles. Now let us supposed that the unnamed auxiliary bishop was known for his “liberal progressive” positions, while Gomez, the Opus Dei member, was known for a more traditional slant. Having narrowed the field to these two candidates, the Vatican invited public opinion (perhaps a poll of registered parishioners in the archdiocese) as to who they would prefer.

Likely, the majority of L.A.’s Catholics, after so many years of Mahony, would probably choose the liberal candidate, scuttling the renewal that the Holy Father seeks for that region. Or, if they chose Gomez, there is a good chance that the other side would express resentment and begin making public charges against the auxiliary and using the media for publicity campaigns. Either scenario is not good for the Church.

The Pope has the charism of knowing where to lead the Church. I believe we should leave it alone and not interfere with the process.

Elizabeth said...

The Church is not a democracy, nor should it be. I agree with those who say there are appropriate people to contact to voice concerns relevent to the choice of new bishop.