The importance of bishops to a local church cannot by overstated, so the selection of bishops is a major issue for the laity. Pope Francis is equally concerned about the qualities bishops possess. He has talked about bishop selection many times during his papacy and most recently when he addressed a meeting of papal nuncios from around the world on Sept. 17. He said, in part, in a Holy See press office extract:
The selection of future bishops is a great concern of mine. Speaking with the Congregation for Bishops some time ago, I outlined the profile of the Pastors that I consider necessary for today’s Church: witnesses of the Risen Christ and not bearers of a curriculum vitae; praying bishops, familiarised with things ‘from above’ and not crushed by the weight of what is ‘below’; bishops able to enter with patience in God’s presence, so as to possess the freedom not to betray the Kerygma entrusted to them; bishops who are pastors, not princes or officials. … You are the first to have to scrutinise the fields to see where the little Davids are hidden. They are there, God will not let them be lacking. … You must go out and search for them. … You must cast your nets out widely. You cannot be content to fish in aquaria, in the reserve or in the breeding ground of ‘friends of friends’. At stake is trust in the Lord of history and of the Church, Who never neglects their true good.”
Voice of the Faithful shares the pontiffs concerns for the quality of our bishops, and of course, is interested in the widest possible lay input into bishop selection. In a letter to Pope Francis only a few months after his election, VOTF asked him “to restore to all the laity and clergy of a diocese a formal role in the process of recommending candidates for their bishop to you prior to your appointment of him.” Enclosed with the letter was the VOTF document, “Furthering the New Evangelization: Consulting the Laity on Candidates for Bishop.”
You can read about VOTF’s letter to the Pope and our proposal for including the laity in the selection of local bishops by visiting votf.org and clicking on Bishop Selection under the Programs button on the home page. You also can learn there about VOTF’s web portal votf.org/bishop where any Catholic in a diocese may make recommendations about the new bishop that are forwarded directly to the U.S. papal nuncio’s email box.