Posts Tagged bishop selection
Could giving more autonomy to Catholic bishops make things worse for progressive Catholics?
A lot has been written about Pope Francis’s goal of making the church more democratic, with less control by the Vatican and more power to individual bishops. In an ideal world, not only would the Vatican have less say in choosing bishops, but priests and laity would have a larger role in the selection of their leaders.
“However, unless the institutional church actually reaches that goal, and power truly devolves to the grassroots, giving more autonomy to Catholic bishops might make things worse, not better, at least for progressive Catholics.
“While Pope Francis’s appointments of often have elevated reformers to power, he cannot replace every powerful leader in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
“And the bishops now leading U.S. Catholics skew conservative. Indeed, in 2014, one bishop speaking on background confided that only about a third of American bishops were totally on board with Francis’s agenda, about a quarter were definitely against, and the rest were still figuring out where they stood. Not much appears to have changed in the intervening years.”
By Celia Wexler, Contributor, Huffington Post — Read more …
Jan. 10, 2017 – Four U.S. Catholic bishops have reached retirement age and five more will in 2017, and their dioceses await word about who their next bishop will be. The stakes are high. Bishops rule in their dioceses.
Voice of the Faithful has long advocated for the widest possible input in selecting local bishops. Catholic lay people have the right and responsibility to comment and an expectation of being heard on issues important to the church. Not much is more important than who leads the local diocese. But papal nuncios (ambassadors), who recommend bishop candidates to the pope, listen only to a few influential clerics and even fewer lay people.
Pope Francis has made clear his desire for casting the widest possible net for bishop candidates. Most recently, the pontiff told his nuncios, “You cannot be content to fish in aquaria, in the reserve or in the breeding grounds of ‘friends of friends,’” he said.
To help ensure the laity is heard, VOTF provides a website, votf.org/bishop, where lay people can become involved in the process. They can easily express their concerns and recommendations in three areas: 1.) outstanding needs and opportunities in the diocese; 2.) candidates’ ideal qualities and qualifications; and 3.) priests who would be excellent candidates for their bishop.
More than 500 Catholics in nearly a dozen dioceses from New England to Alaska have submitted their comments on the website. Recommendations made on the website go directly to Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the present U.S. apostolic nuncio.
U.S. bishops who already have submitted letters of resignation to the Pope, required at age 75, are:
- Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.;
- Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona;
- Bishop Martin Amos of Davenport, Iowa; and
- Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California.
U.S. bishops who turn 75 this year are:
- Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of Richmond, Virginia;
- Bishop Ronald Herzog of Alexandria, Louisiana;
- Bishop Alvaro Corrada Del Rio, S.J., of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico;
- Bishop Joseph Pepe of Las Vegas, Nevada; and
- Bishop Robert Meunch of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Several dioceses, where the Pope has accepted the bishops’ resignations, await replacements. They are:
- Allentown, Pennsylvania, former bishop John Barres now bishop of Rockville Centre, New York;
- Cheyenne, Wyoming, former bishop Paul Etienne now archbishop of Anchorage, Alaska;
- Cleveland, Ohio, former bishop Richard Lennon resigned for health reasons;
- Indianapolis, Indiana, former archbishop Joseph Tobin now archbishop of Newark, New Jersey
- Juneau, Alaska, former bishop Edward Burns now bishop of Dallas, Texan;
- Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, former bishop Gregory Parkes now bishop of St. Petersburg, Florida;
- Raleigh, North Carolina, former bishop Michael Burbidge now bishop of Alexandria, Virginia.
Catholics in any of these dioceses can use votf.org/bishop to send their input about their next bishop to the U.S. apostolic nuncio.
Voice of the Faithful News Release, Jan. 10, 2017
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.
Contact: Nick Ingala, firstname.lastname@example.org, (781) 559-3360
By now it should be clear.
“Pope Francis really believes there is a serious lack of quality among priests and bishops in the Catholic church. Otherwise, he would not talk so often about the negative traits of certain men in ordained ministry, as he’s done again several times in recent days.
“‘The world is tired of lying charmers and — allow me say — of ‘fashionable’ priests or ‘fashionable’ bishops,’ the pope said on Sept. 16 to a group of 94 bishops consecrated in the last two years for dioceses in mission territories.
“‘The people ‘scent’ — the People of God have God’s ‘scent’ — the people can ‘scent’ and they withdraw when they recognize narcissists, manipulators, defenders of personal causes and standard bearers of worthless crusades,’ the pope warned the so-called ‘baby bishops,’ who were in Rome for a training seminar.
“He also cautioned them about too easily accepting seminarians or incardinating already ordained priests into their dioceses …”
By Robert Mickens, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this article
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.
Pope Francis has asked his international Council of Cardinals to study the way the church vets, identifies and appoints bishops around the world, looking particularly at the qualities needed in a bishop today.
“Near the end of the council’s meetings with the pope Sept. 14-16, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, briefed reporters on its work.
“While one of the main tasks of the nine-member council is to assist Pope Francis with the ongoing reorganization of the Roman Curia, Lombardi said that from the beginning Pope Francis said he wanted the group to advise him on matters of church governance in general. With more than 150 new bishops being named each year in the Latin-rite church, identifying suitable candidates is a normal part of the governance of the universal church, the spokesman said.”
By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Voice of the Faithful has long advocated for greater lay input into selection of local bishops. VOTF has promulgated a proposal to achieve this, “Furthering the New Evangelization: Consulting the Laity on Candidates for the Episcopacy.” The proposal seeks to restore to the selection process many of the lay-involvement practices followed throughout the first millenium and well into the second, and, at the same time, it would recognize the authority of the pope (as affirmed in Canon Law and Vatican II) to make the final appointment of a bishop, generally from the recommendations submitted for each diocese.
VOTF presently maintains a first-of-its-kind web portal enabling Catholics in a diocese with an announced or impending vacancy to offer confidentially their thoughts on the needs of the diocese, the desired qualities of the next bishop, and the names of potential nominees directly to the Apostolic Nuncio.
Certain Catholics love to repeat ad nauseam that the church is not a democracy, especially when it comes to decision-making and the selection of leadership.
“And thank God it is not.
“Nor should it aspire to be if the democratic model is the dysfunctional political and electoral system at work in places like the United States.
“But that doesn’t mean all is well with the way the Roman church makes its pastoral-administrative decisions, discerns the call of the Spirit, or chooses its bishops.
“Quite the contrary.
“The inadequate leadership displayed by too many bishops in the United States and other parts of the world the past couple of decades has made that point painfully clear. One wonders how some of these men were ever put in a position of such weighty responsibility.”
By Robert Mickens, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Since 2012, U.S. Catholics in a vacant See or a diocese where a bishop has retired have had the opportunity to provide input into the selection of a local bishop through Voice of the Faithful’s web portal, votf.org/bishop. The input is submitted via a form to the U.S. apostolic nuncio by email. The form records concerns and recommendations in three areas: 1.) needs and opportunities in the diocese; 2.) candidates’ ideal qualities and qualifications; and 3.) priests who would be excellent candidates for bishop. Canon Law encourages all Catholics to express their views on Church matters that concern them.
Vermont Catholics can use a web portal to propose candidates for their next bishop as search process passes one-year mark
As the search process for Burlington’s new bishop passes the one-year mark, Catholics in the Diocese of Burlington, which includes the entire state of Vermont, can recommend candidates for their new bishop via a computer link to the pope’s representative in Washington.
Last year on Nov. 6, the Vatican announced that Burlington’s Bishop Salvatore Ronald Matano was appointed bishop of Rochester, N.Y. When Bishop Matano was re-assigned, the search for his successor began. The search process will continue until the Vatican appoints a new bishop. In the meantime, Apostolic Administrator Msgr. John J. McDermott has been administering the diocese.
U.S. Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Carlo M. Viganò, who advises the Vatican on bishop selection for the American Catholic Church, conducts confidential searches for new bishops. He speaks primarily to other bishops and to select lay people, most of whom are identified by the bishops.
Church law, however, encourages all Catholics to express their views on Church matters that concern them, and this includes who their new bishop may be.
According to Plymouth couple Bill and Anne Cherico, who are members of Catholic Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful®: “We feel that laity input on the selection of a new bishop would ultimately give greater credibility to that appointment. Also, the time frame in the selection process has been far too long with no explanation to the parishioners of the diocese on the reason for the delay.”
As the selection process for a new Burlington bishop continues, lay Catholic men and women can use an Internet link Voice of the Faithful® has developed, www.votf.org/bishop, to provide input directly to the apostolic nuncio via his email address.
The VOTF web portal allows Catholics in a diocese to record their concerns and recommendations in three key areas: 1.) outstanding needs and opportunities in the diocese; 2.) candidates’ ideal qualities and qualifications; and 3.) priests who would be excellent candidates for their bishop.
The portal brings into the 21st century a lay-consultative process as old as the Church itself. In the early Church, all members of a diocese, clergy and laity, elected their bishops, and only in 1917, did Church law reserve the appointment of bishops, with few exceptions, to the pope.
Archbishop Viganò has assured VOTF that all input reaching him from individual Catholics via the web portal will be reviewed and that “serious observations may well be incorporated in the developed confidential process.”
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.