Catholic church needs better way to select bishops (NCR)

26/09/2016Print This Post

by Robert Mickens (NCR)
New Bishops

“The procedure (for selecting bishops), which always allows for a certain degree of discretion,” wrote the usually well-informed Tornielli, “is apparently not to be reformed. What is going to change is the questionnaire used. This may be quite necessary and urgent for the short-term. But it is bad news for the long haul, because it is precisely the procedure for selecting bishops that must be overhauled.”

“…… bishops, in too many cases, have already begun “grooming” someone — perhaps a star seminarian or their priest-secretary — to be a future member of their very exclusive club, the episcopal college.  (How exclusive? Numbering just over 5,200 men, bishops constitute only .0004 percent of the nearly 1.3 billion Catholics throughout the world.)”

“Replacing the current ‘players’ in the episcopal appointment system — nuncios, as well as the members and prefects of congregations — and making more explicit the pastoral qualities required for good bishops (through a revised questionnaire) is important. But, again, it is temporary solution.”

“Francis says he wants to promote a healthy decentralization of the church. And it is hard to think of anything that currently is more centralized that Rome’s appointment of bishops around the world.”

“There would probably be just as many problems — and more — if the church adopted (or returned to) some mythical process whereby priests and people held general elections to vote for their local bishop.  Rather than opting for a democratic procedure, it would certainly be advantageous if the church were to re-appropriate a process of discernment based primarily at the local level.”

“As it stands now, the appointment of bishops is all too frequently the result of an incestuous old boys’ network of promoting people within its clerical club.” 

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