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Home : Faith/Spirituality : The Question Box
2/29/2012 12:13:00 PM
Bishop selection is complex process

Deacon Owen Cummings


Q — With the coming retirement of Archbishop Vlazny, how are bishops chosen? How are archbishops chosen?
A — This is a procedure with which I am not entirely familiar. The process is, as far as I can gauge, somewhat complex. There is, if you like, a set of checks and balances throughout. It goes something like this. The outgoing bishop of a diocese will describe the situation in the diocese as he sees it, and make some recommendations about the qualities and characteristics that would make the incoming bishop a good fit for the diocese. The bishops of the general area/region/ecclesiastical province normally put together a list of those priests in their dioceses, both diocesan priests and Religious priests, who would make good bishops. More often than not some of the faithful who might be in an informed position would be invited to contribute ideas and perhaps even names. The papal nuncio, who would have an informed view of the entire country, would also be in receipt of all these names and would make particular recommendations to the Holy See. The Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops oversees selection of bishops and then makes recommendations to the Holy Father. Normally an archbishop is chosen from one who has already been ordained to the episcopate, and therefore, has some experience leading a diocese. The Code of Canon Law covers these topics to some extent in canons 375-380.
Q — With the coming retirement of Archbishop Vlazny, how are bishops chosen? How are archbishops chosen?


A
— This is a procedure with which I am not entirely familiar. The process is, as far as I can gauge, somewhat complex. There is, if you like, a set of checks and balances throughout. It goes something like this. The outgoing bishop of a diocese will describe the situation in the diocese as he sees it, and make some recommendations about the qualities and characteristics that would make the incoming bishop a good fit for the diocese. The bishops of the general area/region/ecclesiastical province normally put together a list of those priests in their dioceses, both diocesan priests and Religious priests, who would make good bishops. More often than not some of the faithful who might be in an informed position would be invited to contribute ideas and perhaps even names. The papal nuncio, who would have an informed view of the entire country, would also be in receipt of all these names and would make particular recommendations to the Holy See. The Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops oversees selection of bishops and then makes recommendations to the Holy Father. Normally an archbishop is chosen from one who has already been ordained to the episcopate, and therefore, has some experience leading a diocese. The Code of Canon Law covers these topics to some extent in canons 375-380.




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