Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Coming American Hierarchy

Eerily enough, a piece on B16's prep to fill episcopal vacancies in the States has appeared in The Winston-Salem Journal.... And with a familiar by-line no less:
Benedict faces his first major American test in choosing a new archbishop of San Francisco to succeed Archbishop William J. Levada. In May, Benedict called Levada to Rome to fill his former job as head of the church's doctrine office.

Besides his new responsibilities as prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Levada, who has close ties with Benedict, will probably play a similar "kingmaker" role in the bishop-making process that Cardinal Ratzinger played for John Paul II....

If prelates are in good health, Benedict can delay their departures beyond the mandatory retirement age; cardinals often serve until age 80. But, a string of extended vacancies because of bishops' deaths, illnesses or transfers to other dioceses present him with the challenge of finding more immediate replacements. Eight American dioceses are waiting for new leaders, including Sioux City, Iowa, which has been without a bishop since January 2004. The new bishops, though vetted under criteria set by John Paul, will need to fit the new pope's desired qualities for the church's next generation of leadership....

Despite Roman rumblings about "rampant careerism" among some prelates, the church's theology still teaches that a bishop is wedded to his diocese. The pope, however, reserves the right to transfer bishops - such as Levada - from post to post.

"The view of the bishop-diocese relation as matrimony, implying fidelity, is still valid," Ratzinger said in 1999 remarks. But, as even he had to resign as archbishop of Munich to take a Vatican post, he continued that "I myself have not remained faithful in this regard."

The new papacy - where Benedict could well ensure the "fidelity" of his appointees - is but the first of many changed or changing variables in the process by which the church selects its bishops.



Blogger Jeff said...

Very nice indeed. I caught it last night about one hour after it came out on line. I had Googled "Pope Benedict" in the News category and up it came!


17/9/05 16:58  

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