Of Low Lands and High-Hats
While Simonis, who's stayed faithful to his pedaling habits despite painful hip ailments, was technically relieved of his archbishopric in April -- four months after reaching the retirement age of 75 -- Pope Benedict still has yet to tap a successor for the Netherlands' senior church post. In the interim, the cardinal is holding down the fort as apostolic administrator of the archdiocese, where he's served since 1983. (On a side note, Simonis' 1970 elevation to the episcopacy as bishop of Rotterdam was a flashpoint moment in the Dutch church's post-conciliar outbreak of liberal insurrection.)
Utrecht isn't the lone the major European see where B16 long ago created a vacancy without simultaneously filling it.
The 68th successor of St Corbinian, Papa Ratzi has kept the archdiocese of Munich and Freising -- his home church, which he led from 1977-81 -- waiting for almost seven months since taking the retirement in early February of his own successor there, Cardinal Frederich Wetter. Like his Dutch counterpart, Wetter, 79, has remained at the archdiocese's helm as apostolic administrator; his eventual replacement will be the 70th head of the church in Bavaria since the saintly founder-bishop settled at Freising in 723.
At an April audience with a delegation from Munich's chapter of canons who came to Rome for his 80th birthday, B16 intimated that the jury was still well-out, asking for prayers that "the Good God might help me find the right person to take Corbinian's staff in his hands."
By the looks of it, though, seems he'd have an easier time finding a successor to Corbinian's famous pack-bear.
PHOTO: Alessia Giuliani/Catholic Press Photo