Archive for January 10th, 2017
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, email@example.com, (781) 559-3360
The numbers are becoming alarming – too many Catholics for too few priests in many parts of the world. As 2017 begins, Catholic Church watchers are again stressing how the Church must find a way to minister to the faithful with so few priests and how one possible solution could be to relax priestly celibacy.
Two examples suffice to show the situation’s urgency, too few priests to ensure proper ministry, especially availability of the Eucharist:
- Brazil has 140 million Catholics and only 18,000 priests, one priest for every 7,800 Catholics
- The United States has 80 million Catholics and only 37,500 priests for its 17,233 parishes – already 3,499 parishes have no priest in residence despite numerous parish closures in the past decade.
In 2013, the Voice of the Faithful movement, which supports a married priesthood, stated, “Every Catholic understands the need for spiritual nourishment, especially for the regular reception of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist … We also understand the responsibility of the bishops and priests to make the Eucharist available to the faithful.”
In Brazil, leading Catholic theologian Leonardo Boff is suggesting that married priests who have left ministry, like himself, be allowed to return and that the Brazilian bishops have asked Pope Francis specifically for this. For those who might easily dismiss his suggestion, the National Catholic Reporter recently pointed out that Francis has long thought about a married priesthood. Then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires said the celibate priesthood is a “matter of church law and tradition, not doctrine, and “it is a matter of discipline, not of faith. It can change.”
In the United States, Mary Pat Fox, VOTF president, said that VOTF’s 2013 petition to U.S. bishops asked them “to request a pastoral provision from the Pope that would allow them to accept married Catholic men for ordination.” According to VOTF’s petition, the same procedures would be used as “in the pastoral provisions that have allowed married Episcopalian, Anglican and other Protestant clergy to be ordained in the Roman Catholic Church.”
Either one of these solutions surrounding priestly celibacy could help alleviate the Catholic priest shortage. As VOTF’s 2013 petition concluded, “Certainly in every diocese there are mature married men, with children or even grandchildren, who possess a deep Eucharistic spirituality and might consider ordination in order to provide the Eucharist to the faithful.”
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