Aussie theologian proposes criteria for bishop selection

An Australian theologian has suggested 12 criteria for selecting new bishops.

University of Canberra chaplain Fr Paul McGavin explained his criteria in a 2000-word article in L’Espresso.

He started by stating that ordination does not change a man.

“He has access to the authority and grace of Holy Orders. Whether or not these are enacted in important measure depends upon the human qualities that are present in the one who is ordained,” he wrote.

Therefore selection criteria need to focus on human qualities and the way that grace is manifested in those human qualities.

Fr McGavin wrote that it is from this perspective that his 12 criteria are put forward.

In summary, firstly, a candidate must be a manly man, confident in his own masculinity.

Second, he must be a man of integrity who can be trusted.

Third, he must be a man of principle, insisting on due process and natural justice, proceeding canonically rather than arbitrarily.

Fourth, fear of God is important.

Fifth, he must be inclusive. “Has he as a priest pastor worked to build a community where diverse people find a place and a welcome. . . . Has he shown himself as a man of acute listening skills so that he hears deeply what is being said to him?”

Sixth, he must be a man of prayer, so that people encounter a man who “practises the presence of God”.

Seventh, is he humble in a robust way? If he is not, “the Church will have a man who is wilful and who abuses his position, is threatened by others, who puts down others and who thinks himself to be what he is not”.

Eighth, he must love beauty, and be a man who “communicates the beauty of God from small and lowly things through to exalted things”.

Ninth, he must have a history of proven intellectual accomplishment.

Tenth, practical implementation capacities are important.

Eleventh, he must be able to decide what not to do.

Twelfth, the Church needs men of deep love who try to imitate Christ, and don’t just do their own thing.


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