Pope wants bishop selection process reviewed

Pope Francis wants the process for way the Church identifies and appoints bishops reviewed.

The Pope has asked his so-called C9 international council of cardinals to do this.

He wants them to look particularly at the qualities needed in a bishop today.

The council met with the Pope from September 14-16.

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ, said one of the primary roles of the C9 council is to advise the Pope on Church governance.

With more than 150 new bishops being named each year in the Latin-rite church, identifying suitable candidates is a normal part of the governance of the universal Church, the spokesman said.

“There is a long process” for naming bishops, Fr Lombardi said.

It includes “questionnaires that are sent out to people who may know the candidates and then the information is gathered, usually by the nunciature”.

Then recommendations are forwarded either to the Congregation for Bishops or, in the case of the Church’s mission lands, to the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

The congregations make recommendations to the Pope.

Obviously, Fr Lombardi said, the key part of the process is formulating the questions and collecting information based on the characteristics essential for a bishop “in the world today, what might be the requirements and, therefore, what questions should one be attentive to in [developing] the questionnaires”.

The need to review the questions and the process as a whole is constant, he said.

A statement issued after the meeting said, “naturally the theme will need to be explored further and developed in collaboration” with the Roman Curia offices assisting the Pope in identifying candidates.


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