German cardinal blasts interference in bishop selections

A German cardinal has said names of candidates submitted to the Vatican as potential bishops are being vetoed by “unauthorised people” in Rome.

Cardinal Karl Lehmann of Mainz said this in a new book, extracts of which were published by the German Catholic news agency KNA.

“In the name of the law, these unlawful outside influences must be set aside and a proper voice given to those who’ll be living with the chosen candidate,” Cardinal Lehmann said.

He said “unauthorised people” were interfering in episcopal nominations “also today, unfortunately, under the pontificate of Pope Francis”.

“If there really is something against a candidate, then the nuncio or Rome must talk about it with the cathedral chapter,” the cardinal said.

“Rome cannot just reject names without any comment,” he added.

“In recent years, the official list of names has been crossed out and a new list sent from Rome.

“This represents a burdensome, intolerable disrespect for the church in a given country.”

In 13 of Germany’s 27 dioceses, as well as in some dioceses of Switzerland and Austria, cathedral chapters, made up of senior clerics, traditionally propose their own candidates for bishop.

However, Cardinal Lehmann said he believed the nomination process was being disrupted by people “focused on a strict church policy allowing no deviation” and who had “knowledge of how things work in Rome”.

“Much greater attention should be given to an episcopal candidate’s theological competence than his formal orthodoxy,” the cardinal said.

“There’s an urgent need for clarification – otherwise, the whole appointment process will come into question.”

In the normal process for the appointment of a new bishop, a set of three names, or “terna,” is sent to Rome by the apostolic nuncio after consultations with local priests and bishops.

However, the final choice rests with the Pope, following recommendations from the Roman Curia, which can reject the “terna” and request new names.


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