Several bishops needed, 30% say “no”

Several new bishops will be appointed in France over the next year and a half as by the end of next year, 15 bishops will have already reached retirement age of 75.

Others may ask to be relieved of their duties for health reasons.

There are currently four dioceses in France that are without a bishop.

One of the upcoming appointments will be that of the new Archbishop of Lyon, spiritual leader of one of the country’s most important sees.

The Dioceses of Nantes, Saint-Claude and Bayeux-Lisieux are also waiting for new bishops to be appointed.

The pope has not yet announced who will lead these dioceses.

Appointments have been delayed because of the complicated situation linked to the previous apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Luigi Ventura.

He was the pope’s “ambassador” to France from 2009, but returned to Rome last September under multiple accusations of sexual assault.

In January, Francis appointed Archbishop Celestino Migliore, who arrived in France in March.

Migliore says the coronavirus lockdown and security protocols have not prevented him from making many contacts and identifying candidates who are fit for episcopal responsibility.

It is then up to the prospective candidate to decide if they want to take on the role.

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, says on a worldwide scale, three priests out of ten refuse this ministry.

Some think it would be too burdensome, others that it is too risky. Others say being a bishop is a completely different vocation from being a priest.

Nonetheless, in recent years, a “reserve” has formed among the dozen auxiliary bishops Francis has appointed in France. They are younger and have gained experience to then become diocesan ordinaries.

The new wave of shepherds is expected to profoundly rejuvenate and change the face of the French hierarchy.

Since he became pope in 2013, Francis has appointed the ordinaries of 47 of the country’s 99 dioceses.

With the next appointments, much more than half will owe their episcopal seat to him.


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