Lay people appointed in place of episcopal vicars in Swiss diocese

Lay people episcopal vicars

A Swiss Catholic bishop has announced that he is appointing lay people in place of episcopal vicars in his diocese.

Mgr Charles Morerod, bishop of Lausanne, Geneva and Friborg in Switzerland, decided to appoint “representatives of the bishop” a lay woman and a man as well as a deacon in three “diocesan regions”.

Morerod revealed the decision in a May 25 interview with the Swiss Catholic Church’s website

“By virtue of baptism, lay people have an active role in the life of the Church and should not only take care of administrative matters, but also be active in pastoral care,” he said.

“This cooperation is a positive thing. It already exists, but we can further develop it positively.”

According to the bishop, his representatives will take care of “local issues” and discuss them with him at the diocesan level.

The 59-year-old Morerod rejected suggestions that the changes were intended to concentrate power in his hands, undermining the principle of subsidiarity favoured in the Swiss Catholic Church.

“Anyone who speaks this way has false assumptions about lay people in leadership positions,” he said.

The Code of Canon Law, the body of ecclesiastical laws for the Latin Church, says that “In each diocese the diocesan bishop is to appoint a vicar general to assist him in the governance of the whole diocese.”

The bishop can also appoint one or more episcopal vicars, whose competence “is limited to a determined part of the diocese, or to a specific type of activity, or to the faithful of a particular rite, or to certain groups of people.”

He said: “I spoke to it mainly about terminology issues. You are careful to avoid the impression that we are simply replacing a priest episcopal vicar with a lay episcopal vicar.”

“It is important not to cause any confusion that could affect you elsewhere. It is therefore important to consult the congregation.”

For the positions, Bishop Morerod took care to choose people already familiar with the future situations they will have to deal with.

He also wanted people with varied profiles “who will not see all of reality from the same angle,” the bishop told




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