Church reform, school plays, John McCain


In his April 25 article, “Reforming the Vatican,” Thomas J. Reese, SJ, claims it would help the governance of the church if bishops were “elected by the local clergy, accepted by the people of his diocese, and consecrated by the bishops of his province.”

As a bishop for thirty-two years, I have become increasingly convinced that it would be a disaster for the church if bishops were elected by local clergy, either in a bishop’s diocese of origin or the diocese where he will serve. I suspect that the most popular priests, those who would offer the people of a diocese emotional support but little governance, would often be the ones elected bishop. They would add to the dismantling of episcopal authority and the diminishment of papal oversight and accountability.

Local election of bishops would move the church toward a congregationalist model of governance that would undermine the international unity of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. It is a great blessing for a diocese when a bishop is appointed from elsewhere on the basis of his real pastoral gifts and not on his previous popularity as a hail-fellow. It is a primary duty of a bishop to help keep his diocese in union with the universal church under the leadership of the successor of...

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