dotCommonweal

A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors

.

Friends of Christ, Suitcase in Hand

Today Pope Francis addressed one hundred fifty papal nuncios and representatives gathered in Rome to reflect on their roles in light of the Year of Faith.

Vatican Radio has issued a translation that is rather wooden, but provides the substance of his remarks. The style is personal and to the point as when the Pope says:

Now I would like to offer you some simple thoughts on certain, I would say existential, aspects of your being Papal Representatives. These are things I reflected on in my heart, above all by trying to place myself alongside to each one of you. In this meeting, I do not want to address purely formal or perfunctory words to you. What I now say comes from deep within my heart.

The Pope recognizes the existential rootlessness of their lives from a physical and psychological perspective (hence the suitcase metaphor), and urges them to be rooted in Christ and his Gospel. He also warns them against ambition and "spiritual worldliness" (quoting de Lubac yet again) which seeks self-fulfillment instead of God's greater glory.

Though Vatican Radio does not mention this, today's L'Osservatore Romano reports that at the end of his own remarks, the Pope invited some of those present to come to the microphone to share some of the questions and concerns they experienced. A number did. Francis thus demonstrated not only by his words but by his actions that he truly sought to "place himself alongside each of them."

 

 

Topics: 

Comments

Commenting Guidelines

Francis brought up the issue of reducing the number of dioceses in Italy:

As regards the complex task of somewhat reducing the number of dioceses, I know that there is a Commission for this. It is not easy, but there is a Commission.

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/homilies/2013/documents/papa...

John Allen's version:

"Papal ambassadors, or nuncios, from around the world were in Rome last week for a conference, including a session with Francis on Friday. Since he does not come out of the world of Vatican diplomacy, Francis apparently felt his time Saturday evening would be better spent getting to know these guys, given that many of them were returning to their posts Sunday afternoon or today. That familiarity is especially important given that some of them may be in line for other Vatican positions that Francis shortly will have to fill, including the all-important role of Secretary of State.

 

In other words, his withdrawal from the concert may actually illustrate his work ethic more than a rejection of Renaissance ostentation."

 

http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/recipe-overinterpreting-pope

John Allen's version:

"Papal ambassadors, or nuncios, from around the world were in Rome last week for a conference, including a session with Francis on Friday. Since he does not come out of the world of Vatican diplomacy, Francis apparently felt his time Saturday evening would be better spent getting to know these guys, given that many of them were returning to their posts Sunday afternoon or today. That familiarity is especially important given that some of them may be in line for other Vatican positions that Francis shortly will have to fill, including the all-important role of Secretary of State.

 

In other words, his withdrawal from the concert may actually illustrate his work ethic more than a rejection of Renaissance ostentation."

 

http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/recipe-overinterpreting-pope

Irene, Some religious orders work that way. For example, Timothy Radcliffe resumed his former life as a friar

 

In 1992 he was elected Master of the Dominican Order and held that office until 2001. During his tenure as Master of the Order he was ex officio Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum in Rome....

 

In 2001, after the expiration of his nine-year mandate as Master of the Dominican order, Timothy Radcliffe took a sabbatical year. Starting in 2002, he became again a simple member of the Dominican community of Oxford. He is now a highly sought after speaker, teaching and preaching in many countries. In 2003, Radcliffe was made an honorary Doctor of Divinity in the University of Oxford, the University's highest honorary degree. [Wikipedia]

For bishops, that would require redefining "bishop" as a office to which one is appointed rather than ordained.  It is the ontological change resultng from episcopal ordination that makes it impossible for current bishops to stop being bishops and resume an earlier status.

 

Even after the SSPX bishops were excommunicated, they still had he power to validly ordain more priests and bishops to continue the SSPX forever.

 

Perhaps a starting point would to give episcopal ordination only to bishops who head dioceses and let non-bishop titles, such as: Papal Legate, Prefect, Rector, Vicar General (instead of auxiliary bishop) and Personal Secretary to the Pope suffice for other people. 

 

 

I suggest that in electing bishops the Vatican, the hierarchy, and the laity and lower clergy should each have one vote.

I wish that Fr. Radcliffe would be made bishop.  That way he might be in the running for pope the next time around.  Administrator, fine theologian and teacher, isn't afraid of change, and a humble man.

It is not unknown for bishops to resign before 75, and return to parochial or other forms of "non-episcopal" ministry. (Though Rome frowns on it. See below.) 

Here are just two examples, a bit dated, that easily come to mind.

1. Patrick Casey, auxiliary bishop of Westminster, England, was named bishop of Brentwood in 1969, at age 55. At the time of his installation, he announced that he would serve for ten years. In 1979, he resigned and was named pastor (parish priest) of St. Thomas More, Chelsea, in the diocese of Westminster. He remained there, again for ten years, until reaching 75.

2. Joseph Durick was named auxiliary of Mobile in 1955 at age 40, coadjutor bishop of Nashville eight years later, and became bishop of Nashville in 1969. He resigned in 1975 at age 60, and served for a number of years as a prison chaplain before his death in 1994.

(It may be of note to recall that auxiliary bishops, long before and until several years after Vatican II, were pastors of parishes, very large parishes.)

I see no reason why bishops after serving for ten or fifteen years couldn't return to parish ministry, especially those named bishops in their forties or fifties. Twenty/ thirty years as an auxiliary, then diocesan bishop has to take its toll. The chief problem working against having bishops serve for ten or fifteen years is, I think, the lack of qualified, and also willing, candidates. And this, increasingly, not only in countries where there are very few  priests.

 

 

Bishop Ahern, an auxiliary bishop in New York, lived and worked at Our Lady of Angels Parish in Kingsbridge Heights in the Bronx while he was bishop, then he later went and lived in a parish in Staten Island and I think there, to, he also served the parish while he was doing bishop's work. This was in the 80s.

I think he was a great model of how a bishop should be.

Pages

Share

About the Author

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is an associate professor of theology at Boston College.