When it comes to the selection of bishops, finding good candidates, it is the usual practice for the Nuncio, or another figure, to send questionnaires to some priests and, I suppose, lay people, asking for input. This feedback, as well as other information, is used to create a terna, a list of three candidates sent for consideration to the Congregation for Bishops.
The Sydney Morning Herald has this story with my emphases and comments.
Vatican survey to select bishops ‘could be illegal’
March 12, 2011
A SECRET Vatican document used to research possible bishops almost certainly breaches Australian anti-discrimination laws and seems designed to ensure only the most conformist candidates can be promoted. [Getting a sense yet of the tone of this piece?]
The questionnaire, sent to trusted clergy and a few laypeople by the Pope’s ambassador, asks about the candidate’s personal qualities, orthodoxy, loyalty to the Pope, commitment to celibacy and opposition to women priests, and his public image. It asks about predisposition to hereditary illness and the family’s “condition”. [Interesting how the writer chooses to emphasize an issue of class. No?]
A workplace law expert, Andrew Stewart of Adelaide University, said most of the questions posed no problem – for example with privacy legislation – but there was “certainly a problem” in the questions on illness and family and, perhaps, appearance.
“It’s hard to see how that could be relevant to doing the job,” Professor Stewart said. [It is? Really? Is that hard? Everything matters when it comes to being a bishop in view of the hostile secular press and workplace lawyers. Also, choosing a man all of whose close relations have died from cancer might not be a good idea.]
He said the matter depended on whether a bishop was regarded as an employee or under a contract of employment. [Not the case, But they want it to be so, so that the assets of the Holy See can be attacked.]
A Greek Orthodox archbishop won a case in the High Court in 2002 that found a contract existed, but in previous cases priests have not been seen as employees.
Professor Stewart said all states had different discrimination laws and in Victoria it was illegal to discriminate on the basis of appearance. Federal law made it illegal to discriminate on the grounds that the person or an associate had a disability.
A copy of the document, marked “sub secreto pontifico” (a papal “top secret”), was given to a progressive activist group, Catholics for Ministry. [Since this is under the “pontifical secret”, that would mean that the person who leaked it should be excommunicated.]
Its spokesman Paul Collins said the document’s deficiencies were more important than usual because several bishops will retire in Australia in the next two years, including the archbishops of Brisbane, Perth and Hobart.
He said the questionnaires were used to assess candidates before the Papal Nuncio (Pope’s ambassador) presented a shortlist to the Pope.
Dr Collins said among the objectionable requirements were fidelity to the “genuine tradition of the church’‘ and ”authentic renewal” promoted by the 1960s reforming Vatican Council, which meant support for the current papal line of reversing these reforms. [Did the writer, putatively a journalist, challenge this presupposition?]
The most iniquitous requirement was adherence to the 1998 Statement of Conclusions imposed on Australian bishops. [“iniquitous”?]
“The Australian bishops were said to be far too egalitarian and laissez-faire. The views of a tiny unrepresentative group were adopted by the Curia and forced on the bishops without consultation,” Dr Collins said. [This Collins is a real piece of work.]
The present system ensured appointed bishops were conformists whose primary gaze was upwards to the Pope rather than down towards the church. Pastoral aspects took a minor place in the questionnaire. [B as in B. S as in S. “Pastoral” is used in such a sloppy manner by liberals that it has come to mean the opposite of what a pastor should actually do.]
[And now this guy lowers himself to the reductio ad Hitlerum.] “The bishops are like Hitler’s generals in that their oath of loyalty to the Pope utterly cripples them. They are unable to take any action contrary to Rome, and seem not to be interested in the local church,” Dr Collins said. [Sounds like a hysteric now.]
”There are a couple of bishops who are exceptionally courageous, but most of them follow Sir Humphrey Appleby’s advice that anything courageous is dangerous.” [The reference is to one of the funniest shows ever on TV, “Yes, Minister.”]
Father Frank Leo, the assistant to Papal Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, first said the document was purely private so to respond would be inappropriate. In reply to the suggestion that if church was breaking the law it was not purely private, he agreed to accept questions by email, but then did not reply to emails or phone calls.
There’s journalism for you.
I don’t know if I have more contempt for
a) the writer
c) the nasty grass who violated the Pontifical Secret