Does Pope Francis appoint bishops without collegial consultation?

Monsignors assist the Pope

This is interesting.

Do you remember my post and comments about Pope Francis and collegiality?  Collegiality: an inquiry

This is from Sandro Magister: The pope gives, the pope takes away

VATICAN CITY, January 14, 2014 – In addition to the appointment of cardinals, Pope Francis is also taking liberties with the selection of bishops. [He is free to do so.  However, if a Pope wants to be taken serious over time, he will observe the laws that he imposes on others.  For example: let him do a, b, or c in complete disregard for the rites on, say, Holy Thursday yes, he can do that and nobody can say that he can't.  Father Z, however, on Thursday is obliged to follow the rites.]

Above all when it comes to his native Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio often (if not always) neglects to submit the appointment to the judgment of the cardinals and bishops who make up the Vatican congregation set up for this purpose, even though he radically overhauled it before Christmas.  [So, does it really matter if Card. Burke isn't a member of the Congregation?]

In Argentina, during the first ten months of his pontificate, Francis has made fifteen episcopal appointments: eight “ex novo” and seven with transfers from other positions.

But in one of these Argentine appointments, something must not have gone quite right.

It is that concerning one of the two auxiliaries of Lomas de Zamora appointed by the pope last December 3, the Capuchin Carlos Alberto Novoa de Agustini, 47, who – as stated in the official biography published in the bulletin of the Holy See on that date – in May of 1996 had “received priestly ordination from the then-auxiliary of Buenos Aires, Bishop Bergoglio, now Pope Francis.”

It happened, in fact, that on the subsequent December 14 a statement from the diocese said that Novoa de Agustini would not be consecrated bishop because “after mature discernment” he had “requested from the Holy Father Francis a dispensation from his appointment, which he had granted to him.” No details were given on the reasons for this reversal.

Okay… let’s leave aside the fact that one of the men the Pope seems to have selected wasn’t the best choice.  The Congregation has made mistakes in the past too.

But… that is not the real point here.

The Pope needs an assist in the governance of the Church, lest he stumble.

The Roman Pontiff has a Congregation to which he has granted a mandate and authority to aid him in the selection of bishops.  If he does not use their service, if he does not work in a collegial manner, what does that mean?  What does that mean for his view and style of governance?

In my earlier post, I wrote:

It doesn’t make any difference what liberals think about collegiality, or what you think about collegiality, or what I think about collegiality. What matters is what Pope Francis thinks about collegiality.  Does anybody know?

He doesn’t always consult in the appointment of bishops?

I think we will all agree that the selection of bishops is pretty important.

Liberals are constantly crying that there isn’t nearly enough grassroots consultation in the selection of bishops, that the appointments come down from on high.

It will be interesting to see if liberals criticize Pope Francis for acting in such a non-collegial manner.

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Pope Francis, The Drill and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Does Pope Francis appoint bishops without collegial consultation?

  1. Hank Igitur says:

    This pope certainly keeps everyone guessing. Why single out Cardinal Burke? Others were moved also.

  2. pontiacprince says:

    He’s the law-maker and giver so he can appoint at will and can disregard collegial consultation if he so wishes. Time to get used to a new way to run the church.

  3. Unwilling says:

    It’s that good kind of discontinuity.

  4. Bosco says:

    “The Pope needs an assist in the governance of the Church, lest he stumble.”

    I think he’s getting governance a-plenty from those in the Church whose counsel has his ear.

    In the vacuum regarding what ‘assistance’ Pope Francis may or may not be receiving these days, I draw your attention to a posting today by Rorate Caeli titled “The Franciscans of the Immaculate under visitation 30 of 33 FI-run TLM’s in Italy shut down since July 11″

  5. Cantor says:

    I’d submit that the Pope is seeking consultation at A Higher Level until he develops a complete trust in the various curial offices. This instance dealt with appointing men he likely knew personally, to fill positions that needed to be filled. So he flew on a wing and a prayer? I find it rather refreshing.

  6. TNCath says:

    I’d submit that this Pope really doesn’t know the extent of his influence. He appoints people without consultation of those who truly know better. Until he starts to listen to those who truly know what’s going on, don’t expect things to get any better anytime soon. Oremus pro Pontifice nostro.

  7. Bosco says:

    @Cantor,
    ” I find it rather refreshing.” A -20 Fahrenheit wind can be refreshing too.

  8. The sky is blue, water is clear, and Pope Francis contradicts himself. This is nothing new. The Holy Father is a bundle of contradictory sentiments; he speaks of collegiality and governs autocratically, heavy-handedly, and without advisement. He refers to the pristine Liturgy of the Orthodox Churches, while having little concern for the Roman Rite’s historical form. Examples abound of the pattern. This is an interesting self-contradiction, and an unfortunate development, frankly.

  9. AdamRules247 says:

    This terrifying in my ways as the Nuncio appointed by Benedict, according to one journalist, always refused those Bishops proposed by Cardinal Bergolio to be purple hatted. I hope he doesn’t take this approach in England, seeing as Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor has his ear….

  10. JimGB says:

    For all of his good qualities, the Pope’s actions in this and other areas does not square with his fixation on humility. As has been pointed out many times on this blog, true humility does not mean just refusing to wear red shoes and papal vestments and driving in a less fancy car. It also means working within the established structures for the good of the institution you lead. When the Pope decides to do something essentially because he wants to, such as washing the feet of Muslim women on Holy Thursday, or short circuiting the process to select as bishops those who are his personal favorites, he exhibits a certain arrogance that can be off-putting.

  11. JacobWall says:

    My feeling: we’re seeing a striking difference between Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis on the point of subsidiarity. Specifically, I think we saw Benedict putting it into real action, whether it was collegiality or allowing religious orders to work out their own problems. For example, wasn’t it Benedict who allowed the Jesuits to choose a Superior General for themselves, from within their own ranks, after Pope John Paul II had imposed an outside leader to “fix” them?

    I’m beginning to suspect that we won’t be seeing this kind of approach from Francis. Consider the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. Reading the news about, and thinking about Benedict’s style, I have been getting the feeling that he would’ve taken an altogether different style – one which allowed the issues to be solved more from within.

    I don’t think that this would’ve had much to do with the TLM, i.e. I don’t think Benedict would’ve favoured them figuring things out for themselves because they were inclined towards the traditional; I think he would’ve done so because he really believes in subsidiarity and really did put it into action.

    Although there’s been lots of talk about it, I don’t see Francis valuing subsidiarity or – even less so – putting it into action.

    So, which is better? I would be inclined towards Benedict’s approach, but time will tell. Perhaps each is good in his own style.

  12. JacobWall says:

    I also predict that this will affect relations with the Orthodox. The Orthodox I know (which may not necessarily be a good reflection of Orthodoxy on the whole) get all excited about this stuff. From my experience, for them collegiality and subsidiarity in general are far more important than how many babies the Pope kisses, the nice things he does for the poor, or even the quality of his encyclicals and speeches. They watch this stuff and say “Look at that – the Pope is up to his old tricks again, just doing what he wants and not giving other bishops a say.” This really rubs them the wrong way, and – from what I can tell – serves as good evidence that ecumenical talks are not a good thing.

    The Orthodox also like the very traditional style Mass – red shoes and the like. One friend of mine was eagerly waiting for Pope Benedict to bring back the tiara. I don’t think his hopes are too high any more.

    I don’t say any of this to criticize Pope Francis’ style, but rather there seems to be a feeling out there that Pope Francis is more well disposed towards the East and that they will like him better. I have seen several predictions that relations with the Orthodox will make “giant leaps” forward with the new pontificate, including in comments on this blog.

    I suspect, on the contrary, that relations will tend to cool down, mostly because of this subsidiarity point. (Not that they were so warm before, but they will get even colder.) There may be good public displays of affection (e.g., hugging and – knowing Francis – probably even kissing of Patriarchs and the like) but I feel that the Orthodox in general will be watching with increased suspicion.

    Of course, this is only my personal pessimistic prediction. I will let the Orthodox form their own opinion of Pope Francis; if they turn out to like him, I will be happily wrong!

  13. TNCath says:

    JacobWall makes some excellent points. For years, The Left had consistently accused Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy as autocratic and authoritarian. I think they will eventually be surprised and disappointed when they realize that Pope Francis’s papacy will be a lot more autocratic and authoritarian than Pope Benedict’s ever was.

  14. jhayes says:

    It’s probably worth noticing that the article is not written by Sandro Magister but by some anonymous person identified only as “***”

    “***” says “Pope Francis is…taking liberties with the selection of bishops.”

    But the only example he gives is in Argentina:

    Above all when it comes to his native Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio often (if not always) neglects to submit the appointment to the judgment of the cardinals and bishops who make up the Vatican congregation set up for this purpose, even though he radically overhauled it before Christmas.

    Only one appointment is identified by name and it was made before the congregation was “radically overhauled”

    Hardly proof that Francis intends to appoint bishops without getting the recommendations of the congregation now in place.

  15. mamajen says:

    I have no opinion as to whether this is good or bad, because I don’t know about such things, but I imagine that Pope Francis figures he knows better than anyone he could delegate to about the candidates in Argentina and the circumstances they face there.

  16. Joseph-Mary says:

    So, while the holy Cardinal Burke is removed from two of his posts–no doubt because of a “traditional drift” (Like the FFI), he was the only cleric present at this march:

    It IS the holy ones who are persecuted!

  17. Robbie says:

    The Pope knows exactly what he’s doing. He is systematically removing any vestiges of traditional Catholicism from the Vatican. He knows who he wants for these jobs and he’s not going to allow concerns over collegiality to get in his way. And once he’s done installing his men, collegiality will no longer be a concern anyway because everyone will be singing from the same hymnal. Honestly, why would Francis feel the need to consult with men he plans to replace?

    After a slow start, Francis has moved at break neck pace since the Scalfari interview. He’s put the Latin Mass brigade on notice with his total annihilation of the FFI. He’s also warned the Benedict loyalists their time is over with his demotions of Piacenza, Bagnasco, and Burke. Worst of all, he’s made it known he intends to drastically alter the direction of the bishops with his appointments of Cardinal Wuerl and soon to be Cardinal Nichols of the Soho gay Mass.

    Pope Francis intends real and serious change. He’s hinted at it over and over and his actions demonstrate it. His lack of consultation on appointments is just one example of this. And while many take comfort he’s shown no inclination to change doctrine, that is once Mueller has clarified things for him, he is laying the groundwork to change almost everything else. Just remember, Paul VI changed no doctrine.

  18. Giuseppe says:

    @JacobWall is right on the money here. I was one who predicted tremendous strides in Roman Catholic-Orthodox relations this year. The filioque, infalliblity, and original sin are theological differences. But they are really nothing compared to perception that the prudent decisions of local bishops are not being respected locally. The Pope does not want to get this reputation.

    How does Orthodoxy do it? It seems like having many autocephalic churches and many dioceses which function somewhat independently would be a recipe for heterodoxy. Why has Orthodoxy remained orthodox? The holy and largely unchanging nature of the Orthodox liturgy. It is hard to innovate theologically if you use the same holy liturgy. (Granted, the Orthodox liturgies do have a geographic vernacular component.)

  19. kinglehr says:

    The analysis of collegiality I’ve seen in the last two posts are based on two assumptions that I think are faulty: 1) lack of trust in the Holy Father (for whatever reason) and 2) equating results to be the same as advice. I will not address the first assumption. Rather I would like to ask:

    Does collegiality mean “taking in advice and making one’s own mind”? OR
    Does collegiality mean “dropping one’s own advice and following the mind of the advisors”?

    Take the previous example of the naming the Secretary for the Italian Bishops Conference. Why does it even matter that the bishop chosen had the least amount of votes? Does not the fact that he was on the list in the first place make him a viable and worthy choice? How can we even say that the pope did not take the bishops’ advice in this matter?

    With regards to this example, can someone tell me why Pope Francis cannot be trusted to take his own advice on appointing bishops in his home country? I figure he has an equal, if not better, grasp of the candidate field in Argentina as compared to the Congregation. Why rely on others when one has direct knowledge? It strikes me that the Congregation would be better off as the stamper of the Pope’s choices in these cases than the other way around.

  20. TNCath says: The Left had consistently accused Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy as autocratic and authoritarian. I think they will eventually be surprised and disappointed when they realize that Pope Francis’s papacy will be a lot more autocratic and authoritarian than Pope Benedict’s ever was.

    No, the left likes autocracy and authoritarianism, as long as they are the ones who get to be autocratic and authoritarian.

  21. greinkebs says:

    I have problems understanding the Holy Fathers’ appointment of the gang of eight Cardinals. With the action from Cardinal O’Malley ( one of the eight), being anointed by the Methodist Woman minster at a service – it gives me great wonder in what direction the Church is going. It sure puts us orthodox Catholics faith to the test. Who else will the Pope appoint?

  22. Pastor Bonus says:

    I don’t think this is that surprising as we get to know Pope Francis style better, but I have a theory as to why he overhauled the membership of the congregation of bishops and at the same time seems to often disregard it, and I think the reason is quite obvious too. The Congregation of Bishops Pope Francis wants is not yet operational with all it’s members and as you pointed out before Father Z, [I pointed that out?] it takes time to organise new lists of epsicopabile, I suspect Pope Francis will do this until the Congregation is forwarding to him the names he wants and in the meantime and especially it seems regarding Latin America, Pope Francis will use his local knowledge to make direct appointments. All the same if Pope Benedict had behaved like this you can imagine the reactions ‘autocratic’ ‘authoritarian’ ‘aloof’ ‘doesn’t consult’ etc; nice to have the press give you an easy ride eh!

  23. Pastor Bonus says:

    @ Father Z, lol you did point it out ( unless I’m mkstaken) I thought it was you who explained it takes a long time to gather new names of possible candidates for the episcopate, compile reports etc. I think you said this when discussing the possible impact of the change in personnel at the Congregation of Bishops, you were making the point that realistically it will take years to filter through and effect the episcopate at large.

  24. robtbrown says:

    JacobWall says,

    I don’t say any of this to criticize Pope Francis’ style, but rather there seems to be a feeling out there that Pope Francis is more well disposed towards the East and that they will like him better. I have seen several predictions that relations with the Orthodox will make “giant leaps” forward with the new pontificate, including in comments on this blog.

    First, Papa Ratzinger was well disposed toward the Orthodox. It will be almost impossible for this pope to equal their relation with Ratzinger. They understood that his empathy with them was real, and not just driven by politics or by a missionary urge.

    Second, I’ve heard for years that Orthodox reunion is just around the corner. I’ll believe it when I see it.

    Interesting video here about Putin:

    http://gloria.tv/?media=551340

  25. JacobWall says:

    @robtbrown,

    Yes, that is how I see things as well. The Orthodox I know seemed to be rather pleased with Benedict; he focused on items that they felt were important (liturgy, tradition, etc.) I meant that I had read comments from others that implied that Pope Francis would improve relations; as you implied, I don’t think we’ll see a pope any time soon who will top Benedict in that regard.

    As much as I would love it if it were true, I also don’t see any reality whatsoever behind the idea that reunification is at hand. I don’t see much enthusiasm from the Orthodox and as I said, I suspect that less collegiality from Pope Francis will only diminish what little there is.

    @Giuseppe, I do think it was your past comment I was referring to. I’m glad to see that you agree with me here, but I would in fact be quite happy if I were wrong (i.e. I hope that Pope Francis’ non-collegiality doesn’t drive the wedge deeper.) Like you, I admire the Orthodox and their ability to maintain unity including an incredible liturgical unity with less control from the top. It would be such a blessing if there were real movement forward in unity.