At Catholic Culture Phil Lawler has views about the recent appointment of one bishop to oversee two distinct dioceses.
Yesterday’s news included the curious report that in two different cases—one in Ireland, one in Wales—Pope Francis had appointed one bishop to head two separate dioceses. In each case, we are told, the dioceses will remain distinct and autonomous. Over at The Pillar, Ed Condon wonders whether this could be the beginning of a trend, “in the face of declining numbers of clergy and Mass-going Catholics.”
We have already seen several rounds of diocesan “restructuring” campaigns, in which parishes are merged into pastoral cooperatives, with one pastor responsible for two or more churches. The arrangement is far from ideal: the priest is forced to jump from one town to another, and parishioners have to keep track of his movements if they want to know where Mass will be celebrated on a given day. But it beats never having Mass celebrated in the local parish. A part-time priest is better than no priest at all.
At least in theory, the cooperatives allow for parish churches to remain open despite the shortage of both priests and parishioners.
There’s more. He also talks about the issue of spiritual fatherhood. Can a bishop be a spiritual father to more than one diocese? Presbyterate?
This doesn’t seem to be of interest to bishops today, from what I hear and have experienced, so maybe that wasn’t part of the calculation.
In the ancient church bishops didn’t move from place to place because they were espoused to their diocese. Leaving and going to another place was like adultery. But two, dioceses? If memory serves, in the medieval and renaissance period, there were some bishops with more than one diocese. However, I suspect that some of them may not have been much into “spiritual fatherhood”.
Hey, Amoris footnote 351! As long as we accompany them, perhaps bishops can have more than one diocese!
Administration! That’s the ticket! Enough of this old fashioned talk about “fatherhood”. What is that, anyway?
Seriously, this is an issue. With Vatican II there and Christus Dominus there has been a real shift in the understanding of who and what a bishop is. This is something that needs deeper thought.
BTW… this two diocese thing “in persona episcopi“, can be a prelude to amalgamation of the dioceses, union aeque principaliter. This was done historically in these USA with Baltimore and Washington.
Lawler also brings up the fact that, with the ever declining number of available priests, by merging parishes at least those places remain unsold and open for Mass once in a while, which is better than never. Hence, when the great springtime finally arrives and seminaries overflow, those places can be resuscitated and separated again.
Of course if bishops stopped persecuting, marginalizing and ignoring traditional Catholics, and instead embraced Tradition and all that it entails, they would soon have more seminarians than they knew what to do with. After a few years of struggles with the thoroughly indoctrinated lib immanentist, modernist cadres in the few surviving parishes, things would turn around. Where it’s tried, it works. But, alas, most bishops, modernist priests too, would rather have a smoking crater sown with salt than a happy, vibrant parish with all the traditional liturgy and preaching and programs.
This is part and parcel with something else that has come to me through the grape vine. I’ve been hearing that, more often now than before, priests are declining to be made bishops. In general, when the Holy See called men to be bishops, they accepted even after some hesitation or misgivings. Real head pressure could be applied to get that, “yes”. However, I hear that some men are simply saying “no” and not budging.
Priest shortage and priests have to have Multiple parishes. Shortage of a certain type of candidate for the episcopacy….