Saturday, January 5, 2008

Hierarchy update III

I am nurturing my inner Church geek on this very snowy morning. Given the retirement of Bishop Yanta of the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, which the Holy Father accepted this week, I was interested in the bishops, in addition to the ten who are already over 75, who will reach retirement age this year. There are a total of six who will reach the age at which canon law requires they tender their resignations to the Holy Father, who is under no obligation to accept them right away. The six ordinaries of U.S. dioceses who turn seventy-five this year are: Bishop Saltarelli of Wilmington, DE, whose birthday is this month. Bishops Tafoya of Pueblo, CO and Cullen of Allentown, PA, who will reach retirement age in March. Archbishop Flynn of St. Paul-Minneapolis, whose successor is current co-adjutor archbishop, John Nienstedt, turns 75 in May. Bishop Higi of Lafayette in Indiana turns 75 in August followed by Bishop Harrington, of the Diocese of Winona, MN, whose birthday is in September.

It is safe to assume that the Holy Father will fill several of the nine current vacancies this year. The sede vancante dioceses in the United States are Charleston, South Carolina; Knoxville, Tennessee; Green Bay, Wisconsin; Des Moines, Iowa; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Shreveport, Louisiana; Juneau, Alaska; Little Rock, Arkansas; New Ulm, Minnesota. It is also a safe bet that he will name successors to at least a few of the bishops who are over seventy-five. Barring any unexpected events, this makes twenty-four (St. Paul-Minneapolis having a co-adjutor) of 177, or 13.5%, of Roman Rite dioceses in the U.S. either in transition, or close to transition, this year. All this before bringing up the issue, discussed in detail by my good friend Rocco, over at Whispers, in a post entitled Musical Vacancies, concerning the need for auxiliary bishops in larger dioceses. However, one of the topics of the consistory held in April 2006 was thet status of retired bishops. Specifically, how to use the experience, skills, and talent of these retired prelates who are still capable of serving the Church in some way. It seems these dedicated servants in the Lord's vineyard are being called upon, as their health permits, to assist the current ordinary of their former dioceses, or in other dioceses to help with confirmations, etc.

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