Mangalore diocese awaits new bishop

Even a year after the retirement of bishop of Mangalore diocese, the Christian Catholic community in the region is waiting for a new one. The selection has been delayed for unknown reasons. The ultimate decision in appointing a bishop rests with the Pope, and he is free to select anyone. However, sources close to the diocese reveal that due to the delay, too many aspirants have emerged. “If all goes well, the diocese may get its new bishop after August. The highest decree, the Pope, is yet to take call on the appointment. There’s been no progress in the appointment,” said a source close to the diocese. The current Bishop Most Rev Aloysius Paul D’Souza completed his tenure after completing 75 years. However, he continues to hold the position as there is no new appointment. According to information available on the diocese website, the current bishop was elected Auxiliary Bishop of Mangalore on January, 11; ordained bishop on May 15, 1996. After bishop Basil S D’Souza passed away on September 5, 1996, bishop Aloysius D’Souza was elected administrator of the diocese and appointed Bishop of Mangalore on December 18, 1996 and was installed in the diocesan cathedral on December 27, 1996. In 2016, he completed two decades as bishop and celebrated his 75th birthday. The current aspirants for the post include some young clergies too. While some work in the diocese, others work in various diocese missions in other countries. When TOI contacted Rev Fr William Menezes, public relations officer, Mangalore diocese, he said there is no time frame for appointment of a bishop and the ultimate decision lies with the Pope. The procedure takes place according to Canon law (Ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical authority). “Bishop Aloysius is one of the longest serving in the diocese. Nobody knows when there will be a new bishop,” he added. How a bishop is appointed Bishop Henry D’Souza, bishop of Bellary, in an email interaction, told TOI that in the Catholic Church, bishops and archbishops are appointed by the Pope. When a diocese falls vacant (by death, resignation or after acceptance of resignation having reached the age of 75), the process for appointing a new bishop begins. The Apostolic Nuncio (the Vatican ambassador) asks for names, seeking opinions from bishops, priests of the diocese, the religious, the laity and anyone else he thinks appropriate. He compiles a ‘ternus’ — list of three names — of candidates and presents it, with his own opinions, to the Holy See (Rome). The Pope may accept one of the candidate or consult further. The whole process is confidential. What Canon Law says According to Church law, Canon 378 states that a suitable candidate must be: Outstanding in strong faith, good morals, piety, zeal, wisdom, prudence and human virtues, and possesses those other gifts which equip him to fulfil the office of the bishop; be held in good esteem; at least 35 years of age; a priest ordained for at least five years; holds a doctorate or a licentiate or at least be well versed in sacred scripture, theology, or canon law. If the candidate chosen accepts his appointment, it is announced, and he must receive the Episcopal Ordination and take office within three months. If the candidate is not a bishop already, he is to be consecrated by a panel of three bishops after receiving the papal mandate. It is recommended that there be a public church service or mass when he takes office. If one already a bishop is appointed to the diocese, he must assume office within two months of announcement. Running a diocese * A bishop (or archbishop) is required to submit his resignation to the Holy See when he reaches the age of 75. The Pope either accepts his resignation or asks him to continue. Otherwise, a diocese normally becomes vacant because of a bishop’s poor health or his death What happens immediately (Canon 419) When a diocese becomes vacant, the Coadjutor Bishop, if there is one, becomes diocesan bishop immediately (Source: The Times of India)




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