Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Electing Our Bishops: How the Catholic Church Should Choose Its Leaders

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Electing Our Bishops: How the Catholic Church Should Choose Its Leaders

Article excerpt

Electing our Bishops: How the Catholic Church Should Choose its Leaders. By Joseph F. O'Callaghan. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007. 208 pp. $21.95 (paper).

Recently bishops the world over have received enormous criticism both for their policies as well as the manner in which they were selected in the first place. Anglican bishops, of course, have been involved in a well-known global controversy over the election in New Hampshire of Gene Robinson. Selection of Roman Catholic bishops has also been scnitinized in the last five years but perhaps never so intensely as when, for example, in January 2007 the Pope appointed Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus to Warsaw, only to have Wielgus resign hours before his installation when it came to light that he had once collaborated with the Communists. That controversy-and others that preceded it-helped to throw critical light on Rome's current system of appointing bishops.

Most people have been led to assume that the Eternal City has always appointed bishops. Recent research, however, including that of the Cambridge historians Eamon Duffy and John Pollard, has made it clear that only very recently (within the last ninety years) did Rome acquire this monopoly on episcopal appointments. How it did so, and how at odds this practice is with history, and how it can be changed, are all questions that are asked and answered by Joseph O'Callaghan's splendid new book. O'Callaghan, a professor emeritus in the department of history at Fordham University and past president of the American Catholic Historical Association, has written a book that should be required reading for canonists, ecclesiologists, historians, and hierarchs themselves.

The central point of O'Callaghan's book is that the current means by which Rome appoints all the world's bishops is an innovation so recent and so unusual as to be regarded as something of a coup d'Eglise and most certainly an anomaly relative to both history and to the practices of the Christian East and the Anglican West. At no previous point in history did Rome have this kind of power, and at no point has one single method dominated universally. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.