Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

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

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical 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. [A Sheed and Ward Book.] (Lanham, Maryland: Rowrnan & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. 2007. Pp. xiii, 195.)

The title and subtitle suggest that this book will consist of the description of a method by which the Catholic Church ought to choose its bishops and of the reasons why that method is preferable to the one actually being used. This, in fact, is what one finds in chapter 6, but this is preceded by four chapters that tell the reader how bishops have actually been chosen in the course of the Church's history. The only comment I will make about his account of this history is that I believe there is good evidence that the term universi populi suffragio used by Cyprian to describe the "vote" of the people in an episcopal election is best understood to mean their acclamation of a candidate they judged worthy. I shall focus my remarks on the last two chapters, in which O'Callaghan discusses various proposals that have been made for the reform of the process by which bishops are now being chosen in the Latin Catholic Church.

In chapter 6 he first describes the official "Norms for the Selection of Bishops" issued by the Holy see in 1972, which allow no collective role for the priests and laity of a diocese in the choice of their bishop. He then comments on proposals for the reform of this process that have been made by the Canon Law Society of America, by John Huels and Richard Gaillardetz, and by Ghislain Lafont. Finally he offers his own proposal, which, as is clear from his preface (pp. xi-xii), owes much to a study done by a committee of the Voice of the Faithful of the Diocese of Bridgeport, in which he participated. …

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