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Church Reform Wishlist: The College of Bishops

The College of Bishops:

  • Zero tolerance for bishops who covered up sex abuse. Remove them.
  • Bishops are diocesan ordinaries. No more titular bishops for dicasteries. Even the practice of auxiliary bishops should be reconsidered. Ordaining a personal secretary or a bureaucrat as a bishop diminishes the office of bishop, even if the individual is worthy of the office.
  • Smaller dioceses: Dioceses in Italy are about the same geography and population of a deanery/vicariate in the US. The ratio of Eastern (Catholic and Orthodox) bishops to faithful seems to hover at around 1:10,000. In the Latin church it is about 1:250,000.
  • Restore the ancient practice of elected bishops. “Election” need not mean simple democracy, but a clear participation of the clergy (both diaconate and presbyterate), the lay ecclesial ministry, any resident theologians, and the leadership of the laity.
  • Only after the above reform, restore the ancient practice of bishops being ‘wed’ to a  single diocese – no more moving on up and out. This makes no sense if a bishop is appointed, but an election makes it possible.
  • We need to make better use of the archbishops/metropolitans, including an increased role in the election of bishops from their province. If there were smaller dioceses, and more bishops, the metropolitan would take on some of the load currently at the diocesan level.
  • Titular patriarchates (Venice, Lisbon, East Indies) should be eliminated. Despite their historical origin, they only serve to confuse.
  • The synod of bishops and the conferences of bishops need to be strengthened. There needs to be a regular standing structure in place to balance the primacy of the papacy. Primacy and synodality belong together, neither one without the other, at every level of the church.

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