Local Catholics have a say on Rome’s Representative

Priests and lay Catholics consulted

Priests and lay Catholics are being consulted over who Rome’s next Vicar General will be.

This is the first time a consultation process has been set up for this purpose.

Usually the Pope is completely responsible for choosing the Vicar General.

The current Vicar General, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, is 77. He will retire mid next month.

Roman priests and lay Catholics have until 12 April to make “suggestions on the profile of the next vicar and also eventually several names”.

In all, 36 leaders of the Roman diocese are involved in the consultation process.

The diocese includes 334 parishes and caters for 2.8 million people.

Fr Luc Forestier, director of the Institute of Religious Studies at the Catholic Institute of Paris says although “consultation before appointing a bishop is, in itself, something quite normal,” the current consultation is unusual.

He says its novelty is that “it has taken place publicly among all the faithful even if they are not widely informed”.


  • La Croix
  • Image: Watson CPA Group
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Another change of image for the world-wide Roman Catholic Church under Pope Francis!

Where, formerly, the reigning Pontiff reserved the right to appoint, without consultation from the local people,  his representatives as Papal delegates to different parts of the Church; this new initiative makes plain that Pope Francis is keen on promoting a degree of collegiality in appointments and administration that was hitherto unthinkable.

In granting to the faithful laity and clergy in New Zealand a say in whom they might prefer to represent the Pope in their part of the world; Pope Francis is sending a very clear message that – on his watch as Supreme Pontiff of the worldwide Catholic Church – he will welcome input from the people directly affected by the appointment of his Papal Delegate.

This move is totally in line with the Pope’s wish for a greater degree of collegiality among the bishops of the Church, and his desire for local consultation on matters pertaining to the administration of the Church’s business – which, primarily, is to bring the redeeming message of the Gospel to every creature – not as an imposition from ‘above’, but rather as an exercise requiring total involvement from the grass roots. This move will encourage every Roman Catholic to realise they have a share in the work of the Gospel.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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