Action Alert!

New faces in 2009

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | Jan 07, 2009

What sort of episcopal appointments can we expect in 2009? Ordinarily we don't indulge in forecasting at CWN.  Where Vatican decisions are concerned, the old adage usually holds true: "Those who know don't tell, and those who tell don't know." But without attempting to predict which prelates will be moved to new jobs in the coming year, we can safely say that some important seats will have new occupants.

Here's what we know. Every bishop submits his resignation when he reaches his 75th birthday. The Pope can accept that resignation whenever he chooses to do so, and Pope Benedict has been inclined to move quite slowly. Nevertheless, as the months roll into years, change becomes inevitable. A few prominent cases: 

In England, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor has been quite open about his desire to step down soon. British journalists are already doing their best (which isn't very good) to discern the thinking in Rome about his likely successor as Archbishop of Westminster.

In New York, Cardinal Egan will turn 77 in April. Vatican-watchers generally assumed that the Pope would leave Cardinal Egan in place through the 100th anniversary of the New York archdiocese and the papal visit there. Those events are now past.

In Rome, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos remains quite active as president of the Ecclesia Dei commission, and his work with the traditional liturgy is close to the Pontiff's heart. But the Colombian cardinal will turn 80 in July. 

For those concerned about the slow pace of new episcopal appointments, there's one more birthday worth noticing. Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the prefect of the powerful Congregation for Bishops, will celebrate his 75th birthday, and hand in his resignation letter, at the end of this month.  


Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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