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German cardinal wants stronger local voice in selection of bishops

May 06, 2016

An influential German cardinal has charged that "unlawful outside influences" are interfering in the selection of bishops. 

Cardinal Karl Lehmann of Mainz, a former president of the German bishops' conference, complained that the Vatican does not always select bishops according to the recommendations of the country's own. "This represents a burdensome, intolerable disrespect for the Church in a given country," he said. 

In Germany, as in other countries, the apostolic nuncio, with the advice of the nation's bishops, compiles a list of three leading candidates for any episcopal appointment. That list is then sent to the Vatican, where the Pope may either choose one of the three suggested candidates or make another appointment on his own initiative. Cardinal Lehmann, in his rejection of this system, appears to be making a new bid to increase the independence of the German hierarchy. 

"Rome cannot just reject names without any comment," Cardinal Lehmann said. He argued that the Vatican should give an explanation if and when the candidates put forward by the local bishops are not chosen. Since the process of episcopal appointments is confidential, this too would represent a major shift in the manner of selecting new bishops.

 
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  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - May. 06, 2016 10:38 PM ET USA

    When the Cardinal refers to "unlawful outside influences" is he referring to the Holy Spirit?

  • Posted by: bernie4871 - May. 06, 2016 5:35 PM ET USA

    Why not just cut them loose north of the Rhine and be done with it.