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‘In persona episcopi’: diocesan consolidations accelerate in Italy

July 22, 2022

Continuing a trend that has accelerated in recent years, Pope Francis on July 21 united two Italian dioceses in persona episcopi [in the person of the bishop].

While continuing to govern the Archdiocese of Siena-Colle di Val d’Elsa-Montalcino (which was formed from the 1986 merger of three dioceses), Cardinal Augusto Paolo Lojudice will also govern the Diocese of Montepulciano-Chiusi-Pienza (also formed from the 1986 merger of three dioceses).

Such arrangements for Italy’s 227 dioceses have become increasingly routine:

  • In February 2019, Pope Francis united two Italian dioceses (Tivoli and Palestrina) in the person of Bishop Mauro Parmeggiani.
  • In April 2020, Pope Francis united two Italian dioceses (Nuoro and Lanusei) in the person of Bishop Antonio Mura.
  • In June 2020, Pope Francis united two Italian dioceses (Camerino-San Severino Marche and Fabriano-Matelica) in the person of Archbishop Francesco Massara.
  • In December 2020, Pope Francis united two Italian dioceses (Modena-Nonantola and Carpi) in the person of Archbishop Erio Castellucci.
  • In February 2021, Pope Francis united two Italian dioceses (Teano-Calvi and Alife-Caiazzo) in the person of Bishop Giacomo Cirulli.
  • In May 2021, Pope Francis united two Italian dioceses (Pozzuoli and Ischia) in the person of Bishop Gennaro Pascarella.
  • On June 19, 2021, Pope Francis united two Italian dioceses (Pitigliano-Sovana-Orbetello and Grosseto) in the person of Bishop Gianni Roncari, OFM Cap.
  • On June 26, 2021, Pope Francis united two Italian dioceses (Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino and Foligno) in the person of Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino.
  • In July 2021, Pope Francis united two Italian dioceses (Oristano and Ales-Terralba) in the person of Archbishop Roberto Carboni, OFM Conv.
  • On February 12, 2022, Pope Francis united two Italian dioceses (Civitavecchia-Tarquinia and Porto-Santa Rufina) in the person of Bishop Gianrico Ruzza.
  • On February 19, 2022, Pope Francis united two Italian dioceses (Turin and Susa) in the person of then Archbishop-elect Roberto Repole.
  • In May 2022, Pope Francis united two Italian dioceses (Gubbio and Città del Castello) in the person of Bishop Luciano Paolucci Bedini.

In Canada, the union of two dioceses in persona episcopi in 2018 preceded the merger of the dioceses in 2020, and the union of two other dioceses in persona episcopi in 2020 preceded the fusion of the dioceses in 2022.

Pope Francis has also united dioceses in persona episcopi in Spain (November 2021), Ireland (February 2022), and Wales (April 2022).

The union of two dioceses in persona episcopi is not unprecedented; Pope Innocent X, for example, made such an arrangement in 1653, as did Pope Pius XI in 1924, Pope St. John Paul II in 1981, August 2003, and October 2003, and Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, July 2007, and October 2007. (The list is not exhaustive.) What is unprecedented is how common the practice has become under Pope Francis in recent years.

[In April, CWN editor Phil Lawler published an op-ed on the practice: “One bishop, two dioceses: can that work?“]

 


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