Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Who can be a bishop?
Roman Canon Law 378.1 expects the candidate for the episcopate to be a priest outstanding in strong faith, good morals, piety, zeal for souls, wisdom, prudence and human virtues. The same canon states that a priest who is to become a bishop must be at least 35 years old; must have been ordained at least five years previously; and must have a licentiate or doctorate degree in either Scripture, theology, or canon law.
So who can be a District President?
Any Pastor on the clergy roster who is not under restriction or suspension and can get the required number of votes.
Don't get me wrong. I am NOT impugning the character of our current lot of District Presidents (sounds like a business title to me). I am NOT saying that what Rome does should make our tail wag as well. I am NOT saying that academic qualification equates to pastoral gift and skill. I am just wondering why it is that we have practically no qualifications for those we elect to positions endowed with episcopal responsibility (if not character and office)?
A few days ago I questioned whether or not it was wise that the only qualification of those lay folk who go as delegates to District and Synod conventions is that they were duly elected. I wondered aloud if we should not also make sure that those elected can speak to something more than their own conscience and, in fact, by catechetical training be equipped to speak for the Church.
My point today is that we have practically no qualifications for those who serve as our District Presidents. Granted that they are not elected for life and can be unelected (but that happens seldom). Certainly they do not occupy the same authoritative office as a Roman Catholic Bishop (thinking teaching office here since the truth is that by-laws give to DPs almost more raw discretionary power than Roman Bishops have by canon law bound to procedure and subject to review by Rome). But should we not have something more than informal qualities and electability to set in office those who supervise doctrine and practice among us and for us?
Again, the point of this is simply to raise a question. If we expect the DPs to serve as teachers as well as Pastors, theologians as well as administrators, perhaps we should expect something more than competence and more in the area of real aptitude and gift. You tell me if I am out of line...