German Cardinal: Rome Can’t Reject Our Choice of Bishops

News: Crisis in the Church
by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  May 9, 2016   

Cardinal claims Rome is disrespecting German Church by vetoing their episcopal nominations

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BONN ( - A German cardinal is saying unauthorized people in Rome are interfering with bishops' nominations submitted by Germany to the Vatican.

Cardinal Karl Lehmann of Mainz, former head of the German bishops conference, criticized Vatican oversight, saying, "Much greater attention should be given to an episcopal candidate's theological competence than his formal orthodoxy."

Cardinal Lehmann, whose comments were reported last week by the German Catholic news agency KNA, is taking exception to Rome's rejection of their episcopal candidates they've been submitting to Rome for approval.

The problem, according to him, is that "[in] recent years, the official list of names has been crossed out and a new list sent from Rome. This represents a burdensome, intolerable disrespect for the Church in a given country."

Lehmann, who presided over the German conference of Bishops from 1987 to 2008, alleged that Germany's episcopal nomination process was being disrupted by "unauthorized people" in Rome who were "focused on a strict Church policy allowing no deviation."

His Eminence seemingly admits that the candidates submitted by the German Church may have been vetoed owing to their lack of "formal orthodoxy" or lack of adherence to "strict Church policy." Nevertheless, the cardinal remarked, "If there really is something against a candidate, then the nuncio or Rome must talk about it with the cathedral chapter."

But the process of nominating candidates as potential bishops has always been confidential. To discuss such things openly would represent a major shift in the manner of selecting new bishops.

Church leaders in Germany, as in other countries, keep a secret list of episcopal candidates who must be "outstanding in strong faith, good morals, piety, zeal for souls, wisdom, prudence and human virtues."

When a see becomes vacant, the country's bishops' conference sends a set of three names to Rome for approval. The Roman Curia can reject such nominations and request new ones. The Pope then makes the final decision on who is consecrated bishop.

Cardinal Lehmann believes the Church in Germany should have a greater voice in their selection of bishops. "Rome cannot just reject names without any comment.”

Some Catholics believe that Lehmann, in rejecting the current nomination process, is seeking to increase the independence of the German hierarchy from Vatican control.


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