Process for new archbishop ongoing
By Kaelanne Jordan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Archbishop Joseph Harris has said he understands citizens’ interest in knowing whom the new archbishop-elect of Port of Spain will be, but has reiterated that such a decision usually comes only after a lengthy process.
He said while the interest in the Catholic Church was “great”, he could not supply the answers people were seeking. The Archbishop said he did not know who was going to replace him nor the date set for such an announcement, adding that it could take either three months or even a year.
Speaking during CAMSEL’s monthly Ask the Archbishop live chat last Wednesday, the Archbishop said it was quite possible that one of the six Trinidadian bishops serving in the Antilles region could become the next Archbishop of Port of Spain.
These include Bishop Francis Alleyne OSB (Guyana), Bishop Gerard County CSSp (St Vincent and the Grenadines), Bishop Jason Gordon (Barbados), Archbishop Robert Rivas OP (St Lucia), Bishop Robert Llanos (Apostolic Administrator of St John’s-Basseterre, Antigua) and Bishop Clyde Harvey (Grenada).
“The only diocese without a Trinidadian bishop is Dominica and the French islands, so there are a lot of people to choose from,” he said.
The Archbishop once again outlined the process for selecting candidates for the episcopacy. He said it normally begins at the diocesan level and works its way through a series of consultations until it reaches Rome. It was a process, he said, bound to strict confidentiality which involved a number of key players including The College of Consultors, the Conference of Bishops, the Apostolic Nuncio and the Pope.
He explained, “The nuncio collects the information, goes through it, and puts his 1, 2, 3 and that goes to the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. They put their 1, 2, 3 and then that goes to the Holy Father. The Holy Father goes through it and makes the decision,” he said.
Once the nuncio and the Congregation are in agreement, the Pope will accept. If however, there is a “discrepancy”, the Pope makes the ultimate decision. Archbishop Harris said the potential candidate is then contacted and asked if he would accept the position. If the answer is “Yes”, the Vatican is notified and a date is set for the announcement; “No”, the process starts over again.
What makes a candidate episcopabile? The Archbishop pointed out that it was not customary for a priest to be appointed archbishop. In fact, the preferred method is to choose from current auxiliary bishops, bishops and then archbishops.
The criteria entail possession of a Doctorate or a Licentiate degree in either one of the sacred disciplines (e.g. Theology, Ecclesiastical Philosophy, Canon Law) or, at least, their equivalent. The candidate must be one without any scandals attached to his name, must not be a father, or have claims of financial impropriety.
Commenting on the recent appointment of Fr Clyde Harvey as bishop-elect of Grenada, the Archbishop said the “not-so-good news” was that the Archdiocese has lost another priest and that we have given priests out “of our scarce numbers”. He added that any diocese that received Fr Harvey is “lucky” as he is “a good man” of episcopal material.
“He has a fine brain and he’s totally dedicated to the poor. So I am happy for Grenada but I’m also happy for the Conference of Bishops because now we have another person of great intellect among the bishops, which is also a great thing.”
Sharing his thoughts on the Nuncio’s imminent departure for Peru (see page 3), Archbishop Harris said Archbishop Girasoli made a tremendous impression not only with the laity but also with the clergy.
“He has been a good man and a good friend and he has really become one with the people,” he said.