Sunday, December 06, 2009
Coveting other thrones
A bishop moving from diocese to diocese, except a synodal decision, was seen as a form of adultery, the bishop is Christ the bridegroom, the Church the bride. The relationship between a bishop and his diocese is a bond of marriage, symbolised by the bishop’s ring, hence the traditional veneration of the ring in the west. It was because of this marital union that Augustine remained in the one horse town of Hypo all his life. This marital union, at least in part lies behind the Orthodox understanding of Episcopal celibacy.
A similar permanence has traditionally underlined the relationship between parish priest and his parish, a relationship that used to end in death, usually of the parish priest. My reading of the Code of Canon Law is that it foresees moves as being a rarity and something that only takes place for a good reason. In places where studies have been done, the movement of a parish priest invariably results in lapsation, only in exceptional circumstances in an increase of a congregation.
Often frequent moves, in some Indian dioceses priests are moved every two years, are used by a bishop to impose his personal ecclesiology, and to elevate his status to that of an unquestioned monarch, rather than that of father of loved and trusted sons, or in the collegiate language of Vatican II, of first amongst equals.
Fr Michael Brown has lpost on the Canonical Status of Clergy
Posted by Fr Ray Blake