German cardinal says 'unauthorized people' in Rome veto bishop nominations

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Germany (CNS) — A German cardinal said names of candidates submitted to the
Vatican as potential bishops are being vetoed by “unauthorized
people” in Rome.

“In the
name of the law, these unlawful outside influences must be set aside and a
proper voice given to those who’ll be living with the chosen candidate,”
said Cardinal Karl Lehmann of Mainz, who was president of the German bishops’
conference from 1987 to 2008.

there really is something against a candidate, then the nuncio or Rome must
talk about it with the cathedral chapter. Rome cannot just reject names without
any comment,” he said.

The cardinal
made his criticisms in a German-language book, published by Freiburg-based Herder-Verlag.
Extracts were published May 3 by the German Catholic news agency, KNA.

Cardinal Lehmann said
“unauthorized people” were interfering in episcopal nominations
“also today, unfortunately, under the pontificate of Pope Francis.”

recent years, the official list of names has been crossed out and a new list
sent from Rome,” said Cardinal Lehmann, who has been bishop of Mainz since
1983. “This represents a burdensome, intolerable disrespect for the church
in a given country.”

leaders are required by canon law to maintain a secret list of episcopal
candidates, who must be “outstanding in strong faith, good morals, piety,
zeal for souls, wisdom, prudence and human virtues.”

A set of
three, or “terna,” for a vacant see is sent to Rome by the Vatican
nuncio after consultations with local priests and bishops.

However, the
final choice rests with the pope, following recommendations from the Roman Curia,
which can reject the “terna” and request new names.

A cathedral
chapter is a group of priests, usually senior clerics, who perform solemn
liturgical functions and other duties in the cathedral. In 13 of Germany’s 27
dioceses, as well as in some dioceses of Switzerland and Austria, the cathedral
chapters also traditionally propose their own candidates for bishop.

Cardinal Lehmann said he believed the nomination process was being disrupted by
people “focused on a strict church policy allowing no deviation” and who
had “knowledge of how things work in Rome.”

greater attention should be given to an episcopal candidate’s theological
competence than his formal orthodoxy,” said Cardinal Lehmann.
“There’s an urgent need for clarification — otherwise, the whole
appointment process will come into question.”

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