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Concerns Over Slow Appointments of Bishops

A crisis of sorts is developing in the appointment of Catholic bishops worldwide as a backlog of 187 sees (not including China) remain vacant.

According to figures on Catholic-Hierarchy.org, eight U.S. dioceses are without a bishop, plus two U.S. eparchies (dioceses of Eastern rite churches).

Sees that fell vacant during Benedict's pontificate, and which remain so, number the most – 131 out of 187. Since Pope Francis was elected, 36 dioceses fell vacant and continue to be without a bishop.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said he was unaware of the reasons, and did not know what the average period is for dioceses to remain without a bishop. But he added he “wouldn’t be surprised” if, during the time of transition from one pontificate to another, and with “everything that has significance for the normal operation of ecclesiastical institutions, a certain delay in pending procedures has resulted.”

Since his election, the Holy Father has had many pressing duties competing for his attention, not least reforming the Roman Curia and the Vatican Bank. But delays in the appointment of bishops is becoming a concern, and one no doubt he will wish to tackle sooner rather than later.

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