5 March 2015

Episcopal Translations.

I know little about the relationship between the Holy Father and his bishops. But Stay: why do I call them "his" bishops? As Leo XIII stated, and Vatican II agreed, bishops are not Vicars of the Roman Pontiff. They, like him, are Successors of the Apostles. But it is praiseworthy that the Bishop of Rome takes such a careful brotherly interest even in his Venerable Brethren the Assistant bishops ... for example, in a new coadjutor bishop, for Albenga Imperia in Italy.

And I know even less about the rights and the wrongs in the 'emeritusing' of the bishops who fall foul of Rome ... but I am curious about the canonical procedures involved. Because it does not sound as if they all just resign.

When, years ago, the Bishop of Evreux was Got Rid Of in the time of S John Paul II, my recollection is that he was actually translated to a see in partibus infidelium, somewhere in the middle of the Sahara: I believe it may have had some such amusingly improbable name as Parthenia (what a wag Cardinal Gantin was!). So I wonder what they did with that more recent Toowoomba chappie down in Oz? Perhaps there was a derelict shanty-town in the Outback to which he was translated? I suppose the Australian equivalent of Parthenia might be something like Sheilas' Rest (Refrigerium scortorum in partibus infidelium), perhaps? No? OK, I apologise to those who discern a patronising 'colonialist' slur.

In English constitutional practice, Members of the House of Commons who 'Want Out' apply for the Stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds or of the Manor of Northolt which, being technically Offices of profit under the Crown, automatically disqualify the holder from membership of the Commons. A list of those honoured with these dignities would afford a peepshow of some of the most diverting characters to have served their country, or, er, not.

Would it be a Jolly Thought if there were a similar special Titular See to which errant bishops were automatically translated? The Successio Apostolica of that See would be terribly interesting. In an age of virtual Anythings on the Internet, it could have its own virtual Cathedral with sumptuous but virtual monuments to the glories of previous virtual pontiffs. Just virtually think! Virtual Bernini wall to wall! There could be a virtual Shrine, thronged by virtual pilgrims, to that great liturgical reformer S Rembert Weakland, with, in the background, an immense virtual painting, in the style of Rubens' Triumph of the Church, of the archbishop's friend upon a great baroque chariot, triumphantly on his way to the bank with the archdiocesan virtual finances! The virtual Spirit of Vatican II! If I knew how to put illustrations on to blogs, I would design its armorial bearings for you.

9 comments:

Joshua said...

I think scortum is a rather harsh translation of sheila - which is now an almost-extinct Aussie term for a woman (in its near-extinction rather like "cobber" for a man - derived via Yiddish from the Hebrew חבר), with no pejorative sense attached.

That said, there are some nice titles of sees Down Under: the best I would say is, Wagga Wagga, rendered as Corvopolis (the redoubled name is the plural of crow in the former local language). It is a pity that Sale, in Gippsland, bears not its former name, of Flooding Creek* - Rivus inundans? (*Creek in Australia, etc. refers to a stream, not to an inlet of the sea.)

Little Black Sambo said...

"...a virtual Shrine, thronged by virtual pilgrims..."
A sort of Ordinariate?

PF said...

But the former Bishop of Evreux did create a virtual diocese from which he retired at 75. It's still there at partenia.org

Fr Ray Blake said...

It would be interesting if these "retirements" were challenged legally.
There is a marked contrast between the Toowawomba affair which dragged on for years and the almost overnight resignations under this pontificate.

Raider Fan said...

Sheilas' Rest

You can get some great tucker there

TomG said...

Highlarious! Thanks, Father.

dunmowflitch said...

Jacques Gaillot of Evreux was a maverick and a thorn in the side of his fellow French bishops, but, for example, he left totally at peace the ultra-traditionalist Fr. Quentin Montgomery-Wright of Le Chamblac, in marked contrast to what happened there subsequently.
Visits to Evreux at the time revealed the cathedral to be spotlessly kept - all the side altars properly dressed, etc. - quite unlike most French cathedrals.
And, as PF says, he anticipated your idea of a virtual diocese by some 20 years.

John F. Kennedy said...

"In partibus infidelium." I was familiar with the practice but not the term. Reminds me of the old British Naval use of Yellow Admiral.

GOR said...

Though not wishing to open up old sores, in Ireland it might be: “To Hell or to Connaught” (ad Inferum vel Connaciam…?)

The See could be expanded to include County Clare, with The Burren providing the appropriate ambience – though access to the Internet might indeed be virtual…