It is commonly assumed that Catholic Bishops are bound to offer their resignations when they are seventy five years old. Many people find it odd that there should be an apparent fall-back assumption that a bishop will be past 'it' at an age at which, according to the current narrative of so many, the 'Holy Spirit' appoints so many popes to begin their Petrine Ministry. You'd have thought that a pope's job might be even more taxing than that of a Diocesan Bishop. Vincent Nicholls has spoken movingly about the heavy work-schedule to which our Holy Father subjects himself ... but, apparently, this is not really so. 'Poping', so the actualite of Church life appears to say, is really just a doddle, a light retirement hobby for someone who is well past his prime!
However (and I add this with trepidation since I am not a canonist) is the common assumption correct anyway? Canon 401 says that the Bishop rogatur [is asked] to offer his resignation. If a Bishop is ill, the same canon says that he enixe [strenuously] rogatur to offer his resignation. Apparently, then, the seventy five year old bishop is 'asked' less 'strenuously' than the ill bishop to offer resignation. There are degrees in the moral force of canonical 'asking'.
I am, as I said, most certainly not a canonist; but surely rogatur cannot mean that there is an obligation upon the Bishop to do this. The CIC seems generally quite lucid about things it regards as obligatory.
Vatican II, about which some people, when it suits them, claim to be very enthusiastic, makes clear that a Diocesan Bishop is not merely a Vicar of the Roman Pontiff, but a successor of the Apostles. The current praxis suggests, rather, that the Bishop is like the manager of a supermarket, removable at the judgement of Head Office in accordance with its published corporate guidelines. This represents a disordered understanding of Episcopacy.
Why don't some orthodox bishops just decline to accept this invitation (rogatur) of Canon Law, and see how much respect Head Office accords to their Apostolic Status?
It might prove quite a reality check.