Everybody knows that Catholic bishops hve to offer their resignations when they reach the age of 75.
But they don't.
Canon 401 para 1 says simply "rogatur".
I am waiting for a bishop who has balls enough to announce that, after much prayer and consultation, he has decided not yet to do this.
In the Church of England, Bishop Eric Kemp was appointed before retirement ages were brought in, and so, under the English legal doctrine concerning Vested Interests, he was able to ignore the new arrangements. He simply put his area bishops formally 'under obedience' to tell him when they felt he could no longer effectively discharge his ministry. Of course, age brought its constraints. I remember a day Eric arrived at Lancing to sing Pontifical High Mass ... and his chaplain whispered "Like the Holy Father, we now preach sitting down ...".
We exist in a Church where the assumption seems to be normative that, when a bishop of a diocese hits 75, he might very well be past 'it', but that the Bishop of Rome can go on for as long as it suits him.
You might have thought that the burdens and responsibilities of the latter were greater than those of the former ...
This pontificate has revealed just how corrupt this system is or can be. Manifestly, the current Roman Pontiff is clinging on to his status so that he can make changes and appointments which may constrain or direct his succession.
Most indecorously, the present system encourages journalists to speculate on how much the Pontiff disliked a particular bishop, as indicated by the speed with which his resignation was accepted.
And the system of papal nunciatures aids the corrupt system. I can understand that it has value in facilitating consultation; in hurrying up curial responses when necessary ...
... but it is essentially a system of control and might very well be a system of spying and of enforcing a party line.
There was something very proper in expecting a bishop, 'wedded' to his Particular Church, to carry on until death. The system was humanely operated: when necessary, a bishop could ask for, and receive, a coadjutor.
It is my view that all the high-falutin' Conciliar and postConciliar rhetoric about the Bishops as Successors of the Apostles mumble mumble, mumble mumble, is de facto nullified so that each diocesan has a status analogous with that of a District Manager of Waitrose.