VATICAN CITY, OCT. 19, 2001 (Zenit.org).- If the proposal to retire bishops at age 65 were accepted, half the synod´s participants would have to go home.
That observation was humorously announced by Cardinal Jan Pieter Schotte, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops, when he revealed some data about the assembly.
The average age of the synod´s 280 participants is 64.87 years, the Belgian cardinal said. Canon law now requires bishops to offer their resignation at age 75. An early proposal at the synod called for retirement at 65.
In the first series of addresses to the general assembly, 229 prelates spoke: 75 in English, 51 in Italian, 47 in French, 42 in Spanish, 10 in German, and 2.5 in Latin (one bishop gave half his address in Latin, half in Spanish), and one in Russian.
The oldest synod father is Coptic Patriarch Stephanos II Ghattas of Alexandria, Egypt, 81 years and 8 months. The youngest is Auxiliary Bishop Mathieu Madega of Libreville, Gabon, 41 years and 3 months.
The bishops´ ages add up to 3,841 years. They have been bishops an average of 16.3 years.
Benin´s Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, former prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, has been a bishop the longest time, 44 years — one year more than Karol Wojtyla.
The most recently ordained bishop is Coadjutor Bishop Denis Wiehe of Port Victoria, Seychelles Islands. He was consecrated two months ago.
During his address to the synod´s participants, he invited them all to go on holiday to his beloved Seychelles.