Pope Francisco Thoughtful. Photo: Vatican Media

Pope’s Forthcoming and Important Changes in Dioceses Worldwide and in the Roman Curia

Major dioceses in North America, Europe and Asia await bishop changes; also several entities of the Roman Curia.

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(ZENIT News / Rome, 07.12.2023).- The recent appointments of new Bishops in important dioceses of he world (Madrid, Buenos Aires and Brussels), the new Prefect for the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith and the announcement of the creation of new Cardinals for the end of September 2023 are not the only “changes” Pope Francis has been giving thought to. 

Some Especially Important Dioceses

Not a few are the dioceses that because of their historical, economic and numerical importance are about to have a new Bishop. This is the case in Boston, in the United States, given that Capuchin Cardinal Sean O’Malley is already 79. The future of Cardinal O’Malley, the great successor of a Cardinal that failed in the handling of abuses in the epicenter of the American crisis, Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, is associated with one of the entities of the Roman curia: the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, of which O’Malley is President.

In India there are two dioceses that expect replacements: Bombay, the Indian metropolis of 15 million inhabitants (with half a million Catholics) is headed by Cardinal Oswald Gracias. However, he will be 79 in December. Moreover, there is also the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Cardinal George Alencherry, who is 78. 

Vienna, the Austrian capital, is another European capital that expects a change. Dominican Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, 79, is one of the few theologically well-formed Bishops of the school of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. In fact, Schönborn’s surname was one of the ones most bruited about in past Conclaves. 

Other dioceses with short-term changes, due to the tendering of resignations at 75 are New York, as Cardinal Dolan will reach the age limit in February 2025. Cardinal Carlos Aguiar , Archbishop of Mexico City, is in the same situation; he will reach the age limit in January 2025 for governing one of the most important diocese in the world. Another Mexican Cardinal who will have to tender his resignation, reaching the age limit in March of 2024, is the Archbishop of Guadalajara, Cardinal Francisco Robles Ortega. Aguiar and Robles are the only two Cardinals with the right to elect a new Pope, despite the fact that Mexico is one of the countries with the largest number of Catholics in the world. 

Dicasteries of the Roman Curia 

There are also Bishops in the Roman Curia that are about to retire. It’s the case of Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, 79, who heads the Major Penitentiary. 

Pope Francis announced in December 2022 that a woman would head a Dicastery of the Roman Curia. At the time ZENIT proffered that the two possible Dicasteries in the Pope’s mind might be the “Laity, Family and Life” and “Integral Human Development.” The reason? The Prefect of the first Dicastery, Cardinal Kevin Farrell was 75 on September 2, 2022. And the Jesuit and Prefect of the second Dicastery, Cardinal Michael Czerny will be 77 on July 18, 2023. These are two Prefects on leave of absence due to age and of the few Dicasteries that do not require the Sacrament of Holy Order for the office. 

Finally, although Cardinal Gianfranco Ghirlanda was appointed Patron of the Order of Malta just this year, it’s correct to say that he is already in his 80s in which it’s not usual to hold acting positions. 

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Jorge Enrique Mújica

Licenciado en filosofía por el Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum, de Roma, y “veterano” colaborador de medios impresos y digitales sobre argumentos religiosos y de comunicación. En la cuenta de Twitter: https://twitter.com/web_pastor, habla de Dios e internet y Church and media: evangelidigitalización."

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