The Vatican Information Service released today that the Holy Father made some changes involving the various dioceses of Texas.
All the dioceses of Texas were “suffragan dioceses” to the Archdiocese of San Antonio. For the most part, that doesn’t mean too much to the average Catholic. More is explained below.
The ecclesiastical province of San Antonio was the largest in the world with 14 suffragen dioceses- until today.
The Holy Father first accepted the resignation of Archbishop Patrick Flores upon reaching the age limit. Archbishop Emertis Flores is 75 years old and had been archbishop of San Antonio since 1979.
The Holy Father appointed Bishop Jose Gomez, an auxiliary bishop under Archbishop Chaput in Denver, as the new archbishop. Archbishop-elect Gomez was ordained a priest of Opus Dei in 1978 and bishop is 2001. For those doing math at home, he has been a priest for just over 26 years and a bishop for just under 4 years. An interesting sidenote- Archbishop-elect Fiorenza was one of his co-consecrators.
Opus Dei, literally the Work of God, was founded in 1928 by St. Josemaria Escriva. It has become more well-known through works of fiction like The Da Vinci Code. From my personal experience and from any trusted source, I have not heard anything about them that is negative- maybe not my cup of tea, but not negative.
The next step was something that had not happened within Texas since 1926: A new Archdiocese was elevated.
The Holy Father erected the new ecclesiastical province of Galveston-Houston, elevating the Diocese of Galveston-Houston to a metropolitan archdiocese. From the province of San Antonio, Pope John Paul II transferred the dioceses of Austin, Beaumont, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Tyler and Victoria as the new suffragens.
San Antonio remains with the dioceses of Amarillo, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Laredo, Lubbock, and San Angelo.
To govern the new archdiocese, the Pontiff raised Bishop Joseph Fiorenza of Gavleston-Houston to the dignity of archbishop. As many of you may know, he was ordained for the Diocese of Galveston in 1954.
So what can Archbishop-elect Fiorenza do that he couldn’t do before? The Code of Canon Law grants him a handful of duties. First, he is to “see that faith and ecclesiastical discipline are carefully observed and to notify the Roman Pontiff if there be any abuses”, to “to conduct a canonical visitation if the suffragan Bishop has neglected it”, and to “appoint a diocesan Administrator” when a suffragen see is vacant according to various other canons. Also, Rome can grant to him other special funcations if circumstances merit it. The Metropolitan has no other powers, except he can celebrate all sacred functions as the Bishop of that place in any church within the province and if it is the cathedral, he must notify the diocesan bishop.
The new Metropolitan would wear all of the same vestments as before with the exception of the pallium. This is a small wool yoke-like vestment. It is usually conferred on new metropolitans on the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in Rome (in person or by proxy) and is made from lamb’s wool that had been blessed on the Feast of St. Agnus. The pallium is a sign of jursidiction so the Metropolitan is able to wear it anywhere within his province but never outside of it. He is also not to wear it in the presence of the Pope or his approved representatives.
Lastly, the Pope elevated Bishop Daniel Dinardo, the coadjutor of Galveston-Houston, to the dignity of archbishop. He enjoys none of the powers mentioned above because he is not the Ordinary (i.e. the Archbishop) thus not the Metropolitan of Galveston-Houston.
All of this is something that has been expected and Bishop Aymond, at the last dinner the Lambdas had with him, predicted the elevation.
Frankly, I don’t know what kind of ceremonies are attached to the elevation of a diocese, or the elevation of a bishop to archbishop. I’ll be interested in finding all of that out.
VATICAN CITY, DEC 29, 2004 (VIS) – The Holy Father:
– Appointed Bishop Jose Horacio Gomez, auxiliary of Denver, U.S.A., as metropolitan archbishop of the archdiocese of San Antonio (area 60,013, population 1,959,950, Catholics 644,357, priests 351, permanent deacons 312, religious 1090), U.S.A. The archbishop-elect was born in Monterrey, Mexico in 1951 and was ordained a priest in 1978. He succeeds Archbishop Patrick F. Flores whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese was accepted upon having reached the age limit.
– Erected the new ecclesiastical province of Galveston-Houston, U.S.A., elevating the see to metropolitan archdiocese and making the following dioceses suffragens: Austin, Beaumont, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Tyler and Victoria in Texas, formerly part of the ecclesiastical province of San Antonio, U.S.A.
– Appointed Bishop Joseph Anthony Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston, U.S.A., as first metropolitan archbishop of the same archdiocese (area 23,257, population 4,704,532, Catholics 1,006,425, priests 438, permanent deacons 250, religious 726).
– Elevated Bishop Daniel Nicholas Dinardo, coadjutor of Galveston-Houston, U.S.A., as to the dignity of archbishop.
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