Austin’s New Bishop

Rocco can knock out the words faster and with a nicer flare than I can, so I’m going to throw you over to him to read the skinny on our new bishop.

Bishop Vasquez is the fifth bishop of Austin, three of whom were priests of Galveston(/Houston), of which two of them were Auxiliary Bishop at the time they were appointed to Austin. The third had already been named Bishop of Beaumont before being appointed to the Lone Star State.

Of our five bishops, four of them were already bishops. Our first bishop, Bishop Louis Reicher, was the first to be ordained after his appointment.

Bishop Vasquez, 52, is the second-youngest bishop of Austin, following his immediate predecessor, now-Archbishop Greg Aymond who was 51 when he succeeded Bishop. John McCarthy.

I’ve personally participated in a couple of Masses celebrated by our new bishop; both in Spanish at St. Stephen’s Parish in Central Houston. If I remember correctly, their parish priest was either deported or couldn’t get a visa to enter the U.S. from Mexico, so he celebrated all of their Sunday Masses until the paperwork cleared up.

Congrats to Bishop Vasquez. He will be in our prayers!

[Ed. Note: The series of posts that were started last night regarding the shifting direction of my life will continue tonight with additional posts tomorrow and Thursday. They’ll each go online around 6:00 p.m. Central.]

What’s Next – Diocese of Austin?

So, we no longer have Bishop Aymond. Archbishop-Elect Aymond is the new archbishop, but he isn’t installed until August 20th? Who’s in charge? What’s going on.

Canon law is here to help.

From today until August 20th (or probably August 19th, since the action of taking canonical possession typically happens during a Vespers the night before), Archbishop-Elect Aymond will officially be the “diocesan administrator” of Austin (as opposed to “bishop”) and the office of Vicar General ceases. Currently, that role is held by Msgr. Mulvey, but he was stepping down from that position next month as he’s moving on to help with formation at the seminary in Houston.

I’m not certain, but my assumption is Archbishop-Elect’s Aymond’s appointment of Vicars General that were to be effective next month are now void.

The Diocese of Austin will not be officially “vacant” until takes possession of New Orleans.

When that occurs, the College of Consultors, within eight days of the vacancy, elects a Diocesan Administrator until a new bishop can be appointed. If they cannot (for whatever reason) elect someone in that time, then the Metropolitan, in this case, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston names the Diocesan Administrator.

The Diocesan Administrator must be a priest who is 35 years old or older “who is outstanding in doctrine and prudence”.

The Diocesan Administrator has the power of Bishop, except in those matters where the law reserves it to an actual sitting bishop or by their nature (i.e. Sacrament of Holy Orders).

Canon Law is quite clear that this is a stewardship position, that is, one where nothing should be changed or amended that would inhibit the incoming bishop from carrying out his new role. For example, if there is a punishment due to sin (i.e. excommunication) that is within the power of the bishop to life, the Diocesan Administrator can do so. The Diocesan Administrator should not, on the other hand, merge all of the parishes of the diocese into two megaparishes.

Once the new bishop takes possession of the vacant see, the role of the Diocesan Administrator ends.

More later, as always.

pope benedict modifed rules for electing a pope

Today, Pope Benedict XVI issued a Motu Proprio, or a declaration of his own initiative, declaring that the Catholic Church will return to the traditional norms for electing a Pope. Pope John Paul II previously declared that, instead of a 2/3rd majority to elect a Pope, that only an absolute majority was needed after a long period without a winner. This process did not happen for Pope Benedict during his election as he won by a 2/3rd majority after the 4th ballot, I think.
In recent history (by secular standards), this procedure would never have been used. Overall, the elections since 1800 has resulted in a pope in between 3 and 14 ballots, except the Conclave of 1830-1831. On December 14, 1830, the 45 cardinal-electors entered the Sistine Chapel, celebrated the entire Christmas season and emerged on February 2, 1831 with a new pontiff, Pope Gregory XVI after an astronomical 83 ballots.

VATICAN CITY, JUN 26, 2007 (VIS) – Made public today was a “Motu Proprio,” written in Latin, with which the Holy Father Benedict XVI restores the traditional norm concerning the majority required for the election of the Supreme Pontiff. According to this norm, in order for the election of a new Pope to be considered valid it is always necessary to reach a majority of two thirds of the cardinals present.
With this document, Benedict XVI substitutes the norm established by John Paul II who, in his 1996 Apostolic Constitution “Universi Dominici gregis,” laid down that the valid quorum for electing a new Pope was initially two thirds but that, after three days of voting without an election, there would be a day dedicated to reflection and prayer, without voting. Thereafter, voting would resume for seven additional ballots, another pause for reflection, another seven ballots, another pause and yet another seven ballots. After which an absolute majority was to decide how to proceed, either for a vote by absolute majority or with balloting between two candidates. This was to happen only in the event that the cardinals arrived at the 33rd or 34th ballot without a positive result.

bishop delaney of fort worth dies

Most Rev. Joseph P. Delaney, Bishop of Fort Worth since 1981, died in his sleep last night at age 70. He had been dealing with on-going medical problems in recent years.
Pope Benedict XVI had already appointed Msgr. Kevin Vann to be ordained as coadjutor bishop, meaning he would succeed Bishop Delaney at his retirement or death. Bishop-elect Vann’s ordination was previously scheduled for tomorrow. Diocesan officials have reported that his ordination will still be held with slight modifications as he will be ordained as the Bishop of Fort Worth instead of an assistant bishop.
Bishop Delaney was born in Fall River, Massachusetts on August 29, 1934. He studied for the priesthood in seminaries in Boston, Washington, and Rome, and was ordained a priest on December 18, 1960 for the Diocese of Fall River.
After serving six years as associate pastor, high school teacher, and assistant superintendent of schools in Taunton, Massachusetts, he received permission of his bishop to work in the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas. He served in that diocese as an associate pastor, the pastor of two parishes, superintendent of schools, editor of the diocesan newspaper, judicial vicar, and co-chancellor.
Bishop Delaney was named the second bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth by Pope John Paul II on July 10, 1981, and was ordained to the episcopacy September 13, 1981.
Bishop Delaney oversaw great expansion in the diocesan offices, moving into the Cathedral’s basement as his first office to opening the Catholic Center, the central offices for the Diocese. In 1999, he started the process for the First Synod of the Diocese of Fort Worth, a long-range planning process for the Diocese. He selected me to be a delegate for those proceedings and I was appointed to the Youth Concerns Committee to help ensure the Synodal documents reflected a proper respect for the needs of youth ministry in the church of tomorrow.
May the angels of the Lord take him to the heavenly banquet.

apostolica sedes vacans: general congregation meetings

On April 7th, the 5th General Congregation met with 140 cardinals. The Cardinals delegated to Edmund Cardinal Szoka the ability to mint coins and stamps for the Vacant See. The cardinals also finalized and published the order for the start of the conclave.
The Cardinals did not meet on April 8th due to Pope John Paul II’s funeral.
The 6th General Congregation met with 130 cardinals. The congregation expressed their thanks for all those who assisted with the funeral logistics. It also confirmed that Cardinal Sin and Cardinal Rivera would not attend the conclave due to illness.
During the congregations that followed, the Cardinals formally closed the Papal Apartments, giving time to those who assisted the Pope to move out.
The Cardinals agreed to start a time of silence and prayer, all submitting to themselves that they would refrain from interviews or any related activities until after the election of the next pope.
If you were intereted in how they determined who got which room during the conclave: they drew lots to determine room assignments.
With all of that, as well as few housekeeping duties of maintaining the Holy See, the Cardinals concluded their general congregations and entered into the conclave to elect Pope Benedict XVI.

apostolica sedes vacans: conclave date set

The 4th General Congregation was held this morning in Rome. 116 cardinals were present at this meeting of the 122 in the Vatican. While the number of cardinal-electors is 117, all the cardinals including those over the age of 80 are to participate in the General Congregation.
The congregation set the date of April 18th, in the afternoon, to begin the conclave that will elect the next pontiff. The rules and rituals concerning the election will be published by me on this site closer to that date.
Also, it was confirmed today, after the reading of Pope John Paul II’s will, that he did not name the in pectore cardinal. The Vatican Press Office indicates that there is “no further question” regarding this issue.
Lastly, the Sistine Chapel will be closed shortly to allow for the preparation needed for the conclave.