The Old and the New

Stephen White of Catholic University reflects on the reality of bishops emeritus; what does it mean to be a retired bishop?

“What does it mean for a father to ‘retire’? More to the point, how might it subtly change a man’s understanding of his calling when he can “look forward” to laying down the burdens of his office in retirement? How does his exercise of his office change when his is a vocation ‘until retirement’ rather than for life?

“How might it alter – for better or worse – a bishop’s pastoral priorities and initiatives when he knows more or less when he’ll be leaving office? How might it shape his decisions about which challenges he’ll try to address and which he’ll leave for his successor?

“These are not just questions for cynics. They matter to bishops now. Most bishops can expect to retire and live a decade or more beyond the end of their active ministry. This is a relatively new reality of ecclesial life, and it deserves careful reflection.”

Read the whole column.