The Question on Everyone’s Mind: What Comes Next for the Diocese of Shreveport?

by Father Rothell Price, Moderator of the Curia

 Everyone is wondering who our next bishop will be. I think the only truthful answer to that question is that only our good Lord and His vicar on earth, Pope Francis, knows.Pope Francis has the responsibility of naming bishops in the Catholic Church. He is assisted in this task by the Congregation for Bishops. They receive their pool of names from the Papal Nuncio to the United States of America, who is Archbishop Pierre Christophe. His office is in Washington, D.C. Archbishop Christophe receives potential names from each of the bishops of the United States. Every bishop is free to submit the name or names of priests who they feel possess the qualifications and qualities of a bishop. So, to answer the question as to who will be the next bishop of the Diocese of Shreveport? The only truthful answer is, we do not know!On the day that our current bishop, Michael Gerard Duca, is installed as the bishop of Baton Rouge, our diocese becomes vacant. The Latin phrase for this is “sede vacante.” Sede vacante is pronounced “say-day vay-khan-tay.” It means that the seat or cathedra (the bishop’s chair at the cathedral church) is empty. There is no bishop here to occupy it.

Within eight days after Bishop Duca is actually installed in Baton Rouge and takes possession of that diocese, our College of Consultors will convene to elect a priest to govern the diocese until Pope Francis names our new bishop. Bishop Duca will be installed on Friday, August 24, at
2:00 p.m. Somewhere within that hour he will no longer be our bishop. The College of Consultors will not elect the new bishop. They have no role to play in the choosing of a bishop. They have the responsibility of naming the priest who will be the administrator of our diocese until we receive a new bishop from Pope Francis.

The College of Consultors is made of up priests from the Presbyteral Council of the Diocese of Shreveport. The bishop can name from a minimum of six to a maximum of 12 of the priests from the Presbyteral Council to be members of the College of Consultors. It is a requirement that the members of the College of Consultors be chosen from among the members of the Presbyteral Council.

In order to be chosen as the diocesan administrator, it is required that the candidate be a priest, have completed his 35th year of age, and be outstanding in doctrine and prudence. If we had a Cathedral Chapter (which we do not), it would also be required the candidate not have already been elected, appointed, or presented for this diocese.

The College of Consultors is free to choose any priest to serve as the diocesan administrator. They can choose a priest from within or outside the diocese. It can be a diocesan priest or a religious order priest. However, he must meet the legal requirements above.

The diocesan administrator enjoys the power of the diocesan bishop, with the exception of a few things; for example, he cannot ordain a bishop, priest, or deacon because he is not bishop. He can, however, invite a bishop to come to the diocese to preside over an ordination. Likewise, he cannot preside at the Chrism Mass during Holy Week. Again, he would have to recruit a bishop from outside our diocese to come preside at that Mass.

The diocesan administrator is forbidden to do anything against the rights of the diocese or those of the in-coming bishop. He is prohibited from removing or changing documents of the diocesan curia. During his administration nothing is to be altered or changed in the diocese. These rules are in place to ensure stability and tranquility in the diocese until the new bishop arrives. The diocesan administrator is obliged to live in the diocese and ensure Mass for the people of the diocese. His responsibilities end when the new bishop takes possession of the diocese.

Please pray for our College of Consultors, and pray for the priest they choose to administer the diocese until our new shepherd is named and installed. The College and the administrator will need the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit. May the Ever-Virgin Blessed Mary, St. Joseph, St. John Berchmans, and all the saints of God intercede for us. And do not fail to pray for Bishop Duca in this highly emotional transitional time in his life. Our great loss is a great gain for the people of the Diocese of Baton Rouge! Deo gratias.

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