Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


187+ Sede Vacante Dioceses!

July 15th, 2013, Promulgated by Diane Harris

The National Catholic Register’s story on July 13, 2013 has been taken up today by the CatholicNews USA to report a concern which crosses even ideological DMZ’s; i.e. the number of Dioceses worldwide which lack a bishop.

To read the entire story go here: 


“A crisis of sorts is developing in the appointment of Catholic bishops worldwide as a backlog of 187 sees (not including China) remain vacant.  According to figures on, eight U.S. dioceses are without a bishop.  These include the diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut which hasn’t had a bishop since March 2012 when Mons. William Lori was appointed Archbishop of Baltimore.”

“Others include Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Fort Worth, Texas; Rochester, NY; and Marquette, Michigan, vacated by Mons. Alexander Sample in January on his appointment as Archbishop of Portland, Oregon.”

What continues is a list of vacant sees in various parts of the world.  Retired Filipino Archbishop Oscar Cruz had noted  10 vacant sees in his country “and … wondered if the Vatican might have been having a hard time in appointing new bishops for the country….   Maybe they are looking for a certain qualification, a way of doing things or a way of thinking … there is no fast rule on this really,” he said, adding he was “not worried as he was confident the Vatican would soon appoint new bishops.”

Meanwhile, some dioceses, such as Wilcannia-Forbes in Australia and Mansa in Zambia, haven’t had a bishop since 2009.  Those who visit the original article at the link above will also have the opportunity to review the comments of readers and add some of their own. 

birthday cakeHappy Birthday


to Bishop Emeritus Clark. 

Tags: ,


13 Responses to “187+ Sede Vacante Dioceses!”

  1. avatar annonymouse says:

    One of the commenters to the article asserts that the number of U.S. vacant sees is at a ten-year low. I don’t know about that, but it seems to me that Francis’ rate of episcopal appointments is higher than was Benedict’s, so I would guess (without researching) that the number of vacant sees has come down over the last couple months. One problem is the tendency to move bishops from one diocese to another, which results in no net gain in the number of vacant sees. I would be very surprised if Rochester’s next bishop is not already an ordinary with a track record someplace else.

  2. avatar DanielKane says:

    It seems that Francis inherited a huge backlog of vacant sees. In the U.S. we have a manageable number and a relatively brisk appointment rate. This is likely due to a number of factors, like our superior means of travel and communications, a better organized national body of bishops, etc. My unscientific analysis seems that unless there are complex cultural issues (like El Paso must have a fluent Spanish speaking bishop) the turnover is 18 to 24 months.

    I just reviewed the “nominations” page of the Vatican website and Francis is appointing at least one (and today three) bishops worldwide per working day; suggesting that he is sensitive to this circumstance and chipping away at it. This, as we are all aware, is a sensitive and delicate process that should not be rushed. As most everyone knows, the Vatican traditionally closes shop June 30th, but not this year. It seems in this weighty matter Francis is working overtime. God grant him the gifts he needs!

    Bishops are for the most part, on station for several generations. I am willing to wait, with extraordinary patience, even heroic patience for the appointment of a well vetted Ordinary who is cognizant of our needs and ready to pick up the reins with the vigor and zeal necessary to Evangelize and Reform our corner of the Kingdom.

    Thanks for pointing out Bishop Clark’s 76th birthday. Best wishes to Bishop Clark and many happy returns of the day to your Excellency!

  3. avatar Catinlap1 says:

    It is fortunate for us that Pope Francis is in communication with Pope Emeritus Benedict. We can hope that this gives him the benefit of knowing about all of Ratzinger’s earlier interventions in the Diocese of Rochester.

  4. avatar annonymouse says:

    Raymond Arroyo aired an interesting interview with Abp. Charles Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, last evening. The most interesting part was when they discussed the apparent fact that bishop appointments are rarely made from the priests of the vacant diocese, and the Abp. gave some very good reasons for that fact. So if that “policy” holds, our next bishop will not be someone entrenched here in the DoR.

    I note also that Abp Brown (a priest of the Archdiocese of NY), worked for Cardinal Ratzinger at the CDF for , and was undoubtedly involved in the oversight of the Corpus Christi fiasco. Benedict thought enough of him to raise him to episcopal orders a couple years ago. And a young man at 54, perhaps the Holy Father will send +Brown our way!

  5. avatar Catinlap1 says:

    Dear Annonymouse,

    An Archbishop? Hmmm, Let’s all keep praying to the great “Central Casting” headquarters upstairs, which is all we can do.

  6. avatar annonymouse says:

    Abp. Brown is a titular archbishop, as are any of the Vatican diplomatic corps. If he were to be sent to Rochester, I presume he would keep that title even though Rochester is not a metropolitan see.

  7. avatar y2kscotty says:

    Rochester has had two Archbishops – Mooney and Sheen. Two very different personalities.

  8. avatar discipulus says:

    I doubt that Abp. Brown would be the next Bishop of Rochester. Not because he would be an Archbishop of a non-metropolitan see, but because Abp. Brown is badly needed where he is right now.

  9. avatar annonymouse says:

    New Abp of Edinburgh named today, vacant only a few months since the resignation in scandal. Obviously Francis is moving quickly to heal that scandal-torn diocese and nation, which is good. In other news, he filled a see that was vacant for only two weeks (in South America – he seems to be paying considerable attention to vacancies on his native continent).

    But I hate to say this, it appears that, in the eyes of the Vatican, Rochester is not as badly broken as most here believe it to be.

    Good news, however, that appointments continue to be handed down daily, even with the Holy Father working in Brazil.

  10. avatar annonymouse says:

    Let me correct that – Edinburgh vacant since November.

  11. avatar Catinlap1 says:

    Think positive and keep praying: It may be, on the other hand, that the Vatican is working overtime to find just the right bishop to fix the mess and heal the injuries here. Who knows — perhaps some candidates were offered the challenge and turned it down. We will never know.

  12. avatar Hopefull says:

    Looks like this sede may be vacante for a while longer. Consider the letter from Bishop Cunningham in many diocesan bulletins this weekend. It sounds like our Apostolic Administrator plans to be around a while longer. Note that it is amusingly dated on Bishop Clark’s birthday!

    July 15, 2013

    Dear Pastors and Pastoral Administrators

    One of the most important ministries that you and your catechetical
    leaders and youth ministers exercise in your parish is
    the formation of your young people into true disciples of Jesus
    Christ. This fundamental task takes many forms including instruction,
    prayer, service and witness. Making disciples takes
    time – but in many of our parish programs adequate time is

    Modern families are faced with complex schedules and
    there are always conflicting activities from which they must
    choose. In an attempt to be responsive to the demands families
    face, some parish religious education and youth ministry programs
    do not begin until mid-October and many parishes end
    their programs before Easter. I am especially concerned about
    this trend. Not only are we dramatically shortening the amount
    of time available for catechesis but, by ending programs before
    Easter, we are depriving our young people of the opportunity to
    reflect on the central mystery of our faith – the life, death and
    resurrection of Christ Jesus.

    After prayerful consideration, I am asking that, beginning
    September 2013, all parishes adjust their catechetical and youth
    ministry programs to begin during the week of September 15,
    2013 and conclude no sooner than the week of May 18, 2014.
    It is my hope that this change will allow all programs to expand
    to at least 30 contact hours per year.

    I am sensitive to the needs of parishes and the complexity
    of scheduling catechetical and youth ministry programs. Please
    contact the Department of Evangelization and Catechesis if you
    have concerns about implementing this calendar.

    As always, I am grateful to you and to your staffs for your
    faithful service to the people of the Diocese of Rochester.
    May your summer days be filled with blessings for you and
    for your communities in faith.

    Fraternally your in Christ,
    Most Rev. Robert J. Cunningham
    Apostolic Administrator of Rochester

  13. avatar annonymouse says:

    Looks like our see will be vacant for at least another month:

Leave a Reply

Log in | Register

You must be logged in to post a comment.

-Return to main page-