|POPE FRANCIS AND THE ITALIAN BISHOPS IN SAINT PETER'S BASILICA|
24TH MAY, 2013
POPE FRANCIS “I know there's a commission for this, to lower this excessive number of dioceses. It's not easy, but there is a commission for it. We must move forward with fraternity. Italy's Episcopal Conference should embrace this dialogue with Italy's cultural, social and political institutions. This is your task. Onward!
To celebrate the Year of Faith, the Pope prayed the Creed along with the bishops, before the tomb of St. Peter. A group of deaf people also joined in the celebration. They were able to follow all the prayers and songs, thanks to a sign language interpreter. Towards the end, the Pope took the time to individually greet the 250 Italian bishops."
Oh Dear! One can imagine the very human reaction. Ancient Dioceses suppressed, population's pride wounded, noble families discomforted, clergy seeing anticipated dignities disappear, Metropolitan Archbishops ( some Cardinals) besought by expectant victims to " do something" , "intervene on our behalf Eminenza!" .
Not the way our kindly Bavarian gentleman and Pope Emeritus went about things, nor for that matter the way the Italians in their courtly fashion would expect things to happen.If there was Curial resistance in the past the odds are that you " ain't seen nothing yet".
We should pray for the Pope and the Italian Bishops and all affected, that God's will be done and that consideration and forbearance should be shown in proceeding toward the desired end.
To assess the approach Pope Francis might be bringing to the question let us consider"
Italy 226 Dioceses 59.725 Million people 96.55% Catholic 50,148 Priests
Argentina 69 Dioceses 38.631 Million people 89.25% Catholic 5,648 Priests
Pope Francis is of course Argentinean, despite his Italian parentage.
Each Italian Ordinary has 26.427 nominal Catholics under his pastoral care. Each Argentinian Ordinary has 55,986 nominal Catholics under his pastoral care - more than double the Italian figure. We will refrain from commenting on the wildly greater disparity in the number of Priests.