This post originally appeared on 16th July,2013,under the Title "Pope Francis Governing".

POPE FRANCIS - Note the Episcopal Dalmatic beneath the Chasuble
If nothing else, Pope Francis has drawn an unusual amount of attention to question of how one goes about being Pope. This is an area of Catholic life that had only  evolved very gradually over time until His Holiness burst upon the scene. And " burst" is an apt term, for his arrival has produced a rolling series of novelties that has never ceased to surprise and even disconcert very many people. But there are things that even the Pope must do for the good of the Church, things that cannot be " done my way" to use the Frank Sinatra term.

One of these is the appointment of Bishops whose Communion with him as Successor of Saint Peter, is their guarantee of remaining within the Catholic Church.

After some tedious research we have been able to summarise the Appointments Made and Resignations Accepted from the Holy Father's  election up to two days ago, as follows:

Latin America    27 (includes 10 Argentinians [incl 1 Maronite])
North America    9
Europe               30
Middle East          3
Nth Africa            6
Africa                 14  (Includes 3 Nigerians) 
Asia                    13
Oceania               4  (Includes    1 Australian[ incl  1 Maronite])
Holy See            15

These figures hint at some marked anomalies which a few more figures throw into sharp relief , if we consider North America,Argentina ,Nigeria and Australia:

North America:

USA    77.7 Million Catholics  197 Dioceses   10 Vacant  and 9 with Bishops past retirement date.

           12.72Million Catholics    71 Dioceses      1 Vacant and 2 with Bishops
past retirement date.

             34    Million Catholics     72 Dioceses     10 Vacant and 1 with a Bishop past retirement date.

Nigeria  19 Million    Catholics     54 Dioceses      3  Vacant and 1 with a Bishop past retirement date.

                 5.4 Million Catholics     33 Dioceses       2 Vacant and 3 with a Bishop past retirement date,


North America's 90.42 Million Catholics and 268 Dioceses received Less attention than Argentina's 34 Million Catholics and 72 dioceses,and their North American total of 11 Vacant and 11 Dioceses with Bishops beyond Retiring Age received the same measure of neglect compared to Argentina's 10 Vacant and 1 Bishop past Retirement date.

Nigeria with 19 million Catholics and a very high percentage of devoted regularly practising faithful - perhaps as high as 60%, say 11,400,000 received far less attention than Argentina whose 34 Million nominal Catholics see only 20% regularly practising Catholics, say, 6,750,000 had three times the number of matters decided.

Then we  come to the orphan: Australia. No appointments for the Latin Church only 1 for the Maronites. The condition of the Australian Episcopate is relatively poor.

Not only are there 2 long vacant Sees, Canberra-Goulburn the National Capital included, but also precariously poised Wilcannia- Forbes.And Hobart, Rockhampton and Lismore have Bishops serving beyond their retirement dates, The first two LONG past and in desperate need of replacement for the good of the Church. In the case of Lismore Bishop Jarrett is a good and faithful Bishop who could well be left in place for as long as necessary.

But further , in short order Bishop Putney of Townsville(Terminally ill) will need to be replaced and ought to have a Co-Adjutor, and Bishop David Walker of Broken Bay reaches retirement date in 119 days and should be replaced(he has made it known that his resignation has been accepted).And Auxiliary Bishop Brian Finnegan of Brisbane is due to retire in weeks. There is a great deal to be done to re-vitalise the Australian Episcopate .

 The record of the above Appointments might be coloured further at the edges by the details of particular cases. But the broad view is not encouraging for those urging the need for Curial reform, especially given the nature of the imbalance .The legal maxim of old has a constant validity : " Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done."Meanwhile, we are reduced to embarassing jokes about the" lost" Australia File.


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