Church official: 10 dioceses lack bishops

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

THE country has 10 dioceses that have no bishops, said retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz, noting that the Vatican might having a hard time in appointing new bishops for the Philippines.

“I heard that there are 10 vacant sees now and many are waiting for their bishop. I think Rome is having difficulty in choosing a new bishop for the country,” he said in an interview.

Among the vacant sees are Imus, Gumaca, Dumaguete, Romblon, San Carlos, Zamboanga, Bontoc-Lagawe, Infanta, and Kalookan.

Cruz said the possible reason is the pontiff might be looking for a certain qualification.

“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.

He noted that the number of vacant sees could just be the highest the country has seen in recent years.

However, he is not worried as the Vatican would soon name bishops to said dioceses.

Cruz likewise said the number of retiring bishops is rising.

“Formerly, we were just 7 or 8, but now we are around 30, I think,” the prelate said.

On Friday, Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignations of Kalookan Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, 72, and San Pablo Bishop Leo Drona, 71.

Both resigned from their posts ahead of the retirement age of 75.

Canon 401, par. 2 of the Code of Canon Law provides that a diocesan bishop who becomes unsuited for duties due to illness or other grave reason is requested to tender his resignation from office.

Cruz said his resignation was rejected twice, (he filed it when he is 71 and 73), but when he reached 75, it was accepted.

He added that among other reasons why the Pope opted not to grant the early retirement of a bishop is the lack of a successor.

The Philippines has 16 archdioceses, 51 dioceses, 7 apostolic vicariates, 5 territorial prelatures, and one military ordinariate. (FP/Sunnex)

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