Voting in bishops


#1

Could anyone tell me if the early church allowed people to vote in their bishops? I cant seem to find any info about this that is specific.

Rachel <><


#2

No, bishops were ordained by the laying on of hands, apostolic succession. Check out this link:

Apostolic Succession


#3

[quote=arieh0310]No, bishops were ordained by the laying on of hands, apostolic succession. Check out this link:

Apostolic Succession
[/quote]

It is my understanding that there have been various times that Bishops were “nominated” in various ways throughout history and some could be percieved as “voted” on. However, in the Bishop’s ordinatation (that has always included the laying on of hands by another validly ordained Bishop), the Bishop vowed to be loyal to the See in Rome, Magisterium and Church. Breaching this vow could result in his removal. We need to keep in mind past times. In the old days, it could take months for news to get to Rome of a Bishop’s passing, nobody in Rome may have had any real pertinent information on the diocese because of the distance, etc. By “voting”, the Pope was at least assured that the Bishop had some local support. Additionally, like any new growing dynamic organization, being leaderless for long periods could be quite harmful and these “local input” process was a concession to this reality. In today’s world with cabability for instantaneus communication, travel and greater direct awareness of particular dioceses throughout the world, the Vatican is capable to exert a greater direct input in a timely manner.


#4

[quote=Orionthehunter]In the old days, it could take months for news to get to Rome of a Bishop’s passing, nobody in Rome may have had any real pertinent information on the diocese because of the distance, etc. By “voting”, the Pope was at least assured that the Bishop had some local support.
[/quote]

Thanks for the clarification. Even today the new pope is elected by the college of cardinals. Correct me if I am wrong, but I think that the process (even in ancient times) was an ecclesiastical “vote” and not a “vote of the faithful”, so to speak.


#5

From New Advent:

A brief historical review will show how the principle of election by the Roman Church has been maintained through all the vicissitudes of papal elections. St. Cyprian tells us in regard to the election of Pope St. Cornelius (251) that the comprovincial bishops, the clergy, and the people all took part in it: “He was made bishop by the decree of God and of His Church, by the testimony of nearly all the clergy, by the college of aged bishops [sacerdotum], and of good men”(Ep. Iv ad Anton., n. 8).


#6

Also from New Advent:

… Such an exalted position was not without its difficulties. One of the gravest was the interference of the lay authority in the election of bishops. Until the sixth century the clergy and the people elected the bishop on condition that the election should be approved by the neighbouring bishops. Undoubtedly, the Christian Roman emperors sometimes intervened in these election, but outside the imperial cities only, and generally in the case of disagreement as to the proper person.

As a rule they contented themselves with exercising an influence on the electors. But from the beginning of the sixth century, this attitude was modified. In the East the clergy and the primates, or chief citizens, nominated three candidates from whom the metropolitan chose the bishop. At a later date, the bishops of the ecclesiastical province assumed the exclusive right of nominating the candidates. …


#7

From the First Council of Nicaea:

  1. It is by all means desirable that a bishop should be appointed by all the bishops of the province. But if this is difficult because of some pressing necessity or the length of the journey involved, let at least three come together and perform the ordination, but only after the absent bishops have taken part in the vote and given their written consent. But in each province the right of confirming the proceedings belongs to the metropolitan bishop.

  1. The ancient customs of Egypt, Libya and Pentapolis shall be maintained, according to which the bishop of Alexandria has authority over all these places since a similar custom exists with reference to the bishop of Rome. Similarly in Antioch and the other provinces the prerogatives of the churches are to be preserved. In general the following principle is evident: if anyone is made bishop without the consent of the metropolitan, this great synod determines that such a one shall not be a bishop. If however two or three by reason of personal rivalry dissent from the common vote of all, provided it is reasonable and in accordance with the church’s canon, the vote of the majority shall prevail.

#8

St Ambroses life seems to have been the norm for episcopal elections up to the fourth century:

The bishops of the province, dreading the inevitable tumults of a popular election, begged the Emperor Valentinian to appoint a successor by imperial edict; he, however, decided that the election must take place in the usual way. It devolved upon Ambrose, therefore, to maintain order in the city at this perilous juncture. Proceeding to the basilica in which the disunited clergy and people were assembled, he began a conciliatory discourse in the interest of peace and moderation, but was interrupted by a voice (according to Paulinus, the voice of an infant) crying, “Ambrose, Bishop”. The cry was instantly repeated by the entire assembly, and Ambrose, to his surprise and dismay, was unanimously pronounced elected. Quite apart from any supernatural intervention, he was the only logical candidate, known to the Catholics as a firm believer in the Nicene Creed, unobnoxious to the Arians, as one who had kept aloof from all theological controversies. The only difficulty was that of forcing the bewildered consular to accept an office for which his previous training nowise fitted him. Strange to say, like so many other believers of that age, from a misguided reverence for the sanctity of baptism, he was still only a catechumen, and by a wise provision of the canons ineligible to the episcopate. That he was sincere in his repugnance to accepting the responsibilities of the sacred office, those only have doubted who have judged a great man by the standard of their own pettiness…
Valentinian, who was proud that his favourable opinion of Ambrose had been so fully ratified by the voice of clergy and people, confirmed the election and pronounced severe penalties against all who should abet him in his attempt to conceal himself. The Saint finally acquiesced, received baptism at the hands of a Catholic bishop, and eight day later, 7 December 374, the day on which East and West annually honour his memory, after the necessary preliminary degrees was consecrated bishop.

newadvent.org/cathen/01383c.htm


#9

Nothing kills a thread at CA more than popping the bubble of the ultra-conservatives.


#10

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