Why does the Pope appoint Bad Bishops?


Over the last several years, I (and many others) have witnessed the Pope appoint men to the episcopacy who have a history of poor judgment, public dissent, tolerance or outright acceptance and defense of sexual and other types of degeneracy. My question is fairly simple: How do these men become bishops? I think that, in the US especially, Pope Benedict is aware of who these men are (given his dealings with the sex scandal and numerous other problems in the US). Why does he appoint men who have questionable pasts or have associations with other dissenting prelates who are themselves considered to espouse heterodox positions?

I do not want to mention any names, but there have been some real questionable appointments lately. Why do we get these guys?


Even Jesus appointed one of his Twelve who was a bad lot - Judas Iscariot. You expect Popes to have a better batting average than His?

Trust in God, who made silk purses out of the other eleven (and St Paul). Who were a bunch of sows ears if ever you saw 'em - extortionist tax collectors (Matthew) violent political agitators (Simon and Jude Thaddeus who were Zealots), those who denied Christ (Peter) and ran away from Him (all of 'em but John), and even anti-Christian persecutors (Paul).


With all due respect LilyM, that seems a bit niave/simplistic. I have no doubt that the God can make good come out of bad, but does that mean that a pope needs to throw caution to the wind and give us men who have a glaring public record?

Further more, I do trust in Providence. I know that “the gates of hell shall not prevail.” But that is not really an answer (or possible answer) to the question.

Anyway, I’m probably just venting a little… no hard feelings toward you or BXVI.

God Bless!!!


How is it naive to say that I DON’T expect the Pope to appoint extraordinary men as Bishops when Christ himself mostly appointed the ordinary or the downright dubious :shrug:

I’m sure if the Pope chooses those with a ‘glaring public record’ as you put it, he has good reasons. Maybe no better candidates are on offer (and I can believe this, in Europe, America and Australia especially).

Maybe those who are orthodox would be ruinously inept as managers of dioceses, since BOTH orthodox teaching and good common sense are necessary.

Maybe people who would make good Bishops refuse to consider the Episcopacy? It’s a possiblity - it ain’t an easy job.

All we can do for our part is to pray, fast and offer sacrifices that the Bishops we have come to do their jobs well, for the Holy Father that he makes wise choices, and for up-and-coming priests.


While we do know that several of the American Bishops appointed by Pope John Paul II were not the best bishops the world has ever seen and some were not very good at all even to the point of being destructive I don’t think Pope Benedict has had much time to appoint many bishops and so we must wait to see the quality of such appointments. Moreover, some of the least promising people often turn out to be magnificent servants of God.

I guess, my real answer is, “I don’t know why some of our bishops turn out to be less than sterling proponents of orthodoxy.” I do wish the American Church were more amenable to direct papal authority. I think one of the problems goes back to the idea that each national Church has more autonomy since the 1960’s than they had before. That’s sometimes good and sometimes bad.



Now, that is an answer! Thanks for your input. I appreciate it more than youcould know.


Noted. I am, however, not writing about unknown men. I’m talking about the ones who speak out about any number of issues and are know to have problematic positions on certian issues. These are the ones I’m writing about.

I wonder if there is a resource that outlines how a man is first considered for the episcopacy and then comes to the attention of the Pope.


The difference is this; The apostles (at least the 11 that turned out good, and adding Paul) started as mostly bad people and Christ transformed them into good men.

By no means are any of the men eligible for the offices of bishop at the beginning of their calling waiting to be transformed. They most likely have been priests for at least 10-20 years. I agree that they need to be chosen from their actions when they had less responsibility, not for their could be potential.

Kinda like what Jesus said, those who can be trusted with little can be trusted with much, and those who can not be trusted with little cannot be trusted with much. (those are my words, not a quote)

I will admit transferring pedophile priests to another parish is not the first action I would take if I were a bishop. I had a guy hold that against me (and my Church) today as matter of fact.


Not quite the point I was trying to make here. Which is that in spite of His best efforts not all of 'em were transformed, moreover He knew Judas never would be (Popes don’t know as much in regard to those they appoint) and yet He still chose Judas right along with the others.

And I disagree with your characterisation of the Apostles. Most of 'em were far from young, and had spent plenty of time in positions of leadership and authority, whether in business (as Peter was as a fisherman) or elsewhere. Paul for one had already been leading and teaching for quite some time before his conversion - he was at the beginning of nothing in that regard.


I’m talking about the beginning of their Christian life, I assume you agree before Christ they were not good Christians. I know they were not children with no life experience at all.


There is more than one way to think of the church.

It is a community, to be sure.

It is also an institution. The institution doesn’t operate exactly as the early church did. People rise for various reasons (anyone knowing the inner workings of most corporations, universities or political structures can tell you the best and brightest are not always the ones who rise). Sometimes, they rise for the wrong reasons (is that the Peter Principle? How ironic…).

For the candidate…[LIST]
*]It helps to have studied in Rome
*]It helps to have cultivated friends in important places[/LIST]The Pope really doesn’t know most of these people very well (if at all), just like the president of my company doesn’t know most of my coworkers very well. They get reports and advice from others, who have risen through (and participate in) the same system.

The early church model is not used anymore. Study your history: Irenaeus and Augustine lived hundreds of years apart and served hundreds of miles from each other, neither was appointed to their See by the bishop Rome, the local synods chose them. Their successors today would be appointed by the bishop of Rome, and he will act upon the advice of others, these men may not know the candidates personally either!

The problem is institutional.

Garbage in - garbage out.

-]However, it is always possible that these choices are deliberate. It can be a way of molding the future church/-]…nah…forget that :smiley:



Perhaps the Pope’s definition of orthodox is broader than yours. Just a thought.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.