Bishops Prepare to Elect New Conference President
Next week, the Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge, will step down as president of the Australian Conference of Catholic Bishops after completing his second two-year term at the top of the rankings.
The move comes after the Holy See asked bishops not to hold leadership positions in episcopal conferences beyond the age of 75.
Bishop Coleridge, elected president of the Episcopal Conference in 2018, will turn 75 in September next year and could not begin a new term as president or vice president.
“It has been a great privilege to serve the Episcopal Conference as President during a turbulent time, which has made the role more intense and demanding than I had anticipated,” Bishop Coleridge said.
“In some ways, the four years felt longer, and I’m not sorry to pass the baton to someone else. Presidents come and presidents go, but the work of the Conference, which is the work of the gospel, continues.
In March, the Congregation for Bishops of the Holy See wrote to bishops around the world saying they expect no one to be elected president or vice-president of an episcopal conference if they reach the age 75 years during his tenure.
The Congregation prohibits a bishop who is already 75 or older from being elected.
Bishops must submit their resignation to the pope when they reach the age of 75.
The letter explained that when presidents or vice presidents turn 75 during their term, it restricts the pope’s freedom to accept their resignation as diocesan bishop, which would create a leadership vacancy in the conference. .
While a new president will be elected on the opening day of the plenary meeting, beginning this Friday, May 6, Bishop Coleridge will chair the week-long meeting.
The new president will be announced shortly after the election.
The next plenary meeting, to be held in Sydney, will be the first the bishops have held in person since November 2019.
At the meeting, elections will be held for three-year terms in the 11 episcopal commissions that support the work of the Conference in key areas.
There will also be pastoral discussions on a range of issues, including the ministries of catechist, acolyte and lector, the return to parish life and worship after COVID-19, and the commitment of the Catholic Church. with the National Council of Churches in Australia.
As is customary for the May plenary meeting, bishops will meet with leaders of religious institutes for prayer, conversation and reflection on their shared leadership roles in the Church.