And as the newly appointed Nuncio is yet to arrive here, they will, apparently, probably be vacant for a while yet.
It seems, however, that the delay might ultimately prove to be providential.
The evils of an ecumenical Church service (!)
Canberra is certainly in dire need of a strong leader to stand up to the relentless forces of secularism here.
While I'm not much for ecumenical events, the urgent need for Christians (and indeed those of any faith at all) to band together and assert the right to express that faith in public has surely been illustrated by the bizarre reaction of the Labor Government to the proposal by Vicki Dunne, speaker of the ACT House of Assembly's proposal to have a church service to mark the start of the Assembly year.
It says volumes about Canberra that the idea of a religious ceremony to mark the start of the legislature's year should be an innovation: though the House of Assembly was only established in 1979, several previous speakers and Chief Ministers (including current Liberal Senator Gary Humphries) have certainly been practicing Christians - even Catholics. Yet none apparently saw the need to organise such a ceremony.
So it's to Mrs Dunne's credit that she has organised at least an ecumenical event for next Monday (though given the way things have turned out, perhaps just a - traditional - Mass would have been appropriate, given that all bar one of the Liberals are Catholics, and two are traditionalists...).
Sad though, that Labor (and the sole remaining Green), instead of leaving it up to individuals to decide, have turned it into a political event by refusing to participate and opposing the whole concept, thus putting the public servants who might have wanted to attend in a difficult position.
Even sadder that Canberra's lawyers have decided to drop their annual religious ceremony for the start of the legal year in favour of some purely secularist concoction.
If you reside here, you could consider showing your solidarity by turning up at 10am on February 11 at St Paul's Anglican Church, Manuka for the service to mark the start of the ACT Parliamentary year.
Bishop Putney was set for Canberra?
All the more important then, that the next Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn be someone who will take the need to re-evangelize seriously, and confront the secularist disease directly (as, to his credit, Archbishop Coleridge did, particularly in relation to the same sex marriage/civil unions push) not simply perpetuate the status quo, or worse, spread the liberal disease.
Interesting news then, in the Canberra Times today, in a story that appears to confirm the rumour that until his terminal illness became apparent, Bishop Putney of Townsville was the front runner for Canberra-Goulburn.
Monsignor Woods, the administrator, is quoted as saying that Bishop Putney's illness could have an impact on the timing of the decision, and necessitate a further extended period of consultation on possible appointees:
"His illness throws a further complication into matters. Certainly he was tipped as being the fellow most likely,'' he said.
It is commendable that Monsignor Woods is keeping the people of Canberra in the loop, so far as is possible, on what is happening.
And the news will no doubt encourage those who favour orthodoxy and orthopraxis to redouble their prayers for a good bishop.
Episcopal appointments: we need an overhaul of the system
Yet if it is true, it is surely exposes the deep flaws of the Church's current system of episcopal appointments, in that it so often puts so much weight on the views of the existing clergy of a diocese, and those 'in the tent' as it were.
Such a system might have worked well enough in a dynamic diocese with lots of new young priests and a committed laity such as those of yesteryear. But in dioceses like Canberra (and so many others in Australia), where the clergy are overwhelmingly of the ageing liberal 'Gaudium et Spes' generation, and mostly set to retire in the near future, leaving a gaping shortage of priests behind them, it can be a recipe for disaster.
The Australian Church today surely needs new men of the like of Bishop Kennedy of Armidale: men who will actively promote vocations and teach the actual faith. What is not needed is more of the same, in the shape of the promotion of those who have perpetuated the black hole we have now in too many places, and above all in Queensland. Fortunately there is a fresh chance for a good appointment offered here.
Do keep Bishop Putney in your prayers, as well as the people of those dioceses currently vacant or waiting for appointments/decisions (viz Canberra-Goulburn, Wilcannia-Forbes, Hobart, Rockhampton and Lismore, though one might hope that in the last case the current incumbent continues in place for as long as possible).
Above all, pray for good priests to be asked; and just as importantly, to say yes to the challenge of reforming the Australian Church. Orthodox appointees may indeed face a white martyrdom from their own people as much as from the secularists around us. Their reward will be in heaven.