Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Wilcannia -Forbes survives....

I guess there may be a brief flurry of decisions trickling through in these last days of the current pontificate (before the Vatican goes into the equivalent of caretaker mode!), but one of particular interest to many will be the announcement on the ACBC Blog that the diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes will continue in its current form.

Saving Wilcannia-Forbes

Wilcannia-Forbes, you will recall, is an extremely large - at least in geographic terms - inland diocese that has been without a bishop now for well over three years.

The diocese's lack of priests - and parishioners - has seen a number of proposals floated over the years to either dismantle it altogether, or at least move some of the parishes into neighbouring dioceses.

None of the assorted proposals gained much traction with the local laity or priests, so this will be good news for many, notwithstanding the challenges that a new bishop will face there:

President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Archbishop Denis Hart today received a letter from Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, regarding the future of the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes.

The Congregation has been considering various proposals relating to the Diocese including the possibility that some parishes might be attached to other neighbouring Dioceses.

The Congregation has recommended that the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes continue as a Diocese, and has advised that a Bishop will be appointed in due course.

In his letter, Cardinal Ouellet acknowledged desire of the faithful of the Diocese to maintain the institutional identity of the Diocese, “which has its own respectable history and traditions.”

While there are significant challenges facing the territory including that of a diminishing population and fewer priests, Cardinal Ouellet has advised the determination of the future of the diocese will now be redirected along the way of canonical practice with the bishop and people of the diocese able together to carry things forward into the future.

Keeping the laity informed

Good too, that this news is being shared with the laity!  This increased transparency is certainly a positive development.

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