Our Bishop Selection Working Group has asked Pope Francis to inject broader-based lay input into the selection of bishops for local dioceses. (Letter to Pope Francis)
The VOTF proposal would restore to the selection process many of the lay-involvement practices followed throughout the first millennium and well into the second, and, at the same time, it would recognize the authority of the pope (as affirmed in Canon Law and Vatican II) to make the final appointment of a bishop, generally from the recommendations submitted for each diocese.
To facilitate lay involvement, we host a web portal that enables Catholics in any U.S. diocese to send their thoughts on the needs of their diocese and the qualities they deem important for their next bishop directly to the U.S. Apostolic Nuncio.
The current outreach builds on an earlier letter to Pope Benedict XVI and the launch of a first-of-its-kind web portal enabling Catholics in a diocese with an announced or impending vacancy to offer confidentially their thoughts on the needs of the diocese, the desired qualities of the next bishop, and the names of potential nominees directly to the Apostolic Nuncio.
In 2012, nearly 200 Chicago-area Catholics utilized this portal to register their concerns and recommendations on the needs and opportunities in their archdiocese and on the qualifications and qualities desirable in a new archbishop. They also recommended a number of bishops and priests for consideration as good candidates. An additional 200 filled out a related second survey. This participation likely represents the best-facilitated volunteer input on Catholic bishop selection in modern times. (See Chicago Tribune article)
As part of their extensive due-diligence outreach, the VOTF team also exchanged information with the U.S. Apostolic Nuncio's office and the Archdiocese of Chicago. Both affirmed the laity's right under Canon Law to facilitate such input, though neither office provided support for the specific effort.
Letter to Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State
Letter to Francis Cardinal George, chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Letter to Giovanni Battista Cardinal Re, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops
Letter to Most Reverend Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio United States