It’s been all over the catholic news in Singapore since our year of 2013 begun – the news of Rev Msgr William Goh being appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Singapore. In order to understand what this all means, read this article which explains in depth what a “Coadjutor bishop” is, what he does, and why he is appointed.
What is Coadjutor?
In terms of Sacramental Character or Sacramental “powers”, a Coadjutor bishop is truly a bishop, for he receives Episcopal consecration just like the diocesan bishop. He therefore has the power validly to ordain priests, to confirm, and to consecrate other bishops.
In terms of ecclesial “title”, the Coadjutor has similar a title to the resident Bishop, or in the case of our Archdiocese, the Coadjutor is similar in ecclesial honour to our Archbishop.
However, the jurisdiction, or governing authority, of a Coadjutor bishop is another matter. Within a given diocese, the existing diocesan bishop alone has full responsibility for the entire diocese which the Pope has entrusted to his care (cf Paul VI, Muto proprio, Pastorale manus, on the powers and privileges granted to bishops, 30 November 1963. AAS 56 (1964) c. 381.1).
A Coadjutor bishop, therefore, is not to be construed as a co-leader of a diocese, as he does not have full authority over that diocese—only the existing diocesan bishop himself does.
A coadjutor bishop, as described in canon 403.3, also is given special faculties. In a sense a Coadjutor bishop can be given governing power, but it is generally limited to certain geographic sections of the diocese, or to certain aspects of it. Regardless of a Coadjutor bishop’s duties, however, the existing diocesan bishop retains ultimate authority
Why appoint a “Coadjutor Bishop”?
The exact time when a bishop will be replaced by a successor is not always predictable, of course. Obviously, a diocesan bishop can always die unexpectedly, or find himself obliged to resign (for medical or other reasons) with relatively short notice.
In these cases, there is normally a period of time—ranging from months to even years, depending on the circumstances—when the diocese is without any bishop at all. The code provides strict rules about who has authority, and in which situations, during this vacancy (cf. Muto proprio, Pastorale manus cc. 416-430).
But often it is easy for Rome to foresee that a diocesan bishop will need to step down. Usually this is due to the bishop’s age. Diocesan bishops are requested to submit their resignation to the Holy Father when they reach their 75th birthday (c. 401.1).
The Pope is not, however, required to accept it, and he may choose to extend the bishop’s tenure in his diocese for many more years if he sees fit (and, of course, if the health of that diocesan bishop permits). But the Pope can, and frequently does, accept bishops’ resignations as soon as they are submitted—and in these cases a successor naturally has to be chosen as soon as possible.
In some case, the Holy Father may decide to pre-empt the resignation of the existing bishop, and after the due process of selection of a new bishop, he may name a coadjutor bishop for Bishop X’s diocese right now.
What are the benefits?
For instance, the coadjutor bishop already knows that in June, Bishop X will resign and he himself will be the new diocesan bishop. Between then and now, this gives the coadjutor bishop a period of several months to become acquainted with the diocese, its people and its problems—and since the soon-to-be-retired diocesan bishop is still present, he can give his successor-to-be some pointers!
What are the formalities required of a “coadjutor bishop” (cf Paul VI, Muto proprio, Pastorale manus, on the powers and privileges granted to bishops, 30 November 1963. AAS 56 (1964) c. 381.1):
The Coadjutor needs to formally “take office”
Can. 404 §1 The coadjutor Bishop takes possession of his office when, either personally or by proxy, he shows the apostolic letters of appointment to the diocesan Bishop and the college of consultors, in the presence of the chancellor of the curia, who makes a record of the fact.
§3 If the diocesan Bishop is wholly impeded, it is sufficient that either the coadjutor Bishop or the auxiliary Bishop show their apostolic letters of appointment to the college of consultors, in the presence of the chancellor of the curia.
He undertakes responsibilities and appointments
Can. 405 §1 The coadjutor Bishop and the auxiliary Bishop have the obligations and the rights which are determined by the provisions of the following canons and defined in their letters of appointment.
§2 The coadjutor Bishop, or the auxiliary Bishop mentioned in can. 403 §2, assists the diocesan Bishop in the entire governance of the diocese, and takes his place when he is absent or impeded.
Can. 406 §1 The coadjutor Bishop in can. 403 §2, is to be appointed a Vicar general by the diocesan Bishop. The diocesan Bishop is to entrust to him, in preference to others, those things which by law require a special mandate.
When dealing in matters requiring decisions
Can. 407 §1 For the greatest present and future good of the diocese, the diocesan Bishop, the coadjutor can. 403 §2, are to consult with each other on matters of greater importance.
§2 In assessing matters of greater importance, particularly those of a pastoral nature, the diocesan Bishop is to consult the auxiliary Bishop before all others.
§3 The coadjutor Bishop since they are called to share in the cares of the diocesan Bishop, should so exercise their office that they act and think in accord with him.
The coadjutor’s liturgical and pastoral functions
Can. 408 §1 As often as they are requested to do so by the diocesan Bishop, a coadjutor Bishop are obliged to perform those pontifical and other functions to which the diocesan Bishop is bound.
§2 Those episcopal rights and functions which the coadjutor can exercise are not habitually to be entrusted to another by the diocesan Bishop.
He has right to succession
Can. 409 §1 When the episcopal see falls vacant, the coadjutor immediately becomes the Bishop of the diocese for which he was appointed, provided he has lawfully taken possession.
Where must he reside
Can. 410 The coadjutor Bishop and the auxiliary Bishop are bound, like the diocesan Bishop, to reside in the diocese. Other than for the fulfilment of some duty outside the diocese, or for holidays, which are not to be longer than one month, they may not be away from the diocese except for a brief period.
Episcopal Ordination Mass & Reception
The Episcopal Mass and Reception in conjunction with the upcoming Ordination of our Coadjutor Archbishop, Rev Msgr William Goh will be held as follows:
EPISCOPAL ORDINATION MASS
Date : Friday 22 Feb 2013
Time : 7.30 pm
Venue : Singapore Expo (The Max Pavilion and Exhibition Hall 9)
1 Expo Drive, Singapore 486150
Presider : The Apostolic Nuncio to Singapore, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli & assisted by our Archbishop Nicholas Chia and Archbishop Murphy Pakiam from Kuala Lumpur
Admission : Tickets will be allocated to Parishes by mid-Feb 2013
Dress Code : Smart casual
GENERAL RECEPTION (HIGH TEA)
Date : Saturday 23 Feb 2013
Time : 2.00 pm to 5.00 pm
Venue : Catholic Spirituality Centre
1261 Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore 534796
Admission : No tickets required. Open to ALL parishioners to meet the new Coadjutor Archbishop
Dress Code : Smart casual
View article on Catholic News
OUR WISH FOR OUR COADJUTOR BISHOP
The Parishioners at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Church sends their heartiest congratulations and good wishes to Coadjutor Archbishop, Rev Msgr William Goh on his Episcopal Ordination.
We pray that the wisdom and strength of the Holy Spirit will be with him as he takes on the role as Shepherd for the Church in the Archdiocese of Singapore. May the good Lord Bless, guide and protect him always!
My Personal Comments and Additions:
Therefore, in simple summary, coadjutors are successors to the diocesan bishop, while auxiliaries are helpers to the diocesan bishop. This does not mean that auxiliary bishops cannot be selected as the successor by the Pope, but it means that this kind of succession is not automatic, whereas coadjutors are guaranteed the succession (automatic).
But coadjutors actually do not always succeed the diocesan bishop, as in some cases, some coadjutors actually died before the diocesan bishop resigned, and therefore never succeeded as the rightful diocesan bishop. In some other cases, coadjutor of certain diocese may be reassigned as a bishop/archbishop of another diocese/archdiocese before their succession).
Lastly, as there are still confusion on the nature of coadjutor archbishop’s office, they are no longer assigned any titular see, which is a formerly active diocese that had been suppressed due to lack of Christians or historical reasons (Muslim conquest, etc., which is why many titular sees are actually ancient dioceses in North Africa and Eastern Mediterranean region), and then restored as a titular diocese.
Auxiliary bishops are assigned a titular see upon their appointment as auxiliary, and coadjutor bishop/archbishop too were once (before around 1970) assigned a titular see upon their appointment. However, in present practice, coadjutors are named as Coadjutor Bishop/Archbishop of the diocese/archdiocese that they are going to succeed in (example : Coadjutor Archbishop of Singapore (Archdiocese), William Goh), and no titular see is assigned to the coadjutor.
I hope these simple explanations do help many who still have questions in understanding more on the office of the bishop and his helpers (and successor).
+Ut Omnes Unum Sint, ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam+
(That they all may be One, for the greater glory of God)