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Anna G. Larson, Published February 11 2013

Pope’s resignation could delay appointment of new local bishop

FARGO – Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation could affect the appointment of a new local bishop.

The Very Rev. Luke Meyer, chancellor of the Fargo Catholic Diocese, said Monday he suspects the pope’s resignation will result in “some kind” of delay in the appointment of a new bishop for the Fargo Diocese.

“Since the ultimate decision rests with the pope himself, with the papacy being vacant starting on the evening of Feb. 28, some delay in the decision making in the Vatican is to be expected, including the appointment of bishops,” Meyer said.

The former Fargo Diocese bishop, the Rev. Samuel Aquila, left last July to become the archbishop of the Denver Archdiocese.

The four-part process of selecting bishop candidates typically begins at the diocesan level and works its way through a series of consultations until it reaches Rome, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The pope makes the final decision. The confidential process also involves apostolic nuncio, the Congregation for Bishops and others.

It often takes eight or more months to choose a new bishop, according to the USCCB.

Fargo has been without a bishop for nearly eight months.

The Rev. David Kagan, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Bismarck, has overseen all Catholic churches in North Dakota since Aquila’s departure.

In response to Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, Kagan said in a statement Monday that he is “not just surprised, but saddened.”

“Since Pope Benedict XVI is the one who appointed me to be bishop of the church, I’m saddened that this has taken place,” Kagan said in the statement. “But, it gives all of us a great sense of peace and hope that ultimately it is Almighty God, the Holy Spirit, who inspires and guides all of us, beginning with the Holy Father.”

The 85-year-old Pope Benedict said he had come to the certainty “that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”

Benedict said he will step down at 8 p.m. on Feb. 28, Rome time. He is the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years.

Benedict was elected pope in 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Anna G. Larson at (701) 241-5525

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