This April will mark five years since the resignation of Tomas A. Camacho as bishop of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa, yet the long and seemingly arduous process to find his successor is back to “square one,” according to the apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa.
Speaking at the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Saipan on Tuesday at the Hyatt Regency Saipan, Fr. Ryan Jimenez asked for the public’s continued patience in the selection of the next bishop.
“It’s a long and difficult process. I sometimes think that even who is in charge of the administration process don’t know exactly what’s going on,” said Jimenez.
Jimenez said the selection process started even before Camacho’s resignation when the bishop was asked by the Vatican to submit recommendations on what qualities his successor needs to have and if there are priests in the region—the CNMI, Guam, Pohnpei, Chuuk, and Marshall Islands—who suit these qualities.
He said the process also lies heavily in the hands of the apostolic delegate or nuncio, the pope’s representative based in New Zealand. He said the nuncio does all the “preliminaries” based on his study and consultation with Rome.
The nuncio will then select three names, which is called terna, which he will then submit to Rome where an office in the Vatican called propaganda fidae wil go over the names and look carefully at each candidates’ background.
“What happened was and in our case—and this is no secret because it was relayed to me last year—there were already names. But sometime last year the previous nuncio in New Zealand mentioned to me [that] those three names were not accepted in Rome. So we’re back to square one.”
Jimenez said the rejection of the terna by the propaganda fidae wil seldom happens but does happen. Since then, he hasn’t heard any development on the selection of a new bishop.
“I haven’t heard anything. I don’t know where we are. I basically stopped asking because, you know, someone even said ‘Maybe they’re waiting for Jesus to come back because he’s the only person qualified.’ If there’s no one here who is qualified then who would that be? It will happen but we just don’t know when. Sometimes our timeframe is not God’s timeframe,” said Jimenez.
Camacho stepped down as the highest-ranking prelate in the CNMI when he turned 75 on Sept. 18, 2008, based on the Canon Law that requires a diocesan bishop who reaches that age to offer his resignation to the Holy Father in Rome. Jimenez took on his new role after Camacho’s resignation became official in April 2009.