At mass in the Hamilton Cathedral over the last two years, and at different events around the diocese, we've had Bishop Denis Browne repeatedly tell us that this will be the "last time" he will preside over whatever the celebration is. We've all sat there accepting that come the next Easter/Advent/ First Communion, there will be a different Bishop leading us.
Sadly, this comment of Bishop Denis' continues with no sign that there is a successor imminent. Word around the place is that two lists of potential replacements' names have been rejected by the Vatican, which you would imagine has not proven a great morale booster for the priests of the Hamilton diocese. Every now and then a rumour shoots around – a new Bishop will be named by Christmas, or by Easter, or by…. and on it goes. Bishop Denis makes no secret that he wants to retire and it seems deeply unfair to him that he must continue with the role due to the slow turning of the adminstrative wheels. It is also no secret that many pressing matters are "on hold" until this appointment is made. It's not a good impasse for the diocese and is a shame for a long standing Bishop to be put in this position at the end of a long period of service.
How long is too long to wait? Is it fair to Bishop Denis, to his priests, in fact to all in the diocese to have this state of limbo continue for so long?
In any other employment situation, you simply resign and a replacement is found, no matter how far up the food chain you may be. Clearly it is not that straightforward in the Church, and no-one wants to see a rush appointment with the wrong man given the mitre, but at what point do you move forward, even with an interim appointment if the right man cannot be found, or is not immediately available?