By Andrew Nelson | Published May 21, 2019
One of the frequent questions we get asked is, “Who is going to replace Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory?” That’s quickly followed by the second question, “What happens until then?”
After all, Archbishop Gregory is to be installed May 21 as the new spiritual leader of the Archdiocese of Washington, in the nation’s capital. The faithful of Atlanta want to know who will be their new spiritual shepherd.
It is certainly easier to answer the latter question because the process is spelled out in the church’s law books. With the help of the experts in canon law in the Metropolitan Tribunal, we created this chart to explain the process. A cast of different characters is involved: from the senior auxiliary bishop and the little-used college of consultors to a possible Vatican appointment and potentially months of waiting for a new archbishop.
It has been commonly thought once Archbishop Gregory begins his new ministry the usual course of appointment of a diocesan administrator would be followed.
However, right before Archbishop Gregory departed for Washington, it was announced the Atlanta Archdiocese and the Diocese of Savannah had been talking with the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia on the issue of clergy sexual abuse. All three organizations agreed to open church files for a review of reports of sexual abuse in Georgia committed by priests. It remains to be seen if that will change the course of appointing an administrator, as some speculate.
The answer should be revealed within eight days. Canon law requires the senior auxiliary bishop during that time convene the college of consultors.