A bishop in Manila has called on Catholics to stop speculating on who will replace Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle as prelate of the Philippine capital.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said that rather than speculate, "the best thing to do is to pray" because the process of selecting a new bishop is tedious.
He called for prayers for those who will do the selection so that they will be "enlightened and guided by the Holy Spirit."
Bishop Pabillo said the process of choosing Cardinal Tagle’s successor will be guided by the Apostolic Nunciature in Manila and could take a long time.
He said some bishops, priests, nuns and laypeople will be asked for their input into the selection process.
Bishop Pabillo said the Church has its process of choosing bishops and appointing them to various positions.
"We know that positions in the Church are not by popularity. Most of all, we pray for the Holy Father," said Bishop Pabillo, adding that "the final responsibility rests on him."
He said the pope has to appoint people to more than 5,000 positions in the Church over the world. "This is no easy task, so we all need to pray for the Holy Father in this service that he does for the Church," he said.
The process of appointing bishops starts when the Vatican send consultation letters to people who know the candidates or who could nominate other candidates.
"Those consulted are bound under pontifical secret not to divulge the consultation letters and their responses to protect the good name of the candidates and the respondents alike," said Bishop Pabillo.
All the answers, he said, are then processed in the nunciature and then sent to the Congregation for Bishops in Rome, which further analyzes the results.
The pope must approve the final selection and the person chosen is then informed and asked for his consent. "It is only then that a date is set for the public announcement," said Bishop Pabillo.
Cardinal Tagle has been named prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in Rome and will be responsible for the missionary work of the Church.
The cardinal is expected to assume his post at the Vatican in the coming weeks.