Pope Francis has codified his ability to effectively fire Catholic bishops, saying that in some circumstances, he "can consider it necessary" to ask them to resign their offices, reports NCR Online.
The move, which the Vatican announced on Wednesday, seems to be an attempt by Francis to clear up any ambiguity about the Pontiff's power to replace prelates around the world. While Francis and his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, have effectively removed bishops in the past, their power to do so was not previously so explicit in the laws of the Church.
Wednesday's change comes in a short edict approved Monday by Francis at the request of Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican's Secretary of State. Composed of seven short articles, the edict addresses the resignation of diocesan bishops and papal appointees.
Concerning resignations at the Pope's request, the edict states: "In some particular circumstances, the competent authority can consider it necessary to ask a bishop to present his resignation from pastoral office, after having made known the reasons for the request and listening carefully to the reasons, in fraternal dialogue."
The competent authority in such an instance would seem to be only the Pope, who is ultimately the only person responsible for appointing bishops.