Appointments of Auxiliary Vicar and Vicar General

In accordance with the possibility foreseen in the Statutes of the Prelature, the Prelate of Opus Dei, Bishop Javier Echevarría, has named Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz (born in Paris, October 27, 1944) Auxiliary Vicar, with the executive authority necessary for the government of the Prelature, including powers reserved to the Prelate, except those that require being a Bishop. The position of Auxiliary Vicar is established by law in sections 134.1 and 135 of the Codex iuris particularis Operis Dei, which was promulgated by Saint John Paul II with the Apostolic Constitution Ut sit on November 28, 1982

In the decree of appointment, dated December 9th, Bishop Echevarría explains that “the extension of the apostolic work of the Prelature and the growth of the number of regional jurisdictions, centers and activities whose pastoral care is entrusted to Opus Dei have meant an increase in the work of government required of the Prelate.” As a consequence, he adds, “taking my age into account as well, I consider it advisable to name an Auxiliary Vicar.”

Fernando Ocáriz Braña was born in Paris on October 27, 1944. He graduated from the University of Barcelona with a degree in Physical Sciences in 1966. He received a licentiate in Theology from the Pontifical Lateran University in 1969 and a doctorate from the University of Navarra in 1971, the year he was ordained a priest. Since 1986 he has been a consultor for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Father and since 1989 a member of the Pontifical Roman Theological Academy.

He was appointed Vicar General of the Prelature of Opus Dei on April 23, 1994. He is the author of numerous philosophical and theological publications in the areas of Christology and Philosophy of History.

New Vicar General

To replace Msgr. Ocáriz as Vicar General of the Prelature, Bishop Echevarría has appointed—with the deliberative vote of his General Council—Msgr. Mariano Fazio, until then the Vicar of Opus Dei for Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia.

Mariano Fazio was born in Buenos Aires on April 25, 1960. He studied History at the University of Buenos Aires and received a doctorate in Philosophy from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.

In 1991, he was ordained a priest by Saint John Paul II, after having worked for seven years in Ecuador as a professor of Philosophy of Law and editorial writer for the newspaper El Telégrafo.

From 1996 to 2002, in Rome, he was the first dean of the School of Church Communications, and then, from 2002 to 2008, the rector of the same university. During the same period, he was elected president of the Conference of Rectors of the Pontifical Universities of Rome.

In 2007, he was named an expert for the Fifth General Conference of Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, which was held in Aparecida, Brazil. Several months later, he returned to South America, where he has served, until now, as the Vicar of Opus Dei in Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia.

He is the author of more than 20 books on modern society and the process of secularization, as well as of several biographies, including one of the current Pope.

On communicating these appointments, the Prelate asked the faithful of Opus Dei, and all those who take part in the Prelature’s pastoral activities, to pray for a renewed apostolic dynamism for the work of Opus Dei, in the service of the Church and all souls.

The Auxiliary Vicar in the law of the Church for the Prelature

We reproduce here an explanation by Professor Eduardo Baura, from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, on the figure of the Auxiliary Vicar, foreseen in the law of the Church for the Prelature of Opus Dei.

The Codex iuris particularis Operis Dei (Opus Dei's Statutes), which was promulgated by Saint John Paul II with the Apostolic Constitution Ut Sit on November 28, 1982, establishes that the office of the Prelate is for life. For this reason, the same norm foresees the role of the Auxiliary Vicar, which can take two forms.

The first, which is the one that concerns us now, is foreseen for cases in which, because of an increase in the work of government or the advanced age of the Prelate or other similar circumstances, the Prelate considers it advisable that, in addition to the Vicar General, whom he always must have, there be an Auxiliary Vicar who has the executive authority necessary to assist the Prelate in the government of the Prelature. Specifically, section 134.1 of the Statutes establishes that, “if the Prelate judges in the Lord that it is appropriate or useful to appoint an auxiliary Vicar in accord with no. 135, he can freely appoint one after consulting his Council. The full General Council can also sincerely suggest to the Prelate the advisability of designating an Auxiliary Vicar, who can assist him in his governance for eight years. Absent grave reasons to the contrary, the Prelate should readily accept the will of the Council.”[1]

With regard to the mission of this kind of Auxiliary Vicar, no.135 states the following: “The Auxiliary Vicar, if he is given to a Prelate in possession of his faculties, assists him; if the Prelate is absent or impeded he takes his place. He has no other faculties except those which the Prelate delegates to him habitually or ad casum. He should faithfully give an account to the Prelate regarding all that he does.”[2] In the present case, the Prelate has conferred all of the powers of executive authority, including those reserved to the Prelate.

The role described here is best understood taking into account that the task which the Church entrusts to the Prelate—as with any pastor who is the head of an ecclesiastical circumscription—is not limited to the exercise of the powers of government. The Prelate must also be, as the Statutes affirm, “teacher and father” (no. 132.3) for all of the faithful—both priests and laity—in his care.

The other type of Auxiliary Vicar is that foreseen in cases in which the Prelate is impeded in the exercise of his function. In such a situation, there is a procedure for the election of an Auxiliary Vicar, to whom all of the powers of the Prelate are transferred, except the title (and without the right of succession), which requires confirmation by the Holy See. In this way, even in the hypothetical case of an “impeded” Prelate, the role of the Prelate as Father would remain, although the government would be in the hands of the Auxiliary Vicar, whose role would be similar to that of an apostolic Administrator of a diocese.

[1] Original Spanish is a translation from the Latin by Fr. Eduardo Baura.

[2] Ibid.

Romana, n. 59, July-December 2014, p. 354-356.

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