The Archbishop of the Mobile Catholic Archdiocese, Thomas Rodi, says he will submit his offer of retirement in March.

Rodi will turn 75 years old on March 27, which is the required age to submit an offer of retirement to the Pope. Those retirement offers are almost always accepted.

Rodi wrote this letter to the Archdiocese Wednesday:

Next month, God willing, I will celebrate a birthday that has special significance to bishops. I will be 75 years old on March 27, 2024, and Church law requires that all archbishops and bishops submit their letter of retirement upon reaching 75 to the Pope. The letter of retirement is almost always accepted. Some are accepted in a short amount of time, others take longer. It is completely at the discretion of the Pope and he appoints all bishops in this country. Sometimes the Pope quickly appoints a new bishop for the archdiocese or diocese and at other times he may inform the archbishop or bishop to continue to serve temporarily for a while longer. Sometimes the Pope accepts the retirement but appoints the archbishop or bishop to serve as administrator of the archdiocese or diocese until a new appointment is made. The Pope freely chooses how he wishes to handle the matter.
I am grateful to God for the blessing of serving as a bishop for 23 years, 16 years of that as Archbishop of Mobile. However, the Church in her wisdom, directs that at 75 a bishop should offer his letter of retirement. I will send this letter on my birthday, as directed by Church law. The process to select a new archbishop will then begin. 
The Vatican City State is a sovereign nation. Almost all nations, including the U.S., have diplomatic relations with the Vatican City State. The U.S. has two ambassadors who live in Rome. One is the ambassador to Italy and the other is the ambassador to the Vatican City State.
Likewise, the Pope has an ambassador to the U.S. who lives in Washington, D.C. The title for the Pope’s ambassador is the “Nuncio.” Among his important duties is the responsibility of recommending to the Pope men to serve as bishops and archbishops in this country. When a bishop or archbishop submits his letter of retirement, the Nuncio consults with bishops, clergy, religious and laity. In addition, some recommendations may have been received before the retirement. Eventually, the Nuncio sends names of candidates to the Vatican. All of this is done confidentially.
There is an office at the Vatican, the Dicastery for Bishops, which is a panel of cardinals appointed by the Pope. This panel examines the recommendations of the Nuncio and then presents this information to the Pope. If the Pope accepts the recommendation, the man is notified that the Pope has appointed him as bishop or archbishop. If the recommendation is declined, the process resumes. This is as simple (or simplistic) of an explanation that I can give.
In the meantime, there is an expression in the military that you “serve at post until relieved.” Even when I become 75, I will serve as archbishop until the Pope informs me otherwise.
After my retirement is accepted, I plan to continue living in the Archdiocese of Mobile. Alabama has become home to me. Some people who have lived their entire life in one place have trouble understanding that “home” may not be the place where one was born. I have fallen in love with Alabama and feel this is home. For people who may not immediately understand this, the best example I can give are the Irish priests that many of us have met through the years. Very few of them moved back to Ireland when they retired. Although Ireland continued to be very dear to them, Alabama became “home.” I feel the same way.
My plans, if God allows, will be to retire and live in Daphne in a home being built for my retirement. I give thanks to the generous donor who made the donation to pay for this house. No money from the parishes has been used to pay for this. Although it is always up to God, I know that men in my family do not tend to live long. (My dad died at 80). So before long, the house will be sold and the proceeds from the sale will go to the Archdiocese of Mobile. Hopefully the house will be a good investment for the Archdiocese. 
As long as my health permits me to serve, my role as a retired archbishop will be up to the new archbishop. I hope to be able to fill in for parish priests as needed and as I am able.
Please pray for me in this time of transition and pray that the Holy Spirit will guide the selection of our next archbishop.
 

–The End—

Rodi is a native of New Orleans. He has been in his current position of Archbishop since 2008. He was Bishop of the Diocese of Biloxi from 2001 to 2008.

Unusually for an Archbishop, Rodi is an attorney, graduating from the Tulane Law School. He was previously a Judge of the metropolitan tribunal. He earned a licentiate in Canon Law. He has an extensive academic background. While serving as Archbishop, he was Chair of Catholic Outreach for ten years.

The following two steps for the Archdiocese are in the hands of the Pope. He must accept or reject Rodi’s offer of retirement. If accepted, the Pope will then select a new Archbishop.

By the end of 2023, 13 serving U.S. Catholic bishops were at least 75 years old — the age at which, according to Paul VI’s 1966 apostolic letter Ecclesiae Sanctae, bishops are required to submit their offer of retirement to the Pope.  Rodi makes 14. 

There have not been simultaneously 14 bishops aged 75 or older leading U.S. dioceses since 1967.

An additional 52 Catholic bishops will turn 75 over the next five years. In total, 38% of current U.S. diocesan bishops will be up for replacement by 2028. This is the largest percentage of bishops aged 70 or above that the US has ever had.

What led to this wave of retiring bishops, and what does it tell us about the future of the Catholic Church in the United States? 

In fact, it’s the creation of a mandatory retirement age itself that has created a kind of cresting cycle for bishop-level retirements, amplified in recent years by the Vatican’s propensity to appoint older men as bishops.

This is a new and developing story. 1819 News will report developments.

Jim Zeigler is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].