Over the next two months, Archbishop Hartmayer will continue to exercise his office in the Diocese of Savannah with some assistance. For example, Confirmations and Ordinations will take place as scheduled; however, the celebrant will either be him or another bishop or priest acting in his stead.
Every Bishop in the Catholic Church is appointed by the Holy Father.
Pope Francis has not yet appointed the next Bishop of Savannah. While there is no time frame for appointing a new Bishop of a Diocese, there is a time frame for designating someone to manage the Diocese.
After a See is vacant – meaning that there is no appointed Bishop – the College of Consultors of the diocese will meet within eight days of the vacancy to elect a Diocesan Administrator. The College of Consultors consists of priests of the particular diocese who were chosen by their Bishop to act as special advisors. They will also assist the new Diocesan Administrator with the governance of the Diocese.
In the Diocese of Savannah, this election will take place within eight days after Archbishop Hartmayer’s installation in the Archdiocese of Atlanta on May 6, 2020.
The Diocesan Administrator can be any priest of the diocese who is at least 35 years old and outstanding in doctrine and prudence.
Once the Administrator has accepted the election, he informs the Apostolic See and is immediately bound by the obligations of the office. He acts in the stead of a diocesan bishop unless the law or the nature of the act provides otherwise. [Nature of the act: if the diocesan administrator is not a bishop, he cannot perform any sanctifying functions flowing from episcopal orders.]
There is no limit to the length of time the Diocesan Administrator may serve, and he can only be removed by the Holy See. His function ceases once a new Bishop takes possession of the Diocese.