It’s been reported that Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg was absent from his diocese the past week, including Holy Week, as the world’s attention focused on his diocese and on the plight of Terri Schiavo, the woman who the bishop has studiously ignored as best he can. Instead, he was on the other side of the world, surveying damage caused by the tsunami in Indonesia with Catholic Relief Services. Many of us thought it was no coincidence and that he was avoiding his diocese last week.

Perhaps, though, he unintentionally violated canon law:

Canon 394, para 3: The Bishop is not to be absent from his diocese on Christmas Day, during Holy Week, or on Easter Sunday, Pentecost and Corpus Christi, except for a grave and urgent reason.

Does traveling to Indonesia last week constitute a “grave and urgent” reason. After all, could he not have postponed his trip to this week or the next? I think we’ve underestimated how bad it is for a bishop to be absent from Holy Week and Easter celebrations in his diocese.