Bishop Paul Swain came out swinging Thursday. Within an hour of being ordained a Roman Catholic bishop and installed as the eighth leader of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls, he had spoken out on two issues on the Nov. 7 ballot."I'm proud to say that the first vote I will cast as a South Dakotan will be yes for Referred Law 6," Swain said, to applause and a standing ovation.
Referred Law 6 is the abortion ban, which was passed by the state Legislature earlier this year and will be decided by voters. It outlaws all abortions except those done to save a pregnant woman's life.
"This law is not perfect legislation, but it will better respect and protect the vulnerable," Swain said. He also said he would vote yes on Constitutional Amendment C. Approval of Amendment C would amend the South Dakota Constitution to recognize marriages between only a man and a woman.
Swain said he was not judging or demeaning anyone by doing so but preserving the common good and encouraging family life.Swain now leads the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls, which includes almost 130,000 Catholics who live east of the Missouri River.About 975 people attended the Mass. Many more will have a chance to meet Swain in the next two weeks as he travels to nine other communities.
Swain was ordained by Archbishop Harry Flynn of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Bishop Robert Carlson of Saginaw, Mich., and Bishop Emeritus William Bullock of Madison, Wis.Carlson is the seventh bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls and served here from 1994 to 2005. Swain comes here from the Diocese of Madison.
Swain converted to Roman Catholicism when he was 39 and was ordained into the priesthood five years later.
The Bible verses he chose during the Mass spoke to his own experiences, including Jeremiah 1:4-9, in which God says, "Before you were born, I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you."The Gospel reading came from John 21. In it, Jesus asks Simon Peter, who later denied him three times, whether the disciple loves him and instructs him to "feed my sheep."
"Like Peter, I denied Christ more than three times, and like Peter, I wept bitterly for my failings," Swain said.
But many of his remarks were light-hearted, displaying a dry wit."Most of you here don't even know me, and I suspect when the appointment was announced, you said, 'Who?' " Swain said. "My response was a little longer: 'Who, me?' " [....snip] Sioux Falls Argus Leader