Sunday, July 23, 2006

Pittsburgh is Looking at "Our" Bishops for a Replacment for Bishop Wuerl

Pittsburgh's Bishop Donald Wuerl last month was installed as the Archbishop of Washington, D.C. and will no doubt receive his red hat at the next papal consistory. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this morning has an article with a short list of candidates for replacements as Bishop of Pittsburgh. Four of them are from our (extended) area:

BISHOP BLASE J. CUPICH, 57, of Rapid City, S.D., is a former rector of the Pontifical College Josephinum in Ohio, a Vatican-chartered seminary, and worked for the papal nuncio to the United States in the 1980s.

He was a candidate for presidency of the U.S. bishops conference in 2004, indicating respect from other bishops. In a testament to his work with victims of sexual abuse, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests endorsed him in that 10-way race. He is chairman of the bishops' Vocations Committee, which helps recruit priests. Ordained for Omaha, Neb., in 1975, he spent six years in parish ministry, three teaching high school, and was a pastor when he was appointed to lead the Rapid City diocese in 1998.

Croatian by heritage, he is bright, outgoing and a centrist in church matters. He has good relations with the news media and has blogged for his diocesan Web site. [Automatically the St Blog's Parish Fave!] In 2004, when some bishops would not give communion to Catholic politicians who supported abortion rights and some said it was a sin to vote for them, Bishop Cupich took a wider view.

"We cannot cherry-pick particular issues. We have to be willing to talk about all issues. Our position begins with protecting the unborn, but it doesn't end there," he told the Rapid City Journal.

Bottom line: He appears destined for a larger diocese and his views would be welcomed by those who admired Archbishop Wuerl.

Comment: Rapid City's Bishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., has gone on to national prominence as Bishop of Denver.

BISHOP JOHN C. NIENSTEDT, 59, of New Ulm, Minn., is the kind of bishop Pope Benedict XVI is expected to appoint to challenge the forces of secularism. He has a doctorate in bioethics from Rome and served in the Vatican's Secretariat of State from 1980 to 1985.

Some observers view him as more conservative on both church and public issues than Archbishop Wuerl, but the two are good friends.

Born in Detroit, he is three-fourths Irish. After his 1974 ordination, he spent three years in full-time parish ministry, with much part-time work later on. He was rector of the Detroit seminary from 1987 until 1994. As a Detroit auxiliary bishop from 1996 to 2001, he was known for work in Catholic-Jewish relations.

Posted in 2001 to New Ulm, a 9,900-square-mile diocese in southern Minnesota, he followed the 26-year tenure of a liberal icon, the late Bishop Raymond Lucker. Any bishop of the current era would have been a shock, and some priests complained of his top-down, by-the-book management. Some outside observers said it was a credit to Bishop Nienstedt's pastoral skill that riots didn't erupt among the clergy. He is credited with increasing vocations to the priesthood.

He led a statewide campaign urging parishioners to send postcards to their legislators supporting a ban on gay marriage.

Bottom line: His work in bioethics and Catholic-Jewish relations would serve him well here, but he is rumored to be in line for an archdiocese.

Comment: New Ulm is Minnesota's smallest and most rural diocese.

BISHOP DENNIS M. SCHNURR, 58, of the Diocese of Duluth, Minn., organized the 1993 World Youth Day in Denver with the late Pope John Paul II. The event marked a positive turning point in the pope's relationship with U.S. Catholics and in young Catholics' relationship to the church.

A canon lawyer and native of Sheldon, Iowa, Bishop Schnurr studied in Rome and was ordained for the Diocese of Sioux City. He spent three years in parish ministry, then worked for the pope's nuncio to the United States from 1985 to 1989. In 1989, he was hired by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to oversee its peace and social justice projects. He was the bishops' general secretary from 1995 until 2001, with a staff of 350 and a budget of $50 million.

He went to Duluth in 2001. He's a good communicator, and vocations to the priesthood have increased, in part due to an innovative youth ministry. He kept up his social justice work and was the keynote speaker when Minnesota religious leaders went to the state capital to lobby for programs to help the poor.

He is treasurer of the U.S. Bishops Conference, a difficult job during a time of deficit and downsizing.

Bottom line: Exceptionally competent, he would be a boon to youth ministry here, but his duties with the bishops conference are so demanding that its president might plead to keep him in Duluth for now so that he has time for conference work.

Comment: Duluth has been a good episcopal incubator recently, its last two Bishops having gone on to great things: Bishop Robert Brom became first Coadjutor, then Bishop of San Diego; and Bishop Roger Schwietz became first Coadjutor and then Archbishop of Anchorage.

BISHOP DAVID A. ZUBIK, 56, of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wis., is a popular former auxiliary here [Pittsburgh]. Some priests and local ecumenical leaders want him back.

A Sewickley native, he was ordained in 1974. He spent five years in parish ministry before becoming vice principal of Quigley Catholic High School in Baden. He has a master's degree in education and is an excellent homilist. He is noted for his deep spirituality and life of prayer.

He became secretary to then-Bishop Anthony Bevilacqua in 1987 and rose through the chancery ranks. He was a key player in the diocesan reorganization that closed and merged parishes. He was made a bishop in 1997.

He was sent to Green Bay in 2003 to overhaul its administration. He has undertaken a Pittsburgh-style reorganization, but protests do not appear to have harmed his reputation. His Bishops' Appeal last year surpassed its goal of $4.8 million.

In 2004, he urged Catholics to make opposition to abortion and gay marriage top priorities when they voted, but he did not advocate denying communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights.

He has made outreach to Hispanics a priority and issued a strong statement urging compassion for all immigrants.

In church, "people are not illegal. People are people," he wrote.

Bottom line: He represents a vote for continuity in the management that has made Pittsburgh a plum diocese, but he's a long shot because of his short tenure in Green Bay, where his work is in midstream.

Comment: Green Bay gave its Bishop Adam Maida to Detroit, where he has been a Cardinal for some time and will be retiring one of these days. And the irrepressible Rocco from Philly informs me this morning that Father Frank Dewane of Green Bay was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Venice, FL, in April of this year. He is to be consecrated and installed this coming Tuesday.

The others on the the Post-Gazette's short list for the Diocese of Pittsburgh are Bishop Kevin Farrell, an Auxiliary in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.; Bishop Joseph Kurtz of the Diocese of Nashville; Bishop Joseph McFadden of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia; and Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Archdiocese of Chicago. [snip] Read the entire article.

Comment: StP-M's favorite for Coadjutor here was not mentioned for Pittsburgh. Wheeewwwww! That's a relief. Tip O' The Hat to Amy from Open Book!

Pray for Sioux Falls, everybody, they have been seeking a Bishop since December of 2004 when their Bishop Robert Carlson was sent to save Saginaw.

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