Thursday, October 16, 2008

How come Winona gets a "coadjutor" and not a replacement?

I wondered about this too, but what do I know? The few cases of "coadjutors" (assistant bishop, with right of succession) that I'm aware of worked alongside the old ordinary for a time and then became bishop when the previous one resigned because of age or health. Kind of an "episcopal internship" to learn the ropes and get his feet wet. But Bishop Bernard Harrington submitted his resignation on his 75th birthday, as is the policy. Maybe they are going to make him work another year while Bishop Quinn serves that internship. This might be a new policy in process. And it might not be a bad one.

Rocco of Whispers has his thoughts and report on the matter:

Even though -- by his own admission -- Bishop Bernard Harrington "want[s] to get out tomorrow" and make good on his already-set retirement plans, the Winona prelate was just the first of many left scratching their heads over the appointment of Bishop John Quinn as his coadjutor a month past his 75th birthday:
It's common for incoming and outgoing bishops to serve side-by-side, but that arrangement usually ends once the outgoing bishop turns 75, said Don Briel, director of the Center for Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

"I can't think of a single parallel case in recent memory," Briel said. "It's surprising that he (Quinn) wasn't simply brought in to replace Bishop Harrington."

Exactly how long the overlap will last isn't clear.

"I want to get out tomorrow, but John says, 'Why don't you stay around for two years?'" Harrington said at a news conference Wednesday. "The pope's representative says six months. So we have to negotiate someplace between there when this is going to take place."

Like Briel, Diocese of Winona spokeswoman Rose Hammes was surprised by the Vatican's transition arrangement.

"We've been trying to figure that ourselves, to be honest," she said. "This is very unusual."
And at yesterday's first-presser, the "two Motown bishops" who ended up in southern Minnesota had a lovefest:
“I come to you with an open heart,” Quinn, 62, said Wednesday morning after being introduced to the press and public at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. He thanked Bishop Harrington for his warm welcome and for his years of service to the church of Winona. “I am following someone who is very loved,” he said.

Responding to questions, Quinn declined to characterize himself politically. He described himself as “a man of the church” who “follows the church and its teachings,” seeking to “extend the love of Christ out into the world.”

He described himself as a collaborative leader, whose decisions are formed by prayer. “Always begin with prayer,” tempered by patience, he said, “Nothing ever happens quickly,” concluding that a large part of leadership was waiting “to see what God wants.”

Asked about the major issues facing the church he would seek to address, Quinn pointed to three areas: the faith formation of church members, to help them “grow in the desire to live the Gospel;” the nurturing of vocations; and connecting with and meeting the needs of young people.

Quinn said that over the past decade, he has seen an ever greater involvement by the laity in church leadership and in all areas of ministry. “What a blessing,” he said.

Harrington echoed Quinn’s comments encouraging vocations and reaching out to young people. Winona is a “dynamic diocese” facing the challenges brought by a changing population, he said. The growth of the traditionally Catholic Latino population poses a particular challenge to the church to reach out and serve its needs -- a challenge not unlike the church faced and met when European immigrants flooded into this country in the early years of the last century.

Harrington also noted the need to strengthen stewardship within the church, to encourage people to be generous with their “treasure, time and talent.” The people of the diocese have been responsive, he said, but church institutions -- the schools in particular -- face ongoing financial challenges in a slumping economy.

Calling him “a wise man,” Harrington was enthusiastic about turning over the diocese he has led since 1999 to a longtime friend and colleague. “He lives the Gospel as well as proclaims the Gospel,” Harrington said. Bishop Quinn, he said, was a pastor and theologian possessed of an “unbelievable love for pastoral ministry” and a deep and abiding love for the poor. “The Diocese of Winona is blessed to have Bishop Quinn as the new coadjutor bishop,” he said....

Harrington plans to soon move out of the house at the corner of Main and Sanborn streets he has called home for the past 10 years. “The new bishop doesn’t need the old bishop as a roommate,” he said.
Still living in the diocese is its fifth ordinary, Bishop Loras Watters, who turned 93 on Tuesday; Quinn and Harrington were slated to make a visit once the Appointment Day formalities wrapped.


Sanctus Belle said...

I saw Bishop Harrington this last weekend at my daughter's confirmation. He spoke clearly and with utter orthodoxy in his homily. I know he has some detractors, but with my own eyes I've not seen anything out of sorts with Harrington - but I will tell you this. He appeared to be in quite a bit of pain and he moved more slowly than usual. I am guessing this may be why he wants to retire - that and his advanced age! He most likely will be allowed to retire after Bishop Quinn is "oriented" or the church's equivalent. I would urge your readers to pray for both these men and our diocese as we go through this transition!

Unknown said...

I think you're right, Sanctus, in that a health issue is behind this.

I believe that Bishop Harrington, as long ago as six months ago or so, was wanting to retire for health reasons. That's probably why his appointment was jumped to the head of the line, ahead of about 18 appointments or so to other dioceses that are now pending.

And Bishop Quinn being appointed a coadjutor might be an "administrative error" because the appointment went through so quickly.

One would assume that the Church having been founded by Jesus Christ that the Vatican and all of its operations and departments are very efficient.

Au contraire. Only in "faith and morals.

A year or so ago, Sioux City, IA, had to wait almost two years (22 months) for their appointment to get made after Bishop DiNardo was sent to Houston and made a Cardinal in January of 2004. They received Bishop Nickless in November of 2005.

Sioux Falls, SD, lost their bishop when Bishop Robert Carlson was sent to Saginaw, MI, December of 2004 and he was replaced by Bishop Paul Swain.

It might have been longer, but when someone visited Rome for other reasons and coincidentally dropped by the appointments office and wondered when Sioux Falls might get a replacement. The response was "Didn't we already do that?" They got Sioux Falls confused with Sioux City. A few days later, Bishop Swain received his appointment in August of 2006.

I guess they don't have a lot of computers in the Vatican. Lots of scraps of paper, I guess.

The Ironic Catholic said...

Another thought.

I think Bishop Harrington's health is good for a man of 75...but he is 75! People slow down, you know?

He was appointed here to Winona after a 1+ yr vacancy and said to me that he really didn't want that to happen to Winona's very hard for a diocese to be without leadership that long. So, applying for a coadjutor so early may have been his way of taking care of business for the diocese, although we all wondered why apply for a coadjutor for a smallish diocese.

Unknown said...


"people slow down, you know!"

Tell me about it!

I have a sneaking suspicion that the Vatican is going to use coadjutors more and more. Running a diocese is a lot more complex than it used to be.

If the incumbent is in reasonably good health, there are many things that they should be able to continue doing while their replacement learns the ropes.

Smart bishops about to retire will give the new man many duties like Abp. Flynn did for Abp. Nienstedt. And then Abp. N., or as some call him informally, JCN, began visiting all the schools and parishes and archdiocesan offices that he could over the next year while he learned about running a diocese ten times bigger than his previous diocese.

There have been a couple of cases, though, where a coadjutor was assigned and the incumbent bishop didn't give them anything to do and didn't resign as was expected/hoped. In both cases the coadjutor was ultimately given a different diocese. Rome rarely fires bishops.