Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Grandpa Ted

It was mentioned here last night, but it bears repeating: everyone's favorite uncle is now a grandfather.

True to form, word's going around that Cardinal McCarrick was happy as a clam to see his episcopal line passed on for the first time yesterday in Brooklyn, telling the three new auxiliaries before the liturgy that they're his "grandsons." Bishops Octavio Cisneros, Guy Sansaricq and Frank Caggiano each returned the favor, with Cisneros telling Washington's archbishop-emeritus in his public remarks how proud he was to have a share in McCarrick's lineage.

In an exceptional sign of involvement, yesterday's principal consecrator, Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, himself led the pre-ordination retreat for the bishops-elect, noting that he drew much of the template for his conferences both from Benedict XVI's recent General Audience catecheses on the apostles and Karl Rahner's "Bishops: Their Status and Function." DiMarzio was ordained an auxiliary bishop of Newark by McCarrick in 1996.

Pop-Pop Ted was ordained a bishop in 1977 at the tender age of 46, when he was named auxiliary of New York and elevated at the hands of the Servant of God Cardinal Terence Cooke. Sent to Metuchen as its first bishop in 1981 and promoted to Newark in 1986 and then to Washington in 2000, McCarrick ordained 12 bishops in his own right over his episcopal ministry. Among the current US hierarchy, only Cardinal Roger Mahony, with 13 ordinations under his belt, has been a more prolific bishop-maker; Cardinal Adam Maida has also ordained 12.

While seven of the Ted Twelve have gone onto lead dioceses of their own, it's a safe bet that the eighth will come in short order with the promotion of Bishop Kevin Farrell, the popular Washington auxiliary and chief vicar-general, to a local church of his own.

Farrell, a Dublin-born former Legionary of Christ who turns 59 next week, is widely respected, even beloved, among the DC crowd for his straight talk, warm personality and unique combination of administrative savvy with a pastoral heart; his intense record in Latino ministry is notable. The bishop has been mentioned as a possible nominee for several open or soon to be open posts, including Pittsburgh, Wilmington and Dallas; such has been the speculation surrounding his future that recently-arrived Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl is said to have asked that Farrell not be moved immediately so a smooth transition can be facilitated.

The DC auxilary's brother, who remained in the Legion after his 1984 departure, is Bishop Brian Farrell, the former head of the English desk at the Secretariat of State who currently serves as Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Reuters/Keith Bedford