The Pittsburgh Vacancy Halftime Report
Coincidentally, the Sunday Post-Gazette returns to the question of Wuerl's succession... which might become a bit of a football on the Roman side as the US kingmakers jockey for position.
There are reports that Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl, of Washington, D.C., who left Pittsburgh in May, is urging a speedy appointment, possibly before the U.S. bishops meet Nov. 13.
"There's talk that it will be right before or right after Christmas. Dec. 8 is often a day that bishops are named, and so is Jan. 6," said Francesco Cesareo, dean of the liberal arts college at Duquesne University, who studies Catholic church governance. Those two dates are, respectively, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and Epiphany.
On the other hand, a Pittsburgh priest who enjoys prognosticating predicts June at the earliest. Of 195 U.S. dioceses, seven are vacant, two for more than 18 months. Another 14 bishops, including two cardinals, are past the retirement age of 75.
"I don't hear anybody saying that there is anything urgent that would push Pittsburgh to the top of the list," said the Rev. Louis Vallone, pastor of St. John of God in McKees Rocks.
"We have no immediate issues, like finances or scandals. And, unlike some other dioceses, our diocesan administrator is a bishop, so we're not backed against the wall for the sacrament of confirmation. Everyone is agreed that Bishop [Paul] Bradley is doing a very creditable job as administrator. So, from the outside, there is nothing that militates for a quick appointment for Pittsburgh," he said.
But Pittsburgh is by far the largest diocese without a full-fledged diocesan bishop.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette previously identified eight bishops who Archbishop Pietro Sambi, papal nuncio to the United States, appears certain to consider as he chooses three names to forward to the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops. They are Bishops Blase Cupich, 57, of Rapid City, S.D.; Kevin Farrell, 59, auxiliary of Washington, D.C.; Joseph Kurtz, 60, of Knoxville, Tenn.; Joseph McFadden, 59, auxiliary of Philadelphia; John Nienstedt, 59, of New Ulm, Minn.; Thomas Paprocki, 54, auxiliary of Chicago; Dennis Schnurr, 58, of Duluth, Minn.; and David Zubik, 57, of Green Bay, Wis.
Most are mentioned for more than one diocese. For instance, Bishop Farrell is considered a strong contender for Dallas, where the bishop is past retirement age.Reported here in the past, Farrell's name has garnered a heightened buzz for Dallas in recent days, with some confident enough to say that an appointment to the 930,000-strong diocese could happen by year's end.
Then again, this shouldn't be so surprising; Rome's been waiting quite some time for its Big D moment.