Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ed On Evil

Fresh off his appointment as the US' Archbishop-in-Chief (per the provisions of an 1858 Roman decree which has never been abrogated), incoming archbishop of Baltimore Edwin O'Brien delivered last night's Theology on Tap in the diocese of Arlington.

For a taste of Pope Benedict's low-key choice to head the nation's Premier See, an mp3 feed of his take on "The Mystery of Evil" is up. Enjoy.

A native New Yorker, O'Brien's selection earlier this month to succeed Cardinal William Keeler takes him out of the running for the leadership of his native diocese, where he served in a host of capacities for more than three decades before heading to the archdiocese for the Military Services in 1997.

Three months past Cardinal Edward Egan's 75th birthday, however, word from the wires says that another former Gotham auxiliary -- Archbishop Henry Mansell of Hartford -- is more than just the hometown favorite to come back with the keys to 452 Madison and the top suite in the Powerhouse, which he once oversaw as chancellor and vicar-general to John Cardinal O'Connor.

Approaching his 70th birthday in October, Mansell was ordained an auxiliary of New York by John Paul II in 1993 and promoted to the bishopric of Buffalo two years later. His mentor's emphatic choice to take the throne of St Patrick's Cathedral before O'Connor's 2000 death (a succession that prompted a transcontinental War of the Prelates), the Bronx-born cleric, famous for his impeccably jet-black hair, ended up instead in the Connecticut post, where he was installed in 2003.

Viewed by a wide swath of the New York clergy as an "ideal" choice to take the reins of the nation's marquee diocese, Mansell would fit the office's traditional profile (broken but once since 1902) of a familiar hand already well-versed in the ways of one of the global church's most complex diocesan operations. As an added bonus, given tensions among its presbyterate over Egan's leadership style, the native son's familiarity and regard among the local crowd would represent Rome's bid to soothe the nerves of a clergy which has, in parts, become restive in recent years.

Never one to be slowed, the cardinal last week completed a significant reshuffle of the archdiocese's top posts, including the appointment of Auxiliary Bishop Gerald Walsh as rector of St Joseph's Seminary, Dunwoodie, a new chancellor, director of priest personnel and superintendent of schools. 1011 confirmed last week that Pope Benedict will visit New York and the United Nations (among other parts yet unknown) next spring, coinciding with the bicentennial of the archdiocese's erection as part of the American hierarchy's first expansion.

It's still early in the game, but -- as with all things -- stay tuned.

In other A-list episcopal forays into ToT, as the daily readings continue their chronicle of Israel's flight from Egypt, the Most High Pharaoh will lead his young through the White Sea on Thursday night here in the River City, speaking on the golden topic of (and we're paraphrasing here, but not by much) "Popes I Have Known."

If this isn't slam-dunk "appointment Catholicism," then nothing is. And for one who spent 34 years in the company of the pontiffs, the pittance of an hour and a half to tackle the subject matter is far too short.

As (at least, for a good many of us here) Finnigan's falls within the definition of "some sacred place" (and quite so, at that) it's unclear as to whether the Penitentiary's bicentennial gift to the faithful will apply to the event.

Even so, consider it a plenary indulgence anyway -- for your mind.