Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Gateway Movement

Following Friday's first "snapshot" reporting the unexpected emergence of Bishop Salvatore Matano of Burlington at the head of the field to succeed Archbishop Raymond Burke in St Louis, the buzz in the "Rome of the West" kicks up another couple notches with a Pat Rice piece for the local Beacon... that reveals even more:
Matano's name ranks first on a list of three bishops under consideration, four sources outside of St. Louis told us.

The first two major steps in the selection of a replacement for St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke have been completed and that Matano is out front. Sources in Italy, Washington and Rhode Island declined to be named since the process is highly secretive. An announcement might come next month, with the new bishop's installation most likely after the first of the year....

Sources who have been predicting Matano since late July say Matano is several lengths ahead as the appointment process enters its home stretch.

The Providence native is known as a good preacher. As a young priest, he was an engaging math teacher in grade school. He also has been an effective teacher of moral theology ad canon law to graduate students at the Dominican Order-sponsored Providence College. Smart and witty are two words that friends are quick to use for him.

"One of my memories is seeing him walk from his St. Augustine parish (in Providence, R.I. ) about three-fourths of a mile to visit parishioners in a hospital," said Patrick Reid, a theology professor at Providence College. "That's him, no need to get the car, make no fuss. He's a humble good priest. I don't think he is particularly ambitious. He liked being a pastor and if he was going to become a bishop, then, it would have to be the Lord's will -- not something he'd seek."

Reid also recalled the "wonderful, terrific" talk that Matano gave at Reid's son's 8th grade parish school graduation. The priest's words had the class and their parents riveted with attention. "He's good with kids," Reid said.

One month before his death, Pope John Paul II assigned Matano to Burlington. The new Vermont bishop took a loan to pay one $11 million civil law suit settlement to a victim of clerical sex abuse. It was one of about 20 cases he had had to deal with. Matano prefers not to settle suits and has been sending cases to trial.

About once a month, Matano celebrates a Sunday 6 p.m. Mass at the Catholic Center at the University of Vermont's Burlington campus. About 60 students crowd the space.

Matano also is a FOB and a FOD -- a friend of Burke and a friend of Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan, a St. Louis native. As Burke's friend, Matano was the guest preacher at the annual Red Mass for lawyers and judges in October 2005 at the St. Louis Cathedral. Lawyers said he was such a good speaker that several wrote thank-you notes.

Burke and Matano were classmates in Rome at the Jesuit's Gregorian University. Both are canon lawyers.
According to one of Rice's sources, the terna for the highly-anticipated appointment arrived in Rome within the last two weeks.

Repeating an earlier word of caution, it is of prime importance to keep in mind that, given the nature of the process, these are merely "tracking" reports of where things are credibly said to stand at present, and nothing more than that. At least, until the Apartment has spoken; especially in light the current Pope's heightened involvement in his appointments, the usual rule that all presumptions are to be avoided is ever more the case in this pontificate. (As Rice herself notes, the top name on the St Louis shortlist following Archbishop John May's 1992 retirement was that of the then-bishop of Lafayette (LA), Harry Flynn... who the wind in the Vatican eventually swept to another sainted archbishopric.)

That said, on a related note -- and at long last -- the latest word on the ad intrade indicates an audible revving of the gears toward the long-awaited succession in New York.

For everything else, as always, stay tuned. And Go Phils.