Saturday, November 14, 2009

All Rhoades Lead to Dome... and Pope Lifts High La Crosse

Good morning... and, as expected, happy news.

In an unprecedented double-shot of Saturday appointments on these shores -- and on the eve of the US bishops' Baltimore plenary, no less -- Pope Benedict has named:
  • Bishop Jerome Listecki of LaCrosse (right) as archbishop of Milwaukee. The Chicago native, 60, succeeds Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who was transferred to New York on 23 February...
  • ...and Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Harrisburg as bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend. A native son of the Pennsylvania capital (and former rector of one of the Stateside church's most celebrated seminaries, Mount St Mary's in Emmitsburg), the Indiana-bound prelate, who turns 52 later this month, succeeds Bishop John D'Arcy -- the nation's oldest active prelate -- who reached the retirement age of 75 in August 2007.
For starters, let's just put the top question on all minds to bed: indeed, Rhoades was among the 75-some US bishops who protested President Obama's commencement appearance at his new charge's most prominent Catholic entity... and while we're at it, so was Listecki.

More importantly for the Indiana diocese, though, after an explosion in the Fort's Latino population over recent years, el obispo habla espaƱol; Rhoades spent several years in Hispanic ministry as a young priest... and more importantly for Milwaukee -- facing some 14 abuse-related civil suits that, depending on their result, could see the 700,000-member church enter Chapter 11 bankruptcy -- the archbishop-elect is a civil lawyer... and Polish, to boot -- a first for the Beer City's eleven chief shepherds since 1843.

As always, more as things progress.

SVILUPPO: Along with Rhoades' statement for today's two-city rollout in Indiana, the Harrisburg chancery relays that he'll be installed on 13 January 2010; no date has yet been set for Listecki's inaugural in Milwaukee, and none is expected to be announced for about a week or so.

Among other things, the FWSB move is a rare instance of a bishop being transferred to a smaller see than his current one; the church in Pennsylvania's capital is larger than Rhoades' new charge by some 90,000 Catholics.

A shift of the sort last happened in 2007, when Bishop Robert Baker was sent from South Carolina's booming Charleston church to Northern Alabama's Birmingham diocese -- half the size of the former... but, crucially, the home of EWTN.

Suffice it to say, the same logic is reflected today.