Saturday, November 14, 2009

Rhoades: Domesday = Yesterday

Eight months after the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese's marquee Catholic institution drew a heaping dose of ecclesial wrath for choosing President Obama to send off its class of 2009 -- and the local ordinary responded by boycotting the event -- the new sheriff in town offered Notre Dame an olive branch on his Opening Day in Dome Country.

Despite having been one of the additional 75 US prelates who protested the university's move in solidarity with now-retired Fort Bishop John D'Arcy, Bishop Kevin Rhoades said "that's now in the past -- let's move to the future," in comments reported by the South Bend Tribune.

"I love Notre Dame," today's appointee added. "I want to have a close personal and pastoral relationship. It's such a strong place."

Continuing with the "new leaf" approach, the incoming Indianan celebrated tonight's 5pm Vigil Mass in the campus' Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

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At this point, it's worth recalling Rhoades' lineage -- at almost every turn of his priesthood, there stood the gentle hand of his ordaining bishop in Harrisburg, who eventually became Baltimore's Cardinal William Keeler.

The future cardinal's priest-secretary for a year before Keeler's 1989 transfer to the Premier See, the Baltimore prelate brought his protege south in relatively short order, first naming Rhoades to the faculty of Mount St Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg in 1995, then the rectorship of "The Mount" two years later, just shy of his 40th birthday.

Well known for favoring dialogue to confrontation (and still attaining his aims), the cardinal stands down this week from the lead post of the US' Catholic-Jewish dialogue -- a post he's held for 26 years.

As for the departing "bishop of Notre Dame," he's getting quite the sendoff -- tomorrow's edition of South Bend's paper of record leads with the headline "D'Arcy will be missed"... even if he's keeping the bishop's residence as his own in retirement, with his successor's consent.

Along the way, the Tribune includes a retrospective of archived pieces from D'Arcy's 24-year reign, including an interview on his golden jubilee as a priest, and a 2004 article noting the bishop's attempts to voice concerns over the reassignments of predator priests in his native Boston in the early 1980s -- a "voice in the wilderness" that, according to a USCCB report, appeared to be "ignored"... and, quite possibly, resulted in his transfer to the Midwest.

In his newfound downtime, the 77 year-old prelate said earlier today that he was planning to learn two things he's not been able to master in active ministry: speaking Spanish, and surfing the internet.

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For his part, the university's president -- Holy Cross Fr John Jenkins -- released the following statement shortly after noon:

“On behalf of the University of Notre Dame and her family, I am delighted to welcome Bishop Kevin Rhoades as our new bishop.

“Bishop Rhoades is well recognized for his intellect and discernment. For institutions of higher learning in this diocese, it is especially significant that he had many years of experience on the faculty, in the administration and on the board of Mount St. Mary’s University. In addition, the large Latino population in our diocese will be genuinely blessed by Bishop Rhoades’ commitment to serving that community.

“We are confident that the ministry of Bishop Rhoades will be a blessing for Notre Dame and the Diocese of Fort Wayne/South Bend, as was the ministry of Bishop John D’Arcy, and we look forward both to his apostolate and to our friendship for many years to come.”

As regular readers will recall, the ND board recently re-upped Jenkins for a second five-year term at the university's helm.
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And speaking of statements, the last word of this rare Appointment Saturday belongs to the other high-profile vacancy filled before sunrise....

On the unveiling of his successor in Milwaukee, Tim Dolan reacted thus:
For the last nine months, since my appointment as Archbishop of New York, I have daily asked our Lord to send a happy, holy, humble new archbishop to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Today my prayer is simply: “thank you, Lord!”

Pope Benedict XVI has chosen wisely. Bishop Jerome Listecki is a good friend, and a most effective, generous, faithful, joyful shepherd. I feel bad for the Diocese of La Crosse, but rejoice with my beloved people of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee!

Sorry, Jerry, that I did not leave the archdiocese in better shape, but I was counting on being there a lot longer! You’ve got some of the greatest clergy, sisters, and people in the Church … and now they’ve got one of the best archbishops anywhere!

(P.S. In the confidential file in the safe is the list of my favorite fish fries).
Fresh off his first Big Apple sparring match -- a clash with the New York Times that scored headlines and saw the Grey Lady's ombudsman use his Sunday column to respond -- Dolan's statement ran on his new blog, which finally has a better template... and even a much simpler address.

In the morning, off to Charm City and the November Big Top. As always... well, you know it.

PHOTO: University of Notre Dame