Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Everybody Hats: Circuit Digest, Spring Edition

Three weeks from tomorrow, the Stateside church's Midsummer Classic begins in Seattle as -- for the first time ever under a New York presidency -- the nation's bishops gather to tackle a significantly more action-packed plate than the body finds at most of its June meetings.

Abuse, Anglicans, and political engagement dominate the three-day agenda -- all in a Spring Plenary site that, for once, promises anything-but-sweltering weather... and quite possibly with a bigger turnout than most mid-year sit-downs, to boot.

In the meanwhile, though, the bench's ongoing reboot has kept up over recent weeks as the various nods made over the last few months take effect, with another couple likely to emerge in the home-stretch of the Vatican's working year, which rounds out at June's end.

All-around, the latest set of B16's moves on these shores has been dominated by a long-awaited crop of auxiliaries, their ordinations continuing on throughout these Easter days. Tomorrow in Silicon Valley brings the latest of the bunch as Bishop-elect Tom Daly, 50, completes his Roman transfer from San Francisco to San Jose, becoming the booming young church's first-ever adjunct high-hat. (The 2pm Pacific liturgy will be webstreamed, its worship aid already up.) Still, perhaps the most notable of the season's group came earlier this month in Detroit as the US' first triple-elevation since 2006 took place (fullvideo), a Hockeytown hat-trick begun with two highly-regarded local pastors and completed by the bench's new youngest member, 41 year-old Bishop Arturo Cepeda (above).

Elsewhere, after the Ord Day livefeed crumbled under the weight of clicks from Bishop Bill Waltersheid's native Harrisburg (sending the attached combox into expressions of fury over the inadequacy of church communications), a reliable feed's now available of the Easter Monday rites inaugurating Pittsburgh's new auxiliary -- memorable, Steeler-ringed homily and all.

Looking forward, meanwhile, still to come are Visitation Day's homecoming of Bishop Joe Tyson to Yakima, and two more ordinations: of Cincinnati's new deputy, Auxiliary-elect Joe Binzer, on 9 June and, just across the Indiana line, the Peter-and-Paulmas launch of Evansville's feverishly-awaited Bishop-elect Chuck Thompson.

On a salient note, while the Cinci pick will have his day just before the Seattle plenary opens, given the rhythms of the calendar, it's worth reminding that a priest named to the episcopacy claims full sitting and voting rights in his respective conference of bishops by virtue of his appointment, not ordination. Ergo, that applies to any others so tapped before Seattle's opening day on 15 June. (And since we're at it, it bears recalling that, even before they're ordained, bishops-elect are likewise entitled to all the insignia and titles of their new office, save those liturgically conferred by their principal consecrator -- namely, the ring, mitre and crozier.)

Fresh from the June Meeting, at least four Stateside prelates will be departing for an even bigger trip -- to Rome, where as newly-named metropolitan archbishops they'll receive the pallium from B16 on the 29th's feast of the Urb's patrons, all accompanied by sizable pilgrimages of their friends and flocks.

Though the size of this year's US pallium class is fairly standard for recent times -- which have seen the reigning pontiff name a majority of the nation's 32 Latin-church metropolitans since his 2005 election -- 2011's group will offer an especially keen glimpse of the nation's Catholic future to the Vatican crowd: as never before, half of this year's American delegation is Hispanic (namely, Archbishops José Gomez of Los Angeles and his successor in San Antonio, Gustavo García-Siller MSpS, both of them Mexican-born).

For purposes of context, since now-Blessed John Paul II established the practice of bringing the metropolitans together to invest them with the ancient band of lambswool himself in 1984, until now, only one of the archbishops from these shores has been Latino. With the community soon to claim for itself a majority of the American Catholic population, however, the historic duo's presence before the confessio of St Peter will underscore anew the curious reality that the Holy See appreciates the dramatic, rapid ascent of Hispanics in the nation's pews significantly more than many among this domestic church's own ranks.

While Gomez, García-Siller, Archbishops Peter Sartain of Seattle and Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City have all been several months in their new posts, archbishops who are named in the weeks prior to the Rome rites customarily scramble over to receive their pallia, even if their installations remain to take place.

Beyond the remaining auxiliaries still to be named, the top posts six US Latin-church dioceses remain vacant (in chronological order: Rapid City, Salina, Fresno, Baker, Pensacola-Tallahassee and Steubenville), with another six (again in order: Philadelphia, Savannah, Manchester, Lincoln, Bismarck and Rockford) led by ordinaries serving past the retirement age of 75.

That said, three more diocesans are scheduled to submit their walking papers in June alone: Bishop Edward Kmiec of Buffalo on the 6th, Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco on the 14th, and Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie ten days later.

PHOTOS: Larry A. Peplin/The Michigan Catholic(1); St Louis Review(2); Getty(3)