Sunday, December 21, 2014

Pope to Vermont: Merry Chris-mas – @bishopcoyne Gets Green Flag To "Green Mountain State"

(The appointment reported below was formally made by Pope Francis at Roman Noon on Monday, 22 December 2014; the installation is scheduled for Thursday, 29 January.)

Mama Rita’s been waiting four years for this… and just in time for Christmas, it's finally here – her boy’s coming home.

Well, close enough.

At Roman Noon tomorrow, the Pope is slated to flip Bishop Christopher Coyne – the Boston-born, 56 year-old auxiliary of Indianapolis and incoming chair of USCCB Communications – back to New England as the tenth bishop of Burlington and head of Vermont’s 125,000-member statewide church.

Confirmed by two Whispers ops, the move fittingly places the US church’s most digitally-engaged prelate in a charge with a booming tech economy – and the young adults who come with it – but likewise drops him into a church still reeling from the fallout of an $18 million sex-abuse settlement, preceded by a painful drip of revelations and a fraught legal strategy on the scandals’ response.

The global church’s first blogging priest to be named a bishop on his 2011 transfer to Indiana, the energetic, oft-irreverent daily voice on Facebook and Twitter was a last-minute addition to last month’s Baltimore ballot for the head of the bench’s outreach efforts – a sprawling apparatus that encompasses the conference’s publishing, PR and social-media entities as well as Catholic News Service – going on to take the post by a narrow margin.

With the unsurprising result, Coyne became the first auxiliary to best an archbishop for a USCCB chair since 2007, when Bishop Thomas Paprocki – at the time, a deputy in his native Chicago – memorably thrashed another premier canonist, then-St Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, to be given the helm of the body’s Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance.

Extraordinary as each outcome was, let's just say that the circumstances of the respective elections were rather different. In any case, even as Coyne’s chairmanship doesn’t formally kick in until next November, judging by early indicators, the bench's vote for him birthed what promises to be the most activist episcopal leadership the conference's currently besieged Communications arm has known since the venerable, ever-candid Joe Galante (still at it through a page of his own in retirement) took to Nightline, Oprah Winfrey's couch and well beyond in the wake of 2002’s national eruption of clergy sex-abuse and Chancery cover-up.  As it happens, even more than any national official of the period, the same inferno made for Coyne’s ever more intense baptism by fire as diocesan spokesman at the crisis’ “ground zero” in Boston – a performance that won high marks and enduring respect, including from the most unexpected of quarters.

Having become a good friend over years of panels (above) and podcasts in tandem – the next one already scheduled for February in Chicago – multiple attempts to reach Coyne as the news broke through the weekend proved unsuccessful. That said, it seems just as telling that a sudden refresh of the bishop’s web presence was launched earlier today with a new address: – a move the guy himself announced in a Facebook post.

With the change of address, the Stateside bench’s longest-standing vacancy is settled almost a year since Bishop Salvatore Matano was swept to Rochester after the 33-year reign of Bishop Matthew Clark.

All that said, the new Vermont nominee won’t seem to have much to be “bitter” about – a prominent enemy of Starbucks coffee, the move doesn’t just place Coyne back in the apron of his beloved Dunkin Donuts, but likewise yields him the headquarters of the Keurig empire, a piece of which the bishop long ago installed in the Indy Chancery to enraptured results.

In accord with the canons, the installation must take place within two months of the appointment.

As ever, more as it emerges... Coyne being Coyne, brace for a blizzard.

* * *
Even if no shortage of this crowd is already well familiar with the prodigal Pats' fan's social-media "voice," most have likely never seen the onetime full-time bartender in genuine action.

Accordingly, below is a clip of vintage Chris: the new Indy auxiliary's remarks at the end of his March 2011 ordination... a certain now-"Super-Cardinal" over his shoulder – and one not immune from....

Well, just watch it:

On the less formal side, meanwhile, from 2012, here's the first of the three invocations Coyne gave before the "green flag" of the Indianapolis 500 – a moment that became so popular among the 400,000-strong Brickyard crowd that it was aired on this year's national telecast of the race for the first time in memory....