Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Gushing Tribute from Mormon Country

Via the tres-addicting CWNews NewsBytes, the NBC affiliate station in Salt Lake City offers glowing congratulations and homage to the archbishop-elect of San Francisco:

It has been a decade of unprecedented growth for the Catholic Church in Utah – from a counted membership of 75,000 to more than 200,000 today. Bishop Niederauer oversaw the creation of five new parishes and a number of missions. As well on his watch, Catholic education expanded dramatically.

Beyond the church, though, Bishop Niederauer will be remembered for building bridges of understanding. His kindly disposition and optimistic demeanor, along with keen intellectual abilities helped bring people together in the search for common ground. The broader community, without doubt, has been blessed by his civic involvement.

For similar reasons, he will be, as one fellow Priest observed, “a gift to the people of San Francisco.”

KSL joins the community in thanking Bishop Niederauer for the many positive things he accomplished during his time among us. And we wish him well as he assumes his new duties on the West Coast.

I've never seen anything as positive as this, anywhere. Especially these days. Coming from a place where Catholicism is a distinct minority (and could be completely pushed aside if the Mormons deigned it so), this on-air tribute shows that the Archbishop George was truly able to have a widespread, positive impact on the wider community, a glow which reflected on the Catholic community there.

Then again, it shouldn't be news to anyone here that he is central casting's ideal type to serve as the archbishop of San Francisco.

So what's next, you ask? Early first run of The Mill: it's only been two weeks since the vacancy opened, but Jaime Soto, the auxiliary bishop of Orange, is being talked up as a potential successor to Niederauer in Salt Lake.

Our Western gurus cite the rapid growth of the Latino community in Utah -- the engine of the almost-tripling in size of the Salt Lake diocese over the last 11 years -- as reason to send a Latin prelate there. Having spent most of his priesthood at Catholic Charities in Orange, Soto is also extremely well-versed on the immigration issues which would be of great benefit to this large influx of new Utahans. (After ordination, Soto earned a Master's degree in Social Work from Columbia University.)

Bishop Jaime turns 50 on Saturday. Early best wishes to him as he marks his half-century.