Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Days Are Coming

Word is filtering in that changes might be coming sooner than expected to the two American archdioceses whose cardinal-heads have surpassed the canonical retirement age of 75.

Cardinal Adam Maida of Detroit, who submitted his letter of resignation to Rome at his birthday last 18 March, is said to be eyeing his departure from the helm of the 1.5 million-member See shortly after local celebrations for his Golden Jubilee of Priestly Ordination are held at the end of May.

Last September, I reported for Religion News Service that Maida had received word in May, 2005, that he was to continue as archbishop of Detroit for an unspecified length of time. Apparently, however, a pressing need is presenting itself in Detroit for a comprehensive reorganization of the archdiocese and the reallocation of its resources (read: closings). As Maida remembers well his predecessor's experience with the realities of changing demographics (Cardinal Szoka and the Bulletproof Vest), and given the need for optimal administrative cohesion to effect the effort's smooth progression, we're told he's looking to leave the task to his successor; and the sooner he arrives, the better.

Of course, as Maida is also the one prelate in memory who's proved himself capable of shooting a hole in one -- no lie -- he's probably also eager to spend more time on the links (possibly with Chink?). After the wrenching nature of 50 years of ministry and the pressure-cooker of the last four, who could blame him?

Regardless, Detroit's case has a very good friend in Rome in Szoka, who is one of the record five American members of the Congregation for Bishops. Szoka, one of John Paul's "Polish mafia" whose day job is heading up the Governatorato (the Vatican's civil government), has a track record of tag-teaming with Maida to get whatever's in Detroit's best interests. We'll see what happens.

Coming back eastward, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington is said to be letting word slip that his archdiocese's September guesstimate of two years before his retirement was to be accepted was, a source says, "an outside figure" -- the implication being that 2006 will be McCarrick's last year as head of the Catholic community in the nation's capital.

Of course, it was reported here last week that a possible succession scenario involving the embattled Archbishop Sean O'Malley of Boston is making heavy waves in the District, where O'Malley would be much more at ease, not to mention able to proceed with his initiatives.

But if that happens, those expecting Boston to get a Bruskewicz or Burke would be best advised to not hold their breath.... Unless they want to suffocate.