Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Hehir Out?

I'm told that Bishop Richard Lennon's successor as the COO of Catholic Boston will be coming down in the morning.

But, even more notably, buzz is that the well-regarded head of Catholic Charities in Boston, Fr J. Bryan Hehir, might be leaving the post to which he returned in 2003 from the national presidency of Catholic Charities in the wake of recent controversies over adoptions which have involved his staff and polarized public opinion in Massachusetts, kicking off a national firestorm in the process.

In the coming weeks, Cardinal Sean O'Malley will be presenting a comprehensive fiscal accounting of the archdiocesan ledgers. In tandem with this will come what are said to be massive job cuts at the Boston chancery -- a drastic slimming-down of the central administration, cutting the number of cabinet secretariats from 15 offices to possibly five.

Lennon's appointment to the diocese of Cleveland this morning opens another vacancy for an auxiliary bishop in Boston -- one already exists from the 2004 transfer of Bishop Richard Malone to the diocese of Portland in Maine.

Under one scenario which has been floated, one new bishop will be named shortly, with another two coming later in the year. Heavy speculation among Boston Catholics has focused on three names: Msgr. William P. Fay, the former General Secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (currently undertaking a Spanish-immersion course in the Dominican Republic); Fr Brian Bachand, O'Malley's private secretary; and the cardinal's close friend and adviser Fr Brian Kiely, pastor of St Patrick's in Natick.

Fay and Fr Richard Erickson, a military chaplain currently stationed outside the archdiocese, are the leading names in contention for the top administrative post.

In a brief statement released from Brighton earlier today, Cardinal O'Malley assured his departing auxiliary of his "continued prayers and best wishes as he begins this new ministry."