Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Lennon Bound For Cleveland -- Boston Free At Last

Taking care of two prominent prelates with one fell swoop, Pope Benedict XVI has named Auxiliary Bishop Richard Lennon of Boston to head the diocese of Cleveland, home to over 800,000 Catholics.

Lennon, who turned 59 last week, succeeds Bishop Anthony Pilla, who announced at the beginning of the year that he wished to retire early for reasons of health and whose resignation was accepted this morning by the Pope. Pilla, 73, marked his silver anniversary as bishop of Cleveland in early January. He was the first native to head the historic See, the largest in Ohio.

Named an auxiliary bishop of Boston in 2001, Lennon was thrust into the spotlight 18 months later when he was appointed apostolic administrator of the archdiocese following the departure of the embattled Cardinal Bernard Law, a post which he held for over seven months.

While winning plaudits for his handling of the short-term meltdown caused by massive revelations of sexual abuse by clergy and cover-up by church officials, Lennon's record as vicar general and moderator of the curia in the administration of recently-elevated Cardinal Sean O'Malley has been repeatedly marked by controversies over decisions and methods which have been met with pain and sadness among the clergy and people of the archdiocese.

With the administrative mastermind now gone, O'Malley now has the ability to reshape his Curia as speculation over his own transfer to another post continues. The new cardinal is expected to unveil Lennon's replacement in the Boston church's top administrative post in short order, heading up a long-awaited reshuffle of the archdiocese's senior administration.

In accord with the norms of canon law, Bishop Lennon must be installed in Cleveland within two months' time.

AP File