Friday, June 01, 2007

Vancouver = Vacancy... at Domus Paulus VI

Especially considering the recent delays on this side of the border, the pace of movement in the Canadian hierarchy has been plugging along at a conspicuous clip.

As one of the Northern crowd put it earlier today, "Canada Day came a month early." This morning, Pope Benedict named Archbishop Brendan O'Brien of St John's, Newfoundland to the archdiocese of Kingston and -- in a move foreseen weeks ago in the Italian press -- sent Archbishop J. Michael Miller CSB, the #2 official of the Congregation for Catholic Education in Rome, to the archdiocese of Vancouver as the successor-in-waiting to Archbishop Raymond Roussin SM.

O'Brien, 63, succeeds Archbishop Anthony Meagher, who died in January after a long battle with cancer. Numbering around 120,000 Catholics, the archdiocese of Kingston is the cradle of Anglophone Catholicism in Canada, and O'Brien's appointment brings to five the number of Canadian metropolitans named in the last year by Benedict XVI, each of whom will receive the pallium from the Pope on 29 June in Rome.

Whilst retaining his Canadian passport, the Ottawa-born Miller, 61 next month, became a naturalized US citizen in 2002, whilst serving as president of the University of St Thomas in Houston. A member of the Toronto-based Basilian Fathers, Miller -- a onetime official at the Secretariat of State -- became secretary for the Congregation of Catholic Education (the dicastery with competence over the church's universities and seminaries) in late 2003. The archbishop was charged with oversight for 2005's apostolic visitation of US seminaries. He was among the 359 priests ordained by Pope Paul VI on 29 June 1975 to mark the Holy Year.

Known for a graciousness that, a friend once said, impels him to send "thank-you notes for thank-you notes," in Vancouver Miller will transition into the leadership of one of Canada's burgeoning local churches, in a city with a booming population and a rising global profile; Vancouver will host the 2010 Winter Olympics, for which pastoral initiatives are already in the works. The archdiocese's Catholic population -- currently in excess of 400,000 -- is notable in that a large concentration of its membership (numbering about half, according to some estimates) is of Asian immigration or descent.

The new coadjutor will first assist, and eventually succeed Roussin, who took a leave from office in 2005 after a rare public announcement of his diagnosis with clinical depression. The 68 year-old archbishop, who took up the post in 2004, has continued to speak out on mental illness, contributing to a recent episode of Salt + Light's FOCUS (video) on depression.

In a statement released this morning, Roussin said he was "more than pleased" by Miller's appointment.

"I know Archbishop Miller will be a great help to the Archdiocese of Vancouver considering his background and the richness of his service to the Church," he said.

SVILUPPO: In light of the morning news, S+L has posted a stream of its 2004 "Witness" sit-down with Miller -- conducted, of course, by the archbishop's confrere, Fr Thomas Rosica.