Thursday, October 09, 2008

Gateway to "Long-Range"

So for the record, not a lick of the posts below are the aforementioned longer-frame stuff... and that's the thing about a 24-hour news-cycle with loads of time-sensitive material: it's hard to get away from. But hopefully what's popped up in the meantime has held its weight.

And to top it off, as Columbus Day -- or, as our Canadian friends (rightfully) call it, Thanksgiving -- is upon us, in the interests of starting the bash off right, a bit of news from the Italo-American beat, albeit with wider ramifications... ergo, especially given the wide interest in this one, ecco:

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Over recent weeks, three independent sources in divergent locales have indicated a surprise front-runner for the vacant archbishopric of St Louis: Bishop Salvatore Matano of Burlington.

A native of Providence ordained to lead Vermont's statewide diocese of 150,000 in 2005, the 62 year-old prelate was a Roman classmate and remains a close friend of the prior head of the 550,000-member Gateway City church, Archbishop Raymond Burke, now the prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the Holy See's highest court. A product of the North American College and the Gregorian, he was ordained a priest at the Vatican in 1971.

Long a diocesan official and pastor in Rhode Island, Matano served from 2000 until his Burlington appointment as a locale -- a "local collaborator" -- at the apostolic nunciature in Washington, where he won the high regard of his boss, the then-nuncio Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, who led his aide's ordination in Vermont on the afternoon of Benedict XVI's election.

Described as a "complete workaholic," one observer in Vermont notes that the bishop's had his work cut out for him in the Green Mountain State, including the resolution of several clergy sex-abuse civil suits. The shop's now perceived to be in "good shape," but in a departure from Burke's best-known stance, the "archetypal papal diplomat" said to be loath to confrontation -- but not, so they say, immune to the occasional flash of Italian temper -- reportedly told his priests to not hold their breath on him denying the Eucharist to pro-choice politicians. The chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, is a Vermont Catholic who's represented the state in the upper house since 1975; the last available score from the leading abortion-rights advocacy group NARAL rated Leahy with a 75% pro-choice voting record.

While it's of prime importance to remember that, as always, nothing is assured until the file makes its way through the standard trail of the Congregation for Bishops and the papal apartment, the sudden emergence of the New Englander's name atop a wide swath of the trans-continental buzzmill implies two things: first, that the process leading to a St Louis appointment has been fast-tracked and, second, that in keeping with Benedict's precedent for the three other diocesan bishops he's called to lead Curial dicasteries, Burke will likely have, at the very least, a strong say in the selection of his replacement.

It's likewise worth noting that, along with the first mention of Matano's name, in mid-September one source close to the "chief justice" tipped 52 year-old Auxiliary Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Diego -- like Burke, a former Signatura staffer -- as another favored choice.

So, now it gets really interesting. In the meantime, remember the guitar case -- and a ton of thanks to everyone who already has... and, of course, as always, stay tuned.

And Go Phils.