Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Carlson Downriver: Son of St Paul Heads to St Louis

Settling the most-awaited move of the current appointment docket, the Pope has named Bishop Robert Carlson of Saginaw as archbishop of St Louis.

Best known for his record of drumming up staggering numbers of seminarians in the two prior dioceses he's led, the 64 year-old Minnesota native -- who marked his silver jubilee as a bishop earlier this year -- succeeds Archbishop Raymond Burke, who was named the global church's "chief justice" late last June.

Home to some 560,000 Catholics, the place once known as the "Rome of the West" has long been a historic hub of the Stateside church -- Carlson's nine predecessors in the St Louis post include three cardinals (not of the baseball kind) and Peter Richard Kenrick, the longest-serving American ordinary, who clocked an epic fifty-two years in the Midwestern seat. Four years into his tenure along the Mississippi River, the Dublin-born Kenrick became the first archbishop of St Louis in 1847, four years before his brother, Francis Patrick, was named the sixth archbishop of Baltimore.

Also this morning, Benedict XVI transferred Bishop Robert Cunningham of Ogdensburg to the bishopric of Syracuse, succeeding Bishop James Moynihan, whose resignation was accepted 21 months after he reached the canonical age-limit of 75.

Head of the North Country diocese since 2004, the Buffalo native will take the helm of the 250,000-member church on 26 May.

Both heard kicking around the buzzmill over the last month, with the twin moves now official, seven Stateside dioceses now stand vacant, with another 12 led by an ordinary serving past the retirement age and, thus, soon to receive a new head. Of the vacancies, the longest-standing now becomes Cheyenne, from which Bishop David Ricken was moved to Green Bay last July, and of the 75-plus crowd, atop the queue remains Omaha, where Archbishop Elden Curtiss is weeks away from his 77th birthday.

More quickly -- as always, stay tuned.

SVILUPPO: The 10.30 Central (11.30 Eastern, 1530GMT) Appointment Day presser in St Louis will be livestreamed... and, in a first, the "Gateway City" church is Twittering away with real-time updates.