Movin’ On Up

Lots of joy in two dioceses in getting new bishops. Funny how the reports never mention the feeling of the people left behind by their old shepherds.

Let’s compare one forsaken diocese, Ogdensburg, metro area population 109,809, with new diocese, Syracuse, metro area population of 732,117.

Or the other forsaken diocese, Saginaw, metro area population 403,070, with the other new diocese, St Louis, metro area population of 2,803,033.

I know that the diocesan boundaries don’t match the metro populations. Ditto the Catholic populations served. But isn’t it curious the new places have about seven times as many people as the old ones? I wonder what the old-style bishops would think.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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6 Responses to Movin’ On Up

  1. Gavin says:

    While your usual “Careerism in the Episcopacy” posts are just bashing bishops you don’t like and impotent ravings against “the man”, I must admit this one made my eyebrows go up. The Saginaw diocese was famous for its dysfunction and heresy under the prior bishop. Carlson was put in to clean it up. Is that REALLY done by now? Is there nothing more for him to do? He’s been so good at vocations that Rome… sends him away from the diocese.

    I don’t get it. He’s doing a good job by all accounts. Why mess with success??

  2. Todd says:

    Saginaw’s “fame” was a one-sided adventure among conservatives. Bishop Untener was far from heretical, and if he said and did things that made neo-orthodox Catholic nervous, well, all they have to do is look in the mirror at their current behavior. “Heresy,” in this usage, is no more than a buzz word for “church stuff I don’t like.”

    That said, I think I’ve made it clear I have a general disregard for episcopal shennanigans. I criticize the acts, and careful readers here know the full list which includes these guys among others: Mahony, Weakland, Law, Egan, George, Burke, Rigali, Bruskewitz. It’s a whole spectrum, Gavin. Sean O’Malley is a fine priest and a spiritual man. But four dioceses as bishop? That’s worse than Newt Gingrich for heaven’s sake.

    I’ve also not been alone in criticizing careerism. It was Cardinal Gantin’s belief, and before he became steeped in curialism, Joseph Ratzinger wondered about it, too.

    So sorry, this is one area where I would consider myself a traditionalist railing against the modernism of conservatives. Why aren’t the clergy of a diocese considered for leadership, and why is the ancient principle of bishop-for-life so callously disregarded? Is the Church that hard up to find good bishops that they raid smaller dioceses? It’s a format that has more in common with political machinations of American democracy than the fine tradition of Ignatius of Antioch, Augustine, Ambrose, John Chrysostom, and the like.

  3. Liam says:

    I will say one thing, perhaps counterintuitively, in Cdl Sean’s defense: Capuchins, like members of most religious orders, are discouraged by their rule from seeking episcopal office, and Cdl Sean has made very clear that he acceded to his first appointment due to its fit with the mission charism of the Capuchins, and the three subsequent appointments in obedience – all three have been to places rocked with abuse scandal. I question the notion of “fixer” bishops, but I don’t question Cdl Sean’s sincere but obedient reluctance to be put such roles. I assume he can rest a little bit that he’s not likely to be moved to another active see. He’s still got a ton to deal with here.

  4. I think there are a lot of problems with the modern way we look at bishops; not only don’t I think they should be moved around as often as they are (I can see moving ‘up’ in the sense of being elevated to a Patriarchal See, but beyond that, I don’t think it should be done), I also don’t think being a bishop should be treated as a job which one “retires” from. They can be allowed to retire if they want, but they shouldn’t be expected to. Of course, I’m Eastern.

  5. Jimmy Mac says:

    Gee, when all else fails, these careerists can say the words of St. Geraldine: The devil made me do it! I’m just a good, obedient servant who does what he is told when he is told by Guess Who?

    Ambition has NOTHING to do with it! Right. Sure.

    Ya gotta love the lacey frocks and watered silk, though, and the scarlet pillbox hats.

  6. Liam says:


    Going to Boston was not for the ambitious…not in the least. This was probably the hardest placement in the Lower 48 (Boston was never a see like NY with a lot of cash – most of its assets have been in non-liquid form, real estate – and whatever political capital had been amassed by prior cardinal abps was (justifiably) reduced to zero). And Sean wears his collegial garb rarely, to the great ire of erstwhile traditionalists.

    I have more than my share of criticisms of him, but tarring him with the brush of ambition is, simply, not credible.

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