US Bishop Changes: Miami and Springfield in Illinois

This morning the Holy See announced the decision of Pope Benedict XVI to make two changes in the US hierarchy.

He accepted the resignation of Archbishop John Clement Favalora and named Archbishop-designate Thomas Gerard Wenski as the new Archbishop of Miami, Florida, USA.

Archbishop-designate Wenski had been serving as Bishop of Orlando.

He also named Bishop Thomas John Joseph Paprocki as the new Bishop of Springfield in Illinois.

The diocese had been vacant since then-Bishop George Joseph Lucas was named Archbishop of Omaha, Nebraska in June 2009.

Bishop Paprocki had been serving as an Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago.

I live in Springfield and I’m doing a very big happy dance :slight_smile: :thumbsup: He’s been mentioned on the CA forums before and he’s VERY pro-life and well regarded.

I thought Bp. Paprocki would be a good choice but he’s been mentioned so many times for other dioceses that I figured he’d go somewhere bigger. (Maybe he still will, a few years down the road).

Springfield does have a fairly well known minor league hockey team called the Junior Blues, so the new bishop can still enjoy his favorite sport too!

Wonderful news for orthodoxy in Miami! Hopefully RC and the LoC can be up and running again quickly.

Here’s a rather disturbing comment on this move (regarding Abp Favalora):

If the Renew America article linked by the previous poster is accurate, the situation in Miami under Bp. Favalora sounds eerily similar to the situation in Springfield under Bp. Daniel Ryan in the '80s and '90s.

Bp. Ryan also suddenly retired for “health reasons” in 1999 (last I heard, he was in a nursing home and at an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s) to be replaced by Bp. Lucas, who did improve things considerably, but Bp. Paprocki will still have a lot of work to do.

I should clarify that my comments above refer strictly to the similarity in the allegations of sexual and financial impropriety made against Bp. Favalora and those made against Bp. Ryan years ago, as well as the similar manner in which both left their episcopal offices.

I do NOT intend any comparision between the priests of these respective dioceses either in general or in particular.

I have family in the Miami Archdiocese and I have a feeling they will not be happy of this change. I attended “Mass” at St. Louis parish in Pinecrest only to feel I was at a Baptist revival rather than celebrating the Eucharist. With that said, they have a ton of parish support and finances for that parish is pretty stable.

It will be interesting to see what comes out of this.

I seriously doubt they’ll see a crackdown on liturgical abnormalities with their new Archbishop. There’s still plenty of liturgical… um… issues here in Orlando. So while they’ll definitely hear a lot about life issues and a stronger emphasis on Catholic identity in the public sphere, they probably won’t see many changes to whatever goes on at their particular parish Mass.

I hope Bishop Bernard Fellay gets the Archdiocese of Philadelphia when the time comes. The Archdiocese needs some serious liturgical cleaning of house.

Certainly no chance of that ever happening.

Like I said, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia needs some serious liturgical cleaning of house. Big time!!.

Bishop Fellay cannot get a diocese unless he agrees to leave the Society. It’s nothing against the Society. It’s just that you cannot occupy two positions of authority at the same time. If he is the Superior General of the Society he must be willing to step down from that post to take an assignment to a diocese. It’s the same rule that applies to superiors of religious orders and religious congregations. That would create a conflict of interests. If I’m not mistaken, Cardinal George was once the superior general of the Oblates. But he cannot hold that position ever again. Once a man becomes an Ordinary of a diocese he can return to his society or his religious community when he retires, but never as a superior. It’s a tough choice that they have to make when offered an assignment to a diocese. The question is would Bishop Fellay even want a diocese.

Another concern is if the Society is erected as a Personal Prelature, then its bishops are limited to working within the Prelature. A Prelature functions as a diocese without territory. Bishp Fellay, if he is still in charge, would be the Pope’s Vicar. The pope is always the superior of a Prelature. For example, Opus Dei has a bishop, but he is really the Pope’s Vicar.

The way that works is that they have authority over anything that pertains to the prelature, but not over the laity who are associated with them. The laity would answer to the bishop of the diocese in which they live. The Prelature would really consist of the priests and religious who belogn to it, not the laity. A prelature can have its own institutions. The laity are associated with it, but not incardinated into it. They still received their marching orders from the local bishop.

A lot depends on whether Bishop Fellay wants the Prelature or a diocese. If he takes a diocese, he cannot govern the diocese with the rules of the Society, just as a religious bishop cannot govern with the rules of his order. Those only apply to him, not to the clergy and laity under him. He has to follow the policies of the Holy See.

For example, Bishop Fellay would not be allowed to make the EF that official form of the mass for the diocese. Because Church law says that the TLM is extraordinary, not ordinary. He can see to it that it is available, but he cannot make it the dominant form. He must also celebrate the Ordinary Form when he is celebrating a mass for his diocese. He can use the EF on some occasions. If he uses it all the time, then its no longer extraordinary. That woiuld violate the rules setup by Summorum Pontificum. That’s why the Holy Father does not use the EF in public. It should be the Ordinary Form. The bishop would be able to celebrate the OF in Latin. That’s allowed. He can make that his usual routine, just as the Holy Father does and some priests do.

I’m not sure that Bishop Fellay would want to be in a position where he has to celebrate mass in both forms, OF and EF. But life has surprises. Let’s wait and see.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

Life issues is the biggest problem facing the Church in the Archdiocese of Miami. The third highest number of abortions in the country take place within the territory that is the Archdiocese of Miami, especially Dade and Broward Counties. It also has one of the largest populations of refugees in the country and one of the highest number of people living in poverty in the USA and it’s getting worse, because of the job shortage. Miami has one of the highest percentages of unemployment in the country and the cost of living is on the rise, while the services and benefits to the poor are on the decline.

The Archiocese also has two Catholic universities that need desperate attention and serious financial problems that are only going to get worse with population shifts. The middle and upper income families are shifting to two ends of the diocese leaving most of the parishes with the elderly and the impoverished immigrants.

Religious communities of women have practically all left the Archdiocese. They still have a very large number of religious brothers, but there is no telling how long they can afford to keep them. Right now there is one brother to every two priests, which is the highest ratio in the country. But the sisters could not stay, because of the growing number of sisters who are older. The younger sisters had to go where they could make enough money to support their retired and sick sisters. The Catholic schools in the Archdiocese could not support the sisters without undue hardship on the parents.

The good news is that Bishop Favalora helped found a diocesan congregation of sisters that is growing in leaps and bounds. Hopefully, they will be able to fill in many slots reducing the operatin expenses of many parishes and other diocesan ministries.

It is one of the few dioceses in the country that has special institutions for the deaf, the blind, and the mentally retarded. It also has five pregnancy centers with full services run by over two hundred lay volunteers, religious brothers, deacons and priests. They run chastity days for Catholic school youth, parent education for those expecting babies, healing ministry and retreats for post-abortion parents and they teach the Gospel of Life in as many parishes as they can reach in a year. Despite all of this, the ministry also needs the attention of the bishop, because the need is increasing incredibly. Planned Parenthood is is growing in leaps and bounds. They have now opened up a “spa” in Miami. It’s a fancy word for a super abortion center.

The large Catholic population of the Archdiocese also had an additional need for hospital chaplains. In the Archdiocese there are over 20 major hospitals, two of them Catholic and the others are private, except for one Baptist and one Jewish hospital. But most of the patients are Catholic, because the Hispanic, Hatian, Korean and Irish population is very large.

There are many men entering the diaconate program and many brothers. But very few men are looking at the secular priesthood. Those who enter the priesthood join religious orders. The religious orders can send them anywhere in their provinces.

Then there are the unexpected crises that occur. This past year the Archdiocese invested millions of dollars helping out the Hatians who came here as a result of the earthquake and they also sent a lot of money to Haiti.

The good thing is that Bishop Wenski is a local boy. He was born and raised in this area. He was stationed here for many years before going to Orlando. He knows the terrain. Everyone is very glad that the Archiocese will have a younger man coming. Bishop Favalora was getting tired and you could tell, even though he never complained.

It’s an interesting Archdiocese, because it is not large in territory as are other dioceses such as Boston, NY, Chigaco, Philadelphia, LA or Toronto. But it is very diverse, very populated and exploding every day, with new problems and challenges for the Church. But the greatest problem has been the abortion explosion. Although, the Respect Life Ministry of the Archdiocese has been very effective in bringing down abortions, the area was in second place in the nation and has moved into third place. That’s a good sign. The laity in the Archdiocese and the bishops have taken an interest in that ministry. Bishop Wenski will be incredible, because he is very invested in the Gospel of Life. He is younger and has a lot of energy.

Despite the many negative things that people say about Archbishop Favalora, he has done a lot of good things for the unborn, the disabled, the elderly and the poor. He also has a strong interest in the young. The young people of the Archiocese love going to his annual liturgy for the confirmandi. He fills the Cathedral. There is not even standing room. It’s all tweens. They alwasy give him a big cheer. I have attended two of those liturgies and he has strong skills communicating with the young. You can tell that he is a natural teacher. Of course that was one of his higher degrees. He has an M.Ed. He uses it well to communicate with kids.

I always feel badly when I see only the negatives said about anyone, but especially about bishops. So many of them have very special talents that are never mentioned or have accomplished things that are never mentioned in the media or in public forums. I for one will miss Archbishop Favalora. He has a contagious smile and I have never seen the man be rude or mean to anyone. He’s actually a very friendly man. But he deserves a rest and to enjoy life while he has good health. I know that Bishop Wenski will be great for the area, especially for the unborn and the poor.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

But he can forbid altar girls and the rapant abuse of EMHCs in the archdiocese, which takes place. Teen masses, which is I don’t know what form, OF or EF, as well having the clergy facing East and not the people, which also happens in 99 percent of the parishes in the archdiocese. Show me one parish that celebrates the OF in the archdiocese of Philadelphia, that doesn’t use EMHC, altar girls, and the priest faces ad-orientum.

We’re talking on two different planes here. You’re thing about him going into a dicoese to make changes that you want to see. I’m talking about the choices he has and was would be better for him and where he would be more comfortable. His comfort is more important than what we want. If a bishop is uncomfortable in an assignment it affects his entire life and his ministry. We have to remember that these are human beings and they deserve our concern and charity, whatever our own interests are.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

Miami-Dade County, FL is one of the worst places for people with mental illness (b/c of their high concentration) in the United States. Many people are incarcerated when treatment would be better:

I hope the Archbishop considers this along with other disability and illness-related efforts. It sounds like the efforts to help people have been considerable but there is tremendous need. Unfortunately, putting people with mental illness in jail when treatment would be better just makes the situation worse and probably lowers quality of life in general (speaking as someone w/mental illness myself who receives treatment).

The Florida Bishops’ Conference has been lobbying for this cause and also for the minors who are adjudicated and whose records are not esponged when they reach the age of majority. Most of them are not crimes that are a threat to society and they are cases where the crime has not been repeated. The State of Florida has a very strange judicial system that is not always the more fair.

The Bishops have also been lobbying for the parents’ right to know when a minor goes ofr an abortion. The law says that the parents must be informed, but the courts have been giving kids a judicial bypass. All the kid has to say is that she’s afraid that her parents will hurt her and the judge grants the bypass.

The other problem has to do with child sex abuse. Planned Parenthood has been given a pass on reporting abuse. When a minor comes in and reports to them that she’s carrying the child of a legal adult, Planned Parenthood is not required to report it. The argument is that if Planned Parenthood were obliged to report cases of minors impregnated by adults, the minors would not approach them. This has contributed to the high number of abortions in this part of the country. You can go to Miami, get an abortion and no one has to know, even if you were impregnated by a dirty old man.

It’s a major moral problem that the Church is trying to confront and it’s facing challenges even from other Christian groups such as the Episcopal ecclesial community and some Protestant ecclesial communities. Evangelization is desperately needed, especially the evangelization of Christians.

Bishop Wenski has been an outspoken advocate of the moral law on these issues.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

We had a brand new bishop ordained yesterday, April 26, in Scranton. He is Joseph Bambera, I have known him for 25 years, and he is a great and faithful man! :smiley: Rob

Br. JR,

To read your account I don’t recognize my own diocese. We have serious problems. Didn’t the Diocese close numerous churches this year? Didn’t the archbishop end funding support for the pro-life office and even go so far as ask them to move out of the diocesan building they occupied? Didn’t “father Oprah” leave the Church after being caught on a beach with his girlfriend last year? Can you explain why one of the largest Catholic areas of the country doesn’t have a SINGLE Catholic radio station? In fact, there is ONE English speaking Catholic program that was black listed by the Bishop. We have SERIOUS problems.

The diocese closed parishes and also opened new ones. Population shifts made it impossible for many parishes to stay afloat. They either had a very small congregation or not enough income. Some parishes were merged and some new ones were carved out too. Some older ones were expanded to accommodat growing populations.

Didn’t the archbishop end funding support for the pro-life office and even go so far as ask them to move out of the diocesan building they occupied?

Not exactly the way it happened. The funding for the Respect Life Ministry was shifted from the chancery to the parishes. The parishes and faithful are being very supportive. The Office of Respect Life was in one location, but given another site on diocesan property.

Didn’t “father Oprah” leave the Church after being caught on a beach with his girlfriend last year?

That is not the fault of the diocese. Fr. Cutie made that choice on his own. Therefore, he has to live with the consequences of his actions.

Can you explain why one of the largest Catholic areas of the country doesn’t have a SINGLE Catholic radio station?

The diocese does have Radio Paz for the Spanish speaking population. It does not have an English language radio station because there are two English language radio stations that feed into the area: Catholic Radio and EWTN Radio. There is no need to invest millions of dollars to duplicate what already exists.

In fact, there is ONE English speaking Catholic program that was black listed by the Bishop.

Bishops have a right to blackball anything that they believe is not in the best interest of their local Church. If there had been no access to any other Catholic program, this would be very disconcerting, because it would have left a gap. But EWTN is very strong in the Southeastern part of Florida. When EWTN was getting started, the Catholics from the diocese contributed quite a bit to support the project. Mother Angelica herself came to raise funds and was allowed to do so. The diocese did not have to allow that. Mother Angelica is a Franciscan. Franciscans are not part of any diocese. Therefore, bishops are not obliged to help us in our ministries. We acknowledge this and we are humbled when the bishops do help us or allow their people to help us.

We have SERIOUS problems.

No one has denied that you have serious problems. You also have accomplisments.

The greatest problem that the Archdiocese of Miami faces is the number of abortions within its boundaries. But those of you who live there should also be proud of the fact that you are the only diocese in Florida that has five pregnancy centers, chastity days for high school and middle school students, religious, clergy and laity who work the centers and travel around the diocese preaching the Gospel of Life, that you have over 200 volunteers in this ministry. You have a team of bilingual experts who travel from one region of the diocese to the other teaching anyone who wants to attend their training workshops all about the Gospel of Life and how they can support it. You are also hosting the state-wide conference on Life in October 2010. That is a major honor and distinction for your diocese. You will have the attention and presence of every bishop in the state and eveyr pro-life organization in your state listening to you and learning from you how to influence and combat the culture of death.

The second problem that you have in that diocese is poverty. But you should also be proud that you are the only diocese in Florida where the bishop authorized the foundation of religious communities to address the needs of the poor. The Sisters of the Pierced Hearts have grown in leaps and bound and are now being sent as missinaries to other dioceses around the country. The Missionaries of the Poor and the Missionaries of Charity were brought in to care for the poor. The Franciscans of Life were given permission to erect a new foundation to protect the unborn, chronically ill and the dying. You are the only diocese in Florida that has institutions that educate and care for the deaf, blind and mentally retarded.

The third largest problem is the vocation shortage. But you are one of the few dioceses in the nation, probably the world, where you have one religious brother to every two priests. The brothers are making up for the shortage of priests by taking on many pastoral duties including the care of the homeless, administration, hospital chaplaincies, retreat ministry, spiritual direction and other ministries. But you need to promote vocations to the secular priesthood. However, don’t go overboard now and discourage the young men who are becoming religious brothers. That would be counter productive. A diocese without male religious is a dying diocese.

The next great problem that you have is immigration. You have many Catholics arriving every day from Latin America, Haiti and other countries. But you also have a very tri-lingual diocese. Your diocese donated millions of dollars to help the Hatians who came to the US for medical care and sent money to Haiti to help the needs there. Hopefully, this would curb the need to migrate to the USA if the Church in Haiti could provide many services in Haiti itself.

You guys have problems, serious ones. But you have also achieved much and you should not allow yourselves to ignore what you have achieved and be proud of it (the good kind of pride). You need to continue to work together to address these pressing problems. But don’t ever think that you have nothing. In fact, you have a lot more than many other parts of the world.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

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