Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Episcopal appointment

One of the candidates to succeed now-Archbishop Niederauer as bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City was eliminated from the running today with the Holy See’s announcement of the appointment of Bishop Richard J. Garcia, auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Sacramento, to the See of Monterey in California. That narrows the field of media-anointed frontrunners to Bishop John Wester, one of Niederauer’s two auxiliaries in San Francisco, Bishop Jaime Soto, auxiliary of the Diocese of Orange in California, and Bishop Gabino Zavala auxiliary in Los Angeles. I certainly claim no inside track on who our new bishop is going to be and I would not be surprised if it were not one of the remaining three. Of course, there are reasons these men’s names have been put forward in the media. It is also important to note that none of these bishops are campaigning for the job, or have put their own names forward. Given that they are all already bishops, it seems perfectly normal that they want to be ordinaries in their own right and the Diocese of Salt Lake City is great place to be bishop with a growing, dynamic Catholic Church.

This is of particular interest right now because 15 December marked the one year anniversary of the announcement of then-Bishop Niederauer’s appointment as archbishop of San Francisco. Since vacancies in the U.S., with a few recent exceptions, are normally filled after about year, an announcement around now, or early in the New Year is to be expected. The recent exceptions to the rule of short vacancies are Sioux Falls, South Dakota- now filled by the ordination and installation of Bishop Paul Swain, was vacant from December 2004 to August 2006; Youngstown, Ohio and Lake Charles, Louisiana- both vacant since March of 2005; Birmingham, Alabama- the diocese in which EWTN is located- vacant since May 2005. In some of these instances there are issues that have slowed appointments down, but Salt Lake City, thankfully, is not one of those places.

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