Friday, July 27, 2012

Archbishop Niederauer enters retirement

The Holy See announced this morning that Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco, who reached the mandatory retirement age of 75 in June 2011. Abp Niederauer served the Archdiocese of San Francisco for a little over six years. Before that, he was bishop of Salt Lake City for almost 11 eleven years. When I think of Abp Niederauer, who ordained me, I think of a model pastor, a man with great concern for people, possessed of much common sense, a highly intelligent and educated person, who wears his erudition lightly, someone who is funny, with an incisive, but gentle wit. I wish him many happy and healthy years in retirement, especially after the rigors of serving as a bishop for the past 17 years. Without a doubt his presence will be missed.

The Holy Father named Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, who, until today, served as bishop of the Diocese of Oakland, a position he has held since March 2009, as Archbishop Niederauer's replacement. Prior to that he served as an auxiliary bishop in his native San Diego. To the Archbishop-designate, ad multos annos.

Already this morning I read an overly dramatic and highly politicized account of these happenings, likening it to an natural disaster, or a bomb-blast. Let's never forget that we are called by the Lord to communion and that maintaining that communion, both with the Bishop of Rome, and through him, the rest universal Church, as well as within the local Church, is the primary duty of a bishop. So, by its very nature, being a bishop who is head of a diocese is an exercise in holding things in tension.

Along these same lines, I remember Abp Niederauer saying once in a homily, "Asking if I am 'a liberal' or 'a conservative' is like selling me a car asking me if I want a break pedal or a gas pedal."

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