Friday, January 6, 2012

Filling the Vacant Sees

In the USA, only the dioceses of Salina and Baker have been vacant longer than any other Latin Rite diocese, which means now the pressure is on to fill them before the Holy See fills other vacancies . . . such as (in chronological order):

Currently vacant:

St. Francis de Sales,
Patron of the Diocese of Baker,
pray for us!

·         Salina (KS)
·         Baker (OR)
·         Pensacola-Tallahassee (FL)
·         Steubenville (OH)
·         Tyler (TX)
·         Denver (CO) - archdiocese
·         Baltimore (MD) - archdiocese
·         Indianapolis (IN) - archdiocese
·         El Paso (TX)

...and soon-to-become-vacant:

·         Lincoln (NE)
·         Rockford (IL)
·         Buffalo (NY)
·         San Francisco (CA) - archdiocese
·         Erie (PA)
·         Las Cruces (NM)
·         Orange (CA)
·         Chicago (IL) - archdiocese
·         Portland (OR) - archdiocese
·         San Angelo (TX)
·         Grand Rapids (MI)
·         Saint Cloud (MN)
·         Rochester (NY)
·         Hartford (CT) - archdiocese
·         Jackson (MS)
·         Springfield (MA)

Looking at this situation with mere human intellect, this is what comes to mind: Frankly, if I were a candidate for the order of Bishop, and I knew that all these (arch)dioceses were vacant or shortly becoming vacant, I'd hold out for a "better offer" than Baker (with its multi-million dollar debt, only two seminarians, and clergy and faithful in turmoil).

Of course, I don’t really know all of the problems that might abound in some of the other dioceses…

On the other hand, I am becoming more and more aware of some of the “politics” surrounding the appointment of a bishop for the Diocese of Baker. I don’t think it’s any secret that the bishops of the neighboring dioceses will be lobbying for a Baker bishop who is somewhere to the left (probably way to the left) of our former right-of-center bishop, Robert F. Vasa. It’s pretty easy to find evidence of dissent in the Archdiocese of Portland – everything from liturgical abuses to squelching of the EF Mass to support of the homosexual political agenda to lack of support for pro-life causes; surely this speaks to the outlook and priorities of the Archbishop, who has just as surely been asked for his recommendations for a bishop for the Diocese of Baker. Looking eastward to Idaho, I see a bishop who has shown, at the very least, a lack of support for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass; his recommendations, too, have surely been solicited by Rome. And of course, our current Apostolic Administrator was the Bishop of the Diocese of Spokane until 2010, and there’s no reason to doubt he would recommend a bishop similar in outlook to his own.
On the other side of the fence, many among the more traditional-minded laity and clergy have also made their desires and recommendations known to the Apostolic Nuncio and to the Vatican regarding the kind of bishop needed here – a holy man who will firmly uphold ALL of the teachings of the Church, who will be a good shepherd to the faithful, and who will be a caring father to his priests.

Ultimately, though, we must trust the Holy Spirit; we must abandon ourselves to Divine Providence.  Our own human judgment is clouded by our misperceptions, our stubborn preconceptions, our petty jealousies, and our selfish and self-centered desires.

Truly, we should all pray that God’s will be done.

Here is the collect from the votive Mass for the election of a bishop. May we have a holy shepherd in the Diocese of Baker soon.

Deus, qui pastor aeternus,
gregem tuum assidua custodia gubernas,
eum immensa tua pietate
concedas Ecclesiae (Bakeriensis) pastorem,
qui tibi sanctitate placeat,
et vigili nobis sollicitudine prosit. Per Dominum.

Lord God, you are our eternal shepherd and guide.
In your mercy grant the Church (of Baker)
a shepherd who will walk in your ways
and whose watchful care will bring us your blessing.
We ask this through Our Lord…

See also: "A Different Breed of Bishops" on this blog (Jan. 9 post).


  1. If I were asked, I would wait for Denver or Lincoln...

  2. And the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, an autonomous church "sui juris" has been vacant for 18 months as of today. Clergy and lay morale is quite low in Pittsburgh Metropolitan Province,and its suffragan eparchies of Passaic, Parma,and Phoenix.


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