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Post  Elena on Wed Mar 21, 2012 10:35 pm

Recently the Holy Father made 3 interesting appointments. According to Scott Richert:

March 20, 2012, was a banner day for the Catholic Church in the United States, as Pope Benedict XVI made three important episcopal appointments.

The first, and most prestigious, was the appointment of Bishop William E. Lori of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, as archbishop of Baltimore. Baltimore is the primatial see of the Catholic Church in the United States, because it was the first diocese created here; that means that the archbishop of Baltimore holds pride of place among the U.S. bishops, though his primacy is largely honorary.

Still, the appointment likely has some significance. As bishop of Bridgeport, Bishop Lori has been at the center of a number of controversies over questions of Church and state, and he has been outspoken regarding the Obama administration's contraception mandate. Placing Bishop Lori not far from Washington, D.C., is bound to make the White House pay attention.

Pope Benedict also appointed Fr. Gregory L. Parkes of the Diocese of Orlando, Florida, as bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee. Father Parkes' appointment is interesting because he is a fairly young man—he will be 48 this year—and he was a late vocation, having been ordained in 1999 after a career in banking. To move up so quickly indicates that someone in the Vatican sees great promise in Father Parkes.

But the most interesting of yesterday's appointments, at least to me, was the naming of Msgr. David J. Malloy of the archdiocese of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to replace Bishop Thomas Doran in the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois (where my family and I live). Monsignor Malloy has most recently been pastor of St. Francis de Sales Parish in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, but he served for several years as a Vatican diplomat to Pakistan and Syria and as an official in the papal household. He returned to the United States to become assistant secretary general of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and then served a five-year term as secretary general of the USCCB. A native of Milwaukee, he has a reputation for being far more conservative and traditional than the longtime archbishop of Milwaukee, Rembert Weakland, who ordained him to the priesthood.

The appointment of a man well connected in the Vatican and at the highest levels of the U.S. hierarchy to the bishopric of Rockford would seem to confirm rumors I've heard over the past year that the Vatican now regards the Diocese of Rockford as an important American diocese. The question, of course, is why? It is possible that Rockford is being viewed as a proving ground for bishops who will later move on to larger and more important dioceses, such as Milwaukee and Chicago. Or it may simply be a question of numbers: While the Diocese of Rockford has far fewer priests, it is larger in area than, say, the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and it now has almost as many Catholics within its borders.

Whatever the case may be, all three of these appointments are interesting, each in its own way. And that means I'll be keeping an eye on all three men in the coming months and years. Sign up for our free Catholicism newsletter to make sure that you don't miss any important developments regarding Bishop Lori or the future bishops Parkes and Malloy.


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