New bishop by Easter?
Archbishop Dolan visits diocese, talks about appointment of new bishop
By Sam Lucero
ALLOUEZ -- The appointment of a new bishop for Green Bay may come as soon as next Easter, according to Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan.
Archbishop Dolan, who was appointed apostolic administrator of the Green Bay Diocese by Pope Benedict XVI Sept. 28, met with diocesan staff members Oct. 3.
Following a prayer service in St. Joseph Chapel, located on the diocesan campus grounds, Archbishop Dolan answered questions regarding his appointment as apostolic administrator and the upcoming appointment of a new bishop. While in Green Bay, he also visited Notre Dame Academy and St. Vincent Hospital, and met with diocesan administrators.
In recent years, filling episcopal vacancies has taken one year or longer. For example, a replacement for Bishop Raphael M. Fliss in Superior, who submitted his resignation on his 75th birthday in October 2005, was not made by the Holy See until last June, a total of 20 months.
"Prior to the last 15 years, the appointment of bishops usually took six to nine months," said Archbishop Dolan. "My prognosis is that we will go back to that in the United States. That having been said, I'm confident that the appointment of the new bishop of Green Bay will be even more expeditious."
Archbishop Dolan bases this assumption on conversations he's had recently with the papal nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Pietro Sambi. As papal nuncio (a Vatican diplomatic representative with the rank of ambassador), Archbishop Sambi is responsible for preparing a list of episcopal candidates for the pope to consider.
"He (Archbishop Sambi) has said his plans would be to have a new bishop of Green Bay within four to six months, which is a relief to me and to you," said Archbishop Dolan. "So what we are looking for is the appointment of a new bishop soon - at Easter time."
The Milwaukee archbishop explained that Archbishop Sambi's predecessor, the late Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, took longer to fill episcopal vacancies. Health problems contributed to Archbishop Montalvo's delayed schedule of finding suitable candidates.
Archbishop Sambi, who was appointed papal nuncio in December 2005, has made it a priority to fill vacancies in a timely manner, said Archbishop Dolan. "This is going to be his modus operandi for the future, because he knows that a long gap between bishops is terrible for the morale and is very strangling for the pastoral life of a diocese," he said.
Archbishop Dolan also explained the process of choosing a diocesan administrator.
"In the past, the ordinary way seemed to be that the college of consultors (a governing body chosen by the bishop and made up of members of the presbyteral council) would come together and elect an administrator," he said. "In that case, he would be called a diocesan administrator. The second way is that the Holy See would appoint an administrator, in which case he is called an apostolic administrator.
"The first way seemed to be the praxis until recent times. I'd say the last three to four years, it seems to be the praxis of the Holy See to appoint an apostolic administrator," continued Archbishop Dolan. "Why? I wouldn't know the answer."
He admitted that this trend of appointing an administrator may be seen by some people to "indicate a lack of trust" by the Holy See. "I wouldn't think so," he said.
"I would hope not. I don't know the wisdom or the reason why the Holy See does this, but it seems to be happening more and more."