February 1, 2000
volume 11, no. 22
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Now that all the speculation on the outcome of the extravanza known as the Super Bowl is over, we can turn to more serious speculation. No, not about presidential candidates, but who will be the next Archbishop of New York. Within weeks, possibly days, the Holy Father will make his decision on the man to replace Cardinal John J. O'Connor as the ninth shepherd of this mighty see, the largest in population - over two and a half million Catholics or 45% of New York City's total population.
Sixteen years ago yesterday Cardinal O'Connor succeeded the holy Cardinal Terence Cooke whose cause for beatification has been introduced in Rome. Since January 31, 1984 Cardinal O'Connor has firmly become the most influential cardinal in America and has had a calming influence on the United States Bishops and a strong voice in the Roman Curia. Having just turned 80, he will step down soon and so we thought it might be fun to speculate on who will take his place. There are several openings coming up which could produce a domino effect across America. It's always interesting to speculate on the various hypotheses that exist around the country in several other dioceses. Arkansas' Andrew McDonald is retiring soon and a Coadjutor Bishop Joseph Galante has already been appointed in Dallas to replace Bishop Charles Grahmann as well as Duluth's Bishop Roger Schwietz, OMI who has been tabbed to eventually replace Archbishop Francis T. Hurley in Anchorage, Alaska.
Many think the front-runner for New York City is Archbishop Rigali, a favorite of the Holy Father who personally placed him in St. Louis and since March 16, 1994 has turned this pivotal midwest see around in replacing Archbishop John May who in 1991 was one of the favorites to be proclaimed cardinal. That honor went instead to Cardinal Roger Mahony and, sadly, Archbishop May died of cancer on March 24, 1994. Archbishop Rigali is widely considered a shoe-in as one of America's next cardinals. It is also widely expected that the Holy Father will conduct another Consistory this year - his eighth - since there will be 18 vacancies to fill by June. Rumors are abounding inside the Vatican that it could be from 15 to 20 who are appointed. Two will definitely be American bishops because, besides a replacement for Cardinal O'Connor, there is a replacement needed later this year for Archbishop James Hickey who will also turn 80 in October 11, 2000. The closest cardinal is Baltimore's Cardinal William H. Keeler who has been the shepherd of that see since 1989. Cardinal Hickey's predecessor was Cardinal William Baum who became Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education on January 15, 1980 and ten years later made Major Penitentiary for the Holy See on April 6, 1990. There has been precedence that the Bishop of Cleveland has been moved to either Baltimore or Washington D.C. in the past, but since Bishop Anthony Pilla, former president of the NCCB is pretty ensconsed in the city by Lake Erie, that is highly doubtful.
It is no secret of the desire by the Pope to appoint conservative prelates in the highest posts. This is evident from his surprise and pleasant appointments of Cardinal Francis George, OMI in Chicago and Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap. in Denver where the latter replaced another Archbishop heading for the Curia and cardinalate - Cardinal James Francis Stafford, currently head of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. We doubt very much the Holy Father would pluck Cardinal George out of the windy city right now but there is speculation he might move Archbishop Chaput. Would he move this very orthodox, intelligent and devout Native American Capuchin out of the Rocky Mountains and to the Big Apple? We suspect, because of his relative youth, that if Archbishop Rigali were appointed in New York, that Archbishop Chaput might be moved to St. Louis first. But you can expect much bigger things from the new leader of the Orthodox right in the Church in America. If that were to happen we predict either Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of the Lincoln, Nebraska Diocese could become the next Archbishop of Denver or Bishop John J. Myers, the shepherd of Peoria. Both are high on the Holy Father's list.
Another who who we believe might be strongly considered for New York is Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, who was ordained by Cardinal Cooke's predecessor Cardinal Francis Spellman in St. Patrick's Cathedral in 1958 and made an Auxiliary Bishop of New York by Pope Paul VI in 1977. When John Paul II was looking for someone to start up the new Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey in 1981 he tabbed Bishop McCarrick who proved his mettle so much so that the Holy Father made him the fourth Archbishop of the teeming see of Newark, New Jersey in 1986. Newark is the seventh largest see in the United States and Archbishop McCarrick has the credentials both in his roots and his administrative prowess. He has headed up numerous committees for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, been involved internationally and is well equipped multi-culturally to succeed Cardinal O'Connor. He has ordained more priests than any other bishop during his thirteen year tenure as shepherd of the Newark See. He is currently 69 years old and could easily lead the flock of New York City over the next decade.
Then again, there are several current Auxiliary Bishops of New York who might be promoted, but we would think Archbishop McCarrick has the inside pole. Whoever is selected could, as we alluded to earlier, start a domino effect among various sees in the United States. You can bet no progressive bishop will be promoted for the Holy Father's modus operandi has been to appoint conservative bishops. There are numerous other ones on the near horizon and, with each appointment, the modernist agenda becomes weaker and weaker as liberal bishops are sinking fast in a sea of conservative sees.
February 1, 2000 |
volume 11, no. 22
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