Saturday, June 10, 2006

Bishop Watch: Speculation about a Coadjutor for Minneapolis

The watch is on in Minneapolis, with Abp Flynn requesting a coadjutor, as he approaches retirement. In his blog, Thomas Szyszkiewicz engages in speculation, probably shared by many others. Is Bishop Samuel Aquila, pictured at right, the future Abp of St. Paul-Minneapolis? Here is what Mr. Szyskiewicz has to say:

So Dennis McGrath, spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, and Father Joseph Johnson, the vice chancellor for said Archdiocese, say it's all speculation about who the new archbishop is.

But, sorry, this is no speculation. Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo will be coming to the Twin Cities as the archbishop. My prediction is that the announcement will be made on the 13th or the 20th.

While the reports are saying that Archbishop Flynn sought a coadjutor, the reality is that this was something pushed from the Vatican. Let's just say that a certain someone in Rome was rather unhappy with the Archbishop's response when it came to a Communion issue.

Now the real speculation to begin is what the arrangement will be. Will he come in as coadjutor or as ordinary? There are reasons to believe it will be the latter, mainly that it has been said that Archbishop Flynn is moving out of the archbishop's residence.

However, there is a history in the Archdiocese of a different arrangement. When Archbishop Brady was appointed as coadjutor to Archbishop Murray, the latter, it is said, basically gave over all responsibility to the former while retaining the title of ordinary until his death. Could that happen again?

The story is covered by Pioneer Press in Minneapolis where diocesan spokesman, Dennis McGrath is quoted:

Flynn has made no comment on such speculation, and archdiocese spokesman Dennis McGrath said any talk of a bishop's appointment could only be considered rumor until it is formally announced.

Over in North Dakota, the current home of Bishop Aquila the Grand Forks Herald is speculating. Of course, speculation is rumor, but perhaps this is a "good" rumor. Here is an excerpt from their article with regards to the man supposedly considered for the job.

Now 55, Aquila grew up in southern California. He's considered one of the more promising young bishops in the United States, according to many expert observers and is considered quite conservative, fitting the direction that Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have steered the church. He was credited in Denver with building up schools in the archdiocese, including a major seminary.

An oft-heard comment about Aquila among clergy and lay people in the Fargo Diocese is that he isn't expected to stay long here, but to "move up" in the church's hierarchy.

He moved fast in Fargo to tighten up management of the diocese after one or two difficulties that occurred in Sullivan's last years as bishop, especially a crisis in the management of Catholic Family Services. Some decisions have upset some parishioners, such as Aquila's move to close dozens of dwindling parishes, and to change the age when children are confirmed.

Aquila has been vocal on one controversial issue in the American church the past few years: What is expected by the church of Catholics who hold elected office. Aquila is on the side of church leaders who say politicians who are Catholic morally are obligated to follow official church teaching in their voting, especially on the issues of abortion and homosexual marriage. Many Catholics, including some bishops, hold starkly different views, saying Catholic politicians should be able to vote in ways that might conflict with official church doctrine and policy.

In a clear sign that church officials think highly of him, Aquila was appointed in early 2005 as interim administrator of the diocese of Sioux Falls, S.D., until a new bishop is named there. He remains bishop in Fargo while also doing duty as apostolic administrator of the diocese in Sioux Falls, which includes 130,000 Catholics in eastern South Dakota.

Well, folks, this is one bishop that most likely will not accept Matthew Fox speaking at any diocesan parishes.