The Green Bay Catholic Compass published an informative article this week about the eight other communities in our nation who find themselves in our position -- waiting for a Bishop amidst Sede Vacante!
World-wide, there are 121 dioceses that are currently 'open' without a diocesan bishop as Ordinary. For various reasons, 19 of them have been vacant since 1998. World-wide, there are 53 dioceses that have been waiting for a bishop longer than the people of Green Bay.
Within the United States, there are nine open dioceses; there have been three dioceses waiting for a bishop longer than us. Why are these dioceses vacant? Answering that question from a universal perspective, the article states, "The most common reason for an opening is transfer to another diocese, as was the case with Bishop Zubik. Fourteen vacancies - and only Gallup, N.M., in the U.S. - are open because the bishop resigned. Eleven openings were caused by retirements."
Here's where the Holy Father will be keeping a close eye on America in order to find the best fit; included is the universal ranking of the length of vacancy:
37, St. Thomas, American Virgin Islands, Jan. 30, 2007, Bishop George Murry, a Jesuit, appointed Bishop of Youngstown, Ohio, 22 months after Bishop Thomas Tobin was appointed bishop of Providence, R.I.
43, New Ulm, Minn., April 24, 2007, Bishop John Nienstedt appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Minn.; he became the archbishop May 2 when Archbishop Harry Flynn turned 75.
50, Knoxville, Tenn., June 12, 2007, Bishop Joseph Kurtz appointed Archbishop of Louisville, Ky., after Archbishop Thomas Kelly, a Dominican, retired a month before his 76th birthday.
54, GREEN BAY, WI, July 18, 2007, Bishop David Zubik appointed to Pittsburgh, 14 months after Bishop Donald Wuerl was named Archbishop of Washington.
58, Charleston, S.C., Aug. 14, 2007, Bishop Baker appointed Bishop of Birmingham, Ala., 27 months after Bishop David Foley retired.
70, Juneau, Alaska, Nov. 20, 2007, Bishop Michael Warfel appointed Bishop of Great Falls-Billings, Mont., 17 months after Bishop Anthony Milone retired at age 73.
105, Biloxi, Miss., April 2, 2008, Bishop Thomas Rodi appointed Archbishop of Mobile, Ala., succeeding Archbishop Oscar Lipscomb, who retired at age 76.
107, Gallup, N.M., April 30, 2008, Bishop Donald Pelotte, Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, resigned at age 63 for reasons of health.
118, St. Louis, Mo., June 27, 2008, Archbishop Raymond Burke (a native of the Diocese of La Crosse) was appointed Prefect of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature in the Vatican.
Rumors in the past have suggested that we would have a new bishop before the new year, 2008! Many suggested we'd hear news during Lent just prior to Easter! Now some are saying that the wait will go well into the fall because of Vatican summer vacations (and yet Bishop Zubik was transferred during the third week of July last year)! I guess it's suffice to say, we do not know. If I were a betting man -- and I'm not (!) I'd place my money on some Tuesday morning. Unfortunately, like others, I'm pretty sketchy on the week, the month and the year.
Until then, let's just hope and pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to lead us and guide us as well as we have been doing since last July. Even without an Ordinary, "God's flock is ... still ... in our midst." It's up to us to "give it a shepherd's care!"
CATHEDRAL PICTURE: packerland.blogspot.com
DIOCESAN STATISTICS: Tony Staley, Green Bay Catholic Compass