The Most Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades, Bishop of Harrisburg, has been appointed by Pope Benedict as Bishop of Fort Wayne South Bend.
The South Bend Tribune has details:
Area Catholics will go from having the nation's oldest bishop to one of its youngest, the Vatican announced Saturday.At first glance, there are things to like here. Bishop Rhoades:
The Most Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades, the 51-year-old bishop of the Harrisburg, Pa., Catholic Diocese, will succeed the Most Rev. John M. D'Arcy as bishop of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese.
In Rhoades, Michiana Catholics can expect a leader who carefully considers the advice of others before making big decisions, said Joe Aponick, spokesman for the Harrisburg diocese, where Rhoades has presided for five years.
"His leadership style is very consultative," Aponick said. "He very much works with people in groups very well."
Rocco Palmo, a Philadelphia-based Catholic journalist whose blog "Whispers in the Loggia" is one of the Web's most widely viewed, said initially he was "blind-sided" by Rhoades' selection. The Harrisburg diocese is larger than Fort Wayne-South Bend, both geographically — 7,660 square miles to 5,792 square miles — and in Catholic population — 244,073 members to 157,793.
But the more he thought about it, the more sense it made, Palmo said.
The diocese is home to the University of Notre Dame, which angered conservative and anti-abortion rights Catholics this spring when it invited President Barack Obama, who supports abortion rights, to speak at commencement and receive an honorary degree.
Before that, the university sparked controversy within the church over its hosting of the "Vagina Monologues."
The last time the Vatican moved a sitting bishop to a smaller diocese was in 2007, when Bishop Robert Baker was moved from Charleston, S.C., to Birmingham, Ala. Birmingham is the home of the Eternal Word Television Network, a Catholic cable television channel that is run by a lay board.
Like Notre Dame, EWTN holds considerable influence over American Catholics but is not controlled by the Vatican or the Birmingham diocese, Palmo said.
Also, Harrisburg is Pennsylvania's state capital, and Rhoades has shown the ability to firmly but diplomatically deal with pro-choice supporters in Pennsylvania politics.
"Notre Dame looms over this appointment," Palmo said. "(The Vatican) needed someone who can go in and collaborate. You have to persuade and you have to engage. I think we're seeing that at work here."
Palmo said a friend of Rhoades Saturday described him as "smooth yet strong."
"He has not been a political heavy in Harrisburg," Palmo said. "Any statements he has made on the Church's behalf have been very quiet and gentle."
Rhoades was, however, one of about 80 U.S. bishops who signed a letter to the Rev. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame, opposing the Obama invitation. But Palmo noted that Rhoades had a subordinate issue a follow-up statement to the letter.
Rhoades on Saturday said he wasn't worried about any lingering tension with the university over the Obama matter.
"I think that's now in the past," Rhoades said. "Let's move to the future. I love Notre Dame. I want to have a close personal and pastoral relationship. It's such a strong place"...Continued
1. Is a former rector of the Mount Saint Mary's Seminary in Maryland. Mount St. Mary's has a solid reputation and is known for orthodoxy.
2. Has had success in Harrisburg in attracting vocations.
3. Reportedly has experience working in a politically charged environment.
4. Was one of the 80+ bishops who spoke out publicly against Notre Dame's decision to honor the pro-abortion President Obama.
Let us pray for Bishop Rhoades. He has his work cut out for him in dealing with Notre Dame.
Also, a big thanks to Bishop D'Arcy for his 24 years of service as Bishop of Fort Wayne - South Bend.
Here Bishop Rhoades discusses his transfer to South Bend: