Friday, September 21, 2012

Bishop Clark's resignation accepted

In an unsually speedy way, Pope Benedict accepted the resignation of Bishop Matthew Clark of the Diocese of Rochester, effective immediately. (Interestingly, today is the Feast of St. Matthew.)

Bishop Clark had submitted his resignation in July when he reached age 75 - as is required. But those resignations are often not accepted by the Pope for a long time - often about a year - and sometimes longer.  Bishop Clark himself had been saying he expected it to take around that long.

To have it happen in just two months, and in this way, leads to speculation.

Is Bishop Clark dealing with health problems? He's had some issues in recent years, but there's nothing to indicate that he's facing a serious problem right now. I hope that is not the case.

But if not illness, then the other possibility is that he and his actions are being repudiated.

Bishop Clark has been been a controversial figure for many years because of some of his decisions and actions - and he's a been a favorite whipping boy of some more conservative orthodox types. His handling of the schismatic Corpus Christi situation, the diocesan outreach to homosexuals, the diocesan takeover of Catholics schools and the subsequent closing of many of them, his support for some outspoken liberals and critics of the Vatican, and a number of other issues have drawn criticism, national attention, and sometimes unfair, nasty, and even personal attacks.

On the other hand, in 33 years, the Vatican never judged his actions worthy of immediate removal.

I have many warm memories of Bishop Clark from my years of involvement with the diocese. To me, he has always been a good, decent, caring, prayerful man. I hope this action was not intended as a slight. I certainly hope he is not hurt by it.

Pax et bonum

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