Washington isn't the first state to see a complete turnover in its episcopate under Benedict XVI. States like Utah, Arkansas and Vermont, which contain only one diocese, have received new bishops under this pope.
The most substantial turnover by any one state has occurred in Michigan, where Pope Benedict has appointed a new bishop to head each of its seven dioceses:
- June 21, 2005 -- Bishop Walter Hurley is appointed to the Diocese of Grand Rapids
- December 13, 2005 -- Bishop James Garland of Marquette retires, succeeded by Bishop Alexander Sample
- February 27, 2008 -- Bishop Carl Mengeling of Lansing retires, succeeded by Bishop Earl Boyea
- January 5, 2009 -- Cardinal Adam Maida of Detroit retires, succeeded by Archbishop Allen Vigneron
- April 6, 2009 -- Bishop James Murray of Kalamazoo retires, succeeded by Bishop Paul Bradley
- May 20, 2009 -- Bishop Joseph Cistone is named bishop of Saginaw, succeeding Bishop Robert Carlson, who'd been named archbishop of St. Louis
- October 7, 2009 -- Bishop Patrick Cooney of Gaylord retires, succeeded by Bishop Bernard Hebda
This month brings the sixth anniversary of the pope's election -- a brief length of time for an institution that "thinks in centuries" -- yet of the 178 Latin rite dioceses and archdiocese in the U.S., 86, or 48 percent of them, are headed by bishops appointed by this pope. Take into account the five or so vacant dioceses awaiting new bishops, the eight U.S. bishops currently serving past the retirement age of 75, as well as one coadjutor bishop, and Pope Benedict is poised to jump well past the halfway point.
As bishops reach retirement age and others are transferred to replace retired bishops (and so on), the thread that runs consistently through this narrative is that the pope, assisted by the apostolic nuncio and the Congregation for Bishops in Rome, seeks to find the bishop who best meet the needs of a given diocese. What's impressive is that in six short years he's met the needs of so many.