Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Day's Count

So much in contemporary culture is about self interest. How does this affect me?

Today's appointment of Philadelphia Auxiliary Bishop Joseph R. Cistone as bishop of Saginaw, Michigan (congrats to Bishop Cistone and the Catholics of Saginaw) had an indirect effect on my office, not only because USCCB Media Relations prepared a release on the appointment, but because our office is currently busy preparing for next month's meeting of the U.S. Catholic bishops in San Antonio.

As part of the preparations, our office prepares backgrounders and other informational handouts for media who will be attending the meeting. And among these backgrounders are the statistics on bishops and dioceses across the country, including numbers of bishops, archbishops, cardinals, coadjutors, active bishops, retired bishops, auxiliary bishops, retired auxiliary bishops, as well as vacant dioceses.

The challenge in getting this information off to the printers in time for the big meeting is that the ground keeps shifting beneath our feet. Most recently, the retirement of San Francisco auxiliary Bishop Ignatius Wang lowered the number of active auxiliaries and raised the number of retired auxiliaries by one while similarly shifting the active/retired ratio for all U.S. bishops.

More complicated, the May 5 retirement of Winona Bishop Bernard Harrington and immediate succession by his coadjutor, Bishop John M. Quinn, dropped and raised by one the numbers of active and retired diocesan bishops, respectively. The succession of Bishop Quinn, however, brought the number of active diocesan bishops right back up to its earlier number while dropping the number of coadjutor bishops nationwide to zero. However, since Bishop Quinn was already an active bishops, his succession didn't change the number of active bishops overall.

Last month, the appointment of Saginaw Bishop Robert Carlson as archbishop of St. Louis did nothing to change the active/retired ratio, but it did drop St. Louis off the list of vacant U.S. dioceses (that is, dioceses without a bishop), replacing it with Saginaw. About the only thing this appointment changed statistically was that we had one fewer diocesan bishop and one more archbishop with Carlson's promotion from ordinary to metropolitan.

And now, scarcely a month after going on the list, Saginaw drops off the list of vacant dioceses with the appointment of Bishop Cistone, whose appointments also drops and raises by one the number of active auxiliaries and active diocesan bishops, respectively.

Quickly becoming aware that a person could lose his mind by trying to stay on top of this, I'm resigning myself to the fact that, by the time the bishops meet on June 17, these statistics will have had plenty of time to go stale. (There are, after all, a dozen or so bishops serving past the retirement age of 75 and five vacant dioceses.)

So, with that in mind, here are the statistics that are going to the printers as of right now. It is nothing better than simply today's count:

Currently, 5 dioceses are vacant (sede vacante):


There are 425 active and retired Catholic bishops in the United States:

258 Active Bishops:
5 Cardinal Archbishops
28 Archbishops
1 Coadjutor Archbishop
155 Diocesan Bishops
0 Coadjutor Bishops
69 Auxiliary Bishops

167 Retired Bishops:
7 retired Cardinal Archbishops
20 retired Archbishops
91 retired Diocesan Bishops
49 retired Auxiliary Bishops

I think I'm going to recommend that next time we give the media a link to a real-time online database.

1 comment:

Paul Stokell said...

Wow! Who would've thought we had that many retired bishops?

How many arch/dioceses have ordinaries past retirement age? That has to figure in the equaions at some point as well.

And thanks for all you do for the Church!