Dec 3, 2006

The Replacement of Bishop Leibrecht

For more than 21 years, Bishop John Leibrecht has been the leader of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese, an area that covers the southern third of Missouri. This area is strongly fundamentalist Protestant, and I've seen many business signs in Joplin, Branson, and other small towns unabashedly proclaiming their allegiance to Christianity.

In the middle of this conservative Protestant environment, Bishop Leibrecht has followed a generally liberal path in ruling his diocese, to the extent that this writer personally knows several individuals who have 'flown the coop.' The Wanderer Newspaper in 2001 complained that even though many Catholics had petitioned for the indult Latin Mass in Springfield, MO, Bishop Leibrecht was "intransigent [in his] refusal to permit the indult Mass."

My friends wonder why a replacement has not yet been announced by Rome even though Bishop Leibrecht submitted his resignation almost a year and a half ago when he turned 75 years of age.

When a Bishop dies or resigns, the process of succession begins with a consultation carried out by the Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Pietro Sambi. He normally takes advice from bishops, some of the clergy and others--whomever he may choose to consult on the next Bishop. This highly confidential process is secret.

At the end of the consultation, Archbishop Sambi recommends three names to the Congregation of Bishops in Rome. The Cardinal Prefect then gives the Congregation's recommendations to the Holy Father, who decides who the next bishop will be. The bishop-elect is asked if he accepts and if he says yes, an announcement is made.

How long does it take for consultation, decision and appointment? From as little as four months to a year or more. However, I suspect Bishop Leibrecht has many friends in the upper echelons of the USCCB who do not want to see him replaced with a less liberal leader. Methinks there is a real fight going on with regard to Bishop Leibrecht's successor. So he remains an active Bishop, even though his resignation was submitted in August 2005.

Most importantly, Bishop Leibrecht is currently the Chairman of the Board for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University. CARA is a key organization in the study of homosexual perversion in the Catholic Church.

In 2003, the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries (NACDLGM) launched a study of parish and diocesan ministries to gays. NACDLGM is a network of diocesan, parish, and campus-based ministries with lesbian and gay communities and their families. The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University assisted with the study and prepared a report for NACDLGM.

The CARA report studied parish ministries to homosexuals, including how
Ministry leaders have worked hard to increase awareness of gay and lesbian issues among the parish community as whole. One way has been the annual celebration of Solidarity Sunday on the first weekend of October. Beginning in 1998, GLM members have passed out rainbow ribbons and prayer cards before and after each weekend Mass. Announcements are made on preceding weekends, reminding the community that Solidarity Sunday is a time to pray for an end to violence and discrimination, especially against those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered.

Over the years, more and more parishioners have chosen to wear the rainbow ribbon. Some liturgical ministers wear the rainbow ribbon year-round at Mass to show support for those who have suffered discrimination.
There's lots more on NACDLGM and CARA, but you get the idea.


cranky said...


cranky said...

As I go over a list of my blessings, I just added, "Thank you Lord, that I am not in the Springfield-Cape Giradeau diocese."

Anonymous said...

I'd like to respond to cranky. I'm glad you're not in this diocese either. We have a blessing of a man for a bishop. The USCCB, if studied carefully, is a tremendous body that is helping us to stay Catholic. We don't have a replacement yet because other dioceses need a bishop and have waited much longer than we have. And Bishop Leibrecht is gracious enough not to step down and leave us without leadership. Please do better research on the homosexuality issues. And, cranky, the money invested in the USCCB is very worthwhile. We are being helped to live out our faith by some very wonderful bishops. Get off your arrogant high horse and spend more time reading deeper!