Naming of new bishop for Diocese of Pittsburgh declared imminent
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A new bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh is expected to be named this week, possibly as early as today, according to sources outside the diocese.
In addition to those sources, Rocco Palmo, whose blog, "Whispers in the Loggia," often accurately predicts bishop appointments, said yesterday he was hearing reports that the announcement was coming within "days, if not hours."
The name he is hearing most often is that of Bishop David Zubik 57, of Green Bay, Wis., a former auxiliary bishop of Pittsburgh.
"It's hard to tell where the line between sentiment and reality is right now. Obviously there is a lot of local affection and hope that it will be Bishop Zubik. And I have also heard his name from outside the diocese. But, in the words of a Vatican official I spoke with a couple of weeks ago, I won't believe it until it's on the Vatican Web site," said Mr. Palmo, who is also the U.S. correspondent for the London-based Catholic weekly, The Tablet.
The choice of Pope Benedict XVI is believed to be a bishop who already heads a smaller diocese. No names have been released by any official source. Anyone officially told of an impending appointment is bound to secrecy.
Names in circulation in addition to Bishop Zubik are Bishops Blase Cupich, 58, of Rapid City, S.D., and Dennis Schnurr, 59, of Duluth, Minn.
All three were reported to be out of their offices yesterday.
Bishop Zubik is an Ambridge native who served here until being sent to Green Bay in 2003. He spent five years as a parochial vicar at Sacred Heart Parish, Shadyside, then became vice principal of Quigley Catholic High School in Baden.
In 1987, then-Bishop Anthony Bevilacqua tapped him as his secretary. Under Bishop Donald Wuerl, he rose through the chancery ranks. During the diocesan reorganization of 1992-94, which merged and closed scores of parishes, he ran the office responsible for reassigning nearly three-quarters of all priests. He then became general secretary and vicar general of the diocese, meaning he oversaw much of its day-to-day operation. He was made an auxiliary bishop in 1997.
In Green Bay, he has carried out a reorganization similar to the one in Pittsburgh. He has also been a strong advocate for immigrant rights. Like his mentor, Bishop Wuerl, he is seen as a centrist on church matters.
Bishop Cupich is a former rector of the Pontifical College Josephinum in Ohio, a Vatican-chartered seminary. In the 1980s, he worked for the papal nuncio to the United States.
Viewed as a moderate voice among American bishops, he was a candidate for the presidency of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2004. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests endorsed him in that 10-way race, indicating respect for his work on that painful church issue.
Ordained for Omaha, Neb., in 1975, he spent six years in parish ministry, plus three teaching high school, and was a pastor when he was appointed to lead the Rapid City diocese in 1998.
Bishop Schnurr has been treasurer of the bishops' conference during a difficult time of downsizing. But he made his mark doing happier work, as chief organizer of the 1993 World Youth Day in Denver with the late Pope John Paul II.
A canon lawyer from Sheldon, Iowa, he studied in Rome and was ordained for the Diocese of Sioux City. He spent three years in parish ministry, then worked for the papal nuncio in Washington, D.C., from 1985 to 1989. Afterward, the bishops conference hired him to oversee its peace and justice efforts. He rose to become the conference's general secretary from 1995 to 2001, overseeing a staff of 350 and a budget of $50 million. He was appointed to Duluth in 2001.
One Pittsburgh priest, Monsignor Edward Burns, has worked closely with all three men and said Pittsburgh "would be served well by any one of these bishops."
Monsignor Burns and Bishop Zubik both lived at St. Paul Seminary, East Carnegie, in the 1990s, when the former was vice-rector and the latter director of clergy personnel.
"Anyone who knows Bishop Zubik knows he is a hard worker, humble, personable and prayerful," Monsignor Burns said.
"He is most attentive to details and is very comfortable working with any group of people in any setting."
Bishop Schnurr hired Monsignor Burns for the national vocations office in 1999. For several years, both lived at the same Washington, D.C., residence for priests.
"He is very focused, loyal, prudent and extremely disciplined," Monsignor Burns said.
"Bishop Schnurr is very hospitable and exudes true Christian charity. He is truly a problem solver. He possesses great skill when it comes to handing finances and is not afraid to tackle an issue. His work ethic is such that he takes the initiative to get things done."
Bishop Cupich is chairman of the U.S. bishops' vocations committee that directs Monsignor Burns' office.
"He's very supportive of those who work around him. He's energetic, possesses a great wit and is very approachable," Monsignor Burns said.
"While he can be intense when dealing with complex issues, he is down-to-earth. He is very computer-savvy and is on top of communications with e-mail. I have posed questions to him and have had answers back from him in a matter of minutes."
The Vatican normally announces bishop appointments at noon, which is 6 a.m. here.
Bishop David Zubik
Bishop Blase Cupich
Bishop Dennis Schnurr
First Published July 17, 2007 11:22 pm