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Online Edition - Vol. VIII, No. 5: July-August 2002

Saint Louis Bishop Dolan to head Milwaukee Archdiocese

Bishop Timothy Dolan, who has been auxiliary bishop of Saint Louis for a year, was appointed archbishop of Milwaukee on June 25.

Archbishop-elect Dolan, 52, will replace former Archbishop Rembert Weakland, OSB, whose resignation was accepted May 24, ending his oversight of the archdiocese that began in 1977.

The new archbishop will be installed on August 28, the feast of Saint Augustine of Hippo.

Before his appointment as auxiliary bishop of Saint Louis last June, Archbishop-elect Dolan had served as rector of the North American College in Rome for seven years, and as secretary to two nuncios in the apostolic nunciature to the United States in Washington, DC. He had also been vice-rector of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in Saint Louis, and served in several parish assignments.

Early this year, Bishop Dolan was given the responsibility for overseeing the Saint Louis archdiocese's management of clergy sex-abuse cases.

But even before his episcopal ordination last August, and before the current wave of scandals broke this January, he had publicly addressed problems of sexual misconduct among members of the clergy.

In an interview June 2001 with Zenit, a Rome-based internet news agency, he said that "seminary formators owe it to the Church to be vigilant".

"One, they must never allow a man to be ordained who gives any evidence of tendencies to sexual immorality. Two, they must be very blunt in holding up to their men the clear expectations of Jesus and His Church.... Positively, this means they present the beauty of celibacy, that it is a gift, a call from the Lord to love Him and His Church totally, exclusively, radically. Negatively, this means they are candid in warning about dangers to celibate commitment, and a homosexual inclination falls under this category", he said.

After the bishops meeting in Dallas June 13-15, Bishop Dolan was interviewed by the National Catholic Register (June 23-30) on the catastrophe of the clergy scandal this year.

"I really think we're at a moment somewhat similar to the Catholic Reformation after the Council of Trent", he said. "I think what we've got is a privileged moment of grace when the Lord is inviting His Church to intense renewal and a call to sanctity".

"There are some who say -- and I would disagree with them wholeheartedly -- that this is a time for radical change in the Church", the bishop said. "I would maintain that instead this is a time for radical rediscovery of what is most noble at the core of the Church.

"The horrors that we're talking about did not grow out of the Church. The horrors happened because the Church wasn't true to itself, wasn't true to its most noble core, which is impeccable virtue, heroic sanctity and the pursuit of perfection, which shows itself in fidelity and integrity of life".

Archbishop Weakland, 75, was chairman of the US Bishops' Liturgy Committee from 1978-81. His resignation as archbishop of Milwaukee was accepted in May after it was revealed that he had given $450,000 in 1997 to a man with whom he'd had an "improper relationship" in 1978. The archdiocese had also suffered serious controversy over the renovation of the Cathedral, rededicated in April.

Many Milwaukee Catholics are concerned that the divisions and dissent within the archdiocese are so pervasive and deeply-rooted that it will present a great challenge to the new archbishop. Some believe it may take years to restore the Church's integrity there.

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