Vol. XX, No. 6
How will the Church withstand coming changes and challenges?
by Helen Hull Hitchcock
In the weeks preceding the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family, which will take place October 5-19, Pope Francis made several significant episcopal appointments, with implications for both the synod and the liturgy.
Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, 68, who had been prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW) since 2008, was appointed by Pope Francis on August 28 as archbishop of his home diocese, Valencia, Spain.
Cardinal Cañizares was vice president of Spain’s bishops’ conference from 2005-2008, and was made a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006. He was appointed prefect of the CDW during the final stages of the translation of the new Missal, and he oversaw the introduction of the new translations.
The Vatican has not yet announced a successor to head the CDW. At present its senior official is the Congregation’s secretary, Archbishop Arthur Roche.
Monsignor Marcus Stock, 55, a priest of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, England since 1988, now secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, and Director of the Faculty of Theology at Heythrop College, London, was appointed bishop of the diocese of Leeds on September 15, to succeed Archbishop Roche. The diocese of Leeds has been without a bishop since Archbishop Roche was appointed Secretary of the CDW in 2012. He had also served as president of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) from 2003-2012.
On September 18, Pope Francis appointed Bishop Anthony Fisher, OP, 54, of Parramatta Australia, as the new Archbishop of Sydney. He replaces Cardinal George Pell, who is now prefect of the Vatican’s new Secretariat for the Economy and a member of Pope Francis’s “Group of 9” close advisers. Cardinal Pell is also chairman of Vox Clara, the committee that Pope John Paul II established in 2001 to aid the CDW in the translation of Latin liturgical texts into English and to strengthen effective cooperation with English-speaking conferences of bishops in this regard.
Bishop Fisher studied law before entering the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) at the age of 25. He took his perpetual vows in 1987 and was ordained a priest in 1991. He studied bioethics and obtained a doctorate in philosophy at the University of Oxford in 1995.
As a priest, he taught at the Australian Catholic University, and in 2000 he became the founding director of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family in Melbourne, which focuses on research and teaching on aspects of the dignity of the human person and support for marriage and family life. He remains professor of moral theology and bioethics at the institute and has written and lectured widely on these subjects.
Since 2004 Bishop Fisher has been a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life. He has been heavily involved in youth work and was coordinator of preparations for the 23rd World Youth Day in Sydney that took place in July 2008.
In 2003, he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Sydney and since 2010 has served as Bishop of Parramatta. Considered a close ally of Cardinal Pell, his appointment was anticipated. He will be installed as Archbishop of Sydney in November.
Only two days later, on September 20, Pope Francis named Bishop Blase Cupich, 65, archbishop of Chicago, to succeed Cardinal Francis George, OMI, 77, who has led the Chicago archdiocese since 1997.
A native of Omaha, Nebraska, Bishop Cupich attended seminary at the North American College in Rome, where he was ordained in 1975. He received his masters in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1975 and his doctorate in sacramental theology from the Catholic University of America in 1979. He was appointed bishop of Spokane in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI, after he had served as bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota, since his appointment in 1998 by Pope Saint John Paul II.
Archbishop-designate Cupich will assume his new responsibility on November 18. Until then, by special indult of the Holy See, both he and Cardinal George will retain the full authority of residential bishops.
Cardinal George had submitted his resignation two years ago but continued to serve, despite recurring cancer. Because of deteriorating health he had requested in April 2014 that his resignation be accepted and his successor sought.
Cardinal George, who succeeded Cardinal Joseph Bernardin as archbishop of Chicago, has been among the most respected, intellectually accomplished and dynamically orthodox among the US bishops.
A native of Chicago, he entered the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) in 1957, and was ordained in 1963. After receiving several advanced degrees in philosophy and sacred theology, he taught for a few years at the university level and served as provincial superior and vicar general for the Oblates in Rome in the 1980s.
After Father George returned to the United States in 1987, he was the coordinator of a scholarly think tank in Cambridge, Massachusetts, until 1990, when Pope John Paul II appointed him bishop of Yakima, Washington, where he served until 1996. He was then made archbishop of Portland in Oregon to succeed Archbishop William Levada, serving less than a year before he was made archbishop of Chicago.
Cardinal George was elevated to the cardinalate by Pope Benedict in 2008. He was president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2007-2010; and chairman of its Committee for Divine Worship from 2001-2004 (he remains a consultant to the BCDW). He was the US representative and president of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) from 1997-2006, a period of considerable conflict over translation, during which time ICEL was completely reorganized and new translation norms were promulgated by the Holy See.
In the year 2000, Cardinal George established the Liturgical Institute at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein Seminary, to prepare Catholics for “a new era of liturgical renewal.”
What can we anticipate for the future of the Church, following many changes — not only in leadership, but also as a result of the forthcoming synods of bishops on the family, both “extraordinary” this October, and “ordinary” in 2015? How will the Church navigate the intense political and cultural challenges to the Catholic faith and religious freedom, both at home and abroad? How can she overcome the enormity of the persecution of Christians in today’s world?
Perhaps these words of Cardinal George in his column published September 7, only days before the unexpected announcement of his successor, express it best:
“How does the tale end? We don’t know. The actual situation is, of course, far more complex than a story plot, and there are many actors and characters, even among the ruling class, who do not want their beloved country to transform itself into a fake church. It would be wrong to lose hope, since there are so many good and faithful people.
“Catholics do know, with the certainty of faith, that, when Christ returns in glory to judge the living and the dead, the Church, in some recognizable shape or form that is both Catholic and Apostolic, will be there to meet him. There is no such divine guarantee for any country, culture or society of this or any age.”
A Tale of Two Churches: catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx
Adoremus, Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy