Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Bishop Matthew Clark Turns 74 – One More Year Until Retirement

July 15th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

32 years down, one to go.

Birthday greetings from the Holy Father

An even ‘74‘ as displayed at

What happens next…

As of  now, there has been no word about Bishop Clark requesting a coadjutor to assist him during his final year and to take the reigns upon his retirement. It could still happen over the next 365 days (technically 366 because 2012 is a leap year), though I do not anticipate that happening given what I know about this bishop. The positive of no coadjutor is that Bishop Clark would have little to no hand in the selection of his successor. The negative is that he may linger around a little longer after he submits his resignation on July 15th, 2012 while his successor is chosen.

So how are bishops selected?

1. Every bishop submits a terna to his local archbishop. A terna is a list of three priests who the bishop believes would be strong candidates for the episcopate. This list is discussed among the area bishops and recommendations are made to the apostolic nuncio.

2. The nuncio receives the various recommendations and conducts investigations into these men. Approximately 25 people are interviewed as part of this process. The nuncio also consults with the diocesan bishop, other bishops in the province, and the head of the USCCB (Abp. Dolan). Eventually the nuncio comes up with a list of three recommendations and sends this to Rome.

3. The Congregation for Bishops discusses the matter. The U.S. members of the congregation include: Cards. Rigali, Levada, Law, Burke, and Stafford.

4. The Holy Father makes the final decision on a diocesan appointment, whether it be the reassignment of an auxiliary or diocesan bishop to a new post, or the consecration of a priest to the episcopacy.

5. The candidate is contacted and he either accepts or rejects the appointment.

6. A Mass of installation occurs whereby the new bishop assumes leadership of the diocese. The nuncio will likely be present for this.

Who might succeed Bishop Clark?

It’s anybody’s guess right now who will take over for Bishop Clark and when this might happen. It is my prediction that our bishop’s resignation will be accepted by the end of 2012, possibly in late November right before Advent. A replacement is unlikely to be assigned much sooner than that because the Vatican often moves at a snail’s pace. Many dioceses do not receive a new bishop until at least a year after the sitting bishop submits his resignation. Don’t expect Bishop Clark to hang around much longer than he needs to with Pope Benedict in charge (by the way, please pray for the Holy Father’s good health!). Bishop Clark’s successor could be announced when his resignation is accepted, or the resignation could be accepted and then the diocese remains vacant until a successor is named.

Presently, there are six vacant sees and nine sees with bishops serving past 75. Between now and July 15, 2012, seven additional bishops will reach retirement age. This does not take into account those who may retire early or who may be pressured to resign because of scandal.

I am guessing that our next bishop will be an auxiliary from another diocese. Bishop Joseph Perry of Chicago is still a strong potential candidate! We shouldn’t exclude the possibility that our next bishop will be fluent in Spanish with a growing Spanish-speaking population in the diocese, albeit much smaller than other dioceses with this ethnic group. I guess it’s also possible that we could receive a current diocesan bishop, though he’d more than likely come from a diocese of comparable or smaller size.

The X-Factor

I have stressed this before and I will do so again. Bishop Clark is required to make his ad limina visit to Rome approximately in November of this year. That’s only four months away. This will be the bishop’s first face-to-face chat (that we know about) with Pope Benedict as head of the Catholic Church. This is sure to be an interesting conversation given the long history between these two men and the mountains of complaints the Rochester faithful have sent his way throughout the years. It is not outside the realm of possibility that the bishop’s upcoming retirement could be a topic of discussion.

Well friends, we have come this far by faith! The winter is almost over in Rochester. In the words of a local schismatic, “you can’t hold back the Spring!”

One more year.

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4 Responses to “Bishop Matthew Clark Turns 74 – One More Year Until Retirement”

  1. Diane Harris says:

    Is it correct that it will be seven years since Bishop Clark’s last ad limina visit? Is that the new “standard?” Would that have been when Pope John Paul II was so ill? Given the relatively recent naming of Abp. Dolan, and the likely retirement in a short period of time of three NY bishops (Albany, Rochester, Buffalo) and the Bps. of Syracuse (and Ogdensburg?) not being “long timers” does that make an ad limina more or less likely? Hadn’t heard much about the parish level prep work upstreaming to DoR for the materials that usually have to be to Rome 6 months in advance. So wondering if we are pretty sure the ad limina will be taking place?

  2. Raymond F. Rice says:

    Well I looked at the picture of the Pope with his birthday cake a few rows above this comment and was wondering if Bernie could give us a synopsis and history of the Petrine designs for papal birthday cakes!! (LOL-kidding)

  3. Dr. K says:

    The NY province will be going to Rome in November as far as I know.

  4. Mike says:

    3 years ago CNS published this piece on the spacing of ad limina visits.

    Bottom line: There are just too many bishops in the world to maintain the once-every-five-years schedule.

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