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Bishops Aren't Important

Many years ago during a gripe session about a bishop, someone commented that the bishop isn't really important. The priests do what they want in their parishes and the bishop is basically a figurehead.

While I certainly agree that this can be the case, it certainly shouldn't be the case, shepherds of the flock and all that.

Proving that a good bishop is very important to the spiritual life of a diocese, I offer exhibit A from Colorado Springs.

Exhibit A is the announcement of a new marriage prep program that becomes mandatory in the diocese in January of 2007. The program will require a year's prep time and will include Theology of the Body and NFP classes. The last two issues of the Catholic Herald have featured columns by the bishop on the beauty and importance of marriage that explain why the new program was instituted. I recommend reading both columns, here and here. For detailed information about the program, which you can take on-line, click here.

Exhibit B is the blog of “Wolftracker” who lives in Kansas City and enjoys writing about Bishop Finn. Bishop Finn has caused the National “Catholic” Reporter to run off the rails and foam at the mouth. Always a good sign.

Exhibit C is the latest issue of the Catholic Herald here in Colorado Springs which has a multi-page spread on NFP. The section includes testimonies from couples (including my parents), an article by Christopher West, information about what NFP is and a column from the bishop that starts off with “Contraception is intrinsically immoral and mortally sinful. This is taught infallibly by the Church's magisterium, and so it is part of the faith of the Catholic Church.” You can all lift your jaws off the floor now. Yes, this really did appear in an official diocesan paper and yes, that was written by our bishop. Unfortunately, the latest issue isn't on-line yet. When it is, I will post links.

Exhibit D comes from the PJKennedy and Sons Catholic Directory. This tome contains every stat on the US Catholic Church. Statistics for active priests and priests to Catholics only include diocesan priests. A few tidbits:

Active Priests: 127
Seminarians: 93 (26 diocesan)
Ordinations in 2005: 3
Total Catholics: 94,000
Catholics to priests: 740
Active Priests: 155
Seminarians: 43
Ordinations in 2005: 4
Total Catholics: 174,000
Catholics to priests: 1122

St. Louis
Active Priests: 391
Seminarians: 338 (45 diocesan)
Ordinations in 2005: 4 (1 diocesan)
Total Catholics: 556,000
Catholics to priests: 1422
Active Priests: 147
Seminarians: 4 (2 diocesan)
Ordinations in 2005: 3 (2 diocesan)
Total Catholics: 400,000
Catholics to priests: 2,721
Los Angeles
Active Priests: 364
Seminarians: 80 (45 diocesan)
Ordinations in 2005: 13 (5 diocesan)
Total Catholics: 4.5 million
Catholics to priests: 12,363

Active Priests: 72
Seminarians: 45 (20 diocesan)
Ordinations in 2005: 0
Total Catholics: 955,000
Catholics to priests: 13,264
If you are interested in stats from a diocese not listed above, suggest another in the comment box.


  1. O.K. I’ll bite.

    The Archdiocese of Cincinnati and Chicago versus the Diocese of Stuebenville.

  2. What are the stats for all diocese in the state of NY?

  3. This seems a lot to ask and might be more than you wish to undertake. If so, I certainly understand. But here it is.

    Here in Virginia, in the Arlington Diocese, we had a strong and orthodox shepherd in Bishop Keating. And he had a strong and active Director of Vocations. This attracted many good men to the diocesean priesthood and we have been truly blessed by them. On this was our reputation built.

    After the death of Bishop Keating we were given Bishop Loverde as his successor. My impression is that Bishop Loverde is less orthodox. This might be somewhat unfair and he is certainly no Mahony. But he is no Keating, either. He put in his own Director of Vocations, which is certainly his right. But I have not seen him in the parish making appeals. There has been an ongoing case wherein the priest (Father Hanley?) seems to have been wronged and continues to be so. Just a few months back, Bishop Loverde approved altar girls, leaving Lincoln as the last holdout. He simultaneously granted permission fot two indult Masses. So the message is moderate if not outright mixed.

    Anyway, what I am wondering is how the change from the orthodoxy of Keating to the mixed moderation of Loverde has affected vocations in Arlington. I have no idea how to learn the answer. Perhaps you do?

    Thanks for the offer and thanks for listening.


  4. Ian,

    Thanks for the link to Kansas City Catholic in this post and for the link in the sidebar. Next time I am in Denver, I’ll stop by the store and say hello.

    We are hoping that Bishop Finn’s presence in Kansas City increases vocations here. It was not uncommon for men with a vocation to leave and study under the auspices of a more orthodox bishop prior to Bishop Finn’s arrival. At the very least, such men will not be leaving the diocese now.

    God Bless,


  5. Vocations have evaporated in Louisville. All one has to do is look at the outgoing archbishop, and his priorities over the last three decades, for the cause. Pray for us!!

  6. Wow…. look at the amount of St Louis Seminarians…. that is unreal! Very impressive.

  7. How about Chicago? With Cardinal George I’d like to think there is reason for hope.

  8. How about the diocese of Memphis’s priest/parishioner ratio?

  9. Arlington diocese is ordaining no priest this year. That stat explains all you need to know. Has Bishop Loverde confronted any dissenters ever? Young men follow strength not politicians. They don’t give up their lives to pursue mediocrity.

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