Speculation in Pittsburgh on a potential new bishop is running high, with the local newspaper running an article vetting the contenders. I think they are jumping the gun a bit. While it’s not inconceivable that Pittsburgh could get a replacement for Archbishop Donald Wuerl, now in Washington, quickly, there are quite a few other dioceses in new need of new prelates as well. According to Ed Peter’s latest tally, there are seven dioceses currently without bishops, two of them—Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Youngstown, Ohio, bereft of bishops since March 2005. Another even dozen have bishops serving past the retirement age of 75 and eight more to be added to the list by the end of next year. That’s not counting the unexpected vacancies due to death or sudden illness or retirement from other causes.
The filling of vacancies by the Vatican doesn’t necessarily happen by how long the see has been empty, but other factors are considered as well such as the quality of the diocesan administrator, outstanding issues that need a bishop’s attention, the availability of another bishop to substitute for confirmations and ordinations and the like, and so on. The prominence of the diocese is also a factor, and while Pittsburgh is indeed prominent in the region, it does not necessarily mean that will push it to the head of the line. The fact that the former ordinary is now in Washington where he will probably see the apostolic nuncio on a regular basis may be a pressure in the other direction, however.
No rush in Pittsburgh
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