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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:

Lincoln
Active Priests: 127
Seminarians: 93 (26 diocesan)
Ordinations in 2005: 3
Total Catholics: 94,000
Catholics to priests: 740
Peoria
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
Albany
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

Dallas
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.

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