Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Taking the Helm

Concluding the longest US coadjutor's stint in recent times, Benedict XVI has accepted the retirement of Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston, given for reasons of age. Fiorenza, a former president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops who has led Texas' largest diocese since 1985, turned 75 on 25 January.

Archbishop Daniel DiNardo, 56, who was designated as Fiorenza's successor in January 2004, immediately assumes the reins of the archdiocese, home to over 1 million Catholics in America's fourth largest city. From 1984-90, he was a staffer at the Congregation for Bishops, also serving a stint as director of Villa Stritch.

Galveston-Houston -- the mother diocese of Texas -- was granted metropolitan status in December 2004, at which time the state was ecclesiastically subdivided and a second province carved out of it. Given that elevation, and its numerical status as the largest See in the American South, it might well come to pass that the pontiff will bypass one of the US' traditional cardinalatial posts and send a red hat to Lone Star country.

The archdiocese is currently engrossed in the construction of a $40 million Co-Cathedral at Houston, slated to be completed in late 2007.

Given that it's opening day of the legendary Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo -- the city's Holy Festival of Obligation -- whether anything can be gleaned from the announcement's timing is anyone's guess.