Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The State of the Bench

Sure, all might be quiet on The Docket right now... but the wire brings word that, 18 months after its bishop reached the retirement age of 75, the diocese of Pueblo reached a settlement last week with two men who filed suits citing abuse by a priest through most of the 1970s.

The move might not mean a thing in the bigger picture... but it is the kind of business one tends to clear out before handing over the shop.

The amount of the payout was not disclosed. The accused cleric -- who resigned the priesthood in 1973 -- committed suicide in 2005.

All told, eight Stateside dioceses stand vacant as of this writing, with another nine led by ordinaries who've submitted their requisite "walking papers" and await the appointment of successors.

Among the latter group, Pueblo's Bishop Arthur Tafoya is out-aged by just one prelate: Bishop John D'Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who turned 77 last month.

Thrust into the spotlight over President Obama's May appearance at his charge's marquee academy (which he boycotted), D'Arcy's replacement as "bishop of Notre Dame" will likely emerge before year's end... and then, at long last, we'll finally know what Rome made of it all.

And lastly, the drumbeat's begun in earnest toward Stateside Catholicism's "Fall Classic" -- the November Meeting of the nation's bishops, slated to begin in Baltimore on the 16th.

With the traditional September prep-session of the bench's Administrative Committee having wrapped earlier today in Washington, the four-day plenary's agenda is now set... and so they say, it should make for another "interesting" time.

As always, stay tuned.

PHOTO: Brendan Smialowski/AFP