Will a NY bishop be packing his bags?

The Catholic bishop of Scranton, Pa., has taken early retirement and a rumor is afloat that Bishop Dennis Sullivan, vicar general of the Arch of NY, will replace him.

“Scrantonpriest,” an anonymous poster on the blog Rockin’ Traddy, writes: “Very reliable clerical sources indicate that Bishop Dennis Sullivan, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of New York has been chosen by the Pope to succeed Bishop Martino. Sullivan’s appointment will be made known next week and he will take possession of the diocese in two months time.”

We’ll see. I’m told Sullivan is on vacation this week.

Sullivan was serving as pastor of the Church of Sts. John and Paul in Larchmont (yeah, I know it’s in the Town of Mamaroneck, but everyone IDs it as being in Larchmont) in 2004, when he was named a bishop. The picture shows his ordination at St. Patty’s on Sept. 21, 04.

As vicar general, Sullivan was Cardinal Egan’s point-man on the planning of the parish realignment announced in 2006.

There has been plenty of talk in the last year or two that one of NY’s auxiliary bishops would be heading out of town.

No Richardson in this National Baptist Convention election

The National Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest African-American church group, will elect a new president next month in Memphis.

And for the first time in 20 years, Mount Vernon’s W. Franklyn Richardson won’t be running.

Richardson ran for the top job in the last THREE elections and came in second each time.

He was once vice president of the Convention and made it clear that it was a dream of his to lead the denomination, which has long been regarded as a sleeping giant of American religion. The Convention has something like 7.5 million members but makes little noise on the national scene.

As Westchesterites know, Richardson is a mover and shaker. I always felt that it would have been real interesting to see what he could do as a national leader.

But it was not to be. The Rev. William Shaw of Philadelphia, a respected, professorial minister, is finishing his second, five-year term.

The election will take place on Sept. 10.

The gathering of black Baptists is expected to draw a huge crowd, something like 30,000 people. As I was covering Richardson’s campaigns, I was fortunate to attend the Convention in New Orleans in 2004 (a year before Katrina) and in Tampa in 1999.

Since few reporters cover the Convention’s gatherings, I was repeatedly mistaken for a hotel employee at both locations.

Vatican to Maryknoll: Pick a priest, please

Back in May, the Ossining-based Maryknoll religious order chose a religious brother, not a priest, Brother Wayne Fitzpatrick, to serve as regional superior for the U.S.

But John Allen reports that the Vatican has rejected the choice, asking Maryknoll to choose a priest instead.

Allen writes: “In general, church-watchers say that policy is intended to defend the theology of apostolic succession, in which decision-making power in the church is believed to flow through the sacrament of holy orders. Although religious brothers take vows and are generally seen as equals within their communities, under the church’s canon law they are considered laity.”

Father Ed Dougherty, the superior general of Maryknoll, tells Allen: “I wasn’t surprised, to tell you the truth. There’s still a hierarchical sense in which having a brother over a priest is a problem. There’s a fear of a slippery slope, of the camel getting its nose under the tent” toward an erosion of priestly authority.

“I had hoped maybe we’d moved beyond that,” Dougherty said.

A new regional superior will soon be chosen.

New boss set for World Council of Churches

For those interested in global ecumenism…

A Norwegian theologian and pastor was elected today to serve as the 7th secretary general of the World Council of Churches, a fellowship of 349 denominations.

The Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit is only 48, making him the youngest man to get the top job.

He is a pastor in the Church of Norway, a Lutheran church that is the state church of Norway and is headed, officially, by the King of Norway.

Tveit is currently general secretary of the Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relations. He is also a member of the WCC Faith and Order Plenary Commission and is co-chair of the WCC Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum “core group.”

“This task I really feel is the call of God. I feel that we have a lot to do together,” Tveit said in his acceptance speech.

The WCC was formed in 1948 to seek “unity, a common witness and Christian service.” Its membership includes most significant Orthodox, Protestant and Anglican churches.

The Roman Catholic Church is not a formal member but works closely with the WCC in many ways.

The current secretary general, the Rev. Samuel Kobia, a Methodist from Kenya, was elected in 2004 but chose not to seek a second term.

One American has served as secretary general. Eugene Carson Blake, a Presbyterian, held the job from 1966 to 1972.

NY Giants owner to help honor Archbishop Dolan at seminary dinner

Guess who will be the special honoree at St. Joseph’s Seminary’s annual dinner in Yonkers on Sept. 22.

The new boss, Archbishop Dolan.

Dolan has been out of town for much of the summer, working on his Spanish. I understand that he is going to start making his mark on the Archdiocese of NY this fall.

The chairs of the event will be philanthropist Florence B. D’Urso, who splits her time between Manhattan and Pelham and is one of the most influential laypeople in the archdiocese, and none other than John K. Mara, of Harrison, president and chief executive officer of the New York Giants.

Mara (that’s him) is the oldest son of the late Giants owner Wellington Mara. He serves on the Board of Directors of St. Vincent’s Hospital in Harrison and of the School of the Holy Child in Rye. His mother, Ann Mara, was chair of the 2004 seminary dinner.

The dinner is a big fundraiser for “Dunwoodie,” the training ground for NY priests. Tickets are $500 or $5,000 for a table.

For info, call 914-968-6200, ext. 8292.

“In our 113th year of preparing men to serve God’s people as priests, we are grateful for the many blessings and graces the Lord continues to shower upon us here at Dunwoodie,” says Bishop Gerald Walsh, rector of the seminary.

Little Drummer Bob

It’s official:


Bob Dylan will release a brand new album of holiday songs, Christmas In The Heart, on Tuesday, October 13, it was announced today by Columbia Records. All of the artist’s U.S. royalties from sales of these recordings will be donated to Feeding America, guaranteeing that more than four million meals will be provided to more than 1.4 million people in need in this country during this year’s holiday season. Bob Dylan is also donating all of his future U.S. royalties from this album to Feeding America in perpetuity.


Songs include “Here Comes Santa Claus,” “Winter Wonderland,” “Little Drummer Boy” and “Must Be Santa.”

Religious leaders can’t go along with release of Lockerie bomber

There was little talk of forgiveness in NBC’s report last night about what NY religious leaders have to say on the release of the Lockerie bomber from a Scottish prison.

You can read a full report HERE, but here are a few snippets:

Archbishop Dolan: “While as a follower of Jesus Christ I believe in mercy, I also believe that mercy must always be tempered with justice. Mercy can be demonstrated in ways other than by releasing a man responsible for so much pain, suffering, and death.”

Episcopal Bishop of NY Mark Sisk (that’s him): “It seems to me to be a truly terrible misunderstanding of what compassion is. It truly undercut the sensibilities of those who are the survivors.  And in that sense, it is, I think horrific.”

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, head of the New York Board of Rabbis: “I cannot forgive this person (Al-Megrahi), I cannot forgive Adolf Hitler. I cannot forgive Timothy McVeigh.”

Imam Mohammed Shamsi Ali of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York: “I don’t want this to be a signal or gesture to the other criminals around to say at the end of the day you will be a heroic one. Terrorism is terrorism and we want terrorism to be stopped in any way and in any means possible.”

U.S. Supreme Court rules against Bridgeport diocese

After years of legal wrangling, the Diocese of Bridgeport may soon have to release all those documents relating to sex-abuse lawsuits.

From the AP:


NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday against a Roman Catholic diocese in Connecticut, saying that thousands of documents generated by lawsuits against six priests for alleged sexual abuse cannot remain sealed.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg on Tuesday denied the Bridgeport diocese’s request to continue a stay on the release of the papers until the full court decides whether to review the case.

Ralph Johnson III, a lawyer for the diocese, said church officials were considering whether to ask all nine justices to rule on the request.

Jonathan Albano, attorney for three newspapers who requested the documents, said the ruling compels the diocese to release the documents, but he acknowledged the church could ask the full court to reconsider Ginsberg’s decision.

“At the end of the day, the diocese will be able to say they were heard before every court that was available to them,” Albano said.

Albano represents The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post. The three papers along with the Hartford Courant have asked to see the documents.

A Waterbury Superior Court said in 2006 that the documents were subject to a presumption of public access. And the Connecticut Supreme Court upheld the lower court decision, ruling that more than 12,000 pages from 23 lawsuits against the six priests should be unsealed.

The Connecticut high court also rejected the claim by church officials that the documents were subject to constitutional privileges, including religious privileges under the First Amendment.

The records have been under seal since the diocese settled the cases in 2001. They could provide details on how retired New York Cardinal Edward Egan handled the allegations when he was bishop in Bridgeport from 1988 to 2000.

The documents include depositions, affidavits and motions.

Religious leaders to talk about Lockerbie bomber release on NBC at 6 p.m.

NBC news apparently interviewed religious leaders in NYC about the controversial release from prison in Scotland of the Lockerbie bomber, Libyan Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, and will air a report tonight (Aug. 25) at 6 p.m.

Among those interviewed: Episcopal Bishop of NY Mark Sisk, Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, executive director of the New York Board of Rabbis, and Imam Mohammad Shamsi Ali, Head Imam at the Islamic Cultural Center of New York.

You have to figure there will be talk about justice and forgiveness (but not necessarily in that order).

The high costs of Jewish day schools is not a NEW challenge

Since the onset of the Great Recession, there has been a tremendous amount of concern in the Jewish community about the debilitating costs of day schools.

But Shira Dicker, a well-known writer and publicist out of NYC, has written a very absorbing and persuasive column in The Jewish Week about the struggle that non-affluent Jews have long faced to pay day school tuition.

The problem is not new, she writes, even if many Jews did not notice before the recession. She writes, in part:


But the problematic price tag of Jewish education was enabled by a culture of affluence that somehow got tangled up with American Jewish identity. My unscientific observation is that this culture took root in the early ‘80s and grew wildly in the intervening decades, subverting the teaching of the Ethics of the Fathers—“Who is successful?” The answer became “He who makes tons of money and has lots of stuff.”

Within this culture of affluence, there was a distinct shame associated with financial struggle, a belief that not having enough money indicated some kind of existential failure. After a brief eternity of being a have-not in a land of haves, it is startling for me to suddenly hear the phrase, “I cannot afford…”

For the last quarter century, those who were committed yet couldn’t afford the high price of being Jewish were bullied or shamed into silence or compliance. That reality changed, nearly overnight, and I view the defection of Jewish families from the day school system as an important wake-up call, a reaction to the myth that if Jewish education is a priority, families will always find a way to finance it.


That’s what is called brutal honesty.