….In Los Angeles as elsewhere, spring means confirmations, and in dioceses with auxiliary bishops they and the ordinary share the workload of administering the sacrament to children and young people. That is no small chore in Los Angeles which, with 4,350,000 Catholics and 238 parishes organized in five “pastoral regions,” is by far the country’s largest.
Bishop O’Connell’s death brought the number of active Los Angeles bishops to just three — Archbishop Gomez and two auxiliaries — Bishop Marc Trudeau and Bishop Alejandro Aclan. But Bishop Aclan is recovering from a stroke suffered last summer.
By contrast, the Archdiocese of Chicago (2,093,000 Catholics, 221 parishes) has eight active bishops — Cardinal Blase Cupich, the ordinary, and seven auxiliaries. Even the comparatively small Archdiocese of Washington (667,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and missions) has five active bishops — Cardinal Wilton Gregory and four auxiliaries.
What accounts for the disparity in episcopal manpower between well-stocked dioceses like Chicago and Washington and the huge, undermanned Archdiocese of Los Angeles? Unforeseen accidents of timing certainly have something to do with it — Los Angeles had an additional auxiliary bishop until last June, when Bishop Robert Barron, who had served there since 2015, was named Bishop of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota.
Part of the explanation also may reside in the fact that Chicago’s Cardinal Cupich is a member of several Vatican departments (“dicasteries”) and travels frequently to Rome for meetings. Archbishop Gomez also had plenty on his plate outside Los Angeles from 2016 to 2022 when he was, first, vice president and then president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops….
Canon 403 of the Code of Canon Law says the pope appoints auxiliaries “at the request of the diocesan bishop.” But although that is usually how it works, it sometimes happens that the pope names an auxiliary whom the local ordinary hasn’t requested — if, for example, he wants the man to be part of the hierarchy but doesn’t consider him ready to be an ordinary yet.
It can also happen that the pope names an auxiliary with “special faculties” in what Canon 403 calls “serious circumstances even of a more personal character” — in other words, when Rome finds the local ordinary permanently or temporarily unfit to manage a diocese but doesn’t want to remove him from office….
Meanwhile Catholics mourning the loss of Bishop O’Connell are left to wonder why the Vatican has been so slow to increase the number of auxiliaries in Los Angeles, something one would have thought an obvious pastoral need even before the recent tragedy.
Full story by Russell Shaw in National Catholic Register.
Why didn’t the reporter ask?
He is just speculating.
Did he call any dioceses or the Vatican and ask?
I’m a Priest in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and have been for over 40 years. I don’t presume to know how to solve the problem of too few Priests and fewer Bishops. But I do ask that we pray for our Bishops. They are the brunt of a lot of criticism and blame. Sometimes it’s deserved and sometimes it’s just normal people expressing their frustration about one thing or another.
One thing I have learned is that a joyful Church (not happy or emotionally positive) is a Church that grows. Contrary to the world’s idea joy is found in Sacrifice for others. I’m not talking about a begrudging sacrifice, but when people sacrifice for one another because of Love, which is God’s Grace in action. A parent changing a diaper, a teacher taking time with a student, a friend offering to share his or her lunch because someone “forgot”, a member of the parish just deciding to pick up all the trash in the Church because they want to. These are just some few examples.
If we want a strong and healthy Church we must be a Church of loving Sacrifice and Joy.
“Joy” is a product of our closeness to God.
God Bless our holy religious, may you continue to experience joy in your humble, and sacrificial service to our archdiocese.
Joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
How about smaller dioceses and more bishops? These mega dioceses need to be broken up.
I tend to agree with you. I wondered how LA compares to other archdiocese, say Mexico City, Sao Paolo, Paris, et al?
LA is 5,400 square miles, has 287 parishes, and I don’t know how many Catholics, but I’m guessing it is about a million.
The Archbishop of Mexico City and his 6 auxiliary bishops serve 308 square miles, 307 parishes, and 4-5 million catholics.
I know in some sparsely populated areas and areas where catholics are a small minority, the territory can be vast: the archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau is 124,000 square miles, but serves only 32 parishes and 55,000 Catholics. Its only suffragan diocese (Fairbanks) is 410,000 square miles, serves 46 parishes and 12,000 catholics. It has only 17 priests! According to Wikipedia, its archiepiscopal seat is vacant. Can you imagine doing confirmations in territories like these?
Makes one scratch ones head and have enormous sympathy for these men.
When the rainbow flag is displayed on the ambo and on the altar at Mass at the RECongress, totally under the auspices of Bishop Gomez, why would any normal man want to be a priest or a bishop in his archdiocese?
This problem of not having enough clergy is going to get worse, but the church is also going to shrink precipitously over the next decade, so maybe it will be a wash.
Bishop O’Connell, reportedly, was for women’s ordination, which is a heretical position. (I hope I’m wrong, I would welcome a correction, but that has been commented on in the recent articles about his death). Gomez has not reigned in (though he tried to muzzle Mahony, slapped down by Rome) the lavender/progressivist mafia in his diocese. We are lead by very weak heterodox prelates. There are very few channels open that the faithful can discuss their disgust and so of course this spills on to the Internet, which sets their teeth on edge,(witness Francis slap down of trads). There’s a war for the soul of the church.
and the James Martins and McElroys are winning
Oops! I gave you a thumbs up and should have just left it blank as I do not know if everything you heard about Bishop O’Connell is true. I will be more careful.