The following comes from a September 3 Record Net article by:
STOCKTON — Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, who has overseen the Diocese of Stockton for 17 years, is expected to submit a letter to the Vatican in December informing Pope Francis he is poised to retire.
On Dec. 22, Blaire will turn 75 years old, which by Canon Law requires him to submit a letter asking for permission to retire. However, it is unknown when exactly Blaire would leave the diocese.
It is standard practice to write the letter informing the pope and officials in Rome, but nobody can predict how long the process will take, said Sister Terry Davis, a spokeswoman for the diocese.
Fitzgerald: Bishop steered with faith, diligence
The following comes from a September 17 Record Net article by Michael Fitzgerald:
Though Bishop Stephen E. Blaire is too diplomatic to say it — but I’ll say it — his predecessor, Bishop Donald Montrose, was a company man whose morally flaccid cover-ups of molester priests ensured perpetual litigation.
And, ultimately, the diocese’s financial ruin.
The diocese paid out tens of millions to a seemingly endless procession of victims of a black hole with a white collar named Father Oliver O’Grady.
“I thought, ‘OK, we’re beyond this,’ ” Blaire recalled. “But we were never beyond it.”
Finally, in 2014, the diocese crashed into bankruptcy. Blaire hopes it will emerge by the end of this year. The loss of moral authority will take longer to repair.
Though impoverished, Blaire’s diocese did more good works than one can credit in this space.
He created a progressive Environmental Justice Office, the only one of its kind in an American diocese. It tackles issues from asthma to urban planning.
Well aware of the poverty many Latinos flee, he supports immigration reform that keeps families together and rejects scapegoating.
He supported the rights of the workers at O’Connor Woods to unionize and called for management to stop stalling and give them a contract.
He went before the U.S. Congress to urge a raise in the minimum wage.
Blaire, like the Church itself, laid down some laws painfully at odds with modernity. He supported Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California.
But he took pains to add, “This is not in any way to diminish people who believe differently.” In that respect, he’s a chip off the current Pope. Faith, not condemnation.
Blaire led the diocese through its most difficult days. He set a new tone. He pursued the ministries — the Spanish masses are overflowing — and positioned the diocese to recover financially.