The following comes from a Catholic Vote article by Thomas Peters. Full article here.
One of the memes currently circulating is that Pope Francis is in the midst of radically changing the American episcopate in a leftward, “progressive” direction.
The two examples cited are the appointments of Bishop Blaise Cupich to Chicago and now Robert W. McElroy as bishop of San Diego.
I’m going to present a different view.
Pope Benedict has had an over-sized and I predict, long-lasting, effect on the makeup of the American hierarchy, one that will take an awful long time for Pope Francis to reverse (if he even wants to, which I leave as a separate debate).
Back in 1995, my father Edward Peters published an article “The coming bishop crunch” in Homiletic & Pastoral Review where he pointed out that beginning in 2005 the pace of episcopal retirements and vacant seas would increase dramatically; in three short years (2005-07), 10 archdioceses and 35 dioceses needed new leadership.
The Holy Spirit’s answer to this problem was Pope Benedict.
Pope Benedict’s election in early 2005 was perfectly timed to effect a sea change in the American Catholic hierarchy as well as create an enduring legacy.
Beginning in May 2005 until his retirement in February 2013, Pope Benedict appointed 100 bishops to head dioceses and archdioceses in the USA. There are 195 U.S. dioceses in all, which means that almost half of the currently serving bishops in America are Pope Benedict appointees. And that is not counting the dozens of auxiliary bishops he also appointed.
Pope Francis, by comparison, has appointed roughly 33 bishops — and most of these bishops were originally made bishops by Pope Benedict (just as many of Pope Benedict’s bishops were originally made bishops under St. John Paul II).
Out of all these appointments, the media has only been able to latch onto two that fit their narrative (Bishop Cupich and Bishop McElroy) and both of them were appointed by Pope Benedict! The other 31 bishops Pope Francis has advanced apparently do not fit the narrative.
Keep this in mind the next time you see a headline from the mainstream media claiming that they can predict what the future of the Catholic hierarchy in America will look like.