Thursday, October 12, 2006

Habemus episcopum!!

Today the Vatican Information Service announced that the Holy Father had chosen Martin J. Amos (pictured at the right) to succeed William Franklin as Bishop of Davenport, Iowa, USA. The soon-to-be Ordinary of Davenport is currently an auxiliary of Cleveland, Ohio.

The newly retired Bishop Franklin had this to say in the Davenport Catholic Messenger:

In May of 2005, I offered my resignation to the Holy Father on the occasion of my 75th birthday. With my resignation, I offered to continue my work as bishop of the Davenport Diocese until a successor was installed. I am now the second oldest bishop of a diocese in the United States and the seventh oldest bishop of a diocese in the world.
For the past 17 months, we have prayed for a new bishop. Today, our prayers have been answered.
The Holy Father has accepted my resignation and has appointed Bishop Martin John Amos as the eighth bishop of Davenport. It is with great joy and pleasure that I welcome Bishop Amos.

The Messenger also provided this background on the incoming bishop:

The Most Rev. Martin Amos was born on Dec. 8, 1941, in Cleveland, the oldest of six children. He attended Benjamin Franklin Elementary School and James Ford Rhodes High School in Cleveland.
Rev. Amos entered Borromeo Seminary in Wickliffe, Ohio, in 1959. He received his B.A. in classics from Borromeo in 1964. He entered St. Mary Seminary, Cleveland, in 1964 and received an S.T.B. from St. Mary Seminary, Cleveland, in 1968. He later attended St. John College in Cleveland and was awarded a Master’s in Education degree in 1975.
He was ordained to the priesthood on May 25, 1968 by Bishop Clarence G. Issenmann at St. John Bosco, Parma Heights, Ohio.
His first assignment was as associate pastor at St. James, Lakewood, from 1968-70. He was transferred to St. Thomas, Sheffield Lake, and served from 1970-73. During this time, he was also on the facult of Elyria Catholic and Lorain Catholic High Schools teaching in the religion department. Father Amos was sent to be on the faculty of Borromeo Seminary High School in 1973 and remained there until 1976. During this time he attended John Carroll University and was certified to teach Latin, history and humanities and received certification in administration and supervision. When the high school closed in 1976, he was transferred to Borromeo College. There he served as academic dean and taught Latin and Scripture from 1976-1983.
His most recent assignment was St. Dominic Church, Shaker Heights, where he served as associate pastor from 1983-85. He was appointed pastor of St. Dominic in 1985 and served there until 2001.
On April 3, 2001, Pope John Paul II named Fr. Amos titular bishop of Meta and auxiliary Bishop of Cleveland. He receieved his Episcopal ordination on June 7, 2001. Bishop Pilla has given him primary pastoral care for the sourthern districts of the diocese, including Summit, Wayne, Ashland and Medina counties. He currently resides at St. Vincent Church in Akron.
Bishop Amos is a graduate of Leadership Akron, Class XIX. His current involvements include Board of Trustees at The Village of St. Edward, Diocesan Committee on Migration and Immigration, and Diocesan Fund Development Committee.

A seminarian I spoke to today passed along a quote of Bishop Amos that he said expressed his thoughts on the new appointment: "As a bishop when I install a new pastor for a parish, one of the final things I say to him is what I hope will be the mark of my own pastoring of the Diocese of Davenport. I say to him, "My brother, be a loving father, a gentle shepherd and a wise teacher." I pray I will be that for you….a loving father, a gently shepherd and a wise teacher."

The jubilation surrounding the appointment of a new bishop to succeed Bishop Franklin comes only two days after the Diocese of Davenport became the fourth in the United States to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

On Oct. 10, the diocese filed a petition for Chapter 11 reorganization in the Iowa District of U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
The action came 22 days after a jury awarded $1.5 million to a Davenport man who claimed he was sexually abused by a diocesan priest nearly five decades ago.
Demands for settlement of that lawsuit and 25 claims that exceeded $7 million prompted the diocese’s decision to go to trial for the first time rather than settle out of court.
The possibility of bankruptcy had been looming large in the diocese since October 2004, when it announced an agreement to settle 37 sexual abuse claims and lawsuits for $9 million. In the past two years the diocese has reached settlements totaling more than $10.5 million. The jury’s award last month left diocesan leaders with no other option, they said.

In the October 12th Messenger (today), Bishop Franklin had a personal message regarding the bankruptcy and the goals of the diocese in reorganization to meet its financial obligations. The final three paragraphs:

I and the leadership of the Diocese believe that, as difficult as this decision is, it provides the best opportunity for healing and for the just and fair compensation of those who have suffered sexual abuse by clergy in our Diocese, those who have come forward and those who have not yet decided to come forward. While providing just and fair compensation to victims/survivors, we also believe that the decision to reorganize is the best way in which we will be able to continue the Church’s mission in the Diocese of Davenport.
In the coming days, more information will be made available and shared regarding the specifics of this reorganization process. I will do my best to keep you informed as the process continues. The pain and suffering by survivors of abuse will not end with the reorganization of the Diocese. The clergy abuse scandal has impacted everyone in some way: victims, laity, priests and religious. I pray that with the decision announced today, a new path toward healing can begin for everyone.
I ask for your continued prayers for the victims/survivors and their families. Please pray for me and for all who are involved in this reorganization process. Please pray for healing in our Diocese. Let us continue to trust that the Lord will guide us through this difficult time in our history.

Bishop Amos has much work ahead of him in leading Davenport forward in its time of financial trial and tribulation. He has the right attitude and with that and the Holy Spirit, all things are possible.

EDIT: Thanks to a reader for correcting the title.

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