Wednesday, April 19, 2017

For McElroy, A Vice-“Disrupter”… For Davenport, “An Awesome Dude”

(Updated 11am ET)

For the first time since 2002, what’s now a 1.3 million-member fold in San Diego has a new auxiliary bishop. But if anyone’s expecting a clone of the last one, well, have we got news for you.

Six weeks since Bishop Robert McElroy electrified progressive activists (and infuriated conservatives) with a fiery address at a national summit on social justice, at Roman Noon this Wednesday, the Pope bolstered the SoCal prelate’s arsenal with the appointment of Fr John Dolan, 54 – the "pastor to the priests" as McElroy’s vicar for clergy, likewise serving at the helm of two city parishes – as the first of two requested deputies for the border diocese.

According to Whispers ops, the choice of a second San Diego assistant prelate remains in process. As previously reported here, the Padres' Country picks are just part of a flood of auxiliaries to be named across the Stateside church over the next year.

In addition, Francis tapped Msgr Thomas Zinkula – his 60th birthday today, the rector of Dubuque’s 16-man St Pius X Seminary – as head of Southeast Iowa’s 100,000-member Davenport diocese upon the retirement of Bishop Martin Amos four months after the Cleveland-born prelate reached the age-limit of 75.

Over his decade in the post, Amos faced the daunting task of steering the diocese through a years-long Chapter 11 bankruptcy case amid well over 100 sex-abuse lawsuits. While the reorganization process closed in 2012 with a $37 million settlement to victim-survivors, the Davenport case featured an even rarer sign of purification: the removal of a prior bishop’s name from the library of the local Catholic college after revelations that the late prelate had demanded the silence of a victim in the 1970s.

Given the history, that Zinkula was a civil lawyer for several years before entering the seminary is especially notable; the bishop-elect went on to earn a degree in the canons from St Paul’s in Ottawa after ordination. That said, the most unique aspect of the Davenport pick's background lies far elsewhere – a star athlete as a student, Zinkula played football at (D-III) Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, which inducted him into its athletic hall of fame. Of course, while most bishops to date remain products of college seminaries – and, thus, didn't have the chance at NCAA sports – that an All-American's made the bench is just another sign of how times are changing, and changing quick.

Back to the coast, Dolan’s appointment marks the second time a SoCal clergy chief with an extensive history in parishes has been named a hometown auxiliary in recent months. Much like the first, Orange’s Bishop Tim Freyer, today’s pick is widely regarded among the brothers as a warm, dedicated pastor with a fluency in Spanish and an overtime work-ethic that extends to a number of other ministries – in Dolan's case, a longtime commitment to refugees and the church's outreach on mental health issues among others. Yet where the celebrated “Mini-Vann” to the north is more laid-back in terms of the spotlight, McElroy’s protege has already taken to making a splash on the wider scene.

After last October’s opening round of a newly-devised San Diego Synod – a Francis-inspired consultation on family life and its optimal accompaniment in a post-Amoris church – Bishop-elect Dolan sketched two kinds of of ecclesial life in an interview with the National Catholic Reporter....
"There are two different forms of doing church," he said. "One is very dialogical, from a dialogical sense, and the other is from a monological sense. And we have dealt with that monological world: Things come from on high, they get shelved in some pastor's corner, then there's some thought that comes down, but ultimately it's all 'We're going to tell you what to think.'"
Given his current experience as pastor of a “welcoming parish” in the city’s gay and lesbian district, the incoming auxiliary (right) likewise remarked that “Young adults have an acceptance of the LGBT experience. It is simply a part of their world, and they look at [the church], and say, 'What is the problem?’"

Of course, it's one thing when zingers of the kind are made by a parish priest or even a diocesan official. Yet with today’s nod, it's a whole new ballgame – put another way, the US' episcopal discourse is further set a-Blase.

Far from any burning issues, however, behind the scenes in this shop, Dolan is simply known as one of us – a donor to these pages through the years, and someone to whose kindness and generosity of time and encouragement this scribe can gladly (and gratefully) attest. If the Man in White keeps poaching our funding-base like this, though, Whispers might have little choice but to go bankrupt unless more of this crowd starts stepping up.

Described by a close collaborator in Dubuque as "just an awesome dude" – and one "you can't get a read on" ideologically – Zinkula is being introduced at a 10am presser in Davenport, its video headed here once it wraps up. In a nod to his life before priesthood, the Iowa prelate will be ordained on 22 June – the feast of St Thomas More, the patron of lawyers.

In San Diego, meanwhile, a media rollout won't be held due to the thin staffing on-hand given Easter Week. However, Dolan will be presented and make remarks at a mid-morning event in the Chancery. The full shape of his new duties still to be determined, an ordination date in early June is said to be in the works.

SVILUPPO:Per San Diego Chancery, Dolan will be ordained on his 55th birthday, June 8th.

And complete with some impromptu stand-up, the fullvid of Zinkula's own birthday intro to Davenport: