The See will be vacantIt is with a great deal of sadness that those of us who are Catholics living in the Diocese of Knoxville have learned, in the last 24 hours, of the departure of our beloved Bishop Joseph Edward Kurtz. Bishop Kurtz will be installed on August 15th, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as the new Archbishop of Louisville.
While it is very easy for people to wonder why the Holy Father would choose to take Bishop Kurtz away from here when he has done so much to build the Catholic community in Knoxville, we must remember that it is precisely because of Bishop Kurtz' success here that this is happening. In a time when much of the rest of Catholic America is struggling with an identity crisis, Bishop Kurtz has insured that our parishes are filled with those in teaching positions who are orthodox and who proclaim the faith in its fullness. Indeed, as we have witnessed, selective application of the Magesterium can lead to being sacked around here.
When other ecclesiastical jurisdictions in the United States are suffering from a shortage of priests, Knoxville has an abundance of them-so many, in fact, that we have occasionally farmed them out to other dioceses in what Monsignor Xavier Mankel has called "Holy Lend-Lease." When other dioceses are closing parishes and schools, we are establishing new parishes and building new churches. While other places have cut down on the availability of the Tridentine Mass, Knoxville welcomes the old Rite and is looking for ways to celebrate it more frequently. As other local Churches shrink, the Church in Knoxville is growing.
It is little wonder, then, that the Holy See has taken notice of these developments and has chosen to send Bishop Kurtz to a larger diocese where his skills may be of great use to the universal Church.
For those of us in the Diocese of Knoxville, the inevitable speculation will turn now to who our new shepherd will be. We could have a new Bishop right after Bishop Kurtz leaves, or we could have to wait over a year if Pope Benedict XVI should grow unsure of the recommendations of the Congregation for Bishops. I am inclined to think that Rome will turn to someone outside of the Diocese in the end, and if that is the case it is anyone's guess who it could be.
Our Lady of Good Counsel, Pray for us!
Labels: Holy Mother Church