Eyes on Chicago. September 11 2020 saw the announcement of three new auxiliary bishops for the see, bringing the total number of active auxiliaries in the Windy City to eight. Chicago also has four retired auxiliaries – two of whom, Raymond Goedert and John Gorman, are north of 90 – making ChiTown very well served indeed.
By comparison, the Archdiocese of New York has four active and three retired auxiliaries, while Los Angeles has five active and three retired – not counting Bishop Alexander Salazar, who resigned in disgrace when it became known that he had an allegation of sexual abuse against him and had been operating for years under secret CDF restrictions.
The Chicago nominations come just two years after the second city got three auxiliaries to replace two retiring bishops – a net gain of one in that case – and the indications are that these latest appointments are not just going to be riding the confirmation circuit.
Bishop-elect Jeffrey Grob is a 59-year-old cleric of the Chicago archdiocese, who has been the Judicial Vicar since 2017, after serving more than a quarter-century in other chancery and administrative roles.
Bishop-elect Kevin Birmingham is just shy of 50, and has been administrative secretary to Chicago’s cardinal-archbishop, Blase Cupich, since 2014.
Bishop-elect Robert Lombardo just turned 63, and studied accounting at Notre Dame in the late 1970s before entering religious life. He is a co-founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFRs), with the late Fr Benedict Groeschel.
The Very Rev Lombardo, CFR, has been a missionary in Honduras and Bolivia, founded a homeless outreach in The Bronx, and served as Vicar Forane for the III-A Deanery covering the area northwest of Chicago’s downtown between Oak Park and Lake Michigan.
Lots of major sees have auxiliary bishops in the roles the new men have covered in recent years. In itself, there is nothing particularly strange or startling about the appointments. It is almost pure speculation, therefore, but one does wonder whether Cardinal Cupich isn’t making sure his people are in place ahead of a move.
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