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An intriguing episcopal appointment. Next: an overdue resignation?

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Nov 03, 2011

The Vatican announced one intriguing appointment yesterday. I hope that another significant appointment is announced tomorrow.

  • Father Charles Morerod was named on November 3 to become Bishop of Lausanne, Switzerland. A native of Switzerland, Bishop-elect Morerod is certainly qualified: he is secretary of the International Theological Commission and rector of Angelicum in Rome. But what makes his appointment particularly noteworthy is the fact that he was a member of the Vatican commission engaged in talks with traditionalists of the Society of St. Pius X. So SSPX leaders in Econe can be assured that a nearby ordinary understands them well. This appointment looks like one more step by the Vatican to ease the path toward reconciliation of the SSPX.
  • Tomorrow, November 4, is the 80th birthday of Cardinal Bernard Law: the former Archbishop of Boston, now Archpriest of the basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome. Since he remains the only American bishop forced to resign because of his mishandling of the sex-abuse scandal, Cardinal Law stands today as the symbol of a gross betrayal by the American hierarchy. It’s true that objectively speaking, other American bishops were guilty of the same offenses and that brought down Cardinal Law. Nevertheless he is the poster-boy for the sex-abuse scandal, and his appointment to a high-profile post in Rome was a serious misstep: an indication that the Vatican still did not understand the justifiable outrage of the American public. Pope Benedict did not make that appointment; he inherited an awkward situation. But now, with Cardinal Law turning 80, he has an opportunity to eliminate an unnecessary irritant, by accepting the American prelate’s resignation promptly.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this comment said that Econe is located in the Lausanne diocese, where Bishop-elect Morerod will be serving. Alert readers corrected me; the Econe seminary is in the Diocese of Sion. So Bishop Morerod would not be the ordinary for the SSPX seminary. Still he would be close at hand; I think my fundamental point remains valid despite the error.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: koinonia - Nov. 03, 2011 9:38 PM ET USA

    "...and his appointment to a high-profile post in Rome...was a serious misstep..." Pope JP II was ultimately responsible for the "serious misstep." Pressure to canonize him expeditiously persists despite the troublesome "missteps." Facing reality- staring down truth courageously- is a fundamentally Catholic activity. Great saints can make missteps, but canonization for Pope JP the Great will necessarily involve "a wink and a nod" to some rather inexplicable and rather serious "missteps."

  • Posted by: BobJ70777069 - Nov. 03, 2011 6:01 PM ET USA

    Archpriest (Archiprete) is the Italian term for Pastor. I agree with your thesis regarding Cardinal Law, but I don't think Pastor of a church in Rome is "high profile".

  • Posted by: Steve214 - Nov. 03, 2011 5:49 PM ET USA

    Excellent article--as always!