No New Archbishop for Boston for Now, Vatican Official Says

By John L. Allen Jr.
National Catholic [Rome]
June 9, 2003

There will be no announcement concerning the next archbishop of Boston in the next few days, and no decision on the appointment has yet been made, a senior Vatican official told NCR June 9.

The comment came in response to a June 8 report in the Boston Globe that an announcement was imminent, and suggesting Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh as the top candidate.

That report unleashed a new round of speculation in the Boston media that an appointment could be coming as early as June 10. Nominations of American bishops are often released at noon on Tuesdays in Rome.

The senior Vatican official who spoke to NCRsaid it is possible there will be an appointment within the next two weeks, and that two-three names are still under consideration. He declined to identify those names.

In any event, the official said, it is almost certain that a decision will be made before the Vatican's traditional summer break in August. The only thing that could prolong matters, the official said, is if the pope's choice for the job turns it down and the process has to begin again.

The decision-making structure of the Vatican had been out of town June 5-9 for the pope's trip to Croatia. Consideration of the Boston appointment, along with other business, will resume June 10.

The former archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Bernard Law, resigned Dec. 13 under the weight of charges of mishandling a sex abuse crisis involving his own priests.

Vatican sources have told NCR that five criteria are the most important elements in choosing a successor for Boston:

Someone whose personal morality is above reproach.

A bishop who has never negligently transferred a priest who engaged in sexual abuse to another assignment.

A strong leader who can restore the confidence of the archdiocese.

A strong administrator who can deal with serious financial challenges.

A media-savvy figure who can withstand what is likely to be the most intense scrutiny ever for a bishop's appointment in the American Catholic Church.

John L. Allen Jr. is NCR's Rome correspondent. His e-mail address is


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.