Pa. Bishop Distances Himself from Law Succession

By Eric Convey
Boston Herald
June 9, 2003

The spokesman for an influential Roman Catholic bishop whose tough stance against abusive priests rocketed him onto the list of potential successors to Bernard Cardinal Law moved yesterday to shoot down speculation that the prelate is bound for Boston.

"There's no reason for us to believe that (Bishop Donald Wuerl) is going. . . . In terms of where we are, we have no reason to believe that is happening," the Rev. Ronald P. Lengwin told the Herald.

Lengwin's comments followed a published report suggesting Wuerl is Law's likely successor and could be named as early as tomorrow.

Lengwin said Wuerl would maintain such a confidence but would not have been likely to let his spokesman issue a strong denial if a change were imminent. "I don't believe we would be making these statements if he were going," Lengwin said, noting that similar rumors surfaced when other major dioceses had openings but Wuerl stayed put.

"I've lived long enough to know you can't predict what the Vatican is going to do," Lengwin said. "(But) this is his home. Pittsburgh is where he was born and raised. This is where he wants to stay."

A well-placed church official told the Herald on condition of anonymity that Wuerl may well be in line for a promotion - but that it's more likely he'll move to Philadelphia to replace Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, who has reached the mandatory retirement age.

One churchman who has worked with Wuerl said the 62-year-old Pennsylvania native is a skilled manager with a powerful intellect but might lack the charismatic personality that would help a new leader for the Hub's battered diocese.

The Rev. Christopher Coyne, a spokesman for Bishop Richard G. Lennon, temporary leader of the Boston archdiocese, said yesterday that "advance" preparations have been made for the introduction of a new archbishop but that no announcement has been scheduled.

The site-selection was merely advance work so organizers would not have to scramble to find a location to introduce the new leader, whether "in a month or two months or three months," he said.

Coyne declined further comment on the selection of a replacement for Lennon, who took over when Law resigned Dec. 13. "I cannot comment about speculation," he said.


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