THE CHURCH HAS ANOTHER AUGUSTINE
It was announced today that Pope Benedict XVI named an American to the very important and sensitive post of Secretary for the Congregation of Divine Worship in Rome. Father J. Augustine DiNoia, a Dominican friar from the Eastern US province of the Dominicans was publicly announced this morning following days of rumors and leaks. I take a special delight in this appointment as Father DiNoia and I worked together at the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in the early ’90′s. He staffed the Committee on Doctrine and did a wonderful job. Pope Benedict invited him to join his staff at the Congregation of Doctrine of the Faith in Rome in 2002 and he has worked there ever since. The new Archbishop is a loyal son and servant of the Church and he steps into a very challenging position as a new English translation of the prayers we say at Mass continues to make its way toward final approval and implementation. Like a good teacher, I am very proud that more and more men I invited to work at the episcopal conference are being made archbishops and bishops throughout the world. Archbishop DiNoia will make his home nation’s Church proud, I am certain.
Now for deep, deep, deep trivia. The Archbishop was made what is called a “titular bishop” with the rank of “Archbishop.” Since the theology of our Church’s leadership is that every bishop must have a diocese to which he is assigned in order to be raised to the episcopal order, and since some bishops in the Church do not have a residential see or diocese to govern, they are assigned to a “titular” diocese or in other words, ‘a diocese that does not exist today but once existed in history.” Archbishop DiNoia was assigned the titular see of “Oregon City” which was once a diocese in (you guessed it, Oregon) centuries ago but was later abolished (usually in favor of the population going to a larger urban area which became the seat of the bishop). He is the first to hold the title of “Bishop of Oregon City” in hundreds of years. At one time a titular bishop was barred from ever visiting his titular diocese because it had already been gobbled up and was presided over by another bishop currently governing. A lot of US auxiliary bishops are assigned titular sees in North Africa which were once heavily Christian but no longer exist. Any way, my friend “Gus” can lay claim to Oregon City but he need not worry about it at all. He will have enough in his new job to worry about.
I am very happy today for our Church and for him. He is an outstanding theologian and a great priest. Another good day for mother Church.