In March I began receiving reliable reports that Bishop Robert Carlson of Saginaw MI would be the next Archbishop of St. Louis, filling the vacancy left by the mighty Archbishop Raymond Burke, so much so that I said
"I'm also seeing a particular name rise to the surface in these various reports - which would be extremely exciting for me and good for the Catholic Church in America if he proves to be the one."
I have some measure of personal experience with Bishop Carlson and here's what you should know:
Bp. Carlson is already a legend among Catholics in Michigan, for the following reasons.
He is a vocations magnet and cultivator par excellance, creating a culture of vocations in his diocese and supporting his candidates through their formation and education. Before he came to the diocese it had not had a vocation for four years. In the past two years Bp. Carlson has ordained eight men and there are more than 20 currently in formation.
He is a passionate defender of life, personally hopping on the bus with the young people of his diocese to attend the March for Life in DC whenever he is able. He will not shy away from speaking out in defense of life - that's a promise.
His episcopal motto is "Ante crucem nihil defensionis," or "Before the cross there is no defense" - I think that says a lot about how he views his episcopal ministry.
I have heard he enjoys a particularly close relationship with Pope Benedict. In 2006 when Carlson was in Rome and Pope Benedict heard about it - the pope cleared his schedule and sent a message to Carlson saying that he wanted to meet with him.
He called a Eucharistic Congress in 2007 and has gradually been re-establishing sound liturgical practice in his formerly-liberal diocese of Saginaw.
He started a house of formation in the diocese of Saginaw so that it would not have to be farmed out. He has written four pastoral letters and four other documents. He has founded an order in Columbia which is very close to his heart. He chairs the well-regarded Institute for Priestly Formation.
Labels: archdiocese of st. louis, Bishop Carlson, commentary