Bishop’s resignation opens door for change

The appointment of the new bishop for the Diocese of Pueblo will tell a bit more of the unfolding story of how Pope Francis will fashion the Catholic Church, said one Grand Valley priest.

” ‘Is’ is and ‘was’ was with this pope,” said the Rev. Mike Smith of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Fruita when asked about what might be expected in the appointment of a replacement for Bishop Fernando Isern, who abruptly resigned on Thursday.

Francis has consciously chosen not to take the path followed by previous popes, so he’s far from predictable, said Smith, who said he’s hoping that Francis will appoint a Jesuit to the diocese. Francis also is a Jesuit, an order known for its emphasis on education and “finding God in all things.” Francis recently appointed a Jesuit to head the diocese of Oakland, Smith said.

His hope otherwise is “what I would wish for anyone in authority,” Smith said, “The new bishop needs to surround himself with a team of rivals. We don’t need any more yes men.”

Bishops typically are appointed from elsewhere than the dioceses they will head, Smith said, “but here we are with a new pope.”

Isern was appointed in 2009 to head the diocese, which includes more than 130,000 Catholics in Pueblo and on the Western Slope, including the Grand Valley. Isern was the fourth bishop for the diocese.


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