Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Continuing Profiles of Possible Next Archbishops

Recently the Leadership Selection Resource Team of Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR) began profiling potential candidates for the next Archbishop of the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese. We commenced this series of profiles by asking members of the local Catholic community, via the forum of The Progressive Catholic Voice: "Do you want a voice in selecting our next archbishop?" And we invited you to think about this with us:

• None of us knows when our Archbishop will be re-assigned or who will succeed him as our spiritual leader.

• Good leadership is necessary to our mission as a Catholic Christian Church in St Paul/Minneapolis.

• Canon Law gives us the opportunity to inform the U. S. Papal Nuncio of our need for a leader who will listen to the Holy Spirit in the voice of the people.

Until the 13th Century it was common for Catholics to elect their bishops. Joseph O’Callaghan in his book Electing Our Bishops: How the Catholic Church Should Choose Its Leaders (2007), makes the case for returning to the practice of elections. Since we are several centuries out of practice for elections, it will take a lot of organizing, time, and resources to make that happen. In the meantime, we think we should use what we can of the current appointment procedure to make our voices heard.

The current procedure is for the Papal Nuncio to recommend candidates to the Pope for appointment. In the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano is the Papal Nuncio, the delegate from the Vatican in Washington D.C. Archbishop Vigano has sent our Leadership Selection team a message through Archbishop John Nienstedt that he is willing “to receive recommendations from any lay Catholic at any time regarding the nomination of a bishop to a diocese or archdiocese.”

Here are the qualifications listed in Canon Law:
Can. 378 §1. In regard to the suitability of a candidate for the episcopacy, it is required that he is:

1/ outstanding in solid faith, good morals, piety, zeal for souls, wisdom, prudence, and human virtues, and endowed with other qualities which make him suitable to fulfill the office in question;

2/ of good reputation;

3/ at least thirty-five years old;

4/ ordained to the presbyterate for at least five years;

5/ in possession of a doctorate or at least a licentiate in sacred scripture, theology, or canon law from an institute of higher studies approved by the Apostolic See, or at least truly expert in the same disciplines.

We are profiling some possible successors to Archbishop Nienstedt, but please remember we are not recommending the men we profile. We don’t have enough knowledge to do that. We are merely suggesting some possibilities to get everyone thinking about what kind of leadership we need.

If you have suggestions for us, please email us at Check our website at

The LSRT program for developing the people’s voice in bishop selection has been endorsed by CCCR and the Council of the Baptized. Go to, look under “proposals” on the menu to read the entire program.

Bishop Blase Joseph Cupich was the first possible successor highlighted in our series, and his profile can be viewed here. Today we profile the Vicar General of the St. Paul-Minneapolis Arcdiocese, Bishop Lee Piché.


Bishop Lee Piché

Vicar General, Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis [December 2013 Update: Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis]

Personal Background:
Born May 8, 1958 in Minneapolis, MN; eldest of seven children—four brothers and three sisters; sixteen nephews, and five nieces.
Raised in New Brighton, MN.

Ordination Date: May 26, 1984.

Undergraduate Education: Irondale High School, New Brighton, MN; University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN.

Graduate: St. Paul Seminary; St. Joseph Seminary, Princeton, NJ; M.A., theology; M.A., Columbia University, philosophy, 1988-1994.

Previous Assignments:
1984-1987: Associate pastor of the Church of St. Mark in St. Paul, MN
1994-2009: Faculty, undergraduate philosophy at the University of St. Thomas 1997-2004: Full-time parish ministry, St. Joseph’s Church, West St. Paul, MN
2008: Pastor of the Church of St. Andrew, located near Como Lake in St. Paul
2008: Vicar general, Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis
2008: Moderator of the Curia
2009: Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

2000: Participant, Second Institute for Interreligious Leadership
2000-2008: Chair, Commission for Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs for the Archdiocese
2010: Member, Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches, Board of Directors Current member, Minnesota Catholic Conference, Board of Directors Current member, National Association of Catholic Chaplains Episcopal Advisory Council, Region VIII Current member, University of St. Thomas, Board of Trustees

Position Statements:
Interreligious relations: "One of the most important things we do when we're together is we pray. When there's been topics where we have differences of opinion or in our understanding of teaching, it hasn't been tense at all. It's a genuine desire to understand each other's perspective and try to see it from that perspective as best we can." (“Minnesota Bishops Catholic, Lutheran Share Common Ground” by Rose French, Star Tribune, November 1, 2011.)

Financial accountability: “We’re at a moment of crisis with the Cathedral in terms of its ongoing stability financially. The external work on the dome was only partially covered by the [fundraising] campaign that was taken up at the time as well as the Growing in Faith campaign. But neither of those campaigns realized the full amount that was needed to really make that project complete. So we’re doing some catch up work. The Cathedral debt, the Cathedral repairs and all that goes on in terms of keeping that beautiful temple of our faith up and running isn’t just the Cathedral parish’s problem. It’s really the concern of the whole archdiocese.” (Stella Borealis Catholic Roundtable, a site for the "exchange of information about the Catholic Church in Minnesota, neighboring states, and provinces," September 9, 2009.)

Marriage and sexuality: “The Catholic understanding of sexuality includes both the communion of the spouses and the procreation of children as integral and inseparable dimensions of sexual love. Both the unitive and generative dimensions together and not apart. This goes directly contrary to the majority opinion of our time, which says that sex is for pleasure, or when it is combined with a committed love, it may also strengthen the union. Conception, the possible child, is something against which we are counseled to use protection, at least until the partners are in agreement about having a child. The generative dimension of sexual love is at best detachable at will, and at worst a threat against which we should guard ourselves, as we would guard against a disease.” (Speech at St. John the Baptist, New Brighton, September 11, 2011.)

“Jesus Christ commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves. The Church has a special love for all persons, including all those who deal with same-sex attraction. It is precisely because of our love and concern for homosexual persons that we must stand in opposition to the GLBT agenda.” (Reported in the Catholic Spirit blog "Unique for a Reason," July 3, 2008. [Emphasis in text.]

Phone: (651) 291-4400
Facebook: No personal or archdiocesan Facebook page
Twitter: No personal or archdiocesan Twitter account
YouTube: Video of Auxiliary Bishop Lee Pichè’s ordination mass as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.

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