By Sarah Rozman | April 22, 2009
Pope Benedict has appointed Bishop Robert J. Carlson (of the Diocese of Saginaw, MI) as Archbishop of St. Louis. The Saint Louis Beacon has some good coverage. A snippet:
Robert James Carlson is St. Louis Catholics’ new archbishop. He’s a man from “up river,” a native of Minneapolis who holds a Ph.D. in canon, or church, law. . . .
St. Louis’ new archbishop is known as genial prayerful man, who is well liked by other U.S. bishops. He was described as dynamic, self effacing and “always kind” by lay and clerical Catholics in Saginaw in interviews in February. His style of preaching is conversational and approachable. . . .
He shines in talks with students and those about to be confirmed, said JoEllen Linder, vice president of admissions at Presentation College in Aberdeen, S.D., and a former administrator at Mount Mary College in Yankton, S.D., where she saw Carlson in action in the 1990s.
“He’s very personable, absolutely can relate to people,” she said adding that he is widely known for his success in encouraging young men to become priests. “When that much success happens in getting seminarians you know that he’s good with people.”
Carlson himself described the ideal effective bishop in an article he wrote in 1999 in Lay Witness magazine, published in Steubenville, Ohio.
In Carlson’s words: “Kindness, courtesy, meekness, gentleness, humility, patience, prudence and eager concern are the virtues which must describe the pastoral ministry of the bishop. Bishops must, before all else, be men of faith, outstanding witnesses of the life of the Holy Spirit. They must be dedicated to prayer and the constant reading of Scripture. Only by drawing upon the wealth of the interior life of grace can the ministry of the Bishop effectively take form.”
Carlson has been active on the floor of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ meetings. He goes to the microphones and in genial tones makes incisive remarks, never hogging the mike, never the gadfly.
Other American bishops have shown their respect for Carlson by electing him to important conference posts. Some bishops, even archbishops, run and run but do not win high posts. Carlson, however, now chairs the bishops’ conference Committee on Priestly Life. Fellow bishops elect hard workers who seem to love being priests to this job. That same joy in being a priest helps them encourage young Catholic men to consider becoming priests. St. Louis native Archbishop Tim Dolan of New York is a former Priestly Life committee chair.
The bishops’ conference also elected him to a three-year term chairing its Catholic Charismatic Renew committee, which he completed last year. In the Dakotas he had friendly dialogues with leaders of other faith groups and is likely to become active in the St. Louis Interfaith Partnership, one source said.
The Archbishop-elect is one of CUF’s episcopal advisers and has written for (or been written about in) Lay Witness.
- The Bishop as Herald of Hope: Contemporary Challenge (quoted in the Saint Louis Beacon article, above)
- A Shepherd in Their Midst: The Bishop’s Relation to His Priests
“Priests act ‘in persona Christi‘ not merely as passive instruments in God’s hands, but by reason of their intimate and voluntary association with the life of Christ. In everything the priest does, his life should conform to the example of Christ, who has revealed the meaning of service. Obedience, chastity, and simplicity of life, lived in a spirit of faith, makes for closer conformity with Christ.”The bishop must therefore witness to obedience, chastity, and simplicity in his own life. By the example of his own obedience to the Apostolic See and communion with the whole body of bishops, he manifests the humility of faith that is the foundation of all spiritual growth and sharing in the life of Christ. The bishop ought to explain, whenever possible, the reasons for his requests and decisions, and must consult frequently with priests and people.”
- Evangelization 2000
“We would be better evangelists, with hearts set afire by the Holy Spirit, if we came to understand a simple lesson. It is that there is a tremendous battle going on-the battle between good and evil, between the spirit and the flesh. Lest anyone think they are exempt, when is the last time you complained about anything? It seems when God wants most to change or mold us, it is then that we find it easiest to complain. . . . We are in the midst of a great spiritual battle. It is a battle in the end between the saving of our souls and the loss of our souls, and that is serious business. We can either be guided by good or guided by evil. The Holy Spirit sets us free for the noble desire that each of us has within us for what is good.”
- Blazing a Vocations Trail on the Great Plains by Thomas J. Nash
“But perhaps the most formative time the seminarians have is the summer they spend living with Bishop Carlson, who gained a reputation of living and working well with young people as an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. . . .’They can hear me preach and then watch me like a hawk to see if I believe anything I said,’ says Bishop Carlson of living in close quarters on a day-today basis with his seminarians.”