Bishop Clark enters retirement
Posted at: 09/21/2012 11:17 AM
| Updated at: 09/21/2012 5:01 PM
By: Lynette Adams | WHEC.com
After 33 years at the helm of the Rochester Catholic Diocese, Bishop Matthew Clark has officially retired. The decision for Bishop Clark to officially leave his post immediately was made by the Vatican and it came as a surprise to the bishop.
Bishop Clark talked to the media at a news conference Friday morning. He announced what will happen next, thanked local Catholics for the opportunity to serve them and said he is leaving the diocese in good health.
Matthew Clark, Bishop Emeritus of Diocese of Rochester, said, “The Holy Father has accepted my resignation effective September 21.”
With his usual calm demeanor, Bishop Matthew Clark announced he is unemployed as of Friday and that an interim bishop has already been selected.
Clark said, “And Bishop Cunningham has been appointed apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Rochester also effective immediately.”
Bishop Robert Cunningham will continue to head the Syracuse Roman Catholic Diocese and will travel back and forth until Clark’s successor is installed. The bishop explained this is the decision of the Vatican and somewhat unusual. In fact, he said this is not what he expected.
Clark said, “I was a bit surprised. Not stunned because I was fully aware that it was one of the options. So I was not shocked or stunned, but a bit surprised.”
And that may be the case for Bishop Cunningham.
Bishop Robert Cunningham, Apostolic Administrator of Diocese of Rochester, said, “Well I think we’re going to have to work it out because I already did have a full schedule before, but I suspect I’m going to try to be here on a weekly basis.”
Clark has been Rochester’s bishop for 33 years and his colleagues say he is well-liked and well-respected, not necessarily popular. Under his watch, the diocese closed 13 of its schools, closed some churches and merged others. Clark is also seen as a liberal bishop. He has accepted gays and lesbians and has promoted women to leadership roles in the church.
Rabbi Alan Katz is a longtime friend of Clark’s.
Rabbi Alan Katz of Temple Sinai, said, “I’m going to miss him as a friend and a colleague. I think the community will miss him. We don’t know who will come, they may have wonderful qualities too, but Bishop Clark was a very special man and his loss will be felt by many people.”
The Pope could have let Clark continue as bishop until his successor is named or let him retire and allow local priest to appoint an administrator. However, the Vatican chose to accept Clark’s resignation immediately and appoint an apostolic administrator. Father Joseph Hart, who is the moderate of the pastoral center, will likely be in charge of the diocese’s day to day operations. Clark plans to stay in Rochester and says he will be available for any pastoral duties.