Bishop Wingle breaks his silence

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Former St. Catharines Catholic leader tells diocese he has been in Jerusalem since quitting in April

St. Catharine’s Standard

03 August 2010

Posted By Peter Downs, Standard Staff

Nearly four months after his abrupt resignation from the St. Catharines Roman Catholic Diocese, Bishop James Wingle has finally broken the silence on his whereabouts and what he’s been doing since April.

But Wingle, who offered only vague reasons for leaving the diocese at the time of his resignation, provided no further insight into what was behind his departure in a brief e-mail message read to worshippers at services across Niagara Sunday.

The four-paragraph message, dated Saturday, was addressed to Monsignor Wayne Kirkpatrick, who has been named administrator of the diocese until a replacement bishop is selected.

Kirkpatrick provided The Standard a copy of the note, which was also posted on bulletin boards of churches throughout the diocese Sunday.

Wingle, 63, says in the e-mail that he has completed the first part of his sabbatical in Jerusalem “in a time of prayer and rest.” However, he doesn’t say if he’s still spending time in Israel or anything else about where he’s presently located.

He indicates he will continue his sabbatical later in the summer, writing and researching a catechetical-pastoral project (a work of instruction in the Catholic faith).

“I would be grateful if you would extend my sincere thanks and assurances of my well-being to the clergy and faithful of the Diocese,” he writes. “I am deeply appreciative of their expressions of concern and for their prayers.”

Wingle goes on to say he’s praying for the diocese and Pope Benedict XVI and his advisors as they determine who will replace him as bishop in St. Catharines.

“As I continue my sabbatical, I would be grateful to have the ongoing support and assistance of your prayer,” he says.

Wingle sent the message to the diocese the day The Standard ran a front-page story, detailing a reporter’s trip to the bishop’s hometown of Eganville, Ont. in search of answers about his whereabouts and sudden resignation.

The e-mail is Wingle’s first formal communication with parishioners in the diocese since he quit in the spring.

Wingle’s four-paragraph resignation letter April 7 left believers largely in the dark about why he had decided to leave without warning after eight years in the post.

Wingle offered only that no longer had the stamina required to properly fulfill the duties of a bishop and that he wanted to take a sabbatical focused on prayer and “personal renewal.”

But the dearth of details and secrecy fueled widespread rumours and speculation at a time when the Catholic church has been left reeling by numerous sex scandals. Others questioned whether Wingle’s health was in decline.

Through it all, the diocese and Wingle have remained silent — until the bishop’s brief missive Saturday.

Parishioners were pleased to hear from Wingle, Kirkpatrick said.

“I can’t speak for other parishes, only the one I’m in. But I think there’s a sense of being reassured, relieved, everything’s okay, he’s okay,” said Kirkpatrick, rector at Cathedral of St. Catherine of Alexandria on Church St.

Kirkpatrick acknowledged the e-mail doesn’t make it clear if Wingle remains in Jerusalem.

“This is all I know. I heard the rumours like everyone else that he was in the Holy Land, but I did not know that,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve heard from him personally and he’s confirmed that he was in the Holy Land — whether he still is I don’t know.”

Kirkpatrick said he read Wingle’s message personally to the congregation at the cathedral Sunday and provided it to all parishes in the diocese.

“It’s been a while and everyone wonders, ‘Well, what ever happened?’ And so it’s good to hear from him and good to hear he’s okay,” he said.

Article ID# 2694841 


Comments on this Article.

Secrecy and mystery cloud a bishop’s sudden disappearance and then re-emergence. Kind of like the behaviour of the church he belongs to. 

Post #1 By getthefactsnow,


Does Canada have an extradition policy with Israel?

Post #2 By jameszot,


catholic churches…haha….​watch?v=VABSoHYQr6k 

Post #3 By magicalSKYfairy,


This ‘issue’ is getting TOO much press and not even worth the ink. Wingle is on a sabbatical, thats his business. Whats worse is the half-bred comments from people who don’t even understand the church (other than what secular media has spread), yet think that they are the be-all, end-all of ANY and all religious/non-religious knowledge. Anyone with half a brain will know that its not the person (Wingle) that matters here, but rather the leader in that position (for now, Kirkpatrick) that matters.

Post #4 By capnk,


If it smells, talks & walks like a duck … Wingle may be on ‘sabbattical’, however, his position of authority in the Diocese and the silence that has been deafening in regard to his ‘sabbattical’ is well, smelly. What this issue requires is more Press, in fact daily or twice daily press. Until all trust issues are known & settled, see line #1 We don’t have to ‘understand the church’ to root out the evil that may be within. As for Kirkpatrick, if he was ANY kind of leader he would have put this mysterious issue to bed (sic) long ago. Perhaps he is not a leader after all but another sheep headed for slaughter at the hands of his unseen and unknown masters.

Post #5 By Bemused in Niagara,


This is no business of anyone but between the pope and the bishop! Bishop Wingle is very personable and was very much loved by the diocese. Maybe one should walk in his shoes for awhile to understand the pressure and angst that he had to deal with as far as from his fellow priests and us common people. one can judge him all they want…but in the end, who’s business is it? Leave him alone…there is no sexual scandal when it comes to him…our moral charity would ask us to take the high road and stop being critical in this regard. It truly is none of anyone’s business!

Most people would crumble under the weight that he carried. God bless him and may our loving pope grant us one who is just as lovable…

Post #6 By Shoshana,
Below are 3 e-mails sent to the General Secretary (Msgr. Powers), and the Director Of Communications (Christine Choury) of The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops over the last few months. To date there has been no reply from either Msgr. Powers or Christine Choury. At the time that the first story ran on Bishop Wingle’s whereabouts, they seemed concerned as to where he was. You would at least expect them to contact me and thank me for letting them know where he was.

(Sent July 26, 2010)

Christine….below are 2 e-mails that I sent to Msgr. Patrick Powers back in May. To date there has been no reply from Msgr. Powers. As you can see in the first e-mail, your name was mentioned to forward the information on to. Could you please get back to me to show reciept of the information.


(Sent May 21, 2010)

Msgr. Patrick Powers:

It has been a week since I wrote you a letter concerning Bishop Wingle. I was certain that I would have heard back from you by now. Could you please get back to me confirming that Christine Choury was forwarded this information.

Thank you,

John Mac Donald
(Sent May 13, 2010)

Msgr. Patrick Powers:

In a story written about Bishop Wingle’s resignation from his diocese, there is a Christine Choury (a spokesperson for the CCCB) quoted as saying……..”If you find out where Bishop Wingle is, than tell me.” It seems that the former Bishop Wingle has surfaced in Jeruselam, and is concelebrating mass there. He’s friendly with the Fransiscan’s at the Holy Sepulchre, and may be staying with the Legionaires of Christ just outside of the city.

Could you please let Christine Choury know this, and she can send me an e-mail confirming that she has recieved the news of his whereabouts.

Anticipating a reply,

John Mac Donald

Post #7 By wildone,

1 Response to Bishop Wingle breaks his silence

  1. michael says:

    New bishop for St.Catherine’s Diocese: Gerald Paul Bergie, Auxiliary Bishop of Hamilton is Appointed as the bishop of St.Catherines Diocese by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI today, September 14,2010

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