ST. CATHARINES – Bishop James Wingle has broken his silence and cleared up at least some of the mystery surrounding his sudden departure from the St. Catharines Roman Catholic diocese.
He’s been in Jerusalem for four months.
In a letter to Monseignor Wayne Kirkpatrick posted in Roman Catholic churches throughout the diocese Sunday, Wingle says since he resigned suddenly and without explanation in April he has “now completed the first part of my sabbatical which I spent in the Holy Land in a time of prayer and rest.
“Later in the summer, I plan to continue my sabbatical doing some writing and research on a catechetical-pastoral project,” he said.
He did not say where.
Wingle asked Kirkpatrick to extend his sincere “thanks and assurances of my well-being to the clergy and faithful of the Diocese.
“I am deeply appreciative of their expressions of concern and for their prayers.”
“With you, I am praying earnestly for the needs of the Diocese and for the Holy Father and his advisers in their important work of choosing a new bishop for St. Catharines. As I continue my sabbatical, I would be grateful to have the ongoing support and assistance of your prayer.”
Wingle, 63, has provided no further information about what was behind his abrupt departure
The four-paragraph email message indicating he was in Israel is his first communication with parishioners and was dated Saturday.
When he left April 7, Wingle said he 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.”
The lack of information and sudden disappearance fuelled many rumours about Wingle’s health and other church matters. particularly the fact the Roman Catholic Church has been hit by a number of sex abuse scandals involving priests.