St. Catharines bishop resigns suddenly

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April 08, 2010

Nicole O’Reilly

The Hamilton Spectator

THOROLD (Apr 8, 2010)

The bishop of the Diocese of St. Catharines unexpectedly stepped down yesterday, without a word of warning to the diocese’s chancery.

Bishop James Wingle, 63, offered little detail when he announced his immediate departure in a letter distributed to the diocese and published on its website yesterday morning. According to the Vatican Information Service, the Pope accepted Wingle’s resignation.

Wingle, who was first appointed bishop for the diocese in 2002, wrote, “I am no longer able to maintain the necessary stamina to fulfill properly my duties.

“I believe that my resignation will serve not only my own spiritual and personal well-being, but the good of the diocese and the church as well.”

Monsignor Wayne Kirkpatrick, chancellor for the diocese, said speculation is Wingle is ill.

Wingle went on to ask for God’s mercy and the understanding of parishioners, if his “shortcomings and limitations have caused any disappointment.”

Reached at the diocese chancery in Thorold, Kirkpatrick said he had no idea the bishop was going to resign, but was giving him the time and space he believed the bishop needed before attempting contact.

“It sounds like the bishop was becoming overwhelmed with his responsibilities,” Kirkpatrick said, adding that Wingle was not a man to say no to any request.

Known for his defence of Catholic orthodoxy, Wingle has served on a number of committees and boards including as a member of the bishops’ committee for World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto.

“He will be greatly missed,” Kirkpatrick said.

When asked whether Wingle was being investigated by any authorities prior to his departure, Kirkpatrick said: “No, not to the best of my knowledge. I believe he left because of illness, but I can’t confirm.”

Wingle could not be reached for comment.

He came to the diocese, which stretches across the entire Niagara region and Haldimand and Norfolk counties, after serving as bishop of the Diocese of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, from 1993 to 2002.

According to a biography published by the Catholic Principals Council of Ontario, Wingle was born in Sept. 23, 1946, in Eganville in the Township of Bonnechere Valley, which is about 40 kilometres south of Pembroke, Ont.

He received a Masters of Arts degree from the University of Windsor and worked for the Ontario government in the corrections system for five years, before completing his seminary studies at St. Augustine’s Seminary in Toronto, where he later taught.

He was ordained a priest in April, 1977 for the Diocese of Pembroke, where he worked until his 1993 appointment as bishop.

A college of six priests, including Kirkpatrick, will meet in the next week to elect an interim leader who will stand until the Pope appoints a new bishop.

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