Why did bishop leave his post?

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n RELIGION: Mystery surrounds the resignation of James Wingle

Niagra  Falls Review

09 April 2010

Posted By GRANT LAFLECHE, QMI AGENCY

More than 24 hours after the Vatican announced it accepted the resignation of St. Catharines Catholic Bishop James Wingle, local believers are asking themselves the same questions: Why? What happened? Where is the bishop now?

Wingle, who has not responded to several requests for an interview, left only a short four-paragraph letter to the diocese saying he was stepping down.

In the letter, Wingle says he no longer has the stamina required to be the bishop of a diocese, asks for understanding for his shortcomings and says he is taking a sabbatical focused on “prayer and personal renewal.”

Exactly what that means is not clear. Some of those who attended the Easter celebrations Wingle presided over said the bishop looked tired, in contrast to his normal, energetic self. If he is ill, the letter does not say so.

Msgr. Wayne Kirkpatrick, a ranking official at the diocese, said Wingle’s reasons for leaving were not made known to him.

” Bishop Wingle did not personally inform the staff of the Catholic Centre of his decision beyond the letter,” Kirkpatrick wrote in an email to QMI Agency Th ursday.

The office of the Archbishop of Toronto also had no more details about Wingle’s resignation.

Under church procedures, the bishop did not have to report to the archbishop regarding his resignation. Rather, Wingle contacted the Vatican through the Pope’s ambassador in Ottawa.

The ambassador was not in his office Thursday, and a spokeswoman at his office said questions should be directed to the Vatican’s press office, which could not be reached Thursday afternoon.

On Wednesday, a Vatican news bulletin said the Pope had received and accepted Wingle’s request to stand down.

Wingle, a well-respected bishop and steadfast defender of Catholicism and Vatican policy who led a diocese that stretched across most of Niagara, may no longer be in the region.

There was no one at his Riverview Boulevard home in Old Glenridge Thursday morning.

A contractor working at the house across the street said there was a moving truck at Wingle’s house earlier this week.

However, there is still furniture and other items in the house.

The bishop’s housekeeper answered his phone later in the day, but said she could not assist in reaching him. The Catholic Centre also did not know where Wingle is. “I have no information of the present whereabouts of Bishop Wingle,” Kirkpatrick wrote in his email.

Wingle, 63, had been the bishop of the St. Catharines Diocese since 2002. His tenure was marked by an effort to engage young people in the church.

Wingle was a key figure in organizing the 2005 World Youth Day in Toronto that featured a visit from the late Pope John Paul II. Wingle has been a member of the clergy since 1977. Prior to being appointed bishop for St. Catharines, he was the bishop of a diocese in Yarmouth, N.S.

Next week, local church officials will choose an interim administrator who will govern the diocese until the Vatican appoints a new bishop.

Article ID# 2526953  

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 Catholics surprised by Wingle’s move

Welland Tribune

08 April 2010

Posted By ALLAN BENNER, WAYNE CAMPBELL AND JOHN VESSOYAN, TRIBUNE STAFF

WELLAND — Local Catholic leaders are surprised by the resignation of Bishop James Wingle, which was accepted by Pope Benedict XVI, Wednesday.

Area priests say that replacing Wingle will be a difficult task as they try to carry on without their well-respected and well-liked leader.

Monsignor Wayne Kirkpatrick, chancellor of the diocese, was disheartened to hear of Wingle’s decision to leave.

“A few tears were shed over the announcement,” Kirkpatrick said. “It came as a shock to all who work with him.”

Kirkpatrick said Wingle was a man of strong faith and values and was well-respected by priests and parishioners.

“He was a very pastoral bishop — well-loved by everyone. Very approachable — a bishop who never said no.”

Father Paul McDonald of Eglise Sacre-Coeur in Welland said he received a letter Wednesday morning informing him of Wingle’s departure.

“It was a great shock — totally unexpected,” McDonald said.

McDonald said Wingle was bilingual, which served his French-language church quite well.

“That was a great gift to us. Yes, he’ll be very much missed.”

Father Jose Karikompil of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Welland said Wingle needs to focus on his health.

“He has to deal with that. What can we say?” Karikompil said.

“He’s a good bishop, we like him,” he added.

Rev. Jim Mulligan from St. Kevin church in Welland was driving home from Toronto when he learned about Wingle’s resignation on the radio.

“It was a real surprise,” he said. Mulligan said he saw Wingle

as recently as last week, and he appeared to be in great health.

“He’s always very gracious. He’s always very solicitous and goes around and says hello to everyone,” Mulligan recalled, adding the bishop was a very hard worker.

“He was everywhere. He was very present for people, at parishes, to the priests and to different groups and activities in the diocese. At times, the question was asked, how can he continue at that rate?”

Rev. William Derousie from St. Therese of Lisieux in Port Colborne said he didn’t expect Wingle’s resignation either.

“As out spiritual leader, of course we’re going to miss him,” Derousie said. “He’s done a lot of wonderful things as bishop and I just hate to see him going.”

While Derousie said he doesn’t know specifically why Wingle resigned, he said “he must have done so for the good of the people, I’m sure. I would have no doubt about that at all.”

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