Pope Benedict XVI has selected a new bishop for the Lincoln Diocese, replacing one of the nation's most conservative and controversial bishops.
Bishop James D. Conley, 57, currently serves as auxiliary bishop of Denver. Now he has been named the ninth Bishop of Lincoln as the pope accepted the resignation of Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz, 77.
Bruskewitz's resignation was in keeping with church rules that require bishops to turn in their resignations at age 75.
The appointment and resignation were publicized in Washington Sept. 14, by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
The Diocese of Lincoln stretches west through Hastings, Holdrege, and North Platte. It includes the area south of the Platte River. The Grand Island Diocese includes the area north of that.
Bishop Conley is a native of Overland Park, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City, and a convert to Catholicism. He served as a priest for 23 years before his episcopal ordination, including 10 years of service to the Holy Father as an official in the Vatican Congregation for Bishops in Rome. Bishop Conley is of Wea Native American Indian descent.
Pope Benedict XVI appointed him auxiliary bishop of Denver on April 10, 2008. For his episcopal motto, Bishop Conley chose the same motto as the great 19th-century English convert, John Henry Cardinal Newman, "cor ad cor loquitur," which means "heart speaks to heart."
Bishop Conley was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Wichita, Kan., May 18, 1985. Since then he has served the Church in a wide variety of ways—as pastor, college campus chaplain, director of Respect Life ministries, theology instructor, Vatican official and bishop. In all of these tasks, he has seen his life as a priest as a call to service and complete surrender to "God's providential hand."
Similarly, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz served the Catholic Church as a pastor, seminary teacher and Vatican official. Born in Milwaukee September 6, 1935, he was ordained a priest July 17, 1960, in Rome. He worked in the Congregation for Catholic Education, a department of the Holy See, in Rome, for 11 years.
While serving as pastor of Saint Bernard Parish in a suburb of Milwaukee, Bishop Bruskewitz was named the eighth Bishop of the Diocese of Lincoln in 1992. He was consecrated a bishop and installed in the Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln, on May 13, 1992. Priestly and religious vocations, Catholic education, Catholic health care, and Catholic social services are some of the many areas of diocesan life that were promoted by Bishop Bruskewitz.
Bruskewitz has been called "no shrinking violet" by Catholic bloggers. The "Opinionated Catholic" wrote on Twitter, "Though I was loved Bishop Bruskewitz it is good there was a change. He was a tad controversial in some regards... But I think Bishop Conley will be a good and Orthodox replacement. Its a win win for all."
According to published reports, Bruskewitz has been outspoken in his opposition to homosexuality and the Lincoln diocese is the only one where female altar servers are not allowed.
Bruskewitz also published a statement saying membership in several groups was incompatible with the Catholic faith, including Planned Parenthood and the Freemasons. Bruskewitz said members were forbidden to receive communion.
The Diocese of Lincoln has 588,641 people in it, including a Catholic population of 96,625 in 134 parishes.