According to an article in the Western New York Catholic, Catholic Canon law requires that a bishop must submit a letter of resignation to the Pope when he turns 75. Bishop Edward Kmiec of Buffalo, New York reached his 75th birthday on June 4, 2011 and states that he will submit his resignation in the coming week. The process of choosing his successor may take several months to a year.
The Bishop is a native of Trenton, New Jersey and is the son of Polish immigrants. He is Buffalo’s first Polish bishop to serve in a city with a high Polish population. All former bishops of Buffalo have had an Irish background. Bishop Kmiec is the 13th bishop of Buffalo, having been installed in 2004, 10 months after his predecessor, Bishop Henry Mansell, left to become the bishop of Hartford, Connecticut. Prior to his seven years as bishop of Buffalo, Bishop Kmiec served for 10 years as the auxiliary bishop of his hometown, Trenton, New Jersey, followed by 12 years of service as the bishop of Nashville, Tennessee.
Bishop Kmiec, highly respected by his Buffalo congregation, oversaw the daunting task in 2005 of downsizing of the diocese of Buffalo from 274 to 170 parishes and missions today. This included the sale of church properties. The process was called “The Journey in Faith and Grace” and was received with mixed feelings from the parishioners in Buffalo. Some parishes had to be merged while others were closed, which saddened some longtime parishioners who still have difficulty adjusting to their new parishes.
As part of his birthday celebration, Bishop Kmiec presided at the ordination of two priests of the diocese of Buffalo. Since coming to Buffalo in 2004, he has ordained 18 men to the priesthood and 37 men to the permanent diaconate. The bishop retains all of his powers and authority until his resignation is accepted by the Pope, which will coincide with the announcement of his successor. At that time, Bishop Kmiec will become the ‘Ëœadministrator” of the diocese until his successor is installed.
In a letter to the people of Buffalo, Bishop Kmiec expressed his great happiness and love for the wonderful people of Buffalo who bonded with him so well during his tenure as Bishop. He was especially thrilled that Father Nelson Baker of Lackawanna in the diocese of Buffalo, was declared Venerable by Pope Benedict XVI in January 2011. During his retirement, he will no doubt have surgery for a back problem, spinal stenosis, which has affected him for the past two years.
Western New York Catholic, June 2011
The Buffalo News, 6-4-11