Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Ore., smiles as other members of the clergy applaud during his April 2 installation Mass at the University of Portland's Chiles Center. He succeeds retired Archbishop John G. Vlazny. (CNS photo/Bob Kerns, Catholic Sentinel)
I had hoped to go up to Portand yesterday for the installation of
Abp. Alexander Sample, but wasn't able to make the trip. But plenty of
other folks were in attendance, as The Oregonian reports
Most Rev. Alexander K. Sample became the 11th archbishop of Portland
in formal ceremonies Tuesday at the University of Portland's Chiles
Center. More than 3,500 people, Catholics and guests, filled the
allotted seats, and then some, as they listened intently to the papal
letter that named their new shepherd.
The Vatican delegate to the
U.S., the Most Rev. Carlo Maria Vigano, read the Jan. 29 communication
from then-Pope Benedict XVI. Vigano presented the apostolic letter to
Mary Jo Tully, chancellor of the archdiocese, who showed it, in turn, to
11 priests representing the archdiocese college of consulters, and then
to all assembled.
Vigano and retiring Portland archbishop, the
Most Rev. John G. Vlazny, led Sample to the cathedra, the purple velvet
chair designated for the archbishop. In white robes trimmed in deep
blue, Sample took his seat. The people's applause became a standing
Cardinal William J. Levada, archbishop of Portland from
1986-1995, the former leader of the Vatican Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith, took part in the Mass of installation. The
procession, which took 15 minutes to pass, included about 30
archbishops, bishops and abbots, 200 priests from Portland and other
dioceses, representatives from the ethnic and cultural groups in the
archdiocese and guests from other Christian denominations and religions.
newspaper reports that the new archbishop spoke in "a strong, clear
voice", thanking his predecessor, Abp. John Vlazny for his fifteen years
of service, and then gave a homily focused on the truth of the
Resurrection of Jesus Christ:
Christ has risen from the dead," he said. "He calls us to be witnesses
of his resurrection before the world." Sample spoke slowly and
emphatically: "We must keep our eyes always fixed on Jesus." Looking
around the room he continued. "It is not about me. It is always about
him, and we must never lose sight of that."
Sample referred to his episcopal motto, which translates from the Latin: "to contemplate the face of Christ."
Fr. Z. posts:
Archbp. Sample’s sermon was the real deal. After he got some of the
necessary warm-up boxes checked, he gave a strong homily. Hopefully we
can get the audio or video of that part posted here soon.
I especially enjoyed the moment in which Sample cited the Latin phrase, Nemo dat quod non habet, which
in macaronic Latin is “Nemo dat quod non got”. This was great because
the late Msgr Schuler in St. Paul at St. Agnes parish, where Archbp.
Sample lived as a university student, used to quote that all the time.
I can’t help but think that the Latin phrase was a tip of the mitre in
I've lived in Oregon since 1991, lived in
Portland from 1991-95, and entered the Church when Francis George was
archbishop (for less than a year), in 1997. There will be, I'm betting, a
bit of culture shock for Archbishop Sample, but I am heartened by the
firm words spoken in his homily:
Sample spoke of "radical secularism" in a society that doesn't just
push God to the margins "but right off the page." He lamented "a tyranny
of relativism" that does not agree in "eternal and unchangeable truths"
of human dignity. And he addressed "the challenges of our own making."
"The scandals that have plagued the church in recent years have
damaged our credibility," he said. "Some of your leaders, your pastors
have let you down and done great harm." Sample said the church must keep
its pledges to protect "God's children and young people."
general disdain for Christianity and the specific animosity toward
Catholicism, especially in Portland and Eugene (where I've lived since
1995), is difficult to overstate. There is a large segment of the
population that, to put it bluntly but truthfully, would love to see the
Church go away, be ruined, be utterly destroyed. If you think I overstate the case, take a few moments and read the comments on the Oregonian article. Here are some, well, samples:
"There is nothing more evil in this world
than the Vatican position on birth control. Billions of humans swarming
over the planet, rapidly increasing damage, but a few secretive old men
peddling a worn-out superstition think they can make all the decisions."
"They have every reason to fear "radical
secularism". The catholic church is losing relevance every day, as more
and more people realize that religious dogma is in direct conflict with
common sense and human decency."
"Look at that line up. All old white guys.
They've all been party to the corruption and abuse by ignoring it.
Misogyny reigns in the Catholic Church. They wouldn't know Jesus if he
walked into that assembly and introduced himself. So, Samples, preaching
Jesus doesn't mean a thing coming for you and your old cronies."
"Another raft of medieval cant. How is this
news? Shame, Oregonian, and even more shame on your, Sample, you
incanter of nothing. You wouldn't recognize a moral if it slapped your
"May they become as irrelevant and extinct as the supplicants who used to worship Zeus."
"Continuously rendering themselves increasingly IRRELEVANT"
didn't say the haters were intelligent or know their leftist foot from
the secularist holes in their heads, just that they are haters who think the word
"relevance" is some sort of magic mantra that banishes the Catholic
Church from society, nay, existence. At least The Oregonian had the
journalistic decency to post a story and several pictures of the installation. (In this photo,
the deacon to the immediate right of Abp. Sample is my good friend, Dn.
Harold Burke-Sivers, a wonderful speaker who is often on EWTN.) Meanwhile, the newspaper of record here in Eugene (a city with eight Catholic parishes), The Register Guard, doesn't appear to have any articles about the event. Regardless, welcome to Oregon, Archbishop Sample!
(For more about the archbishop, read CWR's February 4th interview with him, "Portland's new archbishop: 'I'm a teacher at heart.'")