Bp Alexander King Sample named new Abp of Portland, Oregon

From Vatican Information Service, news of great interest to us Catholics in the Northwest:

Vatican City, 29 January 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father appointed Bishop Alexander King Sample as archbishop of the archdiocese of Portland (area 76,937, population 3,296,705, Catholics 412,725, priests 300, permanent deacons 72, religious 653), Oregon, USA. Bishop Sample, previously bishop of Marquette, Michigan, USA, was born in Kalispell, Montana, USA, in 1960, was ordained to the priesthood in 1990, and received episcopal ordination in 2006. In the national bishops’ conference he currently serves on the Subcommittees on Native American Catholics and on the Catechism. He is also vice-postulator for the cause for canonisation of Venerable Frederic Baraga, first bishop of the Diocese of Marquette. He succeeds Archbishop John George Vlazny, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

The Diocese of Marquette has posted the following on its website:

In a prepared statement to the Church in the Diocese of Marquette, Archbishop-Designate Sample stated, “Even as there is excitement and joy at taking up this new challenge that God has placed before me, I would be less than honest if I did not say that I will leave the Church in the U.P. with a certain heaviness of heart.  I will profoundly miss the people, the clergy and religious of the diocese.  I will miss my brother priests in a special way, since I was chosen from among them to be their bishop.

“I have always tried to be obedient to the will of God and to accept whatever the Church asks of me to be God’s will.  It is in this spirit that I have said ‘yes’ to the Holy Father’s request for me to serve the Church in a new place in western Oregon.  I ask the prayers of all the clergy, religious and faithful of the Diocese of Marquette.  They will always be in my heart and prayers.  Venerable Frederic Baraga, pray for us!” he wrote.

Archbishop-Designate Sample will remain as administrator of the Diocese of Marquette until his installation in Portland.  At that time, the Diocesan College of Consultors will select a new diocesan administrator who will serve the Diocese of Marquette until a new bishop or an apostolic administrator is named by the Pope.

After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in metallurgical engineering from Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Archbishop-Designate Sample completed studies in philosophy at the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. in 1986.  He then entered the Pontifical College Josephinum Seminary in Columbus, Ohio to study for the priesthood for the Diocese of Marquette.  He was ordained a priest on June 1, 1990 at St. Peter Cathedral in Marquette by Bishop Mark F. Schmitt.

His first appointment was as associate pastor of St. Peter Cathedral in Marquette.  He then served as pastor of the parishes of St. George in Bark River, Sacred Heart in Schaffer and St. Michael in Perronville before heading to Rome where he earned a licentiate in canon (church) law in 1996.

When he returned to the Diocese of Marquette, Archbishop-Designate Sample spent the next 10 years in the diocesan offices serving in various positions including chancellor, director of ministry and priest personnel, executive director of the Bishop Baraga Association and member of the College of Consultors.  During that same time period, he also served as canonical pastor of St. Christopher Parish in Marquette. 

He was ordained Bishop of Marquette on January 25, 2006 at St. Peter Cathedral.  At 45 years old, he was the youngest bishop in the United States at the time.  In addition, his ordination as bishop was the first to take place in the Diocese of Marquette in over 100 years.

The Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon covers the western part of the state from the summit of the Cascades to the Pacific Ocean.  It contains 29,717 square miles, which is almost twice as many as the Diocese of Marquette.  Numbering 415,725, Catholics in the Archdiocese of Portland comprise 12% of the total population.  The archdiocese has 124 parishes, 22 missions, 40 elementary schools, 10 high schools, two colleges and universities, one diocesan seminary, and 10 hospitals.  There are also 150 diocesan priests, 144 religious priests, 388 women religious, 78 brothers, and 79 permanent deacons in the archdiocese.

In 2009, Bishop Sample was a vocal critic of the University of Notre Dame’s decision to grant an honorary degree to Pres. Obama, stating:

President Obama has made it clear in his campaign rhetoric and in actions he has taken since becoming president that he intends to promote and expand the destruction of innocent human life.  His reversal of the so-called “Mexico City Policy,” his approval of federal funding for destructive embryonic stem cell research, and his pledge to sign into law a resurrected Freedom of Choice Act, should it come to his desk, are all evidence of this.

Given these facts, it is unconscionable to me that a Catholic university would bestow such an honor upon an individual who is so completely out of step with the Catholic Church’s teaching on the need to protect innocent human life in its most vulnerable forms, even if that individual holds the highest office in the land.

Because this has the potential to cause grave scandal to the faithful and weaken our united Catholic efforts in defense of life, I have taken the step of writing to the president of the university, Fr. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., expressing my concerns and requesting the invitation be withdrawn.

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About Carl E. Olson 1233 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. His recent books on Lent and Advent—Praying the Our Father in Lent (2021) and Prepare the Way of the Lord (2021)—are published by Catholic Truth Society. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications. Follow him on Twitter @carleolson.