Pope appoints new bishop for Catholic Diocese of Portland

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PORTLAND — An auxiliary bishop and canon lawyer in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has been named by Pope Francis to lead Maine’s Catholics, according to a press release issued early Wednesday morning.

Bishop Robert P. Deeley, 67, was ordained a priest in July 1973, and consecrated a bishop in January.

“As I prepare to serve the faithful of the Diocese of Portland as their new bishop and shepherd, I wish to offer my gratitude first to our Holy Father Pope Francis for entrusting me with this honor and responsibility and to Cardinal Seán O’Malley, who has taught me much of what it means to be a faithful shepherd through his word and example,” Deeley said in a statement released by the diocese early Wednesday.

“Kindly pray for me and for all God’s holy people that we may be what the Lord calls us to be, the community of the Church showing forth the love that God has shown us in his Son, Jesus,” he said.

The new bishop will be installed Feb. 14, the feast day of St. Cyril and St. Methodius, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland.

A native of Cambridge, Mass., Deeley was born in 1946 to Irish immigrant parents. Deeley served as a parish priest, then, in various capacities in the Metropolitan Tribunal, the ecclesiastical court in the archdiocese of Boston, for 20 years. In 2000, he assumed the presidency of the Canon Law Society of America.

Deeley went to Rome in September 2004 to assist as an official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under the cardinal who became Pope Benedict XVI. Then, he served at the Congregation until being named vicar general and moderator of the Curia of the Archdiocese of Boston in the summer of 2011.

As vicar general, Deeley was responsible for the oversight of nearly 2 million Catholics in approximately 290 parishes across 144 communities in the archdiocese, according to information on its website, www.bostoncatholic.org. As moderator of the curia, his primary duties were to care for and to provide coordination of the personnel and efforts of the central ministries of the archdiocese.

Deeley replaces Bishop Richard J. Malone, who led the Maine diocese for eight years. He was appointed bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo, N.Y., on May 29, 2012, and installed the following August.

Malone, who was auxiliary bishop for education in Boston in 2004 when appointed bishop in the Pine Tree State, has continued to oversee diocesan operations in Maine from Buffalo as apostolic administrator. He is expected to step away from that role once the new bishop is installed.

Malone and Deeley have known each other since their seminary days.

“While our educational journeys and ministerial assignments took us in different directions, our paths have intersected many times in these nearly 40 years we have known each other,” Malone said in a statement. “And so it is that I can promise the people of our great Diocese of Portland that they will be pastored by a man who is, in St. Timothy’s words, truly ‘strong, loving and wise.’

“I know that our faithful people will welcome and collaborate with Bishop Deeley in the same spirit of warmth and openness that they showed to me in 2004 when Blessed John Paul II entrusted me with the pastoral leadership of the Diocese of Portland,” Maine’s former bishop said.

Deeley’s tenure in Maine most likely will last as long Malone’s did. The mandatory retirement age for bishops in the Catholic church is 75.

Sidebar Elements

The Most Rev. Robert P. Deeley, auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Boston, will become bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.