Pope May Reshape US Church as Bishops Age Out

Many bishops nearing retirement as church faces big changes
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Apr 5, 2009 2:22 PM CDT
Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, speaks at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2009. Rigali is due to retire soon.    (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
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(Newser) – With many bishops nearing the age of required retirement, the Vatican has a chance to reinvent the US Catholic Church, moving beyond church sex scandals and adapting to a growing immigrant presence, reports the Los Angeles Times. Almost a third of 265 current US bishops must step down in the next 5 years; more than half must resign within a decade.

That opens the gates to a flood of newcomers untouched by scandal. The coming clergy overhaul coincides with a priest shortage as well as major shifts in the US Catholic population, which is shrinking in the Northeast but booming in the South and West, as more Latin Americans immigrate. At the moment, experts say, the pope's focus seems more on fixing the church's image than addressing ethnic issues.