A professor at Fairfield University has criticized the process of choosing a new bishop for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, saying it's geared less to finding a leader committed to the faithful of Fairfield County than to choosing a man who will rise high in the ranks of the Church. "This is not just an ordinary diocese," said (Former Jesuit) Paul Lakeland, the Aloysius P. Kelley S.J. professor of religious studies at the Jesuit university. "You have a diocese that's quite dramatically divided between the wealthy and those in poverty." William E. Lori, who had been bishop since 2000, was elevated to archbishop of Baltimore on May 16. On May 22 it was announced by church officials that Monsignor Jerald A. Doyle will administer the diocese until a new bishop is appointed. Lakeland was quick to point out that the Bridgeport diocese has sent other bishops to high positions; Lawrence Shehan and Edward Egan both were elevated to cardinal. "It's a conduit to high ecclesiastical office, so they're unlikely to send someone here who they don't imagine will have at least a good chance of becoming a major figure in the American church," he said. "But the problem with that is you won't necessarily get some one who's committed to the diocese."
A month ago, Lakeland hosted a forum in which he invited the Catholic faithful ---- the laity and priests alike ---- to discuss the qualities that would be desirable in the next bishop. But, according to Lakeland, attendance at "Choosing a Bishop: A Forum for the People and Clergy of the Diocese of Bridgeport," was discouraged by Doyle . "Monsignor Doyle informed his clergy that they were not to participate, nor to encourage their parishioners to do so,"
Lakeland said in his May 31 letter to Apostolic Nuncio Carlo Maria Viganò, who is the Vatican's ambassador to the United States. About 65 Catholics attended the meeting, none of them priests. One priest later sent a letter to Lakeland saying that he and other priests didn't attend because they feared disciplinary action.