|Next Bishop of Oakland, Fr. Michael Barber, S.J.|
Pope Francis named a Boston-based priest with long-time ties to the Bay Area as the Bishop of Oakland, where the future bishop emphasized that he would lead a path more pastoral than political. Until now, Rev. Michael Barber had been the director of spiritual formation at a Boston seminary. In his first comments to diocesan staff in Oakland on Friday, Barber spoke of spending time in soup kitchens serving food, washing dishes, visiting jails and otherwise "getting my hands dirty."
Barber, 58, is the first Jesuit bishop named by Francis, the first Jesuit pope. Oakland's bishop-elect said it was Francis' example he sought to follow, "to show, symbolically, that the church is there to serve the poor and the marginalized." The message is a notable contrast to that of his predecessor in Oakland, Salvatore Cordileone, the current San Francisco Archbishop. Cordileone has made the politics of marriage a central part of his leadership stretching back to his advocacy of Proposition 8, which seeks to ban same sex marriages.
In the Catholic hierarchy, bishops run a diocese and often have auxiliary bishops to help them. It's extremely unusual for a simple priest, like Barber, to be named a bishop of a diocese. Barber will be the first non-auxiliary bishop to become Oakland's bishop when he is ordained by Cordileone on May 25. Barber said politics was not a driving concern for him. "I'm a pastor first," Barber said in an interview. "It's up to lay people to lead political movements in the church, to be elected representatives. I'm here ... to bring the message of love and Christ." Cordileone was traveling and unavailable Friday. But he released a statement saying that he knew Barber "to be a man of keen intellect, unswerving integrity and great love for Christ and his Church." Barber, who was born in Salt Lake City and grew up partly in San Francisco as the child of Bay Area natives, taught at St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park for 8 years, directed the San Francisco Archdiocese' School of Pastoral Leadership and was a volunteer at San Quentin State Prison, where his brother was a chaplain.
Link (here) to the liberal and secular San Francisco Gate for the full story.