For those of us who actually live in the Archdiocese of Hartford, the announcement of Toledo Bishop Leonard P. Blair as the next Archbishop of Hartford was a happy occasion:

Peter Wolfgang, the executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut and a Catholic, said the announcement of the new bishop “is huge news for the Catholic faithful of the archdiocese and really, the entire state of Connecticut.

“The office holds tremendous importance for believing Catholics in the Archdiocese of Hartford,” Wolfgang said. “Every citizen in the state has a stake in this appointment.”


Peter Wolfgang, the executive director of the Connecticut Family Institute , said Blair’s appointment runs contrary to the media narrative of Pope Francis giving up on defending the unborn and marriage.

“Pope Francis has given the Catholic faithful of Hartford a shepherd who is renowned for guarding the truth in all its fullness. Connecticut’s ecumenical and multi-faith pro-family movement is proud to stand with Archbishop-designate Leonard P. Blair and we pray that his midwestern faith, hope and love will be a balm to New England’s aggressive secularism,” Wolfgang said.

But for Michael Sean Winters, a writer for the left-wing National Catholic Reporter who does not live here, our cause for hope was his cause for fear. He believes yesterday was “Not a happy day in Hartford”:

In naming Bishop Leonard Blair to become the next archbishop of Hartford, Conn., the Holy See has sent what can only be described as a counter-sign. This was a missed opportunity to send a signal to all the bishops in the United States that the Holy Father is calling for a different style of pastoral leadership in the Church. In June, Pope Francis spoke to the nuncios from around the world assembled in Rome. He sketched the type of pastoral leadership he expected in the appointment of bishops. The pope said he wanted pastors who would serve their people, not serve as overlords. They were, he famously said, to be men who “have the smell of the sheep.”

The good news is that Archbishop-designate Blair has the smell of the sheep. The bad news is that one suspects he thinks the sheep stink.


Winters seems to agree with Archbishop-designate Blair on many of those issues that will disappoint the Left: the “theological silliness” of certain religious orders and that Komen is problematic for its funding of Planned Parenthood and, potentially, embryo-destructive stem cell research. Rather, what concerns Winters is what he believes to be “a lack of delicacy” in the Archbishop-designate’s episcopal leadership.

The Catholic blogosphere is a universe unto itself and Family Institute of Connecticut would be content to let pass without a word from us this or any other topic that occupies that universe…were it not for this:

I cannot refrain from expressing the concern — dare I say it, the fear — that this lack of delicacy is going to come back and bite the Church in the behind. In 2012, largely through the efforts of the Catholic Church, a referendum on physician-assisted suicide was narrowly defeated at the polls in Massachusetts. The supporters of physician-assisted suicide will not give up. They will move on. They have already passed legislation in Vermont. You can bet they will soon target Connecticut. And who can doubt that Archbishop-designate Blair’s culture warrior style will play right into the hands of those who wish to attack the human dignity of the old and the suffering? People of hope. People of hope. People of hope. Let us hope that +Blair catches some of the fever of Pope Francis — and some of the credibility of Pope Francis — before we must face that fight in Connecticut.

What do you mean “we,” Kemosabe? Since this is the Catholic blogosphere FIC is addressing, we’ll let the veteran pro-life Catholic writer Anne Hendershott be the one to bring Michael Sean Winters up to speed on the fact that Connecticut has already been targeted and that the good guys already won the first round.

To be sure, round two is coming up and there is no guarantee of victory. FIC and our allies are working now to counter what we expect to be a much stronger push for assisted suicide in next year’s legislative session. But in our preparations for that fight, we count it a very happy day when we learned that the next Archbishop of Hartford is Leonard P. Blair. And we object to our defense of the elderly and people with disabilities being exploited by a writer who does not even know what is happening here in Connecticut, just so that he can take a jab at the next Archbishop of Hartford.

We suspect that Pope Francis would object too.