January 06, 2006

New bishop a sign of health for Yukon diocese

CBC News

Last updated Jan 6 2006 12:18 PM CST
CBC News
Yukon's Catholics are welcoming the news that the church has appointed a new bishop to diocese, saying it's a sign the troubled diocese has begun to turn things around.

Pope Benedict appointed Gary Gordon, a priest from Chilliwack, B.C. as the bishop of the Whitehorse diocese on Thursday. The bishop oversees about 8,000 Catholics in 20 parishes and missions throughout the Yukon and Northern B.C.

"I am a little bit taken aback by the appointment of the Holy Father," Gordon said Thursday. "It sort of comes out of the blue, so it will just be a matter getting up there and getting the lay of the land."

Gordon replaces Bishop Thomas Lobsinger, who was killed in a plane crash in 2000. The position has remained vacant since, though the bishop for Fort Smith has held the job from a distance for three years.

At the time of Lobsinger's death, the church in Yukon was on the brink of bankruptcy because of a number of sexual abuse claims filed by former residential school students. A priest in the diocese says that likely contributed to keeping the position vacant.

Posted by kshaw at January 6, 2006 04:40 PM