Serving as main celebrant of a Pontifical Mass in the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, and joined by papal nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano and a number of American prelates, Archbishop William E. Lori, Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, was installed May 16 as the 16th bishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the nation’s Premier See.
He is the first Supreme Chaplain to be raised to the rank of archbishop, and in his homily he offered special recognition and thanks to the Knights of Columbus for the Order’s “spirit of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism, which is a source of immense strength for the Church locally and universally.” He also recalled that the founder of the Knights of Columbus, Father Michael J. McGivney, was ordained in 1877 in Baltimore’s Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (now a basilica), and he holds the title of Venerable as his Cause for Canonization proceeds at the Vatican.
A member of the Order for more than 25 years, Archbishop Lori belongs to Msgr. James F. Murphy Council 4716 and Assembly 140, also named for Msgr. Murphy, both in Bridgeport, Conn. He was elected Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus in April 2005.
Addressing the standing-room-only crowd that filled the massive cathedral, Archbishop Lori alluded to the current challenges to religious freedom in the United States, stating, “Now we must be loyal Americans by being bold and courageous Catholics!”
He also asked all those throughout the archdiocese to pray “that in God’s grace, I will be a wise and holy bishop who seeks to model my life and ministry on the Good Shepherd.”
In the front pews at Mass were the archbishop’s mother and father, Francis and Margaret Lori of Louisville, Ky., and about 40 other family members who traveled about 600 miles by bus from southern Indiana to Baltimore. Also among the estimated 2,000 Mass attendees were representatives from 150 parishes and 70 Catholic schools, from among the archdiocese’s 500,000 Catholics.
The official installation ceremony took place when Archbishop Vigano read the Apostolic Mandate from Pope Benedict XVI proclaiming Archbishop Lori the new ordinary of Baltimore.
The evening before the installation Mass, Archbishop Lori presided at a Solemn Vespers service at the Baltimore basilica, where he visited the tombs of past Church leaders, including the first U.S. bishop, John Carroll, and the second U.S. cardinal, James Gibbons. He was accompanied by Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien, his predecessor in Baltimore, who was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as the grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, with headquarters in Rome.
In both his homilies at Vespers and the Installation Mass, Archbishop Lori highlighted the Sacred Tradition of the Church by which the Catholic faith is passed on through generations and across centuries, and mentioned the current challenges to religious freedom. The archbishop is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty which was formed last September to address growing concerns over the erosion of freedom of religion in America.
Archbishop Lori said that the Church defends religious liberty against government encroachments not for political reasons, but “because we are lovers of a human dignity that was fashioned and imparted not by the government but by the Creator.” In addition to protecting its doctrine, religious freedom allows the Church to serve the spiritual welfare of all people and the temporal needs of the poor in accordance with the teachings of the Gospel, he noted.
Born in Louisville, Ky., in 1951, he grew up in southern Indiana. In 1977 he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and served in pastoral assignments before being named secretary to Cardinal James Hickey. He later was named Chancellor of the archdiocese, Moderator of the Curia and Vicar General. In 1995 he was ordained an auxiliary bishop of Washington, and on March 19, 2001, he was named by Pope John Paul II as the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., where he served until his present assignment.