The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester has its first new leader—for now on an interim basis—in 33 years.
Longtime leader Bishop Matthew Clark began his retirement Friday after Pope Benedict XVI accepted his resignation. Bishop Robert Cunningham, leader of the Syracuse diocese, has been appointed as apostolic administrator of the Rochester diocese until a new bishop is named, officials said.
More than 300,000 Roman Catholics reside in the Rochester diocese, which was established in March 1868. The counties contained within the diocese are: Monroe, Livingston, Wayne, Ontario, Seneca, Cayuga, Yates, Tompkins, Schuyler, Tioga, Chemung and Steuben.
Clark submitted his resignation on his 75th birthday on July 15, as is required of all diocesan bishops by church law. As the eight bishop of Rochester, Clark began in the post in June 1979. His tenure is second in length to Rochester’s first bishop, Most Rev. Bernard McQuaid.
Cunningham will oversee all aspects of the 12-county Diocese of Rochester, as well as continuing to lead the Syracuse diocese. Rev. Joseph Hart, who served as vicar general and moderator of the Pastoral Center under Clark, will be Cunningham’s delegate in the daily governance of the Rochester diocese, officials said.
“I assure the good and faithful people in our 12 counties that the governance of this diocese is in excellent hands,” Clark said. “Now that provision has been made for the pastoral care of our diocese, I am peaceful; and I look forward with lively curiosity to a new phase of my life and ministry after more than 33 years as bishop of Rochester.”
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