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Boston Archdiocese welcomes 2 rectors as auxiliary bishops

The Rev. Peter Uglietto (left) and the Rev. Arthur Kennedy celebrated their appointment as auxiliary bishops with Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley at the archdiocese’s headquarters in Braintree. The Rev. Peter Uglietto (left) and the Rev. Arthur Kennedy celebrated their appointment as auxiliary bishops with Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley at the archdiocese’s headquarters in Braintree. (John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)
By Lisa Wangsness
Globe Staff / July 1, 2010

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Pope Benedict XVI yesterday named both of Boston’s seminary rectors, the Rev. Arthur L. Kennedy and the Rev. Peter J. Uglietto, as auxiliary bishops for the Archdiocese of Boston.

The pope also accepted the request for retirement of Auxiliary Bishop Emilio Allue, 75.

Kennedy, 68, is the rector of St. John’s, the main archdiocesan seminary, in Brighton. Uglietto, 58, heads Blessed John XXIII, a national seminary located in Weston with a student body made up primarily of older, second-career students.

The two men will be ordained as bishops in September.

As a result of the appointments, the archdiocese will have five active auxiliary bishops and three retired auxiliary bishops. The auxiliary bishops assist Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley with the administration of the archdiocese and have duties visiting parishes and celebrating confirmations.

O’Malley celebrated the appointments at the archdiocese’s headquarters in Braintree. Priests, seminarians, and archdiocesan employees who attended the gathering burst into applause when the bishops-elect walked in for what Vicar General Richard M. Erikson called “a significant moment in the lives of two good, holy priests.’’

Afterward, the cardinal celebrated Mass with the bishops-elect in the chapel.

O’Malley called Kennedy and Uglietto “two fine examples of what the true face of the priesthood is of the Archdiocese of Boston’’ and remarked that the presence of so many seminarians in the audience yesterday “speaks eloquently of the deep affection and esteem that the men hold for you.’’

The cardinal said the pope’s decision to name two seminary rectors as auxiliary bishops would help the archdiocese improve the “ongoing formation’’ of priests, guide them in continuing their theological education, and solidify their friendships with one another and their shared prayer and spiritual life.

“I know these men are very, very well equipped to help in that ministry to the priests, which is a very important part of the duties of the auxiliary bishops in Boston,’’ the cardinal said.

Kennedy, who during his three-year tenure at St. John’s quadrupled the size of the seminary from 20 to 80 men, said the ongoing problems with clergy sexual abuse the church is facing here and in Europe have required seminary leaders to find new ways to help priests think about and keep their vow of celibacy.

“As rectors, we both have had to be sure the kind of formation given covers the kinds of dangers, temptations, and problems that have led to difficulties that we have faced in the scandals,’’ he said.

“We talk to the seminarians about this very frequently, and we indicate to them the ways in which their commitment to celibacy is shaped by a constant conversion, which they have to undergo all the time.’’

Uglietto added that the responsibility for contributing to the healing process is not only work for bishops and priests, but for laity, as well.

Anne Southwood, chairwoman of the Boston Area Voice of the Faithful, a group that has sought to expand the role of laity in the church, praised the selection of both men.

“They both have strong community ties and show a strong sense of spirituality and leadership,’’ she said in a statement yesterday.

“Their support for lay ministry is especially meaningful to me.’’

But Barbara Dorris, outreach director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, criticized the appointment of men who had worked in seminaries, “where so much abuse has happened.’’

BishopAccountability.org raised similar concerns. But Terence McKiernan, the group’s president and founder, said in an interview that he was also encouraged by Kennedy’s comments yesterday on priestly formation and celibacy.

“It may be an indication that even among the conservative wing of the church, there is an acknowledgment that celibacy is a challenge, and how seminarians and priests meet it hasn’t been scrutinized and worked on enough,’’ he said.

Lisa Wangsness can be reached at lwangsness@globe.com.

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