New Bishops in New York, North Carolina and Philly

WASHINGTON — Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Bishop Joseph Gossman of Raleigh, N.C., and named Philadelphia Auxiliary Bishop Michael Burbidge to succeed him.

The Pope also appointed Msgr. Daniel Thomas, a pastor in Strafford, Pa., and a former Vatican official, auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia. Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States, announced the changes in Washington June 8.

Bishop Burbidge is to be installed as bishop of Raleigh Aug. 4. Bishop-designate Thomas is to be ordained in Philadelphia July 26. Bishop Gossman, 76, has been a bishop since 1968 and head of the Raleigh Diocese since 1975. With his retirement there are only five active U.S. bishops who were given their current post by Pope Paul VI.

The Pope also named three Brooklyn, N.Y., priests auxiliary bishops for the Diocese of Brooklyn: Msgr. Octavio Cisneros, 60, a native of Cuba; Msgr. Guy Sansaricq, 71, a Haitian native, and Msgr. Frank Caggiano, 47. Archbishop Sambi announced the appointments June 6. Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio plans to ordain the three men to the episcopate Aug. 22.


Bishop Urges Broadcasters: More Public Interest Shows

WASHINGTON — Television stations should be required to air more public interest programming before the expected conversion of broadcast signals from analog to digital is to be completed in 2009, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ communications committee.

In a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin released June 6, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., said a “substantial effort to provide programming that better serves the public” should be required of broadcasters in exchange for the new spectrum rights worth “tens of billions of dollars” that they will receive with digital broadcasting.

In the letter, which was dated May 23, Bishop Kicanas said, “Today, even as the broadcasting industry continues to benefit from its subsidized use of the public airwaves, broadcasters’ observance of meaningful public interest obligations has declined.”


Knights Petition Appeals Court to Overturn Ruling

SAN FRANCISCO — The Knights of Columbus filed a brief asking a federal appeals court in San Francisco to reject the latest effort by a California atheist and several other parents to have the Pledge of Allegiance declared unconstitutional because it contains the words “under God.”

In an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief filed in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in early June, the Knights asked the court to reverse a lower court that said it is unconstitutional to include “under God” in a pledge that minor students are required to recite in school. The brief was filed by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty on behalf of the Knights.

Joining in the brief were six individual Knights and their families. The Supreme Court in 2004 threw out a similar challenge by Michael Newdow, filed on behalf of his school-age daughter. Newdow was among plaintiffs in a new lawsuit against various government entities and schools filed the next year. But he and most of the other plaintiffs ultimately were either dropped from the suit or dismissed by the U.S. District Court. The remaining plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the Rio Linda Union School District outside Sacramento are an unnamed woman and her child.