By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein of Indianapolis for health reasons.
The archbishop is 73 years old, two years younger than the age at which bishops are required by canon law to turn in their resignation to the pope.
Speaking from a wheelchair to which he has been confined since a March stroke, Archbishop Buechlein told a gathering of archdiocesan staff and reporters at archdiocesan headquarters Sept. 21 that he planned to return to his roots as a Benedictine monk at St. Meinrad Archabbey in southern Indiana as soon as possible.
“I’m not quitting,” he told the audience, saying he planned to continue serving the church and the archdiocese in any way he could.
Archbishop Buechlein, joined the Benedictine order in 1963, has headed the Indianapolis Archdiocese since 1992. Prior to that he was bishop of Memphis, Tenn., for five years.
“It was emotional when I left Memphis 19 years ago and it’s the same here,” the archbishop said, choking back tears. “I leave with fond memories.”
Over the past three years, he has suffered a series of health problems. In March of this year, he suffered a mild stroke. In 2009, Archbishop Buechlein had shoulder replacement surgery and in 2010, he had surgery to remove a benign tumor from his stomach.
In 2008, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and underwent a successful course of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Auxiliary Bishop Christopher J. Coyne was named apostolic administrator of the archdiocese by the pope until a permanent successor is named by the Vatican.
Archbishop Buechlein said he had been encouraged to write his memoirs, “such as they are,” in retirement. “I’ll have fun doing that,” he added.
“It’s been a joy for me as archbishop,” he said. “Nineteen years ago I was introduced across the street in the cathedral. I want to thank all you clergy, religious and archdiocesan staff and all you good people for the wonderful support you’ve given me over the years. You truly have been a blessing to me. With your help and the help of God we’ve accomplished much together.”
Among those accomplishments were the opening of Bishop Simon Brute College Seminary in 2004 to prepare college seminarians for studying for the priesthood; establishment of a permanent diaconate program and the ordination of 25 men as permanent deacons; raising $300 million through an annual stewardship appeal and separate capital campaign for building projects and various ministries; and the expansion of Catholic Charities and social outreach ministries to meet the needs of 180,000 annually.
Born in Jasper, Ind., Archbishop Buechlein was ordained a priest May 3, 1964.
In 1971, he became president-rector of the School of Theology at St. Meinrad Seminary. Nine years later was became president-rector of St. Meinrad College while continuing in his position at the theology school.
Pope John Paul II appointed him to the episcopacy in 1987, naming him bishop of Memphis. Five years later, he went to Indianapolis, becoming spiritual leader to the 225,000 Catholics living in central and southern Indiana.
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