Columbus Bishop to Retire; Says Pleased with Handling of Abuse

By Carrie Spencer
Associated Press, carried in Duluth News Tribune [Columbus OH]
October 14, 2004

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Bishop James Griffin announced his retirement Thursday from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus and said the 23-county diocese weathered the priest sex abuse scandal of recent years better than some others.

The pope appointed an auxiliary bishop from Minnesota to replace Griffin, 70, who said age and arthritis pain are forcing him to step down.

"If we compare our diocese with others, I think there are few that got through the difficulties of the last 10 years as well as the church of Columbus," Griffin said. "That's due to the people I work with."

The Columbus diocese paid about $1.4 million in recent years to settle abuse claims against 26 of its 1,000 priests. The diocese covers the largest area of nine dioceses and eparchies in the state, but serves the fourth-largest number of Catholics, about 234,000 in central and southeast Ohio. Eparchies are geographic districts for Catholics who accept the authority of the pope, but follow different rituals.

Griffin said he wants to be remembered for the progress he's made in 21 years as bishop. He established a charitable foundation, fund-raising campaigns for education and a task force trying to reduce family violence. A native of Fairview Park, he was ordained in 1960 in Cleveland.

His successor, Bishop Frederick Campbell, has been an auxiliary bishop since 1999 in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Campbell, 61, has been rector of the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity for the past two years, during the abuse crisis.

"I always sense among the seminarians a realization of how difficult the process has been, but also a deep recommitment to the meaning of the priesthood and pastoral life," Campbell said.

Campbell earned master's and doctoral degrees at Ohio State University and taught history at the Pontifical College Josephinum in the Columbus suburb of Worthington from 1967-69 before he attended seminary in California. Campbell, who was ordained in 1980, said he is amazed at Columbus' growth during his three decades away.

The diocese has not yet announced a date for Campbell's installation as bishop, which will mark the transfer of authority from Griffin.


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