Springfield Man to Become Bishop in Kansas
By Chris Dettro
February 20, 2014
|Msgr. Carl Kemme|
A Springfield monsignor who has served several churches in the local Catholic diocese has been named the next bishop of the Wichita, Kan., diocese.
According to a news release from the Springfield diocese, Msgr. Carl Kemme was named by Pope Francis to be the 11th bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita. The appointment was announced Thursday in Washington, D.C., by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano.
Kemme, 53, is vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Catholic Diocese of Springfield. He served as the diocese’s administrator between the terms of former Bishop George Lucas and current Bishop Thomas John Paprocki.
In the news release, Bishop-elect Kemme said he was “deeply humbled and honored by the appointment of Pope Francis as the 11th bishop of the Diocese of Wichita.
“To be a bishop in the church has never been something I have sought or dreamed possible,” he said. “I have accepted this assignment relying solely on God’s grace and mercy to help me fulfill the lofty responsibilities of this office. The confidence our beloved Holy Father has shown in me is a source of humility and peace in knowing that God chooses the weak and sinful to accomplish his great mission in the world.”
A spokesman for the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) called Kemme’s promotion “disturbing.”
Barbara Dorris, outreach director of the St. Louis-based organization, said the Springfield diocesan staff “made a number of worrisome decisions” with Kemme in charge or as second-in-command.
Dorris said the diocese temporarily allowed the Rev. Robert “Bud” DeGrand to resign from his posts rather than suspending him after he was accused of molesting children. It also allowed the Rev. Thomas Donovan to remain a priest in Alton after he was found by Springfield police wearing an orange jumpsuit and a leather bondage-type mask, SNAP said.
Dorris said SNAP ‘is not optimistic that he (Kemme) will take real steps to reform long-standing, deeply rooted patterns of irresponsible, self-serving behavior by bishops in this ongoing crisis.”
It urged him to post the names of all credibly accused child-molesting clerics on his diocesan website.
Bishop-elect Kemme was ordained to the priesthood in 1986 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield. He has served as a priest in Decatur, Collinsville, Batchtown, and at churches in Springfield (Blessed Sacrament), Petersburg (St. Peter) and Sherman (St. John Vianney).
Kemme will be ordained May 1. He replaces now-Archbishop Michael Jackels, who was named head of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa, in April 2013.