Retiring Kalamazoo Bishop concerned about fewer people identifying with religion

WWMT-TV [Kalamazoo MI]

July 21, 2023

By Kirk Mason

Almost 78,000 Catholics across nine Southwest Michigan Counties are getting a new leader.

Bishop Paul Bradley, the head of the Diocese of Kalamazoo is retiring.

His retirement to Bishop Emeritus was mandated by the Vatican at the age of 75.

Though you may still see him at church, his bishop duties are ending, but not his role as a priest.

“Celebrating mass, celebrating sacraments, preaching the gospel. Doing all those things that a priest does,” Bishop Bradley said.

He will continue to be a priest in Southwest Michigan. Bradley is from Pennsylvania, but after more than 14 years in Michigan he is staying here.

“I chose that I want to stay here, because this is my church now. My diocese even though I won’t be responsible for it. This is the church that I have grown to love,” Bradley said.

Bradley said his health is good, but his retirement from Bishop is mandated by the Vatican.

Though he concedes the world believes in faith is not as healthy, with fewer people identifying with religion.

“I have been saying to our priests more and more that we need to not just be paying attention to what we have, but reach out to those who are perhaps not coming to us,” Bradley said.

Bradley thinks social media is one tool, but the church also needs to keep coming up with other new, creative methods to reach people.

Bradley’s time as Bishop came amid the fallout of the Catholic Church’s priest sex abuse scandal. He believes the church is now out in front of protecting children, but knows a lot of damage was done to people, and the church’s reputation.

“I am convinced it is not a current issue. However, people have been hurt. People have been traumatized, and for that the only thing I think we can continue to do is ask for forgiveness.”

The new Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo will be Monsignor Edward Lohse.

He will be ordained Tuesday July 25, 2pm, at St. Augustine Cathedral in Kalamazoo.