Big news today in episcopal appointments: Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, Oregon, has just been tapped as coadjutor bishop of Santa Rosa, California. According to Whispers in the Loggia, the current bishop of Santa Rosa, Bishop Daniel Walsh, will turn 73 in October, meaning that Bishop Vasa could be taking over the reins of the diocese in just two years.
I’m not familiar with Bishop Walsh, but any diocese would be lucky to have Bishop Vasa: He was the recipient of InsideCatholic’s 2010 Partnership Award, and in our announcement of the event we described him this way:
In an era of lukewarm, go-along-to-get-along prelates, Bishop Vasa stands out. In April 2004, he issued “Giving Testimony to the Truth,” a document addressed to the lay ministers of the Baker diocese that included an oath of fidelity. Reminding those who serve the diocese that it is the bishops who commission them to exercise these works, Bishop Vasa made the oath a requirement for employment, because the Church “teaches that anyone commissioned to a lay apostolate in the Church should be fully accepting of all Catholic teachings.”
The following year, Bishop Vasa may have ruffled a few feathers when he rejected the USCCB’s imposition of the “Talking About Touching” program as a response to priest sexual abuse. Preferring to create his own “safe environment program,” Bishop Vasa argued that “Talking About Touching” left too many unanswered and troubling questions.
In 2006, Bishop Vasa weighed in again on a controversial subject, what he called the “heresy” of pro-abortion Catholic politicians . . . .
Read the rest here. At the Partnership Award Dinner in September, Bishop Vasa delivered a fascinating, thoughtful, and well-received speech on the relationship of individual bishops to the USCCB — and how the latter never trumps the authority of the former. We published his comments in full here, and they are definitely worth a read.
More than that, though, Bishop Vasa showed himself to be a kind, warm, and pastoral bishop — a man truly dedicated to his flock before all else. I’m sure the people of Baker are sorry to see him go, but Santa Rosa will be lucky to have him.