BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A surprising change in local tradition. Monday, Edwin O’Brien, the Archbishop of Baltimore, announced he is leaving that post.
Alex DeMetrick reports it is the first time in more than two centuries a sitting archbishop has been moved out of Baltimore by the Vatican.
Archbishop Edwin O’Brien called the news media and his support staff to the Archdiocese headquarters to make the announcement.
“Effective today, I am no longer the Archbishop of Baltimore,” said O’Brien.
The first and oldest diocese in the U.S. is considered a premiere posting. Four years ago, the Vatican made O’Brien archbishop, succeeding Cardinal William Keeler. It was a surprise then.
“It was just a thunderbolt,” O’Brien said.
And being assigned a job in the Vatican is a surprise now.
“To remove a resident bishop of a major archdiocese shows the priority that Holy Father has,” O’Brien said.
That’s because he is the first of the 15 previous archbishops over the past 220 years not to retire or die in office, a tradition staff came to expect.
“Surprised that Archbishop O’Brien hasn’t been here very long,” said Kristen Kinkopf, Catholic Charities.
“It’s one of those things where it’s their gain and our lost,” said Bishop Dennis Madden.
He will work in the Middle East.
“The land in which Christ walked and died and rose again will always be sacred to Christians and all of us must do all we can to preserve the holiness of that land,” O’Brien said.
While there was joy at the promotion, there was also sadness.
“It’s very bittersweet,” said one woman.
The posting to Rome is a strong indication O’Brien is on his way to becoming a cardinal.
While Edwin O’Brien is technically no longer Archbishop of Baltimore, he will continue on in an administrative role until the Vatican appoints his successor.