Reverend Shelton Fabre named new Archbishop
The next head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville will be the Reverend Shelton Fabre, an advocate for voting rights and a leader in the church’s efforts to eliminate racism.
Fabre, the current bishop of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux in southeast Louisiana, was announced Tuesday as the new head of the Archdiocese of Louisville – the largest Catholic community in Kentucky – by the press office of the Holy – Headquarters in Rome.
Fabre, 58, is chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ ad hoc anti-racism committee, which was formed in 2017. He became chairman the following year and, in that role, has called for a systemic change after the 2020 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. and Breonna Taylor in Louisville.
At a Tuesday morning press conference attended by outgoing Archbishop Joseph Kurtz and other area bishops, he said he would bring “a heart ready to listen” and a “message of joyful hope “.
“I bring the teachings of the church, I bring our pastoral letter, I bring a desire to advance the kingdom of God and to lead all of us in our racial diversity to understand that we are stronger when we are together .
“And also, to recognize that at the very bottom is a call to respect human life and the human dignity of every person.”
The Louisiana native was ordained a deacon in 1988, a priest in 1989 and had previously been appointed auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of New Orleans by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006 before assuming his current role in 2013.
In Louisiana, Fabre led a diocese of nearly 40 churches and 12 Catholic schools and an area of approximately 90,000 Catholics.
He wept during Tuesday’s press conference when referring to the diocese of Houma-Thibodaux.
“I have been incredibly happy and fulfilled as Bishop of Houma-Thibodaux,” he said. “I am grateful for the love, support, and kindness you have shown me during my Episcopal ministry in South Louisiana.”
In Louisville, he will lead a flock of 200,000 Catholics in an archdiocese that includes 110 parishes and spans 24 counties. His duties will include helping to heal the city in the wake of Taylor’s murder and subsequent racial justice protests.
“While I recognize that our community has faced what some might call an experience of injustice and disregard for human life and dignity, I come to you with a message of joyful hope,” Fabre said. , who will be the fifth archbishop and 10th bishop in the history of Louisville. “I have great faith and hope in the work already underway within our community regarding racial equality.”
Fabre has previously stated that his episcopal motto is “Comfort my people”.
Last March, he spoke at an online leadership institute hosted by the Archdiocese of Louisville where he denounced the “grave sin of racism” and spoke about ways to combat it in the church and community. community at large.
“Work is hard and work is slow, but work must be done”, he said.
On the right to vote, he co-wrote a letter to members of congress last June which said: “Recognizing the importance of ensuring the integrity of electoral processes, the protection of voting rights is a moral imperative for the common good of a just society. The human right to vote derives from the inherent dignity of every citizen.
In addition to being a voice against racism and for the right to vote, Fabre spoke out against same-sex marriage.
In January 2021, he co-wrote a declaration with other Catholic bishops expressing concerns about Biden’s executive order to expand federal protections against sex discrimination to include sexual orientation and gender identity, which the letter calls “misguided.”
In 2015, he weighed in after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, saying the Catholic Church considers it “something that harms the common good”.
When asked Tuesday if members of the LGBTQ community are welcome in the Catholic Church, Fabre said yes.
“I am ready, certainly, to meet and listen,” he said. “I hope they will find in me someone who is ready to listen to them, someone who is ready to walk with them, someone who is ready to invite them to know the Jesus Christ that we know.
For black Catholics who have left the church or are considering leaving, he said, “I hope they see in me someone like them. Someone who knows them and wants to talk to them. Someone who was sent here to serve all members of the archdiocese.
He added, “I am a black bishop, so black Catholics will certainly resonate in my heart. So I hope they see this as an opportunity to say that the church is large and that everything is important and that we have an archbishop who looks like us. Can we rejoice and thank God for that?”
Fabre succeeds Kurtz, who tendered his resignation on his 75th birthday last August to Pope Francis.
“As I give thanks for the privilege of serving as Archbishop of Louisville, I know in my heart that Pope Francis has given the wonderful Archdiocese and Province of Louisville a great gift by appointing a true servant of Jesus Christ,” Kurtz written in a public statement posted following the announcement.
“Bishop Fabre’s motto, ‘Comfort my people’, taken from the prophet Isaiah, testifies to his desire to be a faithful instrument of Jesus Christ,” he continued. “I rejoice and welcome my friend, Archbishop Shelton, as he brings the Cajun flavor of Louisiana to our beautiful Commonwealth, and I pledge my full support to him in his ‘new home of Kentucky.’ !”
The Cajun flavor, Fabre explained, is a certain joie de vivre, importance to community, family, faith, and “resilience in the face of whatever life throws at us and knowing that we’re stronger together than when we’re together.” we are separated”.
Kurtz, appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007, will retain the title of “archbishop” when he leaves the archdiocese on March 30, when Fabre will be installed.
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Krista Johnson contributed to this report. Journalist Matthew Glowicki can be reached at email@example.com, 502-582-4000 or on Twitter @mattglo.