Pope Francis has appointed a new leader of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford. Bishop Leonard P. Blair will succeed current Archbishop Henry Mansell.
The announcement was made in Vatican City at noon, local time. A press conference will held in Bloomfield later this morning, and Blair will formally take over on December 16.
After the election of Pope Francis last spring, Mansell told WFSB-TV that he was ready to retire. Mansell has been Hartford's archbishop since December 2003.
Blair will be the fifth archbishop of the Archdiocese. He's currently the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Toledo, a position he has had since 2003. He has been an ordained priest since 1976.
During his time in Toledo, Blair was the bishop who assessed the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. The assessment was designed to determine if the LCWR, which represents about 80 percent of Catholic nuns, was acting in accordance with the church's teachings.
Blair said the LCWR undermined the Roman Catholic teachings on homosexuality, birth control and "radical feminist themes." He spoke with Terri Gross on NPR's Fresh Air last year and addressed the findings. Here is what he had to say on gay marriage:
Well, I think another great issue of our society today is the defense of the God-given institution of marriage between one man and one woman. And I think everybody knows this is at the front line of moral issues in our country today. And so what we would imagine happening for the organization of Catholic religious women, would be that they would be front and center in speaking on behalf of this fundamental teaching. And yet we don't find that.
And this raises another important point, I think; that no one is questioning the compassionate, pastoral care that has to be given to people - for example, people who have a homosexual inclination. And I think sometimes, there's a disservice done when it's made to sound as if the church condemns homosexuals.
Blair also opposes "artificial contraception."
"We do recognize the validity of natural family planning but not artificial contraception. And admittedly, that involves more of a personal investment as a couple or individual, but that would be based on the moral grounds of what church teaches about marriage and human sexuality."
The Archdiocese of Hartford includes about 700,000 Catholics with more than 200 parishes.