Pope Francis names new bishop of Belleville, Illinois

Vatican City, Apr 3, 2020 / 06:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Edward K. Braxton of Belleville, Illinois, and named his successor.

Bishop Braxton submitted his resignation when he turned 75 in June 2019. His successor is Fr. Michael G. McGovern, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago. 

Bishop Braxton was appointed as the eighth Bishop of Belleville in 2005, replacing Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, who is now Archbishop of Washington. 

Bishop Braxton’s tenure at times has been marked by controversy. In 2008, he issued a public apology for spending restricted mission funds on liturgical vestments, altar linens, and office furniture. He said he had mistakenly believed he had discretionary power over the money he used. He has also been criticized over his handling of clerical abuse, but has defended his record. 

Considered one of the leading voices in the United States Church on racial issues, the bishop has written many articles on African American Catholics, which have been translated and published abroad. 

According to a biography on Belleville diocese’s website, his hobbies included whale watching, inline skating and white water rafting.

Fr. McGovern, 55, has served as pastor of St. Raphael the Archangel parish in Old Mill Creek, Illinois, since 2016. In February this year, he was named interim episcopal vicar of Vicariate I of the Chicago archdiocese, which comprises 51 parishes. 

According to a biography on the website of Vicariate I, he grew up in a large Catholic family in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood. After graduating from St. Ignatius College Prep and Loyola University, he entered Mundelein seminary in 1990. He was ordained by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin in 1994. He has served as a member of the presbyteral council and college of consultors of the Chicago archdiocese.

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