Effective July 18, 2012, as approved by Pope Benedict XVI, the Most Rev. David Kagan, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Bismarck, has been named apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Fargo due to the appointment of the Most Rev. Samuel Aquila as archbishop of the Denver Archdiocese.
In a statement concerning his interim appointment, Bishop Kagan said, “It is a sign of the high regard which our Holy Father has for the Catholic faithful of the Diocese of Fargo, and for all that has been accomplished by Archbishop Aquila with the good cooperation of the clergy, religious and laity, that he has made this provision for the diocese in this time of transition and growth.”
During any “sede vacante” (vacant see), the period of time between bishops, one of two scenarios takes place. Either the pope appoints an apostolic administrator, as he did with the appointment of Bishop Kagan, or a “College of Consultors,” a committee made up of diocesan priests, elects a priest as administrator to lead a diocese until a permanent bishop is named.
The apostolic nuncio – the pope’s representative and ambassador in the United States – along with the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops will begin the search for Fargo’s new bishop and present their thoughts directly to the Holy Father, who makes the final determination. The process typically takes between eight months to a year or more.
During this interim time, Bishop Kagan has been entrusted with the authority of the diocesan bishop to teach, sanctify and lead Catholics residing within Eastern North Dakota.
Bishop Kagan was appointed to be the seventh bishop of the Bismarck Diocese on October 19, 2011, and was ordained and installed as its bishop on November 30, 2011. Prior to arriving in Bismarck, he had served in numerous pastoral capacities, including 17 years as Moderator of the Curia for the Diocese of Rockford, Ill.
The Catholic faith teaches that bishops serve as successors to the 12 apostles who were called and ordained to this ministry by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper. They serve as shepherds of the flock, and – like the apostles – have a special call to teach, govern, and sanctify, or make holy through prayer and sacrifice. The bishop is pastor of his diocese and maintains unity with the Holy Father, thus playing the indispensable role of unifying the various churches in the one Universal Church.