Bishop Niederauer Reacts to New Job

Bishop Niederauer Reacts to New Job

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Carole Mikita ReportingBishop George Niederauer says this is the hard part, saying goodbye to Utah; the Catholic leader who is about to become the new Archbishop of San Francisco.

Bishop Niederauer calls Salt Lake home after ten years. He says he received a phone call from the Vatican's U.S. Ambassador on December 6th, when he was in Los Angeles. He was taken by surprise.

Bishop George Niederauer, New Archbishop of San Francisco: "He told me this was Holy Father's decision and my feeble retort was, 'Archbishop?' I said, 'next year, I'll be 70'. And he said, 'Oh, well, 70 isn't what it used to be'. And I thought to myself, 'No and neither am I.'"

But if the Pope extends the call, he says, you go. He soon becomes spiritual leader of 425-thousand Catholics, one quarter of the population in three Northern California counties. Right now, it looks intimidating.

Bishop Niederauer: "You come in and you're in charge and you know less about the scene than anybody else there. So there is a very steep learning curve and I really count on the excellent staff there to help me with it, but it is steep."

The new Archbishop acknowledges the cultural and ethnic differences between Salt Lake and San Francisco, but he will carry with him his emphasis on Catholic education and his desire for interfaith outreach. He says he has enjoyed a particularly warm and open relationship with the First Presidency of the LDS Church who congratulated him and told him he has blessed the people of Utah.

Bishiop Niederauer: "Get past the labels and that's what makes it happen. And I think we've tried to do that here and I certainly will try to do that there. Maybe the labels are different, but it is important to get past the labels."

Bishop Niederauer is now officially an administrator of the Salt Lake Diocese until his installation as Archbishop on February 15th.

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