New archbishop talks about new title
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- South Florida's newest archbishop talked in depth Thursday about his faith, the future of the Catholic Church and his Harley Davidson.
Archbishop Thomas Wenski will lead 1.3 million South Florida Catholics after being ordained on June 1.
Wenski said his heart for Haiti will be a big part of his leadership. "Geography has made the US and Haiti neighbors, but we have to be more than neighbors, we have to be brothers and sisters," Wenski said.
The archbishop said he marvels at Haitian resolve, not only rebounding from hurricanes but earthquakes as well. Wenski said showing faith can spring from tragedy.
Tragedy is not far from the mind of the archbishop. He is keenly aware of the child sex scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church. He said child molestation is an atrocity, and it is painful for both the victim and the church. "The church has addressed that, and one of the signs that it has addressed that is the safe environment programs that are in place," he revealed. "Today, the church is the safest place for a child to be."
Wenski was quick to point out that closing Catholic schools and parishes is not the result of the sex scandal payouts, which topped tens of millions of dollars. "The cost we have had to payout has been in great measure covered by insurance," Wenski said.
Earlier in the week, Wenski lead a mass for South Florida lawyers and judges. Afterward, he addressed Catholic support for fighting gay marriage in the political arena.
South Florida is known for its gay population. Wenski said the church is not an enemy of gay issues, but he held firm on Catholic belief on the matter. "I don't believe the church does show hostility to that community or to any other community." Wenski went on to say, "Children are hardwired to be raised by a father and a mother who are married to each other in a permanent relationship."
The archbishop also spoke about light moments while being interviewed, a quality that perhaps will help reach declining numbers of young people. Wenski even commented on "American Idol." He said, "I don't know if I've sat through sessions of 'American Idol.' I think I might have stopped on it for a few minutes while channel surfing, but I did not linger too long."
The archbishop also spoke about his interest in motorcycles. "I used to have a Honda Shadow, and about a year ago I invested in a Harley Davidson street bike to take a motorcycle ride and clear the cobwebs of my mind."
Cobwebs even in the mind of a man of God. He said, the matters of God are important in today's complicated world.
With the newest numbers being 1.3 million Catholics, in South Florida, Wenski said, he's going to need all the help and prayers he can get.
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