Last night, the Oregonian reported the naming of Alexander Sample, the new Archbishop of Portland. At age 52, he is the youngest prelate to be appointed an Archbishop in the United States.
He’s also usually social-media-savvy, with his own Twitter page and Facebook page. Granted, it isn’t difficult to vault the social media bar set by Pope Benedict XVI, who has tweeted 28 times from December 21 to January 30, and generally can’t seem to decide whether he likes it not.
While it’ll be interesting to have a such youthful presence (to the extent that 52 qualifies as youthful) in the upper echelons of the church hierarchy, Archbishop Sample’s Mitt Romney haircut is a little off putting. Maybe it was just for that one press conference. Also, I’m joking. Maybe.
Sample does seem like something of a rising star within the Catholic Church. According to Rocco Palmo’s blog Whispers in the Loggia (which I’d recommend highly to anybody interested in the Vatican), Sample isn’t just the youngest Archbishop; he’s the first prelate to be appointed bishop and archbishop by Benedict XVI.
For more on his press conference, check out the Oregonian story or Palmo’s blog posts. Palmo seems to have been following Sample’s rise for quite some time. In a January 2006 post covering Sample’s appointment as bishop, Palmo wrote,
A notably good show of the hierarchy came north yesterday. Spotted were Archbishops Dolan, Burke, Pilarczyk, Favalora, the bishops of Michigan and a bevy of others. The two bishops-emeritus of Marquette, Jim Garland and Mark Schmitt, served as co-consecrators — or, as they’re called in Sioux City, concelebrants.
By that turnout, the writing’s on the wall: this one’s going places.
Needless to say, Palmo hit the nail on the head.