Bishop Edward J. Burns has shared the contents of the recent letter to the Diocese of Juneau responding to the diocesan application to the Vatican Congregation for Bishops for ‘Elevation of the Status of St. Paul the Apostle Church to Co-Cathedral.’ (See letter below.)
The current Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is located in downtown Juneau; built in 1911 it was originally constructed to serve as a parish church and was made the Cathedral when the Diocese of Juneau was established in 1951. The population of Juneau was approximately 7,000 at that time; today it is over 30,000. Unfortunately, the present Cathedral can only accommodate 150 people; in recent years, large liturgical events have been held at St. Paul the Apostle Church in the Mendenhall Valley, which accommodates 600.
Last August the Diocese of Juneau began the process of seeking an elevation in status of St. Paul the Apostle Church to that of Co-Cathedral.
A town hall meeting with Bishop Burns to discuss the following letter will be held at St. Paul the Apostle on Wednesday, July 6th at 6:30 pm.
Vatican City, May 9, 2016
I am in receipt of your letter and relative documentation of August 31, 2015, in which you proposed to this Congregation that, due to the pastoral necessities of the Diocese of Juneau, the parish church of Saint Paul in Juneau be elevated to the dignity of Co-Cathedral.
I would like to inform you that after an attentive study of your request, this Congregation agrees that a larger church be named Co-Cathedral for the Diocese of Juneau. This Dicastery has also received the favorable opinions of both Archbishop Roger L. Schweitz, Metropolitan of Anchorage, and Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, former Apostolic Nuncio in the United States, regarding this proposal. Furthermore, you report that you have obtained the necessary consent of the College of Consultors and of the Presbyteral Council as required by Canon Law.
I was pleased to read that you are planning a renovation of the interior of Saint Paul church in order to adapt it for use as a Co-Cathedral, so that it may serve as a model for the other churches of the Diocese. The general aspects you mention in your proposal, such as making a clearly defined sanctuary by reorienting the interior to a more traditional basilica layout and relocating the tabernacle in the sanctuary are very sound. This Dicastery encourages you to continue following those directives found in the Ceremonial of Bishops and in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal regarding the sanctuary and furnishings for a Cathedral church.
Finally, this Congregation will proceed with the preparation of the Decree of Elevation of the parish church of Saint Paul to the dignity of Co-Cathedral upon the completion of these renovations. I would kindly ask, therefore, that you notify this Dicastery, through the apostolic Nuncio, when these renovations have been completed.
With prayerful best wishes for this effort and kind regards, I am
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Marc Cardinal Ouellet, P.S.S.