5 American Good Shepherds of the Catholic Church

5 American Good Shepherds of the Catholic Church March 26, 2023

Considering some major disappointments among Church hierarchy of late concerning fidelity, I decided to highlight some faithful bishops. Highlight a few good shepherds. The primary role of a bishop is to shepherd the souls of God’s people. God’s people—not theirs. Failure in this task, this solemn vocation, bears eternal consequences, consequences some shepherds seem less and less concerned about. Thankfully, many bishops do take their vocation seriously. This article I dedicate to them.

Samuel J. Aquila

Archbishop of Denver

Named archbishop of Denver in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Aquilla penned a fifteen-page open letter to the world bishops in response to the German Synodal Path in May of 2021. In this letter, he implores his brother bishops:

Will we ourselves heed the Lord Jesus’s call to repentance, and have the courage to echo it to an unbelieving world? Are we “not ashamed of the gospel” (Rom. 1:16) and its offer of freedom from sin through the death and resurrection of Christ, and of an intimate relationship with his Father in the love of his Holy Spirit? Will we stay attached to the vine, Jesus Christ, and bear fruit, or will we continue to wither (John 15:5–6)?

Archbishop Aquila also signed A Fraternal Open Letter to our Brother Bishops in Germany (FOLBBG) penned in April of 2022.

Charles Chaput

Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia

Appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as archbishop of Philadelphia in 2011, Archbishop Chaput became emeritus upon his retirement in 2020. A consummate defender of the faith, Archbishop Chaput earned a reputation in the United States for his orthodoxy and orthopraxy. In a recent interview with National Catholic Register, Chaput stated the following concerning the role of the bishop:

I’d remind all bishops, not just my brothers in Latin America, that our one unique responsibility as bishops is to proclaim and protect the apostolic tradition of the Church. We may or may not need to do that in new and creative ways; but on a foundational level, we need to protect the faith from distortion and pass it on to others, fully and effectively, as we received it.

Like Aquila, Archbishop Chaput also signed the FOLBBG document.

James Conley

Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska

Installed as bishop of Lincoln by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012. Bishop Conley came to the Catholic Church as a convert in 1975. In a recent article on true love, Bishop Conley wrote:

Jesus himself called sinners to repent. He ate and drank with tax collectors, yes, and this is what inclusion should look like, but he always called the sinner to conversion. Accompaniment for Jesus was always paired with a call to conversion. This should not have to be argued. It is there for all to see.

An excellent writer and communicator, please find his writings here.

Salvatore Cordileone 

Archbishop of San Francisco

First made a bishop by St. Pope John Paul II in 2002, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Cordileone as archbishop of San Francisco in 2012. With a doctorate in Canon Law, Archbishop Cordileone represents Catholic fidelity among extremely hostile opposition to Catholic orthodoxy in San Francisco. In 2022, out of concern for then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s soul, the archbishop issued a letter prohibiting her from receiving communion due to her support for abortion. In the letter, he states:

As you have not publicly repudiated your position on abortion, and continue to refer to your Catholic faith in justifying your position and to receive Holy Communion, that time has now come. Therefore, in light of my responsibility as the Archbishop of San Francisco to be “concerned for all the Christian faithful entrusted to [my] care” (Code of Canon Law, can. 383, §1), by means of this communication I am hereby notifying you that you are not to present yourself for Holy Communion and, should you do so, you are not to be admitted to Holy Communion, until such time as you publicly repudiate your advocacy for the legitimacy of abortion and confess and receive absolution of this grave sin in the sacrament of Penance.

Like Aquila and Chaput, Archbishop Cordileone signed the FOLBBG document.

William M. Joensen 

Bishop of Des Moines

Appointed bishop of Des Moines by Pope Francis in 2019, Joensen makes this list due to his diocese’s new gender policies. The new policies, rooted in the love of the human person, also reflect a true pastoral approach, not the carve-outs for sin some espouse within the Church that risk souls. Concerning God’s love for the human person, the policy states:

The God who is love and who is revealed as a communion of persons has called humans, the only creatures after his own heart, to share fully in his love. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, in whom all persons are created (Colossians 1:15-16) as either male or female in God’s image and likeness, became human like us in all things but sin (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus understands human nature well (John 2:25) and reveals us to ourselves.

Moreover, like Aquila, Chaput, and Cordileone, Bishop Joensen also signed the FOLBBG document.

Honorable Mention

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Doctrine

In conclusion, I must mention the recent actions taken by the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine. On March 20, 2023, the Committee on Doctrine issued moral guidelines for Catholic healthcare institutions regarding their prohibition concerning gender transition surgeries. This document presents the most clear and concise definition of the human body as gift. The document states:

The body is not an object, a mere tool at the disposal of the soul, one that each person may dispose of according to his or her own will, but it is a constitutive part of the human subject, a gift to be received, respected, and cared for as something intrinsic to the person.

Thank God for these faithful shepherds of souls. Please pray for God’s protection in an increasing hostile and maddening world.


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5 American Good Shepherds of the Catholic Church


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