Bishop Michael Burbidge, a 1975 graduate of Cardinal O’Hara High School, has been chosen by Pope Francis to lead the Diocese of Arlington (Va.), writes Sarah Pulliam Bailey for the Washington Post.
The 59-year-old was most recently the head of the Catholic diocese in Raleigh, N.C.
The Post describes the Diocese of Arlington as a center of theologically and politically conservative Catholicism that spans 21 counties in Northern Virginia.
Burbidge is “a cautious conservative with a Pope Francis-like pastoral touch and a desire to bridge divides,” according to some observers of the Catholic Church.
Earlier this year, Burbidge published a statement distancing himself from the North Carolina Catholic conference’s support of the state law restricting transgendered people from using restrooms of their preferred gender. Instead, Burbidge urged “another remedy.”
“What unites us are not the political issues,” he said. “You could one day be in a parish that’s more traditional. The next day, you’re in a parish that’s more vibrant in its praise or worship. The church has room for all of that.”
“He has boundless energy,” Rev. Michael Clay, associate dean for seminary and ministerial studies at Catholic University, said of Burbidge. “He’s not the kind of person who would be sitting behind a desk.”
When he arrived in Raleigh, Burbidge did not know how to speak Spanish, but he worked with a tutor every week to learn the language and now can celebrate Mass in Spanish, Clay said.
Before his appointment in Raleigh, Burbidge served as the rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood and was named an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese by Pope John Paul II in 2002.
Burbidge is a lifelong Eagles fan whose father had season tickets.
Click here to read more about Bishop Michael Burbidge in the Washington Post.