Bishop Robert Brennan delivers a homily at St. Joseph Cathedral in Columbus, Ohio on Jan. 22, 2021. (CNS photo/courtesy Diocese of Columbus)
ROME — Pope Francis on Sept. 29 named Bishop Robert Brennan of Columbus, Ohio, as the new bishop of Brooklyn, New York, formally accepting the resignation of 77-year-old Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, who has led the diocese for nearly two decades.
Brennan, a native of the Bronx, has led the Columbus diocese since 2019 and previously served as an auxiliary bishop in Rockville Centre, New York.
Earlier this month, the Vatican announced that DiMarzio had been exonerated of allegations of sexual abuse dating back from half a centry ago. While the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said the claims, which first surfaced in 2019, did "not have the semblance of truth," an attorney for the accusers vowed to continue to pursue civil litigation against the now retired Brooklyn bishop.
As bishop of the fifth largest diocese in the country and one considerably larger than many Catholic archdioceses in the United States, Brennan will shepherd more than 1.2 million Catholics in an urban diocese that encompasses the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.
Brennan was raised on Long Island and graduated from St. John's University in Queens. He went on to attend Immaculate Conception in Huntington, New York and was ordained a priest of the Rockville Centre Diocese in 1989. He will become the 8th bishop to head the megadiocese of Brooklyn.
“As I prepare for a return to New York, I am ready and eager to embrace the people of Brooklyn and Queens as their pastor," he said in a statement following news of his appointment.
"Knowing we are loved by Jesus, we will strive to show others his face, bearing the joy of the gospel and the splendor of truth. In the end, that's what it is all about — in Columbus, Brooklyn, and around the world," he continued.
DiMarzio praised his successor, saying: "In the selection of Bishop Robert Brennan, the Holy Father has called upon a native New Yorker to return to lead the faithful of Brooklyn and Queens."
"Bishop Brennan's energy makes him a perfect choice," DiMarzio added.
As the new leader of the self-described "diocese of immigrants," Brennan will oversee one of the country's best-funded Catholic media operations, as well as play a key role in the diocese's shared seminary system with the New York Archdiocese and Rockville Centre Diocese.
As of Sept. 29, there are now three vacant dioceses in the United States and 10 dioceses with bishops past the standard retirement age of 75.