By Kathleen Gilbert

SOUTH BEND, Indiana, November 17, 2009 ( – The Vatican announced Saturday that Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Harrisburg, Penn. as the new bishop of Indiana's Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, which contains the University of Notre Dame. 

Rhoades, like his retiring predecessor Bishop John D'Arcy, was among the 80 active U.S. bishops who condemned the decision by Notre Dame to honor the pro-abortion President Obama with the commencement speech and an honorary law degree this past May 17.

In a March statement on Rhoades' behalf, issued by the Harrisburg Diocese Office of Respect Life, the diocese had affirmed that the bishop wrote to Notre Dame to express his disapproval of the invitation.

“It is disheartening and distressing when an institution that is regarded as Catholic, such as Notre Dame, fails to follow the guidelines set forth by the Bishops of the Catholic Church, especially in these vital moral matters,” read the statement.  “It is Bishop Rhoades' hope and prayer that all the institutions that bear the name 'Catholic' will affirm the Church's teachings, expose the culture of death and build up the Culture of Life.”

Bishop D'Arcy, 77, hailed the arrival of the “exemplary” Rhoades as a “gift” for the diocese in a statement this weekend. 

During his 24 years as bishop at Fort Wayne-South Bend, D'Arcy won a reputation as a strong voice for orthodoxy at Notre Dame.  Before the Obama scandal, D'Arcy strongly condemned the University's decision to host the lewd “Vagina Monologues” play, which Notre Dame hosted for several years before cancelling it this year.  He also called on Notre Dame to cease its Queer Film Fest, which the school began hosting yearly in 2004.

In a column for America magazine in August, D'Arcy gave an account for his strong pastoral presence at Notre Dame, saying that it was his responsibility as bishop to encourage Catholic institutions to “give public witness to the fullness of the Catholic faith.” 

“The diocesan bishop must ask whether a Catholic institution compromises its obligation to give public witness by placing prestige over truth,” he said.  “The bishop must be concerned that Catholic institutions do not succumb to the secular culture, making decisions that appear to many, including ordinary Catholics, as a surrender to a culture opposed to the truth about life and love.”

Rhoades' installation as bishop is scheduled for January 13 at Fort Wayne's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.  D'Arcy will remain apostolic administrator of the diocese until then.

See related coverage:

Notre Dame's Bishop D'Arcy Rebukes and Challenges Catholic University Over Obama Scandal