SPRINGFIELD, May 18, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Chicago-area priest, Monsignor Kevin Vann, who made headlines during the US federal election by saying he would deny John Kerry and other pro-abortion Catholic politicians Holy Communion, has been appointed the coadjutor bishop of Fort Worth Texas.

Msgr. Vann was also among those priests quoted in the Chicago papers praising the election of the former Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI. As coadjutor, Msgr. Vann will replace the current bishop, Joseph Patrick Delaney who has been bishop of Fort Worth since 1981 and is due to retire in less than four years.

Under Delaney’s tenure, the number of priests has climbed slowly from 107 to 121 while the number of Catholics has shot up. The influx of Hispanic Catholic immigrants has pushed the number of Catholics per priest in Fort Worth from 802 in 1980 to 3306 in 2003.

In the coming months, a large number of US bishops are due to retire. A generation of bishops appointed around the time of the Second Vatican Council who have seen the steady decline in the number of priests, seminarians, sisters and students attending the vast Catholic school system, will be due to retire in the coming months and years.

Many Catholic observers are speculating that Pope Benedict will take the opportunity to appoint bishops who vocally support the Catholic Church on some of the key issues for Catholics in the west. In the past two years, following widespread media coverage of the abuse scandals, faithful Catholics have been calling more loudly for Rome to act and appoint bishops who do not compromise their Faith.