I have labored with all my powers to fulfill the duties of my office



Fourth Bishop of Philadelphia [USA]

An excerpt from a A Letter to Cardinal Barnabo

Feast (Philadelphia USA): Saint John Neumann

Indeed, I have apparently delayed too long in writing to the Holy See the letter promised by the Archbishop of Baltimore in the name of the council. However, this delay was not without reason. For the council was scarcely finished and I was discussing the division of Diocese of Philadelphia and my translation to a new see with one of the Fathers of the council, when the Father intimated to me [that he did not know] whether that could more probably be hoped for, since the Holy See thought that I would resign from the episcopate, or wished to resign. In the same way when the Archbishop of Baltimore informed me of the designation of a coadjutor, he added that in the event that I should persevere in the desire to resign, the Holy See would permit me to give the title of the ecclesiastical property to the same coadjutor.

I was no little disturbed by the fear that I had done something that so displeased the Holy Father that my resignation would appear desirable to him. If this be the case, I am prepared without any hesitation to leave the episcopacy. I have taken this burden out of obedience, and I have labored with all my powers to fulfill the duties of my office, and with God’s help, as I hope, not without fruit. When the care of temporal things weighed upon my mind and it seemed to me that my character was little suited for the very cultured world of Philadelphia, I made known to my fellow bishops during the Baltimore council of 1858 that it seemed opportune to me to request my translation to one or the other see that was to be erected (namely in the City of Pottsville or in Wilmington, North Carolina). But to give up the episcopal career never entered my mind, although I was conscious of my unworthiness and ineptitude; for things had not come to such a pass that I had one or the other reason out of the six for which a bishop could safely ask the Holy Father permission to resign. For a long time I have doubted what should be done.

Although my coadjutor has proposed to me that he would take the new see if it is erected, I have thought it much more opportune and I have asked the Fathers that he be appointed to the See of Philadelphia, since he is much more highly endowed with facility and alacrity concerning the administration of temporal things. Indeed, I am much more accustomed to the country, and will be able to care for the people and faithful living in the mountains, in the coal mines and on the farms, since I would be among them.

If, however, it should be displeasing to His Holiness to divide the diocese, I am, indeed, prepared either to remain in the same condition in which I am at present, or if God so inspires His Holiness to give the whole administration of the diocese to the Most Reverend James Wood, I am equally prepared to resign from the episcopate and to go where I may more securely prepare myself for death and for the account which must be rendered to the Divine Justice.

I desire nothing but to fulfill the wish of the Holy Father whatever it may be.


Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen


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