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Phila. auxiliary bishop to lead diocese in Michigan

The Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, has been named bishop of Saginaw, Mich., by Pope Benedict XVI.

The Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, has been named bishop of Saginaw, Mich., by Pope Benedict XVI.

Cistone, 60, will be installed July 28, the fifth anniversary of his ordination as a bishop.

He succeeds the Most Rev. Robert Carlson, who left Saginaw last month to become archbishop of St. Louis. The Diocese of Saginaw counts 120,000 Catholic members.

Cistone was in Saginaw yesterday for the announcement. In a statement he said it was "humbling and exciting to be given the opportunity to serve God's people as a diocesan bishop."

A lifelong member of the Philadelphia Archdiocese, he grew up in Our Lady of Consolation parish in Tacony, attended Father Judge High School, graduated from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, and was ordained a priest in 1975.

In 1998, Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua named him vicar for administration, responsible for much of the day-to-day running of the archdiocese.

Cardinal Justin Rigali, the current archbishop of Philadelphia, ordained him an auxiliary bishop in 2004. Rigali later restructured the leadership of the archdiocese and gave administrative duties to all four auxiliary bishops, each receiving the title of vicar general.

A 2005 Philadelphia grand-jury investigation into clergy sexual abuse in the archdiocese concluded that Cistone, while assistant vicar for administration, was complicit in 1996 in silencing a nun who tried to alert members of St. Gabriel's parish about an abusive priest.

The grand jury also found that, among other things, Cistone in 2002 took no action to warn a suburban school district that one of its teachers was a former priest known to abuse children. It said he had taken no action against a parish priest despite reports that he sometimes made boys strip and pricked some with pins.

In an e-mail to The Inquirer in 2005, Cistone expressed his "sorrow" for "any mistakes in judgment made by those of us . . . with responsibility for these matters."

Cistone oversees the archdiocesan secretariat for Catholic Human Services and the secretariat for Temporal Services, and has pastoral oversight for the parishes in Philadelphia-South and parts of Delaware County.

He also serves on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee for Protection of Children and Young People, which oversees sex-abuse matters, and committees related to cultural diversity, African American affairs, and finance.

"We will miss his wisdom, assistance, and faithful service here in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia," Rigali said yesterday in a statement.

Rigali is a member of the Congregation for Bishops at the Vatican, which recommends episcopal appointments to the pope.

Rigali will lead a farewell prayer service for Cistone at 5 p.m. July 21 at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul. A reception will follow. All are welcome to attend.