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Alexander Sample Takes Over As Catholic Archbishop of Portland

The Catholic Archdiocese of Portland has a new archbishop. Alexander Sample from Marquette, Mich., is taking over the reins from Archbishop John Vlazny, who is retiring.

Archbishop Alexander K. Sample

Archbishop Alexander K. Sample

Kristian Foden-Vencil

Archdiocese staff welcomed Sample at a meeting on Tuesday. But not everyone is happy with the choice. 

Sample is known for his emphasis on vocations and the catechism. But that doesn’t mean he’s old fashioned. He’s on Facebook and announced his move to Portland on Twitter

“Of course I loved watching it getting re-Tweeted everywhere and people commenting,” he said.

Sample said social medi needs to play a significant role in what he calls the new evangelization.

He said up to 25 percent of people in Marquette were Catholic, whereas in Portland the rate is more like 12 percent.  

“Some might look at the small percentage and say, oh, that’s a tough area to go into to be the Catholic Archbishop,” Sample said. “I kind of see it as the opposite. I see it as a real challenge.” 

Archbishop Alexander K. Sample

Archbishop Alexander K. Sample

Kristian Foden-Vencil

Sample’s staff applauded his remarks.   

But the group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests is not happy with Sample’s promotion. The group says he took no real steps to warn families about eight priests in Marquette. Spokeswoman Barbara Dorris said those priests were “credibly accused” of molesting children.

“We see no evidence that he took any steps to do outreach to the victim, to encourage witnesses or whistleblowers to come forward, so that these crimes could be fully investigated,” Dorris said.

At the meeting to welcome Sample, he addressed the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, saying he’s had a lot of experience listening and talking to victims. 

“We have worked very hard to put in place measures that will protect children in the future,” Sample said. “Our safe environment programs, our back room checks, the educational effort that we have done. To reassure people that we are doing everything we can to protect our young people and our children from this happening again.” 

Sample’s mass of installation as archbishop is scheduled for April 2.

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