Knoxville Bishop Becomes Louisville Archbishop

Knoxville (WVLT) - The Louisville Archdiocese has introduced Bishop Joseph Kurtz as their new Archbishop.

Sixty-year-old Joseph Kurtz has been serving as Bishop of Knoxville since 1999.

Kurtz succeeds Archbishop Thomas Kelly, who resigned last year, but remained on the job until the new appointment was made.

Bishop Kurtz says he's ready to continue his work in the Archdiocese.

"I not only am open, but I'm eager. I'm like that little kid who's eager to begin. So I look forward to the opportunity to serve,” Bishop Kurtz said in Louisville.

Bishop Kurtz is credited for holding the Catholic community together here when his predecessor, Bishop O’Connell, made national news amid sexual allegations, which sent shockwaves and grief across East Tennessee.

Through his work, Bishop Kurtz is remembered for helping, healing and outreach.

Volunteer TV’s Liz Tedone joins us now to look back at the past seven years.

Bishop Kurtz has certainly seen this diocese through some difficult times.

He will be missed by his catholic church... As well as area ministers who tell me he made a difference.

Bishop Joseph Kurtz will be remembered for serving the Knoxville Catholic Diocese during critical times.

"His whole attitude I think is summed up in many ways by his Episcopal motto which is: Hope in the Lord,” says Father Vann Johnston, spokesman for the Knoxville Diocese.

And hope was what the Catholic community needed here when it came under the cloud of Kurtz's predecessor, Bishop Anthony O'connell. When sexual allegations about O’Connell made national headlines, Bishop Kurtz persevered with his work in the Knoxville community. And area ministers stood behind him.

"When the criticism was taking place with the catholic priests, we wrote a letter of affirmation to Bishop Kurtz and our catholic friends and stated that we knew that 99.9 percent of priests were wonderful men of God,” says Dr. Larry Fields, pastor of Central Baptist Church Bearden.

Bishop Kurtz is remembered for establishing Christian relationships with area churches.

"A Catholic Bishop recognizes that there's that broader responsibility of being a shepherd to all people. He tried to forge relationships with different leaders in our community," says Father Johnston.

Even other leaders, who might have a different interpretation of the Bible, embraced him.

"I invited him to give a greeting to our two Sunday services here at the Baptist Church and he represented the Roman Catholic Christian faith so well,” says Dr. Fields.

In the past seven years, Bishop Kurtz has grown the diocese to 50,000 members strong, recruited new priests, and developed parishes and schools.

"The Bishop has provided a great vision in preparing us for the future,” adds Fr. Johnson.

Bishop Kurtz is in Louisville and will be back in Knoxville tomorrow morning to officially announce his departure.

He'll be installed as archbishop of the Louisville Diocese August 15th. A possible successor has not yet been named.

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