When Bishop Richard Lennon first came to Cleveland 10 years ago, he seemed to be leaving one mess behind and inheriting another.
For three years he had served as the Apostolic Administrator to the Archdiocese of Boston. Cardinal Bernard Law had just resigned there at the height of the church’s sexual abuse crisis.
In Cleveland, Lennon found himself facing even more pushback from the community, after being forced to make tough decisions when it came to closing down dozens of parishes.
To the media, he often seemed distant and granted interviews only rarely.
Last year, he spoke to Russ Mitchell about Pope Francis’s U.S. visit and liberal leanings.
“Most of what I have heard I would embrace without hesitation,” he said at the time. “Some of the things I am reflecting on also.”
But his health took a turn and earlier this year, he underwent an emergency heart procedure.
Then on Wednesday, he announced that he is suffering from vascular dementia.
Those who know Bishop Lennon say the legacy he leaves behind is not one the public would likely ever know about.
“He listened very well, he had a heart for kids,” said Bruce Battista, a deacon. “He did many things that this camera will never see or ever saw behind the scenes.”
The mandatory retirement age for a bishop is 75. Lennon is 69.
There is no word on when he may say his final mass at Saint John’s Cathedral, though sources say he plans to stay in Northeast Ohio.