YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

L.A. Priest Is Named Bishop for Utah


Pope John Paul II has named a Los Angeles priest known for his work as a spiritual director as the new Roman Catholic bishop of Salt Lake City. He is the Rev. Msgr. George H. Niederauer, a seminary classmate of Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony.

Niederauer, 58, succeeds the Most Rev. William K. Weigand, who was transferred to Sacramento last November. Mahony, a longtime friend, will ordain Niederauer as the eighth bishop of Salt Lake City on Jan. 25.

Representing a minority faith in an overwhelmingly Mormon state, Bishop-elect Niederauer said at a news conference in Salt Lake City that he intends to pursue ecumenical programs.

There are 72,300 Catholics in Utah, about half of whom are Latino, compared to 1.4 million Mormons, according to figures from the two churches.

Mahony said Niederauer is "aptly suited," as a scholar and spiritual theologian, to build on the dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Niederauer said his first priority would be to provide spiritual leadership in the diocese of Salt Lake City, which covers the entire state of Utah and has 93 priests and 160 men and women in religious orders.

"He knows the value of having priests who take seriously their spiritual lives and who live out their priestly commitments through a deep prayer life," Mahony said.

Niederauer was ordained to the priesthood in 1962 and since 1993 has served as co-director of the House of Prayer for Priests in Los Angeles.

Born and reared in Los Angeles, Niederauer graduated from St. Anthony's High School in Long Beach, earned a doctorate in English literature from USC and joined the faculty of St. John's Seminary College in Camarillo in 1965. From 1987 until 1992, he was rector of St. John's Seminary.

In 1984, on the recommendation of his fellow priests and the archbishop, Niederauer was given the honorary title of "chaplain to His Holiness" by John Paul. Four years later he was named a "prelate of honor to His Holiness."

Los Angeles Times Articles