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Bishop Foys resigns from Diocese of Covington; successor named

Diocese of Covington
Posted at 8:32 AM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-14 07:13:44-04

COVINGTON, Ky. — The Vatican on Tuesday accepted the resignation of Bishop Roger Foys from the Diocese of Covington and named a new bishop-elect to the diocese.

"The Holy Father has appointed Msgr. John C. Iffert, of the clergy of the diocese of Belleville, (Ill.)... as bishop of Covington," a statement from the Vatican reads.

Foys served as the bishop of the diocese since 2002. The 75-year-old said he's waited a long time for his successor.

"I felt sort of like John the Baptist, you know," he said. "When he was waiting with everyone else for the Redeemer, the Messiah who would set them free."

Watch Tuesday morning's full news conference here:

Diocese of Covington introduces Bishop-elect John C. Iffert

Iffert has served as the administrator of various churches in Illinois as well as the vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Diocese of Belleville since 2020. This will be his first appointment as bishop.

RELATED: Bishop: Diocese of Covington felt 'bullied and pressured' into condemning students too quickly

"Nineteen years he has served you here in the Diocese of Covington," said Iffert. "Faithfully, deeply, diligently and with a pastor's heart for those who are suffering."

Laughter punctuated the announcement Tuesday as the Catholic Church announced Foys' retirement and Iffert as his replacement. Foys' legacy, though, like that of many bishops, includes the role he played in priest sex abuse scandals in the area.

RELATED: Diocese of Covington names 90 with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor

Robert Stenberg, an attorney who represented abuse survivors in a class-action lawsuit against the Diocese, said in 2019 that Foys played a critical role in the ground-breaking $90 million settlement.

"The Diocese of Covington, Bishop Foys and their attorney cooperated completely with us in resolving this case and compensating victims," said Steinberg.

Foys ultimately refused to publish the names of accused priests until 2020, however, much later than many dioceses in the U.S.

In addition, longtime Covington lay leader Dr. Matthew Connolly said he doesn't believe Foys focused enough on pastoral care for abuse survivors.

"Did I like what he accomplished?" said Connolly. "No. No. I think he took us in a direction that doesn't help."

Connolly, who said he's a former member of a committee that reviewed victims' claims, believes Foys is sincere and deserves to be acknowledged for his 19 years of service as a bishop.

"He served, he tried," said Connolly. "And I'm comfortable with that."

Following the announcement of his resignation, Foys is the third-longest-serving bishop in the Diocese of Covington.