As all bishops in the Roman Catholic Church are required, Bishop Denis J. Madden submitted his resignation to the pope when he turned 75 March 8, 2015.
A few months later, the Vatican responded that his resignation had been accepted “nunc pro tunc,” a Latin phrase meaning “now for then” – an indication that his resignation was accepted conditionally while the Archdiocese of Baltimore awaited the appointment of new auxiliary bishops.
It would be almost 20 months before Pope Francis appointed new bishops for the archdiocese and Bishop Madden could formally “retire” Dec. 5, 2016. Even so, the ever-smiling Bishop Madden is not really retired.
Archbishop William E. Lori asked him to remain a vicar general of the archdiocese and to serve as urban vicar, acting as the archbishop’s representative for parishes in Baltimore City.
“Each of the vicars will be working closely with the parishes on the pastorate plan,” Bishop Madden said.
He will continue to lead prayer walks in the city to help communities pray at places where violence has occurred.
The bishop keeps his office on the northwest corner of the seventh floor of the Catholic Center, looking out over the city he has served so well.
He will also continue to celebrate the sacrament of confirmation in many parishes. Last fall, without other auxiliary bishops, Bishop Madden conducted most of the confirmations in the archdiocese. This year, with two additional auxiliaries, the load will be spread out among them.
Bishop Madden left behind one job: he stepped down as interim rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary when Father James Boric began ministry as the Baltimore Basilica’s new rector.
“It was a privilege to be at the basilica, but I felt – and the archbishop did too – that the basilica needed someone fully devoted to that,” he said.
He added that he had the feeling that he was stretched thin as Neumann Vicar, covering the city and Baltimore and Harford counties, in addition to serving the basilica parish.
“You need to spend time with each one of those things,” he said. “At least now I have a fighting chance.”
Karen Mesaris, Bishop Madden’s administrative assistant, said he is as busy as ever, adding, “People believe he has more free time, so they keep asking him to do more things.”
She noted that in his role as co-chairman of the U.S. Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue, he is receiving many requests to speak at events commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, precipitated by the distribution of the “95 Theses” by Martin Luther in October 1517.
He also remains involved on the U.S. bishops’ committee on interreligious affairs and works with the Vatican on the Anglican-Catholic Dialogue.