Archbishop Kurtz requests prayers for cancer treatment

Catholic News Service

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville said he has been diagnosed with bladder and prostate cancer and will undergo an extended treatment plan.

The archbishop made the announcement July 10 in an online post published by The Record, the archdiocesan newspaper.

Archbishop Kurtz, 72, said he had been experiencing “some health issues” in recent months and that the cancer was discovered during a series of medical tests and hospitalizations.

The type of bladder cancer the archbishop has is the most common.

Archbishop Kurtz also said he was grateful for the work of Dr. Dan George, chief oncologist at the Duke Cancer Institute and his team in Durham, N.C.

“I feel well, and with the encouragement of Dr. George, I have remained active during this time,” the statement continued. “While the doctor gives me good cause for optimism, there are always dangers and unexpected issues that can arise during cancer treatment, so I ask for your continued prayers.”

He acknowledged that he would miss opportunities to visit parishes in the coming weeks and pledged to offer prayers for the people of the archdiocese. “Please keep me in yours,” he added.

Archbishop Kurtz is to undergo treatment at the Duke University Cancer Institute in North Carolina and will remain in North Carolina for the duration of his treatment. The archbishop said he will remain in regular contact with Father Martin Linebach, archdiocesan vicar general, and Dr. Brian Reynolds, archdiocesan chancellor, to guarantee that proper pastoral leadership and care is provided within the Archdiocese of Louisville.

Archbishop Kurtz was appointed archbishop of the Archdiocese of Louisville by Pope Benedict XVI on June 12, 2007. He was installed in the Louisville Archdiocese in August 2007 after serving for more than seven years as the bishop of Knoxville. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Allentown, Pa., in 1972.

Archbishop Kurtz was appointed the bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville on Oct. 26, 1999, and he was installed on Dec. 8, 1999.

He served as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2013 to 2016 and has chaired the bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty.

Bishop Richard F. Stika said he is requesting prayers for Archbishop Kurtz, who disclosed in a letter to fellow bishops July 10 that he has been diagnosed with urothelial carcinoma in his bladder and prostate and will take part in a treatment plan that includes immunotherapy and chemotherapy for at least 12 weeks.

“I am requesting that all of the faithful of the Diocese of Knoxville join me in prayer for Archbishop Kurtz as he begins his treatment for cancer. In addition to being a colleague, Archbishop Kurtz is a good friend, and his leadership of the Catholic Church in East Tennessee for eight years helped shape this diocese prior to my arrival. Please pray for Archbishop Kurtz and his team of medical professionals in the weeks and months ahead,” Bishop Stika said.

In a statement to the Archdiocese of Louisville announcing his illness, Archbishop Kurtz said:

“… I would like to share some news about my health . . . Over the past few months, I have had some health issues that have resulted in medical tests and hospitalizations, and I can now confirm the diagnosis and the treatment plan. I have been diagnosed with urothelial carcinoma in my bladder and prostate and will take part in a treatment plan that includes immunotherapy and chemotherapy for at least 12 weeks. I am very grateful to Dr. Dan George, chief oncologist of the Duke University Cancer Institute, and his team, who will administer and oversee this treatment. At the end of the treatment, I will have surgery to have my bladder and prostate removed. . . .

“In order to facilitate this therapy regimen and deal with any side effects, I will remain in North Carolina during the entire length of the treatment. During this time, I will be in regular contact with Father Martin Linebach, vicar general, and Dr. Brian Reynolds, chancellor, in order to ensure that proper pastoral leadership and care is provided within the Archdiocese. I also have been in touch with Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Papal Nuncio to the United States, and he is supportive of the plan I have developed.

“Needless to say, I will miss the many opportunities I have to visit parishes and talk with so many of you at upcoming events this summer and fall. You will be in my prayers. Please keep me in yours.”

Bishop Stika requested that everyone in the Diocese of Knoxville join him in prayer for Archbishop Kurtz.

“I am requesting a weekly Mass be celebrated for his restored health in every parish and institution until Nov. 1, as well as to include something in your bulletins and websites with this diagnosis. Also please include him in your Sunday and weekday petitions,” Bishop Stika told diocesan clergy.

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