Pope John Paul II yesterday named Auxiliary Bishop J. Francis Stafford of Baltimore as the new bishop of Memphis.
Stafford, 50, a Baltimore native who was made a bishop in 1976, will succeed the Most Rev. Carroll Dozier, 72, who retired earlier this year because of progressive disability from crippling arthritis.
Stafford, who has been director of Catholic Charities in Baltimore, drew considerable attention with his "live-in" program to get acquainted with that city's inner-city area, his particular responsibility.
Dividing the area into neighborhoods, he spent a week in each, living in a nearby rectory, holding meetings and services each night in different parishes. By day, he made the rounds of places where people worked, climbing in and out of ships anchored in the Port of Baltimore, visiting jails, shops and factories in an effort to understand the problems of people at work.
In his six years as urban vicar, Stafford has became an outspoken advocate for the poor. He has testified before the Baltimore City Council on questions of labor relations and last winter took on the Baltimore Gas and Electic Co. in a partly successful campaign to prevent rate increases, which he said would be disasterous to poor people.
His concern for fair employment practices was focused on the church as well as the commercial world. "He was always reminding us of the obligation of the archdiocese to hire minorities," recalled a former associate, the Rev. John Geany.
Two years ago, Stafford was chosen by his brother bishops as one of the representatives of the U.S. church at the international synod of bishops on family problems held in Rome. He was one of the youngest men ever to represent the hierarchy here at such an important gathering.