Thomas Wenski, the new Archbishop of Miami, is no wallflower. He's a Rush Limbaugh-loving social conservative who thinks using condoms is like playing Russian Roulette. He's also a fierce advocate for immigrants and the poor. In short, he's got cojones, whether you agree with him or not.
New Times has been following the archbishop for months as he tries to shake-up the SoFla Church. But even we were surprised at the holy chutzpah on display in Orlando, Wenski's old bishopric.
Apparently, Wenski had his own likeness put into a new stained glass window at the St. James Catholic Cathedral, right next to ol' Jesus Christ himself.
As Bishop of Orlando from 2003 until April of this year, Wenski oversaw the $10 million renovation of the cathedral and must have signed off on the idea. In fact, Wenski will return to St. James tomorrow to personally bless the recently completed project, including the stained glass window with him and J.C.
Orlando Diocese spokeswoman Carol Brinati told the Orlando Sentinel that incorporating images of present-day priests or bishops into Biblical scenes is not uncommon and that the window was not meant to exalt the archbishop.
"It's not that (Wenski) is any more special -- he is just representing us as the people of God, the body of God, before the foot of the cross," Brinati said.
But the archbishop has a history of stepping on toes during his rapid rise up the Church ranks. Wenski, who helped found the Notre Dame d'Haiti Cathedral in Little Haiti, likens himself to a father of the Haitian-American community in Miami and often brags that he speaks Kreyol as well as many Haitians.
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Yet a fierce disdain for condoms led to a fight in the mid Nineties with Larry Pierre, director of the Center for Haitian Studies.
"The guy feels like he must speak for all Haitians," Pierre told New Times. "Not everyone is happy about that."
One New Times reader named Jacques took particular exception to Wenski's inclusion in the stained glass window in Orlando, writing:
All you need to know about this guy is that he has such a huge ego that he put himself in a stained glass window in the renovated cathedral in Orlando ! He also placed there a marble throne (cathedra) that seats two and is higher than the altar. He uses the poor Haitians and Cubans to advance himself. Poor Miami, and poor Bishop Noonan. Mr Wenski, listen to the words of St. Benedict: "Do not aspire to be called Holy, until you truly are."