NEW YORK – A few months after Bishop Paul Bradley publicized that he hadn’t yet found reason to believe the Diocese of Steubenville needed to merge with another diocese to survive, his tenure as its apostolic administrator has been brought to an abrupt end.

In a letter Bradley sent to the clergy and faithful of the Diocese of Steubenville, published by the diocese on June 14, Bradley wrote that Pope Francis has informed him that his service in the role of apostolic administrator has been completed.

“As the discernment process continues to move forward in regard to the future of the Diocese of Steubenville, the Holy Father has informed me that my service as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese has been completed, and thanked me for my leadership over these last nine months,” Bradley said.

Bishop Edward Lohse of Kalamazoo will take over as the new apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Steubenville, effective June 14, according to an announcement from the diocese.

“I thank Bishop Bradley for his wonderful pastoral outreach to the people of the Diocese of Steubenville, and I look forward to meeting the clergy, religious, and faithful of the diocese,” Lohse said in a statement.

Bradley, 78, who is bishop emeritus of Kalamazoo, took over as apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Steubenville last September. He replaced Bishop Jeffrey Monforton, who after questionable handling of his interest and exploration in merging the Diocese of Steubenville with the Diocese of Columbus was reassigned to the Archdiocese of Detroit to serve as an auxiliary bishop.

Merger talks were more or less tabled after swift backlash from local priests and laity led the U.S. Bishops’ Conference to table a vote on the merger at their November 2022 general assembly. Merger talks didn’t reemerge until December 2023, when Bradley, then the apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Steubenville, and Bishop Earl Fernandes of Columbus, issued a joint statement that the merger talks had resumed at the request of the Cardinal Christophe Pierre, the papal envoy to the United States.

In the ensuing months, Bradley and Fernandes were transparent about the meetings that were taking place and the topics being discussed. Then, on January 31, Bradley told Crux that “while there are some who think that the Diocese of Steubenville is not able to survive, that is not what I’ve found so far.”

Bradley went on to say that he’s found a diocese that is “vibrant, and active, and alive.”

Bradley learned of Pope Francis’s decision to remove him from the Diocese of Steubenville this week, and as he alluded to in his statement, it wasn’t his decision. Neither Bradley or Pierre could be reached by Crux for comment.

In his letter to the clergy and the faithful, Bradley said the last nine months leading the Diocese of Steubenville “have been a great blessing.”

“I am so very grateful to the Holy Father for giving me the privilege of serving as the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Steubenville for these many months, and for getting to know the wonderful priests, deacons, Religious women and men, and Lay Faithful of this very special diocese.”

The latest news on the merger talks was March 20, when Bradley and Fernandes announced that they, with their diocesan leadership teams, submitted a summary of findings on how both dioceses could be affected by a potential merger to Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati, and Pierre.

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