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Pope clears Lincoln bishop to return to role
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Pope clears Lincoln bishop to return to role

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After taking a medical leave of absence 11 months ago, the bishop of the Diocese of Lincoln has been cleared by the pope to return to his role.

James Conley started his leave last December, announcing he’d been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, chronic insomnia and debilitating tinnitus.

He’d tried, but failed, to overcome the depression and anxiety on his own, he wrote in a letter to the diocese.

“Mental health problems are real health problems. And as with any illness, you cannot fix it yourself; you need the care of others.”

Bishop James Conley

Lincoln Bishop James Conley

His doctors urged him to take time off to rest and to seek medical and psychological treatment.

And in the past year, he wrote, he’s received care from his spiritual director, mental health professionals and medical doctors, along with support and prayers of his family, other bishops, priests, and religious and lay faithful.

“Through their help, I have been able to arrive at a positive path forward with more balance in my life, which, I pray, will allow me to serve the Diocese of Lincoln in a greater way.”

He hoped his own struggles would “help lift the stigma of mental health issues, and show that there is light at the end of the tunnel for those who suffer from mental illness,” he wrote.

Bishop of Lincoln takes leave of absence

Pope Francis authorized Conley to return to his leadership role of the Lincoln Diocese — which serves 90,000 Catholics in more than 130 parishes across southern Nebraska — starting Friday, the diocese said.

Since December, Omaha Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha has served as apostolic administrator for the Lincoln Diocese.

“While my efforts in the diocese have necessarily been somewhat limited during the past 11 months, your kindness to me has been bountiful,” Lucas wrote.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7254 or psalter@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSPeterSalter

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