The bishop's kidney disease is related to Type II diabetes, which he has had since 2000, Feuerherd said. His kidney disease is in the fourth of five stages. That would put his kidney function at 15 to 30 percent, according to George C. Francos, a nephrologist at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
Patients typically start dialysis or receive a kidney transplant in Stage Five, Francos said. Stage Four patients may start dialysis due to other conditions or problems, however.
There is no plan for Galante to get on a transplant list, Feuerherd said.
Galante will continue to supervise the financing, ministry, and education components of the diocese, and will make parish appearances, Feuerherd said.
"This illness has, in God's providence, brought me ever close to you whom I serve and has given me a greater appreciation of what it means to be a bishop," Galante said in his letter.
Galante became the seventh bishop of the diocese on April 30, 2004.
Before that, he was bishop of Beaumont, Texas, then coadjutor bishop of Dallas.
In his first year, Galante toured parishes in the diocese - which includes Cape May, Atlantic, Cumberland, Salem, Gloucester and Camden Counties - and determined that streamlining was inevitable.
He mandated a consolidation that, when complete, will give the parish 70 dioceses, down from 124, church officials said.
Contact staff writer Claudia Vargas at 856-779-3917, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @InqCVargas on Twitter.