NEWSFLASH: US Bishops Elect NYC Archbishop Dolan as President

November 16, 2010

Congratulations to Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York City!  Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville was elected Vice President.  Here is the news, straight off the Associated Press.

US bishops elect NYC archbishop as head in upset

(AP) – 31 minutes ago

BALTIMORE (AP) — In an upset, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan elected president Tuesday of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, defeating a vice president who had been widely expected to win the job.

It is the first time since the 1960s that a sitting vice president was on the ballot for president and lost. It follows protests by some conservative Catholics against the vice president, Tucson Bishop Gerald Kicanas.

Dolan received 54 percent of the vote to 46 percent for Kicanas on the third round of balloting. Kicanas has served as vice president for a three-year term which ends this week.

Dolan’s surprise victory comes at a time when church leaders are divided over how best to uphold Roman Catholic orthodoxy.

A growing number of bishops have taken a more aggressive approach, publicly denying Holy Communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights, warning Catholic voters they should never vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights under any circumstances and reining in prominent dissenters in their dioceses.

Kicanas has not denied Communion to any Catholic politicians and rejected calls to punish the president of the University of Notre Dame for honoring President Barack Obama, who supports abortion rights. Kicanas instead urged bishops and Catholic university presidents to start a discussion about their differences.

Partly because of Kicanas’ approach, he was pilloried in the days leading up to the vote by conservative Catholic bloggers, who urged readers to send protest faxes and leave messages for bishops at the hotel where they are meeting.

Dolan also does not outright deny the sacrament to dissenting Catholic lawmakers, but he is seen as an outspoken defender of church orthodoxy in a style favored by many theological conservatives.

We take exception to their labeling of “some conservative Catholics”  and the originally worded “right-wing Catholic bloggers” if they are referring to us in that category.  [UPDATE: the AP changed the original wording from “right-wing” to “conservative.”]  More accurately, we think they should have said, “It follows protests against the vice president Tuscon Bishop Gerald Kicanas by a groundswell of Catholics from across the country who proudly accept and endorse the teachings of the Catholic Church and want to see those teachings upheld in the public square.”

Whispers in the Loggia called this election a “seismic shift.”

Overturning a half-century of tradition for the bench, the result represents a seismic shift for the leadership of the nation’s largest religious body, and a mandate for a continuance of the outspoken, high-profile leadership shown by Cardinal Francis George over his game-changing tenure at the conference’s helm.

To all who wrote to their bishops and urged them to not vote for Bishop Kicanas, you should be commended for standing up and voicing your views to your pastors!

And to those who wrote about or covered this issue, including Tim Drake at the National Catholic Register, Michael Voris at RealCatholicTV and others, kudos for getting the story out!

And of course, thanks to all readers who wrote  supportive of our modest efforts with this blog to make a difference.  The pundits and conventional wisdom all said the election of Kicanas was basically a foregone conclusion.  Your prayers and efforts–and the intervention of the Holy Spirit–prove that the conventional wisdom need not always prevail.

We will be back tomorrow with more on Boston governance.

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