US Bishops Conference elects new leader

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz

Returning to a tradition they broke three years ago, the US bishops yesterday elected as their new president the sitting vice-president of the Bishops' Conference, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, reports NCR Online.

The bishops elected Archbishop Kurtz on the first ballot Monday by a 53 percent majority: 125 votes of the 236 cast. The next closest prelate in the running was Galveston-Houston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, who received 25 votes. Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput received 20 votes.

Following Archbishop Kurtz's election, the election of the Bishops' vice-president entered into a third ballot runoff between Archbishop Chaput and Caridnal DiNardo. The Texas Cardinal won, receiving 63 percent on that ballot: 147 votes to Chaput's 87.

Tuesday's election means the Kentucky Archbishop takes the reins of the Bishops' Conference from New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who has led the conference for the last three years. The formal handover occurs Thursday afternoon at the end of the Bishops' annual assembly, being held this week in Baltimore.

Archbishop Kurtz takes over the key role, in which he will act as the public face and voice of the nation's some 445 active and retired bishops as the prelates and the wider Catholic population are adjusting to the new tone and emphases of Pope Francis.

Caridnal Dolan was elected as the Bishops' president in 2010 over the Bishops' then vice-president, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz. Caridnal Dolan's election was the first time in the modern history of the conference that a sitting vice-president on the presidential ballot was not elected president.

FULL COVERAGE

Archbishop Kurtz elected head of US Bishops' Conference (NCR)

Archbishop Kurtz elected president of US bishops' conference (CNA)

US bishops adjust to Francis by choosing pragmatic leaders (Vatican Insider)

 Apostolic nuncio tells USCCB bishops should be pastoral, not ideological (Commonweal)

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