This morning the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, meeting in Baltimore for their annual fall assembly, elected Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky as the conference’s new president. He will begin his three-year term at the conclusion of the bishops’ meeting on Thursday morning, succeeding Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York as conference president.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston was elected vice president of the USCCB; after three rounds of voting he beat out Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput, 147-87.
Archbishop Kurtz has served as vice president of the bishops’ conference since 2010. While it is customary for the vice president to be elected president at the conclusion of the three-year term, it does not always play out that way; Dolan was elected president in 2010 rather than then-vice president Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson.
Archbishop Kurtz, 67, has been archbishop of Louisville since 2007, having served as bishop of Knoxville from 1999-2007. Ordained a priest for the Diocese of Allentown in 1972, he serves on the boards of the Catholic Extension Society and the National Catholic Bioethics Center.
Cardinal DiNardo, 64, has been archbishop of Galveston-Houston since 2006, after serving as bishop of Sioux City, Iowa since 1998 (read J.J. Ziegler’s profile of DiNardo from the August/September 2010 issue of CWR here). Elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007, he became the first cardinal from the American South. For several years he served as chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and last spring he participated in the conclave that elected Pope Francis.
Back in July 2011, Archbishop Kurtz spoke with Jim Graves for CWR about, among other things, the role of the USCCB:
What do you believe is the proper role for the USCCB?
Archbishop Kurtz: Pope John Paul’s 1998 apostolic letter Apostolos Suos tells us that episcopal conferences have a three-fold role. First, they promote unity among the bishops with the Holy Father. This role is important, and underestimated.
At each meeting, for example, the bishops make a Holy Hour and have confessions. To me, that is one of the most important things we do. It fosters unity. It is based on the call to holiness that each of us is called to embrace, especially the bishops in our leadership role. We must support each other in our mission to follow Christ on a path of holiness.
Second, episcopal conferences help diocesan bishops in their pastoral care of the local church. In my work over the past six years on the Initiative on Marriage, for example, much of what I’ve tried to do is to provide material to the local church that can be used in catechetical programs and our Catholic schools.
Third, and most familiar to people, episcopal conferences provide a vehicle for addressing the vital issues of our day. These include respect for human life—advocating for the common good in legislation and regulation to protect the human person from conception to natural death.
Read more of that interview—which covers same-sex marriage, vocations, and the archbishop’s own spiritual life—here.