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What the USCCB elections suggest about the next three years

As conference president, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese of the Military Services will carry on the work of reckoning with the complexities brought on by a pro-abortion Catholic president.

A bishop's voting device, prayer book and ring are pictured during a Nov. 16, 2022, session of the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has elected a host of new leadership positions this week. Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese of the Military Services has been elected president. Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore has been elected vice president. Archbishop Broglio’s election as president also triggered the election of a new conference secretary. Broglio’s term will be finished now by Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City.

In his new position, which begins at the conclusion of the fall plenary assembly of the bishops’ conference, Archbishop Broglio will lead American bishops for three years. The top responsibilities of the position include fostering fraternity and unity among the body of bishops amid increasing ecclesial polarizations, and serving as the primary liaison with the Holy See on behalf of the American hierarchy.

Broglio’s election was the result only of a third runoff ballot, with 138 votes, opposed to 99 for Archbishop Lori. It was the first time since 1977 that a president and vice president were selected from a blank slate, as outgoing Vice President Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit was ineligible to run for president due to age. (Incidentally, Archbishop Lori also will be ineligible to stand for office in three years, given that he also will reach retirement age mid-term.)

Broglio brings a universal perspective to position him well for this position. A veteran diplomat in service to the Holy See, the Cleveland native came back to the United States as military archbishop in 2008, after having served as apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic. This experience will serve him well in fostering unity across the Church and also with the government and culture.

As military archbishop, Broglio has not been shy about expressing the teachings of the Church in the midst of cultural challenges. He has stood against trends supporting the disintegration of marriage and family, defended religious liberty and shown great pastoral concern for evangelization and catechesis. Broglio also interfaces with the armed forces and federal government on a regular basis.

As conference president, Broglio will carry on Archbishop Jose H. Gomez’s work of reckoning with the complexities brought on by a pro-abortion Catholic president. Although Archbishop Gomez offered to meet with President Joe Biden during the time their tenures in respective offices have overlapped, such a meeting never took place. Broglio has reiterated his openness to meet with Biden. Broglio’s term in office also will see U.S. presidential and congressional elections in 2024. With Biden’s potential candidacy for a second term, this will provide an added layer of complexity to Broglio’s time in office.

On the ecclesial front, Broglio inherits the leadership of bishops who more and more resemble the increasingly polarized and divided Church. Archbishop Gomez, as conference president from 2019-22, has prioritized the need for greater episcopal collegiality and holiness. During his tenure, the U.S. bishops have begun their annual fall plenary assemblies with Eucharistic adoration and prayerful reflection, availability for confessions, and opportunities for fraternal camaraderie. Broglio has a solid legacy of leadership on which to facilitate greater communion among the body of bishops. Broglio will also oversee the completion of the bishops’ National Eucharistic Revival, which has itself become an unfortunate source of discord and contention.

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, the new conference vice president, will work closely alongside Broglio during the next three years. He has served most recently as chairman of the bishops’ committee for pro-life concerns, and in that capacity has been a clear and articulate voice in defense of the unborn and for life at all stages. He has also been called upon for other various leadership positions in the conference during his long tenure as a bishop, including service as one of four bishops who collaborated with the Holy See after the 2002 Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and its subsequent normalization in Church law. This election is not only an appreciation and recognition of his many years of steady service and dedication of the body of bishops, but it also positions Lori to be something of a consensus builder among the bishops — a role he has played in the past.

Interestingly, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R. of Newark — in a 104-130 loss in his bid for conference secretary — was denied the possibility of joining top USCCB leadership. It is highly unusual for a cardinal to lose such a significant election, suggesting that in the minds of bishops that the cardinal is not perceived as a consensus-builder in the conference.

As with outgoing secretary Broglio’s election as president, Coakley’s election positions him to emerge as a frontrunner for conference presidency in three years. In that office Coakley will see to it that the work of the conference remains focused, overseeing the conference’s priorities and plans committee, which steers the overall work of the conference.


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About MIchael R. Heinlein 8 Articles
Michael R. Heinlein is editor of OSV's SimplyCatholic.com and author of a forthcoming biography of Cardinal Francis E. George, OMI.

5 Comments

  1. Name one thing central to the practice of your Catholic faith that was substantially affected by the USCCB in the last 25 years.

    See?

    • Well, how about when the Church in America (including the USCCB?) rolled the dice with Notre Dame President Theodore Hesburgh?

      The model for today’s synodal fluidity came with his membership yesteryear on the (abortionist) Board of the Rockefeller Foundation, whilst delicately abstaining on those agenda items fetid with moral gangrene (not complicit, but not challenging, either). And, the Land o’ Lakes Declaration of autonomy (said to have been penned in part by some now-layman named McCarrick).

      The now-eunuch Catholic University recast as maybe adding something to the mix of modernity, but not standing above or apart, or standing at all to leaven academic inquiry? Said Hesburgh:

      “One may add descriptive adjectives to this or that university, calling it public or private, Catholic or Protestant, British or American, but the university must first and foremost be a university, or else the thing that the qualifiers qualify is something, but not a university” (Hesburgh, ed., “The Challenge and Promise of a Catholic University, 1994; cited in David L. Schindler, RIP, “Heart of the World, Center of the Church,” 1996).
      Enter, stage Left:

      A similar Synodality (!) now within the Church itself (!), wherein the Successors of the Apostles serve “primarily as facilitators” to “combine, aggregate and synthesize” whatever the cat drags in. (Maybe even some added doctrinal nostalgia?) From an incoherent multiversity to a polyhedral but similarly exploitable Church.

      It’s all additive and without deletions, e.g., Germania, and the (literally) open-ended and “welcoming” airbrush. No need, really, to smoke out card-carrying Freemasons literally embedded within the Church. Not while the ostensibly indifferent presuppositions of post- and anti-Christianity are wafting about unchallenged.

      • What’s THIS?
        On my bookshelf I’ve uncovered an AP news release (November 17, 1999) addressing Catholic academia with corrective guidance by the USCCB.

        Yes, but how has this gone? And why is educational synodality exempt from any such possible accountability? Lots of water under the bridge, including Holy-Water blessings in Germania and now Belgium of homosexual liaisons, and scholar-Biden’s personal performance of such a parody-marriage.

        But, giving due credit to the late 20th-century USCCB, the article reads:
        “In a long-pending landmark decision, America’s Roman Catholic bishops agreed overwhelmingly [223-31] today to impose tighter doctrinal controls over the nations 235 church-related colleges and universities [….] The most controversial new rule requires a theologian to obtain a mandate from the local bishop before he or she is allowed to teach at any Catholic campus….”

        There’s even a prediction by the Cardinal Newman Society that the bishops will regularly monitor colleges for conformity with church policy…

  2. So I went to your website, SimplyCatholic, and read the article on Thanksgiving, interesting. Work a look for other CWR readers.

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