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US bishops choose Naumann over Cupich for pro-life committee

14 November 2017 | by Michael Sean Winters

Bishops choose Archbishop Joseph Naumann to lead their Pro-Life Activities Committee

In a stunning move, the U.S. bishops broke their tradition of selecting a cardinal to lead their Pro-Life Activities Committee and chose Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas over Cardinal Blase Cupich.

The vote was 96 to 82. Given Cupich’s closeness to Pope Francis, the selection was seen an indication of how many bishops oppose the style of episcopal leadership he is advocating and which Cupich embodies, focusing on dialogue and encounter. Naumann is seen as a representative of the culture warrior style of episcopal leadership.

 In the selection of a new conference Secretary, which brings membership in the executive committee, Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City lost to Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron by a vote of 88 to 96. Vigneron’s selection takes effect immediately.

 The Committee on Doctrine will be led by Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend who garnered 110 votes to the 95 votes cast for Bishop Daniel Thomas of Toledo. The race for chair of the Communications Committee pitted Bishop John Barres of Rockville Center against Bishop Michael Burbridge of Arlington: Burbrdge won with 116 votes to Barres’ 70 votes. The National Collections Committee contest was won by Bishop Joseph Cistone of Saginaw over Archbishop Michael Jackels of Dubuque. The vote was 124 to 65. The Committee on Cultural Diversity saw Bishop Nelson Perez of Cleveland facing off against Bishop Shelton Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux and Bishop Perez won on a vote of 107 to 77. All of these elected will serve as chair-elect for one year and take over the chairmanship next year.

 At their June meeting the bishops voted to make their ad hoc Committee on Religious Liberty a standing Committee. They elected Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, the immediate past president of the conference, to serve as the first chair of the permanent committee. He defeated Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee by a vote of 113 to 86. Kurtz will assume leadership of the committee immediately.  

Earlier, on Sunday, speaking to the US bishops, gathered for the opening Mass of their plenary assembly last Sunday, the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, reminded the bishops of the Church’s historic role in defending immigrants. After a long debate on Monday, the bishops decided against issuing a special message on immigration, although they did urge Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, who serves as president of the conference, to release of a statement on the matter.

The plenary on Monday and Tuesday marked the centenary of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Delivering his homily on Sunday at the Basilica of the National Shrine in Baltimore, Cardinal Parolin invoked this past “as the Church in your country seeks to provide healing, comfort, and hope to new waves of migrants and refugees”.

Following an afternoon of vigorous discussion on how best to respond to President Donald Trump’s policies on immigration Cardinal DiNardo indicated that it could take several days for a statement to be drafted, and that he would like to work on it with Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, head of the special working group on immigration, and Bishop Joe Vasqeuz of Austin, Texas, head of the Committee on Migration.

Pic: Archbishop Joseph Naumann by Scott Maentz

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