Three keys to reading the Dolan win at the USCCB

by John L. Allen Jr.

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New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan applauds as U.S. bishops recognize Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, outgoing vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Nov. 16 at the bishops' meeting in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)


Clearly the big Catholic news in America this week is the election of Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, upending the custom that the outgoing vice-president, in this case Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, more or less automatically ascends to the top job.

I wasn’t in Baltimore covering the bishops’ meeting, so I don’t have any insider scoop on the politics of that result. The consensus explanation seems to be that Dolan’s victory signals a broad conservative shift within the conference, perhaps coupled with concern that debate over Kicanas’ role in the Daniel McCormack case in Chicago might mean he would be hobbled by controversy over the sexual abuse crisis.

Without questioning that analysis, I’ll offer three observations about the significance of Dolan’s election.

First, it could be read as an admission by the bishops of something pretty much everyone else on the planet long ago realized: the Catholic church has an image problem.

Read the full report here: Three keys to reading the Dolan win at the USCCB

For more coverage of Archbishop Timothy Dolan's election as head of the U.S. Bishops, see:

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