It’s Dolan vs. O’Brien (and 8 others) for Bishops Conference presidency

It will be a different kind of Election Day (or weekend) when the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference elects new officers Nov. 15-18.

The bishops will elect a new president and vice president from a slate of 10 candidates, including one Archbishop Timothy Dolan from New York and Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, the top guy in Baltimore who happens to hail from these parts.

O’Brien was once considered at top candidate to become archbishop of New York. Instead, he got Baltimore and a couple of other guys were named to NY. That’s him in White Plains in 2005, when he was still archbishop for the military services.

Now O’Brien and Dolan will square off head-to-head (sort of), along with some other big names, like the always interesting Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver.

It’s always struck me as odd that the Bishops Conference holds semi-public elections. I think it’s fair to say that the Catholic Church likes to keep its’ bishops in the best possible light. But after the elections are held, several candidates can’t help coming out as, well…losers.

Many other organizations, of course, happen to choose their leaders the same way.

You wonder what kind of politicking goes on.

How does it all work? According to a release: “Conference by-laws provide that the election of the president will take place first from among the list of 10 candidates. Following the election of the president with at least 50 percent of the vote, the vice president is elected from the remaining nine candidates. In either election, if a candidate fails to win over 50 percent of the vote, a second vote is taken. If a third vote is necessary, only two names appear on the ballot.”

The bishops will also elect chairmen of six committees. In each case, there are two nominees. So one will win and one…won’t.

In the race to head the committee on International Justice and Peace, O’Brien will face off against Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn.

The bishops will meet at the Baltimore Waterfront Marriott. Sessions.

He’s still Archbishop Dolan to you

It’s official: Archbishop Dolan will have to wait.

Pope Benedict this morning named 22 new cardinals, including the two Americans who were considered to be favorites: Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, head of the Vatican’s highest court, and Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington.

Dolan is on the outside looking in because Cardinal Egan is only 78 and is eligible to vote for a pope until he turns 80. The Vatican does not like to have two cardinals from the same diocese voting in a conclave.

Wuerl has been archbishop of D.C. since 2006, but had to wait for his red hat because his predecessor, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, didn’t turn 80 until July of this year.

Dolan should be a sure thing to see red in the next cardinal class, probably in two or three years.

He’s only 60, so he should have plenty of time to wear his eventual red vestments.

I didn’t see any predictions that Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore, a New Yorker with Westchester roots, would get a red hat. He’s already 71, but his predecessor, retired Cardinal William Keeler, will turn 80 next March.

You would think that O’Brien could have been slipped into this class. But some think that the archbishop of Baltimore may no longer be an automatic cardinal, with the country’s Catholic base redistributing itself, largely to the Southwest.

Anyway, Cardinal Egan released the following statement this morning:


It was with the greatest of pleasure that I learned today that His Excellency, The Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, and His Excellency, The Most Reverend Raymond L. Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, are to be raised to the dignity of the Cardinalate by our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.  I have known Archbishop Wuerl since his seminary days when I was serving on the faculty of the Pontifical North American College.  He was an outstanding seminarian and has proved to be a most zealous and dedicated priest, Bishop, and Archbishop.  Archbishop Burke I have also known for many years.  When he was doing his doctoral work in Canon Law in Rome, I was a Judge of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota and had many occasions to discuss with him Canon Law and his doctoral dissertation during its preparation.  He is a brilliant canonists and a most devoted Prefect of the Church’s highest tribunal on which I have the honor to serve.  Today I contacted both Archbishop Wuerl and Archbishop Burke to express to each of them my heartfelt congratulations and prayerful best wishes.


The new cardinals will be elevated at a consistory on Nov. 20