Dolan not yet a cardinal, but a president

So Archbishop Dolan was today elected the next president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

He needed a 50 percent majority and won on the third vote, according to Catholic News Agency. He won out over Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, who had the inside track as vice president since 2010.

Although the VP usually gets the top job, Kicanas has been considered unusually vulnerable. Many conservative Catholics considered him to be too liberal, while others criticized his past handling of sex abuse.

As president, Dolan will be easily the most visible Catholic leader in the U.S. Of course, as archbishop of NY, he was already right up there.

Among other things, Dolan will help set the tone for the church’s position on numerous church/state issues, including how Catholic politicians who go against church teachings should be received by the faithful.

Richard Barnes, executive director of The New York State Catholic Conference, which lobbies in Albany on behalf of Dolan and NY state’s other bishops, issued this statement: “We at the New York State Catholic Conference are thrilled with the election of Archbishop Timothy Dolan as the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The U.S. Bishops made an inspired choice in electing Archbishop Dolan, who we in New York already know as a compassionate shepherd, a gifted preacher and a brilliant historian. The natural joy he exudes in his vocation has been an inspiration to millions of Catholics in the Empire State since his appointment as Archbishop of New York. We know he will bring to the national conference these same great gifts. We are so pleased to be able to share him with the entire country for the next three years.”

UPDATE: More reactions:

Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life: “Both Archbishop Dolan and (VP) Archbishop Kurtz have been unequivocal in their defense of the unborn, which for our ministry is the primary focus. They have welcomed and encouraged the work of Priests for Life, and for that we are grateful.”

The American Jewish Committee’s Rabbi Gary Greenebaum: “Archbishop Dolan’s election is another significant step in furthering the positive and evolving relationship between Catholics and Jews in the United States.”

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.