Well, that not exactly what they are playing (“Holy God we Praise Thy Name” perhaps?) but that is what many are feeling. Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York is the new President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, a post he won in a surprise upset victory over its outgoing vice-president, Gerald Kicanas of Tucson. Since the former vice-president has almost invariably been elected president, this is indeed a surprise, perhaps even a change in the way the bishops will be doing things.
Kicanas had been receiving bad press in the last couple of weeks especially, because of his promotion to ordination of a seminarian who turned out to be a molester. Then there was his “liberal” reputation. He broke with many of the other bishops who criticized Notre Dame for giving an award to our pro-abortion president. So there were things to criticize. One good thing about Kicanas: he really showed up a reporter who tried to implicate the future Pope Benedict in the sex abuse scandal (I blogged about that here).
Did the bad publicity contribute to Kicanas’ loss? Is there a more “conservative” wind blowing for the bishops? Some commentators on the left want to make it seem as though this is a change toward de-emphasizing social justice issues like immigration in favor of ones “conservatives” supposedly favor, like abortion. Both Dolan and the new vice-president, Abp. Kurtz of Louisville KY, rejected this idea in their press conference.
Dolan will hold the presidency for the next three years, and I expect it will be a lively three years.
Oh and one more good reason to rejoice at a Dolan victory. His intellectual gifts as a Church historian and his spirituality are matched by his speaking ability. Here he speaks of Dorothy Day and while musing on her life, points out where most other “peace and justice Catholics” go wrong.