We could all pray for our United States bishops who will meet in Baltimore from Monday through Thursday next week. They will elect a new president and leaders of six of their twenty permanent committees. Catholic are wondering if they will be softened by the less confrontational stand of Pope Francis in his opposition to abortion, contraception, and gay marriage.
Since it’s founding in 1966 the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Conference had elected a new president every three years, and fourteen times in a row they elected the bishop who had been vice president for the previous three years. However, in 2010 they passed over Archbishop Gerald Kikanus of Tuscan Arizona, instead choosing Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York.
Seemingly, a majority of bishops felt that Archbishop Kikanus would not go along with their opposition to the Affordable Health Care Act. As the rector of Chicago’s seminary, Kikanus had been promoted to the episcopacy by Cardinal Joseph Bernadin, who used Our Lord’s “seamless Garment” as a metaphor for our not highlighting opposition to just one or two moral issues.
Back in the nineties Sidney Simmons, an attorney from St. Paul’s Riverside, and the director of their R.C.I.A., donated two weeks a year to serve as a member of the Advisory Committee that checked over committee reports to be submitted to the full Conference. Archbishop Kikanus, who worked in the same sub-group as Sidney, saw to it that Sidney was elected as chairman of the sixty member Advisory Committee.
The progressive bishops who were outvoted in 2010 now feel they are closer to the mind of Pope Francis. One of them, St. Petersburg’s Bishop Robert Lynch, is quoted as saying the vote to pass over Archbishop Kikanus had left him, “heart broken, mortified and embarrassed.”
If you can’t trust liberals, pray that God will not let them do any harm.