Baltimore, Md., Nov 12, 2019 / 09:50 am (CNA).- Members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) elected six new chairmen on Nov. 12 at their Fall General Assembly in Baltimore. The Board of Directors for Catholic Relief Services was also elected.
Bishop George Murry, S.J. of Youngstown, Ohio was elected chairman of the Committee on Religious Liberty after a tied vote against Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami. Per USCCB bylaws, in the event of a tie, the position goes to the older bishop. At nearly 71, Murry is nearly two years older than Wenski, who recently turned 69. Murry was thus declared the victor.
Unlike the other five chairs, Murry will immediately take the helm of the committee, as Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville had resigned from the position in July due to illness.
On Nov. 11, the first day of the assembly, Kurtz underwent surgery for bladder cancer. The following day, immediately before the elections, outgoing USCCB President Cardinal Daniel DiNardo informed the bishops that he had spoken to Kurtz and that he was out of surgery.
Prior to the election for the chairman of the religious liberty committee, the bishops agreed by a voice vote to limit the term of the incoming chairman to just one year, to finish Kurtz’s original term. This was done to avoid an imbalance of committee elections.
Murry is eligible to be elected to a full three-year term at next year’s Fall General Assembly.
Five other committees elected a new leader, who will assume the role of chairman at next year’s Fall General Assembly. Until then, they will be known as the chairman-elect of the committee.
Bishop James Johnston, Jr. of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, was elected as chairman-elect of the Committee on the Protection of Children and Young people, with a vote of 167 to 77. He defeated Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of the Diocese of Jefferson City.
Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee was elected as chairman-elect of the Committee on Canonical Affairs, defeating Bishop Mark Bartchak of Altoona-Johnstown by a vote of 144 to 97.
Next, Bishop David Talley of Memphis was elected as chairman-elect of the Committee on Ecumenism, besting Bishop Steven Lopes of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter by a vote of 123 to 114.
Bishop Andrew Cozzens, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, was elected as chairman-elect of the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis. He defeated Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane by a vote of 151 to 88.
Bishop David Malloy of Rockford, Ill., was elected as chairman-elect of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, garnering 140 votes to Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento’s 101.
Following the election of USCCB committee leadership, three members of the Board of Directors for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) were elected from a slate of seven candidates. Bishop Gregory Mansour, a Maronite bishop of the Maronite Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn and outgoing chairman of the CRS, told the bishops that the board of directors should be diverse in both makeup and episcopal location of clergy.
Bishops who serve on the CRS board are requested to be open to traveling to countries served by CRS programs, said Mansour, and to develop relationships with clergy overseas.
Bishops Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, and Anthony B. Taylor of Little Rock received the most votes and were elected to the board of directors.