The Fall General Assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops is nearly ready to begin and the Catholic church leaders will have to decide on a new president who will lead them after some major abortion battles.
Held every three years, the elections produce a president and vice president who speak for the bishops for the next three years — that will cover the re-election bid of pro-abortion President Barack Obama.
The last three years saw the bishops having to instruct voters about voting priorities at a time when electing the first black American president conflicted with the need to protect unborn children and the Catholic Church’s teachings on the importance of pro-life concerns compared with other political issues.
The bishops also had to weigh in on Obama’s appearance at the most recognized Catholic college — the University of Notre Dame — where he attempted to cover up the extent of his abortion promotion.
Later, they were drawn into the national health care debate, which saw them relentlessly press for language stopping taxpayer funding abortion in a health care reform bill they otherwise supported. In the end, they had to call on the carpet lawmakers who voted for the bill, because of its lack of pro-life protections on abortion funding, conscience issues and rationing.
Now, they will elect new leaders chosen from a slate of 10 candidates compiled from nominations by bishops nationwide. The bishops first cast ballots to elect the president and then choose one of the remaining nine for vice president.
For pro-life Catholics, Archbishop Charles Chaput is likely the leading candidate.
He has pulled no punches when it comes to calling pro-abortion politicians and Catholic groups promoting them on the carpet for violating Catholic Church doctrine.
Chaput rebuked pro-abortion Democrats for a party platform exalting abortion.
“Obviously, we have other important issues facing us this fall: the economy, the war in Iraq, immigration justice,” he said. “But we can’t build a healthy society while ignoring the routine and very profitable legalized homicide that goes on every day against America’s unborn children.”
He also took on Catholic Obama apologist and Malta ambassador Douglas Kmiec for calling Obama and his policies pro-life.
And he took on the Catholic Health Association for endorsing the ObamaCare bill and covering up its abortion funding aspects.
But Thomas Peters of American Papist, says Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona presents concerns for pro-lifers.
“I fear all of this progress in promoting vibrant orthodoxy within the bishops conference is threatened by the impending election of Kicanas,” he writes today.
“Bishop Kicanas has a troubling reputation,” Peters explains. “The arch-liberal Father Thomas Reese has described Kicanas as “the leading liberal hope” among the progressive wing of the Church.”
Peters also calls out Kicanas for what he describes as a “cozy” relationship with and praise of pro-abortion politicians, including former Arizona Republican Congressman Jim Kolbe and former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano.
“Not surprisingly, the liberal Catholics at Commonweal Magazine and National Catholic Reporter are adamant supporters of Bishop Kicanas. He is their kind of bishop, indeed probably one of the most liberal bishops in America. And all of this should set off warning alarms for those of us serious about continuing to rebuild orthodoxy in America,” he writes.
Peters’ view is shared by Tim Drake at the National Catholic Register.
Peters adds that Kicanas annoyed pro-life advocates with his response to the Notre Dame scandal and decided to designate three of his diocesan schools as Notre Dame feeders.
The other candidates for the chairman and vice-chairman position include Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans; Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California; Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York; Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville; Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown; Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien of Baltimore; Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit; and Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City.