BALTIMORE — In a move seen as an endorsement of St. John Paul II’s “culture of life” approach, the U.S. bishops Tuesday elected Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, as chairman of the conference’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
The bishops also elected a conference secretary and the chairs of five additional committees Nov. 14 during their plenary assembly in Baltimore. Board members for Catholic Relief Services were elected, as well.
Archbishop Naumann won the pro-life committee with 96 votes, or 54%. The other candidate, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, garnered 82 votes or 46%. The committee has customarily been overseen by a cardinal.
Archbishop Naumann, who was already a member of the pro-life committee, has challenged pro-choice Catholic politicians, spearheaded efforts to restrict abortion in Kansas, and prioritized abortion in his teaching ministry.
As a young priest, he oversaw the pro-life office of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Under his leadership, the archdiocese began the Project Rachel ministry, a post-abortion healing ministry. He also worked to support pregnancy centers and homes for mothers and children.
Cardinal Cupich has also spoken directly about the moral issue of abortion and strongly criticized politicians whom he believes take “pro-choice advocacy” too far. But he has contextualized these efforts in the memory of “seamless garment” approach of the late Chicago Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.
In the vote for conference secretary, Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit won with 52%, ahead of Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City’s 48%.
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, was elected chair of the religious-liberty committee with 57% of the vote to Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee’s 43%.
The chairman-elect of the Communications Committee is Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, who garnered 116 votes to Bishop John Barres of Rockville Centre, New York’s 70 votes.
Bishop Nelson Perez of Cleveland was elected chair of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church with 57% to Bishop Shelton Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana’s 43%.
For the Committee on Doctrine, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, was elected as chair with 54% of the vote ahead of Bishop Daniel Thomas of Toledo, Ohio’s 46%.
Bishop Joseph Cistone of Saginaw, Michigan, was elected chair of the Collections Committee by 66% to Archbishop Michael Jackels of Dubuque, Iowa’s 34%.
The bishops also elected six members of the board of directors for Catholic Relief Services: Bishop Felipe Estevez of St. Augustine, Florida; Bishop Fabre; Archbishop Bernard Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis; Bishop Rhoades; Bishop Oscar Solis of Salt Lake City; and Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami.