Assembled in Baltimore, Maryland, for their annual meeting, the Catholic bishops of the United States elected Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. This election was unprecedented, as the bishops traditionally choose the previous vice president to serve as head of the conference. It was widely assumed that Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson Az would have taken the spot, having held the vice-presidency since 2007. Criticism of Bishop Kicanas' handling of a case of sex abuse on the part of a candidate to the priesthoodis emerged in the days before the meeting, which began on November 15.
Since a 50 percent majority is required for a candidate to be elected, the November 16 vote was taken three times before a president was chosen. The main contenders of the 10 candidates for presidency were Archbishop Dolan and Bishop Kicanas. By the third round, the affable New York prelate garnered 128 votes - 54 percent, and Bishop Kicanas received 111 votes - 46 percent.
The vote for the vice president of the USCCB was also divided. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville KY was elected to the position with 147 votes over Archbishop Charles Chaput. of Denver CO who received 91.
William Donohue of the Catholic League - an advocacy group based in New York City - applauded the bishops' selection of Dolan, who will preside for the next three years. Said Donohue, "Wat a splendid choice! Archbishop Dolan possesses all the right skills to lead the bishops' conference: he is brilliant, courageous and diplomatic. He'll get the job done and will not disappoint practicing Catholics who are loyal to the Magisterium. He's already won the support of New Yorkers—now Catholics across the nation will come to love him as well. "
Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, also reacted to Archbishop Dolan's election. Said Barnes, “We at the New York State Catholic Conference are thrilled with the election of Archbishop Timothy Dolan as the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The U.S. Bishops made an inspired choice in electing Archbishop Dolan, who we in New York already know as a compassionate shepherd, a gifted preacher and a brilliant historian. The natural joy he exudes in his vocation has been an inspiration to millions of Catholics in the Empire State since his appointment as Archbishop of New York. We know he will bring to the national conference these same great gifts. We are so pleased to be able to share him with the entire country for the next three years.”