.- This morning in Baltimore, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) elected Cardinal Francis George as their new president as was anticipated. Cardinal George gained the presidency handily winning 85% of the vote in the first round of voting.
Commenting immediately after Cardinal George’s selection the outgoing president Bishop William Skylstad said, “I think that our applause speaks louder than any words could, congratulations, profound congratulations.”
Once Cardinal George was elected, the bishops moved on to choose the vice president from the remaining field of candidates. According to the rules for voting, the vice president must be chosen by a maximum of three votes, which it came down to.
On the final vote, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tuscon was tapped to be the vice president by a 55% to 45% margin over Bishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee. Kicanas’ election to the number two slot means that barring any unforeseen circumstances, he will become the president in three years.
Unlike past USCCB elections, the prospect of Cardinal George as president has raised some controversy because of comments he made about legislation being proposed for sex abuse cases.
The legislature of Illinois has proposed the suspension of the statute of limitations for clerical sex abuse cases which the cardinal wrote was “not about the safety of children as the sponsor claims, and is clearly, to me at least, about money.” Cardinal George’s remarks echo those made earlier this year by the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.