In the wake of the confusing meeting in October, the American bishops are taking no chances with next year’s conclusion to the two-part marriage summit. They have sent a strong message, electing a solidly conservative team of bishops to represent the U.S. Church.
The president and vice president of the U.S. Bishops Conference, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville and Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, both with impeccable orthodox credentials, were a shoe-in for the team of four. Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput, perhaps the strongest conservative voice in the U.S. episcopate, was also selected, joined by his protégé, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, a member of Opus Dei.
The October summit sent mixed signals to Catholics around the world, due to a botched mid-summit message that seemed to question Catholic doctrine regarding the morality of homosexual relations and extramarital sex, and a media-driven narrative of liberal pope versus conservative bishops.
Now the U.S. bishops have taken matters into their own hands, leaving no room for doubt regarding where they stand.
Two alternates were also elected: Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, a staunch advocate of traditional marriage, and Archbishop-designate Blase Cupich, the lone progressive of the bunch, who will become Archbishop of Chicago on November 18.
At least two other American bishops will likely attend next October’s synod: Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Washington’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl. The two cardinals are on the synod planning committee and thus will likely be present.
Many bishops seemed caught by surprise with the synod’s peculiar methodology, and those familiar with Vatican bureaucracy carried the day. The U.S. bishops seem to be gearing up for a different scenario in the important conclusion to the marriage summit in 2015.