"50 Bishops"... and Then Some
Over the last week -- and, clearly, without any mention here -- a piece your narrator penned for last Saturday's edition of The Tablet made the rounds to a surprising degree, its lede running as follows:
A quarter of America's bishops have said that the most important issue for voters in the forthcoming presidential election is abortion....For the record, besides being the standard (much-)longer-than-needed, the first graf I submitted was a bit more nuanced. In their wisdom, however, my editors decided to play up a figure not included in the draft, but an offhand estimate subsequently provided at their request. As some of you know by now, the number in question was 50 -- in other words, over a quarter of the heads of the nation's 197 dioceses.
All told, the number of active US bishops hovers somewhere around 250, auxiliaries and coadjutors included. In essence, though, the head-count that counts is that of the ordinaries -- each diocesan bishop being the chief teacher, lead pastor and vicar of Christ among his fold (and, for practical purposes, the church voice most looked to in each market to set the tone).
The piece barely appeared before requests started coming in for a list with citations, so in light of those, a fairly comprehensive attempt appears below. Before heading into it, however, for clarity's sake, a couple things need to be noted.
First -- as one would expect given the heated, divisive nature of the campaign's home stretch and the focus on the "Catholic vote" -- attempts have been made to either minimize or maximize the degree of motu proprio episcopal pronouncements on the election. In that light, the standard applied here was a fairly straight-forward one: individual or joint statements issued in the period of the general election campaign (Labor Day onward) that unmistakably highlight the life issues as paramount in the context of Faithful Citizenship and the coming vote. (The spates of corrections following Speaker Pelosi and Sen. Biden's Meet the Press appearances tackled a separate matter -- i.e. clarifying church teaching after specific, egregious, nationally-televised misinterpretations, as opposed to electoral guidance -- and, ergo, do not appear.) As you'll see, the approaches taken are extraordinarily diverse, but each has that one clear thread in common.
Second -- not every statement out making the rounds has made the cut. No doubt, one-in-four is an impressive number, but even beyond it, this election season has seen a new high-watermark of the US bench taking the Faithful Citizenship text into its own hands, even though its latest edition (first introduced for the 1976 presidential elections and revisited every four years since) was, in a first, debated and approved by all the bishops at last year's November meeting instead of its prior publication by the conference's Administrative Committee alone.
Bottom line: despite the 97.8% approval from the body of bishops last November in Baltimore, for every Chaput there's a Steib, a Zavala for every Vasa, a Dolan for every Duca, a Kinney for every Egan, a Sheridan for every Sartain, and so on... and so on... and on even moreso.
In other words, they all -- well, all but three -- voted for it... but going deep into the bench, you'll find that the implications of the text find broad, divergent swaths of interpretation and emphasis. This is, after all, a "Flock of Shepherds," and even for all the words swirling around -- historic as it is -- a majority has still decided to keep its counsel through these days, choosing instead to let what it already approved as a body to speak for itself.
Third, and lastly, it should come as no surprise that elements of the discourse have used the moment to reair the standard disputes over the nature and authority of episcopal conferences and, so it seems, every other slab of time-honored ecclesiastical red-meat under the sun (because, well, if it doesn't come out at election time, when does it ever?). Yet even so, beyond the dioceses the church's authoritative position remains the one reaffirmed by two of its top leaders (speaking for all the rest) last week -- namely, "that Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship is the teaching that has been approved by the body of bishops of the United States."
Except in Scranton.
With that, here's the slate -- cardinals and archbishops in order of seniority and (because this isn't Canada) all others alphabetically by name of diocese.
As more emerge, the following will be continually updated:
- Cardinal Francis George OMI of Chicago (USCCB president; 15 Oct)
- Cardinal Edward Egan of New York (23 Oct)
- Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia (USCCB Pro-Life Chair; 23 Oct, 12 Sept; 1 Nov)
- Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston (22 Aug)
- Archbishop Daniel Buechlein OSB of Indianapolis (3 Oct)
- Archbishop Eusebius Beltran of Oklahoma City (5 Oct)
- Archbishop Elden Curtiss of Omaha (30 Oct)
- Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe (8 Oct)
- Archbishop Charles Chaput OFM Cap. of Denver (18 Oct)
- Archbishop Alfred Hughes of New Orleans (11 Oct)
- Archbishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee (28 Sep)
- Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta (30 Oct)
- Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas (8 Sept)
- Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio (10 Oct)
- Archbishop John Nienstedt of Saint Paul and Minneapolis (19 Oct)
- Bishop Patrick Zurek of Amarillo (24 Sept)
- Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington (30 Oct)
- Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker (16 Oct)
- Bishop Robert Baker of Birmingham (20 Oct)
- Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport (USCCB Doctrine Chair; 28 Sept)
- Bishop Joseph Galante of Camden (6 Oct)
- Bishop Peter Jugis of Charlotte (26 Oct)
- Bishop Richard Lennon of Cleveland (31 Oct)
- Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs (17 Oct)
- Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas (8 Oct)
- Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo (23 Oct; 8 Oct)
- Bishop Kevin Vann of Fort Worth (8 Oct)
- Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay (17 Oct)
- Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu (20 Oct)
- Bishop Jerome Listecki of La Crosse
- Bishop William Higi of Lafayette in Indiana (28 Sept)
- Bishop Glen John Provost of Lake Charles (7 Oct)
- Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing (22 Oct)
- Bishop Ronald Gainer of Lexington (30 Oct)
- Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison (16 Oct)
- Bishop Alexander Sample of Marquette (17 Oct)
- Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson (15 Oct)
- Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix (18 Sept)
- Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh (28 Oct)
- Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence (29 Oct)
- Bishop Michael Burbidge of Raleigh (26 Oct)
- Bishop Thomas Doran of Rockford (24 Oct)
- Bishop Robert Carlson of Saginaw (28 Oct)
- Bishop Paul Coakley of Salina (17 Oct)
- Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton (30 Sept; 19 Oct)
- Bishop Walker Nickless of Sioux City (4 Sept; 23 Oct)
- Bishop Timothy McDonnell of Springfield in Massachusetts (3 Oct)
- Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo (3 Oct)
- Bishop J. Vann Johnston of Springfield-Cape Girardeau (3 Oct; 26 Sept)
- Bishop Robert Hermann, archdiocesan administrator of St Louis (17 Oct; 24 Oct)
- Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St Joseph (17 Oct; 8 Sept)
- Bishop Paul Swain of Sioux Falls (2 Oct)
- Bishop Gerald Barbarito of Palm Beach (24 Oct)
- Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice in Florida (26 Oct)
- Bishop Michael Jackels of Wichita (24 Oct)
- Bishop Bernard Harrington of Winona (2 Oct)
- Bishop Robert McManus of Worcester (24 Oct)
- Bishops of Florida (7 diocesans, 2 auxiliaries; 15 Sep)
- Bishops of Kansas (4 diocesans; 2006 statement reissued 15 Aug 2008)
- Bishops of New York State (8 diocesans, 11 auxiliaries; 1 Oct)
- Bishops of Pennsylvania (7 diocesans, 6 auxiliaries; 10 Oct)
- Bishops of Virginia (2 diocesans; 1 Oct)
PHOTO: AP/Steve Ruark