BALTIMORE – In a surprise result, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City beat Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago as head of the U.S. bishops’ committee on pro-life activities by a vote of 96-82 during the Tuesday morning elections of the USCCB fall assembly.
The results will likely be viewed by many that the “Francis effect” has yet to take hold fully of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and a rejection of the “consistent ethic of life” methodology, promoted by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, who served as Archbishop of Chicago in the 1980s and ’90s.
Cupich, considered a protege of Francis and the current head of the Chicago archdiocese, is the current standard-bearer of the view, which combines pro-life activism on abortion with other issues such as access to health care and poverty reduction measures.
This is the first time in nearly 40 years the U.S. bishops have chosen not to elect a cardinal as head of the pro-life committee.
This closely watched election has been viewed by many as a referendum on both the conference’s approach to pro-life issues and how it aligns with Francis. Naumann will replace outgoing head of the committee, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York. During his report on the pro-life committee on Monday, Dolan praised Nuamann’s work on the committee and as a board member of Human Life Action.
Naumann’s approach to life issues has long been marked by a specific focus on abortion.