Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Catholic Bishops Gather to Elect New Leadership Some with Ties to Western Pa. in Line for Posts

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Catholic Bishops Gather to Elect New Leadership Some with Ties to Western Pa. in Line for Posts

Article excerpt

Several months into the era of a new pope with a flair for disarmingly dramatic pastoral gestures, the nation's Roman Catholic bishops begin meeting in Baltimore today to elect their own new leadership, with several candidates for top positions hailing from Pittsburgh and other parts of Pennsylvania.

This will be the first major gathering of the bishops since many of the headline-making actions of Pope Francis, such as his denunciations of clerical privilege; his literal embrace of the poor; and his interviews with media outlets, both secular and religious, in which he has called for a poorer, more pastoral and less combative church.

The pope, while calling himself a "son of the church" upholding its traditional teachings on sexuality, has said in interviews the church should not be "obsessed" with such battles and that he would not judge someone who is gay but also seeking God and acting in good will.

And yet the American bishops continue to find themselves in what they consider major struggles over religious freedom as they fight an increasingly rear-guard battle against provisions of the Affordable Care Act as well as same-sex marriage -- which Illinois lawmakers voted to legalize, making it the 15th state to do so along with the District of Columbia.

In fact, Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik will interrupt his participation in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops general assembly to return to Pittsburgh for a deposition scheduled Tuesday in the diocese's lawsuit seeking to block the Affordable Care Act's requirement that faith-based social services provide health insurance to employees that would give them access to contraceptives. The lawsuit argues that the law coerces faith-based employers into violating their own religion by providing such access.

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan -- who in 2010 was elected president of the conference without first serving as vice president in defiance of long-standing custom -- is wrapping up his three- year term. …

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