The American Episcopal Conference has a new president. Mgr. Timothy Broglio, archbishop in the American armed forces for nearly fifteen years and current secretary of the episcopal conference, was elected on Tuesday, November 15, by the bishops gathered in Baltimore for the fall plenary assembly of the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops). The Archbishop of Baltimore, and also supreme chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, Msgr. William Lori, was elected vice-president.
Appointed by John Paul II
The name of Bishop Broglio, 70, was one of ten circulating to replace the Archbishop of Los Angeles, Bishop José Gomez, who has reached the end of his three-year term. Originally from Ohio, in the center of the country, doctor of canon law, the new president of the bishops occupied several positions within the representation of the Vatican abroad (Ivory Coast, Paraguay) before being chosen , in 2001, as Apostolic Nuncio to the Dominican Republic. The same year, he was appointed archbishop by John Paul II.
As soon as it was made public, his election as head of the USCCB was strongly criticized by several victims of sexual violence committed by priests. In question: his links with the former Secretary of State of the Vatican, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, of which he was the private secretary in the 1990s. several churchmen, including Marcial Maciel. Bishop Broglio had defended himself from these criticisms by emphasizing that he had left this position (in 2001) before the “great accusations” emerged against the founder of the Legionaries of Christ.
Contacted in 2018 by the wife of a soldier in Texas shocked by the words of a chaplain on the supposed link between pedophilia and homosexuality, Mgr Broglio had taken up his defense. “There is no doubt: the crisis of sexual abuse perpetrated by priests in the United States is directly linked to homosexuality, he wrote in a note. Ninety percent of the abused are boys 12 or older. It’s not pedophilia anymore. »
Snap, the association of victims of pedophile priests, on Tuesday called on the new president to require dioceses to publish the names of clergy members targeted by a credible accusation of sexual abuse. She also challenged him to institute additional checks on those who have been transferred or dismissed from the clerical state for such acts. “We don’t want excuses, prayers or remorse. None of this is going to protect the children”said Becky Ianni, member of the association’s board of directors.
Support for soldiers refusing to be vaccinated
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Bishop Broglio also drew criticism for supporting soldiers who refused to be vaccinated, at a time when Pope Francis was urging Catholics to be inoculated.
Timothy Broglio takes the lead in a conference fractured between pro and anti-Francois. After the election of Joe Biden in November 2020, a Catholic in favor of access to abortion (“pro-choice”), he had supported a letter from Bishop Gomez in which the outgoing president of the USCCB had criticized the new American president his defense of “policies that advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity”. For months, the bishops had then crossed swords in public over whether to grant communion to “pro-choice” elected officials.
During a press conference following his election, Bishop Broglio said that he would ” happy “ to meet the tenant of the White House. If he goes through with his term, he will lead the USCCB in the 2024 presidential election.