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U.S. Catholic Bishops Elect Moderates for 2 Top Posts

November 11, 1986|From Times Wire Services

WASHINGTON — America's Roman Catholic bishops elected a moderate St. Louis archbishop to head their national organization today, with a conservative cardinal finishing second.

The election of Archbishop John L. May, 64, followed the group's tradition of elevating its vice president when the three-year term of the president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops expires.

However, it took the bishops two ballots to elect May, who won 164-90 on the second ballot over Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston.

In the vice presidential election that followed, the bishops elected Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati, a moderate pragmatist, over the more conservative Law by a 159-116 vote. Today's voting had been expected to give at least some indication of how the bishops' national organization is feeling about the last year's crackdown by Pope John Paul II and other church leaders in Rome.

However, May's comments made it clear that he and others in the bishops' organization weren't about to push for any revolt against Vatican authority.

"We are members of the universal Catholic Church," he said at a brief news conference. "We are pledged as bishops to work in unity with the visible symbol of unity who is the Holy Father, the Pope.

"And we will do it, our healing, in that way. There's no other way we can," he said.

Late today, the nearly 300 bishops were going behind closed doors to hear Seattle Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen's side of his dispute with Rome and to decide what, if anything, to do about it.

Hunthausen announced in September that he had been ordered to give up much of his authority to a Vatican-appointed auxiliary bishop. The archbishop had been judged too liberal in such matters as ministry to homosexuals and divorced Catholics.

Bishop's warning, Page 15.

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