USCCB Passes Over “Obama-Lover and Homosexualist” for “Strict Defender of Church Orthodoxy”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted yesterday to make Archbishop Timothy Dolan their next president, departing from USCCB tradition by passing over their current vice president, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson.

The vote is seen as a conservative move, as Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, has a reputation as “a stricter defender of church orthodoxy” and “a genial conservative.” Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, who was elected to the vice presidential seat, is perhaps more vocally conservative than Dolan; he’s made opposition to same-sex marriage his rallying point. Kicanas, on the other hand, is associated with “social justice Catholics”—not a popular association in the Catholic Church these days. As a result, conservative bloggers campaigned against Kicanas, urging Catholics (or anyone) to contact their bishops in the days leading up to the election. A blogger on RenewAmerica sounded the alarm on “A group of homosexual activists claiming to be Catholic” who supported Kicanas. (RenewAmerica is a site which claims to be nondenominational but which publishes writing by a woman who exposes “the Islamic indoctrination of American textbooks and required prayers to Allah.”)

Indeed, Kicanas’s refusal to condemn Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame earned him the approval of many moderate or liberal Catholics. A St. Louis news affiliate also notes that Kicanas “has not denied Communion to any Catholic politicians.”

What the hell has happened to the Catholic Church that a church leader who doesn’t deny communion is suddenly a pinko? The Church has moved so far to the right that it’s acceptable for the anti-gay Catholic columnist mentioned above to claim that gays are infiltrating the U.S. Catholic church—according to him, “the ‘lavender mafia’ pretty much runs the show in many dioceses.”

This claim is a) sadly, untrue and b) offensive. The only gays running the Church are the closeted priests who are ousted as soon as they are revealed to be gay. As for gay parishioners, many have understandably defected to the Episcopal church and other inclusive denominations.

In conclusion, I have nothing against Archbishop Dolan, per se. But I’m disgusted by the conservative smear campaign that labeled Kicanas a homosexualist, and I’m disappointed in the USCCB for taking such claims seriously.

The Catholic Church is an institution with a rich intellectual heritage and a history of service to the most marginalized members of society (which may end if American nuns continue to be persecuted by the guys in charge). It should be ashamed to be associated with sites like RenewAmerica and with political movements that preach fear, exclusion, and bigotry. I have no doubt that many members of the Catholic hierarchy are sickened by the Tea Party movement and, more generally, by the increasingly explicit alliance between the Catholic church and the American far right. Unfortunately, these critics risk censure if they speak up, and they certainly don’t get promoted within the Church. So, in the meantime, the Church applauds bishops who refuse Communion to Democrats. This may be a way to shore up political power for now (the Christian right is nothing if not powerful), but it’s an offense to the spirit in which Jesus broke bread with his disciples. What does “Communion” mean, anyway?

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact

  • jdspears

    Kathleen, you are quite right but sadly this Religious Politics is not restricted to just the Catholic Church, it seems to be a cancer infesting many Christian sects today.


    With regard to the Catholic Church, are we going to have to endure 500 years of  Church Orthodoxy” before it issues a mea culpa?  I sincerely hope not but that seems to be the trend.


    Church Orthodoxy is fine, as long as it is not used to beat the rest of society.

  • crowepps

    Kathleen, you are quite right but sadly this Religious Politics is not restricted to just the Catholic Church, it seems to be a cancer infesting many Christian sects today.

    The type of people who are interested in running for and filling Church positions encompassing Power and Control over others tend to be disproportionately reactionaries because those are precisely the persons who have the most irrational attachment to Power and Control.  ‘Liberal’ Christians in any sect are down doing social welfare work and making accomodations with reality while the ‘Conservatives’ can busy themselves piling up the firewood and agreeing that everyone who isn’t ‘obedient’ to them deserves to burn.


    “Power corrupts.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Lord Acton

     Edited to provide FULL quote, (in reference to Papal Infallibility):

    “I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it. “

  • aligatorhardt

    It is disturbing that Christianity as a whole has lost the ideals of Jesus and the desire to do good works, and replaced those ideals with conquests of spirit and a meanspirited campaign of hatred against anyone who doesn’t unconditionally support the agendas of the church leadership. Do the words of Jesus mean nothing to the church heirarchy? How can such persecution of people make sense to Christians? How can the self serving actions of the church leadership be excused?

    • catseye71352

      When these power-mad egotists find themselves at the Pearly Gates,they going to be in for a rude awakening when Jesus says to them, “Begone from me; I never knew you.”

  • crowepps

    Christianity as a whole downgraded the ideals of Jesus approximately 1700 YEARS ago, right about the time that the whole idea of HAVING a “church leadership” and “church heirarchy” were grafted onto Christ’s message.


    The self-serving actions of the church leadership cannot be excused, and instead as many Christian people as possible need to point out, over and over and over as loudly as possible, that those who CLAIM to be church leaders and to have a direct line to God’s Will represent only themselves.


    I don’t hold out any hope that will actually make a difference, however, since the church seems to attract the fervent and unquestioning support of those persons who are so DESPERATE to escape any responsibility for making their own moral decisions that if someone else will even pretend to be ‘in charge’ of telling them what to do, they will excuse absolutely ANY vile thing done by those ‘spiritual leaders’, including raping children.