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US Bishops elect new leader

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has elected Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, in Washington state, is its president for the next three years.

The election took place on Monday local time, at the end of the bishops' meeting in Washington DC. Bishop Skylstad (pictured left) succeeds Bishop Wilton Gregory (pictured right) of Belleville, Illinois, who has guided the country's bishops through the clergy sex abuse crisis of the past three years, widely regarded as the worst crisis the US Catholic Church has had to face.

Bishop Skylstad, 70, was vice president of the bishops' conference under Bishop Gregory. He was elected from among 10 presidential nominees on the first ballot, receiving 120 votes out of 232 cast.

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago was elected vice president of the conference. Under conference rules, the remaining nine presidential candidates run for vice president; the cardinal was elected on the third ballot with 118 votes out of 230 cast.

Less than two weeks before his election, Bishop Skylstad announced, after a collapse of mediation efforts with clergy sexual abuse victims in the Spokane Diocese, that the diocese would enter Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy protection proceedings by the end of this month to deal as fairly as possible with all abuse victims. That decision -- making Spokane the third US diocese to announce bankruptcy proceedings, led to wide media speculation that Bishop Skylstad might withdraw from candidacy or not be elected, despite the bishops' usual practice of electing their vice president to the presidency.

An experienced ecumenist and articulator of Catholic social policy, Bishop Skylstad is also known for his outreach to Hispanic migrant farmworkers.

Meanwhile Bishop Gregory gave his final address as president. He apologised for the mistakes he admitted he has made while leading the Church through the lergy sex abuse crisis.

Bishop Skylstad elected president of US bishops' conference (Catholic News Service 15/11/04)
Bishop Gregory apologizes for errors, urges unity as steps down as USCCB president (Catholic News Agency 16/11/04)

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops | Bishop William Skylstad Elected President of Catholic Bishops
Bishop William Stephen Skylstad (
Catholic Bishops, After a Divisive Debate, Choose a New Leader (New York Times 16/11/04)
Bishops' New Leader From Troubled Diocese (The Guardian/Associated Press 16/11/04)
US Bishops elect new leader (Online Catholics 17/11/04)
Bishop Wenski Succeeds Orlando Prelate (Zenit 15/11/04)
US Conference Elects Bishop Skylstad President (Zenit 15/11/04)
Bishops' new leader hails from scandal-ridden diocese (Associated Press/Salt Lake Tribune 16/11/04)
When diocese can't keep a church open, that church should be offered to laity (Spirit Daily)
Catholic bishops discuss issues, both present and past (News Center 16 14/11/04)
Bishop Skylstad elected president of US bishops' conference (National Catholic Reporter/Catholic News Service 17/11/04)
Foster communion and mission, nuncio tells US bishops (National Catholic Reporter/Catholic News Service 17/11/04)
Bishop Gregory reflects on three turbulent years and changes to come (National Catholic Reporter/Catholic News Service 17/11/04)
US bishops call on US to push forward Middle East peace process (Catholic News Service 15/11/04)
Bishops approve plan to limit conference priorities, projects (Catholic News Service 15/11/04)
US Catholics appoint head bishop (BBC 15/11/04)
New head of US bishops faces scrutiny (Boston Globe 16/11/04)
Skylstad picked to lead bishops (Washington Times 16/11/04)
US Bishops Pick Leader From Bankrupt Diocese (Washington Post 16/11/04)
US Bishops, Still Facing Abuse Scandal, Name Leader (Reuters 15/11/04)
Bishop Skylstad new President of US Bishops conference; Cardinal George is VP (Catholic News Agency 15/11/04)
Gregory apologizes for missteps in sex abuse scandal (St Louis Post-Dispatch 15/11/04)
John L. Allen: Post election water-cooler talk (National Catholic Reporter 12/11/04)
John L. Allen: A conversation with Archbishop William Levada (National Catholic Reporter 12/11/04)
Council discusses post-synodal apostolic exhortation (Vatican Information Service 12/11/04)
New head bishop is from troubled Spokane diocese (USA Today 15/11/04)
'Church is in dire need of renewal,' says Cardinal Dulles (Catholic News Service/Jesuits USA 11/11/04)

17 Nov 2004