Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville
on Tuesday was overwhelmingly elected to lead the nation's Roman
As the new president of the U.S.
Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Kurtz serves as the church's
national spokesman in the United States.
After his election, Kurtz, 67, vowed to
follow Pope Francis' call to move the church away from divisive
social issues such as gay marriage, contraception and abortion.
Francis, elected last March, has said that he wants the church to
emphasize mercy and compassion over cultural issues.
“We are very much in solidarity with
Pope Francis,” Kurtz said during a news conference.
“The challenge for us in welcoming
people and most especially serving people who are voiceless and
vulnerable spans right across the board from our work in immigration
[to] our work in serving people who are poor,” he added.
However, Kurtz has taken strong stands
while serving in Louisville, including praying with protesters
outside an abortion clinic and donating archdiocese money to repeal a
law in Maine allowing gay couples to marry.
Kurtz's predecessor, New York Cardinal
Timothy Dolan, strongly opposed passage of New York's marriage
equality bill and recently
blamed the church's obsession with gay rights on the media.
The election took place a day after
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco endorsed a federal
bill which seeks a religious exemption for opponents of same-sex
marriage as a possible “remedy” to the Supreme Court's ruling
knocking down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and
passage in the Senate of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act
Salvatore Cordileone backs federal protections for gay marriage