Getting to know the new VP

The surprise results of this morning’s elections for USCCB president have had the blogging community in uproar. Most Catholics are already familiar with the new president, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York City; but his vice president — Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville — hasn’t had quite as high a profile (though surely that’s about to change).

In 2007, crisis conducted a survey of the Catholic dioceses in America, using a variety of metrics to determine their relative health. Knoxville, TN — Archbishop Kurtz’s diocese at the time — came out on top, and then-Bishop Kurtz was kind enough to write a brief reflection on a bishop’s role in helping his diocese to flourish. His comments shed some light on his managing style, which will surely come in handy in his new position.

On encouraging vocations:

Our response to the Lord’s call to priestly vocations takes center stage. It has been said of vocations that young people will give their lives for an exclamation point, but they will not give them for a question mark. Two factors here are the active relationship of the bishop and key priests with the seminarians and potential candidates, and the general positive attitude within the diocese.


On a bishop’s relationship with his priests:

Central is the unity of the presbyterate with the bishop. Such unity, always seen more clearly by those coming from the outside, is nonetheless very evident to me. A good bishop needs to be both a brother and father to his priests. We have an atmosphere in Knoxville that encourages both. It is reciprocal: A bishop needs love, courage, and trust in God; priests need the good faith and fidelity to receive a bishop well. . . . [D]ay-to-day direct contact with priests and seminarians is extraordinarily beneficial.

Our congratulations to the new vice president and prayers for his success in the term ahead!

Margaret Cabaniss


Margaret Cabaniss is the former managing editor of Crisis Magazine. She joined Crisis in 2002 after graduating from the University of the South with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She now blogs at