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Significance of Broglio's election for US Church

  • 14 December 2022
The recent election of Archbishop Timothy Broglio as President of the United States Catholic Bishops’ Conference is significant on many counts. In this article, however, I will examine only three: firstly, the significance of the election for the United States Church; secondly, its significance for the global Church; and thirdly, what significance, if any, it has for the Australian Church.  But, by way of introduction, a few words about the Archbishop himself.

Archbishop Broglio has presided over the Archdiocese of the Military Services in the United States since 2008. From 2001 to 2007 he was the Apostolic Nuncio to the Dominican Republic and Apostolic Delegate to Puerto Rico. Previous to these appointments, from 1990 to 2001, he was a career Vatican diplomat in Rome as personal secretary and an influential aide to the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano. It was during Broglio’s time in Rome that Sodano is reputed to have blocked investigations into the notorious sexual abuser, Father Marcial Maciel Delgado, founder of the religious congregation, the Legionaries of Christ. Broglio has disclaimed any knowledge of those allegations, even though Maciel was outed in 1997.

Contrary to most informed research, Broglio has continued to blame homosexuality for the priestly abuse crisis. He has also supported objections in the military to Covid-19 vaccines on conscience grounds. He has spoken warmly about Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, formerly Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, and subsequently one of the most severe critics of Pope Francis.

His election, then, is significant from a national point of view. It may signify that it is the bishops whose primary allegiance is to the wealthy Catholic businessmen associated with the Republican Party, rather than to Pope Francis, who are still in the majority in the United States Bishops’ Conference. Like his predecessor, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, Archbishop Broglio now presides over a polarized bishops’ conference. Contrary to the conventions and their own expectations, many bishops in prestigious sees have been overlooked by Pope Francis when elevating archbishops to the cardinalitial rank. The election of Archbishop Broglio and his lukewarm support of the concept of synodality indicates that many of the American bishops are unhappy with the direction Pope Francis is taking the Church.

Archbishop Broglio’s election, however, is not only significant in the American context, but it also has significance internationally. He and his colleagues are part of a not inconsiderable global constituency who not only