ANALYSIS: Meet the 4 most influential U.S. Catholic bishops

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sean o'malley

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley celebrates Sunday Mass with other American cardinals at the Pontifical North American College in 2013. Photo by Gregory L. Tracy/The Pilot

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(RNS) Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., was elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, making him the public face of the American hierarchy. But in quieter ways, four other churchmen may wield more influence where it counts: with Pope Francis.

  • Jacqueline

    My vote is cast for Raymond Cardinal Burke. He is the holiest while the others are LIBERALS WITH CAPITAL LETTERS. May you be forever blessed Cardinal Burke. We love you.

  • Father

    I think you missed the most powerful U.S. Bishop – retired Justin Card. Rigali Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia. He was the eighth Archbishop of Philadelphia, having previously served as Archbishop of St. Louis from 1994 to 2003. He was elevated to the cardinalate in 2003 and accepted retirement after turning 75 a little while back.

  • susan

    Sigh… Rev. Thomas Reese… columnist for the National (non)Catholic Reporter… This is the same as trying to get unbiased information on Obama from Jay Carney…..

  • JLM

    Long live Cardinal Burke!

    He is a genuinely holy and orthodox Bishop working to renew the Catholic Church throughout the world and in U.S. in particular.

  • bluesuede

    I don’t think this is about ” most powerful” bishops. I believe it’s about the most “popular” bishops. All bishops are bishops, some have different jobs, but a bishop is just that. All are under one head, the Pope. The cardinals and bishops and so on, have different responsibilities and titles, but to say there are more powerful ones than others and then name the ones that are in the media more often or are popular or unpopular, that’s what this article is really saying.

    Some bishops have made a name for themselves in the media for choosing to depart from Catholic teaching or among their political friends, others have become well liked because they are faithful to the Pope and the teachings of the Catholic Church.
    I have my favorite picks too, not the former.

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  • Joe

    If anybody (including the Holy Father) would Google Donald Wuerl, he would not be on this list much longer.

  • Duane Lamers

    Joe, that’s assuming that everything one learns about Wuerl in the mainstream press is “gospel.” I’m no fan of Wuerl because I think he has failed (like most of his confreres) to meet the challenges of the current federal government administration head-on. However, that does not mean he hasn’t qualities appreciated by Rome and by other bishops.

  • Mike T

    Excellent commentary by all the above!

    Tagging religious leaders as “conservative vs liberal” is imprecise and gives the wrong perspective particularly when speaking of an organization with such a vast history. Words as Liberal vs Conservative are political inclinations/opinions which deal with matters from a horizontal – present time perspective, and conveniently ignore the vertical historic views and teachings. Bishops and religious matters, especially when refering to the Catholic Church and its long history, should be compared not by political opinion, but to concrete matter: their faithfulness to the teachings of the faith as passed down through the ages.

    Orthodoxy versus Heterodoxy is the more proper verbiage.

    Case in point, in politics having an outlook for the poor is generally considered a “liberal” policy…if that were the matter I believe all American Bishops would be considered as such. The issue here is why is the National (non)Catholic REPORTER and not the NC Register being consulted for such an article. Thus, we see the blatant bias of tagging the most faithful Orthodox Bishop with an inappropriate “liberal” slur in calling Bishop Burke an “ARCHconservative”. Hence, the stench of heterodoxy in the NC Reporter is made evident in this article.

    Amazingly not a peep about renown solidly orthodox bishops as Bishop Chaput of Philadelphia or Bishop Lori of Philadelphia !!!

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  • thomachuck

    I object to the assertion that liberally minded people are not worthy of holiness. This is preposterous and the reason why so many are leaving the church. Not only is your mind closed but it is hermetically sealed.

  • Mike T

    …thats Bishop Lori of Baltimore

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  • Othodox

    The problem with many well meaning US Christians today they do not follow a Christ, who loved without boundaries with opened armed compassion. It seems politics has entered the US Roman Catholic Church is confusing constricted politics with religion. Allowing politicians like Paul Ryan to demagogue their exclusion politics making it an acceptable to exclude the poor; Leo Burke, along with Chaput allow themselves to be used by partisan politics mindsets, with a habit of alienating those needing love and the sacraments the most. .

  • C3

    By definition liberally minded people are opposed to holiness. It is preposterous to think otherwise.

  • Tmka

    That’s bad news for Jesus. He was a progressive liberal.