New man in charge at bishops’ spring meeting

(CNS photo/Stephen Brashear)

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Leading his first meeting as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York didn’t take long to place his distinctive mark on the proceedings.

“Let the record show I’m five minutes ahead of where Cardinal (Francis E.) George (of Chicago) would have been at this time,” Archbishop Dolan joked an hour into the meeting, referring to his predecessor as USCCB president.

The spring general assembly in Bellevue, near Seattle, did proceed at a brisk clip, with the bishops completing their public business an hour early the first day, June 15, requiring them to go into executive session. Among the actions the second day were votes approving a statement on physician-assisted suicide and revisions to the charter adressing child abuse.

Besides leading the meeting, Archbishop Dolan also served as its cheerleader, telling nearly every bishop who spoke that he had done a great job.

Asked about the brisk pace in an on-air interview with Telecare, the television station of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y., which was broadcasting the meeting nationwide, the jovial Archbishop Dolan made another joke.

“There are coffee breaks to get to, and lunches, and dinners,” said the New York prelate who often makes fun of his own weight. “You can’t let the meeting get in the way.”

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