BALTIMORE -- New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan was as surprised as anyone that he was elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Nov. 16.
"I'm surprised, I'm honored, I'm flattered and a tad intimidated," Dolan told Catholic News Service shortly after being elected in an unprecedented departure from the USCCB's normal tradition of electing the conference vice president to the presidency.
He said he had no idea what was behind the bishops' 128-111 third-ballot vote to make him president instead of current vice president Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz.
The election of Archbishop Dolan marks the first time since the bishops' conference was reorganized into its current form in 1966 that a sitting vice president who sought the presidency did not win the election. In two elections, circumstances dictated that the vice president did not rise to lead the conference.
In 1974, St. Paul-Minneapolis Coadjutor Archbishop Leo C. Byrne, vice president since 1971, died less than a month before his term ended.