The archbishop has been a staunch defender of religious-freedom protections for those serving in the military.
BALTIMORE, Md. — Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, was elected Tuesday to head the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for the next three years in a vote of 138-99.
Archbishop Broglio will be taking the role after serving for three years as secretary of the conference.
Archbishop Broglio was viewed as a likely candidate for the role after he was nearly elected to serve as vice president for the USCCB in 2019 but lost a runoff election to Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron. The USCCB vice president usually goes on to serve in the role of president, but Archbishop Vigneron is ineligible for the role of president due to the fact that he would reach the retirement age of 75 before the term expires in 2025.
The new president serves a three-year term. Already, several known, high-profile challenges await Archbishop Broglio. These include the first session of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome Oct. 4-29, 2023; a national eucharistic congress in Indianapolis in June 2024, the synod’s concluding session in October 2024, and the U.S. presidential election in November 2024.
Archbishop Broglio, 70, was born in 1951 in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, where he attended St. Ignatius High School. He received a bachelor’s degree in the classics from Boston College and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in sacred theology and a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Cleveland in 1977. After serving as an associate pastor at St. Margaret Mary parish in Euclid, Ohio, for two years, he returned to Rome and studied at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, joining the Vatican Diplomatic Corps in 1983. He served as secretary of the apostolic nunciature in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, for four years and then in Asunción, Paraguay, for three years.
From 1990 to 2001,Archbishop Broglio served as a personal secretary to Pope John Paul II’s former secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano. He may face questions about his past work with Sodano in light of the allegations that the recently deceased cardinal covered up sexual abuse by Legionaries of Christ founder Marcial Maciel, former U.S. cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and others.
In 2001, he was named apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic and apostolic delegate to Puerto Rico and was ordained as an archbishop by Pope John Paul II. He was installed as the fourth archbishop of the Military Services, USA, in 2008 and has served in that role for 14 years.
Archbishop Broglio told EWTN News in Depth in May 2021 that serving the needs of the men and women in the U.S. military has been a “very enriching and rewarding ministry.” He also pointed out that the military “remains the largest single source of vocations to the priesthood in the United States today.”
He has been a defender of religious-freedom protections for those serving in the military. Last year, he spoke out against mandating military personnel to receive the COVID-19 vaccine against their conscience.
“No one should be forced to receive a COVID-19 vaccine if it would violate the sanctity of his or her conscience,” he said in a statement at the time. “The denial of religious accommodations, or punitive or adverse personnel actions taken against those who raise earnest, conscience-based objections, would be contrary to federal law and morally reprehensible.”
He also voiced concerns for the religious-freedom rights of military chaplains in 2010 during the repeal of the Clinton administration’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy against soldiers’ public declarations of their sexual orientations.
“There is an agenda to force everyone to accept as normal and positive behavior that is contrary to the moral norms of many religions, including the Catholic Church,” he told CNA at the time. “While the armed forces will never oblige a priest or minister to act in an official capacity contrary to his or her religious beliefs, there is the danger that teaching objective moral precepts or seeking to form youngsters in the faith could be misconstrued as intolerance. Then, indeed, freedom of religion would be compromised.”
Archbishop Broglio is vice chairman and chancellor of Catholic Distance University and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Catholic Bioethics Center. He also serves as chairman of the Communications Committee for the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
This is a developing story.
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