Washington DC, November 12, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The strongly pro-life and pro-family U.S. archbishop who successfully spearheaded the new rite of blessing for unborn children was elected today as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, who has served as vice president of USCCB since 2010, has been a vocal advocate for defending true marriage and protecting unborn life. 

While acting as the chairman of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage in 2010, Archbishop Kurtz, 67, praised the New Jersey state Senate’s vote to preserve the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, calling the fight for traditional marriage “one of the premier social justice issues of our time.” 

As the chairman of the bishops’ marriage committee, Kurtz has also opposed the federal Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), stating in a 2010 letter to Congress that the proposed law would pose serious danger to marriage, religious liberty, privacy, the right to speak the truth about homosexuality in the public square, the rights of employers to act “consistent with that truth,” and the right of individuals to associate freely as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 

When Kentucky proposed in 2011 to merge a Catholic health system with a public hospital, stating that the merged entity would have to offer sterilization and abortion, Archbishop Kurtz demanded that the church’s “moral and social teaching” on medical care be given precedence. “We do not believe, for example, that the destruction of the child in the womb serves mothers, children, or families, and we do not see this as a legitimate healthcare service,” he stated in the archdiocesan newspaper, The Record. 

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The archbishop was the moving force behind the 2012 Vatican-approved blessing for children in the womb that was written to encourage parish prayers for and recognition of the precious gift of the child in the womb, and to foster respect for human life within society. 

Archbishop Kurtz, elected to a three-year term, succeeds Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York. Kurtz was elected president on the first ballot with 125 out of about 235 votes (53 percent), stated the USCCB in a press release

The archbishop will take the helm of a conference of bishops that is becoming more vocal in its opposition to signature policies pushed by the Obama administration, including the HHS mandate forcing funding of contraception, ENDA, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) funding of abortion. 

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston was elected USCCB vice president, succeeding Archbishop Kurtz. 

Judie Brown, co-founder of American Life League, the nation's oldest Catholic prolife group, said in a statement that her group offers “prayers and support” to Archbishop Kurtz. 

“He has a reputation as placing abortion, euthanasia, and other challenges to protecting the dignity of the human person at the forefront of his priorities as a teacher and shepherd,” she said. “The fact that His Holiness Benedict XVI appointed this prelate encourages us.
 
 

“With his experience in social programs, we hope that Archbishop Kurtz will take the reins of social justice programs at USCCB to advance this important work of the Church.  His leadership in this area will assure that social justice is not separated from social morality.”