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U.S. bishops elect Cardinal Dolan to head pro-life efforts

Lisa Bourne Lisa Bourne Follow Lisa

BALTIMORE, MD -- New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan was elected chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities November 11 by his fellow bishops.

The bishops are gathering in Baltimore this week for their fall General Assembly, which coincided with the 225th anniversary of the Baltimore Archdiocese, the first diocese in the United States, on November 6.

Cardinal Dolan was elected in a 55-45%, vote, 127-102, over Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez.

The cardinal succeeds Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley as chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities. He begins his role as chairman in the New Year.

Though in many cases he has been a strong defender of the Church’s pro-life teachings, the cardinal has also come under fire from pro-life leaders a number of times.

He has strongly opposed the Obama administration’s HHS Mandate, however he has opposed withholding Communion from pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

“That inflammatory issue is in the past,” he told Crux earlier this year, adding that most bishops don’t think it is something for which they should “go to the mat.”

Earlier in the year he said that it was abortion advocates that were obsessed with the issue and not pro-life supporters, speaking in opposition to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed abortion-expanding Women’s Equality Act.

In 2012, the cardinal entertained President Obama, a strident abortion supporter at the annual New York Catholic Charities Al Smith Dinner, granting him a platform to speak mere weeks before the election.

Cardinal Dolan’s election as head of the bishops’ pro-life committee comes on the heels of the U.S. mid-term political elections, where the Republicans made large gains at all governmental levels and saw some significant pro-life victories.

It could be a critical time as the shift of power at the federal level raises the stakes in the opposition to President Barack Obama’s controversial HHS Mandate, the battle to repeal Obamacare, and Republican efforts to pass pro-life legislation.

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