In a surprise vote, affected by bloggers and "campaign" calls to other bishops, U.S. Roman Catholic bishops have broken with tradition as they elected a new leader. NPR reported the story this morning:
Vote by Catholic Bishops Breaks Tradition
From NPR online
HAGERTY: Well, one thing . . . is that the church wants to be leaders in the culture wars. After the sex abuse scandal in 2002, the bishops kind of went into this defensive crouch, where they kept a pretty low profile. But that began to change a few years ago, when they elected the outgoing president, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago.
George was really, really assertive. You probably remember his role in the health care debate. Under his leadership, the bishops pressured the House to change the language of the health care bill, because they were worried about federal money being used for abortions. And they basically, Steve, forced the House to rewrite the law.
. . .
Kicanas's problems actually began last week, when some bloggers began writing that he was tainted by the sex abuse scandal. They say that Kicanas ordained a priest who later went on to abuse boys. And they said that Kicanas knew about the man's proclivities. He says he didn't. But over the past few days, conservative activists began sending faxes and leaving voice mails for bishops, urging them to vote against Kicanas.
INSKEEP: This sounds like the equivalent of a last minute political attack ad.
HAGERTY: That's right. Really, I don't think that the sex abuse scandal was what hurt Kicanas. I think really what the issue was, was that they didn't like his style and ideology. They considered him a moderate and not a culture warrior. And it seems that the bishops wanted someone more aggressive on hot button issues like same sex marriage and abortion.