By WILLIAM H. MARSHNER
November 28, 1974
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB), in balloting that lasted the whole of Tuesday morning, Nov. 19th, has elected Archbishop Joseph L. Bernardin of Cincinnati as president and John Joseph Cardinal Carberry, Archbishop of St. Louis, as vice president. Both terms are for three years.
The new officers replace the outgoing president, John Cardinal Krol of Philadelphia and the recently deceased vice president, Archbishop Leo C. Byrne of St. Paul-Minneapolis.
In the presidential contest, Archbishop Bernardin was from the outset the clear favorite among the ten nominees. On the first ballot, he garnered 116 votes out of a total of 248, just 9 votes short of a majority. His nearest rival, Cardinal Carberry, had 49 votes. The rest were scattered as follows: Archbishop Borders of Baltimore, 2; Cardinal Cooke of New York, 15; Archbishop Donnellan of Atlanta, 22; Archbishop Gerety of Newark, 4; Bishop Guilfoyle of Camden, 9; Cardinal Manning of Los Angeles, 12; Archbishop Quinn of Oklahoma City, 8; and Archbishop Whealon of Hartford, 9. Two ballots were invalid. On the second ballot, votes shifted to the leading contenders. Archbishop Bernardin obtained well over a majority with 143 votes. Cardinal Carberry’s votes grew to 60. Other totals were as follows: Borders, 3; Cooke, 8; Donnellan, 13; Guilfoyle, 3; Manning, 8; Quinn, 5; Whealon, 2.
The vice-presidential contest was a great deal closer, although Cardinal Carberry held a slim lead throughout. Two hundred thirty-four votes were cast on the first ballot, with no candidate anywhere near a majority. The distribution was as follows: Borders, 48; Carberry, 64; Cooke, 7; Donnellan, 36; Gerety, 14; Guilfoyle, 18; Manning; 5; Quinn, 35; Whealon, 7. Again, the second ballot saw a tendency of votes to polarize. Twenty votes shifted to Cardinal Carberry, giving him 84. Twenty- two votes shifted to Archbishop Borders, giving him 70. The third ballot eliminated all but these two contenders. The final tally was Borders 107, Carberry 133.
Most observers agreed that the strong support for Cardinal Carberry represented a desire on the part of the Bishops for a sound balance in the Conference’s officers. Archbishop Bernardin is greatly respected among the Bishops for his administrative competence and experience with National Conference work. Cardinal Carberry, in turn, is admired for his profound spirituality, his sensitivity for Catholic Tradition, and his keen interest in theological questions.
Some secular observers, however, who tend to typecast Bishops along ideological lines, were rather puzzled by these two elections. A woman from the New York Times thought it witty to refer to the new officers as, “the odd couple.”
In addition to the two national officers, seven committee chairmanships were up for election. On Tuesday afternoon, a single ballot produced the following results: Bishop Maurice Dingman of Des Moines became head of the USCC Health Affairs Committee (replacing Bishop Edward Head); Bishop Joseph McNicholas, Auxiliary of St. Louis, became head of the USCC Committee on Social Development and World Peace (replacing Bishop John Dougherty); Cardinal Manning of Los Angeles became head of the NCCB Committee on Missions (replacing Bishop Flavin); Bishop James A. Hickey of Cleveland took control of the NCCB Pastoral Research and Practices Committee (replacing Archbishop Quinn); Bishop Ernest Unterkoefler of Charleston, S.C., took over the NCCB Committee on the Permanent Diaconate (replacing Archbishop Daniel Sheehan); and Bishop John Roach of St. Paul-Minneapolis took over the Committee on Vocations.
The election of Archbishop Bernardin to the presidency created a vacancy in the chairmanship of the USCC Communications Committee. This was filled by a special ballot, electing Bishop Joseph R. Crowley, Auxiliary of Fort Wayne-South Bend.