The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has elected Marywood alumnus Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz (M.S.W. ’76) of Louisville as its next president.
Kurtz, 67, has served as the conference vice president since 2010. He was elected conference president at the conference’s fall assembly in Baltimore Nov. 12. He will serve a three-year term.
The bishops’ conference president plays a significant role in coordinating and leading charitable and social work and education, while providing a public face for the Catholic Church in the U.S.
Kurtz served as Bishop of Knoxville from 1999-2007. He was a priest of the Diocese of Allentown for 27 years, with a special focus in social services, diocesan administration, and parish ministry. He served as the director of the diocese’s Catholic Charities affiliate from 1988 to 1998 and was an executive director of the diocese’s Catholic Social Agency and Family Life Bureau.
He is the vice chancellor of the board of the Catholic Extension Society and an adviser to the Catholic Social Workers National Association, the Archdiocese of Louisville website says. He is on the board of directors of the National Catholic Bioethics Center and on the advisory board to the cause for the canonization of Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen.
The archbishop has previously served as chair of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage and Family Life. He recently co-authored a booklet on the vocation of Christian parenthood and Christian parents’ relationship with their parish. The booklet focuses on a prayer called “The Blessing of the Child in the Womb,” which was drafted by the U.S. bishops’ conference.
Kurtz was born in Mahanoy City, Pa. in 1946. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in divinity from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia. He holds a master’s degree in social work from Marywood University in Scranton.