In his first press conference after being elected president of the U.S. bishops conference, Archbishop Timothy Broglio said Tuesday that he’d be “happy” to meet with President Joe Biden, a Catholic whose position on abortion, transgenderism, and gay marriage is sharply at odds with Church teaching.
In a brief press conference, Broglio, who is the prelate for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, also spoke on the connection between homosexuality and the clergy sex abuse crisis, and his relationship with Pope Francis as a “brother bishop,” among other topics.
“Well, certainly I will look forward to any occasion that I have to dialogue with political leaders in the United States. I don't see my role as primarily political, but if there is any way to insert the Gospel into all aspects of life in our country, I certainly will not miss any occasion to do that,” Broglio said to reporters in Baltimore, where the U.S. bishops are having their annual fall assembly.
“I know that there has been a great desire on the part of the outgoing presidency [of Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles] to meet with the president and that hasn't been possible. If it's possible in the future, I’ll certainly take advantage of that opportunity,” he added.
“So you want to meet with the president?” a reporter asked.
“If he wants to meet with me, I'll be happy to meet with him,” Broglio responded.
Answering more questions, Broglio stood by prior comments he made about homosexuality being related to the sexual abuse crisis.
One reporter asked Broglio about a 2018 email he sent in which he said that "There is no question that the crisis of sexual abuse by priests in the USA is directly related to homosexuality." The contents of the email were reported by military.com.
The reporter asked about Broglio’s thoughts on the topic now.
“I think it is certainly an aspect of the sexual crisis that can't be denied,” he said. “And that's certainly not to point a finger at anyone, but I think it would be naive to suggest that there's no relationship between the two.”
Another reporter asked Broglio his thoughts on why he was elected, including what he would say to those “who would characterize [his] election as showing different priorities from those of Pope Francis.”
“I think you'd probably have to ask my brother bishops why they elected me because I really don't know the answer to that question,” Broglio answered.
“And as far as I know, I'm certainly in communion with Pope Francis, as part of a universal Church. We're brother bishops, we certainly know each other. I'm not aware that this necessarily indicates some dissonance with Pope Francis,” he added.
Broglio, 70, was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Cleveland in 1977. From 1990 to 2001, he served as a personal secretary to Pope John Paul II’s former secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.
In 2001, Broglio was named apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic and apostolic delegate to Puerto Rico and was ordained as an archbishop by Pope John Paul II. He was installed as the fourth archbishop of the Military Services, USA, in 2008 and has served in that role for 14 years.
He has been a defender of religious-freedom protections for those serving in the military. Last year, he spoke out against mandating military personnel to receive the COVID-19 vaccine against their conscience.
Broglio will begin his three-year term as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops at the conclusion of the bishops' assembly on Thursday.