James D. Conley

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The Most Reverend
James D. Conley
Bishop of Lincoln
See Lincoln
Appointed September 14, 2012
In office November 20, 2012
Predecessor Fabian Bruskewitz
Orders
Ordination May 18, 1985
by Eugene John Gerber
Consecration by Charles J. Chaput
Personal details
Born (1955-03-19)March 19, 1955
Kansas City, Missouri
Nationality American
Denomination Roman Catholic
Presbyterian (Previous)
Parents Carl and Betty Conley
Previous post Apostolic Administrator of Denver (2011-2012)
Auxiliary Bishop of Denver (2008-2011)
Titular Bishop of Cissa (2008-2012)
Alma mater University of Kansas
Mount St. Mary's Seminary
Alphonsian Academy
Motto Cor ad Cor Loquitur
(As Heart Speaks to Heart)
Styles of
James D. Conley
Coat of arms of James Douglas Conley.svg
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style Bishop

James Douglas Conley (born March 19, 1955) is the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lincoln in the state of Nebraska in the midwestern United States.

Early life[edit]

Raised in a Presbyterian family,[1] James Conley was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to Carl (d. 2006) and Betty Conley (b. 1923).[2] He has one sister by adoption, Susan (b. 1962). Conley is of Wea Native American descent through his paternal grandmother's family. He and his family moved to Denver, Colorado, in 1957, and to Arvada, Colorado, in 1959.[2]

Conley attended Hoskinson Cottage School in Arvada before moving to Overland Park, Kansas, at age 8. He was a childhood friend and schoolmate of Paul S. Coakley, who became Bishop of Salina in 2004[3] and in 2011 was named Archbishop of Oklahoma City. Conley graduated from Shawnee Mission West High School in 1973, and then entered the University of Kansas (KU); because of his Native American heritage, the Bureau of Indian Affairs paid for a portion of his college education. He studied in KU's Integrated Humanities Program, whose courses on Greek and Roman classics led him to convert to Catholicism on December 6, 1975.[2]

Conley obtained a Bachelor's degree in English literature from KU in 1977, and then worked in construction in Kansas City, Kansas before traveling through Europe.[2] Like Paul Coakley, he also considered a monastic vocation at the Abbey of Notre Dame de Fontgombault in France.[2] Conley returned to the United States in 1978, and worked on a friend's farm near Courtland, Kansas. Following the 1979 visit of Pope John Paul II to the United States, he decided to pursue a vocation to the priesthood and entered St. Pius X Seminary in Erlanger, Kentucky, in 1980.[2] He later studied at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, from where he earned a Master's degree in Divinity in 1985.[2]

Priesthood[edit]

Conley was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Wichita on May 18, 1985,[4] and then served as associate pastor at St. Patrick Church. In 1989, he was sent by Bishop Eugene J. Gerber in to further his studies in Rome, where he earned a licentiate in moral theology from the Alphonsian Academy of the Pontifical Lateran University.[1]

Upon his return to the United States in 1991, Conley became chaplain of the Newman Center at Wichita State University and diocesan director of the Respect Life Office.[1] His parents also converted to Catholicism in 1991, and it was Conley who administered the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation to them.[2]

In 1996, he returned to Rome to serve as an official of the Congregation for Bishops in the Roman Curia.[2] During this period, Conley also served as chaplain at the University of Dallas' Rome campus (1997-2003) and as adjunct instructor of theology at Christendom College's Rome campus (2004-2006).[2] He was raised to the rank of Chaplain of His Holiness by John Paul II on February 9, 2001.[2] Returning to the Diocese of Wichita in 2006, he was named pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church.

Episcopal career[edit]

Auxiliary Bishop of Denver[edit]

On April 10, 2008, Conley was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Denver, Colorado, and titular bishop of Cissa by Pope Benedict XVI.[4] He was consecrated on May 30 by Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., with Bishop Michael Jackels of Wichita and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City serving as co-consecrators, at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.[4] His episcopal motto, "Cor Ad Cor Loquitur (Latin: "Heart Speaks To Heart"), is taken from the motto of English cardinal and fellow Catholic convert John Henry Newman.[2]

In May 2009, Conley wrote a personal letter to the Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C., president of Notre Dame University, to express his opposition to the University's decision to have President Barack Obama deliver its commencement speech and receive an honorary degree.[5] Obama is in favor of legal abortion.

Speaking on health care reform in November 2009, Conley stated that Catholic bishops "have a few simple but important priorities. First, everyone should have access to basic health care, including immigrants...Second, reform should respect the dignity of every person, from conception to natural death... Third, real healthcare reform needs to include explicit, ironclad conscience protections for medical professionals and institutions so that they cannot be forced to violate their moral convictions. Fourth—and this is so obvious it sometimes goes unstated—any reform must be economically realistic and financially sustainable."[6]

Speaking at the Midwest Theological Forum in 2011, Conley said, "I have great love and appreciation for the Tridentine, or ‘extraordinary form’ of the Mass. But I also see how the ordinary form, the Novus Ordo, has nourished and sanctified the spiritual lives of countless souls over the past 40 plus years. And yet something has been lost. Something of the beauty and grandeur of the liturgy. Something of the reverence, the mystery, the sense of the transcendent … the problem is not the Novus Ordo — but the license that people sometimes take in celebrating it. I would add that another big part of the problem has been the translations we’ve been using. There is a banal, pedestrian quality to much of the language."[7] Before the end of the same year 2011, a new more sacral English translation of the Mass was brought into use.

In September 2011, when Charles Chaput was appointed Archbishop of Philadelphia, Conley became Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Denver. He remained until July 2012, when Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo was named Chaput's successor.[8]

Bishop of Lincoln[edit]

On September 14, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Conley as Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska, succeeding Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz. He was installed on November 20, 2012, at the Cathedral of the Risen Christ.[9][10]

In June 2014, the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' National Review Board for the protection of children reported that Conley's diocese was the only one in the United States that had yet to comply with the USCCB's charter requiring every diocese to submit its procedures for the protection of children to the Review Board for an audit.[11]

References[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Gianfranco Gardin OFM Conv
Titular Bishop of Cissa
2008–2012
Succeeded by
Gonzalo Alonso Calzada Guerrero
Preceded by
Auxiliary Bishop of Denver
2008–2012
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Fabian Bruskewitz
Bishop of Lincoln
2012–present
Incumbent