James D. Conley

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The Most Reverend
James Douglas Conley
Bishop of Lincoln
Archdiocese Omaha
Diocese Lincoln
Appointed September 14, 2012
Installed November 20, 2012
Predecessor Fabian Bruskewitz
Ordination May 18, 1985
by Eugene John Gerber
Consecration May 30, 2008
by Charles J. Chaput, Michael Owen Jackels, Paul Stagg Coakley
Personal details
Born (1955-03-19) March 19, 1955 (age 63)
Kansas City, Missouri
Denomination Roman Catholic
Presbyterian (Previous)
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
("Heart Speaks to Heart")
Styles of
James Douglas Conley
Coat of arms of James Douglas Conley.svg
Reference style His Excellency
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style Bishop
Ordination history of
James D. Conley
Priestly ordination
Ordained by Eugene Gerber
Date of ordination May 18, 1985
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecrator Charles Chaput
Co-consecrators Michael Jackels
Paul Coakley
Date of consecration May 30, 2008
Place of consecration Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Denver, Colorado

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, where he earned a master's degree in divinity in 1985.[2]


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]

Speaking on proposed health care legislation 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."[5]

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.[4]

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.[6][7]

The Lincoln diocese participated in the first of the U.S. bishops’ audit of the implementation of the youth-protection charter in 2003, but then-Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz declined to participate again while awaiting refinements to the process.[8] 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 one of four 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.[9] According to a 2015 statement by Conley, the Lincoln Diocese complied with all church and civil laws on child-abuse reporting and child protection; he stated that the audit process had been improved, and that the diocese would now participate.[8]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Episcopal succession[edit]

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