The U.S. bishops’ conference will vote in November to elect a new conference general secretary, choosing between two priests already in leadership positions at the conference.
Bishops and diocesan officials have told The Pillar that two candidates for the position have been named: Msgr. Michael Fuller, who is now the interim conference general secretary, and Fr. Daniel Hanley, a staff member in the office of clergy, consecrated life, and vocations.
The bishops elected Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill to the general secretary position in November 2020, but the priest resigned in July amid questions about his conduct in office. His resignation was first reported by the National Catholic Reporter.
Fuller is a priest of the Diocese of Rockford who has worked at the USCCB since 2016; he was director of the conference’s office of doctrine and canonical affairs he was appointed associate general secretary after Burrill’s 2020 election to the general secretary position.
Fuller was also a 2020 candidate for the general secretary position, and was appointed to run the conference temporarily after Burrill’s resignation.
The priest was a faculty member at Mundelein Seminary from 2002 until 2016, and was ordained in 1997. He was recognized last year for service to a deaf Catholic parish in the Archdiocese of Washington.
If Fuller is elected, he would continue a trend at the U.S. bishops’ conference — at least the last four priests to be elected conference general secretary had previously held the deputy role that Fuller occupied until Burrill’s resignation.
Hanley, a priest of the Arlington diocese, was ordained in 2005. The priest was secretary to former Arlington bishop Paul Loverde, was director of admissions at the North American College in Rome, and was appointed associate director of the clergy, consecrated life, and vocations office at the USCCB in 2019.
The conference general secretary is ordinarily elected to a five year term, although it is not clear whether Fuller or Hanley would be elected for entire term, or to fill the remaining four years of the term for which Burrill was elected in 2020.
The general secretary, according to the USCCB, “coordinates all administrative matters of the Conference and is responsible for the coordination of the work of the Conference Committees and staff. He likewise directs and coordinates the planning and operational activities of the various secretariats and offices in support of the work of the Conference.”