BALTIMORE — The leading voice of Roman Catholic bishops opposing a contraception mandate in the Obama administration's health care law was named Tuesday as the 16th archbishop of Baltimore, the nation's first diocese.
Bishop William E. Lori, who comes from the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., has testified before Congress several times in the past few months on a proposed measure to make religious employers cover contraception for its employees. The White House later backed off the rule, making insurers pay for the coverage, though many critics are still not satisfied.
In one instance in February, Lori drew an extended analogy between the mandate to cover contraception and a hypothetical mandate forcing all restaurants nationwide to serve pork, saying it is "absurd for someone to come into a kosher deli and demand a ham sandwich."
Lori, 60, was born in Louisville, Ky., and ordained a priest in 1977. He became a bishop in 1995 and has served as Bishop of Bridgeport since 2001. He oversaw a diocese that includes more than 460,000 Catholics.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore serves 510,000 Catholics in Baltimore and nine counties in central and western Maryland. The post is considered a prominent one because it is the first Catholic diocese in the United States, established in 1789. Four of the men who have held the post have gone on to become cardinals.
In a statement released Tuesday, Lori said the "very thought of serving and leading the nation's premier see fills me with joy and also with profound gratitude."
Lori has a bachelor's degree from the now-closed Seminary of Saint Pius X in Erlanger, Ky., and a master's degree from Mount Saint Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg. He received a doctorate from The Catholic University of America in Washington and has served on several committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
His assignment to Baltimore will not be the first time Lori has served in Maryland. His first assignment was as an associate pastor of Saint Joseph Parish in Landover.
He is a fan of classic cars and television shows from the 1960s. At one point he had dogs named Barnes and Noble.
Lori will succeed Cardinal Edwin O'Brien, who served as Baltimore's 15th archbishop from October 2007 to August 2011 when he was named grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.