Bishop Elected Chairman of Board of Visitors for School of the Americas
By Catholic News Service
BENNING, Ga. (CNS) -- Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison, Wis.,
was elected chairman of the board of visitors of the Western Hemisphere
Institute for Security Cooperation at Fort Benning.
He replaces Ambassador Jose S. Sorzano, who has been serving as
chairman. His continued board membership was term-limited.
The institute, established in 2001 as a successor to the 55-year-old
School of the Americas, instructs civilian, military and law enforcement
leaders from throughout the Western Hemisphere.
The election of Bishop Morlino took place at the board's recent
meeting. It was unanimous, with the exception of his own abstention
from the vote.
The bishop commented that he was surprised at being invited to
be a board member in the first place but even more surprised he
was nominated for the chairmanship.
He was appointed to the board in October 2005 by the U.S. secretary
of defense and the U.S. secretary of the Army.
The board of visitors is charged with independent review, observation
and recommendations regarding the institute's operations, administration
It has 13 members, including members of the Senate and House Armed
Services Committees and representatives from the State Department,
U.S. Southern Command, and Army Training and Doctrine Command. Six
members are designated by the secretary of defense and represent
the human rights, religious, academic and business communities.
Board members, including the congressional representatives, made
it clear that in electing Bishop Morlino they sought to emphasize
the priority of ethics, human rights, democracy and civilian leadership
of the military in the education offered at the Western Hemisphere
Institute, known as WHINSEC.
"One of my priests recently wrote to me about my membership
on the board calling it an expression of authentic Catholic patriotism,"
Bishop Morlino commented. "As one who was exempted from the
draft when I entered the seminary in the '60s, I am grateful for
the opportunity to serve my country in a significant way.
"At the same time, I take most seriously the charge symbolized
by my election as board chairman, to assure that issues of ethics
and human rights always remain top priority, as WHINSEC carries
out the mission received from the Congress of the United States,"
The board, which meets twice a year, is a body of the Department
of Defense, not the institute. Board members are not paid for their