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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - The newly elected leader of the nation's Roman Catholic bishops says he'll draw on his years as a pastor while seeking to reconcile Pope Francis' message of a welcoming church with the conservative ideology of American bishops.

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Kentucky was elected Tuesday as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The role makes him the U.S church's spokesman on national issues and a representative of American bishops to the Vatican and the pope.

The 67-year-old Pennsylvania native and former bishop of Knoxville, Tenn., pledged after his election Tuesday to focus the bishops' work on reaching out to the poor and underserved.