NEW YORK - New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan today was elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Dolan defeated the bishop of Tucson, Ariz., who was widely expected to win, being the sitting vice president of the conference.

The New York archbishop's surprise victory comes as church leaders are divided over how to uphold Roman Catholic orthodoxy, and a year before changes are implemented in the Catholic Mass.

Dolan is seen as an outspoken defender of conservative Catholicism.