U.S. bishops to meet on conference priorities, politicial responsbilites

Mon, Oct 19th 2015 01:00 pm

ROME - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will meet, November 16-19, in Baltimore for their annual Fall General Assembly. The bishops will hear addresses by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, USCCB president, and Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

The bishops will discuss and vote on revisions to the proposed USCCB strategic priorities for USCCB's next planning cycle. The priorities, if approved, will inform the writing of the Conference's next strategic plan, which will cover 2017-2020. The bishops discussed and provided input on a draft version of these priorities at their Spring General Assembly in St. Louis.

The bishops will also discuss and vote on a new introductory note and a limited revision to their quadrennial statement on political responsibility, "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship." The revised statement, which is reissued the calendar year before a U.S. presidential election, will feature new language around issues of public concern for Catholics. The revisions are the result of a working group led by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB vice president.

The bishops will discuss and vote on a proposed formal statement, "Create in Me a Clean Heart: a Pastoral Response to Pornography," and discuss and vote on the inclusion of Excerpts from the Roman Missal: Book for Use at the Chair in dioceses of the United States. They will also discuss and vote on a proposed one-time national collection to fund the completion of the Trinity Dome in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

The bishops will vote for USCCB treasurer-elect and the chairmen-elect of five USCCB committees: Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations; Divine Worship; Domestic Justice and Human Development; Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth; and Migration. They will also elect the next general secretary, and episcopal board members of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC).

The bishops will hear reports including one by the chairmen of collaborating committees on recommendations for the Jubilee of Mercy; an update by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, on World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow; and an update by Cardinal Séan P. O'Malley, OFM Cap., of Boston on diocesan Project Rachel Ministry on post-abortion healing. Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services will present on increasing the number of Catholic priests ministering to the Catholic faithful in the Armed Forces of the United States. There will also be a report and update by the Bishops' Working Group on the Life and Dignity of the Human Person on communications research and convocation planning.

CRS chairman Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City and CRS President Carolyn Woo will present on how CRS programming is responding to Laudato Sí, Pope Francis' encyclical on ecology. Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, will introduce a trailer to a movie on Dignitatis Humanae, the Second Vatican Council's document on religious freedom. Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, will report on marriage and family life ministry. Dominican Sister Donna Markham, executive director of Catholic Charities USA, will also make a presentation.

The bishops will participate in the canonical consultation of three causes for canonization: Rev. Aloysius Ellacuria, CMF, Sister Ida Peterfy, SDSH, and Antonia Cuipa and 81 companions. This is a step in the Catholic Church's process toward declaring a person a saint.

The agenda also includes a report by the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America on the 50th anniversary of the Collection for the Church in Latin America; a report from the National Advisory Council; discussion and vote of the 2016 Conference budget; and discussion and vote of the 2017 diocesan assessment.

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