By Lisa Zengarini
The initiation of a National Eucharistic Revival leading to a national Eucharistic Congress in 2024 and the approval of a statement on the Eucharist will be among the main items of the U.S. Bishops' Fall general Assembly in November. The full body of bishops is expected to meet in Baltimore from November 15-18. This will be their first in-person meeting since November 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the June 2020 spring meeting was cancelled and the November 2020 Fall meeting and June 2021 Spring meeting were held in a virtual format.
National Eucharistic Revival
The Assembly will vote on a three-year initiative called “Eucharistic Revival: My Flesh for the Life of the World” which was presented at their June session. The initiative proposes inviting U.S. Catholics to become part of a national movement to renew the Church by reviving their relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist. It was suggested by the USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis after a 2019 study indicated that nearly 70% of US Catholics don’t believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. A further reason for initiating the plan has been the impact the pandemic has had on Catholics.
National Eucharistic Congress in 2024
The plan starting in Spring 2022, includes training “eucharistic missionaries” who will be tasked with carrying out the eucharistic revival at the parish level in 2023 and the planning of diocesan-wide days of Adoration, eucharistic evangelization and service events leading up to a National Eucharistic Congress in 2024. The goal of convening a Eucharistic Congress was included in the USCCB’s 2021-2024 strategic plan, “Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope.”
Statement on the Eucharist
During their meeting, bishops are also expected to approve a Statement looking at the meaning of the Eucharist in the Church. The Statement, titled “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church” has been drafted by the USCCB Committee on Doctrine following their June discussions on the issue. It will include a section on “Eucharistic Coherence”, explaining why Catholics who receive Communion should live and act in a manner consistent with the faith of the Church.
Other topics of discussion
Other items that will be presented and discussed during the meeting include: the 2021-2023 Synod of Bishops on synodality; the work of Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities USA, and Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC); the 50th anniversary of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development; the Journeying Together intercultural dialogue and encounter process; the application and implementation of the Pastoral Framework for Marriage and Family Life Ministry in the United States and the recent USCCB “Walking with Moms in Need” initiative.
The Assembly will also vote an update of the 2003 “Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines”, outlining criteria that should guide USCCB’ investment policies and other activities related to corporate responsibility. Among other topics up for discussion there will be the proposal to add Saint Teresa of Calcutta on the Proper Calendar for the Dioceses of the United States as an optional memorial on September 5 and the beatification and canonization processes for the Servants of God Charlene Marie Richard and Auguste Robert Pelafigue.
The gathering will begin with adresses by the Papal Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, and by USCCB president, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles.