US Bishops move forward on pastoral projects at Fall General Assembly
By Vatican News staff writer
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) gathered for their 2021 Fall General Assembly in Baltimore this week. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the bishops’ June 2020 spring meeting was canceled, and the November 2020 fall meeting and June 2021 spring meeting were held in a virtual format. This was the first in-person meeting of the full body of bishops since November 2019.
Their meeting agenda included more than a dozen action items that were up for a vote. A statement released on the Bishops' website, highlighted the outcome of Wednesday's votes:
- The bishops affirmed their support for the advancement of the causes of beatification and canonization for three lay individuals at the diocesan level: Charlene Marie Richards, a young girl from Louisiana who died of leukemia at age 12; Auguste Robert Pelafigue, also from Louisiana, a layman who was known for his devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Blessed Virgin Mary; and Joseph Dutton, a convert to Catholicism, who worked with St Damien of Molokai caring for lepers in Hawaii. The decision to promote their causes was made through a voice vote.
- The bishops discussed the draft of a statement that is meant to be a reflection on the transformative beauty of the Eucharist, which they write "invites each of us into a deeper relationship with Christ". The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church was approved with 222 votes in favor, 8 against, and 3 abstentions.
- The bishops also received an update on the Eucharistic revival initiative and voted on moving forward with a National Eucharistic Congress in the summer of 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The bishops approved the national event with 201 votes in favour, 17 against, and 5 abstentions.
- An updated version of the Conference's Socially Responsible Investment guidelines were presented to the body of bishops. Through these guidlines, the bishops write, "the Conference exercises faithful, competent and socially responsible stewardship in how it manages its financial resources". This action item was approved with 216 votes in favor, 10 against, and 5 abstentions.
- The Latin Church members voted to approve the revised National Statutes for the Catechumenate for use in the dioceses of the U.S. by a vote of 222 to 1 with 0 abstentions. This was then followed by a vote to approve the Estatutos Nacionales para el Catecumenado for use in the dioceses of the U.S. with 224 votes in favor, 0 against, and 1 abstention.
- The Conference’s longstanding commitment to promote financial accountability in the pastoral governance of the diocesan bishop is affirmed through the Resolution on Diocesan Financial Reporting, which encourages the adoption of a voluntary financial reporting system by the dioceses as a means of offering further evidence of their compliance with canon law (Church law) pertaining to fiscal administration. Since its original passage in 2000, the resolution has been renewed by the bishops approximately every five years. It was approved by the bishops with 233 votes in favor, 0 against, and 1 abstention.
- In a vote of 213 votes in favour, 0 against, and 1 abstention, the bishops approved the proposal to inscribe Saint Teresa Calcutta as an optional memorial on 5 September. Each year, the USCCB publishes the Liturgical Calendar for the Dioceses of the United States of America which lists each day’s celebration, rank, liturgical colour, citations for the Lectionary for Mass, and Psalter cycle for the Liturgy of the Hours.
- The Latin Church members of the Conference voted to approve the translation by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) of Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery Outside Mass for use in the dioceses of the United States, which was approved with 200 votes in favor, 14 against, and 4 abstentions.
- The Latin Church members of the Conference approved the revised English edition of the Order of the Christian Initiation of Adults with 215 votes in favour, 6 against, and 2 abstentions. This was followed by a vote on a revised Spanish edition of the Ritual para la Iniciación cristiana de adultos, which was likewise approved with 218 votes in favour, 3 against, and 1 abstention.
- The full body of bishops authorised the Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People to begin a review of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young Adults ahead of the June 2025 mandated review date. The proposal was approved with 230 votes in favour, 5 against, and 0 abstentions.
- The bishops accepted the recommendations of the USCCB’s Committee on Budget and Finance to approve the 2022 budget by a vote of 223 to 4 with 5 abstentions.