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Bishops renew call to stop executions

Also choose new committee chairs, approve strategic plan at virtual General Assembly

WASHINGTON | In the wake of more federal executions scheduled in coming weeks, two bishop chairmen have issued a statement calling on the Administration to act as a witness to the dignity of all human life.

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of theU.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement: 

“Sadly, we must call on the Administration yet again to stop an execution, this time scheduled on November 19. Two more are scheduled in December. We are now on pace for ten federal executions in 2020, more than double the previous record of four in 1938.     

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“The death penalty is not necessary to protect society. It is not necessary to hold people accountable for grave crimes. The decision not to execute someone, even someone who has done something terrible, is not ‘soft on crime’; rather, it is strong on the dignity of life. As Pope Francis writes in his recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti: ‘. . . not even a murderer loses his personal dignity, and God himself pledges to guarantee this.’  The firm rejection of the death penalty shows to what extent it is possible to recognize the inalienable dignity of every human being and accept that he or she has a place in the universe.  If I do not deny that dignity to the worst of criminals, I will not deny it to anyone (no. 269).

“We ask President Trump and Attorney General Barr, as an act of witness to the dignity of all human life: stop these executions.”

Bishops approve three action items during 2020 General Assembly 

WASHINGTON | The U.S. bishops approved three action items on the last day of their 2020 Fall General Assembly, that met November 16-17 in a virtual format. 

The full body of bishops approved the Revised Strategic Priorities for the 2021-24 USCCB Strategic Plan, “Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope” by a vote of 193 - 3 with two abstentions. 

The bishops also voted to approve the renewal of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism that focuses on addressing the sin of racism. The committee was established in August 2017, upon the unanimous recommendation of the USCCB’s Executive Committee and in consultation with members of the USCCB's Committee on Priorities and Plans. The vote to renew the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism was 194 - 3 with one abstention.  

The bishops also accepted the recommendations of the Committee on Budget and Finance for approval of the 2021 Proposed Budgets by a vote of 193 - 1 with four abstentions. News updates, vote totals, texts of addresses and presentations, and other materials of the General Assembly can be found at www.usccb.org/meetings.

Bishops choose new chairmen of eight standing committees

WASHINGTON | As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops convened their November General Assembly in a virtual format in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they chose eight new chairmen for standing committees, a new board member for Catholic Relief Services, and a new general secretary to lead the Conference. 

Earlier this year, the bishop-members voted to suspend the bylaws of the Conference to allow for paper, mail-in ballots for the election of the committee chairmen and new general secretary before the November meeting. On Nov. 16, 2020, the results of the election were announced.

The bishops voted for a chairman for the Committee on Religious Liberty, and chairmen-elect of seven standing committees. The chairmen-elect will serve for one year as chairmen-elect before beginning a three-year term at the conclusion of the bishops’ 2021 Fall General Assembly. 

  • Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA as chairman-elect of the Committee on Priorities and Plans in a 157-83 vote over Bishop Daniel E. Thomas of Toledo. 
  • Bishop Thomas A. Daly of Spokane, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Catholic Education in a 139-103 vote over Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv. of Atlanta. 
  • Bishop Robert Reed of Boston, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Communications in a 144-97 vote over Bishop Christopher J. Coyne of Burlington. 
  • Bishop Arturo Cepeda of Detroit, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church in a 155-78 vote over Bishop Jorge Rodríguez-Novelo of Denver. 
  • Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Doctrine in a 146-91 vote over Bishop Brendan J. Cahill of Victoria. 
  • Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup, as chairman-elect of the Committee on National Collections in a 136-104 vote over Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City. 
  • Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Pro-life Activities in a 139-102 vote over Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver. 
  • Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, as chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty in a 134-106 vote over Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami. 

Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill, STL was elected as General Secretary of the USCCB in a vote over Reverend Michael Fuller, STD. The general secretary’s term is five years.  

Additionally, seven members of the Board of Directors for Catholic Relief Services were elected from a slate of 11 candidates. They are (alphabetical order): Bishop Brendan J. Cahill of Victoria, Bishop Octavio Cisneros of Brooklyn, Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, Bishop Daniel E. Garcia of Austin, Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, and Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, CSsR of Newark, and Bishop Luis R. Zarama of Raleigh.

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