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Bishops tackle more than 12 action items at General Assembly

Baltimore meeting marks first in-person gathering since pandemic began

BALTIMORE | The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) gathered for the 2021 Fall General Assembly in Baltimore Nov. 15-18. 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.  

The meeting agenda included more than a dozen action items that were up for a vote:

  • By a voice vote, 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, Auguste Robert Pelafigue, and Joseph Dutton.
  • The bishops 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 favor, 17 against, and 5 abstentions.
  • Through the USCCB’s Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines, the Conference exercises faithful, competent, and socially responsible stewardship in how it manages its financial resources. The updated guidelines were presented to the body of bishops and this action item was approved with 216 votes in favor, 10 against, and 5 abstentions.
  • The bishops discussed the draft of a statement that is meant to be a reflection on the transformative beauty of the Eucharist that 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. (See related story.)
  • 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 - 1 with 0 abstentions. It was followed with 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.
  • 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 color, citations for the Lectionary for Mass, and Psalter cycle for the Liturgy of the Hours. In a vote of 213 votes in favor, 0 against, and 1 abstention, the bishops approved the proposal to inscribe St. Teresa Calcutta as an optional memorial on Sept. 5.
  • 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 favor, 6 against, and 2 abstentions. It 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 favor, 3 against, and 1 abstention. (See related story.)
  • The full body of bishops authorized 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 in advance of the June 2025 mandated review date. The proposal was approved with 230 votes in favor, 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 - 4 with 5 abstentions.

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The bishops elected a new Conference treasurer and chairmen of five standing committees. The elected bishops will serve for one year as the treasurer-elect or as committee chairman-elect before beginning a three-year term that begins at the conclusion of the bishops’ 2022 Fall General Assembly. 

  • Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen as treasurer-elect and chairman-elect of the Committee on Budget and Finance in a vote 135 to 106 over Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Seattle;
  • Bishop Earl A. Boyea of Lansing as chairman-elect of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations in a 137-103 vote over Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver;
  • Bishop Steven J. Lopes of Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter as chairman-elect of the Committee on Divine Worship in a 121-120 vote over Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski of St. Louis;
  • Archbishop Borys Gudziak of Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development in a 125-116 vote over Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield;
  • Bishop Robert Barron, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles as chairman-elect of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth in a 140-103 vote over Bishop Edward J. Burns of Dallas;
  • Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso as chairman-elect of the Committee on Migration in a 127-116 vote over Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami. 

The bishops also elected three members to the board of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), and a general secretary for the Conference.

  • Father Michael J. K. Fuller was elected as General Secretary of the USCCB in a vote over Father Daniel Hanley. The general secretary’s term is five years.
  • Three members of the Board of Directors for Catholic Relief Services were elected from a slate of 4 candidates. They are (in alphabetical order): Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio; Bishop Donald J. Hying; and Bishop Oscar A. Solis.
Recordings of the bishops’ general assembly and the press conferences may be accessed at www.usccb.org/meetings

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