Bishop’s approve liturgical items, elect officials

By Catholic News Service

Though there were no actions on the U.S. bishops’ agenda in Baltimore dealing with immigration, poverty and other public policy issues, the president of their conference said Nov. 11 that he hopes to meet with President Barack Obama and House and Senate leaders soon on several topics.
In a brief comment during the annual fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., said he had heard from many of his brother bishops about those issues and hopes conferring with the politicians will supplement the work that committees and USCCB staff are doing.
He told Catholic News Service that he intends to pursue a meeting with the president and congressional leaders as soon as December.
In other action at the Nov. 10-13 meeting, the bishops:
Approved several English-language liturgical items, including a revised translation of the ritual book used whenever a new church is built or when a new altar is made; the first official English translation of the ritual book “Exorcisms and Related Supplications;” and a supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours that is an English translation of the prayers used for the feast days of saints who have been added to the general calendar since 1984.
Voted to proceed with a revision of a section of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services dealing with partnerships.
Approved a 2015 budget of just under $189.5 million. They also voted on a 3 percent increase in the diocesan assessment for 2016, but the vote fell short of the required two-thirds majority of the 197 bishops required to approve it. Eligible members absent from the Baltimore meeting will be canvassed to determine the final vote.
Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, N.C., chairman of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, gave a presentation on the newly revised “Guidelines for Receiving Pastoral Ministers in the United States.”
As the number of priests and pastoral ministers from other countries increases in the U.S., he said the resource –– now in its third edition –– provides information for dioceses, eparchies and religious communities to prepare international ministers for their service and help the communities that receive them.
The bishops also heard a report on the work of various committees –– pro-life, domestic justice, international justice, evangelization and religious liberty –– which together are trying to pinpoint what Catholics in the pew are thinking and why they accept or disregard church teaching.
The compilation of vast data is being assembled for bishops to read and also will be relayed in series of workshops. One of the major findings from the study –– that Catholics want to find out more about their faith –– has prompted plans for a 2017 convocation in Orlando, Fla., the week of July 4.
In considering the bishops’ ethical directives for Catholic health care, the discussion focused on whether to revise Part 6, “Forming New Partnerships with Health Care Organizations.” It will take into account principles suggested by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Once completed, the revision will be presented to the bishops for final approval.
In elections, Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans won the secretary-elect spot. The committee chairmen-elect are: Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, pro-life activities; Auxiliary Bishop Christopher J. Coyne of Indianapolis, communications; Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio, cultural diversity; Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit, doctrine; Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile, Ala., national collections. Each will assume their offices next November for a three-year term.
The meeting included reports on the recently concluded extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family; Catholic education and an outreach to Hispanic students in underserved communities; the progress of planning for the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia; the status of the 2013-16 USCCB strategic plan, “The New Evangelization: Faith, Worship, Witness”; the 2015 Fortnight of Freedom; and the defense of marriage.
Several bishops who participated in the synod talked about their experience there, and also discussed it in one of three news conferences during the meeting’s public sessions. (See story below)
Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, N.M., reported on a 12-day prayer pilgrimage for peace in the Holy Land in September. Eighteen bishops visited sacred sites of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, and met with people who helped them understand the struggles of the people of each faith.
“We know peace is possible,” Bishop Cantu said, “because God is our hope.” But “after another Gaza war, hope is now in short supply. What is needed now is the transformation of human hearts, so that one side’s hearts is less deaf to the concerns of the other.”
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, said the committee –– extended for another three years –– planned to focus more on teaching and expanding networks with Catholic lay groups and interfaith and ecumenical partners. He said threats to religious liberty remain a great concern.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia formally opened its arms to the world as Archbishop Charles J. Chaput announced that registration has officially begun for the World Meeting of Families next year there.