Loading
Bishops nix economy statement; approve preaching, confession documents
By Michelle Bauman
Cardinal Timothy Dolan prays at the 2012 USCCB Fall General Assembly. Credit: Michelle Bauman-CNA.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan prays at the 2012 USCCB Fall General Assembly. Credit: Michelle Bauman-CNA.

.- Although they shelved a strongly debated statement on the economy, the U.S. bishops’ approved moving ahead with the reorganization of their communications department, and the publication of documents on preaching and confession.

The bishops voted by a margin of 202-25 to hire a director of public affairs to help improve the conference’s communications effectiveness and strategy.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, explained that while all the details of the position have not been finalized, “the potential for being a spokesperson would be part of his or her job description.”

He explained that the person who fills the new position will coordinate communications efforts and will be able to speak to the media for the bishops, directing them to relevant statements by the bishops and applicable Church teaching.

The bishops voted in favor of creating the position on Nov.13, the second day of their fall general assembly in Baltimore.

The meeting also included a lengthy and intense discussion about a proposed document entitled "The Hope of the Gospel in Difficult Economic Times."

The bishops had authorized the drafting of the document at their gathering last June, agreeing that a timely statement on poverty and the economy was necessary.

Rather than a major document, the bishops called for a brief pastoral message of about 12-15 pages, expressing concern and solidarity for those struggling under the current economy and offering them hope in Christ.

Because it was agreed that the timeliness of the message was key, the bishops authorized its drafting under an abbreviated schedule.

The proposed statement prompted a lively debate over what the scope and content of such a document should include. While several bishops voiced support for the idea behind the statement, there was also suggestion that it could be improved with more time.

Several bishops posited that this may be a good time to revisit their previous statements on the economy in the context of modern circumstances.

Others suggested that the topics of tax reform and unions should be discussed at greater length, along with the proper role of government in aiding those in poverty.

The question of how these various topics could be adequately covered while remaining in the allotted page length was repeatedly raised. Some recommended the creation of shorter pamphlets instead, allowing for better dissemination among the faithful.

With Cardinal Dolan warning that “we get burned if we rush documents,” the bishops ultimately rejected the document, while also noting that some other type of statement could still be proposed with a clear consensus on what the bishops expect.

A document entitled “Preaching the Mystery of Faith: the Sunday Homily” was accepted by the bishops in an effort to renew and revitalize preaching during the Mass. Homilies must always be a Christ-centered “summons to conversion,” presented with love an offering the truths of the faith, it said.

“The ultimate goal of proclaiming the Gospel is to lead people into a loving and intimate relationship with the Lord,” the document explained.

The bishops also approved a short document inviting all Catholics to participate regularly in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, particularly during the Lenten season.

The document draws the connection between Penance and the New Evangelization and expresses the Church’s eagerness to welcome those who have been away from confession for a significant length of time, as well as those who struggle with hesitation or uncertainty about the sacrament.

During the meeting, the bishops also approved their 2013 budget and heard reports on conference work in the areas of cultural diversity, national collections and Haiti earthquake relief efforts.

A new national collection for the Archdiocese for the Military Services was approved, as well as creating new staff positions in the National Religious Retirement Office and the Subcommittee on Native American Affairs.

They also passed a strategic plan for 2013-2016, which is centered on the New Evangelization and emphasizes faith, worship and witness. The plan includes detailed areas of focus for each year, covering topics such as marriage and family life, sacraments, faith in the public square, migration, cultural diversity and respect for life.

A measure to add the optional memorial of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos to the U.S. liturgical calendar also received approval from the bishops.

Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile, Ala., said that Fr. Seelos holds “contemporary significance” because he was “remarkable in his pastoral zeal” and “came to serve this country because of the need.”

“(T)hat can be a source of encouragement to our seminarians and our priests who come to us from other countries,” he observed.

Discussion of the HHS contraception mandate also came up during the second day of the meeting, with Cardinal Dolan explaining that the conference remains committed to its principles, even as the mandate’s Aug. 2013 implementation date for religious organizations draws closer.

“Right now I can tell you, the only thing we’re certainly prepared to do is not give in, not violate our consciences, and not obey what we consider to be something immoral,” he said at a press conference, adding that this conviction “would have an enthusiastic unity among the bishops.”

Throughout different dioceses, bishops are currently talking to people who work in charity, health care and education in order “to see what options are open to us,” he explained.

“No door is closed, except the door to capitulation,” he said.

Tags: USCCB


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
24

Liturgical Calendar

April 24, 2014

Thursday within the Octave of Easter

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 24:35-48

Gospel
Date
04/24/14
04/23/14
04/22/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Acts 3:11-26
Gospel:: Lk 24:35-48

Saint of the Day

Easter Sunday »

Saint
Date
04/24/14
04/22/14

Homily of the Day

Lk 24:35-48

Homily
Date
04/24/14
04/23/14
04/22/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: