While most of the expected agenda in Fort Lauderdale is a mix of updates, housekeeping items, or votes unlikely to be contentious, two items up for discussion are worth your careful attention.
First, the housekeeping and updates: the bishops will discuss a forthcoming document regarding the pastoral care of Pacific Islander and Asian Catholics, along with the progress of the V National Encuentro, a process of parish, diocesan, and regional meetings for Hispanic Catholics, which will culminate in September with a national meeting held in Texas, and the upcoming Vatican synod on young people, faith, and vocational discernment. The bishops will also vote on new translations of certain sections of the Liturgy of the Hours, the prayer book prayed daily by priests, deacons, and religious brothers and sisters.
According to several sources, the bishops will vote on the publication of short letters, prayers and videos to accompany Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship- the bishops' 2007 guide to voting and political life.
Faithful Citizenship has been the subject of criticism in recent years, and some have called for a significant reworking of the text, even though it was last revised only three years ago, in 2015. New revisions would likely involve a working group of bishops and USCCB staff members, consultation with experts from academia and political life, and a process of nearly two years. More important, further revisions would likely require the bishops to engage directly in serious debate about political subjects on which they are divided.
The contentious 2016 debate over the bishops' religious liberty committee pointed to sharp disagreement over the political issues the USCCB has prioritized, and over an approach to political engagement that some see as excessively partisan. Revising Faithful Citizenship would open a direct, public debate about those issues, which could end in gridlock. Sources close to the USCCB have told CNA that many bishops hope to avoid that debate.
It seems more likely the bishops will approve the publication of short statements and videos on political life, using Faithful Citizenship as a kind-of base text from which to work, at least for the foreseeable future.
There are two issues likely to spark some debate in Fort Lauderdale- new installments in long-standing discussions about sexual abuse and Catholic healthcare. The USCCB has announced that the bishops will debate proposed revisions to two documents: the Charter for the Protection of Children andYoung People, the Church's guiding document on sexual abuse, and the Ethical and Religious Directives, which govern Catholic hospitals and healthcare providers.