Later on Tuesday, the bishops voted to approve both a script for a short video on their voting document "Faithful Citizenship," as well as a short letter to accompany the document, amendments to which were considered by the U.S. bishops' Working Group on "Forming Consciences on Faithful Citizenship."
Cardinal Blase Cupich had proposed an amendment to add the whole paragraph 101 from "Gaudete et Exsultate" into the letter.
The amendment had been accepted by the working committee with the changes that some, but not all, of the language of the paragraph would be included.
The reason the entire paragraph was not included was the need for brevity in the letter, Archbishop Gomez-the incoming president of the conference-later said, in the discussions on the language.
A footnote to the exhortation was included to draw attention to the Holy Father's message, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco later said.
While the original discussion centered upon the inclusion of Cupich's amendment, it triggered a debate over the inclusion of the word "preeminent" in mentioning abortion among other issues. Archbishop Joseph Naumann, chair of the U.S. bishops' pro-life committee, had successfully included an amendment inserting the word "preeminent" before the mention of the abortion in the letter, to recognize its special gravity when considered with other issues voters are considering.
That actual "preeminent priority" amendment passed on a consent agenda, with no debate.
But debate over the phrase took off after the amendment from Cupich came up for debate.
Cupich said that Pope Francis, in his exhortation on holiness, "makes sure that we do not make one issue that a political party or a group puts forward to the point where we're going to ignore all the rest."
The pope's warning against the coexistence of consumerism with poverty, for instance, was not included in the voting letter, Cupich said, and the entire paragraph should be included for that reason.
Bishop Frank Dewane, who led the working group on "Faithful Citizenship," proposed a compromise to include more language recognizing those issues Pope Francis mentioned in his exhortation, but Cupich said that he wanted the entire paragraph included.
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"This is the magisterial teaching of Pope Francis put in a very succinct way, and I think we can all benefit from it as we speak to our people about the issues," Cupich said.
Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego then made his intervention, with Strickland and Chaput responding.
The bishops then voted to keep the letter as is-without Cupich's amendment to insert the entire paragraph into the text-with 143 members of the conference in support. Sixty-nine members voted in favor of Cupich's motion, with four abstentions.
After that vote, the bishops voted on the final text of the letter, with 207 conference members voting in favor, 24 voting against, and five abstaining.