Denver Newsroom, Nov 6, 2020 / 17:22 pm
Like a lot of people, U.S. Catholic bishops are spending a great deal of time in Zoom meetings these days. In fact in less than two weeks, their annual fall meeting will be a virtual one.
The U.S. bishops’ conference has compressed its November meeting, which is usually a four-day affair, into two afternoon sessions, scheduled to take place Nov. 16 and 17. Because they cancelled their June meeting, the November virtual sessions will be the first time the bishops have met since last year, and the agenda for the meeting will be packed.
But while the bishops have several items of business, it is likely to be what’s said or not said about Theodore McCarrick that gets attention from Catholics during the meeting.
The bishops have done some homework in advance of the meeting, voting on candidates for seven committee heads and on a candidate to replace outgoing General Secretary Msgr. Brian Bransfield, whose term as administrative head of the conference will come to an end at the meeting. Bransfield is expected within the conference to be succeeded by Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill, who has been Bransfield’s deputy since 2016.
The race for chairman of the Catholic education committee is likely to garner attention among bishops concerned with religious liberty challenges in Catholic schools. The candidates are Spokane’s Bishop Thomas Daly, who is known to be outspoken about Catholic teaching on cultural and moral issues, and Archbishop Gregory Hartmayer of Atlanta, who in 2015 called the Obergefell Supreme Court decision, which found a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, “primarily a declaration of civil rights.”
Bishops have told CNA they expect Bishop Christopher Coyne is likely to win the chairmanship of the communications committee - the win would be his second term, as Coyne held the same seat from 2014 to 2017. Some bishops have also told CNA they expect Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville - a bilingual Thomist and a Tolkien fan - will be elected to lead the doctrine committee.
Apart from committee races, bishops will vote on a motion to reauthorize their ad hoc committee on racism for another three years, that motion is sure to pass. Also certain to pass are votes on the 2021-2024 strategic plan, which sets the goals of the conference’s staff, and the 2021 budget.
The budget is worth giving attention.