Also during the first day of the meeting, the National Advisory Council - a group of lay and religious advisors from a variety of ethnicities, ages and backgrounds - encouraged the bishops to make the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism a permanent committee and to engage in listening on the subject of racism before trying to respond.
The council encouraged the bishops to clarify the difference between efforts to fight racism and support for the organization Black Lives Matter. It asked that the bishops help the Church play an “active role in domestic abuse recognition, intervention, recovery and healing,” particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The National Review Board, a group that collaborates with the U.S. bishops on the prevention of sexual abuse of minors, called for efforts to evaluate the effectiveness of abuse prevention training programs for adults and children.
The bishops voted Monday on several conference positions.
Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill, STL, who had served as Associate General Secretary for the USCCB since 2016, was selected for a five-year term as the conference’s General Secretary.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York was selected as chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, while Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore was voted head of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane was chosen as chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education, and Bishop James Wall of Gallup was elected to chair the National Collections Committee.
Auxiliary Bishop Robert Reed of Boston was elected to head the Committee for Communications, and Auxiliary Bishop Arturo Cepeda Escobedo of Detroit was chosen as chairman of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church.
Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services was re-elected for a second three-year term as Secretary of the USCCB.
The bishops also voted on several action items, the results of which will be announced on Tuesday.
They voted on whether to reauthorize the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism for three years.
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The ad hoc committee was established in August 2017 in the wake of increasing racial tensions and white nationalist activism. Its work has included a press conference at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C., an award-winning children’s book on healing and reconciliation, and the creation of resources for the Sept. 9 Feast Day of St. Peter Claver as an annual day of prayer for peace within communities.
The committee also promotes education, resources, communications strategies, and care for victims of racism. It is funded by the Knights of Columbus, Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and the Black and Indian Missions Office.
The bishops’ conference released a pastoral letter dedicated to fighting racism in 2018, entitled, “Open wide our hearts: the enduring call to love.”
The committee has been led since May 2018 by Bishop Shelton Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, La. It was previously led by Bishop George Murry, S.J. of Youngstown, Ohio, who resigned in 2018 due a recurrence of leukemia.
The U.S. bishops also voted Monday on the 2021-2024 USCCB Strategic Plan, which guides the allocation of resources and personnel at the conference.
The strategic plan was developed over two years with regional input on priorities, explained Archbishop Timothy Broglio, the conference secretary.