U.S. bishops talk of renewal through confession

aymond    Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond attended the annual meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Baltimore Nov. 12-15 and offered his observations on major topics of discussion and the actions taken by the bishops:    
    ➤ 1. In his presidential address, Cardinal Dolan reminded us of the importance of the Year of Faith and the New Evangelization called for by Pope Benedict XVI. The Holy Father reminds us that conversion of heart must first take place in the hearts of bishops and be offered to the people entrusted to us. Cardinal Dolan called for renewed attention to the sacrament of penance in our dioceses as part of this “new evangelization.”
    ➤ 2. Archbishop Vigano, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, addressed the bishops. He reminded us of the Holy Father’s call to evangelize the world in the midst of a highly secularized society. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Vatican II, it is a time of renewal in our desire to follow Jesus more closely and to live our faith daily. It is a time for the Church to reach out to those who experience spiritual poverty. He called the bishops to give attention to the spiritual life of the priests and reminded us of the importance of seminary formation. In calling seminarians to ordination, we must discern very carefully. He said it is more important to have good priests instead of many priests.
    ➤ 3. An update was given on our efforts in protecting our religious liberty. The USCCB will continue with vigor to educate people regarding religious freedom and to speak in the public arena with courage. Our legislative effort will continue as well as our interest in the lawsuits regarding the HHS mandate.
    ➤ 4. We received a report on our efforts to promote and defend marriage. We must continue to encourage marriage and family life. Recently four states – Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington state – voted in favor of same-sex marriage. Our efforts must continue to preserve the traditional meaning and the dignity of marriage. Some federal court decisions have declared the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. Marriage is being redefined by the government.
    ➤ 5. Regarding a pro-life issue, physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia was not legalized in Massachusetts.
    ➤ 6. World Youth Day will be held in Brazil next July. About 12,000 people from the United States will participate.
    ➤ 7. Twenty-three former Anglican priests have entered the Catholic Church and have been ordained to the priesthood. Eight others have applied. The pope has formed a personal ordinariate to enable priests and laity to enter the Catholic Church from Anglicanism.
    ➤ 8. The bishops were given a report on the synod that was held in Rome during October 2012. The topic of the synod was the “New Evangelization.”
    ➤ 9. The bishops agreed to a voluntary diocesan collection every three years for the Archdiocese of Military Services, beginning in 2013.
    ➤ 10. The bishops approved the statement, “Preaching the Mystery of Faith: The Sunday Homily.”
    ➤ 11. There was agreement among the bishops to approve the proposed plan to update the English translation of the Liturgy of the Hours. This project could take three to five years.
    ➤ 12. The bishops agreed to place Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos as an optional memorial on the Proper Calendar of Saints for dioceses in the United States. This has special significance for us in New Orleans and for the Redemptorist community. We are proud to have benefited from his ministry and reverence his burial in New Orleans.
    ➤ 13. The bishops discussed at length the issues surrounding the economy and our mission to reach out to those in need. The proposed statement on this topic was not approved by the bishops.
    ➤ 14. There was agreement among the bishops to create a new position entitled – “Director of Public Affairs.” This person would be a public spokesperson for the USCCB and assist in the coordination of communications.
    ➤ 15. It was agreed upon by the bishops to support the cause for canonization of Servant of God Dorothy Day.
    ➤ 16. A pastoral exhortation on the sacrament of penance and reconciliation (confession) was issued by the bishops. It encourages us to use Lent 2013 to renew our commitment to the sacrament of penance. Information for dioceses will be provided by the USCCB.
    ➤ 17. A strategic plan for 2013-16 of the USCCB was discussed and passed by the bishops. It is a lengthy document entitled “The New Evangelization: Faith-Worship-Witness.” It gives special attention to our youth, inactive Catholics, married couples and parents.
    ➤ 18. We received reports on: Cultural Diversity in the Church; The Rebuilding of the Church in Haiti; National Collections.
    Thanks to all those who supported us in prayer during our meeting. Our hope is to make decisions that enable us to be faith-filled shepherds and lead the people entrusted to us closer to the Lord Jesus.        
    Questions for Archbishop Aymond may be sent to clarionherald@clarionherald.org.

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