U.S. bishops: Be reconcilers, reach out to youth

Outlined below is a summary of the USCCB meeting from November 12-16, 2017.  This is my summary, not an official document from the USCCB. Thanks to all who remembered us in prayer during our meeting.

1. As we celebrated the 100th year anniversary of our episcopal conference, we sent greetings to Pope Francis. We assured him of our prayers and appreciation for his blessed leadership.

2. Archbishop Pierre, our Apostolic Nuncio, addressed the bishops. He reminded us we are spiritual fathers of the people of the United States and we must be passionate in our ministry. We should be passionate about our youth, as they grow up in challenging times. We must also be passionate in addressing racism, immigration and caring for all those in need. Likewise, evangelization is central to our ministry and our passion must be evident in our various dioceses. We must be in a permanent state of “mission.” To pray and foster our relationship with Jesus is at the heart of our episcopal ministry.

3. Cardinal DiNardo, in his presidential address, thanked Cardinal Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, for presiding at our 100th anniversary Mass.  Cardinal DiNardo reminded us of our role as reconcilers, thus uniting the people of God. He reminded us to address the needs of our country and to provide spiritual leadership for all people. We must continue to be mindful and prayerful of the Christians in our world who are persecuted. He listed many issues of concern in our country and called us to address these in light of the Gospel, and in a civil way. He reminded us that humane immigration that unifies families is needed in the United States.  The sin of racism continues to plague our country, and our USCCB Committee to address racism will lead us. As violence in the world and the United States continues, we seek peace in the name of Christ. Cardinal DiNardo expressed thanks to Catholic Charities and all those who cared for the victims of the hurricanes.

4. The National Advisory Council, consisting of clergy, religious and laity (50 people), reviews the USCCB meeting agenda and offers insights and suggestions to the bishops. Mrs. Margaret Simonson represented the council and summarized their reflections.

5. Regarding the translation of liturgical texts: At the request of Cardinal DiNardo, the Committee on Divine Worship and the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance have studied the modifications to canon 838 of the Code of Canon Law introduced by Pope Francis by means of his Apostolic Letter-issued motu proprio, Magnum Principium.

1. The Holy See has indicated that the motu proprio is not retroactive and that approved translations remain in force.

2. Magnum Principium makes it clear that new liturgical translations must be “faithful” to the Latin text. The new legislation clearly changes aspects of the Instruction Liturgium authenticam that concern the approval process for liturgical texts. However, the principles of translation outlined in the Instruction remain in force, although the responsibility to determine what is appropriate and possible in the local vernacular falls more clearly on the local episcopal conference.

3. Regarding the English translation of the Missale Romanum currently in use: while the Conference has the right to propose revisions to the translation of the Missal, the Conference would need to decide whether the project would be necessary or opportune. This decision could be made within the framework of the currently approved strategic plan.  If the Conference were to vote to proceed with a revision, budget for such a project, this would then require either a change to the current strategic plan or its inclusion in a future strategic plan.

6. Cardinal DiNardo gave a summary of the diocesan reports in preparation for the 15th Ordinary Synod scheduled for October, 2018 on Youth and Vocational Discernment, the summary shows that the following issues are of concern to youth: poverty, isolation, societal pressures, addictions, drugs, hunger for spirituality, need for models and experiencing violence in the community.

How can the church listen, be available to and address the concerns of our youth (16-29 years of age)? What more can bishops and dioceses do to reach out to youth and young adults? http://youth.synod2018.va will give you an opportunity to complete a questionnaire in preparation for the Synod.

7. Cardinal Dolan gave an update on the work of the Pro-Life Committee, including abortion, religious freedom, assisted suicide, contraception and others.

8. Bishop Vasquez reported on the works of the Committee on Migration.  He described the “Share the Journey” campaign launched by Pope Francis on December 2, 2016. It is a call to prayer, study and action.  www.sharethejourney.com.

9. Archbishop Gomez and Bishop Vasquez gave a report from the Bishop’s Working Group on immigration issues.  They reviewed the teaching of the church regarding immigration. Preserving family unity is a major focus for Pope Francis and the USCCB. Likewise, caring for those experiencing religious persecution is of great importance. www.justiceforimmigrants.com

The USCCB supports passage of the DREAM Act. It is evident that we need immigration reform.

10. The Ad Hoc Committee against Racism has begun its work to help us address racism in the United States.  Apart from this committee, the Committee on Cultural Diversity is preparing a statement on racism that should be completed and voted on in November 2018. Bishop Fabre is chairing this committee.  Racism has deep roots. We acknowledge that the history of the church at times has contributed to this evil. We not only repent but try to find a way forward that is just.

11. World Youth Day, January 2019, will be in Panama.  Archbishop Ulloa gave a personal invitation for us to join him and to support this important pilgrimage. WYDUSA.org.

12. Mr. Sean Callahan, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, gave an update on their work. Catholic Relief Service serves 120 million people in 112 countries throughout the world.

13. Sister Donna Markham, O.P., President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, gave a report on the work of Catholic Charities in our country. Last year 9 million people were assisted. The work of Catholic Charities was very important in the aftermath of the 2017 hurricanes. Catholic Charities, USA provided $24 million to assist those in need.

14. The bishops approved the 2018 budget and approved a 3 percent increase in the diocesan assessment to the USCCB for 2019.

15. The bishops approved the new translation of the Order of Baptism of Children – for use in dioceses of the United States. This must be confirmed by the Vatican.

16. The bishops voted in favor of the formulation of a pastoral plan for marriage and family life ministry in light of “Amoris Laetitia.”

17. The Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis gave a report on the use of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of its publication. The committee carefully reviews all religion texts for schools and Parish Schools of Religion to verify their conformity to the Catechism. Four issues have arisen in the last 25 years:

1. The number of publications of textbooks increased. This is very demanding for the USCCB staff.

2. Publishing on demand makes it possible for a publisher to alter the text for a particular diocese or region.

3. Digitization – more catechetical materials are available through technology, thereby being linked to other material online.  This makes it challenging to assess materials regarding their conformity to the Catechism. Are some using digital materials that are not faithful to church teaching?

4. There is a need to advance Spanish catechetical materials to meet the pastoral needs of the Hispanic community.

The committee is studying these issues. There is a strong desire to meet the needs of publishers and to work collaboratively.

18. An update was given on V Encuentro. Regional gatherings are scheduled throughout the United States which lead up to the national gathering from September 20-23, 2018, in Grapevine, Texas.

19.  The chair of the Domestic Justice & Human Development Committee gave a report on their recent work regarding: health care, the federal budget and tax reform. These are important moral issues in which the bishops continue to dialogue with Congress.

Questions for Archbishop Aymond may be sent to clarionherald@clarionherald.org.

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