Highlights of U.S. bishops’ fall meeting
Archbishop Gregory Aymond attended the annual fall meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Nov. 16-19 in Baltimore. Here are his observations of the meeting:
1. The bishops sent a message to Pope Francis thanking him for his visit to the United States and assuring him of prayerful solidarity.
2. The Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, addressed the bishops reflecting on the visit of Pope Francis. He also reflected on the history of the Catholic Church in the United States, emphasizing family life, the education of our young people and our role in evangelization. He asked us to give particular attention to Catholic education, ensuring that schools and universities are strong in Catholic identity and faithful to the teachings of the church.
3. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the USCCB, addressed the bishops, focusing on the upcoming Year of Mercy. He asked us to give special attention to family life and to be present to families in our ministry. He listed many of the challenges we face in our society today and called us to be courageous witnesses and teachers.
4. The chair of the National Advisory Council, composed of priests, religious and laity, gave reflections on the various topics we were to consider during the meeting.
5. An update was given on Project Rachel, which is a ministry to those who have been involved in abortion. (We are blessed to have this ministry in our archdiocese.)
6. A report was given on the research regarding “The Life and Dignity of the Human Person.” The focus of the research asks how we can better communicate and foster a deeper respect for the life and dignity of all people in a spirit of evangelization. There will be a national convocation to discuss this issue in 2017.
7. An update was given on the USCCB efforts on marriage and family life.
8. The Archbishop for Military Services discussed with us the need to increase the number of priests ministering in the Armed Forces of the United States. At present, there are not a sufficient number of Catholic chaplains.
9. An update was given on the efforts of the USCCB to encourage religious liberty in the United States as we continue to dialogue with government leaders.
10. The bishops who attended the synod in Rome gave their reflections on the work of the synod.
11. The bishops approved the USCCB’s Strategic Priorities for 2017-20. They are:
► Family and Marriage
► Human Life and Dignity
►Vocations and Ongoing Formation
► Religious Freedom
(Details of this plan can be found on the USCCB website: www.usccb.org.)
12. We received a report from Catholic Charities USA regarding the resettlement of Syrian refugees.
13. The bishops approved the document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” to be used in preparation for elections.
14. Updates were given on several ministries, including the following:
►Catholic Relief Services
►Evangelization and Catechesis as it relates to the Year of Mercy
►World Youth Day 2016
►The Church in Latin America
►The Syrian refugees
15. A proposal was made for a 3 percent increase in the assessment from each diocese for 2017.
Thanks to all those who prayed for the bishops during our fall meeting.