Bishops OK liturgy items, endorse sainthood cause, hold elections
BALTIMORE (CNS) — Though there were no actions on the U.S. bishops’ agenda in Baltimore dealing with immigration, poverty and other public policy issues, the president of their conference said Nov. 11 that he hopes to meet with President Barack Obama and House and Senate leaders soon on several topics.
In a brief comment during the annual fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, said he had heard from many of his brother bishops about those issues and hopes conferring with the politicians will supplement the work that committees and USCCB staff are doing.
He told Catholic News Service that he intends to pursue a meeting with the president and congressional leaders as soon as December.
In other action on the second public day of the Nov. 10-13 meeting, the bishops:
— Approved several liturgical items, including a revised translation of the ritual book used whenever a new church is built or when a new altar is made; the first official English translation of the ritual book “Exorcisms and Related Supplications”; and a supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours that is an English translation of the prayers used for the feast days of saints who have been added to the general calendar since 1984.
— Voted to proceed with a revision of a section of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services dealing with partnerships.
— Endorsed the sainthood cause of Father Paul Wattson, co-founder of the Society of the Atonement in 1899, and in his day a leading advocate of Christian unity.
— Approved a 2015 budget of just under $189.5 million. They also voted on a 3 percent increase in the diocesan assessment for 2016, but the vote fell short of the required two-thirds majority of the 197 bishops required to approve it. Eligible members absent from the Baltimore meeting will be canvassed to determine the final vote.
Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, North Carolina, chairman of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, gave a presentation on the newly revised “Guidelines for Receiving Pastoral Ministers in the United States.”
As the number of priests and pastoral ministers from other countries increases in the United States, he said the resource — now in its third edition — provides information for dioceses, eparchies and religious communities to prepare international ministers for their service and help the communities that receive them.
Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, USCCB secretary and chairman of the Committee on Priorities and Plans, told the bishops that a myriad of activities revolving around four key goals of the USCCB is an indication that “the conference planning process is working quite well.”
The current four goals, or priorities, are faith formation and sacramental practice; strengthening marriage and family life; the life and dignity of the human person; and religious liberty.
The bishops also heard a report on the work of various committees — pro-life, domestic justice, international justice, evangelization and religious liberty — which together are trying to pinpoint what Catholics in the pew are thinking and why they accept or disregard church teaching.
The compilation of vast data is being assembled for bishops to read and also will be relayed in series of workshops. One of the major findings from the study — that Catholics want to find out more about their faith — has prompted plans for a 2017 convocation in Orlando, Florida, the week of July 4.
In considering the bishops’ ethical directives for Catholic health care, the discussion focused on whether to revise Part 6, “Forming New Partnerships with Health Care Organizations.” It will take into account principles suggested by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Once completed, the revision will be presented to the bishops for final approval.
Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, invited the bishops to a 2015 Lay Ecclesial Ministry Summit. The June 7, 2015, event will mark the 10th anniversary of the bishops’ statement “Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord.” It will be held just prior to the USCCB spring general assembly in St. Louis.
In elections, Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans won the secretary-elect spot. The committee chairmen-elect are: Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, pro-life activities; Auxiliary Bishop Christopher J. Coyne of Indianapolis, communications; Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio, cultural diversity; Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit, doctrine; Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile, Alabama, national collections. Each will assume their offices next November for a three-year term.
The meeting included reports on the recently concluded extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family; Catholic education and an outreach to Hispanic students in underserved communities; the progress of planning for the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia; the status of the 2013-16 USCCB strategic plan, “The New Evangelization: Faith, Worship, Witness”; the 2015 Fortnight of Freedom; and the defense of marriage.
Several bishops who participated in the synod talked about their experience there, and also discussed it in one of three news conferences during the meeting’s public sessions. Cardinal Dolan said at the news conference that he thought reports of the synod as “confrontational and divisive” conflicted with his impressions. “The one we were at was hardly as spicy (and) juicy,” he said.
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington and chairman of the Ad Hoc Subcommittee on the Church in Africa, reported on continuing strong growth for the church in Africa and said U.S. Catholics deserve thanks and credit for their financial support for the effort. “Some dioceses (in Africa) have more catechumens than Catholics,” he said, adding that in some dioceses as many as 5,000 people have joined the church in a year. Such growth rates “are somewhat like the early centuries of the church,” he said.
Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, reported on a 12-day prayer pilgrimage for peace in the Holy Land in September. Eighteen bishops visited sacred sites of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, and met with people who helped them understand the struggles of the people of each faith.
“We know peace is possible,” Bishop Cantu said, “because God is our hope.” But “after another Gaza war, hope is now in short supply. What is needed now is the transformation of human hearts, so that one side’s hearts is less deaf to the concerns of the other.”
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, said the committee — extended for another three years — planned to focus more on teaching and expanding networks with Catholic lay groups and interfaith and ecumenical partners. He said threats to religious liberty remain a great concern.
“The challenges to religious liberty with regard to the redefinition of marriage grow daily,” said Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, in his report.
He said that for several years, the subcommittee has “sought to defend marriage’s unique meaning, while also calling attention to the real negative consequences and anticipated threats that marriage redefinition poses to religious liberty and freedom of conscience.”
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia formally opened its arms to the world as Archbishop Charles J. Chaput announced that registration has officially begun for the World Meeting of Families next year there.
On Nov. 10, the bishops concelebrated Mass at Baltimore’s Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary to mark the 225th anniversary of the establishment of the Diocese of Baltimore, the first diocese created for the United States. It was made an archdiocese in 1808.
Archbishop Lori said in his homily that all Catholics are heirs “to this precious legacy” set forth by the first nation’s first Catholic bishop — Bishop John Carroll.
“Let us humbly ask for the grace to build on the foundations that John Carroll set down,” Archbishop Lori said.
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Contributing to this roundup were Patricia Zapor, Mark Pattison and Carol Zimmermann.
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Editor’s Note: Related videos have been posted at http://youtu.be/H77BeGMRQws, http://youtu.be/vhQxD4hFKz0 and http://youtu.be/y41IG1-IXaQ.
U.S. bishops choose new secretary-elect, committee chairmen-elect
By Mark Pattison
BALTIMORE (CNS) — The U.S. bishops Nov. 11 chose a new secretary-elect and chairmen-elect for several committees, all of whom will begin their service in November 2015.
The bishops also selected from among their number to serve on the boards of Catholic Relief Services, the bishops’ international aid and development agency, and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, known as CLINIC.
Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans won the secretary-elect job, defeating Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese of the Military Services, 100-94.
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, who was president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2010 to 2013, was voted in as chairman-elect of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, over Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, 127-102.
In other committee elections:
— Communications: Auxiliary Bishop Christopher J. Coyne of Indianapolis defeated Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, 114-102. Bishop Coyne was a late replacement candidate for Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York.
Bishop Murphy had said he expects to retire before the end of the three-year chairmanship term in 2018. Msgr. Ronny Jenkins, general secretary of the USCCB, said a recent Vatican “rescript” clarifies that a bishop who retires also must retire from any committee chairmanship. Bishop Murphy turns 75 in May 2015, the age at which canon law requires a bishop to turn in his resignation.
— Cultural Diversity in the Church: Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio defeated Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Washington, 160-60.
— Doctrine: Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit defeated Bishop Robert J. McManus of Worcester, Massachusetts, 149-66.
— National Collections: Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile, Alabama, defeated Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, California, 134-71.
The secretary-elect and the chairmen-elect will serve one year in that capacity and then begin a three-year term. The current USCCB secretary, Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, finishes his three-year term next November.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, USCCB president, and Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB vice president, were elected to three-terms in November 2013.
For the CLINIC board election Nov. 11, bishops chose Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha of Fall River, Massachusetts, and Auxiliary Bishop Martin D. Holley of Washington.
Bishop Da Cunha was automatically elected with 100 votes, but Bishop Holley and Bishop Anthony B. Taylor of Little Rock, Arkansas, were tied for second with 95 votes. In a runoff election, Bishop Holley defeated Bishop Taylor 116-97. Other candidates were Bishop Joseph A. Pepe of Las Vegas, with 72 votes, and Bishop Armando X. Ochoa of Fresno, California, with 58 votes.
Bishops also chose five members for the CRS board. Archbishop George J. Lucas of Omaha, Nebraska, an incumbent, was the top vote-getter with 155 votes. He was followed by Bishop Edward J. Burns of Juneau, Alaska, with 125 votes; Bishop Felipe J. Estevez of St. Augustine, Florida,118; Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, 117; and Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, 109.
The candidates who lost were Bishop Michael C. Barber of Oakland, California, and Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis, each with 107 votes; Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh, 104; and Archbishop Michael O. Jackels of Dubuque, Iowa, 76.
U.S. bishops endorse sainthood cause of Father Paul Wattson
By Mark Pattison
BALTIMORE (CNS) — The U.S. bishops gave their support to advancing the cause of Father Paul Wattson, a onetime Episcopal priest who joined the Catholic Church more than a century ago along with the members of the Society of the Atonement, which he co-founded.
The support, which came on a voice vote without audible dissent, was given Nov. 11, the second day of the bishops’ annual fall general assembly in Baltimore.
Father Wattson, whose father was himself an Episcopal priest, was ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1886, according to Auxiliary Bishop John J. O’Hara of New York, in remarks to the bishops prior to the vote.
The Society of the Atonement, made up of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement, has its headquarters in Graymoor, New York, which is in the New York Archdiocese.
Father Wattson saw the need for both a Franciscan spirituality in the Episcopal Church and a way to serve the poor, Bishop O’Hara said.
A third need arose before the end of the 19th century: “Repair the breach in a divided church,” Bishop O’Hara said.
Father Wattson established Graymoor in 1899. Simultaneously, an Episcopalian friend and a novice, Lurana White established the Sisters of the Atonement.
In 1903, Father Wattson started the Church Unity Octave. Now more commonly known as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, it “continues to this day,” Bishop O’Hara said. The week is observed each January.
As a sign of his concern for the poor, Father Wattson founded St. Christopher’s Inn, “which continues to this day to be a beacon of hope,” the bishop said, offering “counseling and hope for those who are addicted and all the rest.”
In 1909, Father Wattson was received into the Catholic Church, bringing with him the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and the Sisters of the Atonement. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1910.
Bishop O’Hara added that Father Wattson was “one of the first to enter into dialogue. Father Paul was one of the first to reach out. Father Paul was one of the first to build bridges.”
Part of the canonization process requires that a diocesan bishop seek the opinion of at least a regional conference of bishops on the appropriateness of opening a cause. The U.S. bishops were similarly consulted on the sainthood cause of Catholic Worker co-founder Dorothy Day and they endorsed the cause at their fall meeting in 2012.
Encourage more Latino students to attend Catholic schools, bishops told
By Carol Zimmermann
BALTIMORE (CNS) — The church needs to do a better job of encouraging Latino families and underserved populations to send their children to Catholic schools, the bishops were told Nov. 10 during their annual fall assembly in Baltimore.
“If efforts are not made to reach out to them, they won’t think it’s a viable option,” said Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, chairman of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church.
He noted that for many families from Latin America, Catholic schools were so expensive in their home countries that they never even consider Catholic schools when they come to the United States.
Encouraging such families “must be a priority of bishops, superintendents, pastors and principals,” said Bishop Flores, urging his brother bishops to reach out to Latino families at gatherings and neighborhood or church functions.
He also said Catholic schools, despite their tuition costs, can be made affordable for those unable to pay, either through scholarships or — in states where they are available — tuition tax credits or vouchers.
The outreach to Latino communities is a key part of the church’s mission to preach the Gospel, said Archbishop George J. Lucas of Omaha, Nebraska, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Catholic Education.
In his remarks to the bishops, he pointed out that Catholic schools bring about higher levels of student engagement and achievement with 99 percent of students graduating from high school and 87 percent of these graduates attending four-year colleges. He added that according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Latino and African-American students who attend a Catholic school are more likely to graduate from high school and college.
“Welcoming more children from diverse populations in our Catholic schools and particularly making an effort to reach out to underserved communities, is important for the future of Catholic schools and of our church,” said Bishop Flores. He also said reaching out to families in diverse communities is in keeping with the call of Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”).
Bishop Flores cited a 2014 Boston College study which found that the larger the number of Latino parishioners, the less likely that parish community had responsibility for a school. It also found that Catholic schools are less available in areas where the Catholic population has grown the most, mostly because of Latinos, in the South and the West.
He said major initiatives by bishops, superintendents, pastors and principals to provide consistent cultural competency training and financial investments have produced positive results. For example, he said the percentage of Latino children enrolled in Catholic schools in the United States has grown from 12.8 percent to 15 percent over the past four years.
“The needle is moving in the right direction, even if slowly,” the bishop said.
Redefinition of marriage poses ‘complex challenges,’ says archbishop
By Carol Zimmermann
BALTIMORE (CNS) — The U.S. bishops gathered in Baltimore for their annual fall general assembly were urged not to “shy away” from the Catholic Church’s support of traditional marriage even as laws across the country are legalizing same-sex marriage.
“The challenges to religious liberty with regard to the redefinition of marriage grow daily,” said Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, in a Nov. 10 report to the bishops.
He said that for several years, the bishops’ subcommittee has “sought to defend marriage’s unique meaning, while also calling attention to the real negative consequences and anticipated threats that marriage redefinition poses to religious liberty and freedom of conscience.”
The archbishop urged his fellow bishops to continue their work on the issue, taking to heart the words and example of Pope Francis to advance a “culture of encounter, accompaniment and witness.”
He said the recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upholding traditional marriage laws in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee was a “significant win for marriage” and will likely bring the issue to the Supreme Court.
He also noted that two federal court rulings, now on appeal, in Louisiana and Puerto Rico, upheld traditional marriage laws.
But Archbishop Cordileone said the Supreme Court’s failure in October to review appeals of rulings striking down same-sex marriage bans and other recent circuit court decisions allowing for same-sex marriages brings “the number of states where marriage has effectively been redefined in the law” to 32.
He warned that society’s redefinition of marriage “brings complex challenges — pastoral, sacramental and legal” — and he also emphasized that the church’s “accompaniment of those who experience same-sex attraction is particularly important.”
The Catholic Church upholds marriage as between one man and one woman and teaches that any sexual activity outside of marriage is sinful. The church also teaches that homosexual attraction itself is not sinful and that homosexual people “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.”
The archbishop encouraged his fellow bishops to continue their support of traditional married couples and families and emphasized the importance of upcoming gatherings such as the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next September and the world Synod of Bishops on the family next October.
“The church is being called to embrace a renewed catechesis on marriage and family” in preparation for these meetings, he said.
Religious liberty ‘continues to be great concern,’ Archbishop Lori says
By Carol Zimmermann
BALTIMORE (CNS) — The ongoing work of the U.S. bishops to defend religious freedom will take a slightly different tone in upcoming years, said its committee chairman.
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, told the bishops the committee — extended for another three years — planned to focus more on teaching and expanding networks with Catholic lay groups and interfaith and ecumenical partners.
He said the committee would provide a “clearinghouse function” providing resources as religious liberty issues arise.
The archbishop noted that new committee members would include “fewer lawyers” and more experts in the communications field to help get the bishops’ message across. It also would include bishops from relevant committees.
One of the committee’ hallmarks has been the annual Fortnight for Freedom, a 14-day campaign of prayer and special events focusing on religious liberty issues. The 2015 fortnight will emphasize the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council document on religious liberty, “Dignitatis Humanae.” Archbishop Lori said it will provide a “great opportunity to teach about religious liberty and evangelize about it.”
“Stay tuned for details,” he told the bishops, adding that the campaign also will be linked to works of charity and service to people in need.
Regarding challenges to religious liberty, the archbishop said there are “some old and some new.”
He said the committee will continue to monitor the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ contraceptive mandate that is part of the Affordable Care Act.
“There are more than 100 cases to watch. It keeps us busy,” he said.
The committee also is looking at laws that redefine marriage and tracking new proposed legislation requiring health insurance coverage of abortion.
“Religious liberty continues to be of great concern to us all,” he said, adding that it might seem that the struggle is a “daunting task.”
“We approach this as people of faith, as spiritual leaders who love our church, who love our people, who love our country,” he said.
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