Agenda announced for U.S. bishops’ Fall general assembly

From CNA:

Agenda announced for U.S. bishops’ Fall general assembly

Washington D.C., Oct 2, 2009 / 03:29 am (CNA).- The Fall General Assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will take place November 16-19 in Baltimore. The assembly agenda includes votes on sections of the New Roman Missal, a pastoral letter on marriage, and reports on vocations and clerical sexual abuse of minors.

A document on reproductive technologies and a revision of a Catholic health care ethical directive will also be discussed.

Meeting at the Baltimore Marriot Waterfront Hotel, the assembly will begin with Mass on Monday morning followed by regional meetings. The public plenary session will not open until early Monday afternoon, the USCCB says in a press release.

The bishops will be addressed by USCCB president Cardinal Francis George. They will also elect the chairs of the USCCB Committees on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations; Divine Worship; Domestic Justice and Human Development; Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth; and Migration.

The assembly will hear a preliminary report on the Causes and Context Study on clerical sexual abuse. They will also hear the National Religious Vocation Conference’s report on its recent study of religious vocations.

On the matter of Catholic ethical and religious directives (ERDs) the assembly will consider revision to ERD 58, which concerns the presumption in favor of providing patients with hydration and nutrition even when medical assistance is necessary to do so.

The pastoral letter on marriage is titled “Marriage: Life and Love in the Divine Plan,” while the document on reproductive technologies is titled “Life-giving Love in an Age of Technology.”

According to the USCCB, the agenda is not finalized and could change.

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  1. ssoldie says:

    As long as the ‘agenda’ is not yet finalized, let’s just disband, the USCCB, and get back to the Magisteriam of the Church. Yea know! The Holy Father and those (Shepherds) Bishop in Communion with him.

  2. Jason Keener says:

    I wish the United States Bishops would take up the serious issues surrounding the Liturgy and finally figure out ways to implement ad orientem worship, Latin, and Gregorian Chant into the typical parish setting. Many other Catholic issues will fall into place once we get the Liturgy straightened out.

  3. DavidJ says:

    I vote for a session title “How to grow a collective backbone.”

  4. Tim Ferguson says:

    the locations for these meetings always irk me. The Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel? I did a little spot checking, and the cheapest room I could find at this hotel was listed at $199 a night. I’m sure the bishops are getting some sort of a deal, but still – $200 a night, multiplied by a couple hundred bishops?

    Aren’t there vacant rectories, closed seminaries, near-empty convents? Does the “business” of our Church need to be conducted in a posh hotel with bishops in suits sitting at cloth-covered tables reciting the Divine Office off of newly-printed linen-paper worship aids? Does anyone else find this unseemly as we go through it every year… or twice a year.

    How is staying at a luxury hotel (surely there is a more modest hotel than the Marriott Waterfront in Baltimore!) consistent with the life of poverty and simplicity that the Popes have enjoined upon bishops?

    Pope John Paul II, in his Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America quoted back to the bishops their own words at the Synod for the Americas: “This conversion demands especially of us Bishops a genuine identification with the personal style of Jesus Christ, who leads us to simplicity, poverty, responsibility for others and the renunciation of our own advantage”

    Pope Benedict XVI (gloriose regnans) reminded the Bishops when he was here in the US, “For an affluent society, a further obstacle to an encounter with the living God lies in the subtle influence of materialism, which can all too easily focus the attention on the hundredfold, which God promises now in this time, at the expense of the eternal life which he promises in the age to come.”

    I wish the bishops would take these things to heart and set a real example by shunning their creature comforts and meeting in a setting more in line with their roles. A wise old priest of my acquaintance once said to me, “In the old days we had gold, silk and satin at the altar and burlap, glass and flannel in the rectory. Now is seems we’ve switched things around.”

  5. Fr. John Mary says:

    Dittos, Tim. Dittos. FrJM

  6. Henry Edwards says:

    Tim: the locations for these meetings always irk me.

    Me too. And I have often wondered, while viewing one of these depressing biannual spectacles on TV, whether our bishops would act more like real shepherds of the faithful if they met in a church (perhaps coram sanctissimo) rather than in a posh hotel ballroom.

  7. ljc says:

    The agenda is also set for the CCCB plenary assembly this month. It includes a lecture from a pro-Obama “theologian” from Ohio, who was criticized by his local Bishop last year. Story here:

  8. Tim Ferguson says:


    Wouldn’t it be inspiring if one – just one – bishop showed up at the meeting in a cassock instead of the de rigueur suit and rabat?

    I think holding the meetings at the National Shrine would definitely change the tenor of the meeting. Or even holding it at a local Knights of Columbus hall with a crucifix permanently on the wall.

  9. joebkathy says:

    U.S.C.C.B. – (generally speaking) Always out of step, always thwarting the Pope. No courage to, once and for all, fix what’s broke! Taking every opportunity to dance around the sickening cancer in a small? percentage of clerics/religious today – the homo-lesbian shell game. I can hardly wait to read another “Report”. The leaders of this shell game will be in that Baltimore conference room and are easy to spot, they each are elderly and have a millstone tied round their necks.

  10. Fr. John Mary says:

    I wish the Bishop’s Conference would take seriously the real needs of the Church instead of trying to be an “alternate Magisterium”…maybe I’m just dreaming…

  11. Scelata says:

    While it is understandably irksome that the princes of the Church seem to be living high on the hog at your expense, and I’m sure they could have found a less luxurious venue than a waterfront hotel, the idea just staying in empty convents, or seminaries; and holding actual meetings in a church, however large; however attractive is unworkable and potentially more costly.

    Large scale conventions and trade shows, (which this is, when you get down to it,) require technological and hospitality support services that if not on-sight, (the way hotels and convention centers are set up,) can be ruinously expensive.

    If the participants are not housed more or less all in one place, enormous parts of the day are given over to the logistics of getting everyone together in one room.

    And there have to be other smaller meeting spaces for other smaller meetings.

    If more of the bishops were technologically savvy it would be handy and a lot of money that goes into paperwork and communication could be spared, but does anyone remember how ludicrous it was last year, IIRC, when they couldn’t even figure out a way to get a complete draft of a document they were voting on, (Sing to the Lord, I think,) to the bishops who wanted it?

    And the electronic voting complications were genuinely funny.

    It’s as if several hundred of your grandpas got together and tried to reach concensus on a number of issues while dealing with some new-fangled machines they call computers…

    A smaller city’s convention center in the middle of nowhere would probably be their best bet, but then the blogosphere would erupt over how ugly and ill-decorated the place they held liturgies was.
    Not to mention the added transportation costs of going to out-of-the-way places, and that with fewer options, (no round the clock flights to non-hub cities,) bishops who had to attend to important matters in their own dioceses would be unlikely to come and go as needed.

    What the USCCB needs to do is hire a frugal logistical and organizational GENIUS like Arlene Oost- Zinner of the CMAA :o)

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

  12. catholicmidwest says:

    That’s meetings of the bishops always work. They stay at a very posh hotel, using the money that comes from the collection plate. Then they sit around and hem & haw. And then they publish a bunch of stuff (using inferior technology) that nobody reads and then they give up a lot of stuff to the progressives and then they go home and expect to be given the red carpet treatment for all of it. This time is no different.

    I agree with Tim: It’s not like we don’t have empty seminaries where they could meet. And it’s not like they couldn’t hire someone to serve them sandwiches and diet sodas. And it’s not like they couldn’t get somebody to set up a cheap but good wireless network with a secure password for them to use during the meetings. It’s just that it would require some restraint and effort, and it would require that they start taking the gravity of wasting the funds from the collection basket seriously. Amd they’re not prepared to do that–obviously.

  13. catholicmidwest says:

    Start here:

    This used to be a seminary til it closed because of corruption. It’s huge. The archdiocese of detroit has tried to market it as a retreat/meeting/wedding venue and they can’t make it fly. It sits empty most of the time and would be the ideal CHEAP place for this sort of thing. AND I’m sure there are at least 50 more like it in this huge country.

    Add a schedule, a housekeeping service, a few catered sandwich/dinner and donut contracts handed down from the diocese of detroit, a network wonk or two, and a couple of contracted security guys, and there you have it–a conference completely contained onsite.

  14. Tim Ferguson says:

    Next USCCB meeting at the Sabine Farm! I’d be happy to donate a pup tent or two to the event!

  15. Fr. John Mary says:

    And our community will be happy to provide the food and beverages!

  16. Fr. John Mary says:

    With Fr. Z’s approval, of course:<)!

  17. Luke says:

    Wouldn’t that look too much like the way that the One World Order meets? People would talk…

  18. Charivari Rob says:

    I understand folks’ desire for demonstrations of frugality and restraint, but I think Scelata’s comment above hits the nail on the head.

    If you don’t go to a facility that is in the business of hosting this type of thing, you’re not going to save that much money by improvising or initiating the services at your own facility (or the money you save will be offset by the loss of time or convenience).

    The most practical alternative might be a university campus that regularly hosts seminars and conferences.

    Scelata is also right on-target about smaller cities. They’re not transportation hubs and the facilities aren’t centralized.

    That’s the price you’re going to see in major metropolitan areas (or even their suburbs). I’m sure that the Bishops are getting something more in the range of $140-150 group rate.

    My wife was at a conference in that very same hotel a few years ago. She tells me that it really isn’t posh.

  19. irishgirl says:

    As usual, Tim Ferguson hits the nail square on the head!

    And ssoldie’s idea to disband the USCCB, I second that!

    We don’t need Bishops/CEOs…we need Bishops who are SHEPHERDS! Sometimes a shepherd needs to whack the sheep on their behinds with their staffs once in awhile!

    [sorry if I seem to be shouting, Fr. Z]

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