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American Bishops Highlight Programs on the Eucharist, Youth and Mothers in Need at Annual Meeting


Friday November 26, 2021

BALTIMORE (CNS) – The American Bishops highlighted two major initiatives focused on the central role of the Eucharist on November 17, the second of two days of public sessions at their fall general assembly.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops approved a 26-page statement, “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church,” with 222 “yes” votes, along with OK plans for a national Eucharistic revival year that culminates with the 2024 National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis.

On other subjects, they were invited to take a multicultural trip with young Catholics to Chicago next June; were urged to implement a framework for marriage and family ministry that they approved at their spring assembly in June; agreed to start the review of the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young Persons” earlier than planned; and heard how the pandemic may have slowed but not stopped a pro-life initiative called “Walking with Moms in Need”.

They approved guidelines governing the USCCB’s financial investments that include broader limits on where the money would be invested. The guidelines promote a policy of engagement on business practices that have an impact on human dignity.

The prelates, meeting in person for a national gathering for the first time since 2019, also approved guidelines for the display of the Eucharist and blessing, affirmed the causes of holiness for three lay Americans, approved revisions to the statutes of the catechumenate and voted for a revised version of English. and the Spanish-language editions of the Order of Christian Initiation of Adults.

The bishops have assigned a feast date to Saint Teresa of Calcutta – September 5, the date of the death in 1997 of the founder of the Missionaries of Charity. It will be an optional memorial on the American liturgical calendar.

Their vote on the Eucharistic statement came a day after their discussion of the document – a discussion that was markedly different from their June debate on what it could potentially contain, namely an appeal to President Joe Biden and politicians. Catholics who support abortion to refuse Communion. But the final document was nothing like it and is addressed to all Catholics in the United States.

It “strives to explain the centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the Church,” said Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, chairman of the Bishops Doctrine Committee, in a short presentation on the declaration of November 16. It “addresses the fundamental doctrine on the Eucharist that the Church needs to recover and revive”.

Even larger than the declaration is the plan for the three-year Eucharistic renewal, ending with the 2024 National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis. The bishops approved it 201-17, with five abstentions.

The revival will officially begin on Corpus Christi, June 16, 2022, with a diocesan focus that will include Eucharistic processions and other worship and prayer events across the country. In 2023, the focus will be on parishes and resources aimed at increasing Catholics’ understanding of what the Eucharist really means.

As chair of the Bishops’ Committee on Evangelism and Catechesis, Auxiliary Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of St. Paul and Minneapolis, who was recently appointed Bishop of Crookston, Minn., Gave the bishops details on that wakeup scheduled just before they vote on it. .

The revival could be a time of healing for the whole Church, he said, as well as an evangelistic movement and a revival of understanding of the sacrament of the Eucharist for Catholics across the country.

Archbishop of Philadelphia Nelson J. Pérez invited fellow bishops to a national gathering in Chicago in June to participate with young Catholics in a dialogue on issues of culture, racism and inclusion through the lens of faith .

“Perhaps this was the Holy Spirit’s way of telling us bishops that we really needed to take the time to listen to young people, those who care for them and, above all, those who are in the peripheries, feeling unimportant and unloved, and often estranged from the Church, ”Archbishop Pérez said on November 17. He is chairman of the Bishops Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church.

He detailed the opportunity offered by the coronavirus pandemic to facilitate virtual gatherings between young Catholics and bishops over the past year and a half. More than 60 bishops have joined virtual gatherings in a process called “Traveling Together,” he said.

The rallies were held online in the midst of a pandemic, under “social unrest, racial reckoning and polarization affecting American society,” he said. The process created “an opportunity for bishops, young adults, youth and campus ministers, and leaders of various other ministries with youth, to engage in respectful but honest dialogue about faith, culture, racism, inclusion and the issues that affect them as young people, ”he explained.

The chairman of the United States Committee of Bishops on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth called on fellow bishops to work “by all means possible” to implement the national pastoral framework for marriage and the family ministry which they approved in June.

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco said it is vital to address marriage and family life at a time when families are increasingly threatened by “radical ideological currents that destroy and undermine our sexual identity as male and female and vocations given by God as father and mother, son or daughter. Strengthening marriage and family ministry is an appropriate endeavor to begin during “the year of the Amoris Laetitia family,” declared by Pope Francis, the archbishop said.

Entitled “Called to the Joy of Love: A Pastoral Framework for Marriage and Family Life Ministry,” the document can serve as a practical guide to serving couples and families because it offers an adaptable set of principles and principles. strategies for pastoral care, he said.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities, told fellow Bishops that the “Walking with Moms in Need” initiative of the Pro-Life Activities Secretariat Life may have been slowed down by the coronavirus pandemic, but by no means has it stopped helping pregnant women from all walks of life. It was launched on March 25, 2020, just as the pandemic was starting to take hold.

This initiative “has the ability to take what is often seen as a partisan divide and transform it into pastoral unity, bridging the gap between Catholics who describe themselves using the labels of ‘pro-life’ or ‘social justice’. ‘ “, did he declare. “The vision of WWMIN is that a pregnant or parenting mother in need can turn to any local Catholic parish and be connected to the help and support needed for life affirmation.”

The initiative’s website is WalkingWithMoms.com.

In the presentations at the end of the public session on November 17:

–Anna Gallagher, executive director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, told bishops that 3-11 million people in the United States may soon benefit from some type of immigration reform.

– Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville of Washington, president of the USCCB migration committee, asked his fellow prelates to plead, pray and walk with immigrants in their respective dioceses.

– From Haiti to Afghanistan, Catholic Relief Services‘ work has focused on responding to the impact of climate change, natural disasters such as earthquakes, hunger, meager agricultural production and development education for children, reported Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Conn., Chairman of the Board of Directors of CRS. He made the presentation with Sean Callahan, President and CEO of CRS.

– Dominican sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, told bishops that the nationwide network of Catholic charities provided $ 5.1 billion in aid last year, much of it tied the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

– The synodal process the Church is embarking on aims to show that “no one is unimportant in this time of listening,” said Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas. The bishop, a member of the USCCB Doctrine Committee and voted its president-elect at the assembly, said the process over the next seven months must involve the participation of the whole Church “to listen together, pray together, discern together ”.

At sunrise on November 18 in front of the hotel where the bishops held their assembly, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, NJ, Boston Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley and six other Catholic prelates joined survivors of ‘sexual abuse, including some victims of the clergy, in an invitation-only march to pray for an end to the “evil” of abuse and call for a day of prayer for survivors and an end to abuse.