WASHINGTON (June 6, 1997) -- A revised edition of the Lectionary for Mass, a statement on Catholic youth ministry, a pastoral plan for communications, establishment of a collection for the home missions, and the restructuring of their conferences will be on the agenda for the spring meeting of the Catholic Bishops of the United States.
About 250 bishops are expected to attend the 53rd general meeting of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) and United States Catholic Conference (USCC). The meeting will be held June 19-21 at the Hyatt Regency Crown Center in Kansas City, Mo.
A workshop on "The Diocesan Bishop and Health Care Ministry" will be held on Thursday morning, June 19. The general meeting, which is open to press coverage, begins Thursday afternoon at 2 pm.
At the meeting, the Bishops will be asked by their Committee on the Liturgy chaired by Archbishop Jerome Hanus, OSB, to vote on seeking confirmation from the Holy See for a revised Lectionary for Mass. The Lectionary contains the Scripture readings proclaimed at Mass.
The Bishops approved a revision of the Lectionary based on revised translations of the New American Bible in 1992 but the required confirmation from the Holy See was not immediately forthcoming.
Last March a working group composed of representatives of the NCCB and representatives of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met at the Vatican for the purpose of completing a final review of the revised Lectionary for Mass.
The Bishops will also be asked to approve revisions by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) of texts previously remanded for further consideration in the course of the approval of the revised Sacramentary (Roman Missal). Over the past four years, in accordance with the NCCB Procedure for Approving the Revised Roman Missal, the NCCB has approved all eight segments of the ICEL revision of the translation of the Sacramentary. In the course of that consideration, the NCCB voted to remand 160 texts to ICEL for further consideration.
The Bishops' Committee on the Laity, chaired by Bishop G. Patrick Ziemann, will ask the Bishops to approve issuance of the statement Renewing the Vision - A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry.
The document is intended as an update of a vision for youth ministry issued by the USCC Department of Education in 1976. The new statement is intended to take account of social changes in society which present the Church with a new set of challenges, new research into adolescent development, and the continuing development of the Church's understanding and practice of ministry.
The Pastoral Plan for Communications arose from the recommendation in the document Aetatis Novae of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications that dioceses and episcopal conferences develop such plans. Accordingly, the USCC Communications Department convened representatives of major Catholic organizations.
The pastoral plan says the "overarching goal" of church communication in the United States is to "present an evangelical message through participation in media locally and nationally."
This goal leads to specific actions, says the plan, including "evangelizing; influencing the values, judgments and actions of U.S. society; telling the Church's story; protecting the communication environment; teaching communication; reflecting systematically on the quality of church communication; and supporting one another in a ministry of communication."
The pastoral plan also discusses the wide range of resources the Church can draw on for its communications efforts, from the thousands of Catholics working in church communications to the financial, institutional and programming resources it possesses in addition to the church presence in the wider communication industry.
The principles and activities expressed in the pastoral plan are consonant with those that underlie a strategic plan for Conference communications which is being presented for discussion only at the meeting. This plan was developed in response to the Conference mandate for a planning process in the wake of suspension of operations of the Catholic Television Network of America (CTNA) at the June general meeting in 1995.
Most Reverend Thomas J. Costello is Chairman of the Communications Committee.
The Bishops will be asked to approve proposals for Conference restructuring that originated with the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on Mission and Structure headed by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. The proposals to be voted upon are those which, on the basis of past discussions by the bishops, seemed to enjoy consensus. They include the establishment of a single episcopal conference for the United States with the proposed name of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
The Committee on the American Board of Catholic Missions (ABCM) will ask approval of the establishment of a new permanent national Collection for the Home Missions.
The bishops established the Mission Sunday collection in 1924, specifying that sixty percent would go to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith for the missions overseas, while forty percent would support the missions in the United States and its dependencies. Over the years, this money has subsidized poor rural churches, supported seminary education and training for lay ministers, provided basic pastoral services to Hispanics and African-American Catholics, even bought textbooks and paid parish utility bills. Annual ABCM grants have gone to dioceses like Jackson, Mississippi; El Paso, Texas; Cheyenne, Wyoming; Fairbanks, Alaska; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and American Samoa.
In 1993, the Bishops agreed to decrease the ABCM share from forty to twenty-five percent from 1995 to 1999. The Holy Father may decide to end it entirely thereafter. This has created the need for a new collection which, if approved, will be taken up on the last Sunday in April beginning in 1998.
The initial goal of the collection would be to raise $7 million after expenses. This would allow the ABCM to restore recent funding cuts, take account of inflation, and begin building an endowment fund.
Coverage of the meeting will conclude with the afternoon session on Friday, June 20 because the Bishops will meet in executive session on Saturday morning, June 21.