WASHINGTON (May 29, 1998) -- Major statements on Catholic social teaching, and on overcoming the exploitation of sex and violence in communications, will be presented to the Catholic Bishops of the United States at their forthcoming spring meeting in Pittsburgh.
The Bishops will also be asked to approve requesting the Holy See's confirmation of Volume II of the Lectionary for Mass for use in the dioceses of the United States.
Their agenda will include discussion of a paper on reconciliation prepared by the Subcommittee on the Third Millennium, discussion of funding guidelines for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and a report on last fall's Synod of Bishops for America.
Some 275 Bishops from throughout the United States will participate in the 55th general meeting of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) and United States Catholic Conference (USCC), which will be held at the Pittsburgh Hilton Hotel, June 18-20.
The NCCB Committee on Vocations will present a symposium on vocations following the general meeting. Cardinal Pio Laghi, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education, will speak at the symposium, which is open to press coverage. It will begin on Saturday afternoon, June 20, and conclude on Sunday, June 21.
The first open session of the meeting will be held at 9:00 am on Friday, June 19.
The Bishops will be asked to approve a statement entitled "Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions." The statement is the joint work of three USCC committees, the Committee on Domestic Policy, the Committee on Education, and the Committee on International Policy.
The primary purpose of the statement is to express the bishops' commitment, as leaders, pastors and teachers, to the task of incorporating Catholic social teaching into Catholic educational programs, to acknowledge what is already being done, and to offer encouragement to educators to undertake and continue this task.
The statement is essentially a response to the Report of the Task Force on Catholic Social Teaching and Catholic Education, chaired by Most Reverend John R. Roach, former Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis. That group, composed of more than 30 leaders in Catholic education and Catholic social teaching, met for almost three years to explore how the Catholic community can do a better job of sharing the church's social justice tradition in all forms of Catholic education and formation.
The Task Force concluded that, despite a rich social teaching dating back more than a century, and an educational system that is considered one of the best in the world, "The principles of Catholic social teaching are too often shared in a vague way or not at all. As a result, too many Catholics do not understand the substance of the Church's social teaching; they are unable to draw on these principles to help shape their actions in private and public life."
The statement summarizes some of the major themes of Catholic social teaching and spells out recommendations to make such teaching more explicit in all areas of instruction.
If the bishops adopt the statement, the committees have proposed that the summary report of the task force and other materials be published along with it.
The proposed statement about overcoming the exploitation of sex and violence in communications condemns the wide availability of "pornography and graphic, gratuitous violence" and the pervasive portrayals of "sex and violence in a frivolous and titillating way."
Drafted by the Subcommittee on Standards and Policy of the Bishops' Committee on Communications, the statement said such concerns, while directed mainly at films and television in the past, now extend to the Internet, some talk radio shows, telephone sex talk services, the music industry, some video games, and rental outlets featuring X-rated sections.
Entitled "Renewing the Mind of the Media: A Statement on Overcoming the Exploitation of Sex and Violence in Communications," the statement makes specific recommendations for action to the media and entertainment industries, to the general public, to parents and young people, and to church leaders.
It also contains a set of principles for dealing with legislation and court cases concerning obscenity, indecency and excessive violence.
Bishop Michael Cote chaired the Subcommittee on Standard and Policy of the USCC Communications Committee.
Adoption of the statements on Catholic social teaching and on sex and violence in the media requires two-thirds approval by bishops present and voting.
If the Bishops approve submitting Volume II of the Lectionary for Mass for use in the United States for the required confirmation by the Holy See, and the text is subsequently approved, it will be the first new Lectionary in use in Catholic parishes in the United States since the early 1970s.
All liturgical decisions require approval by two-thirds of all the active Latin-rite bishops in the Conference and subsequent confirmation by the Holy See.
The Lectionary is the book of Scripture readings used at Mass. Last year the bishops approved submitting Volume 1, containing the readings for Sundays and certain other major feasts. Volume II has the readings for weekdays and other Masses.