WASHINGTON (November 5, 2001) -- A pastoral statement entitled Asian Pacific Presence: Harmony in Faith, a
statement on Africa: A Call to Solidarity with Africa, and a revised Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities: A Campaign in Support of Life are among items on the agenda for the fall meeting of the nation's Catholic bishops.
At their semi-annual meeting, the Bishops will elect a new President and Vice President to three-year terms which begin immediately after the meeting. A Treasurer-elect and 22 committee chairmen and chairmen-elect will also be chosen.
The bishops will also deal with matters pertaining to the Liturgy of the Church and the approval of complementary norms for certain canons in the Code of Canon Law.
About 285 bishops from throughout the country are expected to attend the fall meeting, the first since the creation of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. USCCB, established in July, is the successor organization to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops/United States Catholic Conference. The meeting will be held November 12-15 at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill.
It begins at 9:00 AM Monday with an address by the Conference President, Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston. The Bishops will begin each session with prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours.
The pastoral statement Asian Pacific Presence: Harmony in Faith is the work of the Bishops' Committee on Migration chaired by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Camden. It recognizes the increasing number of Asian and Pacific communities in the Church as well as in United States society, expresses the bishops' appreciation for the gifts that Asian and Pacific communities bring to the Church in this country, and underlines the challenges such communities face in searching for practical steps to assist their integration into the Church in the United States.
The statement A Call to Solidarity with Africa will be presented by the Bishops' Committee on International Policy chaired by Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston. It responds to the desire of a number of U.S. bishops, the Holy Father, the Synod on Africa, and the Church in Africa that greater attention be given to the peoples and nations of Africa.
The proposed document is the result of nearly two years of consultation with experts on African affairs, government leaders and non-governmental organizations in Africa, and with the Church and the Bishops of Africa. It also derives from a number of visits to Africa by members of the Committee on International Policy and the board of Catholic Relief Services (CRS).
Topics addressed in the statement include poverty, disease, the burden of debt, conflict and insecurity on the continent, and refugees and displaced persons.
The statement notes that Africa is the fastest growing region of the world, with more than 350 million Christians, that the Catholic Church in Africa has more than 116 million members, and that more than 10,000 parishes and 75,000 mission stations are located in Africa.
The Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities: A Campaign in Support of Life is the work of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities chaired by Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore. It is meant to serve as a pattern for the Church at every level to promote increased respect for human life. The first Pastoral Plan was issued in 1975 and revised in 1985.
This second revision takes account of two documents which have been issued in the interim: Pope John Paul II's 1995 encyclical The Gospel of Life and the U.S. bishops' 1998 statement Living the Gospel of Life.
The revised pastoral plan reaffirms the three core areas of the previous plans: an educational campaign, a public policy effort, and pastoral services. In addition, the role of prayer, undergirding all activities in support of life, is highlighted as a separate, fourth category.
The Committee on the Liturgy, chaired by Archbishop Oscar H. Lipscomb of Mobile, will ask the bishops to remand the translation of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (General Instruction of the Roman Missal) to the International Commission on English in the Liturgy for further revision in light of Liturgiam authenticam, a 2001 instruction from the Holy See concerning liturgical translations.
In 2000, Pope John Paul II approved the revised Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani replacing the 1975 edition of this introduction to the Missale Romanum. At a meeting on August 27, 2001 the Committee on the Liturgy reviewed the ICEL translation of the Institutio Generalis Romani. Recognizing that ICEL labored under the handicap of producing this translation prior to the publication of Liturgiam authenticam, and realizing the translation will likely be judged by the Holy See according to the prescriptions of this new instruction, the Committee is recommending that the translation be remanded to ICEL.
In June of this year the Bishops approved cultural adaptations to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal for the dioceses of the United States. These adaptations were then submitted to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments for confirmation. Having received the results of the Congregation's review, the Bishops will also consider an editorial revision of the adaptations with some modifications as suggested by the Committee on the Liturgy in light of the observations from the Holy See.
The Committee on the Liturgy will also ask the Bishops to designate January 1, 2002 as a National Day of Prayer for Peace in the light of the war on terrorism. The committee will recommend that liturgical and devotional prayers on this feast of Mary, Mother of God, include prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title, "Queen of Peace."
In addition, the bishops will hold a two-hour discussion of the implementation of Liturgiam Authenticam. There will be presentations by Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ, Cardinal Francis George, Bishop Tod D. Brown, and Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli.
The Committee on Canonical Affairs, chaired by Auxiliary Bishop A. James Quinn of Cleveland, will ask the body of bishops to approve complementary norms for canons 766 (lay preaching) and 772 and 831 (Catholic teaching on radio and television) in the revised Code of Canon Law. The norms were approved by the Bishops in 1999 and 2000 and subsequently modified to accomodate observations made by the Congregation for Bishops.
The Bishops will vote on 2002 plans for USCCB committees and offices, on a budget for next year, and on the diocesan assessment for 2003.
Guest speakers at the meeting include Father David O'Connell, president of the Catholic University of America, and Msgr. Richard Stern of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.
The Bishops will elect a new president to succeed Bishop Fiorenza and a vice president to succeed Bishop Wilton D. Gregory of Belleville, IL, who have completed their three-year term of office.
Nominees for the office of president of the USCCB (in alphabetical order) are Bishop Tod D. Brown of Orange, CA, Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein, OSB, of Indianapolis, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFMCap, of Denver, Bishop Gregory, Bishop Henry J. Mansell of Buffalo, Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark, Archbishop Justin F. Rigali of St. Louis, Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane, Bishop Donald W. Trautman of Erie, and Archbishop John G. Vlazny of Portland, OR. The election will take place on Tuesday morning, Nov. 13. The vice-president will be selected from the remaining candidates after the president is elected.
The opening Mass will be at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 400 Michigan Ave., N.E., on Monday evening, Nov. 12, at 6:00 PM. Bishop Fiorenza will be the principal celebrant of a Mass for Peace.
For the first time, at this fall's general meeting of the USCCB, its Department of Communications will provide streaming video of portions of the proceedings accessible via the Conference Web site (USCCB.ORG). Included will be brief excerpts from the floor of the meeting and the news conferences that are held at the conclusion of each general session as well as interviews with the Bishop participants. The Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) will also provide coverage.
Media accreditation and arrangements are made through the Department of Communications.