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USCCB meeting live

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meets today. Watch live here.

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Grant Gallicho is an associate editor of Commonweal. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.



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I clicked on the link at about 4:10 CT / 5:10 ET, but it took me to a Christian fitness workout routine.  I suppose a little cardio may not be bad for some of the bishops ...

The link took me to Fr. Avery Dulles giving a speech. 


I found the meeting on the USCCB website yesterday aftrnoon. They voted by voice, since electronic voting was "too expensive." I didn't.hear a single "no" vote  on anything. But most of their attentiion went to "The Fortnight of Freedom" and their updating (slightly) of  the "Faithful Citizenship" document in light of the 2016 election.  Not their finest hour.

Susan Gannon:

As a long time observer of the USCCB (NCCB), including for twenty years being in the room for their then largely open sessions, I think "their finest hour" was more than two decades ago. We're in the lean years, and it looks like continuing, Pope Francis notwithstandng.


Cardinal Kasper, in "Mercy," quotes Augustine's injunction "Let him praise You not who does not realize Your mercies, which my soul's depths confess to You" and then adds:
"Infact, we must be silent about God if we don't know how to speak anew the message of God's mercy to the people who are in so much physical and spiritual distress. The question about God's mercy and about merciful human beings is, after all the terrible experiences of the twentieth as well as the still-young twenty-first century, more prresent today than ever."

The news reports that I've seen about the USCCB meeting in New Orleans don't report much talk about mercy. And I myself often fail to speak with mercy. Kasper is right, I think. We cannot speak rightly about God if we don't speak in terms of His mercy. The bishops, no less than the rest of us, ought to beware of failing to testify constantly to God's mercy.

Only the belief that they have the deposit of faith, the magic of the sacraments, provokes them into being such continued narcissists who continue to pay more attention to big money rather than the common folk.. 

Are they still talking about "Fortnight of Freedom".  Longest "Fortnight" ever .

I watched some of it. Caught the part where Chaput is announcing Philadelphia will have a family festival, and inviting everyone to come. It will cost millions of course, but they're confident they will come up with the money.

No details were forthcoming. I wonder what this festival will look like. Flying banners against contraception, divorce, gay marriage? Teaching talks on "theology of the body"? Contemporary equivalents of the Trapp family singers? Games for kids? I'm only speculating.

Philadelphia is in such debt and financial trouble because of mismanagement that they are selling their buildings, auctioning art treasures, and closing schools and parishes, but he is confident of big donors.

He also said Pope Francis might come. Now, THAT would be a draw,

What a difference between Francis and this bunch. Francis is out demanding right treatment for children and shaming arms dealers who profit from war while the American bishops are sponosring some Barnum and Bailey circus as a fund raiser . They stay the course while children are trafficked and go hungry.......Miseralbile!

most of their attentiion went to "The Fortnight of Freedom" and their updating (slightly) of  the "Faithful Citizenship" document in light of the 2016 election.  


This report/opinion piece by Rev. Thomas Reese provides some more details on the range of possibilities that the bishops considered for revising the "Faithful Citizenship" document.  One excerpt:

Auxiliary Bishop Robert McElroy of San Francisco noted that the treatment of conscience in the 2007 document was very good, but he complained that "the role of intrinsic evil has a centrality" that needs to be "supplemented by an examination and presentation of the church's doctrine on structural sin and structural evil and the pursuit of the good." Otherwise, "the teachings of Pope Francs will not be correctly presented."

Cardinal DiNardo clearly disagreed. "The major point of many of the committee writers was that that section of the document was the one that was strongest and therefore to be left alone," he said.

Not only is this interesting in its own right, it also illustrates what may be in store if Pope Francis follows through with granting more authority and autonomy to national conferences.  Without wishing to be too hard on the bishops, it has always seemed to me that the USCCB is not exactly a well-oiled machine.  It is not always united, and it meets for only a few days, twice a year.   It is not noted for reacting with lightning speed.  Its members are not full-time legislators; they spend nearly all their time in their own dioceses, and rely on reports to bone up for the legislative agenda.  

That is not to say that a national conference can't achieve great things; the USCCB should be proud of its heritage, particularly in the post-Vatican II years.  But it's not a light, nimble craft that can turn on a dime.  If any course-changing is necessary, patience may be in order.



I am a Philadelphian. I watched the TV news report when the Theme for the World Meeting of Families-Philadelphia 2015 was announced at Independence Hall in May. When Archbishop Chaput was asked by a journalist how the event would be subsidized he said that the Pontifical Council for the Family would be covering it but, (Get this.) he hoped that the government would cover some of the cost.

(Of course, if the pope, as a head of state, comes, the government would be very involved in his security.)



Today's NYTimes tells how Francis is affecting the US bishops. The clergy and bishops are talking about what Francis is saying. Something that was not a practice under John Paul and Benedict. Francis is a modern day Paul.

JP - guess there are two ways of looking at the dilemma you pose.  The post VII NCCB produced some significant achievements (it took work) and there is no reason to think that could not happen again in the future.  (you appear to take a very pessimistic approach)

In addition, the NCCB gathered, discussed, proposed, negotiated, and implemented significant VII liturgical initiatives for years.

IMO, this can happen again but two things (historically) have changed - via JPII and Benedict, curial over-centralization and using a litmus test for episcopal appointments has brought the USCCB to a point of irrelevance, poor morale, disillusionment, etc.  Francis knows this from experience - he was the president of the Argentina episcopal conference and has written and spoken about the curial/papal impact on him and on the conference.

My guess - give the conferences both the power and change canon law to give them the responsibility/'rights and you will see a very significant change.  Remove the curia as the middle man and conferences will begin to be innovative, creative, responsive, etc.  (you might want to expand your view beyond the US - the Asian bishops conference has been very outspoken as has CELAM (again, running into a brick wall via Benedict and the curia).

Historically, the best footnote for the USCCB was the last attempt to write a conference paper - it was on the subject of women.  Between the litmus test bishops appointed by JPII and curial refusals to approve parts of the paper, the USCCB eventually pended and then let the project die a slow death.  Not exactly responsible; caved in to the powers to be; etc.  The second example would be the 1998 missal - all english speaking conferences approved this and the USCCB under your cardinal, George, were afraid and spooked by the curia and thus behaved in an irresponsible and unaccountable fashion (to the local church's detriment and very differently from the response you have seen over the last 3-5 years by conferences in Germany, Italy, Spain, etc.

I wonder what would happen if Francis replaced all the bishops in the Curia with lay people and no clergy  higher than Msgr.  In other words, what would happen if he put the troops in charge?  What would be different?  What the same?  And would that be what the Church needs most?  Hmmm.

The NYTimes article mentioned by Bill M @1:03pm came across to this reader as an exercise in evasion by the bishops and the lack of follow-up by a reporter. The general tone of the prelates was very defensive. I'd suggest reading the Comments section to the article . The typical anti-catholic bigotry is present (as to be expected in a Comments section on anything RC church hierarchy) but many comments reveal a basic rift : Yea for Francis; Nay for US bishops.  And one commentor hit the nail on the head when she succinctly described  San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone as being truely "a fish out of water" and what a disasterous appointment that has been.

Hi, Bill, without wishing to dispute any of your points, my overall point of view is that it will take some time for a large conference like the USCCB to get aligned with Francis' vision.  It might take a decade or more.  We'll have to see.

And one commenter hit the nail on the head when she succinctly described San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone as being truly "a fish out of water" and what a disastrous appointment that has been.

As a parishioner in Cordileone’s fiefdom, I can assure you that the locals are up in arms about his latest foray into divisive single-issue politic:

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