BALTIMORE – As the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) meet this week for their annual Fall Plenary Assembly in Baltimore, they began their gathering with a morning of prayer, reflection, and confession. The bishops then celebrated Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento is attending the assembly.
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, and vice president of the USCCB, welcomed
his brother bishops to the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the first Catholic diocese in the United States, and to the Baltimore Basilica, which was the first Catholic cathedral in the United States.
“Living our faith, we open our plenary session in this historic basilica, home to so many meetings and councils of the vibrant Church in the United States,” said Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio
of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and president of the USCCB in his homily
. “At the beginning of our plenary session we beg for wisdom because we recognize that we are servants of the truth and charged to find ways to help those entrusted to our care welcome that truth, see its logic, and embrace the way of life that Christ holds out for us. We do so in many ways as we work in Synodal fashion to serve the Church in this part of the world.”
The prayers of the Mass were offered for peace and reconciliation in a troubled world, and the archbishop pointed out the significance of the plenary opening on the memorial
of Saint Frances Cabrini. “It seems supremely eloquent that our first saint came over on a ship in the 19th century like many of our grandparents. She can only bless the tireless work to ensure a dignified welcome, which is a constant care of this assembly of bishops,” he said.
Archbishop Broglio also reminded his brother bishops of the current delicate moment in the Middle East saying, “The suffering and death of the innocent on both sides continues to horrify people of good will as well, as Pope Francis reminded us
yesterday. We pray for world leaders that they might find solutions to bring peace to every troubled corner of the world.”
He concluded his homily saying, “Saint Frances Cabrini even obliged the poor to give from their poverty to help those more needy than they. It was also a way of insisting on the dignity of all and the common responsibility for others. It is a message that is very appropriate today and every day…Charity demands our attention to the little ones, the weak, the simple, fraternal correction and unlimited pardon to those who ask.”
The public sessions of the bishops’ plenary on Tuesday and Wednesday, November 14 and 15 will be livestreamed on www.usccb.org/meetings
While the meeting agenda has not been finalized and therefore is subject to change, the bishops are anticipating a full schedule that includes a number of items: updates on the 2021-2024 Synod of Bishops, the U.S. bishops’ Eucharistic revival initiative and national congress, the Institute on the Catechism, and the recently-launched mental health campaign; a consultation of the bishops on the cause of beatification and canonization of Servant of God Isaac Thomas Hecker, priest and founder of the Missionary Society of Saint Paul the Apostle (the Paulist Fathers); and a consultation of the bishops to support the request of the bishops’ conference of England and Wales asking the Holy Father to name Saint John Henry Newman a Doctor of the Church; a vote on the USCCB’s 2024 budget; and a discussion and consideration of the reauthorization of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism.
The bishops are expected to discuss and vote on several action items including: a new introductory note and materials supporting Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the bishops’ teaching document on the political responsibility of Catholics; the approval of a framework for indigenous ministry; a number of action items pertaining to liturgical texts from the Committee on Divine Worship; and replacing the current USCCB Strategic Plan cycle with a newly-proposed Mission Planning process.
During the assembly, the bishops will vote for the new Conference secretary, as well as chairmen-elect of six Conference committees. The terms for the bishops elected for committee chairmen will serve for one year as chairman-elect before beginning a three-year term at the conclusion of the 2024 Fall Plenary Assembly.
To read the story from OSV News, visit https://www.osvnews.com/2023/11/14/u-s-bishops-open-fall-assembly-with-prayer-reflection-and-a-mass-for-peace/ and First day of U.S. bishops’ November meeting focuses on synodality, technology in liturgy, and advancing a cause of canonization - OSV News
In photo above, Bishop Jaime Soto speaks to the U.S. bishops during their Fall Plenary Assembly in 2019.