Next week's Fall General Assembly of the US Catholic Bishops will feature discussions about many timely and topical issues facing the church today. The bishops will vote on several action items, including their strategic plan and documents on preaching, the Sacrament of Penance, the economy and possibilities and challenges to the teaching ministry of a bishop. The bishops will also vote for the treasurer-elect of USCCB, the chairmen-elect of five committees, and the creation of three USCCB staff positions.
Here is a small sampling of the issues being addressed by the Bishops. For full coverage of the meetings, go to the USCCB General Assembly - 2012 November website, which will feature updated information, voting results, video and live-streaming during the meeting.
- Bishops, Bloggers To Dialogue In ‘Encounter With Social Media
- Bishops To Vote On Document Responding To Difficult Economic Times
- Internal matters top agenda of bishops' fall assembly in Baltimore
- Bishops to consider new document on preaching at fall meeting
In addition, the U.S. Bishops will vote on a strategic plan for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for 2013-2016, during their annual November plenary in Baltimore, November 12-15.
The proposed plan centers on the New Evangelization called for by Pope Benedict XVI with emphasis on three areas of church life: Faith, Worship and Witness. The plan maps out a direction for USCCB committees and offices to work together on a limited number of key issues which are generally national in scope. Many of these plans continue the bishops’ focus from the last four years. The proposal outlines efforts listed below.
2013-2014: Focus on Faith.
Plans aim to aid bishops and dioceses in helping Catholics deepen their relationship with Jesus, increase their knowledge of Church teachings, strengthen the formation of ministers and, for all, gain a greater confidence in the Gospel lived in society through the parish community. Specific issues include increased education for priests, religious and lay ministers and promotion of vocations, emphasis on such issues as cultural diversity, migration and pastoral care for refugees, respect for life at all stages of development and concern for the poor and marginalized.
2014-2015: Focus on Worship and Parish Life.
Plans work toward increasing sacramental practice and emphasizing the welcoming nature of parish communities. This includes special efforts to strengthen marriage and family life and increase Mass attendance and use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
2015-2016: Focus on Witness.
Plans support continuing initiatives related to the life and dignity of the human person and promote projects to support diocesan efforts to strengthen and encourage the laity to witness in the public square and to understand their role as evangelizers and witnesses to their Christian faith. Specific issues include a 2016 conference to facilitate Catholics promoting their faith in the public square and learning how to be evangelizers, efforts to increase communications between bishops and members of religious orders and promotion of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.