The big news out of the Friday morning session of the USCCB’s virtual conference was an overwhelming vote in favor of proceeding to draft a teaching document on the Eucharist. Some 75% of the bishops voted in favor of moving forward with the draft, after a lengthy and contentious debate Thursday.
The bishops also voted to approve a draft pastoral framework on marriage and family life, the drafting of a national pastoral framework on youth and young adults, a new formal statement on and comprehensive vision for Native American and Alaskan Native ministry, and various new liturgical translations from the International Committee on English in the Liturgy.
In addition, the bishops heard several presentations on the work of committees within the conference:
- The bishops heard a presentation on a proposed “Eucharistic revival” project intended to increase devotion, love, and belief in the Eucharist. Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens of St. Paul and Minneapolis, who heads the USCCB’s evangelization and catechesis committee, explained that the three-year initiative would have parish, diocesan, and national levels. It would also collaborate with schools, religious movements, and apostolates. The project is motivated not only by increasing levels of religiously unaffiliated youth and a 2019 Pew study showing most Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, but also by a desire to promote love, healing, and unity in the Church, Cozzens said. The discussion following the presentation included bishops showing significant support and enthusiasm for the idea. The Pillar interviewed Cozzens earlier this week about the “Eucharistic revival” project. You can read that interview here.
- Also on Friday afternoon, Bishop Joseph Tyson of Yakima, chair of the subcommittee on the pastoral care for migrants, refugees and travelers presented a report from CARA, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, which examined national provision by “worship sites” including parishes, shrines and cathedrals for immigrant, migrant, and other communities. Given that some 40% of foreign-born people in the United States self-describe as Catholics, Tyson said, ensuring proper provision for these communities is essential. The report compared census data on the presence of migrant communities in a given zip code to survey responses from parishes nationwide on their awareness of and provision for these communities. The report concluded that in many places, “worship sites” are unaware of the presence of significant immigrant communities in their territory and the need for dedicated pastoral provision for them.
- Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, head of the Subcommittee on the Catechism, offered a presentation on a proposal for the creation of an institute on the Catechism. The institute is intended to be a proactive response to changes in the catechetical landscape, such as a rise in the religiously disaffiliated, the growing percentage of Hispanic Catholics, and the increased use of technology in catechesis, Caggiano said. It is not designed to be a physical place, but a bicultural effort to develop teaching and evangelization materials, hold annual formational conferences, and promote evangelizing catechesis. The institute will collaborate with the USCCB and expert institutions, including the Augustine Institute and the McGrath Institute For Church Life at the University of Notre Dame.The plan is to launch the institute virtually at the end of 2021 and hold the first in-person event next year.
- The last item on the bishops’ agenda for public session was an update from the Committee on Migration, offered by its chairman, Bishop Mario Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington D.C., who gave an overview of a meeting on immigration between bishops from the United States and central and southern American countries held at Mundelein Seminary earlier this month. Dorsonville began by reminding bishops of the ongoing priority of comprehensive immigration reform in the United States, and highlighted the role played by DACA recipients as essential workers during the pandemic. On the meeting at Mundelein, Dorsonville said more than 40 bishops attended together with leaders of Catholic charitable and relief agencies, and discussed both the necessity of welcoming immigrants and migrants, and of considering the root causes of migration in violence, corruption, climate change, and lack of education and opportunity in many countries, and that a report drawn from the meeting’s conclusions would be published next week.