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Recap of U.S. Bishops’ Fall Plenary in Baltimore

Posted on November 16, 2023 in: News

Recap of U.S. Bishops’ Fall Plenary in Baltimore

BALTIMORE - The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) gathered November 13-16 for their Fall Plenary Assembly in Baltimore.

The bishops began their plenary with a Mass for Peace at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with an afternoon of regional meetings. On Tuesday, the public sessions of the assembly began with the bishops sending prayers and a message to the Holy Father, as well as an address by Cardinal Christophe Pierre, papal nuncio to the United States. Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA addressed the body as USCCB president.

During the plenary, the bishops received updates on the following items: 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. They also held a canonical consultation and affirmed their support for 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 also affirmed their support for a request from the bishops’ conference of England and Wales asking the Holy Father to name Saint John Henry Newman a Doctor of the Church.

The bishops discussed several action items and voted on the following:

  • 200 in favor, 21 against, and 17 abstentions to approve the reassignment of the Archdiocese of Las Vegas and the Diocese of Reno from Region XI to Region XII, prompted by the creation of a new ecclesiastical province by the Holy Father this past May;
  • 225 in favor, 11 against, and 7 abstentions to approve a new introductory note and materials (bulletin inserts and a template video script) supporting the bishops’ teaching document on the political responsibility of Catholics, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship;
  • 228 in favor, 7 against, and 5 abstentions to replace the current USCCB Strategic Plan cycle with a newly-proposed Mission Planning Process;
  • 230 in favor, 11 against, and 1 abstention to affirm the reauthorization of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism;
  • 231 in favor, 2 against, and 5 abstentions to approve the USCCB’s 2024 proposed budget, presented by the Committee on Budget and Finance.

There were six action items pertaining to liturgical texts from the Committee on Divine Worship, and the Latin Church members of the USCCB voted on the following: 

  • The U.S. adaptations for the Liturgy of the Hours passed with 214 votes in favor, 3 votes against, and 2 abstentions. The approval of this requires a two-thirds vote of the Latin Church bishops, with subsequent confirmatio and recognitio from the Vatican’s Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
  • The bishops voted 222 votes in favor, 4 votes against, and 3 abstentions to authorize an amended process for the approval of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) Gray Book of Supplementary Texts for the Liturgy of the Hours.
  • The bishops voted 225 votes in favor, 2 votes against, and 0 abstentions to approve the ICEL Gray Book of The Order of Blessing of an Abbot or Abbess. The approval of this requires a two-thirds vote of the Latin Church bishops, with subsequent confirmatio and recognitio from the Vatican’s Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
  • The bishops voted 224 votes in favor, 2 votes against, and 2 abstentions to approve the ICEL Gray Book of The Order of Consecration of Virgins. The approval of this requires a two-thirds vote of the Latin Church bishops, with subsequent confirmatio and recognitio from the Vatican’s Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
  • The bishops voted 221 votes in favor, 3 votes against, and 2 abstentions to approve the ICEL Gray Book of The Order of Religious Profession. The approval of this requires a two-thirds vote of the Latin Church bishops, with subsequent confirmatio from the Vatican’s Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
  • The bishops also voted 227 votes in favor, 3 votes against, and 0 abstentions to approve the request to inscribe Saint Teresa of Calcutta on the General Roman Calendar as an Optional Memorial on September 5.

During the assembly, the bishops voted for a Conference secretary, as well as chairmen-elect of six Conference committees. The bishops elected will serve for one year as chairman-elect before beginning a three-year term at the conclusion of the 2024 Fall Plenary Assembly. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City was elected in November 2023 as USCCB secretary to complete the term left vacant when Archbishop Broglio was elected as Conference president. Archbishop Coakley’s current term concludes in November 2024, and with his re-election during this plenary as USCCB secretary and the chairman of the Committee on Priorities and Plans, he will begin his new three-year term at the conclusion of the November 2024 plenary.

News updates, texts of addresses and presentations, and other materials from the 2023 plenary are posted to: www.usccb.org/meetings.

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