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Posted Monday, Nov. 19, 2004 at 9:06 a.m. CDT

Quick look at U.S. bishops' 2004 fall meeting in Washington

By Catholic News Service

More stories from the bishops' conference
Bishops approve proposals on marriage, Christian unity, abuse data
Internal matters behind them, bishops still face substantial agenda
Head of bishops' child protection office plans to resign in February
Bishops approve $129.4 million budget for 2005
Bishop Skylstad elected president of U.S. bishops' conference
Foster communion and mission, nuncio tells U.S. bishops
Bishop Gregory reflects on three turbulent years and changes to come
At the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Nov. 15-17 fall general meeting in Washington, the bishops:

  • Adopted, by a vote of 218-10, the 456-page "U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults" and sent it to the Vatican for confirmation.
  • Agreed, in a 195-20 vote, to begin a National Pastoral Initiative on Marriage that will include a survey, symposium and focus groups and lead to a pastoral letter on marriage in 2007.
  • Accepted a proposal to join Christian Churches Together in the USA, by a vote of 151-73, marking the first time that the U.S. Catholic Church will be a partner church in a national ecumenical body.
  • Received, without public comment or discussion, a three-page report from their Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians which called for development of a reader about Catholics in public life and further study of church teaching on Communion.
  • Decided, on a 137-85 vote, to gather annual information from dioceses on the number of new sex abuse allegations against clergy and other church workers, the resolution of existing cases and the costs involved.
  • Approved streamlining the process for the 2005 diocesan audits related to sex abuse, by a 189-35 vote.
  • OK'd changes, in three separate votes, in Spanish-language liturgical texts to formally incorporate important Latin American rituals into U.S. church services for infant baptism, marriage and the "quinceanera," which marks a 15-year-old Hispanic girl's passage to adolescence.
  • Selected Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane, Wash., USCCB vice president for the past three years, as their new president, and Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago as vice president.
  • Using an electronic voting system for only the second time, elected Bishop Dennis M. Schnurr of Duluth, Minn., as USCCB treasurer-elect and chose two new committee chairmen and 12 chairmen-elect.
  • Overwhelmingly approved a series of recommendations aimed at limiting the conference's projects to those mandated by the Vatican or the bishops themselves.
  • Agreed to create an ad hoc committee to aid the church in Africa, which would collect and distribute contributions for the church in Africa.
  • Approved a $129.4 million budget for 2005, 1.8 percent higher than the previous year's budget.
  • Sent back to committee a proposal to issue a pastoral statement on the use of the Bible by Catholics.
  • Expressed little support for convening a national plenary council or U.S. regional synod of bishops, but agreed that they needed to spend more time discussing major problems facing the U.S. church.
  • Marked the 25th anniversary of their pastoral letter on racism with a Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
  • Heard an assessment of the turbulent past three years and a cautiously optimistic view of the future of the conference from Bishop Wilton D. Gregory of Belleville, Ill., who completed a three-year term as USCCB president.
  • Authorized Bishop Gregory to issue a statement calling on the United States and the international community to provide sufficient support to the African Union to stop the violence in western Sudan's Darfur region.
  • Launched a $25 million capital campaign for the North American College, the U.S. national seminary in Rome.
  • Learned that the Vatican has given approval to the "National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States," which the bishops approved in 2003.

National Catholic Reporter, November 19, 2004

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