Baltimore, Md., Nov 11, 2013 / 08:48 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- During the first day of their fall meeting in Baltimore, the U.S. bishops discussed themes and priorities for their work as a whole, including evangelization, the family and Catholic education.
The bishops listened on Nov. 11 to remarks from apostolic nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò and conference president Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan on the importance of Christian witness and international religious freedom.
They heard a report from the conference’s National Advisory Council, a 48-member group of laity, clergy and religious of various ages, locations, ethnicities and occupations, who meet to offer input on topics discussed by the bishops.
The council supports a continued focus on evangelization and education, the development of a formal statement on pornography, a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict, and an extension of the bishops’ “Call to Prayer” for life, marriage and religious liberty.
In addition, the group supports a spokesperson for the president of the bishops’ conference and called for a review of the federal government’s new Common Core State Standards to see how they will impact Catholic education.
Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, who chairs the conference’s Committee on Priorities and Plans, offered an update on the bishops’ New Evangelization-themed strategic plan for 2013-2016, which was approved unanimously by the bishops last year.
Critical to the strategic plan are the goals of protecting human life and dignity, strengthening marriage and family life, promoting religious liberty and improving faith formation and sacramental practice.
In the past year, Archbishop Sartain said, the conference’s committees have made “important progress” towards these priorities, working to provide resources to promote the Sacrament of Penance, coordinate U.S. participate in World Youth Day this summer, and develop online New Evangelization Toolkit as a resource for dioceses.
At the same time, committees have worked to strengthen the people’s understanding of Christian vocation and witness, enhance intercultural competencies, create effective communication strategies, exercise stewardship and promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
At the suggestion of Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston, Archbishop Sartain also reiterated the importance of keeping in mind Pope Francis’ call to be “a Church for the poor and a Church of the poor” while working towards the conference’s priorities.
The bishops also carried out a canonical episcopal consultation – a required step in the Church’s canonization process – for Mother Mary Teresa Tallon, servant of God. After hearing a presentation from Cardinal Dolan, (Read More)