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WASHINGTON—The U.S. bishops will vote on a document encouraging Catholics to see Lent 2013 as an opportunity to return to regular celebration of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. The vote will occur during the annual Fall General Assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), November 12-15, in Baltimore.
The bishops developed the document to highlight the connection drawn by Pope Benedict XVI between confession and the New Evangelization during the Year of Faith. "The New Evangelization, thus, also begins in the confessional!" Pope Benedict said in March.
The document is "an invitation from the bishops of the United States to all Catholics—bishops, clergy and laity—to participate in the sacrament," said Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis. In the proposed text, the bishops write that they are eager to help people experiencing difficulty, hesitation or uncertainty about receiving the sacrament. They also express readiness to welcome those who have not gone to confession in a long time.
"The brevity of the statement is intended to help foster a wide dissemination through parish bulletins, print publications and social media," Bishop Ricken added.
According to Bishop Ricken, the Evangelization and Catechesis Committee will prepare other teaching resources for parishes and dioceses, and the USCCB statement should be seen as supplementing the voice of a local bishop on this matter.
Coverage of the bishops' meeting is open to credentialed media. Sessions open to media will be Monday, November 12, and Tuesday, November 13. Media conferences will follow open sessions of the meeting. Reporters seeking to cover the meeting can download a credential application form at www.usccb.org/about/media-relations/upload/application-news-media-credentials.pdf and submit it by November 1 via email to USCCB Media Relations, fax to (202) 541-3173, or mail to:
Keywords: U.S. bishops: USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Baltimore, November meeting, Fall General Assembly, Bishop David Ricken, confession, Lent, Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation
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