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BALTIMORE—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) voted on a new MRS chairman and approved several items, including, establishing a permanent Subcommittee on the Church in Africa and extending the Retirement Fund for Religious Appeal, during their annual Fall General Assembly in Baltimore, November 15.
In November 2015, Archbishop Gomez was elected to chair the USCCB Committee on Migration for a term beginning this week. Since his election as USCCB vice-president prevents him from assuming leadership of the committee, the bishops elected a new chairman. Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, was elected chairman of the Committee on Migration in a 109-91 vote over Archbishop John C. Wester.
The bishops voted 155 in favor, 8 against and 1 abstaining, to approve a 10-year extension of the Retirement Fund for Religious Appeal. This annual collection was initiated to address the profound deficit in retirement funding among religious congregations in the United States. The National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) coordinates the collection and distributes the proceeds to religious communities in need.
The bishops also approved establishing a permanent Subcommittee on the Church in Africa. The proposal received a vote of 193-8-4. The USCCB's Subcommittee on the Church in Africa works as part of the Committee on National Collections. It administers the voluntary Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa and allocates the revenue received as grants to African episcopal conferences and their regional associations in Africa for programs that support the growth of the Church, especially in the areas of leadership training, church administration, evangelization, communications, justice and peace.
An expanded euchological formulary for the Memorial of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha was approved by a 189-1-0 vote. The expanded Mass formulary in honor of St. Kateri consists of entrance and Communion antiphons, a prayer over the offerings and a prayer after Communion. The formulary has been translated into Spanish.
The bishops voted 165-6-3 in favor of approval of the 2017 proposed budget, presented by the Committee on Budget and Finance.
Diocesan and eparchial bishops also considered a recommendation to adopt the revised diocesan assessment formula to be effective January 1, 2018. The USCCB by-laws require a two-thirds majority of all 197 eligible members to approve the revised diocesan assessment formula. In the initial vote, 107 or 65 percent of eligible bishops approved the assessment. The absent eligible members will be canvassed to determine the final vote.
Diocesan and eparchial bishops also considered a three percent increase in the diocesan assessment for 2018. The USCCB by-laws require a two-thirds majority of all 197 eligible members to approve a three percent increase in the diocesan assessment. In the initial vote, 100 or 60 percent of eligible bishops approved the assessment. The absent eligible members will be canvassed to determine the final vote.
The bishops also voted 211-3-2 to approve the renewal of a resolution on diocesan financial reporting for 2017 through 2021.
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Norma Montenegro Flynn
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