Bishops Vote on Permanent Committee for Religious Liberty, Revised Guidelines for Celebration of Sacraments for People with Disabilities

June 15, 2017 By Public Affairs Office

INDIANAPOLIS—The U.S. bishops voted on and approved a number of items including, establishing a permanentCommittee for Religious Liberty and the revised Guidelines for the Celebration of theSacraments with Persons with Disabilities, during their Spring General Assembly in Indianapolis, June14.

The bishops voted to approveestablishing a permanent Committee for Religious Liberty. The proposal receiveda vote of 132 votes in favor, 53 votes against and 5 abstaining. The USCCB'sCommittee for Religious Liberty seeks to strengthen and sustain religiousfreedom by assisting the U.S. bishops, individually and collectively, to teachabout religious freedom to the faithful and the broader public, and to promoteand defend religious freedom in law and policy.

The revised Guidelinesfor the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities were approvedby a 180-1-0 vote. The document is a revision of an earlier version, lastupdated in 1995. These new Guidelinestake into account medical and technological innovations of recent years, andemphasize the importance of the inclusion of all members of parishes. While notlegislative in nature, they will be a helpful resource for dioceses andparishes. This vote required support of the majority of the Latin Churchmembers of the USCCB.

The bishops also voted178-3-0 in favor of a new translation of the Order of Blessing the Oil of Catechumens and of the Sick and ofConsecrating the Chrism. This brief ritual is used each year at the ChrismMass, which is celebrated during Holy Week in most dioceses. This vote alsorequires a two-thirds vote of the Latin Church members of the USCCB withsubsequent confirmation by the Congregation for Divine Worship and theDiscipline of the Sacraments.

The Bendicional: SextaParte, a collection of blessings in Spanish for use in the United States,which will complement English texts already included in the Book of Blessings. The proposal received171 votes in favor, 2 votes against and 2 abstaining, falling short of therequired two-thirds vote of the Latin Church members of the USCCB. Therefore,the voting will be completed by mail ballot with the Latin Rite bishops who arenot present. After passing, it also requires subsequent recognitio by the Congregation for Divine Worship and theDiscipline of the Sacraments.

The U.S. bishops' Spring General Assembly is livestreamedand available at:


Keywords:USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, June meeting, SpringGeneral Assembly, Indianapolis, Ad-Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty,Sacraments, persons with disabilities, Oil, Chrism, Bendicional

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Norma Montenegro Flynn