Recap of U.S. Bishops’ Spring Plenary in Orlando
ORLANDO, Fla. - The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) gathered June 14-16 for their Spring Plenary Assembly in Orlando, Florida. Throughout the gathering, the bishops spent time in prayer and fraternal dialogue with one another.
The assembly began with the bishops sending prayers and a message to the Holy Father, followed by an address by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, papal nuncio to the United States. Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA addressed the bishops as USCCB president.
During their meeting, the bishops held a consultation on the causes of beatification and canonization for the five French-born priests who ministered to the faithful in what is today the Diocese of Shreveport during the yellow fever epidemic in 1873. The Vatican’s Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, which oversees the steps and process for canonization, granted that the five causes be considered together as one cause; the priests are referred to locally in the diocese as the “Shreveport Martyrs.” By a voice vote, the bishops affirmed the advancement of the cause of beatification and canonization on the diocesan level.
The agenda included updates to the bishops on the Eucharistic Revival and on the ongoing preparations for the National Eucharistic Congress in 2024; the participation of the U.S. bishops in World Youth Day with Pope Francis in Lisbon this August; an update on the Synod on Synodality; and an update on lay ecclesial ministry and the establishment of a task force to address new ways to develop and support what is done at the diocesan and parish levels.
The bishops chose to engage in further discussion on the priorities that will shape the USCCB’s Strategic Plan for 2025-2028 and withdrew the action item to vote on the strategic priorities. They discussed A Guide to Ongoing Formation for Priests, a document of pastoral nature that suggests some concrete means for priests to continue their personal and priestly formation following ordination to the priesthood. The bishops voted 144 in favor, 24 votes against, and 8 abstentions to approval of the document.
They also reviewed and discussed the draft presented before them of a pastoral plan that provides vision and guidelines to strengthen Hispanic/Latino ministry at the national, local, and parish levels. With 167 votes in favor, 2 votes against, and 2 abstentions they overwhelmingly approved the National Pastoral Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry.
The bishops were also presented with an action item addressing the development of a process for a new pastoral statement addressing persons with disabilities in the life of the Church. In a voice vote, the bishops approved the USCCB’s Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth to begin the drafting of a pastoral statement.
An action item was presented relating primarily to the doctrinal note issued by the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine this past March. Passed by a voice vote, this procedural measure tasks the Committee on Doctrine with beginning its work to revise a section of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services in light of the doctrinal note. Once there is a draft by the doctrine committee, the full body of bishops will review, discuss, and vote on the revision at a subsequent gathering.
Four of the action items the bishops voted on pertained to the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), the commission established for the benefit of bishops’ conferences in countries where English is used in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy according to the Roman Rite.
- The ICEL Gray Book of the Liturgical Texts for Saint Faustina Kowalska passed with 165 votes in favor, 0 votes against, and 2 abstentions. The approval of this requires a two-thirds vote of the Latin-rite bishops, with subsequent “confirmatio” from the Vatican’s Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
- The ICEL Gray Book of the Ordinary of the Liturgy of the Hours passed with 165 votes in favor, 3 votes against, and 2 abstentions. The approval of this requires a two-thirds vote of the Latin-rite bishops, with subsequent “confirmatio” and “recognitio” from the Vatican’s Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
- The Proper Texts for the Dioceses of the United States of America for the Liturgy of the Hours passed with 168 votes in favor, 1 vote against, and 1 abstention. The approval of this requires a two-thirds vote of the Latin-rite bishops, with subsequent “confirmatio” and “recognitio” from the Vatican’s Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
- The bishops also passed an action item pertaining to the revision of the statutes that govern ICEL’s work with 165 votes in favor, 2 votes against, and 2 abstentions.
News updates, texts of addresses and presentations, and other materials from the 2023 plenary are posted to: www.usccb.org/meetings.