Tag Archives: USCCB

Clarifying the meaning of religious freedom

A timely piece to think seriously about daily is the notion of religious freedom not only around the globe, but also and significantly here in the USA. Today, the Most Reverend William E. Lori addressed the Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives, Subcommittee on the Constitution. Here are a few paragraphs (the link to the full text is noted below):

liberty is not merely one right among others, but enjoys a certain primacy. As
the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI recently explained: “It is indeed the first
of human rights, not only because it was historically the first to be
recognized but also because it touches the constitutive dimension of man, his
relation with his Creator.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Address to Diplomatic Corps,
10 Jan. 2011
.) The late
Pope John Paul II taught that “the most fundamental human freedom [is] that of
practicing one’s faith openly, which for human beings is their reason for
.” (Pope John Paul II, Address to Diplomatic Corps, 13 Jan. 1996
, No. 9.) Not coincidentally, religious
liberty is first on the list in the Bill of Rights, the charter of our Nation’s
most cherished and fundamental freedoms. The First Amendment begins: “Congress
shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the
free exercise thereof….” It is commonly, and with justice, called our “First

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Dolan writes to Members of the 112th Congress

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan’s letter to Members of the 112th Congress speaks for itself. As he notes, US Catholics are the largest religious body in the USA. 68 million, 22% of the US population. There are 195 archdioceses and dioceses with one apostolic exarchate. Other interesting statistics can be found here.

Dear Member of

Abp Timothy M.Dolan NY & USCCB Pres.jpg

As a new Congress begins, I write to congratulate you and to outline
principles and priorities that guide the public policy efforts of the United
States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). As President of the Bishops’
Conference, I assure you of our prayers and hopes that this newly elected
Congress will advance the common good and defend the life and dignity of all,
especially vulnerable and poor persons whose needs are critical in this time of
difficult economic and policy choices. We continue to seek ways to work
constructively with the Administration and the new Congress and others of good
will to pursue policies which respect the dignity of all human life and bring
greater justice to our nation and peace to our world.

As bishops, of course we
approach public policy not as politicians but as pastors and teachers
. Our
moral principles have always guided our everyday experience in caring for the
hungry and homeless, offering health care and housing, educating children and
reaching out to those in need. We lead the largest community of faith in the
United States
, one that serves every part of our nation and is present in
almost every place on earth. From our experience and our tradition, we offer a
distinctive, constructive and principled contribution to the national dialogue
on how to defend human life and dignity, promote and protect marriage and
family life, lift up those who experience economic turmoil and suffering, and
promote peace in a world troubled by war and violence

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Serratelli updates US Bishops on the translation of the new Roman Missal

aserratelli.jpgThe out-going chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship, Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, gave the following update to the USCCB today. Bishop Serratelli is now succeeded by the Archbishop of New Orleans, the Most Reverend Gregory M. Aymond. The USCCB press release is here.

There has been some discussion recently about a report
surfaced through some segments of the Catholic Press regarding the present
state of the text of the Roman Missal, Third Edition. A number of facts will
hopefully clarify the situation and, in so doing, give us the calm needed to
welcome and implement the new text.

First, it is helpful to keep in mind the
genesis of the final text that is now being prepared for publication. The International
Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) prepared for the English-speaking
Conferences of Bishops preliminary drafts (“green books”) of the 12 sections of
the Roman Missal. After incorporating the feedback and responses of the
individual Conferences of Bishops and the Vatican Congregation for Divine
Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, ICEL then prepared the final
drafts (“gray books”). These were approved by canonical vote by each of the
member Conferences. In approving the gray books, each conference also had the
opportunity to make further suggestions to the Congregation, as was done in
particular by our Conference. We submitted many amendments to the texts. The
Congregation, working with the Vox Clara Committee, carefully listened to what
the bishops said. The Congregation incorporated many of the suggestions of the
various Conferences (including our own), combined with their own review and
changes, and put forth the final text. The Congregation followed the principles
of Liturgiam Authenticam faithfully but not slavishly.

This is the final text
now being readied for publication. This process includes a final review and
copy edit which, given the size of the text, uncovers some minor questions of
consistency, typographical errors, and layout. Those questions are being
addressed by the Congregation for Divine Worship. This review has not dealt
with the translation itself. The critique that has circulated has necessarily
failed to take into account the final version of the text, which incorporates
some corrections issued by the Congregation since the transmittal of the full
text to the English-speaking Conferences of Bishops in August 2010.

To sum up,
there is a final text. It has received a recognitio. As the work of editing and
assembling nears completion, there is assurance that the published text will be
available in more than ample time for implementation in Advent 2011. It is good
to note also that the catechetical preparation for implementation is already
underway and has proceeded with much enthusiasm and wide acceptance by both
clergy and laity. It is clear at this point in time that there is an attitude
of openness and readiness to receive the new text. Let us pray in this time of
transition and change that the Roman Missal, Third Edition, will enable all to
understand more deeply the mysteries we celebrate.

Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Divine Worship
November 18, 2010

Archbishop Timothy Dolan is new USCCB President; other new officers elected

Abp Dolan at vespers

The new president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, the Archbishop of New York.
The office of president of the USCCB is a three year term of service.
The new vice president of the USCCB is Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville.
The new treasurer of the USCCB is Bishop Michael J. Bransfield.
The new chairman of the Office of Canonical Affairs and Church Governance is Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese of Military Services.
The new chairman of Catholic Education is Bishop Joseph P. McFadden of Harrisburg.
The new chairman of the Committee on Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs is Bishop Denis J. Madden auxiliary bishop of Baltimore.
The new chairman of the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis is Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay.
The new chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace is Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien of Baltimore.
The new chairman of the Committee on Child and Youth Protection is Bishop R. Daniel Conlon of Steubenville.
The important point about the place of a conference of bishops in life of the Church is that they serve rather than replace the authority given to an individual bishop in exercising his office by teaching, serving (governing) and sanctifying the faithful of his diocese. But as Pope Benedict has said on any number of occasions, and which was also reiterated by Francis Cardinal George on Monday in his final presidential address, local churches are not national churches. Hence, priests are ordained bishops for the entire Church and not merely for thus-and-such diocese. Speaking to the Brazilian bishops on their recent ad limina visit (a visit to the Pope, various offices at the Holy See and for prayer at the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul) Benedict said: “… the counselors and structures of the episcopal conference exist to serve the bishops, not to replace them.” 
For a full theological treatment on bishops’ conferences you ought to read Pope John Paul II’s 1998 Apostolic Letter, Apostolos Suos: On the Theological and Juridical Nature of Episcopal Conferences.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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