Yesterday I had a look at the agenda for the November 2013 meeting of our USCCB. Gathering again in Baltimore, they will elect a new president and vice president and designate leadership people for various committees. I am curious of course to see who will follow Cardinal Dolan as USCCB president. I don’t think it will be an African American. It would be exciting however to have two black presidents in DC.
Other USCCB November 2013 agenda items include:
• Discussions and votes on the 2014 Conference budget and 2015 diocesan assessment
• Consultation on the sainthood cause of Mary Teresa Tallon, Servant of God
• Discussions and votes on the Misal Romano, the Spanish translation of the book of prayers at Mass
• Discussions and votes on the draft translations of the Order of Celebrating Marriage and the Order of Confirmation
• An update by Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone on the Promotion and Defense of Marriage
• Presentation for a proposal to develop a formal statement on pornography
• Presentation by Bishop Gerald R. Kicanas on the work and strategic priorities of CRS
• An update and discussion on the Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty
• Discussions and votes on proposed revisions to the USCCB handbook and regulations
I mean no disrespect but I found much of this agenda, shall we say, avoiding major issues confronting our U.S. church. So I decided to create my own agenda……
I call my USCCB agenda “Projects for Revitalizing Catholic Life in the United States….A Modest Start.”
My agenda has four points for discussion and action:
(1) Overhauling and Redesigning ordained ministry:
– Dropping celibacy as a requirement for ordained ministry
– Starting to ordain men, married or single, who have proven ministry skills
– Ordaining women, with proven ministry skills, to be permanent deacons
– Reconfiguring parishes so that they sustain smaller and more intimate communities of faith
– Re-examining the current way candidates for ordained ministry are educated and trained. Is the current seminary structure a healthy way to prepare people for ordained ministry today? I really don’t think so……
(2) Education and formation about human sexuality
Launch a nation-wide human sexuality continuing education program for bishops and priests. Ideally local bishops and priests should meet at the diocesan level with experts in psychology, anthropology, sociology, and theological ethics to better understand our changing understanding of what it means to be a sexual person.
(3) Politics and Public Belief
Launch a continuing education program for all members of the USCCB about what it means to live responsibly in a values-pluralistic society.
Key issues to be examined:
– The role and responsibility of religious institutions in a pluralistic society
– Understanding the nature and formation of public morality in a pluralistic society and how it can be distinct from personal and confessional religious and ethical positions
(4) Listening to tomorrow’s believers
Launch a nation-wide listening program, inviting young women and men in Generation Y and Generation 9/11 to meet at parish and diocesan levels to explore and explain their deepest thoughts about God, Jesus, church, and belief today.
This agenda is only a start of course. Future agenda items could cover issues like:
(1) Calling an advisory and decision-making council for the U.S. Catholic Church
(2) Establishing mechanisms for the election of pastors and bishops
(3) Establish on-going theological education programs for people at all levels in the church
(4) Re-examining the role of Catholic education in U.S. society
As Pope Francis said recently: “God is in history, in the processes.
We must not focus on occupying spaces where power is exercised, but rather on starting long-run, historical processes.”