In time of Corona pandemic, U.S. bishops' conference plenary meets only virtually. In addition to the fallout from the Corona crisis, the recently released McCarrick Report is also a topic of discussion at the meeting. How do the bishops deal with it?
The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Archbishop Jose Gomez, called the church to "healing" and "hope" on the first day of the fall virtual convention. So says the strategic plan that the bishops adopted on Monday as a blueprint for their future work.
Accordingly, in addition to announcing the results of absentee ballots for seven open committee positions, discussions focused on the pandemic and how to deal with the sexual abuse crisis.
The Los Angeles archbishop characterized the pandemic as a "life ie" and urged the faithful to "proclaim the love of Christ for every person, the power of the cross and the promise of the resurrection". The pandemic, he said, demands "heroic Christianity," as the pope has charged the church to do. "In this time of dying, it is our task to speak about life."
McCarrick report topic
Comparatively brief in the recorded opening address was the USCCB chairman's take on the Vatican's report released last week on Theodore McCarrick's rise to cardinal and face of the U.S. church. He prays for victims to find "healing and hope". Gomez appealed to bishops to "protect children and vulnerable adults and banish the curse of abuse from our church".
Papal nuncio Christophe Pierre, urged the U.S. church to rise to the "challenge of healing the world". Jesus would be "at the center of the storm" in these turbulent times. Those who encounter it cannot return to "normality". The church suffers from the same problems, the same ills, as the rest of society, he said. 'Our mission is to reconcile the world'."
Cardinal-designate and Archbishop of Washington, Archbishop Wilton Gregory, called on bishops to work to "overcome the questioning of our integrity" in light of the church's sexual abuse crisis. This, he said, requires "transparency, repentance and commitment, prayer and reconciliation, authenticity and humility".
The McCarrick report, he said, had "brought out the darkest corners of our Church, about which I am deeply ashamed and deeply angry". Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles, who is a rising figure in the U.S. church, was similarly outspoken. The report from Rome exposes the "tragic incompetence" driven by a clerical structure "preoccupied with itself and protecting its own.".
The results of the committee elections confirmed the USCCB's core conservative orientation, but brought some changes in important positions. The bishops' new secretary general will be Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill, a conservative who is considered personally approachable.
In elections for the Religious Liberty, Education and Life Ies Committee, USCCB elected traditionalists to lead with New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Bishop Thomas Daly and Baltimore Archbishop William Lori.
The virtual meeting is limited to two afternoon sessions on Monday and Tuesday.