Bishops elect new leaders, approve liturgical texts, discuss relief aid

BALTIMORE -- The U.S. bishops at their fall general assembly in Baltimore elected new leaders, discussed taking a second collection in their dioceses for typhoon relief in the Philippines, reviewed efforts to defend traditional marriage and religious liberty, and approved development of a statement on the dangers of pornography.

The actions came during the first two days of their Nov. 11-14 meeting. The bishops were to meet behind closed doors in executive session Nov. 13 and 14.

On Nov. 12, the bishops by a wide margin elected Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., to succeed New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The archbishop had been USCCB vice president. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston was elected vice president. Both prelates were to begin their three-year terms at the conclusion of the USCCB meeting.

The bishops Nov. 12 approved the development of a pastoral statement on the dangers pornography poses to family life that would serve as a teaching tool for Church leaders. The Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth will develop the statement, providing a draft to the bishops in 2015.

"The more pornography spreads, the more violent and debased it becomes and the more it exploits the men and women who are part of the industry," explained Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, N.Y., incoming chair of the committee.

Also on the second day, the bishops nearly unanimously approved several steps toward adapting the Mexican Misal Romano for use in the U.S. The Mexican translation of the missal will have Mass propers for the U.S. calendar included, with publication possible as soon as fall of 2015.

The bishops also approved adaptations for the Order of Celebrating Marriage and OK'd a new translation of the Order of Confirmation for use in U.S. dioceses.

At the assembly, the bishops also approved or discussed several other items:

  • Heard a report on the USCCB's efforts to promote and defend traditional marriage.
  • Heard a report on the work of Catholic Relief Services, which highlighted what the agency is doing for survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan.
  • Approved a budget for 2014 and approved a 3 percent increase in diocesan assessments starting in 2015.
  • Heard a report on "important progress" being made in bishops' priorities for 2013-16 in their efforts to protect the life and dignity of the human person, to strengthen marriage and family life, to promote religious liberty, and to improve faith formation and sacramental practice.
  • Approved adding a new staff person to the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities to work on a national level with the post-abortion ministry Project Rachel funded by a Knights of Columbus grant.
  • Approved the advancement of the sainthood cause of Mother Mary Teresa Tallon, who founded the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate, an order focused on contemplation and door-to-door, personal ministry.
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