Pope to set up advisory commission on sexual abuse

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis accepted a proposal to set up a special commission on the sexual abuse of children, which will advise him on ways to prevent abuse and provide pastoral care for victims and their families.

Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, a member of the pope's advisory Council of Cardinals, announced the decision at a Vatican briefing for reporters Dec. 5, during a break in the council's meetings with the pope.

Bishops send 'special message' reiterating objections to HHS mandate

BALTIMORE -- In a "special message" released Nov. 13, the U.S. bishops reiterated their objections to the Affordable Care Act's requirement that employee insurance include contraceptive coverage and said they remain "united in our resolve to resist this heavy burden and protect our religious freedom."

The message was released one day after the conclusion of the Nov. 11-12 public portion of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' fall general assembly in Baltimore. The bishops met in executive session Nov. 13.

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.

Kenrick-Glennon theologian named to U.S. bishops' post

Jesuit Father Peter Ryan, director of spiritual formation and professor of moral theology at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, has been appointed executive director of the Secretariat For Doctrine and Canonical Affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Father Ryan, a member of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, joined the Kenrick-Glennon staff in 2012. Prior to that, he had served for 10 years at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., and for seven years at Loyola College in Maryland.

USCCB briefs in two cases urge court to uphold traditional marriage

WASHINGTON -- In "amicus" or friend-of-the-court briefs in two Supreme Court cases that weigh the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops argues that redefining marriage as other than between one man and one woman is not required under the Constitution.

In separate briefs submitted Jan. 29, the USCCB urged the court to uphold California's Proposition 8, in which voters said marriage should be limited to the traditional definition of one man and one woman and to uphold the federal Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA.

USCCB's strategic plan responds to church's call for new evangelization

New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, gives a thumbs up as U.S. bishops consider a proposal to establish a new position of director for public affairs for the bishops' conference. The bishops' approved the proposal Nov. 13 during their annual fall meeting in Baltimore.

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI's call for a new evangelization will guide the work of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for the next four years under a strategic plan adopted during the bishops' annual fall general assembly in Baltimore.

Operating under the theme "Journey with Christ: Faith/Worship/Witness," the plan offers a "road map" for the conference to shape programs and activities to strengthen the faith of Catholics and position them to be active witnesses to their faith in all aspects of life.

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