Today, the bishops start with regional meetings. Then, later this morning, they move into Executive Session which is, of course, closed to the press. Yesterday afternoon, at the end of the public sessions, the staff started closing down the media room with alarming quickness. It was almost as if they could not wait for us to go. It hurt my feelings.
Archbishop Thomas Wenski just gave a great presentation on some social science research the USCCB has done on Catholic attitudes on a range of issues. He did not hold back. For example, he pointed out that young Catholics reject the "Hate the sin but love the sinner" language, believing it is just a more complicated way of hating the sinner.
Over at Politico, a profile of Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, incoming chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works who, it turns out, is one of the chief deniers of climate change science in the country, not just in the Senate.
The USCCB elected two new board members for CLINIC, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network. Bishop Edgar deCunha of Fall River won on the first ballot, and Bishop Martin Holley, auxiliary of Washington, won on a tie breaker, over Bishop Anthony Taylor of Little Rock, by a margin of 52% to 48%.
For election to the board of directors of Catholic Relief Services, the five members elected were Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Ft. Wayne-South Bend, Bishop Ed Burns of Juneau, Bishop Felipe Estevez of St. Augustine, and Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami.
The USCCB's elections are complete and the results are:
Conference Secretary: Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans received 52% of the votes and Archbishop Timohty Broglio of the Military Services got 48% votes.
Chair of the Committee on Communications, Bishop Christopher Coyne of Indianapolis took 53% of the votes and Archbishop Joseph Naumann received 47% of the votes.
Chair, Committee on Cultural Diversity, Archbishop Garcia-Siller of San Antonio received 73% of the votes and Bishop Joseph Tyson of Yakima garnered 27% of the votes.
In commenting on the synod on the family at the USCCB meeting yesterday, Cardinal Timothy Dolan said there were two synods: the raucous, politicized, controversial synod portrayed by some, and the actual synod, which was a study in consensus, even a little dull. It is true that notwithstanding the comments of a few prelates, some who attended the synod and some who did not, they achieved a remarkable consensus at the synod. But the voices of the other prelates were loud and insistent, and we in the press did not make that up.
Archbishop William Lori, chairman of the USCCB ad hoc committee on religious liberty, just announced that there will be another Fortnight for Freedom in 2015 and the theme will be "Freedom to Bear Witness." I cannot believe that the conference really wants to devote resources to this failed effort, which never seems to reach anyone who does not watch EWTN on a regular basis. And, I am the only one who is perplexed by the fact that Archbishop Lori's plans do not seem to have much to say about the challenges to religious liberty in countries where Christians are being crucified.
In this afternoon's reports on the synod, Washington's Cardinal Donald Wuerl made an interesting point: With all the media attention generated by the synod, the Church's support for marriage and teaching on marriage was being disseminated by the world's media for two weeks almost non-stop, and in a manner no diocese or episcopal conference could achieve one their own. Finally, someone who does not dump on the media.
Sometimes, you can tell about the relative influence of different parts of organization based on how much time the leader of that organization devotes to a given topic in a big, annual, survey speech, like the one Archbishop Kurtz gave this morning. Religious liberty was mentioned. Immigration reform did not get a mention. So much for "sterling leadership" by Msgr. Jenkins and his senior leadership team who worked on +Kurtz's draft: 11 million undocumented immigrants, most of them Catholics, do not merit a mention but fighting a contraception mandate does.
UPDATE: Here is a link to the text.