The U.S. bishops, meeting June 11-13 in New Orleans, will discuss today's economy and its impact on marriages and evangelization. They will also review their efforts in preventing sexual abuse of children, strengthening marriage, helping typhoon victims and preparing for upcoming church-sponsored events on family life.
The bishops will hear presentations on "Marriage and the Economy" and "the New Evangelization and Poverty" on the second day of their gathering before they close for executive sessions.
The first day will be filled with reports on upcoming events, including presentations on the Oct. 5-19 extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family and the World Meeting of Families, set for Sept. 22-27, 2015, in Philadelphia.
The synod at the Vatican in October will bring together presidents of bishops' conferences, the heads of Eastern Catholic churches and the heads of Vatican offices to discuss "pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelization."
Pope Francis has said the synod will take up the subject of church teaching and practice on marriage, including the eligibility of divorced and civilly married Catholics to receive Communion.
In preparation for the synod, the Vatican issued a survey for Catholic families and a handful of U.S. bishops have released some of the results of their responses submitted to the Vatican at the end of January.
The bishops will hear a presentation by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, on the World Meeting of Families taking place in Philadelphia next September.
Organizers say the meeting will be open to families and people of different faiths, including no faith at all, and is meant to engage the wider society in dialogue and to strengthen families.
The bishops will also hear a report from Catholic Relief Services regarding relief efforts in the Philippines in the wake of last November's Typhoon Haiyan. U.S. dioceses raised $24.5 million for these relief efforts. The amount collected includes $6.4 million specifically designated for humanitarian aid and $18.1 million to be equally divided between humanitarian aid and long-term church reconstruction and other programs.
Other items on the agenda for the meeting include:
- An update and vote on a proposal by a working group on the bishops' statement linking church teachings to political responsibility.
- The annual progress report of the bishops' efforts to protect children and young people from sexual abuse, presented by Francesco Cesareo, chairman of the National Review Board.
- Debate and vote on the renewal of the bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, formed in 2011, for an additional three-year term.
- An update on the work of the USCCB subcommittees on the Catechism and the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.
- Debate and vote on the request for renewal of the "recognitio," or Vatican approval, for the national directory for the formation, ministry and life of permanent deacons.
The bishops will also be consulted on proceeding with the cause for canonization of Fr. Paul Wattson, founder of the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement at Graymoor in Garrison, N.Y.
The priest, who was born in 1863 and died in 1940, initiated the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in 1908. Initially an Episcopal priest, he was ordained a Catholic priest in 1910.
He founded St. Christopher's Inn, a refuge for homeless men; The Lamp, a monthly magazine devoted to Christian unity and the missions; a radio program; and an organization to distribute donations. He also co-founded the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.