Thomas Reese: A Francis agenda for the US bishops

(NCR Online) During the second week of November, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will meet in Baltimore to consider a strategic plan to implement their priorities as a conference. Last November when the bishops set their priorities, some pointed out that those priorities seemed little influenced by the papacy of Pope Francis.

The priorities they selected were:

  • Evangelization: Open wide the doors to Christ through missionary discipleship and personal encounter.
  • Family and marriage: Encourage and heal families; inspire Catholics to embrace the sacrament of matrimony.
  • Human life and dignity: Uphold the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death with special concern for the poor and vulnerable.
  • Vocations and ongoing formation: Encourage vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, and provide meaningful ongoing formation to clergy, religious and lay ministers.
  • Religious freedom: Promote and defend the freedom to serve, witness and worship, in the U.S. and abroad.

“While I couldn’t find any real problem with the five priorities,” said Indianapolis Archbishop and Cardinal-designate Joseph Tobin in spring 2015, “I thought that they were quite closely a restatement of the priorities that this body has adopted in the past. And I was concerned that the newness that Pope Francis is bringing to the church universal … would not be reflected in the priorities.”

In other words, there is nothing particularly wrong with these priorities, but they don’t sound like they came from Pope Francis. They could have been written before he ever became pope. [More]


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