Monday, November 13, 2006

"Full to Starboard!"

The USCCB changes course: Less social pontification (making prudential judgements as a group as though they were doctrinal issues); more Catholic formation.

The WP has more:
At a national meeting starting today in Baltimore, the bishops are expected to make changes that adjust to their new circumstances. They plan to channel resources away from broad social pronouncements and focus more on defining Catholicism for an often-uninvolved flock.

"It's not that the bishops as a national organization will no longer be interested in sociopolitical issues," said Russell Shaw, a writer on Roman Catholic issues who spent more than 15 years as a spokesman for the conference. "But the emphasis is shifting to the life of the church itself and its own internal problems."

The new focus is clear from the agenda for this week's gathering.

The bishops will vote on documents explaining the church's ban on artificial contraception and worthiness for receiving Holy Communion. The prelates will also consider new guidelines on ministry to gay Catholics, which explain the theological underpinnings of church teaching that marriage should be limited to one man and one woman.

In addition, the bishops plan to take up a proposed restructuring of the conference's Washington headquarters to reflect their new priorities. Under the plan, American dioceses would send less money to the conference, which would cut jobs and committees.

Bishops have complained for years that the funds they turn over for conference work are badly needed in their home dioceses. Others consider the large staff unnecessary, a hangover from the conference's heyday in the early 1980s, when Chicago Cardinal Joseph Bernardin was guiding its work and the prelates undertook such ambitious projects as the pastoral letter on nuclear war called "The Challenge of Peace."
The "Spirit of Vatican II" may protest, but this is the right move. American Catholics today risk losing a fundamental understanding of the Faith. Less than 40% still believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist for example. If the USCCB continues to issue social proclaimations to an ill-formed Catholic Church in America, perpetual misunderstanding will be the only consistent fruit they harvest.

Hopefully, the USCCB refocuses their efforts enough in this vital direction. The Church in America needs it!

Labels: , ,