The bishops of the United States will meet in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., this week, less than one mile from A1A-Beachfront Avenue, the Florida road made famous by a 1974 Jimmy Buffett album, and the peerless 1990 Vanilla Ice single “Ice, Ice Baby.”
The spring meeting’s agenda is typically light; in fact the meeting is replaced by a retreat every three years.
While most of the expected agenda in Fort Lauderdale is a mix of updates, housekeeping items, or votes unlikely to be contentious, two items up for discussion are worth your careful attention.
First, the housekeeping and updates: the bishops will discuss a forthcoming document regarding the pastoral care of Pacific Islander and Asian Catholics, along with the progress of the V National Encuentro.
According to several sources, the bishops will vote on the publication of short letters, prayers and videos to accompany Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship- the bishops’ 2007 guide to voting and political life.
Faithful Citizenship has been the subject of criticism in recent years, and some have called for a significant reworking of the text, even though it was last revised only three years ago, in 2015. New revisions would likely involve a working group of bishops and USCCB staff members, consultation with experts from academia and political life, and a process of nearly two years. More important, further revisions would likely require the bishops to engage directly in serious debate about political subjects on which they are divided.
There are two issues likely to spark some debate in Fort Lauderdale- new installments in long-standing discussions about sexual abuse and Catholic healthcare. The USCCB has announced that the bishops will debate proposed revisions to two documents: the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the Church’s guiding document on sexual abuse, and the Ethical and Religious Directives, which govern Catholic hospitals and healthcare providers.
Debate over the revised text of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People will be the first time the bishops publicly discuss clerical sexual abuse since controversy erupted over Pope Francis’ handling of a sexual abuse crisis in Chile, and since the #MeToo movement burst into international consciousness.
Full story at Catholic News Agency.