The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops this week voted to move forward on several action items, including a draft of a teaching document on the Eucharist.
Meeting virtually for their annual spring general assembly, the U.S. bishops voted on Thursday to begin drafting “a formal statement on the meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the Church.” The vote took place after extensive and, at times, spirited debate on Wednesday and Thursday, with some bishops opposing the move to begin drafting the document.
The measure passed by a vote of 168 to 55, with six abstentions. A simple majority was required for passage of the action item. The U.S. bishops’ doctrine committee will now lead the process of drafting the document, with input from other conference committees. A draft of the document could be ready to be debated, amended, and voted on by the bishops at their November meeting – which is currently planned to be held in-person in Baltimore, Maryland.
Results of voting for the various action items of the spring meeting were announced on Friday afternoon, on the third and final day of the meeting. The bishops also authorized the development of a statement on Native American ministry, approved several liturgical translations, and approved a pastoral statement on marriage ministry.
They also held a canonical consultation on two causes of canonization, for Servant of God Fr. Joseph Verbis LaFleur, and Servant of God Marinus (Leonard) LaRue. The bishops voted overwhelmingly to “consider it opportune to advance on the local level” their causes of canonization.
One action item, which asked the bishops to “authorize the development of a new formal statement and comprehensive vision for Native American / Alaska Native ministry,” passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 223 to 6.
Three action items concerned the approval of ICEL translations of readings and prayers for the feast of Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, as well as translations of prayers and intercessions for the Liturgy of the Hours and a translation of the Order of Penance.
The action items passed by a vote of 188 to 2, 186 to 3 (with one abstention), and 182 to 6 (with two abstentions), respectively. The items required two-thirds of all Latin Church bishops present to vote in favor of approval.
Another action item, to authorize the drafting of a national pastoral framework on youth and young adults, passed with a vote of 222 to 7. The bishops also voted to approve a draft of a pastoral framework on marriage and family life ministry “Called to the Joy of Love,” which passed by a vote of 212 to 13, with four abstentions.
The bishops had an extensive debate before voting to authorize the drafting of a teaching document on the Eucharist. A proposed outline of the document, provided by the doctrine committee, included the Church’s teachings on the “Real Presence” of Christ in the Eucharist, Sunday as a holy day, the Eucharist as sacrifice, and worthiness to receive Communion.
A proposal on the first day of the assembly to adjust the agenda to allow for unlimited dialogue on the draft of the statement stretched into an hour-long debate. Although the proposal failed with 59% of bishops voting in opposition, debate on Thursday stretched long after the proceedings were scheduled to end.
Voting was extended an extra hour on Thursday evening due to the extensive debate on the issues.
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