Probably for most people the election of the president and vice president of the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) was the major event of our Tuesday meeting. Indeed the choice of Archbishop Joseph Kurz of Louisville as president and Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston represents the ongoing commitment of the body of bishops to continue the path of the work of the Conference set by the two previous presidents, Cardinal George of Chicago and our own Cardinal Dolan.
Archbishop Kurz served a vice president these three years of Cardinal Dolan’s presidency. Working with them as a member of the administrative committee I can attest to the quality of their leadership and the unity of their vision which reflects the changes made in the structure and the ongoing work of the Conference these past six years. In 2008, we bishops moved from being a Conference of committees to a Conference that is guided by priorities that inform and shape the work of the committees and the goals of the Conference itself. The three themes of Faith, Worship and Witness expressed through commitments to human life and dignity, religious liberty, sacraments and worship and increased participation of the Catholic laity in the life of the Church remain the key guideposts for our many works and endeavors across the spectrum of the life and witness of the Church in our country.
That commitment was evidenced most clearly in the discussions we had on the tragic results of the typhoon in the Philippines and the reaffirmation of our work in Haiti as well as the Middle East and Africa. Another feature of Tuesday’s work was the preparation of and the approval given to the Spanish language Roman Missal for the millions of Hispanic Catholics in our country as well as preliminary approvals of the new translations for the sacrament of Matrimony and the sacrament of Confirmation.
In each of the 15 regions (New York State bishops form a region by ourselves) we discussed preparations for the upcoming Extraordinary Synod on the Family to be held next year in Rome; improvements in the Directory for Permanent Deacons; calls for a renewal of penitential practices in the lives of all Catholics and the election of regional representatives for certain offices and committees. I am happy to tell you that my brother New York bishops elected me to serve as their representative for three years on the Committee for the North American College in Rome.
Today, Wednesday, we enter into Executive Session to give ourselves time to examine some important issues for the Church in our country and in our world. Today as on the previous days, I am struck by how much the example of Pope Francis and his leadership are serving to refresh And renew the spirit and the commitment of all us American bishops eager to make the new evangelization a moment of ongoing conversion for us all so that each and all of us might belong more deeply to Christ, his Church and one another.