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U.S. Bishops' Plenary Meeting begins

The plenary will devote special attention to the expected "Declaration on the Mystery of the Eucharist" along with the Eucharistic revival initiative and a Eucharistic Congress in 2024.

Gonzalo Meza-November 15, 2021-Reading time: 3 minutes

U.S. Conference of Bishops building ©CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

From November 15 to 18, the plenary meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will be held in Baltimore, Maryland. It will be a very momentous meeting, not only because it will be the first Assembly to be held in person since November 2019 (the Spring 2020 meeting was cancelled and the November meeting was virtual because of the pandemic), but because it will address vital issues for the Church in the USA, including a "Declaration on the Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church", The proposal has provoked heated discussions and debates as it has been mistakenly thought to be a document intended to prohibit Communion for politicians who promote abortion, mainly US President Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives -both of whom are self-professed practitioners.

The draft document contains no such prohibition, nor is it the bishops' intention to issue public vetoes. Every Catholic, says the USCCB, regardless of whether they hold public office or not, is called to ongoing conversion, and all Catholics have an obligation to support human life and dignity, the bishops note.

The intention of the document is to generate a greater awareness of the Eucharistic Mystery, in view of the profound lack of knowledge that most North American Catholics have about the supreme sacrament of Christian life. This lack of knowledge is reflected in the practice of the faith of a sector of the population, for example, the increasing absence of the faithful at Sunday Mass or the lack of reverence shown before the Holy Eucharist.

According to a 2019 Pew Research Institute survey, only one-third of U.S. Catholics (a minority) believe that the bread and wine consecrated during Mass become the Body and Blood of Christ and that from that moment on, Jesus Christ is really, truly and substantially present in Holy Communion. This reality is not understood by two-thirds of Catholics, who consider that the Body and Blood are only "symbols", nothing more. This "Declaration on the Mystery of the Eucharist" along with the Eucharistic revival initiative and a Eucharistic Congress in 2024, will be discussed and voted on during this plenary in Baltimore.

The agenda also includes several topics among them: the Synod of Bishops on synodality; the implementation of the pastoral framework for marriage and family life ministry in the U.S.; an initiative to help expectant mothers called "Walking with Moms in Need." the approval of new English and Spanish versions of the rituals for the Order of Christian Initiation of Adults and Holy Communion and Eucharistic Worship outside of Mass for use in the USA; consultation on the causes of beatification and canonization of the Servants of God Charlene Marie Richard and Auguste Robert Pelafigue, who lived in the state of Louisiana. Elections will also be held at this session to fill administrative positions and chair five Conference committees including: Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations; Divine Worship; Human Development and Justice; Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth; and Migration.

Although the secular media will focus on the "Declaration on the Mystery of the Eucharist" this session will have very relevant topics ranging from the Sacraments to processes of beatification and canonization. Issues that in one way or another will have an impact on the present and future of the Church in the United States.

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