Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Overview From Episcopate's Outgoing President

WASHINGTON, D.C., NOV. 22, 2004 (Zenit) - Here is an adapted excerpt of the address Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. episcopate, delivered this week during the prelates' semiannual meeting. Bishop Gregory is completing his three-year term as conference president.

* * *

Presidential Address
Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, Bishop of Belleville

My Dear Brother Bishops,

At the conclusion of our General Assembly this week I will complete my service to you as president of our Conference. The opportunity you provided me to serve you has indeed been a singular privilege, and I am thankful to you for investing your confidence in me three years ago. Anyone entrusted with this noble responsibility must come to it very much aware, as am I, of his limitations in carrying out this service. For that reason, I am also very grateful for the many ways in which you shored me up with your wise counsel, generous encouragement, and always constantly with your prayers through the difficult moments. Your fraternal assistance and support during my tenure as president has been a God-given gift that I will long cherish.

When I began my term as your president, none of us could have foreseen the extraordinary challenges that would face the Church in this country at the dawn of this new millennium. Those challenges have been a major preoccupation for each of us. More importantly, as the Holy Father reminded us in April of 2002, they also have been an opportunity for genuine "purification of the entire Catholic community."

As I prepared to complete my service this week, I have been reflecting on the challenges that continue to face us as an episcopal conference. This morning I would like to highlight three of those challenges as most significant for us.

No. 1: the scandals

The first challenge before us is directly related to the greatest scandal that the Church in the United States perhaps has ever confronted. Out of the crisis of sexual abuse in the Church, we committed ourselves in Dallas in June of 2002 to a Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and to a set of Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons. We have now begun a review of the Charter and the Norms this year as we promised we would do. The successful completion of this work by June of next year is paramount for the preserving of our promise to protect children in the Church and for our pledge to continue the healing and reconciliation of victims of this terrible crime.

The Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse has distributed a proposed revised Charter and we have already begun meeting in regional or provincial groups to discuss the proposed revision. The Committee recommends strongly and I fully endorse their recommendation that consultation on the proposed revision should also take place within dioceses. All bishops are encouraged to include in their diocesan consultations the priests' council, the diocesan pastoral council, the diocesan review board, child protection personnel, and educators.

The Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse will be consulting with the National Review Board which the Charter specifies as having a principal advisory role in this process. Also participating in the review process will be the Conference of Major Superiors of Men and the National Advisory Council, and I know that the committee is seeking ways to ensure that the voices of victims are heard in this review process.

Though we bishops ultimately bear the responsibility for safeguarding children within the Church, the work of the protection of children and young people in the Church is a work of the whole Church. The wisdom, prudence and experience of the groups that I have mentioned will be essential to our success in the Charter review and I encourage every bishop to ensure that they are consulted.

No. 2: a plenary council?

The second challenge I would like to highlight arises from a confluence of what I see as three very healthy forces that have been at work in the Conference during the past several years. First, in the wake of the Dallas meeting two years ago, a number of bishops, through the "varium" procedure, raised the question of whether the time was right for the bishops of the United States to consider the possibility of a Plenary Council.

During the course of the past two years, discussion among the bishops on this "varium" has focused on the need for bishops to find an effective way to address the extraordinary issues that face the Church in this country at the beginning of a new millennium. Whether or not we decide to move towards convening a Plenary Council, one thing has become clear: there is an emerging consensus among the bishops in our conviction that there are issues of very great import that we must address.

Second, in the summer of 2003, in response to letters and comments that I had received from bishops, I appointed a Task Force on the Content and Flow of General Meetings to explore how we might enhance our General Meetings. A good number of bishops feel that we need more time to talk among ourselves at our meetings, that we are increasingly burdened with documents and reports, and that we could and should be interacting with each other more qualitatively and effectively on the greater issues of the day. The work of this Task Force to date has led it to conclude that there is great unanimity among the bishops that we could be using our time together in a much better way.

Third, during the past three November meetings -- and in comments made privately to me, whether individually or in groups -- a growing number of bishops have expressed their concerns about the growth of the Conference, the increased budgetary commitment of Conference resources and the impact of Conference assessments on diocesan budgets which are already stretched to the limit. In response to those concerns, I appointed a Task Force on Activities and Resources last November to evaluate the situation. The result of that Task Force's work is clear. The Conference has not and will not be able to exercise restraint over its growth and expenses unless it vigilantly monitors what it sets out to do by means of specified and limited priorities.

As I look at these three forces at work, I am drawn to conclude that the Conference as we know it today is likely to be a much different Conference five or ten years from now. There is an increased energy among the bishops that we name more effectively what our priorities are and should be for a greater holiness within the Church and a more successful evangelization of the society in which we live; that we marshal our resources more efficiently towards those priorities; and that we find new and improved ways to ensure that our time together in General Meetings is better used.

This potential evolution of our Conference is a challenge before us and I highlight it this morning, because during this meeting we will be asked to deliberate on each of the forces I have mentioned: the Plenary Council "Varium"; the work of the Task Force on the Content and Flow of General Meetings; and the work of the Task Force on Activities and Resources. May I suggest that we look at these pieces not as isolated issues, but as pieces that are in relation to each other as parts of a whole. Each is integral to and an essential part of our common ministry as an episcopal conference.

No. 3: ministry of bishops

The third challenge I want to highlight is given to us in the opening lines of the first Chapter of the recently promulgated Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops:

Reflecting upon his office and his duties, the bishop should consider as the key to his identity and mission the mystery of Christ and the attributes willed by the Lord Jesus for his Church, "a people brought into unity from the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit" ("Lumen Gentium," 4).

We bishops, in the dioceses and the eparchies that we serve, are called to be the instruments and the visible signs of the unity that the Lord Jesus desires for his Church. We are also called to experience and to promote, in communion with our Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the unity that is at the heart and constitutive of the College of Bishops to which we belong. It is in reference to that reality of collegium that I would like to offer a challenge from my experience as your president.

We have been through some very difficult times together in the past three years. Those demanding moments were more often, thank God, blessed with an outpouring of God's grace which we gratefully received and thereby were sustained in our unity in Christ. There were moments, however, and there may be some that are still present, when we perhaps did not reach as eagerly as we should have for the grace that the Lord was offering us. I would like to make my own the words of the Holy Father to the bishops of Region II during their "ad limina" visit last month.

My dear Brothers in the episcopate, I pray that you will work diligently with one another, in that spirit of cooperation and unanimity of heart that should always characterize the community of disciples (cf. Acts 4:32; John 13:35; Philippians 2:2). The Apostle's words apply in a special way to those charged with the salvation of souls: "I beg you, Brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to agree in what you say. Let there be no factions; rather, be united in mind and judgment" (1 Corinthians 1:10).

As Church leaders, you will realize that there can be no unity of praxis without an underlying consensus, and this, of course, can only be attained through frank dialogue and informed discussions, based on sound theological and pastoral principles. Solutions to difficult questions emerge when they are thoroughly and honestly examined, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Spare no effort to ensure that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops serves as an ever more effective means of strengthening your ecclesial communion and assisting you in shepherding your brothers and sisters in Christ.

I am aware that the Ad Hoc Committee on Bishops Life and Ministry has begun a reflection on the Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops to explore ways in which we might deepen the fraternity that we have as bishops. I applaud Bishop Robert Brom and the members of his committee for taking this step and I encourage them wholeheartedly in their work.

Even as we strive to see to the pastoral good of the faithful in the particular dioceses entrusted to our care as bishops, a strengthened sense of collegiality among ourselves can only redound to the common good of the Church in the United States which we tend and love. It will also serve as a very important witness to our beloved nation of how religious and civil discourse can and must take place. That example, I believe, has never been more needed by the society in which we live than at this moment.

Contact

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
http://www.catholic.org DC, US
Bishop Wilton Gregory - President USCCB, 202 541-3000

Email

info@yourcatholicvoice.org

Keywords

USCCB, Prelates, Bishops, Priests, Scandal, Plenary

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 250 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity
DAN SHEA

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Priestly Identity: Crisis and Renewal (Part 1)
Catholic Online

Al Qaeda...afraid of Benedict's message!
Hugh McNichol

Benedict XVI...calling all to hope...
Hugh McNichol

Perfect Women
Cheryl Dickow

Papal Palm Sunday Address - 'Enough With the Bloodshed'
Catholic Online

Spotlight on China
Catholic Online

Papal Homily for Palm Sunday
Catholic Online

Holy Week...Holy Time!
Hugh McNichol

Mary and Motherhood
Cheryl Dickow

The Void
Paul Sposite

Islamic violence wounds the global community!
Hugh McNichol

The Seven New Deadly Sins!
Hugh McNichol

Catholic benefits include Catholic principles!
Hugh McNichol

Remembering Father Alfred Kunz
Matt C. Abbott

David vs Goliath
Theresa Lisiecki

Happy Lent!
Paul Sposite

Diplomacy...Vatican style!
Hugh McNichol

Sub umbra Petri! (Under the Shadow of Saint Peter)
Hugh McNichol

Cuba...a neonascent Church!
Hugh McNichol

Kids in Conflict
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On the Writings of St. Augustine
Catholic Online

The Relevance of Lourdes at 150
Catholic Online

Hillary...what would Saint Norbert say!
Hugh McNichol

Lent...questions, answers and involvement!
Hugh McNichol

Mary, Mother of all Humanity, Hic et Nunc!
Hugh McNichol

Catholics...WAKE UP!
Hugh McNichol

Catholic Brotherhood with the People of the Covenant
Hugh McNichol

Have mercy on us O Lord! - Ash Wednesday
Hugh McNichol

Vote early, vote Catholic!
Hugh McNichol

Christ, our global Alpha and Omega!
Hugh McNichol

Being Catholic means...total affirmation of being Catholic!
Hugh McNichol

Seeing the World through New Eyes
Sarah Reinhard

Emulating the Angelic Doctor!
Hugh McNichol

Priests defend, commend Archbishop Raymond Burke
Matt C. Abbott

Saint Paul...a continued example of radical conversion!
Hugh McNichol

A renaissance of faith, reason and global cooperation....
Hugh McNichol

Cardinal Rigali's Homily at Life Vigil
Catholic Online

Angelus: On Christian Unity
Catholic Online

Silencing the Pope
Catholic Online

Papal Homily on Feast of Christ's Baptism
Catholic Online

Education and Gender
Catholic Online

The ignominy of Roe vs. Wade
Hugh McNichol

Papal Message for World Day of the Sick
Catholic Online

Angelus: On Christian Unity
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Planned Lecture at La Sapienza
Catholic Online

Pope's Letter to Jesuits' 35th General Congregation
Catholic Online

Fr. Cantalamessa - Behold, the Lamb of God!
Catholic Online

That We May Be One, and Never Lose Heart
Catholic Online

Sowing Hope in Sierra Leone
Catholic Online

God-incidences are the gift of kairos moments
Mary Regina Morrell

St. Augustine's Last Days
Catholic Online

Liturgy: When There's a Medical Emergency
Catholic Online

Marriage and Celibacy: Love's Link
Catholic Online

Developing a Global Catholic Awareness
Hugh McNichol

Rooms in My Father's House
Cheryl Dickow

Resolutions for New Year 2008
Chris Anthony

Keep teaching Holy Father!!!
Hugh McNichol

Dangers of anti-Catholic academic extremism....
Hugh McNichol

The liturgy war
Matt C. Abbott

Some Answers to a Few Common Questions about Vocations
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Developing a Global Catholic Awareness
Hugh McNichol

Christmas reflections
Chris Anthony

The Lasting Contribution of The Servant of God Pope John Paul II
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

No more bobble-head Jesus'!
Hugh McNichol

Pope's Address to Baptist World Alliance
Catholic Online

The Virgin Without Sin
Catholic Online

Cardinal Vingt-Trois on His New Mission
Catholic Online

Archbishop Forte on Religion & Freedom: Part 1
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Chromatius of Aquileia, Pope, Benedict
Catholic Online

Pope's Address for Consistory of Cardinals
Catholic Online

Trafficking in Lives
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict - On Hope
Catholic Online

The Hidden Costs of Gambling
Catholic Online

A Vital, Life-Giving Message
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Christianity's Contribution
Catholic Online

Youth and Fashion's Modest Twist
Catholic Online

Papal Homily at the Consistory
Catholic Online

Love, Marriage and Happy Kids
Catholic Online

The Virtue of Obedience: Our Duty, Our Crown
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Vere dignum et justum est!
Hugh McNichol

Pope's Address to Bishops of Kenya
Catholic Online

Democracy in Danger in Venezuela
Catholic Online

The Life-Sapping Human Virus
Catholic Online

'You Alone Are The Lord': A Brief Summary of Catholic Teaching
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Sacred Time...Come Lord Jesus!
Hugh McNichol

How Christ-like are we in our lives?
Chris Anthony

A Retreat for Today's Christian Woman
Cheryl Dickow

Pope Benedict - On Trust in God
Catholic Online

God and Caesar Seen From Down Under
Catholic Online

Praying the Luminous Mysteries for our Clergy
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Culture's Pressure on Our Girls
Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle

Papal Message on the Common Good
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - St. Jerome on the Bible
Catholic Online

What Every Parent Should Know About 'The Golden Compass'
Catholic Online

Cardinal Poupard on 'Populorum Progressio'
Catholic Online

A Richer Liturgical Translation: Interview With Bishop Roche
Catholic Online

U.S. Bishops' Statement on War in Iraq
Catholic Online

The 'Golden Compass' is no treasure for children
Mary Regina Morrell

Bishop Skylstad's Address to U.S. Bishops' Fall Meeting
Catholic Online

Rewarding Failure
Catholic Online

On St. Martin of Tours
Catholic Online

Undermining Parents
Catholic Online

God...our theological E.F.Hutton!
Hugh McNichol

The Secular Vs. Religion?
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Jerome
Catholic Online

The Scourge of Poverty
Catholic Online

Sons and Daughters of God...EQUALLY!
Hugh McNichol

On Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
Catholic Online

Why Dads Matter
Catholic Online

Archbishop Chaput on Citizenship and Evangelization
Catholic Online

God Created Man for Life, Not Death
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for November
Catholic Online

Imposing 'Tolerance'
Catholic Online

Evangelizing a Digital World
Catholic Online

A Turn to the Fathers: Interview With Father Robert Dodaro
Catholic Online

Aborting Viable Lives
Catholic Online

Women Religious on Human Trafficking
Catholic Online

Chicago law firm fights for civil rights, against death culture
Matt C. Abbott

Fr. Cantalamessa - The Pharisee and the Publican
Catholic Online

Media Benefits and Dangers
Catholic Online

On the Call to Martyrdom
Catholic Online

'You Alone Are The Lord': A Brief Summary of Catholic Teaching
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

John Crosby on Von Hildebrand's Understanding of the Person
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Ambrose of Milan
Catholic Online

On Peace, Missions and Justice
Catholic Online

Address of Holy See on Religious Liberty
Catholic Online

Recovering subtle signs of our Catholic Identity!
Hugh McNichol

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on 'Populorum Progressio'
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Eusebius of Vercelli
Catholic Online

Christ's Parable About the Need to Pray Always
Catholic Online

Prostitution: Legal Work or Slavery?
Catholic Online

Escaping Poverty: Interview With Archbishop Silvano Tomasi
Catholic Online

Congratulations to His Eminence John Cardinal Foley!
Hugh McNichol

Giving Ourselves Completely to Mary
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

The 'Courage' to go 'Beyond Gay'
Matt C. Abbott

When Bioethics Turned Secular
Catholic Online

Confession Comeback
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On Hilary of Poitiers
Catholic Online

Reemergence of Global Catholic Identity!
Hugh McNichol

Father Cantalamessa on the Leap of Faith
Catholic Online

Month of the Rosary
Catholic Online

Why Technology Needs Ethics
Catholic Online

Cardinal Lozano Barragán on Future of Health Care
Catholic Online

How Can Catholics Understand Mary as Co-Redemprix, Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate?
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

New Saint Book is Visually Stunning and Filled with Detail
Lisa M. Hendey

Papal Homily in Velletri
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa Analyzes Relationship
Catholic Online

Wednesday'a Audience - On St. Cyril of Alexandria
Catholic Online

Holy See Address to U.N. General Assembly
Catholic Online

Homily From Red Mass in Washington
Catholic Online

Pope Remembers Cardinal Van Thuân
Catholic Online

Faith in Politics
Catholic Online

The brave monks of Myanmar
Chris Anthony

On Lazarus and World Hunger
Catholic Online

Fighting the Good Fight: Resisting Temptation
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Media frenzy buries U.N. goals

Holy See Statement on Climate Change
Catholic Online

China's Seven Sorrows
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On Chrysostom's Social Doctrine
Catholic Online

Vatican Message to Muslims for Ramadan
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa on the First World and Lazarus
Catholic Online

Angels, God's Messengers in a world of fragile peace and Broken promises!
Hugh McNichol

Memo to Mrs. Clinton: Why Not Baby Bonds When Life Begins?
Deacon Keith Fournier

Reorienting the Mass
Catholic Online

Report Card on Religious Freedom
Catholic Online

On Wealth and Poverty
Catholic Online

A Response to Hitchens' 'God Is Not Great'
Catholic Online

Vetoing children's health care?

The ideal family
Joseph Sinasac

Who does the judging?
Dennis Heaney

One mistake away

The Big House ban

In praise of the parish

Text of the USCCB statement for Respect Life Sunday 2007

The Outstanding Purity of Our Blessed Mother
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Educated flock

Religion and politics

Facing a door to the future
Dennis Heaney

A long debate

Who Are the True Progressives?
Deacon Keith Fournier

Petraeus offers a dose of reality

Insurgence
Robert Storr

Papal Address at Vespers
Catholic Online

Papal Coat of Arms Still Relevant
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Address at Heiligenkreuz Abbey
Catholic Online

On Loving Jesus as Mary Did
Catholic Online

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos on 'Summorum Pontificum'
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On the Trip to Austria
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa on the Joy of Fatherhood
Catholic Online

Commentary on Artificial Hydration and Nutrition
Catholic Online

Vatican on Nutrition to Patients in Vegetative State
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Q-and-A Session With Youth in Loreto
Catholic Online

Take a Risk, Follow Your Call: the challenge of a lifetime!
Sisters of Bon Secours

Papal lessons

Family matters

Lessons from a tragedy
Dennis Heaney

Shopping blues
Joseph Sinasac

Marriage Breakdown: Expensive and Divisive
Catholic Online

Her darkness was a warning

Wednesday'a Audience - Gregory of Nyssa on Perfection
Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 3:1-9
1 And so, brothers, I was not able to talk to you as spiritual people; I ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 33:12-13, 14-15, 20-21
12 How blessed the nation whose God is Yahweh, the people he has chosen ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:38-44
38 Leaving the synagogue he went to Simon's house. Now Simon's ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 31st, 2016 Image

St. Raymond Nonnatus
August 31: Raymond was born at Portella, Catalonia, Spain. ... Read More