UPDATE: USCCB Will Follow ‘Usual Process’ for Synod Consultation

Earlier today, we posted that it looked like the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) was not encouraging local bishops to consult with the laity about topics such as same-sex marriage, contraception, and divorce, in advance of the 2014 synod on marriage and the family.   That report was based on an October 31st National Catholic Reporter article, which has been updated today.

Reporter Joshua McElwee updated the story after he received the following response from Helen Osman, the USCCB secretary for communication, about how bishops are being encouraged to proceed:

“We’ll follow the usual process, since Rome asks for this kind of consultation on a regular basis.

“We pass on to bishops what is sent to us. They then take care of the local consultation and send the data back to us. We transmit it to the Holy See. That is why the letter says the bishops will send back observations (gathered locally).

“It will be up to each bishop to determine what would be the most useful way of gathering information to provide to Rome.”

You can read McElwee’s story on the new development here.  His original story announcing the Vatican’s announcement has been updated with this new information and can be read here.

Even with this new statement from the USCCB, it seems like local bishops are still going to have to be encouraged by their local churches to collect opinions since the USCCB will not be doing so.   It seems odd that they will be following “the usual process” when it is clear that the Vatican is requesting something very unusual and extraordinary.

With proper encouragement and some creative suggestions from their conference leaders, the U.S. bishops could initiate an incredible opportunity to hear from Catholics about their beliefs on some of the most important and personal matters of today.  The USCCB is foregoing an incredibly positive potential moment in the life of the Church by not being more pro-active in motivating individual bishops to listen to their laity and local pastoral leaders.   It will remain up to the people in the pews to get their bishops to be active listeners.  Let your voice be heard!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

9 replies
  1. VERNON MEYER
    VERNON MEYER says:

    This is important: It will be up to each bishop to determine what would be the most useful way of gathering information to provide to Rome.” Bishops will be free to choose the lay people who agree with their conservative positions. So nothing will be gained accept for an affirmation of their conservative anti-Vatican II position. And remember in the end, the Birth Control committee set up by Paul VI recommended changes in the churches position also, and they were overruled by the Pope and the Cardinals. So you all still are wrong thinking the church is really interested in your opinions enough to make policy changes.

    Reply
    • Friends
      Friends says:

      They’re afraid of the Holy Spirit moving and manifesting through the faithful witnessing of committed practicing lay Catholics! The guys in the red hats want totalitarian absolutist control over everybody and everything. Power over other people is what they want. They’re in for a rude awakening, as it now seems obvious that Pope Francis himself has a much more ecumenical vision of the proper relationship between God and God’s people. It was all set forth in the documents of Vatican II — which recent Popes have chosen to ignore.

      Reply
  2. Fr. Gerald Ragis
    Fr. Gerald Ragis says:

    Actually, let’s not break our arm patting us/them on the backs. . . .lol. . Consulting the Laity is a theological factor largely ignored in the Church. So it seems to me. There are four *Fonts* / Sources of Revelation, viz, Sacred Scripture, Tradition, the teaching Magisterium, AND The Sensus Fidelium. . .the communal sensus/consent of the Faithful. . .that “sentire cum ecclesia” – “to think with the Church”.

    For sake of discussion. . .when 99% of the Church, “the faithful”as in faith-filled, are the Laity. . and only 1% being ‘clerical’, doesn’t it strike you as about time that less than 1% running the show really ought to consult with and be in tune with. the Large Body of The People of God?

    I hope NCR will publish the entire poll sent by the Vatican so that The Holy People of God will be able to give their theological thinking and thus be assured of “being consulted”.. The Church needs this lest anyone go ignored, unheard from.

    Reply
  3. M. Faina
    M. Faina says:

    Let the survey monkey become a reality in the US. And what about sending it out snail mail to all! The hierarchy does not hesitate in sending out mass appeals for money to the laity, does it? The laity must be given the opportunity to speak and their sentiments given back unfiltered – once and for all.

    Reply

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  1. […] fall, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops announced it would follow the ‘usual process’ for the Vatican’s unusual request to consult with Catholics “immediately” and […]

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  3. […] on marriage and family in 2014. yet, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has already expressed reluctance to encourage individual bishops to do […]

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