Clarification Regarding USCCB General Assembly
Since the close of the USCCB’s June General Assembly last week, there has been much discussion—and confusion—about the vote the bishops participated in regarding the Eucharist. It is important to understand that the actual vote tasked the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine to begin drafting a teaching document on the Eucharist. The proposed document on the Eucharist is something the bishops have been working on since a Pew Survey emerged in 2019, revealing only one-third of Catholics understand or believe the bread and wine offered during Mass truly become the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
The bishops incorporated the Eucharistic focus in their 2021-24 USCCB Strategic Plan with the theme of “Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope.” The decision to move ahead with a Eucharistic revival was instituted long before any elections, with a collective desire to help the faithful recognize the value and importance of the Real Presence. What was presented to the Bishops last week and what we voted on was a proposal to draft a document on the Eucharist. For the draft of this document, the Committee will seek input from all Bishops who will meet by region to present their suggestions. After receiving the suggestions from the Bishops, the Committee will begin drafting the document which will be presented to the whole assembly of the Bishops in November for a vote.
The Proposed outline of the document wants to focus on the following:
- The Eucharist: A Mystery to be Believed,
- The Eucharist: Mystery to be Celebrated, and
- The Eucharist: Mystery to be Lived.
There is nothing in this proposal, nor is it planned, to include language regarding the giving or denying of Eucharist to any person or category of persons. The final document to be created will not address any one person by name, or any category of persons as that is not the role, responsibility, or authority of the USCCB. These matters remain, and will continue to remain, between the person and his/her Diocesan Bishop.
The Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine will be working to prepare and present a document that educates on the value, importance, and beauty of the Eucharist, which is the Source and Summit of our faith and Church—nourishment for the journey.
As the USCCB shared on their website, “The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”
Next week’s blog will share more about the Eucharistic project that we did approve. This project will involve the whole church of the United States, with Parochial, Diocesan, and National events for the next three years. I am very excited about the opportunities and possibilities for the awakening in our Church as we move forward with this project.
“Literacy to Lift Lives” New Computer Lab
Yesterday, I was so pleased to visit St. Clare’s Home in Hyannis to bless the recently installed computer lab that serves the Home’s “Literacy to Lift Lives” technology competency education program. St. Clare’s Home is part of our Catholic Social Services outreach. It provides transitional housing for women who are coming out of incarceration; but beyond offering a place to stay, St. Clare’s helps them to rebuild their lives. The residents at St. Clare’s are offered supportive services to help in their transition to independent living. The new “Literacy to Lift Lives” program was launched earlier this year to develop the residents’ technological skills to aid in their integration into the community and their ability to seek and secure employment.
The program was made possible by a generous grant from the George and Marie Chabot Charitable Foundation of Nantucket. To date, the grant has funded the renovation of space in St. Clare’s to house the computer lab, the purchase and installation of seven computers and accessory hardware, and the hiring of a part-time instructor. Hands-on instruction and training in the lab have already begun under the direction of instructor Elizabeth Dawes, a parishioner of the area and a veteran teacher of 40 years. I am grateful that two trustees of the Chabot Foundation, brothers Charley and Peter Polachi, were able to attend the blessing. It was an opportunity not only for me to express gratitude for their support, but also for them to get a better sense of the difference the program is making in the lives of others.
The Catholic Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts has produced and posted a series of “Ministry Moments” videos that showcase the many ways your donations support important work in our Diocese. The videos feature individuals reflecting on good works supported by the Catholic Appeal and highlight Pastoral Care of the Sick, Office of Vocations, Faith Formation, Bereavement Program (this video shared in Portuguese), Solanus Casey Food Pantry, Prison Ministry, Catholic Social Services, and Immigration Services. If you have yet to watch, I invited you to please visit: www.catholicfoundationsema.org/ministry-moments.
The Catholic Appeal ends on June 30. If you have not yet had a chance to donate, there is still time, but it is running short. We are counting on the support of our faithful people as well as our friends in the community who want to assist us with our good works. Donations may be made either through a one-time donation or through monthly, quarterly, or semi-annual pledges. Donations may be mailed directly to the Catholic Foundation office, 450 Highland Ave., Fall River, MA 02720, made online at www.givefrdiocese.org/2021, or dropped off at any parish in the Diocese. Please contact the Catholic Foundation office at 508-675-1311 with any questions.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha