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9 key things the U.S. bishops did at their fall meeting in Baltimore…

The bishops gave a standing ovation after an impassioned speech on the war against Russia by Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop Borys Gudziak. Cardinal Robert McElroy of San Diego, who was named to the College of Cardinals by Pope Francis in May, urged the USCCB to stand by Ukraine. Referring to the possibility that a Republican majority in the House of Representatives might back out of the nation’s commitment to the war effort in Ukraine, McElroy called on the bishops to act with haste to ensure continued U.S. military aid. In his speech Gudziak thanked the bishops and U.S. Catholics for their continued monetary support for humanitarian aid.

6. The bishops elected a steadfast defender of life to the pro-life committee.

The election of Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, a staunch defender of life, as head of the USCCB’s pro-life committee is another signal that the bishops’ resolve in the defense of the unborn has not weakened despite the failure of pro-life measures in the midterm elections.

7. The bishops cut the budget for the three-day Eucharistic Congress.

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Plans for the Eucharistic Revival and Eucharistic Congress were unveiled along with an announcement that the cost of the three-day event would be reduced from $28 million to $14 million with the help of donors and sponsors. Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, who is leading the eucharistic revival initiative — an effort to revive an understanding and a love for Jesus in the Eucharist among Catholics — said 80,000 people are expected to make a pilgrimage to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, where the congress will take place starting July 17, 2024. Pilgrims will depart from four different locations, he said: one in the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas; in the Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut, at the site of the tomb of Blessed Michael McGivney, the founder of the Knights of Columbus; in San Francisco at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption; and a fourth site in Crookston.

8. The bishops approved a prayer book for laypeople ministering to the sick.

The bishops voted to move forward with the creation of a new prayer book for laypeople who work among the sick. Father Andrew Menke, executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat of Divine Worship, told CNA that he hopes the potential new prayer book will be helpful for laypeople who want to minister to the sick. “A pastor can put this book into the hands of the folks who help him in visiting the nursing homes, hospitals, and places where there isn’t a priest-chaplain every day, but there might be a layperson there,” Menke said.

9. The bishops voted to advance the causes for sainthood for three American women.

The U.S. bishops decided to advance on the local level the causes of beatification and canonization for Servants of God Cora Louise Evans, a mother and Catholic convert considered to be a mystic; Michelle Duppong, a young campus missionary who struggled with cancer; and Mother Margaret Mary Healy-Murphy, a religious sister who ministered to the poor and to the African American community.

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