2020 Assembly Report
The videos and information are building! Keynotes are here from our 2020 Assembly: Our Catholic Faith in the Political World. There’s more to come, including an election report and the reports given by Working Groups to the assembly. Come on back to check it out!
With the approval of Michael Joncas, who has written the lyrics of “A Place Called Home” using the tune of Finlandia, the AUSCP has adopted the song as a theme. It expresses the hope that all humans will find “a place called home.” The song, with video, was used during the 2020 virtual assembly to highlight images of assemblies in previous years, when members and friends were physically precent.
Our Keynote Speakers
John Carr, Founder & Director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life
John Carr is the longtime director of the U.S. bishops’ domestic and international policy programs, retired in 2012 from the USCCB policy office. He gave a keynote address to the AUSCP 2020 virtual assembly.
Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe
Sister Simone Campbell, SSJ, introduces Archbishop Wester, BCCB episcopal moderator of the AUSCP. The full title of his keynote address to the 2020 virtual assembly is Priest, Pulpit and Politics: Proclaiming the Gospel in Today’s Society.
Our Assembly Retreat Leader: Sister Carol Zinn
Working Group Reports
Climate Change and Church in the Political World Working Group Report: 2020 Assembly
I write this Annual Report as the new facilitator of the combined Climate Change and Church in Political World Work Groups. Mike Allison and I were to be Cofacilitators, but Mike has had to step back because of health concerns. I have an understanding of the work the Political World WG; unfortunately, I am not totally familiar with the Climate Change WG. I hope this report properly reflects the work of the merged group.
A. Background of the two Work Groups:
- Climate Change Work Group – Their work over the last couple of years, includes promotion of Laudato Si’, Catholic Climate Covenant, Eating Choices, World Day of Prayer for Creation and much more.
- Church in the Political World Work Group – This WG had been working on a Congressional Luncheon at the June Assembly and a Public Action in downtown Baltimore that would have included short addresses on Climate Change (Crisis) and Immigration, both are issues the AUSCP is addressing during this Election Year.
B. Issues currently working on as we move ahead as the Climate Change/Church in Political World Work Group
- Homily/bulletin materials usable at the parish level – Presently collecting articles and resources; working on a circulation plan.
- Climate Change website page – Routinely adding to the website.
- September 1 World Day of Prayer for Creation – Materials being added to the website.
- The 9/1-10/4 and beyond Season of Creation Meatless Mondays – Committee will add materials to the website.
- The Challenge – One of the challenges we face as an Association is leading our membership and others to our website; there is a wealth of information available, how do we promote our website?
C. We are working with a number of other national organizations to promote the Laudato Si Care for our Common Home Campaign (LS-COCH) and have agreed to:
- Identify our constituency to promote the Campaign
- Ask our membership to reach out to priests, encouraging them be involved in the Campaign, doing so across the country (140+ dioceses represented).
- We will make this campaign a focus of our annual spring letter to all the bishops of the U.S.
D. The current virus problem is temporary; climate change is permanent; both are life issues in the election year which we need to address.
Immigration Working Group Report: 2020 Assembly
At the AUSCP Annual Conference of 2019 in St. Louis the Immigration Work Group was formed. At the Conference the work group met and decided on six priorities concerning immigration. From these six, the Immigration Work Group developed five priorities. The first priority is to promote education, including of ourselves, on domestic and international issues of migration. This priority includes studying what is happening at the border, by the federal government, the Catholic Church and other religious bodies and reflecting on what Catholic documents have been written concerning migration. The second priority is to report on and to participate in the outreach which is taking place on a parish and diocesan wide basis. The third priority is to preach on immigrants and the current situation of migration in the United States and the world and to connect immigration with Catholic teaching concerning the dignity of all human life. The fourth priority is to advocate for justice for immigrants on the local, state and federal levels of government both by parishes and dioceses. Finally, the fifth priority is to create welcoming church communities in which immigrants and asylum seekers are welcomed, and even to the point of offering sanctuary if possible and appropriate. Over the past year the group has discussed how we are living out and how we can promote each of these priorities.
One of our members has committed to oversee the “Immigration Corner” on the AUSCP website. Members discussed actions on the border in cities such as El Paso, Texas and Brownsville, Texas. Discussion also included visits to detention centers and ICE facilities in various states. The Immigration Work Group developed a letter with documentation from Catholic teaching which requested that the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, the Bishops’ Committee on Migration and the USCCB President and Vice President include the “migrant and refugee dimension of respect for life in all of your teaching and educational materials going forward.” Bob Bonnot helped to write the final version of the letter and it was sent out on behalf of the AUSCP.
Priestly Formation and Clericalism Working Group Report: 2020 Assembly
The working group on Priestly Formation finalized a document on recommendations for changes in Program of Priestly Formation, 6th edition (PPF6). These recommendations were sent to the USCCB committee working on the revision of the PPF. We sent a copy to Cardinal Tobin who was in charge of the committee; we tried unsuccessfully to have a meeting with him. The PPF was revised and a PPF6 was approved by the USCCB at their annual meeting November 12, 2019. This document still needs approval from the Vatican and we have seen no acknowledgement of that as of May, 2020. Since we have not seen the revised edition we do not know what effect if any our proposals had on the revision. We do know that our recommendations received public notice in both America magazine and the National Catholic Reporter. Louis Arceneaux had an article on the topic published and highlighted in Today’s American Catholic magazine. We also know that a group of theologians at Boston College and elsewhere worked on their own recommendations and had access to our document. Much that they included in their document reflected our own concerns. The action that we recommend is that members of AUSCP continue to advocate for ongoing improvements in the formation of clergy, particularly in terms of studies being carried out in setting of lay students, women and men, that greater involvement of women on faculties and in formation programs and that candidates be formed to serve collaboratively with other Church members and not to be seen as separate from and above other members of the Church. The document can still be found on our website.
The Clericalism working group served as a followup to the publication of the document on Clericalism that members of AUSCP published. Our task was to promote the dissemination of that document and urge that it be studied and applied in parishes, seminaries and wherever the Church is present. Copies of the document, Confronting the Systemic Dysfunction of Clericalism, were sent to every bishop in the United States and to seminary rectors and others involved in priestly formation. We also published a concise one page presentation of the core of the document and made it available to AUSCP and anyone interested in using it. Anecdotally, Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans conducted listening sessions with representatives of parishes on the topic of clericalism; there was also a session for the seminarians on the topic. The Archbishop of New Orleans and the Rector of the Seminary received copies of the document. The rector was urged to make use of the document in the listening sessions. Lay participants offered many suggestions regarding clericalism during these sessions. Members of our committee distributed this document to clergy and laity they judged would be interested. A group from AUSCP and two lay Friends were invited to lead the clergy of Lexington, KY in a convocation program. Due to the coronavirus, this convocation has been postponed until next year. However, work continues on that project.
Action we recommend is that members of AUSCP make use of the document in doing what you can to rid our Church of clericalism. The document can be found on our website or will be found shortly.
Louis Arceneaux, C.M.
Gospel Nonviolence Working Group Report: 2020 Assembly
The AUSCP Gospel Nonviolent Working Group, submitting the following 2020 report, will continue in process in 2021 and until the Parousia when violent conflict will be laid to rest. In the meantime, since the 2019 Assembly we three active members, Harry Bury, Bob Cushing and Bernie Survil, have with other AUSCP members
- Canvassed the Chicago Archdiocese with the invaluable help of AUSCP members Ken Fleck, Len Dubi and Michael Ahlstrom to build support for initiating the beatification of Ben Salmon, and then getting over 100 to preview A HIDDEN LIFE, the story of Blessed Franz Jaegerstatter, Austrian Catholic resister to an unjust war. This took place in Downtown Chicago on December 11, 2019.
- AUSCP members Bob Cushing and Bernie Survil attended the Evidentiary hearing for The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 nuclear resisters and then their trial in September, 2019 in Brunswick, GA, coincidently the scene of the recent murder of a young black jogger.
- Since December, 2019 to the present, initiated a conversation with the over 90 AUSCP members who either list Gospel nonviolence as an issue for them, or who had endorsed the above-mentioned petition to Cardinal Cupich regarding Ben Salmon. Two Zoom conferences have been attended by up to 33 AUSCP members and FRIENDS.
AUSCP members Simon Carian and John Haegle took upon themselves the task to draw up concrete ways the Working Group can move forward with recommendations to the AUSCP Leadership Team. AUSCP member Neil Pezzulo’s experience as a member of The Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM), Justice & Peace Committee, was part of the discerning as well as comments from DOZENS of AUSCP members. The final document tilted “ARTISANS OF PEACE” has been entrusted to the AUSCP Leadership Team. A minority report To Artisans of Peace from some GNV Working Group members will be available for those requesting it after the 2020 Assembly. It will be structured around the experiences of the Church in El Salvador and Guatemala in the 2nd half of the 20th century and around the witness of Americans Military Chaplains Fr. George Zabelka (World War II) and Fr. Paul Dorbal (Iraq War and Occupation), as well as the peace witness of Fr. Harry Bury (Vietnam War to the Present).
Women In The Church Working Group Report: 2020 Assembly
The association’s working group on Women in the Church has been reviewing ways to make various types of groups aware of the document of the same name approved at the 2019 assembly. We are developing an online four-part discussion guide on four of the topics in the document and suggesting discussion questions for each: Women and Scripture; Women in History. Too, we are developing short video presentations on each topic, which could be viewed by parish, school, and other groups for purposes of discussion. Our hope is to have on-line packets and videos geared to various age groups and levels of education by the end of the year.
Issues in Priesthood Working Group Report: 2020 Assembly
We were very happy to see the notable participation in the AUSCP Survey Monkey about Priest Issues. There were almost 400 responders, representing over 200 dioceses and religious orders combined! The Survey, based on the priorities we all raised at last year’s Conference, was sent out to all members of AUSCP so that we would hear straight from you what you are thinking and what you see Priest Issues to be. We provided 37 Issues and asked each person to select the top 10 as Issues for themselves. Charts in the Survey Report with the information we received will be sent to all members.
You will see that we chose the responses with the highest ranking (the top 10) as the primary ones to be addressed. All Ranked Issues are still listed and please note that all the write-in sections are included in the report too. Judging from the large number of responses it was clear that you wanted to speak and we wanted you to see what you said. We can take pride in what we as a gathering have created. Thanks for your participation. Please read all of the results, including the write-in’s, and consider how you can participate in responding to them. As you read them you will see how our present and future Work Groups and the Leadership can determine what you consider important for future planning.
We are ready to start the next stage: action. The responses need to be categorized into similar groupings, prioritized and then acted on to continue our mission of being a “Pastoral voice of Hope and Joy on behalf of our Church and the world”. We are more than just a Conference. By the grace of God we are dynamic members of God’s chosen royal priesthood to proclaim God’s glorious works.
Fraternally submitted by Priest Issues Work Group 2019-20
Liturgy Working Group Report: 2020 Assembly
ROMAN MISSAL TRANSLATIONS PROBLEMS—RESISTANCE TO CONSULTATION
More than seven years ago an AUSCP Work Group contacted the Roman Office of Cardinal Sarah (head of the Congregation for Divine Worship). In a letter delivered using official diplomatic channels we articulated problems priests are having with Roman Missal translation. A response came from the secretary of Cardinal Sarah, Archbishop Roche. He referred to the Roman Missal English translation as “the new Latin.” The dicastery was aware that when it came to translating into the vernacular, many world languages bishops were translating primarily from English translations into their native tongue. Therefore, the dicastery chose to standardize a common English translation as well as “latin-izing” the diction and grammar used. This has caused priests and people to hear awkward and sometimes incomprehensible liturgical texts.
While priests and bishops struggle with long conditional clauses and at times words that communicate awkwardly or mystify, there has been no effort at consultation or reevaluation of the Roman Missal. Both the Roman dicastery and the USCCB bishop’s committee on Divine Worship remain firm in maintaining the status quo.
Two things are cause for hope and may cause the AUSCP Work Group to reactivate.
- Pope Francis’ issue of Magnum Principium which reiterated the responsibility of each national conference of bishops having the primary responsibility for translating liturgical texts into the language of the people.
- Cardinal Sarah who heads the Congregation for Divine Worship is turning 75 years and is due to retire. There is hope that a new head of the Congregation will understand the difficulties generated by the translation method and return the challenge of liturgical text translation to the national conferences who, with their priests, are ordained to preach the gospel in a way that people can understand.
Kevin Clinton—AUSCP Chair Emeritus