Day 3: At Last, The Votes

http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2019/06/day-3-at-last-votes.html

BALTIMORE – Normally, the end of a USCCB plenary tends to be more whimper than bang.

For the millionth time, however, these days are anything but "normal"... and indeed, seeing a good few of the bishops trying to mask themselves underneath floppy fisherman's hats while off the Floor has only underscored it.

Fifty-one weeks since the exposure of the then-cardinal, now-laicized Theodore McCarrick as a predator blew open American Catholicism's second round of an all-encompassing abuse crisis – in reality, a crisis of confidence in the ability of church leadership to handle cases – the response has always been focused on what's finally happening today.

In that light, seven months after the first attempt toward more stringent accountability norms was halted by the Vatican at the very last minute, the three main planks come up for debate and vote shortly after 9am Eastern.

Underscoring the significance of the package – and the degree of the 250 prelates' intent to fine-tune it to the utmost degree possible – the trio of items, now headlined by the US protocols for the application of Pope Francis' Vos estis lux mundi, will take up the entire morning session through the usual 12.30 lunchtime.

Here's the livefeed:


As ever, more to come.

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Day 2: The "Lay" of the Land

http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2019/06/day-2-lay-of-land.html

BALTIMORE – Lest you're wondering what's going on, well, even the bench is trying to figure that out.

For all yesterday's curveballs and tangents – Woodstock, anyone? – the fault-line on this plenary's prime matter came down just as expected, and produced the only relative "lock" we've got so far: defying the draft of the US' directives for Vos estis, there will be a mandate for lay involvement worked in... but the question remains of how exactly it'll be codified.

On that, the moment of truth won't come until very late tonight – final amendments on the abuse-related texts aren't due until 5pm today, and then have to be vetted by the bishops' canonical arm before hitting the Floor for final debate and vote tomorrow morning: the first order of business on this meeting's last public day.

Nonetheless, when even the USCCB's own lay advisory groups express open and sizable skepticism about "essentially" maintaining the practice of "bishops policing bishops" – and, more pointedly still, the de facto ghostwriter of Francis' new procedural norms urges a means to "institutionalize" the role of the laity in the US' adaptations for the process – the caution of the canonists has little choice but to yield.

All that said, while the crisis-centric documents each require a two-thirds vote in favor to pass, none are being presented for recognitio (approval) by the Holy See, which past major texts have traditionally required to take binding force across the country.

While today's business in regard to the crisis was handled behind closed doors in this morning's meetings of the conference's 15 regions, the bench returns to the Floor at 2pm Eastern for assorted minor votes on liturgy and a cause for beatification.

As ever, here's the livefeed....



...and lastly, as this scribe was able to pull off the trek here by the skin of our budgetary teeth, a world of thanks to everyone who pitched in to make it possible. Yet as there's still a ways to go on the usual bills back home, it bears stating that none of us are off the hook just yet:


Indeed, more to come.

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On The Floor, Deja Vu

http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2019/06/on-floor-deja-vu.html

Under normal circumstances, the June meeting of the US bishops travels to a different city each year, staffed by a skeleton crew and with barely a quorum of prelates on hand.

Of course, however, these days are anything but normal, so the bench has returned to its usual November site in Baltimore for two reasons – first, the level of business at hand requires a larger presence of the DC-based staff... and, as one senior prelate said of the initial venue (in Santa Barbara), “We didn’t want a Ritz-Carlton.” Even so, just the cancellation fee to make the switch ran into six figures.

The complete agenda released late yesterday, with the Floor slated to get underway at 9am Eastern, the crisis-related items shelved in November remain the focus, but abuse and its fallout won’t be the only topic at hand. Among the other matters on tap are a discussion on the church’s engagement with the growing population of the religiously unaffiliated (the so-called “nones”), a vote to integrate the Pope’s categorical ban on capital punishment into the US’ adult catechism, and the bench’s approval of the first text to fall under Francis’ new rules on liturgical translations, which give the Holy See less of an oversight role.

All that said, here’s the livefeed – beyond the usual opening formalities, today’s business will be dominated by the usual preliminary presentations of the matters at hand; the final debates and votes won’t take place until later on Wednesday and early Thursday.



As ever, more to come.... On another scheduling note, though, the public meetings between now and Thursday will be unusually spotty: all Wednesday morning will be spent in closed-door regional meetings and, above all – given the lead role to be played by metropolitans in Francis’ new accountability norms, this afternoon brings a private summit of the nation’s 32 archbishops, the first time that’s happened in at least some three decades.

While all this is the brief version of what we do know, the focus from here tends to be on what we don't. With that in mind, stay tuned.

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