The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will gather virtually for the 2020 Fall General Assembly on November 16-17. In August, after consultation with the Holy See, the bishop-members of the USCCB voted to approve the convocation of this year’s November meeting in a virtual format in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The assembly will begin with an address by the Papal Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre. The bishops will also hear from Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles as he gives his first address as USCCB president.
Additionally, the bishops will hear a report from the National Review Board which advises the Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People on matters of child and youth protection, specifically on policies and practices. The meeting agenda is expected to include dialogue by the bishops on a pastoral response to the COVID-19 pandemic and a pastoral response to racism. They will discuss and vote on the revised strategic priorities of the USCCB’s 2021-2024 Strategic Plan, the renewal of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, and the USCCB’s budget for 2021.
When the bishops voted this summer to convene the meeting in a virtual format, they also voted to suspend the bylaws of the Conference to allow for paper, mail-in ballots before the November meeting for the election of new committee chairmen for eight standing committees, the new general secretary for the USCCB, and new members for the board of Catholic Relief Services (CRS). Those results will be announced during the plenary. The ballots included voting for a new chairman for the Committee on Religious Liberty to fill the vacancy created earlier this year after Bishop George V. Murry, SJ, who had been serving as chairman, passed away in June. The other seven committees will have new chairmen-elect: Priorities and Plans, Catholic Education, Communications, Cultural Diversity in the Church, Doctrine, National Collections, and Pro-Life Activities. At the conclusion of this year’s assembly, the bishop elected to the Committee for Religious Liberty will assume the role of chairman, and the bishops elected for the remaining seven committees will serve for one year as chairmen-elect before beginning a three-year term at the conclusion of the 2021 Fall General Assembly.
Public sessions of general assembly discussions and votes will be available via livestream at http://www.usccb.org/live. News updates, vote totals, texts of addresses and presentations, and other materials will be posted to www.usccb.org/meetings as soon as possible.
Those wishing to follow the meeting on social media are invited to use the hashtag #USCCB20 and follow on Twitter (@USCCB) as well as on Facebook (www.facebook.com/usccb) and Instagram (https://instagram.com/usccb).
The livestream will run Monday, November 16 (1:00-5:00 PM EST), and on Tuesday, November 17 (1:00 PM to approximately 3:00 PM EST). Broadcast media, please note, there will be no satellite feed available this year. There will also be a press conference livestreamed on Monday, November 16 commencing approximately fifteen minutes after the conclusion of the general session.