U.S. Bishops’ Annual Meeting: Celiac Disease, Health Care, Exorcism Manual on Agenda

A preview of the USCCB's fall gathering.

BALTIMORE — The reception of Communion by those with celiac disease, avoiding cooperation with evil in health-care partnerships and a possible English translation of an exorcism ritual book are among the topics to be discussed by the U.S. bishops at their fall meeting next week.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will meet Nov. 10-13 in Baltimore for its annual fall general assembly.

The bishops will celebrate Mass at the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary to recognize the 225th anniversary of the establishment of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the conference announced.

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., will offer his first presidential address to the bishops since being elected to head the conference last year. In addition, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, will speak to the bishops gathered at the conference.

The bishops will hear a presentation on the Year of Consecrated Life, which the Church will celebrate Nov. 30, 2014-Feb. 2, 2016. They will also hear about underserved communities and Catholic schools within the country.

Among the liturgical items to be considered by the bishops is a revision to the "Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments With Persons With Disabilities." A request has been made to update the 1995 document in light of medical developments such as the prevalence of celiac disease, which prevents an individual from eating wheat and can therefore make reception of Communion difficult.

In addition, the bishops will vote on a first-ever English translation for the ritual book Exorcisms and Related Supplications, originally promulgated in Latin.

“The main part of this book is the rite of major exorcism and includes an introduction outlining criteria for its use, which is always the decision of the bishop alone. While this text affirms the reality of evil in the world, it even more so affirms the sovereignty of Christ to overcome any and all evil,” the bishops’ conference said.

At their meeting, the bishops will also vote on a supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours, adding in prayers for the feast days of new saints, as well as a revised translation to the ritual book used for dedicating a new church or altar.

Furthermore, the bishops will look into a possible modification to the "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services," in order to incorporate the guidance received from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The modification would involve the section of the "Ethical and Religious Directives" that deals with forming partnerships with other health-care organizations.

In February, the Vatican offered principles to help ensure that “Catholic health-care institutions neither cooperate immorally with the unacceptable procedures conducted in other health-care entities with which they may be connected nor cause scandal as a result of their collaboration with such other entities.”

If the bishops vote in favor of the proposal, the conference’s doctrine committee will draft a revision to the document that will be considered by the full body of bishops at a future meeting.

At the Baltimore assembly, the nation’s bishops will vote on the next conference secretary. Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans and Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services have both been nominated for the position.

The chairmen-elect for five different committees will also be chosen. The committees include Communications, Cultural Diversity in the Church, Doctrine, National Collections and Pro-Life Activities. Board members for Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., will also be elected.

Other topics of discussion at the conference will include updates on the work of Catholic Relief Services, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., the conference budget and strategic plan, the Church in Africa, marriage, religious liberty, the dignity of the human person and the sainthood cause of Father Paul Wattson.

Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond

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