What to look for from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops fall meeting in Baltimore

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops holds its annual general assembly in Baltimore this week amidst a global sex abuse scandal.

Here’s what to look for — and what’s different from recent meetings.

How will the bishops grapple with the latest round of the abuse crisis, which is reaching the uppermost levels of the church in America?

The bishops are expected to vote on measures to curb the crisis and reestablish trust, including creating an independent third-party system by which sexual misconduct by bishops can be anonymously reported.

They also plan to establish a code of conduct for bishops regarding their own sexual behavior.

And they will develop policy proposals for dealing with priests who have resigned or been removed from office over sex abuse allegations.

What’s unusual about this year’s gathering?

The bishops will shelve their usual business agenda Monday and spend the day in “prayer and penance.”

That’s in response to a request from Pope Francis, who even suggested canceling this gathering in favor of the bishops staying home to pray.

What other business will the bishops get down to?

They plan to vote on whether to approve a pastoral letter against racism, a document three years in the making.

They’ll also hold a voice vote on the case for canonization of Thea Bowman, a 20th-century African nun, scholar, educator and gospel musician.

jonpitts@baltsun.com

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