Monday, June 11, 2007

Confabs Near and Far

This morning, the Pope received the three presidents-delegate of last month's CELAM plenary for a private audience debriefing.

Cardinals Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa of Santiago de Chile and Geraldo Majella Agnelo of Sao Salvador da Bahia took turns representing B16 in conducting the general assembly of the bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, which the pontiff opened at the Brazilian shrine of Aparecida last month. Each was appointed by the Pope; before taking their respective archdioceses, both Errazuriz (CELAM's president) and Majella Agnelo (until last month, the head of the Brazilian bishops' conference) were secretaries of congregations in the Roman Curia.

Should anyone be interested, the decennial summit's final statement has been translated and published in English.

Returning to cosas del Norte, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops begins its annual June meeting next week in Albuquerque.

Keeping with the body's triennial practice, after a spate of weekend committee business, the weeklong gathering will take the form of a retreat, with no voting or action items....

That doesn't mean, however, that there won't be conversations.

As their retreat preacher, the US hierarchy has notably invited a member of Pope Benedict's "kitchen cabinet": the Canadian primate Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec (himself another former Curial secretary). A fellow adherent of B16's beloved Comunione e Liberazione, Ouellet -- who also attended the CELAM -- is gearing up for a global showcase all his own, as the 49th International Eucharistic Congress rolls into Quebec City a year from this week.

Held near Denver, the 2004 USCCB retreat became a target for reporters -- a handful of whom, coming as it did in the midst of the presidential campaign and the hierarchy's discussion of the question of refusing the Eucharist to pro-choice politicians, tried to gatecrash the meeting site.

Though an election for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue isn't in the cards this fall, the bishops will have a looming election for another DC address high on their minds; their president and vice-president, Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane and Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, wrap up their three-year terms at this year's November Meeting in Baltimore.