At question at several sessions was whether Pope Francis is in line with his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who some saw as more doctrinally conservative.
Two advocates for worker rights received the Catholic Campaign for Human Development Cardinal Joseph Bernardin New Leadership Award during the U.S. bishops' annual fall general assembly in Baltimore.
Jose and Ana Aguayo, a brother-and-sister team instrumental in the success of the Northwest Arkansas Worker Justice Center, were recognized Monday for their advocacy efforts on behalf of low-wage workers.
The U.S. bishops, in separate votes Tuesday, approved a budget for the year 2014 and a 3 percent increase in diocesan assessments starting in 2015.
The bishops also approved a proposal to modify that U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' bylaws to allow the chairman of its audit subcommittee to be chosen from among their overall membership rather than restrict the choice to those bishops currently serving on the USCCB Administrative Board, as has currently been the practice.
All three votes took place the second day of the annual USCCB fall general assembly in Baltimore.
NCR Today: The U.S. bishops voted Tuesday to continue a set of English translations of liturgical texts, approving new rites for the Catholic celebrations of marriage and confirmation.
Hours after his election as the next president of the U.S. bishops' conference, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz began notably shifting the conference's tone, saying he wants to speak for the "voiceless and vulnerable" and sees himself primarily as a pastor.
Kurtz, the archbishop of Louisville, Ky., spoke Tuesday afternoon during a press conference at the bishops' meeting. The current vice president of the conference, Kurtz was elected Tuesday morning to be their next president by a 53 percent majority.
The Supreme Court's ruling that rendered the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, and the Senate's passage Nov. 7 of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act put the legal defense of marriage "at a critical point in this country," said the archbishop who heads the U.S. bishops' Subcommittee on the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.
The Supreme Court's DOMA decision is now being used to judicially challenge marriage laws in more than a dozen states that still recognize marriage as the union of one man and one woman," said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco.
NCR Today: Three years ago, the U.S. bishops opted for a candidate other than the current vice president. Tuesday, the bishops re-established that norm.
Three days after a new study suggested a majority of Catholics think a new series of liturgical translations should not go forward, the bishops are debating whether to approve them.
In the last two years, the bishops have fought the Obama administration's health care law. But that fight was barely mentioned Monday morning.
Two Catholic nonprofit groups urged Monday that the U.S bishops, meeting here for their annual assembly, follow the lead of Pope Francis in building a "church for the poor" in the United States.
Specifically, the groups said, the American prelates could make their national office a "bishops' conference for the poor" by drafting a new statement on the continuing economic crisis and by launching a nationwide poverty awareness campaign.