Washington (Agenzia Fides) - Every year, in November, the Bishops of the United States gather for the General Assembly of the Bishops' Conference (USCCB) in Baltimore. This year's meeting will take place in a virtual format from November 15 to 19 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Spring Assembly had already been canceled to ensure the health and safety of the bishops and everyone involved in the work: it was the first cancellation of a Plenary Assembly in the history of the Plenary assemblies of the Bishops' Conference. Since the statute stipulates that the plenary assembly must be convened at least once a year, the November session, albeit in virtual format, should meet this requirement.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will vote to elect the presidents of the eight standing commissions during the plenary session. In particular, the Religious Freedom Commission has had an interim president since June following the death of its president-elect, Bishop George V. Murry, SJ of Youngstown.
The eight standing commissions of the USCCB are responsible for the following areas: religious freedom, priorities and planning, Catholic education, communication, cultural diversity in the Church, doctrine, national collections, activities for life.
One of the most important problems that the USCCB will have to face is the issue of migration and refugees. Just a month ago (see Fides, 03/10/2020) the current President of the USCCB, His Exc. Mgr. José H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles, expressed disappointment and opposition regarding the decision of the Congress to reduce the number of refugees admitted to the USA. In recent days, some international press agencies reported on the closure of the borders with Mexico and on the expulsion of Mexican and Central American families and children who had entered crossing this border.
According to a statement from the EFE agency, about 200 migrant children from other countries are believed to have been deported to Mexico in the past eight months. A week earlier, it became known that 545 children had been separated from their parents after crossing the border in 2017 and 2018 and had not yet been returned to their famiglies. (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 4/11/2020)