Catholic Free Press

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Bishop McManus to start dialogue on the family

Posted By November 20, 2014 | 4:14 pm | Lead Story #1

By Tanya Connor

After the first of the year the Worcester Diocese will begin consultations that Pope Francis has asked bishops to conduct, Bishop McManus told The Catholic Free Press Monday. The bishops are to seek the input of clergy, religious and laity in preparation for the world synod on the family next October, he said. That synod is to make recommendations to the pope.
Bishop McManus reported this when talking about the annual fall General Assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, held Nov. 11-14 in Baltimore.
At the assembly, U.S. bishops who participated in the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family last month at the Vatican gave an interesting report about it, he said. That synod’s final report is to serve as an agenda for next October’s synod and the subject of the consultations in the dioceses.
Bishop McManus also spoke about issues addressed at the assembly by committees with which he was or is involved.
For the first time in several years the bishops discussed Catholic education, he said. He said when he chaired the Committee on Education it developed the document “Renewing Our Commitment to Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium,” which the USCCB published in 2005.
Last week the current chairmen of the education committee and the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church gave a presentation about Catholic education, he said. The bishops then met with others in their region.
“We had a very spirited conversation” in the Region 1 (New England) group about reaching out to the underserved, especially Latinos, Bishop McManus said. He said this is a great concern to him, because there are many Latinos in the diocese, and they are not proportionally represented in the Catholic schools. He said he thought they may bring perceptions with them from Central or South America that Catholic schools are for elite, wealthy people.
Also at the assembly Bishop McManus became part of a new task force to address ethical issues in the collaboration between Catholic and non-Catholic health care providers.
It is challenging for hospitals to work alone, so many seek to collaborate with others, he said. The bishops have written directives for Catholic institutions’ collaboration, which, among other things, forbid cooperation with “intrinsically immoral” actions such as abortion and direct sterilization. These things are spelled out in Part Six of the USCCB’s “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.”
The bishops voted at their fall assembly to revise Part Six. In 2013 the bishops had sent a “dubium,” or formal question, to the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Bishop McManus said they asked whether it is morally justified for a Catholic institution to partner with a non-Catholic institution that currently does morally unacceptable procedures.
Instead of the traditional “yes” or “no,” the congregation sent back 17 moral principles, he said.
In light of these, the USCCB Committee on Doctrine sought and received approval from the bishops at the fall assembly to revise Part Six of the Directives, he said. The committee, of which Bishop McManus is a member, is forming the task force to do the revision. He is on the task force and is also chairman of the Doctrine Committee’s subcommittee on health care issues.
The task force will probably consult Catholic health care organizations such as the Catholic Health Association to write the revision, he said. Once finished, it is to be brought to the body of bishops for review and a vote.
Bishop McManus deals with collaboration in health care locally. St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, founded as a Catholic hospital, is now owned by the for-profit, secular Tenet Healthcare Corp.
“We have a Catholic covenant,” he said. The agreement is that St. Vincent will be run according to Catholic principles as laid out in the Directives. Bishop McManus said that if he learned that something contrary to Catholic teaching was being done, he could notify the CEO, who would have a certain amount of time to make the necessary changes. If they were not made, the bishop could declare that the hospital is no longer Catholic.

(The Synod’s final report on family can be found online at