Proposed economic message fails; opponents say more consultation needed

The U.S. bishops’ effort to send a pastoral message of hope in trying economic times came up short of the votes needed Nov. 13, after concerns were raised about its limitations, its expedited process and whether it actually was something that they would use to reach out to people.

With the vote of 134 to 85 and nine abstentions falling short of the 152 needed for the two-thirds required for passage, “The Hope of the Gospel in Difficult Times: A Pastoral Message on Work, Poverty and the Economy” was set aside on the second day of the bishops’ annual fall general assembly in Baltimore.

“There’s no sting, no bite to this,” said retired Auxiliary Bishop Peter A. Rosazza of Hartford, asking for it to be set aside. He noted that there had been no consultation with an economist in the document’s preparation, as requested when the message was commissioned.

“I think we have to teach and challenge where challenge is needed, in the spirit of Amos, Jeremiah, Pope John Paul II and Dorothy Day,” he said. “I don’t think we have that here.”

At their June meeting in Atlanta, by a vote of 171-26, the bishops had asked for “something more than a public statement” to express their concern about poverty and the struggles of unemployed people.

The result, whose length was within the 12 to 16 pages suggested in June, was criticized on the floor in Baltimore after it was introduced Nov. 12 for a variety of reasons, including for being too long to be practical and for failing to include a variety of points and historical references.

Still, almost every bishop who rose to speak about it pointedly acknowledged the hard work of the drafting committee, headed by Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, and the staff. Some who encouraged voting it down suggested ways of preserving the work for a subsequent document, to be written following a more typical USCCB process and under the direction of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. [More]


Catholic News Service