Bishops also address religious liberty, healthcare, sacramental guidelines

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) tackled a number of issues during its spring meeting in Indianapolis. Here is a brief outline of some of their actions other than the safe environment report.
• The bishops voted June 15 to make the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty a permanent standing committee. The bishops’ action came less than a week before the start of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ fifth annual Fortnight for Freedom June 21-July 4. It is a two-week period of prayer, advocacy and education on religious freedom.
• Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, briefed his brother bishops on the sobering topic of international persecution and human rights violations, and what his committee has been doing the prelates behalf to improve the situation. Bishop Cantu’s trips are called “solidarity visits.” His mandate as chairman “includes sharing and promoting the social teaching of the church, especially human rights and religious freedom.”  
• As the country awaits the U.S. Senate’s plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in the coming weeks, the U.S. bishops made it clear that their efforts are focused on “ensuring the fundamental right of medical care” for all people. The Conference also reinforced its stand that the American Health Care Act passed by the U.S. House May 4 needs major reform – to provide quality health care for the “voiceless,” especially children, the elderly, the poor, immigrants and the seriously ill. “Within two weeks, we may see a federal budgetary action with potentially catastrophic effects on the lives of our people, most especially children and the elderly, the seriously ill, the immigrant and our nation’s working poor,”said Bishop George L. Thomas of Helena, Montana, in his remarks to his fellow bishops.  
• The body overwhelmingly approved revisions to the guidelines governing the celebration of sacraments for people with disabilities that take into account medical and technological developments. The revisions in the “Guidelines for the Celebration of Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities” updates a document that was adopted in 1995. The guidelines were developed as a tool to improve access to the sacraments by persons with disabilities and reduce inconsistencies in pastoral practice.