WASHINGTON — The U.S. bishops will conduct their annual fall general meeting virtually in November rather than meet in person as has been the bishops’ practice.
The move was brought about by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The bishops had canceled a spring meeting set for Detroit in June due to the pandemic. The cancellation was the first time since the formation of the bishops’ conference in 1917 that a meeting of all bishops had been called off.
Bishops voted 219-5, with one abstention, to change the format of the meeting from in-person to virtual. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also consulted with the Vatican prior to making the decision.
The USCCB’s Administrative Committee, which governs the activities of the bishops’ conference between meetings of the full body of bishops, will continue its practice of setting the agenda for the November meeting when the committee meets in mid-September.
The original dates for the fall meeting, which would have been held in Baltimore, were Nov. 9-12. No dates were announced in the Aug. 28 press released informing the public about the virtual meeting.
USCCB bylaws require a plenary assembly to be convened at least once a year, and conducting the November meeting in virtual format will meet this requirement.