Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George, center, looks on as the U.S. bishops’ gather for their annual fall assembly in Baltimore Nov. 13. (CNS photo/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)

BALTIMORE (CNS) — During the Nov. 12-13 public sessions of the annual fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore, the bishops:

  • Approved their first document on preaching in 30 years, “Preaching the Mystery of Faith: The Sunday Homily,” encouraging preachers to connect the Sunday homily with people’s daily lives.
  • Rejected a fast-tracked statement intended to offer support and hope to people who are suffering because of the economic downturn.
  • Approved an exhortation encouraging Catholics to take advantage of the sacrament of penance.
  • Endorsed the sainthood cause of Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement.
  • Approved an expanded memorial for Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, a German-born Redemptorist priest who ministered in antebellum-era America for more than 20 years
  • Agreed to begin a revision of the Liturgy of the Hours — updating hymns, psalms, various canticles, psalm prayers, some antiphons, biblical readings and other components of the liturgical prayers used at various parts of the day.
  • Approved the hiring of a public affairs director as efforts to reorganize the conference’s Communications Department.
  • Heard a request that they broaden support for national collections, which have had a decline in diocesan participation, leading to reduced income since 2009.
  • Adopted a strategic plan for the next four years to shape conference programs and activities.
  • Approved a 2013 budget of $220.4 million, agreed to hold a national collection for the U.S. Archdiocese for Military Services.
  • Participated in a pre-meeting workshop on using new forms of media, such as tweeting, blogging and using Facebook.

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