Regional bishops meet in Charleston

CHARLESTON—The Provincial Assembly of Bishops met in Charleston June 25-27 for their annual conference to discuss various church issues.

According to several of the bishops, one of the main topics they focused on marriage.

Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone of the Diocese of Charleston said they spoke of ways to come up with practical policies to make it easy for people to understand where each diocese stands on issues of marriage.

Two areas of concern center on marriages between Catholics and those of another faith, and where a marriage can be held. Bishop Guglielmone said more and more often, couples want to be married in all sorts of locales, and “we’re trying to preserve the sanctity of the holy place.”

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta said they cover a lot of church business during the meeting, but primarily it is an opportunity for fellowship and mutual support.

The other bishops agreed, saying that there have been new bishops for each of the past three years, and the assembly is a good way to get to know one another.

“It’s a great opportunity for fraternal sharing … regarding the pastoral issues that we all face,” said Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte.

He said they talked about religious freedom and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ For Your Marriage campaign, which highlights how marriage strengthens all of society.

Archbishop Gregory led the assembly and celebrated Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist on June 26.

Concelebrants included Bishop Guglielmone and Bishop Emeritus David B. Thompson of Charleston, Bishop Luis R. Zarama of Atlanta, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer and Bishop Emeritus J. Kevin Boland, both of Savannah, and Bishop Jugis.

During his homily, the archbishop spoke about holy and wise people from the past and our desire to capture their knowledge and use it in life.

Jesus was certainly one of those figures, and his golden rule —do unto others as you would have them do unto you — is worth striving for, Archbishop Gregory said.

“It sounds so simple … but yet it is one of the most challenging mandates that we can follow in trying to follow Jesus’ teachings,” he said.

Jesus didn’t qualify the statement, the archbishop said, so it applies to everyone, even those we don’t agree with or even like.

Do unto others is an important guideline to follow as the church stands up for life issues and religious freedom.

Another topic of concern, one that is always discussed, is in regard to child protection and ways to continue improving, Bishop Guglielmone said. The bishops also talked about ways to raise consciousness when it comes to religious freedom and how parishes can participate.

“We recognize that we’re in different locales — it’s hard to come up with provincial applications — but it’s important to share best practices,” he said.

He called the assembly a learning process more than a decision making meeting.

As host, Bishop Guglielmone celebrated the closing Mass on June 27 at St. Mary of the Annunciation.

Read more in the July edition of The Catholic Miscellany newspaper.

All photos by Douglas Deas