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How to Cover the Catholic Church

the e-mail address of James Rogers, executive director of Public Affairs, is .

Technically Catholic News Service (CNS), a news agency formed by the U.S.

bishops in 1920, is part of the USCCB, placed administratively under the con-

ference’s Office of the Secretary of Communications. But it is financially and edi-

torially independent, and on the Web it has a separate domain. Its Web address

is . C

NS officials and staff members can be reached by

e-mail using the address format

<first initial plus last name> .


The highest authority in the USCCB is the general membership. It meets

Monday through Thursday of the second full week of November in



(in Washington for many years; in Baltimore since 2006). It also

holds shorter general assemblies most years on a Thursday-through-Saturday

in mid-June (changing in 2009 to a Wednesday-through-Friday). The spring

assemblies are usually devoted more to discussion and reflection than to a

business agenda. About every three to four years, the spring general assem-

bly is replaced by a retreat-style

special assembly

for prayer and reflection,

at which ordinarily no USCCB business is conducted. The spring meeting site

varies from year to year.

Retreat-style special assemblies are closed to the media. General assemblies,

spring or fall, are open to accredited media except for when the bishops meet in

executive session or substitute prayer or reflection time for business sessions.

The basic agenda for USCCB general assemblies is determined about

two months in advance by the next-highest authority in the conference, the

USCCB Administrative Committee. Composed mainly of the conference offi-

cers (president, vice president, treasurer and secretary), chairmen of stand-

ing committees, and elected representatives of the 15 USCCB regions, the

Administrative Committee meets just before the fall assembly and has at least

two other business meetings each year, typically in March and September.

These meetings are not open to media.

Retired bishops can voice their opinions but have no vote at USCCB

general assemblies. They can serve on USCCB committees but cannot chair

them. They cannot be conference officers. Auxiliary and coadjutor bishops

have a vote in most matters, but only bishops who head dioceses can vote on

national collections and issues of diocesan financial support for the USCCB.

Auxiliaries and coadjutors can serve on committees and chair them and can

be conference treasurer or secretary, but only diocesan bishops can hold the

offices of president and vice president.