An integral part of Pope Paul VI’s vision of a more “synodal” Church, his muto proprio Ecclesiae Sanctae called for the establishment of national bishops’ conferences. These conferences would advise the Holy See with mundane administrative tasks (e.g., determining priests’ salaries) as well as more spiritual matters, such as recommending episcopal appointments and determining diocesan boundaries.
Ecclesiae Sanctae was promulgated in 1966. Later that year, the American bishops formed themselves into the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. In 2001, the NCCB changed its name to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Today, according to its website, the USCCB’s mission statement is “to promote the greater good which the Catholic Church offers humankind, especially through forms and programs of the apostolate fittingly adapted to the circumstances of time and place.” The Conference employs over three hundred souls; laymen, deacons, priests, and religious staff the various departments, which include Migration and Refugee Services, Cultural Diversity in the Church, Domestic Social Development, International Justice and Peace, Resettlement Services, and Customer and Client Relations—to name just a few.
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