The Structure of USCCB
The USCCB enables the Catholic bishops of the United States to exchange ideas and information, deliberate on broad Church concerns, and respond as a body. The membership includes the approximately 400 active and retired bishops, who elect a general secretary to a five-year term. The General Secretary heads an executive team that includes an associate general secretary who oversees pastoral, planning, and canon law issues; a secretary for administration, a secretary for advocacy and policy and a secretary for communications. Overall they administer a staff of nearly 300 people, most headquartered in Washington.
A president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary serve three-year terms and are also elected by their fellow bishops. The General Secretariat, the Administrative Committee, the Executive Committee, and the various standing committees, subcommittees and task forces carry out the USCCB's work through USCCB staff. The USCCB is a civil, nonprofit organization incorporated in the District of Columbia.
The Administrative Committee is the USCCB's principal committee. Its membership of 43 bishops includes the Conference's officers, the chairmen of standing committees, and representatives of the 15 USCCB regions. It also serves as the Board of Trustees for the civil corporation. Semiannually it receives reactive and proactive advice from the National Advisory Council, which is comprised of fifty-five lay men and women, religious, priests, and bishops from the fourteen regions.
The Executive Committee is responsible for matters that require attention before the next scheduled meeting of the full body of bishops or the Administrative Committee. The Executive Committee consists of the USCCB officers and one other Administrative Committee member elected by that body. The three other executive-level committees are Budget and Finance, Personnel, and Priorities and Plans.
The USCCB is comprised of committees, each with its own responsibility. The committees deal with the pastoral concerns of the bishops, the Church as a whole, and the Church in society. At present the committees are the
Executive Level and Management Committees
Committee on Budget and Finance
Committee on Priorities and Plans
Programmatic Committees and Related Subcommittees
Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance
Committee on Catholic Education
Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations
Committee on Communications
Subcommittee on the Catholic Communication Campaign
Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church
Subcommittee on African American Affairs
Committee on Divine Worship
Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Island Affairs
Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs
Subcommittee on Native American Affairs (Permanent)
Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees, and travelers
Subcommittee on Hispanic Liturgy
Committee on Doctrine
Subcommittee on the Translation of Scripture Text
Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs
Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis
Subcommittee on the Catechism
Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development
Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development
Committee on International Justice and Peace
Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth
Committee on Migration
Committee on National Collections
Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America
Committee on Pro-Life Activities
Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions
Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe
Subcommittee on the Church in Africa
Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People
Task Force on Spanish Language Bible
Task Force on Health Care
Task Force on the Commission on Certification and Accreditation
Task Forces for the five priority issues
Office of the General Secretary oversees all the work of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The office consists of the general secretary, three associate general secretaries, the assistant general secretary for planning, and the administrative staff. The Conference's Meeting and Events function is also situated in the General Secretariat.
The staff work of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops includes four key mission responsibilities:
Policy and Advocacy
Office of the General Counsel provides legal advice to the USCCB and supports the work of diocesan attorneys, state Catholic conferences, and other national, regional, and local Catholic entities by providing uniform assistance on constitutional, tax (including the administration of the Group Ruling), litigation, and other matters.
The Associate General Secretary oversees the following departments, secretariats, and offices as well as the Conference's work on canonical affairs and strategic planning.
Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations is responsible for issues dealing with bishops, priests, deacons, men and women religious, priestly formation, and vocations. This includes assisting in the development of programs and providing services and liaison support to related national organizations and diocesan directors.
Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church works with the various ethnic and racial groups in the Catholic Church. Particular groups of concern include African Americans; Asians and Pacific Islanders; Hispanics; Native Americans; and Migrants, Refugees, and Travelers.
Secretariat of Divine Worship oversees the development and approval of liturgical books and texts, provides leadership in liturgical formation and sacramental catechesis, and serves as a liturgical resource for bishops and diocesan liturgical commissions and offices of worship.
Secretariat of Doctrine provides expertise on theological, moral, and doctrinal matters. This includes issues relating to faith and science, and to Catholic health care. The secretariat also supports efforts in approving Catholic translations of the Sacred Scriptures.
Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs works to promote Christian unity, bonds of friendship with the Jewish people, and interreligious understanding throughout U.S. society. The secretariat coordinates theological dialogues with various churches and Christian communities, and oversees consultations with representatives of various Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and Sikh agencies. The secretariat also offers opportunities for ecumenical and interreligious education for clergy and lay leaders.
Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis supports the work of the dioceses to evangelize and catechize both Catholics and those who might be interested in joining the Catholic Church. The staff in this office offers information and advice on the needs, trends, and challenges related to proclaiming and teaching the faith. The secretariat also reviews and/or develops materials for religious instruction.
Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth works to strengthen the participation and collaboration of lay people for the mission of the Church. It provides leadership within a culturally diverse environment to specific pastoral areas including marriage and family life; natural family planning; youth and young adult ministries; lay ecclesial ministry; and lay formation, witness, and leadership.
Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection is a resource for dioceses/eparchies for implementing safe environment programs and for suggested training and development of diocesan personnel responsible for child and youth protection programs. The secretariat produces an annual public report—on the progress made in implementing and maintaining the standards in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People—following an annual audit process. The report is public and includes the names of dioceses/eparchies that the audit shows are not in compliance with the provisions and expectations of the Charter.
Office of the Secretary of Policy and Advocacy oversees USCCB government relations with Congress and its committees on legislative matters. Advocacy and policy offices include the following: Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development; Department of Migration and Refugee Services (MRS); Secretariat of Catholic Education; and Secretariat of Pro Life Activities. The secretary for policy and advocacy is also an associate general secretary.
Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development works to apply Catholic Social Teaching to major domestic and international issues with significant moral and human dimensions. The department advocates for the poor and vulnerable as well as for justice and peace in the public policy arena. It works to build the capacity of the Church to act effectively in the defense of human life, human dignity, human rights, and the pursuit of justice and peace. It includes the Office of the Executive Director, Office of International Justice and Peace, Office of Domestic Social Development, and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). CCHD is the bishops' anti-poverty, social justice program to address the root causes of poverty in the United States through support of community-controlled, self-help organizations, and through transformative education.
Department of Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) resettles more than a quarter of all refugees admitted to the United States annually. MRS provides assistance in the areas of orientation, education, health, employment, and housing services to people fleeing war and persecution from over 50 countries. MRS similarly serves other vulnerable populations including victims of human trafficking, unaccompanied children in detention, and Cuban and Haitian refugees. Through its Office of Migration and Refugee Policy, MRS represents the concern of the bishops of the United States for newcomers and people on the move by educating Catholics and the general public and by promoting legislative policy that responds to their critical needs. MRS is composed of three separate offices: the Office of the Executive Director, the Office of Migration and Refugee Policy, and the Office of Refugee Programs.
Secretariat of Catholic Education works to promote teaching and catechesis as a lifelong process of total Catholic education that has, at its heart, evangelization. The secretariat focuses on education in K-12 Catholic schools and in Catholic colleges and universities.
Secretariat of Pro Life Activities provides programs of education, pastoral service, prayer, and public policy outreach on behalf of the sanctity and dignity of human life.
Office of the Secretary of Communications addresses the Church's responsibility in and through the print and electronic media. A responsibility of this office includes the Office for Film and Broadcasting, based in New York, and review of federal legislation in conjunction with the USCCB Office of the General Counsel. The secretary of communications coordinates grant requests for the Catholic Communications Campaign. The department includes the following offices:
Catholic News Service (CNS) is the oldest and largest English-language religious news service in the world. It covers news and events in the United States and across the globe that are of interest to Catholic readers. Based in Washington D.C., CNS operates a bureau in Rome and field correspondents on every continent. It provides daily a variety of news reporting and images, opinion, and catechetical materials. It also publishes Origins, the church's largest English-language religious news documentary service.
Office of Digital Media is responsible for the USCCB's Internet presence. Digital Media manages and maintains the USCCB Web site (www.usccb.org) and other affiliated Web sites. The office also produces and distributes several audio and video programs as well as text content for Web, TV, and radio.
Office of Media Relations represents the bishops to the media and the media to the bishops. It monitors media coverage, provides background for journalists, and assists bishops and USCCB staff in working with international, national, and regional media outlets.
USCCB Publishing is the official publisher and distributor of USCCB publications, documents, and pastoral resources. It coordinates USCCB and Confraternity of Christian Doctrine intellectual property rights.
Office of the Secretary of Administration oversees the offices below. The secretary for administration is also an associate general secretary.
Office of Finance provides for the strategic planning and management of the budgeting and financial planning of the USCCB.
Office of Accounting and Business Services provides for the day-to-day budgeting and accounting operations of the USCCB.
Office of General Services provides building services, including printing and duplication services and internal and external mail handling.
The Office of Human Resources administers personnel policies and procedures. It manages employee benefits, recruitment, performance management, compensation, staff development, employee recognition, and other employment-related matters.
Office of National Collections coordinates the fund-raising, grant making, and promotional efforts of the following collections:
The Church in Central and Eastern Europe
Catholic Home Missions
The Church in Latin America
The Catholic Relief Services Collection
The Church in Africa
Catholic Communication Campaign (promotion)
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (promotion)
Office of Information Technology provides word processing, data processing, and Internet support for the USCCB.
Several important Church agencies maintain close relationships with the USCCB. Among them are the National Council of Catholic Women; the National Catholic Office for Persons with Disabilities; the USCCB Commission on Certification and Accreditation; the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC); and Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the bishops' overseas relief and development agency.