BALTIMORE – On the morning of the first day of the USCCB’s General Assembly in Baltimore, discussion began on three proposals to improve episcopal accountability.

As the discussion developed June 11, much of the focus concerned the role of lay people in the process of handling complaints against bishops, and the extent to which the conference could make binding provisions to that end.

The assembly considered directives to implement the pope’s recent motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi, a formal affirmation of their moral commitments as bishops, and a set of protocols which can be applied by serving diocesan bishops to retired or emeritus bishops.

All three proposals were put to the floor for questions and clarifications, with the possibility to propose amendments in writing ahead of final votes in the coming days.

Bishop Robert Deeley of Portland presented the directives for implementing Vos estis on behalf of the conference’s Canonical Affairs and Church Governance Committee.

The directives were, he stressed, intended to only to be read “in constant reference to Vos estis,” the universal law of the Church. Deeley underscored to the bishops several times that it was not within the conference’s authority to contradict the pope’s provisions, but to act within them.

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