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 | Chieko Noguchi | USCCB

U.S. Bishops Approve New Guidelines for Pastoral Ministry with Native Peoples

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At their annual June Plenary Assembly, the Catholic bishops of the United States approved a national pastoral framework to guide dioceses and those engaged in ministry with Native and Indigenous peoples.

The document, Keeping Christ’s Sacred Promise: A Pastoral Framework for Indigenous Ministry, intended for use by dioceses, Catholic Native organizations, schools, missions, and parishes, was approved by the full body of bishops in a vote of 181 to 2 with 3 abstentions.

The document was presented to the body of bishops for the vote by Bishop Chad Zielinski of New Ulm, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Native American Affairs. “The framework encourages bishops, dioceses and local Catholic Indigenous communities to work together, using the framework as a reference while developing their own local pastoral plans that are sensitive to the vast cultural differences among the various Native and Indigenous Tribes,” said Bishop Zielinski. “It covers a broad range of issues and concerns such as missionary discipleship, evangelization, the role of catechesis, sacramental and liturgical questions, youth and young adult ministries, and social justice issues. And it also addresses difficult topics such as reconciliation for any mistreatment and wrongs done during the boarding school period,” he continued.

After a dialogue with Native Catholic leaders in 2019, the subcommittee responded to the needs raised by developing a framework to guide Native and Indigenous communities in revitalizing pastoral ministry. The pastoral framework is the result of extensive consultation and dialogue over the last several years by the subcommittee with the leadership of Catholic Native groups.

The full text of Keeping Christ’s Sacred Promise: A Pastoral Framework for Indigenous Ministry is currently posted here, and the formatted version will be posted to the USCCB’s website on the page of the Subcommittee on Native American Affairs shortly: