by Thomas Reese, S.J., NCR
At their spring meeting this week in New Orleans, the U.S. bishops decided they would modify their most recent statement on political responsibility but not totally rewrite it.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have issued these statements prior to presidential elections since 1976. The most recent document, “Faithful Citizenship,” was written in 2007 but was left unchanged prior to the 2012 election because of disagreements among the bishops over what they should say.
The USCCB president, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., explained that he offered three options to the USCCB administrative committee: doing nothing; keeping the 2007 document and writing a new introductory note, as they did in 2011; or rewriting the document completely.
“Some of the policy issues that are discussed in the  document either have diminished or disappeared,” he explained. “Other issues have since emerged as important and they have not been meaningfully addressed.” In addition, he noted, “the 2007 document does not take into account the later magisterium of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI or anything of the teachings of Pope Francis.”
The members of the administrative committee preferred something between proposals two and three. “The idea is to issue a new introductory note, reissue the 2007 document but also allow for some limited revision of the 2007 document,” he said. The bishops accepted this proposal with what appeared to be a unanimous voice vote…