WASHINGTON (CNS) — U.S. Catholic bishops will gather Nov. 16 and 17 for their annual meeting, but this time in an online format because of the coronavirus pandemic. In what is undoubtedly one of the largest virtual gatherings of Catholic bishops in the world, more than 300 prelates are expected to log on for the two-day meeting with plenary sessions to be livestreamed from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 16 and from 1 p.m. to about 2:45 p.m. Nov. 17, both Eastern Standard Time, to accommodate the variety of time zones. The sessions will be livestreamed at www.usccb.org/live via a YouTube channel.
“Hopefully, this is the only (annual bishops’ meeting) we have to do this way, but you never know,” said James Rogers, chief communications officer for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in a Nov. 10 interview with Catholic News Service. The online format becomes a challenge at a time when the prelates are expected to discuss some of toughest issues affecting the world, the nation and the church, and it comes days after the release of an extensive report on former cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick and his ascent to power despite abuse allegations against him.