Liveblog: U.S. bishops’ Tuesday morning session

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We continue our grand experiment: liveblogging of the public sessions of the U.S. bishops’ fall general meeting in Baltimore. (Earlier sessions here and here.)

12:41 p.m.: Press briefing for journalists about to begin here.

12:34 p.m.: No time for Q&A, so the morning session is now over.

12:30 p.m.: Consumers want conversations, but they will be more accurate if you participate in them, so that’s why the church needs to be involved in these tools.

12:25 p.m.: Search engines also important. Google search of “Bible,” for instance, brings up USCCB’s New American Bible page as one of the top results.

12:22 p.m.: Facebook page for fans of Archbishop Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., shown on the screen, drawing chuckles from the bishops. YouTube channel sponsored by Philadelphia Archdiocese also shown.

12:20 p.m.: Tons of information being presented here, compacted from the three-hour workshop on Saturday. Blogs, RSS, social networks, other new tools. Don’t know how many bishops are understanding this.

12:12 p.m.: Now the bishops are hearing about “user-generated media” and “consumer-generated media.” The latter can have a great impact on organizations and brands.

12:09 p.m.: Digital media can be a very powerful ally of the church, she notes.

12:02 p.m.: Amy Federman, from Burson-Marsteller, is giving the presentation, telling the bishops about the importance of participating in this new age of digital communications. In a show of hands, biggest group of bishops admit they are “absolute beginners.”

11:57 a.m.: Next up, a presentation on digital media and Web 2.0. A version of this was presented to the bishops’ Communications Committee in June, then there was a workshop for bishops on Saturday.

Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, gives his homily during Mass Nov. 10 at the bishops' annual fall meeting in Baltimore. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, gives his homily during Mass Nov. 10 at the bishops' general meeting in Baltimore. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

11:54 a.m.: On the economic crisis, a statement is being discussed that will be issued in the name of Cardinal George as president of the conference. By voice vote, the bishops assent to it being issued.

11:51 a.m.: Just to clarify, I think these were always going to be paper ballots, under conference rules.

11:48 a.m.: Bishops speaking on importance and symbolic value of such a blessing. And then there’s another paper ballot on this. Also voting on a separate Spanish version.

11:43 a.m.: Next up, debate and vote on blessing service for children in the womb.

11:41 a.m.: No questions here either, so another paper ballot, with results announced later.

11:39 a.m.: Now they’re talking about priorities and plans for the USCCB. Much of this is internal, but let’s see if questions are raised.

11:35 a.m.: No questions from the floor for Archbishop Schnurr, so now they’re voting on it by paper ballot. Results later.

11:30 a.m.: Moving on to debate and vote on USCCB budget for 2009, presented by Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr.

11:27 a.m.: Still problems, so moving to written ballot for members of the board for Catholic Relief Services, which had to be on paper anyway.

11:25 a.m.: Trying again with vote for chairman-elect of national collections committee.

11:22 a.m.: Uh oh, there’s a problem with the electronic voting.

11:20 a.m.: New secretary-elect for USCCB is Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown.

11:15 a.m.: Meanwhile, check out this new story from CNS:

Three bishops honored for their restoration efforts following Katrina

11:12 a.m.: These elections used to be complicated paper ballots, but now they’re mostly electronic, with devices that look like TV remote controls.

11:10 a.m.: Executive session and coffee break over, so back to work. First stop: elections.

9:10 a.m.: As previously announced, the bishops are in closed, executive session until approximately 10:30, and then we’ll all face a busy day with elections, priorities and plans, liturgy, a discussion and/or statement on politicians and abortion, the current economic crisis, and possibly CCHD/ACORN. Stay tuned.

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