Each November, the bishops of the United States gather for their General Assembly in Baltimore. Earlier this month, after consultation with the Holy See, the bishop-members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) voted to approve the convocation of this annual November meeting in a virtual format in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a vote of 219 to 5 (1 abstaining), the bishops decided to meet in a virtual format rather than the usual in-person meeting. The agenda will be finalized by the Administrative Committee of the USCCB, which is set to meet in mid-September.

Earlier this year, the Administrative Committee voted to cancel their Spring Assembly out of concern for the health, well-being, and safety of the bishops, staff, observers, guests, affiliates, volunteers, contractors, and media involved with the general meetings in the wake of the novel coronavirus. It marked the first cancellation of a plenary assembly in the Conference’s history.

The bylaws of the Conference state that a plenary assembly is to be convened at least once a year, and conducting the November meeting in virtual format fulfills this requirement. More information will be made available as the details of the virtual meeting are finalized and will be posted to https://www.usccb.org/meetings.