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The Gospel of Christ and the teachings of his Church guide the work of the USCCB. The work of the Conference is rooted in three general mission goals and organized into three key areas of responsibility.
In addition to these long-term mission goals, the bishops choose four to five priority goals for each planning cycle. The proposed priority goals for the 2008-2011 planning cycle are as follows:
At any time, the bishops may be asked to address and respond to a variety of issues and concerns that affect the life of the Church both within the church community and within contemporary society. Such issues may be specific and transitory and may require a limited commitment of time and resources. Their goals are short-term and will be addressed, implemented, and evaluated in a five-year cycle.
This third area comprises responsibilities that support the mission responsibilities and relationships.
Based on the goals of the USCCB, the bishops address and respond to a variety of issues and concerns that affect the life of the Church both within the church community and within contemporary society.
These issues and concerns:
Significant issues or responsibilities are those that impact a sizable number of bishops and/or directly affect a number of dioceses. Significant issues typically require a collective and unified response or approach from the episcopal conference.
Each standing committee of the Conference is given a mandate based on the goals of the USCCB with corresponding responsibilities and relationships to address how the committee fulfills its mission in relationship to the overall goals of the USCCB. The bishops exercise leadership and undertake specific issues, responsibilities, and initiatives through various organizational structures, including standing committees and permanent and ad hoc work groups, and with the collaboration and assistance of staff and consultants. They also draw on the regional structure and the provinces and collaborate with national Catholic organizations, movements, and associations.
In carrying out their respective mandates, committees and work groups strive to respond to the mission of the Conference as a total body. In addressing or responding to these issues and initiatives, the bishops will:
At times, the bishops may wish to exercise their pastoral ministry and leadership on a national level by working collaboratively with the Episcopal regions and provinces or with national Catholic organizations, movements, and associations. Through this collaboration the bishops seek to increase the effectiveness and extension of the mission by empowering more groups to act by and with the bishops. This approach is helpful when there is an initiative that is best accomplished by the bishops' marshalling and empowering the resources and energies of a regional effort, a national group, or groups that are closely associated with the Conference and with one another; or where the bishops believe that the work is best accomplished through the means of a national organization or movement rather than through direct leadership and involvement by the USCCB.
The following criteria are parameters to be used in developing the annual plans of the USCCB:
(USCCB, Report from the Task Force on Activities and Resources, 16-17, no. B6, approved November 2004).
While acknowledging that not all work that the bishops undertake can be specifically measured, given the investment of time, talent, and financial resources at the national level, the bishops strive as much as possible to develop measurable outcomes and effectiveness assessments:
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