Welcome to the Diocese of Lake Charles

(USCCB News Archives can be accessed at www.usccb.org/news/)

(For interesting commentary on Catholic issues go to http://usccbmedia.blogspot.com/)


WASHINGTON — As the U.S. House of Representatives appears poised to vote on the American Health Care Act (HB 1628), Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, stressed that remaining flaws in the bill will harm poor and vulnerable people and called on members to insist upon changes.

“It is deeply disappointing to many Americans that, in modifying the American Health Care Act to again attempt a vote, proponents of the bill left in place its serious flaws, including unacceptable modifications to Medicaid that will endanger coverage and affordability for millions of people, according to reports,” said Bishop Dewane.  “Sadly, some of the recently proposed amendments—especially those designed to give states flexibility—lack apparent safeguards to ensure quality of care. These additions could severely impact many people with pre-existing conditions while risking for others the loss of access to various essential coverages.”

In an earlier letter sent to Representatives on March 17, Bishop Dewane had urged members of the U.S. House of Representatives to correct provisions that would place a per capita cap on Medicaid funding to states, as well as to ensure adequate, quality coverage for those who are part of the recent Medicaid expansion, among other things.  Bishop Dewane also called for conscience protections for those who participate in the delivery or coverage of health care services and against mandates like the contraception and sterilization regulatory requirement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“The American Health Care Act includes some praiseworthy features, among them restricting funding which flows to abortion providers and prohibiting federal funding for abortion or the purchase of plans that cover it,” noted Bishop Dewane.  “But the AHCA, as it now stands, creates new and grave challenges for poor and vulnerable people, including immigrants.  The House must not pass the legislation as it is.  Members should insist on changes, especially for the sake of those who are struggling in our communities.”

April 26, 2017

WASHINGTON – Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chair of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, reacted to the announcement by the Democratic National Committee’s chair pledging support only for pro-abortion candidates. Calling the pledge “very disturbing,” Cardinal Dolan urged party members to “challenge their leadership to recant this intolerant position.”

Full statement follows:

“The recent pledge by the Democratic National Committee chair to support only candidates who embrace the radical unrestricted abortion license is very disturbing. The Democratic Party platform already endorses abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy, even forcing taxpayers to fund it; and now the DNC says that to be a Democrat—indeed to be an American—requires supporting that extreme agenda.

True solidarity with pregnant women and their children transcends all party lines. Abortion doesn’t empower women. Indeed, women deserve better than abortion.

In the name of diversity and inclusion, pro-life and pro-‘choice’ Democrats, alike, should challenge their leadership to recant this intolerant position.”

April 20 2017

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Bishop Venedykt (Valery) Aleksiychuk, M.S.U., as bishop of the Eparchy of St Nicholas in Chicago for Ukrainians, in Illinois. Prior to the appointment, Bishop Aleksiychuk was an auxiliary bishop of the Archeparchy of Lviv, Ukraine.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, April 20, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Valery Aleksiychuk was born January 16, 1968, in Borshchivka, Ukraine. He pursued seminary studies and was ordained a priest on March 29, 1992. He was named auxiliary bishop of Lviv on August 3, 2010, and ordained a bishop on September 5, 2010.
The Eparchy of St Nicholas in Chicago for Ukrainians has been a sede vacante since August 2016; it has a population of about 11,000 Ukrainian Catholics. About 70 priests and deacons serve the eparchy in 46 parishes and mission stations in 16 states throughout the United States.

April 19, 2017

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Martin Amos, 75, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa, and named Monsignor Thomas R. Zinkula, to succeed him.  Monsignor Zinkula is a priest of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, currently serving as rector of St. Pius X Seminary at Loras College in Dubuque.  

Pope Francis has also named Father John P. Dolan as Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego. Father Dolan is a priest of the Diocese of San Diego where he currently serves as Episcopal Vicar for Clergy and Pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish.   

The resignation and appointments were publicized in Washington, April 19, 2017, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop-designate, Msgr. Thomas Zinkula, 60, was born April 19, 1957, in Mount Vernon, Iowa.  He attended Catholic University in Washington, DC, where he earned a master’s in Theology in 1990.  In 1998, he received a licentiate in Canon Law from St. Paul’s University, Ottawa, Canada.  He also earned a law degree from the University of Iowa in 1983 and he holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, economics and business from Cornell College in Mount Vernon.  

He was ordained to the priesthood on May 26, 1990, for the Archdiocese of Dubuque. 

Assignments after ordination included: assistant pastor, St. Columbkille, Dubuque,  1990-1993; assistant pastor at Joseph the Worker,  Dubuque, 1993-1996; a student of Canon Law at St. Paul University in Ottawa from 1996-1998; pastor of St. Joseph in Rickardsville and sacramental priest for the parishes of St. Francis in Balltown, and SS. Peter and Paul in Sherill from 1998-2002;  judge at the Archdiocesan Tribunal from 1998-2000; judicial vicar, 2000-2010; pastor, Holy Ghost, Dubuque 2005-2011; episcopal vicar for the region of Cedar Rapids, 2012-2014; and rector of St. Pius X Seminary in Dubuque, 2014-present. 

Bishop Amos was ordained a priest in 1968.  He served as an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland in the state of Ohio from 2001 to 2006, and then as the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Davenport since 2006.

The Diocese of Davenport is comprised of 11,438 square miles in the state of Iowa and has a total population of 792,199 of which 97,202, or 12 percent, are Catholic.

Auxiliary bishop-designate, Father John Dolan was born in San Diego, June 8, 1962 and was ordained to the priesthood on July 1, 1989 for the Diocese of San Diego. 

Fr. Dolan holds a Master of Arts degree in Liturgy from St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, California.

Assignments  after ordination included: parochial vicar, Saint Michael’s Parish, San Diego from 1989-1991; associate pastor, Santa Sofia Parish, El Cajon, 1991-1992; director of vocations, 1992-1994; pastor of St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish, Oceanside, 1996-2001; pastor, St. Michael’s Parish, San Diego, 2001-2002; pastor, St. Rose of Lima Parish, Chula Vista, 2002-2014; pastor, Saint Michael’s Church, Poway, 2014-2016; episcopal vicar for the clergy and pastor, St. John the Evangelist Parish, San Diego 2016-present. 

The Diocese of San Diego is comprised of 8,852 square miles in the state of California and has a total population of 3,285,849 of which 1,012,486 or 30 percent are Catholic.  The Bishop of the San Diego Diocese is Robert W. McElroy.

April 16, 2017

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued the following Easter message as we celebrate the joy of Christ’s Resurrection.

A video version of Cardinal DiNardo’s Easter message is also available at:  https://www.facebook.com/usccb/videos/10154506949682285/

Full statement follows: 

“Through Christ’s passion, His burial in the tomb and His glorious resurrection, we come to realize the enormity of the Lord’s sacrifice for us.  We may feel unworthy of His love who paid so high a price for our salvation.  Let us not be afraid. Let’s allow ourselves to be taken – even seized – with Easter joy. As we proclaim on Easter Sunday, ‘Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining.’

In the Gospel of John, chapter 10, Jesus says the shepherd calls his own sheep by name, ‘I am the Good Shepherd and I know mine.’ In chapter 20, how much fear and doubt must have gripped Mary of Magdala as she stood by the tomb?  There, it was Jesus who rescued Mary from her fears and darkness by calling her name. Listen carefully.  Mary thought she had discovered the Risen Lord, but it was the Risen Lord who discovered her. Jesus calls out to each of us by name today as He did the very first Easter Sunday.  His promise fulfilled.  His word brings life, ‘I am the Good Shepherd and I know mine.’

Jesus waits for you and me, embracing us in our moments of greatest need and desire.  Welcome the love of God into your life. Share it those around you, especially the most vulnerable of our sisters and brothers.  In this way, we proclaim with Mary, ‘I have seen the Lord.’ Sing joyfully, ‘the Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.’  Happy Easter!”

April 13, 2017

WASHINGTON—Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development issued a statement this morning in response to the scheduled executions of seven men in 11 days in Arkansas. The state is planning to begin the executions on Easter Monday. Bishop Dewane joins the Catholic community of Arkansas, and people of good will across the country and around the world, in urging Governor Hutchinson to reconsider this plan.

“This Easter, let us ask the Lord for the grace to infuse our justice with mercy.  May those in Arkansas who hold the lives of these individuals on death row in their hands be moved by God’s love, which is stronger than death, and abandon the current plans for execution,” Bishop Dewane wrote in asking for commutation of the sentences of those scheduled to be executed to life imprisonment. 

In his statement, Bishop Dewane noted that Pope Francis called for “the global abolition of the death penalty,” in his 2015 address to the U.S. Congress, where the Holy Father said, “I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. . . . [A] just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.”  The Catholic Bishops of the United States have echoed this call for many years, including in their 2005 statement A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death.

“It can be very difficult to think of mercy at a time when justice for unthinkable crimes seems to cry out for vengeance,” Bishop Dewane commented, “[t]he harm and pain caused by terrible sin is real.”  Yet, he invoked Pope Francis’ reflection that, “Jesus on the cross prayed for those who had crucified him: ‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they do’ (Lk. 23:34).  Mercy is the only way to overcome evil.  Justice is necessary, very much so, but by itself it is not enough.  Justice and mercy must go together.”

Bishop Dewane’s full statement can be found here:

April 10, 2017

WASHINGTON — Three chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) are offering their strong support for the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2017. The Act would prevent the federal government, and any state receiving federal funds for child welfare services, from taking adverse action against a provider that, for religious or moral reasons, declines to provide a child welfare social service.

“Our first and most cherished freedom, religious liberty, is to be enjoyed by all Americans, including child welfare providers who serve the needs of children,” wrote Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty; and Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage; in letters of support to Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) in the U.S. House of Representatives and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) in the U.S. Senate, who introduced the bill.

Some faith-based child welfare providers, including in Massachusetts, Illinois, California, and the District of Columbia, have been excluded from carrying out adoption and foster care services because the providers act on their belief that children deserve to be placed with a married mother and father. The chairmen said, “The Inclusion Act would remedy this unjust discrimination by enabling all providers to serve the needs of parents and children in a manner consistent with the providers’ religious beliefs and moral convictions.”

Stressing that the Inclusion Act respects the importance of parental choice, the chairmen remarked, “Women and men who want to place their children for adoption ought to be able to choose from a diversity of adoption agencies, including those that share the parents’ religious beliefs and moral convictions.”

The letters of support are available online at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/upload/Ltr-to-Rep-Kelly-Inclusion-Act-2017.pdf and http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/upload/Ltr-to-Sen-Enzi-Inclusion-Act-2017.pdf

A backgrounder on the Inclusion Act is available at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/upload/Backgrounder-Inclusion-Act-2017.pdf

April 10, 2017

WASHINGTON — A married couple in their golden years, a couple inspired by their late daughter’s legacy, and a salesman who heard Jesus’ call to conversion on a stranger’s porch, are among the thousands who will be welcomed into the Catholic Church on Easter Vigil, April 15, in parishes across the United States. All have participated in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), a process of conversion and study in the Catholic faith for catechumens and candidates coming into full communion with the Church.

Catechumens, who have never been baptized, will receive baptism, confirmation and first Communion at the Holy Saturday Easter Vigil. Candidates, who have already been baptized in another Christian tradition whose baptism is recognized by the Catholic Church, will enter the Church through a profession of faith and reception of confirmation and the Eucharist.

In the Diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan, 175 catechumens and 249 candidates will receive the sacraments. Among them, Mac, 90, and Barb Harless, 85, who will join the Church this Easter after finding their parish, St. John Paul II Church in Cedar Springs, a source of prayer, peace and hope during Barb’s battle with cancer.

In the Diocese of Rochester, New York, the RCIA involvement of Dan and Michaela Cady –along with their sons Aidan, 15, Solas, 12, and Merritt, 10 – was spurred by a family tragedy. Two years ago their daughter and sister Kennis, then 12, died suddenly. "It just turned our heads about life," Dan Cady said. He added that his family was grateful for the support it received from the staff of St. Jerome Parish in East Rochester, and from there opted to pursue RCIA. As the Cadys advance on their faith journey, Dan said he's confident his daughter is watching over them: "We would like to think it's orchestrated by her," he said. Some of the family members will receive the sacraments this year, and others next year.

While in Orlando, Florida, Jarrid Perusse of Most Precious Blood Parish in Oviedo said he, “got saved on a porch” during a summer internship as a door-to-door salesman. He realized that God was reaching out to him, and “it was my turn to start reaching back,” he said.

 About 60 of the nearly 200 dioceses in the United States reported numbers for 2017 to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the largest diocese in the United States, will welcome 1,756 catechumens and 938 candidates; while the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston reports 1,667 catechumens and 708 candidates; and the Archdiocese of Washington reports 483 catechumens and 698 candidates.

Other archdioceses report the following totals: Archdiocese of Seattle: 679 catechumens and 409 candidates; Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis: 201 catechumens, 623 candidates; Archdiocese of Philadelphia: 235 catechumens, 322 candidates; Archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky: 227 catechumens, 279 candidates; Archdiocese of Oklahoma City reports 290 catechumens, 368 candidates; Archdiocese of San Francisco: 174 catechumens, 207 candidates; Archdiocese of Newark: 499 catechumens, 693 candidates; Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa: 63 catechumens, 94 candidates; Archdiocese of Miami: 524 catechumens, 214 candidates.

In California, the Diocese of Stockton will welcome 284 candidates and 532 catechumens; Diocese of Oakland reports 176 catechumens and 376 candidates; the Diocese of San Diego reports 333 catechumens and 635 candidates; and the Diocese of Fresno will welcome 593 catechumens and 56 candidates; the Diocese of San Jose reports 496 catechumens and candidates.

In Florida, the Diocese of St. Petersburg reports 456 catechumens and 514 candidates; the Diocese of Orlando reports 586 catechumens and candidates; the Diocese of Palm Beach, Florida, reports 147 catechumens and 474 candidates.

In New York, the Diocese of Rockville Centre reports 232 catechumens 327 candidates; the Diocese of Rochester reports 96 catechumens and 149 candidates;  the Diocese of Buffalo reports 56 catechumens and 105 candidates;  the Diocese of Syracuse reports 49 catechumens and 70 candidates.

Other dioceses reporting hundreds of catechumens and candidates include: Diocese of Dallas: 945 catechumens and 1,230 candidates; Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas: 252 catechumens and 324 candidates;Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana: 187 catechumens and 208 candidates; Diocese of Salt Lake City, Utah: 273 catechumens, 153 candidates; Diocese of Tyler, Texas: 120 catechumens and 270 candidates; Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina: 160 catechumens and 317 candidates; Diocese of Pittsburgh: 444 catechumens and candidates;  Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut: 78 catechumens and 241 candidates; Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri: 106 catechumens and 172 candidates; Diocese of Tucson, Arizona: 111 candidates and 209 catechumens; Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio: 97 catechumens and 130 candidates; Diocese of Camden, New Jersey: 174 catechumens; Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey: 195 catechumens and candidates; Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey: 125 catechumens and 200 candidates; Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts: 114 catechumens and 101 candidates; Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts: 53 catechumens and 105 candidates; Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire:  95 candidates and 67 catechumens; Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware: 101 catechumens and 152 candidates; Diocese of Belleville, Illinois: 54 catechumens and 120 candidates; Diocese of Springfield, Illinois: 160 catechumens and 159 candidates; Diocese of Yakima, Washington: 115 catechumens, 145 candidates; Diocese of LaFayette, Louisiana: 55 catechumens and  96 candidates; Diocese of Reno, Nevada: 139 catechumens and 40 candidates; Diocese of Greensburg, Pennsylvania: 92 candidates and 44 catechumens; Diocese of Steubenville, Ohio: 39 catechumens and 52 candidates; Diocese of Rapid City: 27 catechumens, 83 candidates; Diocese of Shreveport, Louisiana: 40 catechumens, 89 candidates; the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut: 97 catechumens, 313 candidates; Diocese of Memphis, Tennessee: 60 catechumens, 200 candidates; Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan: 49 catechumens, 63 candidates.

In Minnesota, the Diocese of St. Cloud reports 17 catechumens, 76 candidates; Diocese of Crookston: 8 catechumens, 25 candidates; Diocese of Winona: 42 catechumens, 112 candidates; Diocese of Duluth: 11 catechumens, 69 candidates.

These numbers are based on participation in the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion, the final phase of the RCIA process celebrated at the beginning of Lent.

Not included are infant baptisms that according to the 2016 Official Catholic Directory (OCD) totaled 683,712 for the year 2015. The OCD also reported that there were 39,721 adult baptisms and 71,809 people received into full communion during the same year, the latest with complete statistical data.

April 9, 2017

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued the following statement in response to explosions on Palm Sunday at two Coptic Christian churches in Egypt that have killed at least 40 and injured at least 100:

“In the early hours of Palm Sunday, as Christians began the celebration of the holiest week of the year, our brothers and sisters in Egypt suffered unspeakable persecution. They were at Church.  They were praying.  And in the midst of what should be peace, horrible violence yet again.  I express our deepest sadness at the loss of those killed, our prayers for healing for all those injured, and our condolences to those who suffer the loss of loved ones.

I also express our solidarity with the Coptic church in Egypt, an ancient Christian community that faces mounting persecution in its historic home from violent extremism.  I also pray for the nation of Egypt, that it may seek justice, find healing, and strengthen protection for Coptic Christians and other religious minorities who wish only to live in peace.

I also join Pope Francis in his prayer for the victims of this attack, and that ‘the Lord [may] convert the hearts of the people who are sowing terror, violence and death, and also the hearts of those who make and traffic weapons.’ The Prince of Peace assures us that the darkness of terror cannot withstand the Easter light of Resurrection.  We entrust all those who suffer and who have perished into the arms of the crucified and Risen Christ.”

April 7, 2017

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Oscar Cantú, chair of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, have issued a joint statement calling for renewed peace efforts in Syria.  
The full statement is as follows:   

“Three days ago, our Conference of Bishops decried the chemical attack in Syria as one that ‘shocks the soul.’  The use of internationally banned indiscriminate weapons is morally reprehensible.  At the same time, our Conference affirmed the call of Pope Francis to attain peace in Syria ‘through dialogue and reconciliation.’

The longstanding position of our Conference of Bishops is that the Syrian people urgently need a political solution. We ask the United States to work tirelessly with other governments to obtain a ceasefire, initiate serious negotiations, provide impartial humanitarian assistance, and encourage efforts to build an inclusive society in Syria that protects the rights of all its citizens, including Christians and other minorities.

We once again make our own the earlier call of our Holy Father, Pope Francis: ‘I exhort the international community to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace in that country without further delay, a peace based on dialogue and negotiation, for the good of the entire Syrian people. May no effort be spared in guaranteeing humanitarian assistance to those wounded by this terrible conflict, in particular those forced to flee and the many refugees in nearby countries.’

Join us as we pray for the intercession of Our Lady Queen of Peace that the work of humanitarian assistance and peacebuilding will find strength in the merciful love of her Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 

April 6, 2017

WASHINGTON–Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chair of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, welcomed the State Department’s April 4th announcement that it will withhold federal funding from the U.N. Population Fund (“UNFPA”) because UNFPA monies go to Chinese agencies that perform forced abortions and involuntary sterilizations.
The Administration’s decision invokes the 1985 Kemp-Kasten Amendment against funding organizations involved in coercive population programs. Millions of taxpayer dollars will now be redirected to maternal health and non-abortion reproductive health programs in developing countries.

“Chinese families have endured unspeakable abuses, including onerous fines, mandatory pregnancy exams, coerced sterilizations, and forced abortions,” Cardinal Dolan said. “Over 20 years ago, the U.N. condemned forced sterilization and forced abortion as ‘acts of violence against women’, and yet the UNFPA has enabled the Chinese government to continue their assault on the dignity of women and the lives of their unborn children – especially female children, who are most at risk.”

Since 1985, Congress has forbidden the funding of any organization which, as determined by the President of the United States, “supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.” There is no credible claim to counter the fact that Chinese population programs use coercive means or that UNFPA supports the Chinese programs. 

“This is a victory for women and children across the globe, as well as for U.S. taxpayers,” Cardinal Dolan said. “We are so grateful to the Trump Administration for taking this important action to end U.S. support for UNFPA so long as it remains committed to China's coercive abortion and sterilization programs.”

April 6, 2017

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Monsignor Daniel H. Mueggenborg, a priest of the Diocese of Tulsa, as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Seattle. Msgr. Mueggenborg currently serves as pastor of Christ the King Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, April 6, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. 

Daniel Mueggenborg was born in 1962. He attended Oklahoma State University, where he received a bachelor of science degree in geology in 1984, and pursued seminary studies at the Pontifical North American College, 1985-1989. He holds a bachelor degree in sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, 1989, where he also earned a licentiate in sacred theology (S.T.L.) in biblical theology, 1990. He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Tulsa in 1989.

Assignments after ordination included: associate pastor at Church of St. Mary, Tulsa, 1989, and at St. John Church, Bartlesville, 1990-1991; chaplain, Bishop Kelley High School, and associate pastor, Saint Pius X Church, Tulsa, 1991-1995; administrator pro-tempore, Saint Cecilia Church, Claremont, 1994-1996; pastor at Church of the Magdalene, Tulsa, 1996-2001, and St. Clement Church, Bixby, 2001-2005; assistant director of formation advising and formation advisor, Pontifical North American College, Rome, 2005-2006.

In 2004, Pope John Paul II named him a "Chaplain of His Holiness," carrying the title of “monsignor.”

The Archdiocese of Seattle comprises 28,731 square miles in the state of Washington and it has a total population of 5,501,540 people of which 583,000 or 11 percent, are Catholic. Archbishop J. Peter Sartain has been the archbishop of Seattle since 2010. The archdiocese currently has one active auxiliary bishop, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo.

April 5, 2017

WASHINGTON —  Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice president of the USCCB, have issued the following joint statement on yesterday’s chemical weapons attack in northern Syria.

Full statement follows:
“The chemical attack in Syria on April 4 shocks the soul. The many innocent lives targeted by these terrible tools of war cry out for humanity’s protection.  In this season of Lent when Christians draw near to the       suffering of Christ, let us match the horrific indifference shown for innocent life with a fervent prayer for love to break through the evil.  Let us also match our prayer with a faithful witness to suffering so that no life at  risk is forgotten.

Pope Francis has repeatedly issued an appeal to Syrian leaders and to the international community saying: ‘Please, silence the weapons, put an end to the violence! No more war! No more destruction! May humanitarian laws be respected, may the people who need humanitarian assistance be cared for and may the desired peace be attained through dialogue and reconciliation.’

We echo the Holy Father’s call. We pray for an end to the carnage in Syria and we pray that God will assuage all those who suffer and bring them consolation as we approach Easter and its message of love and hope.”

March 31, 2017

WASHINGTON -- Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chair of the USCCB's Committee on Pro-Life Activities, praised both chambers of the U.S. Congress for taking action to nullify a bad policy imposed by the Obama Administration. Congress' joint resolution of disapproval (H.J. Res 43 / S. Res. 13) was passed by the House in mid-February, and by the Senate on March 30, 2017. It overrides a rule change made late in the Obama Administration that prevented states from redirecting Title X family planning funding away from abortion providers like Planned Parenthood to community health centers that provide comprehensive primary and preventive health care. The rule change went into effect on January 18, 2017.

The clear purpose of this Title X rule change was to benefit abortion providers like Planned Parenthood," Cardinal Dolan said. "So Congress has done well to reverse this very bad public policy, and to restore the ability of states to stop one stream of our tax dollars going to Planned Parenthood and redirect it to community health centers that provide comprehensive primary and preventive health care."
Title X of the Public Health Services Act was passed by Congress in 1970 to control population growth by distributing contraceptives to low-income families. Planned Parenthood is the largest recipient of Title X funding. Planned Parenthood is also the nation's largest abortion network -- performing over a third of all abortions in the U.S. -- and receives more than half a billion taxpayer dollars each year.
Congress acted within the statutory 60-day window to nullify the new regulation. Introduced by Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), the House resolution (H.J. Res. 43) was approved on February 16 (230-188); and the Senate resolution (S.J. Res. 13), introduced by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), passed by a one-vote margin on March 30, 2017. Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote.
The measure now goes to President Trump, who is expected to sign the resolution into law.

March 29, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Donald J. Trump issued an Executive Order on March 28, 2017 that rescinds and weakens numerous environmental protections, and effectively dismantles the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the national program designed to reduce carbon emissions from power plants by 32% in relation to 2015 levels by the year 2030.  Fossil fuel-fired power plants are the largest pollution emitting sector, making up just under one-third of U.S. total greenhouse gas emissions.

“The USCCB, in unity with Pope Francis, strongly supports environmental stewardship and has called consistently for ‘our own country to curtail carbon emissions,’” said Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, in response to the order. “This Executive Order places a number of environmental protections in jeopardy and moves the U.S. away from a national carbon standard, all without adopting a sufficient plan for ensuring proper care for people and creation.  Yesterday’s action means that, sadly, the United States is unlikely to meet its domestic and international mitigation goals.”

The USCCB has voiced support for a national carbon emission standard in recent years, though the Church does not privilege one set of technical, economic, or political approaches over another.  Bishop Dewane stresses that, although the CPP is not the only possible mechanism for reducing carbon emissions, the lack of a current viable alternative is a serious concern.
“The EPA Administrator has repeatedly stated that policies must be pro-growth and pro-environment.  An integral approach can respect human and natural concerns and still achieve these aims, if properly done.  Many states have already made great progress toward carbon mitigation goals under the CPP, and this momentum ought to be encouraged and not hindered.  Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato si’, focuses on both the ‘the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.’  With this recent order, the Administration risks damage to our air, our waters and, most importantly, our people, particularly the poor and vulnerable, without proposing a concrete and adequate approach to meet our stewardship obligations as a nation.”


WASHINGTON—Cardinal William H. Keeler, retired archbishop of Baltimore and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) from 1992-1995, was a “servant of priestly virtue and gentlemanly manner,” said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of USCCB. He was greatly known for his work as a faith leader in ecumenism and interreligious affairs.

Cardinal Keeler, who retired in 2007, died March 23 at St. Martin’s Home for the Aged in Baltimore. He was 86.

Cardinal DiNardo’s statement follows:

This morning, the Lord called home His Eminence William Cardinal Keeler, a servant of priestly virtue and gentlemanly manner.  The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops remembers his generosity of spirit in service to his brothers and the people of God, especially the Cardinal’s time as president from 1992 to 1995. We offer prayers of gratitude for Cardinal Keeler’s return to the Lord he so dearly loved.

 As a priest, Bishop of Harrisburg, and Archbishop of Baltimore, the Cardinal worked to bring the hope of Christ to people’s lives. He also built bridges of solidarity to people of other faiths as a leader in ecumenism and interreligious affairs.  Cardinal Keeler was a dear friend.  The most fitting tribute we can offer is to carry forward his episcopal motto in our daily lives: “Do the work of an evangelist.”

March 22, 2017

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Administrative Committee has issued the following pastoral reflection in solidarity with those who have been forced to flee their homes due to violence, conflict or fear in their native lands.  In the statement, the bishops encourage each of us to do what we can to accompany migrants and refugees who seek a better life in the United States.

The full text of the Bishops’ Administrative Committee statement can be found below: 

The word of God is truly alive today.  “When an alien resides with you in your land, do not mistreat such a one.  You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; you shall love the alien as yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt” (Lev. 19:33-34).

To live as a people of God is to live in the hope of the resurrection. To live in Christ is to draw upon the limitless love of Jesus to fortify us against the temptation of fear.  Pray that our engagement in the debate over immigration and refugee issues may bring peace and comfort to those most affected by current and proposed national policy changes.

Let us not lose sight of the fact that behind every policy is the story of a person in search of a better life. They may be an immigrant or refugee family sacrificing so that their children might have a brighter future.  As shepherds of a pilgrim Church, we will not tire in saying to families who have the courage to set out from their despair onto the road of hope: “We are with you.” They may also be a family seeking security from an increased threat of extremist violence. It is necessary to safeguard the United States in a manner that does not cause us to lose our humanity.

Intense debate is essential to healthy democracy, but the rhetoric of fear does not serve us well.  When we look at one another do we see with the heart of Jesus?  Within our diverse backgrounds are found common dreams for our children.  Hope in the next generation is how the nation will realize its founding motto, “out of many, one.” In doing so, we will also realize God’s hope for all His children:  that we would see each other as valued sisters and brothers regardless of race, religion or national origin.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh (Jn. 1:14), strengthens us to bring our words to life.  How might we, as Catholics and in our own small way, bring our words of solidarity for migrants and refugees to life?

1.   Pray for an end to the root causes of violent hatred that force mothers and fathers to flee the only home they may have known in search of economic and physical security for their children.

2.   Meet with members of your parish who are newcomers, listen to their story and share your own. Hundreds of Catholic parishes across the country have programs for immigrants and refugees both to comfort  them and to help them know their rights. It is also important to reach out in loving dialogue to those who may disagree with us.  The more we come to understand each other’s concerns the better we can serve one another.  Together, we are one body in Christ.

3.  Call, write or visit your elected representative and ask them to fix our broken immigration system in a way that safeguards both our security and our humanity through a generous opportunity for legal immigration.

As Pope Francis said, “To migrate is the expression of that inherent desire for the happiness proper to every human being, a happiness that is to be sought and pursued.  For us Christians, all human life is an itinerant journey towards our heavenly homeland.”

March 20, 2017

WASHINGTON—In a letter sent to the U.S. House of Representatives, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida notes that, while the recently introduced American Health Care Act (AHCA) commendably contains key provisions in defense of life, the proposed legislation also creates “grave challenges for poor and vulnerable people that must be addressed” by Congress before passage.

In the letter sent to representatives on March 17, 2017, Bishop Dewane, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, highlighted the AHCA’s inclusion of vital life protections for the unborn, writing that they honor “a key moral requirement for our nation’s health care policy.”

However, the letter also stresses deep concerns regarding “serious flaws” in the AHCA, including major modifications to the Medicaid system and a new tax credit which, reportedly, will result in significant barriers to coverage and affordability for millions, particularly for low income persons and seniors.  

Bishop Dewane underscored that “[i]n attempting to improve the deficiencies of the ACA, health care policy ought not create other unacceptable problems, particularly for those who struggle on the margins of our society.”  In quoting Pope Francis, the letter notes, “Health, indeed, is not a consumer good, but a universal right which means that access to healthcare services cannot be a privilege.”

Among other things, the letter also notes a lack of any changes to afford conscience protection against mandates to provide contraception and sterilization coverage or services.

The full text of the letter is available at:  www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/upload/letter-to-house-from-bishop-dewane-on-AHCA-2017-03-17.pdf

March 16, 2017

WASHINGTON — Bishop Frank J. Dewaneand and Bishop Oscar Cantú welcomed a new resolution introduced in Congress yesterday, March 15, by a group of Republican legislators.

"The U.S. bishops welcome the commitment of a group of members of Congress to engage in constructive dialogue to protect our common home and to recognize the impact of climate change,” said Bishop Dewane in response to the announcement of the Congressional resolution sponsored by several members in the House of Representatives, including Congresswoman Elise Stefanik.

Bishop Dewane is the Bishop of Venice, Florida and chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).  Bishop Cantú is the Bishop of Las Cruces, and chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the USCCB.

“The Catholic Church has consistently been an advocate for environmental stewardship and Pope Benedict XVI presciently called care for creation a ‘sign of the times’”, says Bishop Dewane.  “Environmental challenges are not going away and it is a sign of hope to see political leaders rise to meet a challenge that is the common responsibility of all.”

"The co-sponsors of this resolution add their voices to an important conversation, and are demonstrating that stewardship of creation is an issue that rises above political partisanship. The dialogue is about what Pope Francis has called “one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day, climate change”, said Bishop Oscar Cantu. “It is in the interest of lawmakers in all parties to recognize the protection of the environment as an important responsibility and to explore the numerous rationales for taking action. This resolution provides an important avenue toward answering the appeal in Laudato si’ for ‘a new dialogue…which includes everyone’”.

March 16, 2017

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Father Steven Biegler as bishop of Cheyenne, Wyoming.  Father Biegler is a priest of the Diocese of Rapid City and currently serves as car General and pastor of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, March 16, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Steven Biegler was born March 22, 1959 and is a native of Timber Lake, South Dakota.  He attended the School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City before earning a bachelor of arts degree from Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona, Minnesota.  He also holds a bachelors of sacred theology degree (S.T.B.) from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and a licentiate of sacred theology (S.T. L., Scripture) from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, also in Rome.

He was ordained a priest on July 9, 1993.   
Assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar, Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Rapid City, 1993-1994; administrator of Immaculate Conception Parish, Bonesteel,; St. Anthony Parish, Fairfax, and St. Xavier Parish, Ponca Creek, SD, 1994-1996; co-pastor of St. Bernard Parish, McLaughlin, with missions at St. Bonaventure Parish, McIntosh, St. Bede Parish, Wakpala, St. Aloysius Parish, Bullhead, Assumption Parish, Kenel, and (from July 2002), St. Michael Parish, Watauga, 1996-2003; director of Pastoral Formation and Pastoral Works, Pontifical North American College in Rome, 2003-2006; chaplain of the Rapid City Catholic School System and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Newman Club, 2007-2010;  diocesan administrator, Diocese of Rapid City, 2010-2011; pastor of Our Lady of the Black Hills Parish, Piedmont, 2011-2015, vicar general, Diocese of Rapid City 2001-present; pastor of Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Rapid City, July 2016-present.
Steven Biegler has also served on the Diocese of Rapid City Spiritual Life Committee, 2007-2010 and most recently on the College of Consultors, 2009-present, as well as various other committees. 
The Diocese of Cheyenne comprises 97,548 square miles in the state of Wyoming.  It has a total population of 584,153 people, of which 55,336, or approximately 9.5 percent, are Catholic.  

March 8, 2017
WASHINGTON — As Congress prepares to discuss possible changes to the Affordable Care Act, the chairmen of four United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committees called on lawmakers to consider important moral criteria, especially pertaining to the most vulnerable among us, including the unborn and those experiencing deep poverty.  The Bishops of the United States have consistently advocated for a health care system in which—as the late Cardinal Francis George used to say—everyone should be cared for and no one should be deliberately killed.

In a letter from March 8, 2017, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, urged Congress:  to respect life by preventing the use of federal funds to facilitate abortion or purchase health care plans that provide abortion; to honor conscience rights; and to ensure access for all people to comprehensive, quality health care that is truly affordable.
The Bishops called on Congress to ensure coverage for those who now rely upon it after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and expressed concern about any structural changes to the social safety net that could impact access to health care for millions.  Noting that the Catholic Church “provides health care, purchases health care and helps to pick up the pieces for those who fall through the cracks of the health care system when it fails,” the bishops urged “a new spirit of cooperation for the sake of the common good” on this vital concern during the debates ahead.
The full letter is available at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/upload/Joint-Letter-to-Congress-ACA-Principles-03-07-2017.pdf.

March 8, 2017

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Father Roy E. Campbell, a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, as an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese. Father Campbell, 69, currently serves as pastor of Saint Joseph Church in Largo, Maryland.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, March 8, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. 

Roy E. Campbell was born November 19, 1947. He pursued degrees in zoology, anthropology, chemistry (1965-1969) and bank management (1992), before entering Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts, (2003).

He was ordained a priest on May 26, 2007. Assignments after ordination included: parochial vicar at St. Augustine Church, Washington, 2007-2008; pastoral and sacramental care of the African-American community at Immaculate Conception Parish, 2007-2008; pastor at Assumption Parish, Washington, 2008-2010; pastor at Saint Joseph Church, 2010-present.
Other assignments at the Archdiocese of Washington include: member of the Archdiocesan Formation Board, 2010-2014; member of the Clergy Personnel Board, 2010. 

The Archdiocese of Washington comprises 2,104 square miles in the District of Columbia. It has a total population of 2,949,512 people of which 646,892 or 22 percent, are Catholic. Cardinal Donald Wuerl has been the archbishop of Washington since 2006. The archdiocese currently has two active auxiliary bishops, Bishop Barry C. Knestout and Bishop Mario Dorsonville, and one retired auxiliary bishop, Bishop Francisco Gonzáles Valer. S.F.

March 7, 2017
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named the Reverend Monsignor Mark S. Rivituso as auxiliary bishop of Saint Louis, Missouri.  Monsignor Rivituso, 55, is a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis and currently serves as Vicar General.  
The appointment was publicized in Washington, March 7, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Mark Rivituso was born September 20, 1961 in St. Louis.  He holds a bachelor of arts degree from Cardinal Glennon College and earned a master’s degree in Divinity from Kenrick Seminary.  He also holds licentiate and master’s degrees in Canon Law from St. Paul University in Ottawa, Canada.  He was ordained a priest on January 16, 1988.
Assignments after ordination include: associate pastor at St. Ambrose Parish, St. Louis, 1988-1990; part-time associate pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, Dardenne Prairie, 1990- 1993; part-time associate pastor and temporary administrator of St. Margaret of Scotland Parish, St. Louis, 1993-1994; part-time associate pastor of St. Jerome Parish, Bissell Hills, 1996-2004; in residence at St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish, St. Louis, 2004-2008; Pastor of the Curé of Ars Parish, Shrewsbury, 2008-2013; in residence at Annunciation Parish, Webster Groves, 2013-present, and vicar general, Archdiocese of St. Louis, 2011-present.

Mark Rivituso has also served the Archdiocese of St. Louis as judicial vicar of the Tribunal of Second Instance from 2005-2011, and on staff at the Metropolitan Tribunal from 1993-1994 and 1996-2004.  He was also associate master of ceremonies to the Archbishop from 1997-2008.
The Archdiocese of Saint Louis comprises 5,968 square miles in the state of Missouri. It has a total population of 2,246,000 people of which 515,251 or approximately 23 percent, are Catholic.

March 6, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin and Chair of the USCCB Committee on Migration, says that President Trump’s latest Executive Order still puts vulnerable populations around the world at risk. In a statement issued after the announcement of today’s travel suspension, Bishop Vásquez says that while we seek to maintain our values and safety, we must also exercise compassion in assisting and continuing to welcome the stranger.

Bishop Vázquez’s full statement follows:         

"We remain deeply troubled by the human consequences of the revised executive order on refugee admissions and the travel ban. While we note the Administration’s efforts to modify the Executive Order in light of various legal concerns, the revised  Order    still leaves many innocent lives at risk.

The removal of one of the original seven predominantly Muslim countries temporarily barred from entering the United States is welcome, but we are disappointed that the revised order maintains the temporary shutdown of the U.S. refugee admissions program, continues the more than 60 percent reduction in the number of refugees who can be resettled into the United States this year, and still temporarily bars nationals from six predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.

The U.S. Catholic Bishops have long recognized the importance of ensuring public safety and would welcome reasonable and necessary steps to accomplish that goal.

However, based on the knowledge that refugees are already subjected to the most vigorous vetting process of anyone who enters the United States, there is no merit to pausing the refugee resettlement program while considering further improvement to that vetting process.

The United States has long provided leadership in resettling refugees. We believe in assisting all those who are vulnerable and fleeing persecution, regardless of their religion, including Christians, Muslims, and all others. We believe that by helping to resettle the most vulnerable, we are living out our Christian faith and “welcoming the stranger” as Jesus has challenged us to do.

Today, more than 65 million people around the world are forcibly displaced from their homes. Given this extraordinary level of suffering, the U.S. Catholic Bishops reaffirm their support for, and efforts to protect, all who flee persecution and violence, as just one part of the perennial and global work of the Church in defense of vulnerable persons. Resettling only 50,000 refugees a year, down from 110,000, does not reflect the need, our compassion, and our capacity as a nation. We have the ability to continue to assist the most vulnerable among us without sacrificing our values as Americans or the safety and security of our nation."

February 24, 2017

WASHINGTON—In response to the recent rise in anti-Semitic actions that have taken place across the U.S., the Most Reverend Mitchell T. Rozanski, Bishop of Springfield and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, has issued the following statement expressing solidarity and support for our Jewish brothers and sisters, while also calling for the rejection of these hateful actions:

On behalf of the Bishops and people of the Catholic Church, as the Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, I want to express our deep sympathy, solidarity, and support to our Jewish brothers and sisters who have experienced once again a surge of anti-Semitic actions in the United States. I wish to offer our deepest concern, as well as our unequivocal rejection of these hateful actions.  The Catholic Church stands in love with the Jewish community in the current face of anti-Semitism.
As Pope Francis recently said, “The grave danger is to disown our neighbors. When we do so…we deny the most important Commandments of Jesus.” Herein lies the danger, dehumanization. But here we also find an opportunity: that the light of the love of neighbor may illuminate the Earth with its stunning brightness like a lightning bolt in the dark; that it may wake us up and let true humanity burst through with authentic resistance, resilience and persistence.”
I encourage everyone to remember their neighbor, to find the opportunities to be lights of resistance, resilience, and persistence during these contentious times, especially with all our brothers and sisters of faith.

February 24, 2017

WASHINGTON – The chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth and the Committee on Catholic Education, expressed gratitude for the Trump Administration’s repeal of the “deeply disturbing” May 2016 guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education entitled “Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students.”

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., of Philadelphia, chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., of Youngstown, Ohio, chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education, together issued the following statement:

We are grateful that the Trump Administration has withdrawn the guidance which had indicated that public pre-K through 12 schools, as well as all colleges and universities, should treat “a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex.” The Dear Colleague Letter sought to impose a one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with sensitive issues involving individual students.  Such issues are best handled with care and compassion at the local level, respecting the privacy and safety concerns of all students.

Pope Francis has taught that “biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated” (Amoris Laetitia, no. 56).  The Catholic Church consistently affirms the inherent dignity of each and every human person and advocates for the well being of all people, particularly the most vulnerable.  Children, youth, and parents in these difficult situations deserve compassion, sensitivity, and respect.  All of these can be expressed without infringing on legitimate concerns about privacy and security on the part of all young students and parents.

February 24, 2017

WASHINGTON — The annual Catholic Relief Services Collection will be held in most parishes on Laetare Sunday, March 26 with the theme, “Help Jesus in Disguise.”

“The needs of our world are great, and the effects of this collection are far-reaching.,” said Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile, Alabama, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on National Collections. “Through this collection we humbly respond to the suffering Christ who comes to us bearing the face of the vulnerable refugee, the immigrant family, the rejected poor, and the abandoned stranger. We serve these, our brothers and sisters, because by doing so we serve Christ.”

Entities within the USCCB that receive support include: the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church, the Department of Justice Peace and Human Development, and the  Department of Migration and Refugee Services. Other Catholic Church organizations that receive funds are: Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., and the Holy Father’s Relief Fund. The USCCB Administrative Committee is responsible for grant-making from this national collection.

February 23, 2017
WASHINGTON — On February 20, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued two memoranda implementing Executive Orders 13768 and 13767, relating to border and interior immigration enforcement.  In response to the memoranda, the Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin and Chair of the USCCB Committee on Migration, has issued the following statement:

“We recognize the importance of ensuring public safety and would welcome reasonable and necessary steps to do that.  However, the two memoranda issued by Secretary Kelly on February 20th contain a number of provisions that, if implemented as written, will harm public safety rather than enhance it.  Moreover, taken in their entirety, the policies contained in these memoranda will needlessly separate families, upend peaceful communities, endanger the lives and safety of the most vulnerable among us, breakdown the trust that currently exists between many police departments and immigrant communities, and sow great fear in those communities.

The DHS memoranda eliminates important protections for vulnerable populations, including unaccompanied children and asylum seekers. They greatly expand the militarization of the U.S./Mexico border.  Taken together, these memoranda constitute the establishment of a large-scale enforcement system that targets virtually all undocumented migrants as ‘priorities’ for deportation, thus prioritizing no one.  The memoranda further seek to promote local law enforcement of federal immigration laws without regard for the existing relationships of trust between local law enforcement officials and immigrant communities.  The engagement of local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law can undermine public safety by making many who live in immigrant communities fearful of cooperating with local law enforcement in both reporting and investigating criminal matters.
I urge the Administration to reconsider the approach embodied in these memoranda, just as it should reconsider the approach it has taken in a number of executive orders and actions issued over the last month.  Together, these have placed already vulnerable immigrants among us in an even greater state of vulnerability.
Moving forward, we remain steadfast in our commitment to care for and respect the human dignity of all, regardless of their immigration status.  During this unsettling time, we will redouble our work to accompany and protect our immigrant brothers and sisters and recognize their contributions and inherent dignity as children of God.”

February 18, 2017

WASHINGTON — In a letter to the United States Secretary of State today, chairmen of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and Committee on International Justice and Peace, along with Sean Callahan, President of Catholic Relief Services, urged the Administration to do everything they can to care for creation both domestically and globally.

Building upon Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato si’ the letter emphasizes the importance of adaptation policies and specifically calls for continued U.S. support of the Paris climate agreement as well as the Green Climate Fund, which provides poorer nations with resources to adapt to and mitigate changing climate realities.
“The Judeo-Christian tradition has always understood the environment to be a gift from God, and we are all called ‘to protect our one common home,’” said Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico and Sean L. Callahan, President of Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The call to care for the environment echoes Pope Francis’ call to help poor and vulnerable people adapt to the effects of climate change.
The message also recognizes that “uncompromising support for adaptation policies in no way excludes efforts to mitigate the anthropogenic contributors to climate change” and called for an “energy revolution” to deliver “not only sustainable, efficient and clean energy, but also energy that is secure, affordable, accessible and equitable.”
The full text of the letter can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/environment/upload/USCCB-CRS-Letter-to-Secretary-Tillerson-on-Care-for-Creation-02-17-2017.pdf

February 17, 2017
“The cry of Christ in the voice of the migrant moves us.”
WASHINGTON — More than 20 Bishops along the border of Texas and Northern Mexico have issued a joint statement emphasizing the need for us to listen to the cry of our migrant brothers and sisters.  The bishops issued the statement while participating in the biannual Tex-Mex Border Bishops meeting this week.  The meetings included priests, religious and layperson as well as invited representatives from other border dioceses in the United States and Mexico.  The bi-annual meetings have taken place for more than 30 years. 
In the statement, the bishops ask each of us to reflect on the lives of Jesus, Mary and Joseph as migrants and refugees more than two-thousand years ago and to also heed the gospel call of Christ, “Because I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was hungry and you gave me food….(Mt. 25: 35-36).” 
A copy of the bishops statement was shared with the USCCB and we are providing that statement below in both English and Spanish:

February 16, 2017
WASHINGTON — In early February, several media outlets reported that President Donald J. Trump is considering issuing an executive order establishing a government-wide initiative to respect religious freedom. A copy of a draft executive order was published by multiple news outlets. The President has not yet signed the executive order on religious freedom.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap., of Philadelphia, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, and  Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, jointly issued the following statement urging support for the draft executive order:
The right of all human beings to religious freedom, based on the inherent dignity of every person, has long been supported by the Catholic Bishops of the United States.  Over the last several years, to our great dismay, the federal government has eroded this fundamental right, our first and most cherished freedom.  The HHS mandate, for example, poses an incredibly heavy burden for the Little Sisters of the Poor and others due to conscientious objections to facilitating coverage of sterilization and contraception, including drugs and devices that may cause abortions.  The Little Sisters—and so many others—still do not have adequate relief and still face possible fines in the tens of millions of dollars if they do not comply with the HHS mandate.
President Trump has pledged that his “administration will do everything in its power to defend and protect religious liberty in our land.”  We urge the fulfillment of this promise, including an end to regulations and other mandates by the federal government that force people of faith to make impossible choices. We express our fervent hope that with new leadership in the Executive Branch, basic protections for religious practice may be restored and even strengthened.
As President Trump himself has affirmed, religious freedom is under severe threat, including in our own country, even though it is the first of our Constitutional freedoms.  An immediate remedy to these threats is needed, for without it, our freedom to serve—as exemplified by the Little Sisters and others who serve the poor—will remain in jeopardy, and needless conflict between the faith community and the federal government will continue.
It is indeed encouraging to hear that the President may be considering an Executive Order to implement strong protections for religious freedom across the federal government, in many of the areas where it has been eroded by the preceding Administration, such as health coverage, adoption, accreditation, tax exemption, and government grants and contracts.  We ourselves, as well as those we shepherd and serve, would be most grateful if the President would take this positive step toward allowing all Americans to be able to practice their faith without severe penalties from the federal government.
As Christians, our goal is to live and serve others as the Gospel asks.  President Trump can ensure that we are not forced from the public square.  Restoring the federal government’s proper relationship with the First Amendment and other laws protecting conscience and religious freedom will enable us to continue our service to the most vulnerable of Americans.

February 16, 2017

WASHINGTON — A worldwide effort sponsored by the Vatican to energize and empower grassroots leaders will convene in Modesto, Calif., February 16-19. Twenty U.S. bishops will join nearly 700 participants representing 12 countries to examine and discuss collective responses to the issues of land, labor, lodging, racism and migration.

Celebrated as the first U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements (WMPM), the gathering is organized by the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development (IHD), PICO National Network and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the U.S. bishops’ national program working to break the cycle of poverty in the United States and educate on poverty and its causes.
"Participants in the World Meeting of Popular Movements represent a multitude of political perspectives both here in the United States and around the world,” said Bishop David Talley of Alexandria, Louisiana, chairman of the USCCB subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. “We are here because, regardless of our political beliefs, we share a vision of a world in which the ‘economies of exclusion’ have been ended, and a commitment to working together to achieve that goal.”
Long in the planning, the Modesto meeting was organized as a follow-up to three larger international meetings held in Rome in Oct. 2014 and Nov. 2016 and in Bolivia in July 2015.
"I join the Holy Father in inviting all ‘to be protagonists of change of their own situation’ and share his hope that we are able to deepen the well-springs of empathy in our society,” said Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of IHD, who will deliver the keynote address. “We are fortunate to have this opportunity to build relationships, develop our understanding of societal structures which contribute to the ‘economy of exclusion,’ and to deepen solidarity between social justice movements in the United States and the Church.”

February 10, 2017

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan and Archbishop William E. Lori – as chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, respectively – wrote to both Houses of the United States Congress on February 8, urging support for the Conscience Protection Act of 2017 (H.R. 644, S. 301).

The Conscience Protection Act, they wrote, is “essential legislation protecting the fundamental rights of health care providers…to ensure that those providing much-needed health care and health coverage can continue to do so without being forced by government to help destroy innocent unborn children.”
“While existing federal laws already protect conscientious objection to abortion in theory, this protection has not proved effective in practice,” the bishops noted, citing recent examples in which the federal government has refused to enforce these laws.  “The Conscience Protection Act will address the deficiencies that block effective enforcement of existing laws,” they said, “most notably by establishing a private right of action allowing victims of discrimination to defend their own rights in court.”
Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Lori recalled the Hippocratic oath’s rejection of abortion in the profession of medicine, indicating that the Act will benefit not only Catholic medical professionals but “the great majority of ob/gyns [who] remain unwilling to perform abortions.”
Finally, they explained that conscience protection facilitates access to life-affirming health care: “When government… mandates involvement in abortion as a condition for being allowed to provide life-affirming health care services, it not only undermines the widely acknowledged civil rights of health care providers but also limits access to good health care for American women and men.”
The full text of their letter to Senate is posted at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/upload/Conscience-Protection-Act-Dolan-Lori-Ltr-to-Senate-02-08-17.pdf.

For more on the bishops’ promotion of conscience rights, including a video about a nurse who was coerced to take part in a late-term abortion, visit:  www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection.

February 10, 2017

WASHINGTON — The chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committees on Migration, Religious Liberty and International Justice and Peace, along with the board of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) issued a joint statement expressing solidarity with Christians and all those who suffer in the Middle East.
The full statement follows:
A statement from Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty; Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace; Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the Committee on Migration; and Bishop Gregory J. Mansour of the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn, chairman of the board of Catholic Relief Services.
Our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East need our solidarity, and the Middle East needs our Christian brothers and sisters.  A concern for our Christian brethren is inclusive and does not exclude a concern for all the peoples of the region who suffer violence and persecution, both minorities and majorities, both Muslims and Christians.
A recent USCCB delegation visit to Iraq confirmed once again that what has happened—and continues to happen—to Christians, Yezidis, Shia Muslims, and other minorities in Syria and Iraq, at the hands of the so-called “Islamic State,” is genocide.  It is important for Syrians and Iraqis of all faiths to recognize this as genocide, for that recognition is a way to help everyone come to grips with what is happening, and to form future generations that will reject any ideology that leads to genocidal acts and other atrocities.  Likewise, a particular focus on minorities is essential to forming communities that respect the rights of all, including members of the majority.
What can our nation do?  The United States can:
    1.    Accept our nation’s fair share of the most vulnerable families of all religions and ethnicities for resettlement as refugees, including special consideration of the victims of genocide and other atrocities;
    2.    Encourage both the central government in Baghdad and the regional government in Erbil to strengthen the rule of law based on equal citizenship and ensure the protection of all, including vulnerable minorities; U.S. assistance should help local and national efforts to improve policing and the judiciary, while encouraging appropriate self-governance at the local level; similar actions will also be needed in Syria; and
    3.    Provide generous U.S. humanitarian and development assistance to refugees, displaced persons and communities in Iraq and Syria as they rebuild, including funding for trusted faith-based non-governmental agencies like Catholic Relief Services and local Caritas agencies so that aid reaches all groups, including majority and minority communities.
To focus attention on the plight of Christians and other minorities is not to ignore the suffering of others.  Rather, by focusing on the most vulnerable members of society, we strengthen the entire fabric of society to protect the rights of all.

February 10, 2017

WASHINGTON — On February 9, 2017, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a unanimous decision upholding a lower court’s temporary restraining order (TRO) blocking the implementation of several key provisions of Executive Order 13769. The TRO was put in place by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington on February 3, 2017. The provisions that that have temporarily been blocked by the TRO include: a 120 day halt of the U.S. refugee resettlement program; an indefinite prohibition of resettling and admitting Syrian refugees; a preference for resettling Christian minorities; a case by case evaluation of refugee admission during the 120 day pause on resettlement; and a 90 day prohibition on entry, travel, and visas for individuals from the seven identified predominantly-Muslim countries of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

In response to the Appeals Court ruling, Most Reverend Joe Vasquez, Bishop of Austin, Texas, and Chair of the Committee on Migration stated: “We welcome the decision of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. We respect the rule of law and the American judicial process. We remain steadfast in our commitment to resettling refugees and all those fleeing persecution. At this time, we remain particularly dedicated to ensuring that affected refugee and immigrant families are not separated and that they continue to be welcomed to our country. We will continue to welcome the newcomer as it is a vital part of our Catholic faith and an enduring element of our American values and tradition.”

February 3, 2017

WASHINGTON—The annual Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe will be held in most parishes on Ash Wednesday, March 1, with the theme: “Restore the Church, Build the Future.” The collection supports pastoral, evangelization, and construction projects, as well as scholarships in Central and Eastern Europe, and Central Asia.

In 2016, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe awarded $7 million through more than 200 grants. Projects supported through the collection address a variety of needs of the Church in countries of the former Soviet Union. These projects focus on providing pastoral care and developing resources to build the faith of those who still struggle in a post-communist society.

“Remembering our brothers and sisters around the world who are struggling is a humbling way to begin the season of Lent,” said Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, chairman of the Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. “As we begin this penitential season, we remember those in Central and Eastern Europe who have made great sacrifices to keep the faith alive in their communities, and who share a legacy of faith with us through the many immigrants who came to America from these lands.”

The Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe oversees the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. More information about the collection can be found at www.usccb.org/ccee.

February 2, 2017

WASHINGTON—Nearly all of the religious men and women who professed perpetual vows in 2016 had a strong prayer life prior to entering their religious institute, according to a survey on men and women religious conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University. The survey results were released February 2, to coincide with the annual celebration of World Day for Consecrated Life.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV) commissioned the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) to conduct the annual survey of the religious profession class of 2016.

The large percentage of newly professed religious who responded to the survey is the result of the generous cooperation of religious institutes across the United States. “The participation in the survey by religious communities is remarkable,” said Cardinal Joseph Tobin, C.Ss.R., of Newark, chair of the USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations. “The Church is grateful for those women and men who have given their lives to Jesus Christ through the profession of final vows. Their participation in this survey and the information gained from it, helps the Church’s work to encourage all to listen for God’s call.”

The survey polled women and men religious who professed perpetual vows in 2016 in a religious congregation, province, or monastery based in the U.S. CARA received a response from 610 of 759 major superiors, for an overall response rate of 80 percent among religious institutes.
Of these 216 identified women and men religious, a total of 81 sisters and nuns and 96 brothers and priests responded to the survey. These 96 men may include some brothers who intend to pursue studies leading to priestly ordination. This represents a response rate of 82 percent of the 216 potential members of the Profession Class of 2016 that were reported to CARA by major superiors.

Some of the major findings of the report are:

* Nearly nine in ten or 86 percent of responding religious regularly participated in some type of private prayer activity before they entered their religious institute. About two-thirds participated in Eucharistic Adoration, prayed the rosary, or attended retreats before entering. Nearly six in ten participated in spiritual direction before entering.

* Most religious did not report that educational debt delayed their application for entrance to their institute. Among the 4 percent who did report having educational debt, however, they averaged about 4 years of delay while they paid down an average of $29,100 in educational debt.

* The average age of responding religious is 39.  Half of the responding religious are age 36 or younger.  The youngest is 26 and the oldest is 86.

* Two-thirds of responding religious (66 percent) identify as white, more than one in six (16 percent) identifies as Asian, and more than one in ten (11 percent) identifies as Hispanic.

* Most responding religious (67 percent) were born in the U.S.  Of those born outside the United States, the most common country of origin is Vietnam.

* Among those identifying as Hispanic/Latino six in ten (58 percent) are U.S. born. Those identifying as Asian/Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian (96 percent) are predominantly foreign born.  Nearly all identifying as Caucasian/white (91 percent) are U.S. born.
* Almost half of responding religious (46 percent) attended a Catholic elementary school, which is about the same as that for all Catholic adults in the United States (39 percent). These respondents are more likely than other U.S. Catholics to have attended a Catholic high school (38 percent of respondents, compared to 19 percent of U.S. adult Catholics) and much more likely to have attended a Catholic college (37 percent of responding religious, compared to just 10 percent of U.S. adult Catholics).  Responding women religious are less likely than brothers to have attended a Catholic college (31 percent for women compared to 42 percent for men).

* On average, responding religious report that they were 19 years old when they first considered a vocation to religious life, but half were 18 or younger when they first did so.

* One-half say that a parish priest (53 percent) encouraged their vocation.

*Four in ten report being encouraged to consider a vocation by a religious sister or brother.  Women religious were more likely than men religious to do so.

* Over four in ten report that they were encouraged to consider a vocation by their friends.

The survey and more information on the Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations can be found at www.usccb.org/consecratedlife.

February 2, 2017

WASHINGTON — In a letter issued yesterday congratulating Secretary Rex Tillerson on his confirmation as Secretary of State, Bishop Oscar Cantú, chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), called on the Secretary to work for peace in Israel and Palestine.

Bishop Cantú, who recently participated in a solidarity visit to Israel and Palestine, enclosed a joint communiqué by bishops from Europe, Canada, South Africa and the United States. The bishop notes that “2017 marks the fiftieth anniversary of a crippling occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, crippling for both peoples.”  Quoting the joint communiqué of the bishops, he goes on to state that “[t]he occupation violates ‘the human dignity of both Palestinians and Israelis.’  Settlement expansion on occupied Palestinian lands undermines a two-state solution, destroying the homes and the livelihoods of Palestinians as well as the long-term security and future of Israelis.”

Decrying “egregious injustices and random acts of violence,” Bishop Cantú expressed the opposition of U.S. and international bishops to Israeli settlement expansion and confiscation of Palestinian lands. In addition, he implored the Secretary to maintain the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv. He wrote, “Moving the embassy to Jerusalem would erode the U.S. commitment to a two-state solution, and is a threat to pursuing peace and ending conflict. Its impact would incite and destabilize the area, compromising U.S. security. As Pope Francis declares, ‘the two-state solution must become a reality and not merely a dream.’”

Bishop Cantú called on Secretary Tillerson to work “to end fifty years of occupation and build a brighter future for both Israelis and Palestinians.” He concluded, “[T]he United States has always provided leadership and support to the peace process. We continue to profess hope for a diplomatic solution that respects the human dignity for both Israelis and Palestinians and advances justice and peace for all.”

The full text of the bishops’ joint communiqué and Bishop Cantú’s letter to Secretary Rex Tillerson are available online at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/israel-palestine/letter-to-secretary-tillerson-from-bishop-cantu-on-israel-palestine-2017-02-01.cfm.

February 2, 2017

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Ronald P. Herzog, 74, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Alexandria, Louisiana. Bishop David P. Talley, 66, up until now coadjutor bishop of the same diocese, will succeed him as bishop of Alexandria.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, February 2, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Talley was born in Columbus, Georgia on September 11, 1950. He pursued seminary studies at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in Indiana and was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 1989. He holds a doctorate in canon law from the Gregorian University in Rome. In 2001, Pope John Paul II named him a prelate of honor with the title of monsignor. He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Atlanta, on January 3, 2013. Pope Francis appointed him as coadjutor bishop of Alexandria on September 21, 2016.

Bishop Talley currently serves as chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and as a member of USCCB’s Committee on National Collections and Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

Bishop Ronald P. Herzog was born April 22, 1942 in Akron, Ohio. He was ordained a priest on June 1, 1968; he was appointed bishop of Alexandria on November 4, 2004, and ordained a bishop on January 5, 2005. Bishop Herzog most recently served as a consultant on the USCCB’s Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

The Diocese of Alexandria comprises 11,108 square miles in central Louisiana. It has a population of 368,065 people of whom, 36,280, or 10 percent, are Catholic.

February 1, 2017

WASHINGTON — The bishop-chairmen of two USCCB committees expressed concern and disappointment with President Donald Trump’s decision to retain President Barack Obama’s Executive Order 13672 of July 21, 2014, which prohibits federal government contractors from undefined “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” discrimination, and forbids “gender identity” discrimination in the employment of federal employees.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, Chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, together issued the following statement:

The new administration’s decision not to rescind Executive Order 13672 is troubling and disappointing. The Executive Order is deeply flawed, and its many problems are outlined in our statement from 2014. The Church steadfastly opposes all unjust discrimination, and we need to continue to advance justice and fairness in the workplace. Executive Order 13672, however, creates problems rather than solves them. In seeking to remedy instances of discrimination, it creates new forms of discrimination against people of faith. Keeping the Executive Order intact is not the answer.

We hope that the Administration will be open to continued conversations to find ways to advance the cause of justice and respect the conscience rights of all people.

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