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/)



USCCB PRESIDENT AND DOMESTIC JUSTICE CHAIRMAN CALL FOR PRAYER AND UNITY IN RESPONSE TO CHARLOTTESVILLE
 
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, are calling on all people of goodwill to join in prayer and unity today in response to yesterday’s violent protest and deadly attack in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Full statement follows:
 
“As we learn more about the horrible events of yesterday, our prayer turns today, on the Lord's Day, to the people of Charlottesville who offered a counter example to the hate marching in the streets. Let us unite ourselves in the spirit of hope offered by the clergy, people of faith, and all people of good will who peacefully defended their city and country.
 
We stand against the evil of racism, white supremacy and neo-nazism. We stand with our sisters and brothers united in the sacrifice of Jesus, by which love's victory over every form of evil is assured.  At Mass, let us offer a special prayer of gratitude for the brave souls who sought to protect us from the violent ideology displayed yesterday. Let us especially remember those who lost their lives.  Let us join their witness and stand against every form of oppression.”

August 9, 2017
NEARLY $1.4 MILLION IN FUNDING APPROVED FOR CHURCH IN AFRICA

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Africa approved 54 grants totaling nearly $1.4 million in funding to support dioceses and pastoral projects across the African continent.
Projects approved to receive funding include:

     •    In Angola, the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (CEPAMI) is a commission under the Episcopal Conference of Angola and São Tomé that promotes the pastoral care of migrant
          communities. CEPAMI will provide training to about 40 leaders over two weeks. With this training, leaders will be able to assist, guide and organize the pastoral work for migrant communities in the 19 dioceses of Angola.
    •     In West Africa, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Liberia will organize a summer camp for 100 youth from each of the three dioceses located in that country. Many of the youth are from poor families and have few resources. The
          country itself has suffered greatly from a 14 year civil war and the Ebola outbreak. This camp will provide a place for the children to stay, pray, receive basic catechism lessons and play together.



“Our brothers and sisters on the African continent often face challenges different from what we know in the United States, but we are united by the same faith,” said Cardinal Joseph Tobin, CSsR, of Newark, chairman of the Subcommittee on the Church in Africa. “The generosity of Catholics in the United States to the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa has supported these communities as they grow and strengthen their faith in the wake of wars, migration, and disease.”
Additional areas of funding include seminarian and religious formation, evangelization, family ministries and lay leadership training.

The Subcommittee on the Church in Africa oversees the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. It allocates revenue received from the Solidarity Fund, which is a voluntary collection, as pastoral grants to episcopal conferences and their regional associations in Africa.

To learn more about the work of the Subcommittee visit www.usccb.org/africa.

August 9, 2017
POPE NAMES MAKES TWO EPISCOPAL APPOINTMENTS

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Bishop Emmanuel Challita of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Mar Addai of Toronto, Canada, as Bishop of the Chaldean Eparchy of Saint Peter the Apostle in San Diego. The pontiff also named `ishop Frank Kalabat of the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle, Detroit, as the apostolic administrator of the Eparchy of Mar Addai of Toronto.

The appointments were publicized in Washington, August 9, by Msgr. Walter Erbì, Chargé d’ Affaires, at the Apostolic Nunciature to the United States.

Emmanuel Challita was born in Fishkabour-Zakho, Iraq, in 1956. He holds a doctorate in biblical theology from the Pontifical Urbanian University in Rome. He was ordained a priest of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Saint Thomas the Apostle in 1984 and was ordained and installed as Bishop of Mar Addai on February 6, 2015.

Frank Kalabat was born in Kuwait in 1970, and moved to the United States in 1989. He began seminary studies at St. Francis De Sales Center in San Diego, California, and pursued theological studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit. He was ordained a priest in 1995, and was ordained and installed as Bishop of the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle on June 14, 2014. 



There are an estimated 38,000 Catholics in the Eparchy of Mar Addai of Toronto.

There are an estimated 65,150 Catholics in the Chaldean Eparchy of Saint Peter. The jurisdiction extends to the western states of the United States.

July 8, 2017
POPE NAMES NEW AUXILIARY BISHOP OF THE UKRAINIAN CATHOLIC ARCHEPARCHY OF PHILADELPHIA
 
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Father Andriy Rabiy as auxiliary bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia. Father Rabiy, 41, currently serves as vicar general of the archeparchy and as pastor of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Parish in Reading, Pennsylvania.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, August 8, by Msgr. Walter Erbì, Chargé d’ Affaires, at the Apostolic Nunciature to the United States.
 
Andriy Rabiy was born October 1, 1975 in Lviv, Ukraine. He pursued seminary studies at St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Seminary in Washington, D.C., and was ordained a priest in 2001.
 
Bishop-elect Rabiy holds a bachelor degree in philosophy (1999) and a licentiate in Canon Law (2008) from Catholic University of America; and a master of divinity degree (2002), from the Dominican House of Studies, in Washington D.C.
 
After ordination, Bishop-elect Rabiy held pastoral assignments at St. Michael the Archangel parish, Hillsborough, New Jersey, and at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 2002-2005. Other assignments after ordination include: pastor of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Parish in Reading, 2008-present; coordinator, Sexual Abuse Prevention and Youth Protection Office, 2008-2015; member, Administrative Board, Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, 2008-present; vicar general, 2009-present; vice-chancellor, 2009-present; member, Archeparchial College of Consultors, 2009-present; member, Archeparchial Presbyteral Council, 2011-present.
 
The Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia includes the District of Columbia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and parts of eastern Pennsylvania. It has a total Catholic population of 13,051. Archbishop Stefan Sokora has been the archbishop since 2001. The archeparchy currently has another auxiliary bishop, Bishop John Bura.

August 5, 2017
POPE FRANCIS NAMES TWO EPARCHIAL BISHOPS

WASHINGTON — The Synod of Major Archbishops of the Syro-Malankara Church has erected the Eparchy of Parassala, India, and with the assent of Pope Francis, elected as the first bishop of this new eparchy, the Most Reverend Thomas Mar Eusebius Naickamparambil.  Up until now, Bishop Eusebius has been bishop of the Syro-Malankara Eparchy of Saint Mary Queen of Peace of the United States and Canada.

The Holy Father has also given assent to the nomination of the Most Reverend Philipose Mar Stephanos Thattathil, up until now auxiliary bishop of Tiruvalla, India, as the next bishop of the Syro-Malankara Eparchy of Saint Mary Queen of Peace of the United States and Canada.
   
The appointments were publicized in Washington, August 5, by Msgr. Walter Erbi, Chargé d'Affaires at the Apostolic Nunciature in the United States.

Bishop Philipose Mar Stephanos was born May 9, 1952 in Pathanamthitta, India and was ordained to the priesthood on April 27, 1979.  He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Tiruvalla on January 25, 2010 and installed on February 9, 2010.    
Bishop Eusebius was born June 6, 1961 and ordained a priest, December 29, 1986.  He was ordained a bishop on September 21, 2010 at Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Trivandrum and was installed as the first bishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Apostolic Exarchate in the USA.  He was later appointed as the first bishop of the then newly established Eparchy of St. Mary Queen of Peace for the Syro-Malaknara faithful in USA and Canada on December 18, 2015 and was installed as its bishop, January 23, 2016.
 
The Syro-Malankara Eparchy of Saint Mary Queen of Peace is based in Elmont, New York and has around 11,500 members with 16 parishes in the United States and Canada.
 
The Syro-Malankara Catholic Church is centered in southern Indian and has about 500,000 faithful.  Parassala is located in the southern-most part of this region.  


August 2 2017
RAISE ACT WILL WEAKEN FAMILY BONDS AND IMPACT NATION’S ABILITY TO RESPOND TO THOSE IN CRISIS SAYS U.S. CATHOLIC BISHOPS CHAIRMAN

WASHINGTON — The Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin and Chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, says that the newly proposed RAISE Act would cause our nation to turn its back on those setting out to build better lives, weaken family bonds and impact the nation’s ability to respond to those in crisis.

Bishop Vásquez’s full statement follows:  
 
“I express strong opposition to the RAISE Act, which was introduced today in the U.S. Senate by Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA). Had this discriminatory legislation been in place generations ago, many of the very people who built and defended this nation would have been excluded.
 
The United States supports families and should not throw up obstacles to their unity.  Unfortunately, the RAISE Act would have our nation turn its back on this long and storied tradition of welcoming families setting out to build a better life.
 
The RAISE Act would permanently cap the number of refugees allowed safe passage, thereby denying our country the necessary flexibility to respond to humanitarian crisis. As a Church, we believe the stronger the bonds of family, the greater a person’s chance of succeeding in life.  The RAISE Act imposes a definition of family that would weaken those bonds.
 
I urge the Senate to reject this measure and implore Congress and the President to work together in a bipartisan fashion to enact into law comprehensive immigration reform. I believe that such reform must recognize the many contributions that immigrants of all backgrounds have made to our nation, and must protect the lives and dignity of all, including the most vulnerable.”

July 31, 2017
SUBCOMMITTEE ON THE CHURCH IN LATIN AMERICA AWARDS NEARLY $6 MILLION IN GRANTS
 
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America awarded nearly $4 million in funding in the form of 244 grants to support the pastoral work of the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, and nearly $2 million in funding for continued reconstruction in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

The grants were approved at the Subcommittee’s meeting on June 12 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Projects that received funding include:
 
    •    Argentina, GRAVIDA—Centro de Asistencia a la Vida Naciente: This network of diocesan centers in Argentina works to promote, care for, and defend life from the moment of conception and
         promotes the dignity of parenting. These centers are located in 21 dioceses across the country and care for pregnant women at risk of having an abortion as well as with men to help them
         understand the value of fatherhood. The centers provide education and formation about the dignity of human life and conduct solidarity and awareness campaigns.
 
    •    Haiti, Catechetical Formation: This project will provide formation for 400 pastoral agents from four parishes that were impacted by Hurricane Matthew. The formation will be centered around
         the theme of the Christian family, and will take place over the course of three days. Seminars, workshops and group discussions will be facilitated, along with opportunities for prayer and daily
         Mass.
 
In addition, the first grant to help rebuild churches on the western part of Haiti after Hurricane Matthew was approved. More of these requests will be considered at future meetings of the Subcommittee.
 
“I am continually inspired by all of those who support the Collection for the Church in Latin America,” said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America. “The generosity of Catholics across the United States makes a difference in the lives of countless people in Latin America and the Caribbean. This generosity reflects the love and compassion of God. I can see this especially in the response we received to help the victims of Hurricane Matthew. With that help, we not only fund pastoral projects, but help rebuild churches in some dioceses of Haiti.”
 
Other areas of funding include lay leadership training, seminarian and religious formation, prison ministry, and youth ministry. Grants are funded by the annual Collection for the Church in Latin America, taken in many dioceses across the U.S. on the fourth Sunday in January. The grants to Haiti are funded by the Special Collection for Haiti, which occurred after the 2010 earthquake. These reconstruction efforts are managed through the Partnership for Church Reconstruction in Haiti (PROCHE).
 
The Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America oversees the collection and an annual grant program as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. It allocates revenue received from the Collection for the Church in Latin America as grants across Latin America and the Caribbean.  More information about the Collection for the Church in Latin America and the many grants it funds, as well as resources to promote it across the country, can be found at www.usccb.org/latin-america.


July 28, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS CHAIRMAN RESPONDS TO DEFEAT OF GOP "SKINNY REPEAL" BILL

WASHINGTON — In response to last night’s Senate vote on the “skinny repeal” bill, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, has issued the following statement:

“Despite the Senate’s decision not to pass legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act last night, the task of reforming the healthcare system still remains. The current healthcare system is not financially sustainable, lacks full Hyde protections and conscience rights, and is inaccessible to many immigrants.  Inaction will result in harm for too many people.

A moment has opened for Congress, and indeed all Americans, to set aside party and personal political interest and pursue the common good of our nation and its people, especially the most vulnerable. In order to be just, any bill for consideration must:

    Protect the Medicaid program from changes that would harm millions of struggling Americans.

    Protect the safety net from any other changes that harm the poor, immigrants, or any others at the margins.

    Address the real probability of collapsing insurance markets and the corresponding loss of genuine affordability for those with limited means.

    Provide full Hyde Amendment provisions and much-needed conscience protections.

Any final agreement that respects human life and dignity, honors conscience rights, and ensures that everyone can access health care that is comprehensive, high quality, and truly affordable deserves the support of all of us.

The greatness of our country is not measured by the well-being of the powerful but how we have cared for the ‘least of these.’  Congress can and should pass health care legislation that lives up to that greatness.”

July 26, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS PROVIDE AID TO EDUCATION CENTER IN ALBANIA AND SUPPORT FOR THOSE AFFECTED BY THE WAR IN EASTERN UKRAINE
 
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe approved over $4.8 million in funding for 206 projects in 22 countries in Central and Eastern Europe. 

Projects approved for funding include:
 
    •    The Don Bosco Center for Education in Albania, founded 21 years ago, provides cultural, social, and academic resources to over 1,000 children from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds. The center provides stability and
          aid to the rapidly growing population of people from rural areas moving into the city to find work. The center also offers elementary, middle and high school education and has a vocational training center, a youth center,
          and a day care center. The grant will assist with necessary updates to the building to welcome more children and provide a safe environment for them.

 

    •    A grant to support seven priests, five hieromonks, and eight religious sisters that serve the parishes near the war zone in Eastern Ukraine. The armed conflict periodically reaches into that region making it a dangerous
         place to live. The priests and religious have remained there to offer pastoral and humanitarian aid to those in need. This grant will provide food, medicine and transportation costs to support the priests and sisters as they
         offer pastoral care and humanitarian aid to the tens of thousands of internally displaced persons in the region.
 
“As a family of faith, we stand with those who work tirelessly to build the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, who continue to face the challenge of overcoming decades of political and religious oppression,” said Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, “We look to those living in this region as an example of hope and perseverance and continue to support their efforts to renew their communities.”
 
Other projects approved by the subcommittee include scholarships, church construction, outreach to the poor, and evangelization programs. Grants approved by the subcommittee support the Church in countries that were oppressed by communist rule.
 
Grants are funded by the annual Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. The national date for this collection is Ash Wednesday, although dioceses may take it up on different days. The Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe oversees the collection and an annual grant program as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections.

July 25,2017
U.S. BISHOPS CHAIRMAN APPEALS TO MEMBERS OF U.S. SENATE TO WORK TOGETHER TO REMEDY HEALTH CARE TO SERVE THE COMMON GOOD
 
WASHINGTON—In light of today’s Senate Republican vote to address the healthcare law, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, is appealing to Senators on both sides to work together in the days ahead to advance changes that will serve the common good of all.

Bishop Dewane’s full statement follows:
 
“In the wake of a procedural vote today that opens debate on the amendment process to reform the Affordable Care Act, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) calls on members from both political parties to work together to advance changes that serve the common good.  The health care reform proposals currently under consideration would harm millions of struggling Americans by leaving too many at risk of losing adequate health coverage and continue to exclude too many people, including immigrants.  We are grateful for the efforts to include protections for the unborn, however, any final bill must include full Hyde Amendment provisions and add much-needed conscience protections. The current proposals are simply unacceptable as written, and any attempts to repeal the ACA without a concurrent replacement is also unacceptable.
 
As was made clear in the USCCB’s letter of July 20, there is much work to be done to remedy the ACA's shortcomings.  We call on the Senate to make changes in all of the areas mentioned above.  In addition, current and impending barriers to access and affordability under the ACA must be removed, particularly for those most in need.  Such changes can be made with narrower reforms that do not jeopardize the access to health care that millions currently receive.”
 
Link to July 20 letter:  http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/letter-to-senate-on-affortable-care-act-2017-07-20.cfm
July 24, 2017
USCCB CHAIRMAN MOURNS FOR MIGRANTS INVOLVED IN TEXAS TRAGEDY

WASHINGTON — Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, has issued the following statement on San Antonio law enforcement’s identification of a tractor trailer containing 39 people, including ten individuals who died due to heat exposure and asphyxiation.

Full statement follows:
 
My brother bishops and I are heartbroken by the news coming from San Antonio regarding individuals found dead in a crowded and overheated tractor trailer. I also note our continued concern and prayers for the several other individuals identified, including school-aged children, who are reported to have life-threatening injuries. The loss of lives is tragic and avoidable. We condemn this terrible human exploitation that occurred and continues to happen in our country. In a moment such as this, we reflect upon the words of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, “The defense of human beings knows no barriers: we are all united wanting to ensure a dignified life for every man, woman and child who is forced to abandon his or her own land.” 
 
We together mourn for the lives lost and offer our prayers for these individuals and their families. 

July 21, 2017
JEWISH, CHRISTIAN AND MUSLIM NATIONAL RELIGIOUS LEADERS UNITE FOR ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACE
           
WASHINGTON — In a letter to President Donald J. Trump, thirty-five Jewish, Christian and Muslim national religious leaders agree that Israeli-Palestinian peace is possible.  They believe, “based on the legitimate, long-standing aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for national self-determination and security, a two-state solution still represents the most realistic way to meet essential interests of both peoples and to resolve the conflict.”

The letter includes the signatures of Bishop Oscar Cantú, of Las Cruses, Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington.
 
The statement by Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders points to the fact that, “despite deep distrust on both sides, recent polls among Israelis and Palestinians show that the majority still yearn for two states.” The leaders believe, “pursing either side’s version of a one-state solution would likely lead to more years of violent conflict.”
 
The leaders are encouraged that, building on years of official and informal negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, “the basic parameters of a framework for a two-state solution are widely known.” And they say, “combined with a broader regional framework such as the Arab Peace Initiative, the incentives for all sides to make the historic decision for a two-state peace agreement are monumental.”
 
They believe that “achieving a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians would have substantial positive effects for the people of Israel and Palestine, the region, the United States’ own interests, and our world.” The religious leaders are united in pledging their “support for US efforts to achieve this goal.”
 
The full letter can be found at:  http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/israel-palestine/nili-letter-to-president-on-israel-palestine-2017-07-19.cfm
  
July 21, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS DOMESTIC JUSTICE CHAIRMAN EXHORTS SENATE FOR MORE REASONABLE APPROACH ON HEALTH CARE
 
WASHINGTON — In light of uncertainty about how the Senate will proceed on health care in the coming days, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called on the Senate to fix problems with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in a more narrow way, rather than repeal it without an adequate replacement.

“Before any legislation had been proposed, the bishops were clear that a repeal of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act ought not be undertaken without the concurrent passage of a replacement plan that ensures access to adequate health care for the millions of people who now rely upon it for their wellbeing,” wrote Dewane in the July 20 letter to the full Senate. “To end coverage for those who struggle every day without an adequate alternative in place would be devastating.”

The Senate has been discussing various approaches for health care reform, including an ACA repeal approach that does not immediately decide upon a replacement plan.  “The American Health Care Act legislation from the U.S. House of Representatives and the Better Care Reconciliation Act from the Senate were seriously flawed, and would have harmed those most in need in unacceptable ways.  In the face of difficulties passing these proposals, the appropriate response is not to create greater uncertainty, especially for those who can bear it least, by repealing the ACA without a replacement.

Bishop Dewane urged Congress “to address the ACA’s moral deficiencies and challenges with long-term sustainability” by “more narrow reforms, and in a bipartisan way.”  Included in this would be extending full Hyde Amendment protections to the ACA, enacting laws that protect the conscience rights of all stakeholders in health care, protecting religious freedom, and passing legislation that begins to address barriers to access and affordability for the poor.

The full letter can be found at:  http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/letter-to-senate-on-affortable-care-act-2017-07-20.cfm

July 20, 2017
V ENCUENTRO’S NUESTRA ALEGRÍA VIRAL VIDEO CONTEST WINNERS ANNOUNCED
 
WASHINGTON — The V Encuentro announced the winners of the Nuestra Alegría Viral Video Challenge via social media. Twenty-two groups of young Hispanic/Latino Catholics across the nation submitted entries for the viral video challenge representing 11 of the 14 episcopal regions in the United States and spanning 16 states.

Young people across the nation were invited to create their own movements and gestures to the official youth and young adult song, Nuestra Alegría, for the V Encuentro. This challenge was launched as a means to encourage the participation of young Hispanic Catholics.
 
The V Encuentro process is a priority activity of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Strategic Plan for 2017-2020. The national event will take place in Grapevine, Texas, September 20-23, 2018.
 
“Young people are at the heart of the V Encuentro process. It is wonderful to see their creativity and love for Christ and the Church in joyful motion,” said Bishop Nelson Pérez, Bishop designate of Cleveland and chair of the USCCB Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs. “I look forward to follow along with the movements as we sing Nuestra Alegria in the diocesan and regional encuentros, and at the National Encuentro.”
 
The V Encuentro is a four-year process of missionary activity, consultation, leadership development, and strengthening unity in the spirit of the New Evangelization. Its goal is to discern the ways in which the Church in the United States can better respond to the Hispanic/Latino presence and strengthen the ways in which Hispanics/Latinos respond to the call to the New Evangelization as missionary disciples serving the Church.
 
The first-place was awarded to St. Francis Borgia Deaf Center Youth Group in Chicago, whose members used sign language to express the lyrics of the song. As first-place winners they receive $1,000 and the honor of having the movements used in diocesan and regional Encuentros and at the national event.
 
Second place with a prize of $500 was awarded to Apóstoles De Ágape, St. John Neumann Catholic Church, Miami, Florida; and the third-place prize of $250 was given to River Valley Millenials, Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas.
 
Alejandro Aguilera-Titus, V Encuentro National Coordinator affirmed, “We are very grateful to all the groups that submitted their videos. Their joy, enthusiasm and creativity are the young face of the church today. Congratulation to the winners.”
 
Four other groups received honorable mention:

    •    Most Joyful: Escuela de Evangelización San Andrés Jóvenes, St. Francis de
          Sales, Holland, Michigan.
    •    Best Use of Technology: Jóvenes de Coronado- Sacred Heart Church,
          Coronado, California.
    •    Best Concept and Creativity: Cristo Joven- Sacred Heart, Washington, DC
    •    Best Teamwork: Juventus- Saint Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Salt Lake
          City, Utah.

Voting for the Nuestra Alegría Viral Video Challenge took place from July 1-13, 2017 and a panel of judges from across the nation selected the winners after reviewing the videos on their 18 second submissions and evaluating that the movements and gestures reflected the meaning of the song. Catholics across the country also voted for their favorite groups via Facebook. Video submissions were very creative utilizing flags, drones, and banners. Some of the videos included children highlighting the importance of family to contestants.
 
All participants of the contest will receive a copy of the pocket book of the Gospels in September. Stories about the winners and other groups that participated in the challenge will be featured on the V Encuentro blog and social media accounts.  All video submissions are available by clicking here.

July 20, 2017
HOUSE BUDGET RESOLUTION PLACES POOR IN JEOPARDY SAYS U.S. BISHOPS CHAIRMAN
 
WASHINGTON — Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development expressed concern over the proposed U.S. House of Representatives budget resolution, which was voted out of Committee late yesterday.

“The USCCB is closely monitoring the budget and appropriations process in Congress and is analyzing the proposed House budget resolution in more detail.  It is clearly noted at the outset that the proposal assumes the harmful and unacceptable cuts to Medicaid from the American Health Care Act.  Additionally, steady increases to military spending in the resolution are made possible by cutting critical resources for those in need over time, including potentially from important programs like SNAP that provide essential nutrition to millions of people. The bipartisan approach to discretionary spending in recent years, while imperfect, reflected a more balanced compromise given competing priorities. 

A nation’s budget is a moral document.  Reducing deficits through cuts for human needs—while simultaneously attempting a tax cut, as this proposal does—will place millions of poor and vulnerable people in real jeopardy.  Congress should choose a better path, one that honors those struggling in our country.”

Previous letters from the USCCB on the federal budget can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/

July 18. 2017
USCCB CHAIRMAN EXPRESSES ONGOING SUPPORT FOR DACA; CALLS ON ADMINISTRATION AND CONGRESS TO ENSURE PERMANENT PROTECTION FOR DACA YOUTH

WASHINGTON — Over 750,000 youth have received protection from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) since its inception by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2012.  While DACA provides no legal status, it does provide recipients with a temporary reprieve from deportation and employment authorization for legal work opportunities in the United States.

In response to the recent petition to the U.S. Department of Justice to terminate DACA, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Chair of the Migration Committee and Bishop of Austin, Texas, expressed support for DACA once again, stating:

“The Catholic Bishops have long supported DACA youth and continue to do so. DACA youth are contributors to our economy, veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes. These young people entered the U.S. as children and know America as their only home.  The dignity of every human being, particularly that of our children and youth, must be protected.

I urge the Administration to continue administering the DACA program and to publicly ensure that DACA youth are not priorities for deportation.

However, DACA is not a permanent solution; for this reason, I also call on Congress to work in an expeditious and bipartisan manner to find a legislative solution for DACA youth as soon as possible. My brother bishops and I pledge continuing efforts to help find a humane and permanent resolution that protects DACA youth. Additionally, I note the moral urgency for comprehensive immigration reform that is just and compassionate. The bishops will advocate for these reforms as we truly believe they will advance the common good.

Lastly, to DACA youth and their families, please know that the Catholic Church stands in solidarity with you.  We recognize your intrinsic value as children of God. We understand the anxiety and fear you face and we appreciate and applaud the daily contributions you make with your families, to local communities and parishes, and to our country. We support you on your journey to reach your God-given potential.”

July 17, 2017
PRESIDENT OF USCCB AND BISHOP CHAIRMEN CONDEMN ATTACK IN THE OLD CITY OF JERUSALEM
 
WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), along with Bishop Oscar Cantú, of Las Cruces, Chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Bishop Mitchell Rozanski, of Springfield, Chair of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, have issued the following statement on today’s attack in the Old City of Jerusalem. The deadly attack took place early this morning by the Lions' Gate in the Old City walls, next to what Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary and Jews call the Temple Mount.  
 
Full statement follows:
 
On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, we condemn in the strongest possible terms today’s attack in the Old City of Jerusalem.  It is a particular desecration to carry out armed attacks in and around sites holy to Muslims and Jews in a city that is sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims.  We mourn for the lives lost and deplore the heightened tensions that such an attack can spawn. It was encouraging that both President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the attack.  The path to peace, for which both Israelis and Palestinians yearn, cannot be paved with violence.
 
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo
Archbishop of Galveston-Houston
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
 
Most Rev. Oscar Cantú
Bishop of Las Cruces
Chairman, Committee on International Justice and Peace
 
Most Rev. Mitchell T. Rozanski
Bishop of Springfield
Chairman, Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs

July 14, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS CHAIRMAN URGES ADMINISTRATION TO RAISE CAP ON REFUGEE ADMISSIONS
 
WASHINGTON—This week, U.S. refugee admissions reached the historically low cap of 50,000 refugees allowed to be resettled in the United States for Fiscal Year 2017, as set forth by the Administration’s March 6th Executive Order 13780. Executive Order 13780 altered the initial Fiscal Year 2017 Presidential Determination which authorized the resettlement of 110,000 refugees into the United States. Currently there are approximately 22.5 million refugees seeking protection globally.

The following is a statement in response to the resettlement cap from Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Austin, Texas, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration:
 
“I note with sadness that the new U.S. refugee admissions cap of 50,000 individuals has been reached this week. While certain refugees who have ‘bona fide relationships’ will still be allowed to arrive, I remain deeply concerned about the human consequences of this limitation and its impact on vulnerable refugees such as unaccompanied refugee children, elderly and infirm refugees, and religious minorities. Now, these vulnerable populations will not be able to access needed protection and will continue to face danger and exploitation. Pope Francis reminds us that ‘refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity.’ We must be mindful that every refugee is more than just a number, they are a child of God.
 
Looking forward, my brother bishops and I urge the Administration to allow 75,000 refugees to arrive to our country in the next fiscal year. As I stated in March 2017, in relation to this particular Executive Order, ‘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 firmly believe that as a nation the United States has the good will, character, leadership, and resources to help more vulnerable people seek refuge.  Most importantly, the Church will continue to serve and stand in solidarity with refugees, welcoming and accompanying them on their journey to protection and safety.”
 
The full letter from March 17 can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/news/2017/17-048.cfm

July 14, 2017
REVISED SENATE HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL STILL “UNACCEPTABLE,” SAYS U.S. BISHOPS CHAIRMAN

WASHINGTON—Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, reacted strongly to the revised Senate health reform bill, the “Better Care Reconciliation Act” (BCRA).

“The USCCB is reviewing carefully the health care bill introduced by Senate leadership earlier today.  On an initial read, we do not see enough improvement to change our assessment that the proposal is unacceptable. We recognize the incremental improvement in funding the fight against opioid addiction, for instance, but more is needed to honor our moral obligation to our brothers and sisters living in poverty and to ensure that essential protections for the unborn remain in the bill.”

In an earlier letter concerning the draft of the BCRA that was introduced in draft format on June 22, 2017, Bishop Dewane had warned that, “[t]he BCRA’s restructuring of Medicaid will adversely impact those already in deep health poverty.  At a time when tax cuts that would seem to benefit the wealthy and increases in other areas of federal spending, such as defense, are being contemplated, placing a ‘per capita cap’ on medical coverage for the poor is unconscionable.”

The full letter from June 27 can be found at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/upload/senate-discussion-letter-health-care-reform-2017-06-27.pdf

July 13, 2017
NATIONAL RELIGIOUS RETIREMENT OFFICE DISTRIBUTES $25 MILLION TO SUPPORT ELDERLY RELIGIOUS
 
WASHINGTON — In June, the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) distributed $25 million to 390 religious communities across the United States. The funding is provided by donations to the Retirement Fund for Religious collection.

The annual, parish-based appeal is held in most U.S. Catholic parishes each December and benefits more than 32,000 elderly Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests. The most recent collection raised nearly $30.7 million and marked the second year in a row that contributions exceeded $30 million.
 
“We are overwhelmed by the generous support for senior religious and their communities,” said Presentation Sister Stephanie Still, NRRO executive director. “We are equally moved by our donors’ ongoing gratitude for the ministry of religious, past and present.”
 
The funding disbursed the week of June 19 is known as Direct Care Assistance and represents the majority of financial assistance distributed by the NRRO. Religious communities combine this assistance with their own income and savings to help meet such day-to-day expenses as prescription medications and nursing care. Additional funding will be allocated through other NRRO programs in the coming months.
 
Catholic bishops of the U.S. launched the Retirement Fund for Religious in 1988 to address the significant lack of retirement funding among the nation’s religious communities. Traditionally, Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests—known collectively as women and men religious—served for small stipends that did not include retirement benefits. Today, many religious communities lack adequate retirement savings.
 
Despite ongoing generosity to the annual appeal, hundreds of religious communities struggle to provide for older members. Recognizing the ongoing need, U.S. bishops voted to renew the collection, which was previously set to end this year.
 
The NRRO coordinates the annual Retirement Fund for Religious collection and distributes the proceeds to eligible religious communities. It also offers educational programming, services and resources that enable religious communities to evaluate and prepare for long-term retirement needs. The NRRO is sponsored by the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

July 11, 2017
POPE FRANCIS NAMES NEW BISHOP OF CLEVELAND AND NEW BISHOP OF JUNEAU

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Bishop Nelson Perez, up until now Auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Centre, as the new bishop of Cleveland.  Pope Francis has also named Father Andrew Bellisario as the new bishop of Juneau, Alaska. The appointments were publicized in Washington, July 11, 2017, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
 
Bishop Perez, Auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Centre, was born June 16, 1961, in Miami, Florida, and ordained a priest for the Philadelphia Archdiocese on May 20, 1989.  
 
He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Montclair State University and master of divinity and master of arts degrees from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia.  In 1998, he was named Chaplain to His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, with the title of Monsignor. In 2009, he was named a Prelate of Honor by Pope Benedict XVI.    
 
Assignments after ordination included parochial vicar, St. Ambrose Parish, Philadelphia, (1989-1993); director of the Archdiocesan (Hispanic) Institute for Evangelization, (1993-2002); pastor, St. William Parish, Philadelphia, (2002-2009); and pastor, St. Agnes Parish, West Chester, Pennsylvania, (2009-2012). He also served as assistant director of the Archdiocesan Office for Hispanic Catholics, (1990-1993), and served on the archdiocesan Council of Priests, (2003-2005).
 
Bishop Perez is a current member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church and is also Chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs.
 
On June 8, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI named Msgr. Perez an auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Rockville Centre. He was ordained as bishop on July 25, 2012.
 
Father Bellisario was born in Los Angeles on December 19, 1955 and is a senior Vincentian, who was previously the head of the society’s Los Angeles providence. 
 
Bishop-elect Bellisario began Vincentian novitiate studies in Santa Barbara in 1975 at St. Mary’s Seminary and professed final vows at St. Mary’s Seminary in Perryville, Missouri in 1978.  He was ordained a priest in Los Angeles on June 16, 1984.
 
He earned a bachelor of arts degree from St. Mary’s Seminary in Perryville in 1980 and later earned a master of divinity degree from DeAndreis Seminary in Lemont, Illinois in 1984.   
 
Assignments after ordination included dean of students, St. Vincent’s Seminary, Montebello, California (1984-1986); parochial vicar, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Montebello (1986-1989); administrator, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Montebello (1989-1990); pastor, St. Vincent DePaul Church, Huntington Beach (1990-1995); pastor, Sacred Heart Church, Patterson (1995-1998); provincial treasurer/consultor, DePaul Center Resident, Montebello ((1996-2002); Director, DePaul Evangelization Center, Montebello (1998-2002); superior, DePaul Center Residents, Montebello (2001-2002); provincial, Province Leadership, Montebello (2002-2010); director, Daughters of Charity, Los Altos (2003-2015); pastor, Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral, Anchorage (2014-present); superior, International Missions in Alaska (2015-present). 
 
The diocese of Cleveland comprises 3,414 square miles and has a total population of approximately 2,774,113 people of which 682,948 or 24 percent. are Catholic.
 
The diocese of Juneau comprises 37,566 square miles and has a total population of approximately 75,000 people of which 10,000 or 13 percent, are Catholic.

July 6, 2017
U.S. AND EUROPEAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS CALL FOR STRATEGY TO ELIMINATE NUCLEAR WEAPONS GLOBALLY

WASHINGTON — A joint declaration issued today by U.S. and European Catholic bishops calls for all nations to work together to develop a “credible, verifiable and enforceable strategy for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.”

Entitled “Nuclear Disarmament: Seeking Human Security,” the declaration was issued to coincide with the conclusion of a meeting hosted this week by the United Nations “to negotiate a legally binding treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.” Although the United States and most European nations are not joining these negotiations, the Catholic bishops acknowledge, “[t]he fact that most of the world’s nations are participating in this effort testifies to the urgency of their concern, an urgency intensified by the prospect of nuclear terrorism and proliferation, and to the inequality and dissatisfaction of non-nuclear states about the lack of progress in nuclear disarmament efforts.”

Recognizing the need for national and international security, the bishops of the United States and Europe implore the leaders of their nations to work with other countries to promote peace through nuclear disarmament. “The indiscriminate and disproportionate nature of nuclear weapons, compel the world to move beyond nuclear deterrence,” the declaration reads. “We call upon the United States and European nations to work with other nations to map out a credible, verifiable and enforceable strategy for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.”

“The teaching of our Church – from the Catechism to Saint Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis – about the urgent need for nuclear disarmament is clear,” said Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace.  “It is time for us to heed this moral imperative and promote human security both within the United States and Europe, and globally.”

The declaration is signed by Bishop Cantú and Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich, President of European Justice and Peace Commissions.

The full text of the joint declaration is available at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/war-and-peace/nuclear-weapons/nuclear-disarmament-seeking-human-security-2017-07-06.cfm or www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/war-and-peace/nuclear-weapons/upload/Multilateral-Nuclear-Disarmament-July-6-2017.pdf

July 5, 2017
POPE NAMES BISHOP ZARAMA AS BISHOP OF RALEIGH
 
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Bishop Luis Zarama, auxiliary bishop of Atlanta as Bishop of Raleigh, North Carolina.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, July 5, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
 
Bishop-designate Zarama was born November 28, 1958, in Pasto, Colombia.  He holds degrees in philosophy and theology from the Marian University in Pasto, and a degree in Canon Law from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 1993.  He served as parochial vicar at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Atlanta; he then served as a member of the Vocations Committee. Bishop Zarama was named vicar general of the Archdiocese in April of 2006 and in 2008 he was appointed to serve as the judicial vicar for the Archdiocese’s Metropolitan Tribunal.  He is also a member of the Archdiocesan Personnel Review Board. He was named auxiliary bishop of Atlanta on July 27, 2009.
 
As a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), he is currently an alternate member for region XIV of the Administrative Committee.
 
The Diocese of Raleigh comprises 32,000 square miles and it has total population of 4,874,815 people of which 231,230 are Catholic.

June 30, 2017
POPE FRANCIS ACCEPTS RESIGNATION OF ARCHDIOCESE OF BOSTON AUXILIARY BISHOP 

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Arthur Kennedy, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston. Bishop Kennedy reached the retirement age for bishops of 75 on January 9.

The resignation and appointment was publicized in Washington, June 30, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
 
Bishop Kennedy was appointed by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on June 30, 2010 and was installed as auxiliary bishop on September 14, 2010. Other posts included Titular Bishop of Timidana. He chose as his episcopal motto: Ut cognoscant te, meaning, “so that they may know you.”

A native of the Archdiocese of Boston, Bishop Kennedy was ordained to the priesthood on December 17, 1966.  From 2002-2005, amidst his assignments as university professor at St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Kennedy served as executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.  Most recently, he also served as Rector of Saint John’s Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts, from July 2007 until July 2012.
   
The Archdiocese of Boston comprises 2,465 square miles. It has a total population of 4,147,275  people of which 1,949,219 or 47 percent, are Catholic. Cardinal Seán Patrick O'Malley, GCIH OFM Cap, is the current Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Boston.

June 27, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS CHAIRMAN CALLS SENATE TO “REJECT CHANGES” TO SOCIAL SAFETY NET
 
WASHINGTON — Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, has provided a more detailed critique of the Senate “discussion draft” health care bill, dubbed the “Better Care Reconciliation Act” (BCRA).

“Removing vital coverage for those most in need is not the answer to our nation’s health care problems, and doing so will not help us build toward the common good,” said Bishop Dewane.  “For the sake of persons living on the margins of our health care system, we call on the Senate to reject changes intended to fundamentally alter the social safety net for millions of people.”

The BCRA was introduced in discussion draft format on June 22, 2017, and is the Senate’s working heath care proposal. Bishop Dewane again highlighted the need for lawmakers to withhold support for provisions that would harm poor and vulnerable people, including changes to Medicaid, in the June 27 letter.  He also stressed the need for protections for the unborn in the bill, indicating that “[s]afeguards pertaining to the use of tax credits for plans that include abortion face steep challenges,” and that the BCRA “needs to be strengthened to fully apply the longstanding and widely-supported Hyde amendment protections.”  Bishop Dewane also noted that coverage for immigrants and conscience protections were lacking in the BCRA.

“The BCRA’s restructuring of Medicaid will adversely impact those already in deep health poverty,” warned Bishop Dewane. “At a time when tax cuts that would seem to benefit the wealthy and increases in other areas of federal spending, such as defense, are being contemplated, placing a ‘per capita cap’ on medical coverage for the poor is unconscionable.”

The full letter can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/upload/senate-discussion-letter-health-care-reform-2017-06-27.pdf


June 27, 2017
POPE FRANCIS NAMES MONSIGNOR SCHLERT AS NEW BISHOP OF ALLENTOWN

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Monsignor Alfred A. Schlert as Bishop of Allentown, Pennsylvania. Monsignor Schlert is currently the diocesan administrator of the diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania. 
The appointment was publicized in Washington, June 27, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop-elect Schlert was born in Easton, Pennsylvania July 24, 1961.  He prepared for the priesthood at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary near Philadelphia and the Pontifical Roman Seminary and St. John Lateran University in Rome. He received a Licentiate in Canon Law from the Pontifical Lateran University in 1992.  He was ordained a priest on September 19, 1987.
  
Assignments after ordination included: assistant pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Allentown; professor at his alma mater Notre Dame High School; and Catholic chaplain at Lehigh University.  He was named Vice Chancellor and Secretary to the bishop in 1997; and was named vicar general of the diocese of Allentown in 1998.
 
Pope St. John Paul II named him Chaplain to His Holiness with the title of Monsignor in 1999.  Pope Benedict named him a Prelate of Honor, the second highest rank of Monsignor, in 2005.
 
While still serving as Vicar General, he was still pastor of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Church in Hellertown, 2008-2010, when he resumed full time service as vicar general.
  
In addition, Bishop-elect Schlert is Vice President of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and a member of its administrative board.  He also served on the diocesan council of priests, the diocesan financial council, and the diocesan college of consultors.  He is also a member of the board of trustees for DeSales University.

The Diocese of Allentown has been a vacant see since December, 2016 when it was announced Pope Francis had transferred Allentown Bishop John O. Barres to serve as Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Center in Long Island, New York.
The Diocese comprises 2,773 square miles and it has total population of approximately 1,161,932 people of which 272,300, or 23 percent, are Catholic.

June 26, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS CHAIRMAN RESPONDS TO CBO REPORT ON SENATE HEALTH CARE BILL

WASHINGTON — The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) today has released its score on the Senate health care bill. The score could impact how the Senate votes on the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.  As he is analyzing the full report and expects to release futher comment tomorrow, Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Domestic Justice and Humane Development Committee, has issued the following initial statement:
“Today, the Congressional Budget Office released a report on the ‘discussion draft’ of the Senate health care proposal, indicating that millions of people could lose their health insurance over time.  This moment cannot pass without comment.  As the USCCB has consistently said, the loss of affordable access for millions of people is simply unacceptable.  These are real families who need and deserve health care.  We pray that the Senate will work in an open and unified way to keep the good aspects of current health care proposals, to add missing elements where needed, and to not place our sisters and brothers who struggle every day into so great a peril on so basic a right.”

June 26, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS CONFERENCE CHAIRMAN RESPONDS TO TODAY’S SUPREME COURT ACTION ON TRAVEL BAN
 
WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the Administration’s Executive Order 13870 announcing an emergency stay partially overturning preliminary injunctions that were put in place by federal courts in Maryland and Hawaii and upheld by the Fourth Circuit and the Ninth Circuit. The Supreme Court decision narrows refugee resettlement and travel from six Muslim-majority countries to individuals who can prove a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,” until the Supreme Court can rule on the legality of the ban.
 
Bishop Vasquez, Bishop of Austin and Chair of the of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration issued the following statement:
 
“Today’s decision will have human consequences. While my brother bishops and I appreciate the Court’s ruling to allow individuals who have a ‘bona fide relationship’ with a person or entity in the United States to continue arriving, we are deeply concerned about the welfare of the many other vulnerable populations who will now not be allowed to arrive and seek protection during the proscribed pause, most notably certain individuals fleeing religious persecution and unaccompanied refugee children.
 
Going forward, as the Administration begins its review of the refugee program, we urge a transparent, efficient and timely review. We ask that such review include civil society and refugee service providers as well as national security and immigration experts. We believe it is vital to utilize the full expertise of the existing resettlement program when conducting such an important evaluation.”

June 26, 2017
USCCB CHAIRMAN APPLAUDS U.S. SUPREME COURT DECISION PROTECTING RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
 
WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in the case of Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, in which the Court held that the exclusion of churches from an otherwise available public benefit violates the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution.  Trinity Lutheran’s preschool sought to participate in the State of Missouri’s scrap tire program, which would have allowed it to repave its playground with recycled tire pieces in order to provide a softer and safer playground surface for children.
 
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, offered the following statement in response:
 
“Today’s decision is a landmark victory for religious freedom. The Supreme Court rightly recognized that people of faith should not be discriminated against when it comes to government programs that should be made available to all. The decision also marks a step in the right direction toward limiting the effects of the pernicious Blaine Amendments that are in place in many states around the country.  Blaine Amendments to state constitutions, most of which date back to the nineteenth century, stem from a time of intense anti-Catholic bigotry in many parts of the country. We are glad to see the Supreme Court move toward limiting these harmful provisions, which have restricted the freedom of faith-based organizations and people of faith to serve their communities.”

June 24, 2017
POPE FRANCIS NOMINATES AUXILIARY BISHOP FROM SLOVAKIA AS APOSTOLIC ADMINISTRATOR OF EPARCHY OF PARMA FOR THE RUTHENIANS
 
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Auxiliary Bishop, Milan Lach, SJ, currently Auxiliary Bishop of Prešov, Slovakia, as Apostolic Administrator of the sede vacante (vacant see) of the Epharcy of Parma for the Ruthenians. The Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma is the Catholic eparchy governing most Ruthenian Catholics in the mid-western United States. It is headquartered in Parma, Ohio.  
 
The appointment was publicized in Washington, June 24, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
 
Pope Francis relieved His Excellency William Skurla, Archbishop of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Pittsburgh, from the pastoral governance of the Eparchy of Parma.
 
Bishop Lach, 43, was born in Kežmarok, Slovakia in 1973.  In 1992, he was admitted to the Greek-catholic seminary in Prešov and in 1995 entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in Trnava, Slovakia. He continued his studies at Trnava University and also studied at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, where he obtained a master’s degree from the Eastern Church Sciences and later, a doctorate degree. In 2009, he began working at the Center of Spirituality East – West of Michal Lacko in Košice, Slovakia.
 
He was ordained a deacon of the Society of Jesus on November 11, 2000 and was ordained a priest on July 1, 2001.  He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Prešov and titular bishop of Ostracine on April 19, 2013.  He was ordained as auxiliary bishop of Prešov and titular bishop of Ostracine, June 1, 2013. 
 
The Eparchy of Parma for the Ruthenians was erected February 21, 1969. Currently, the Eparchy of Parma encompasses the geographical area of Ohio (except the eastern border counties), Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. Byzantine Catholics living in those states are members of the local Church of Parma.


June 22, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS CHAIRMAN REACTS TO DRAFT SENATE HEALTH CARE BILL
 
WASHINGTON — After the U.S. Senate introduced a “discussion draft” of its health care bill, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, highlighted certain positive elements in the bill, but reiterated the need for Senators to remove unacceptable flaws in the legislation that harm those most in need.

The full statement follows:

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is examining very closely the new Senate “discussion  draft” introduced today and will provide more detailed comments soon. 
 It must be made clear now, however, that this proposal retains many of the fundamental defects of the      House of Representatives-passed health care legislation, and even further compounds them.  It is precisely the detrimental impact on the poor and vulnerable that makes the Senate draft unacceptable as written.

An acceptable health care system provides access to all, regardless of their means, and at all stages of life.  Such a health care system must protect conscience rights, as well as extend to immigrant families.

The Bishops value language in the legislation recognizing that abortion is not health care by attempting to prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortion or plans that cover it.  While questions remain about the provisions and whether they will remain in the final bill, if retained and effective this would correct a flaw in the Affordable Care Act by fully applying the longstanding and widely-supported Hyde amendment protections.  Full Hyde protections are essential and must be included in the final bill.  

However, the discussion draft introduced today retains a “per-capita cap” on Medicaid funding, and then connects yearly increases to formulas that would provide even less to those in need than the House bill.  These changes will wreak havoc on low-income families and struggling communities, and must not be supported.

Efforts by the Senate to provide stronger support for those living at and above the poverty line are a positive step forward.  However, as is, the discussion draft stands to cause disturbing damage to the human beings served by the social safety net. 
The USCCB has also stressed the need to improve real access for immigrants in health care policy, and this bill does not move the nation toward this goal.  It fails, as well, to put in place conscience protections for all those involved in the health care system, protections which are needed more than ever in our country’s health policy.  The Senate should now act to make changes to the draft that will protect those persons on the peripheries of our health care system.  We look forward to the process to improve this discussion draft that surely must take place in the days ahead.

June 20, 2017
USCCB PRESIDENT AND BISHOP CHAIRMEN URGE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY TO DEFER DEPORTATION OF REFUGEES WHO HAVE ESCAPED RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION 
 
WASHINGTON — The President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston as well as the Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, have sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, John F. Kelly, urging him to defer deportation of those persons to Iraq, particularly Christians and Chaldean Catholics, who pose no threat to U.S. public safety.

The letter has been sent to specifically address the pending deportation of dozens of Christian and Chaldean Catholics in Michigan and Tennessee.
 
While the bishops recognize that some of the individuals may have orders of deportation because they have committed criminal offenses in the past, they are gravely concerned that they would then be sent back to a country where religious persecution and persecution against ethnic minorities remains an ongoing threat. The letter states that “the fact that they have a significant risk in experiencing persecution, and even possible bodily harm because of their faith is, from our moral perspective, an important factor to be weighted in the calculation to deport.” 
 
The full letter to Secretary Kelly can be found here:  https://justiceforimmigrants.org/uncategorized/1287/

June 20, 2017
USCCB PRESIDENT AND CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEE ON ECUMENICAL AND INTERRELIGIOUS AFFAIRS RESPOND TO TERROR ATTACK AT MOSQUE IN LONDON  
 
WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, Bishop of Springfield, Massachusetts and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs have issued a joint statement in response to Sunday’s attack on worshipers outside a mosque in London. 
 
The attack occurred after a van plowed into a crowd existing a mosque after Ramadan prayers near Finsbury Park located in north London.
 
The full joint statement follows:
 
“We would like to express our deepest condolences to the people of London who once again woke to the news of a terrorist attack.  Our prayers extend especially to the community of Muslims from Finsbury Park Mosque in North London whom it appears were the intended victims of the attacker.
 
Once again, in this now sad reality of regular acts of terror that are meant to destroy life and to crush hope, we remember that light has overcome darkness once and for all. Let us be united in hope and with one voice reject utterly all forms of terror and violence that seek to dissuade us from the pursuit of a culture of life and solidarity.
 
The Bishops of the United States unequivocally reject such acts of violence and plead with all people to cease from committing or plotting to commit further acts. 
 
In this dark hour for the people of London, especially the Muslim community, please know that we stand in solidarity with you, mourning for the loss of life and praying for the victims, their families, and the entire nation.”

June 19, 2017
U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS CHAIRMAN OF INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE AND PEACE STATEMENT ON CUBA POLICY CHANGES
 
WASHINGTON — President Donald J. Trump recently announced modifications to existing U.S. policy towards Cuba that will impact travel by U.S. citizens to the island, as well as U.S. commercial relations with Cuban government-controlled entities.

In the following statement, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, expressed regret at the scaling-back of U.S. engagement with Cuba, while also appreciating the President´s concern for the human rights situation on the island.
 
Full statement follows:
 
On the eve of my pastoral visit to Cuba at the invitation of the Cuban bishops, I was saddened to learn that President Trump scaled-back our country’s bilateral engagement with the island nation.  The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in solidarity with the bishops of Cuba and the Holy See, has long held that human rights and religious freedom will be strengthened through more engagement between the Cuban and American people, not less. For decades, we have called for the U.S. travel ban and embargo against Cuba to be lifted.
 
In my capacity as international chairman, I urge that as the implementing regulations are drafted the President consider the ramifications for many ordinary Cubans who have taken advantage of new opportunities to support their families. The President is correct; serious human rights concerns persist.  The Cuban government must be urged to respect religious freedoms and to extend greater social, political and economic rights to all Cubans.  The fruits of investment in Cuba should benefit individuals and families, and not the security forces.
 
Pope Francis helped our nations to come together in dialogue. It is important to continue to promote dialogue and encounter between our neighboring nations and peoples.”
 
For more information about the Committee on International Justice and Peace regarding Cuba, please visit the following page on the USCCB website: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/latin-america-caribbean/cuba/

June 15, 2017
USCCB PRESIDENT EXTENDS BISHOPS’ WORKING GROUP ON IMMIGRATION

INDIANAPOLIS — Recognizing the continued urgency for comprehensive immigration reform, a humane refugee policy and a safe border, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has extended the bishops Working Group on Immigration.

Cardinal DiNardo made the announcement on the second day of the 2017 Spring General Assembly in Indianapolis.

The working group is chaired by Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles. Other members of the working group include the chairmen of the following USCCB committees: Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the Committee on Migration; Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Social Development; Auxiliary Bishop Nelson J. Pérez of Rockville Centre, New York, chairman of the Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs; Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Washington, chairman of the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants; and Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace.
Activities carried out by member-chairmen of the working group included statements responding to executive orders on interior enforcement, sanctuary cities, and refugee resettlement; and on legislation including the BRIDGE Act, which would provide temporary relief from deportation to youth previously protected through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The group also facilitates diocesan resources such as policy reports, prayers, educational materials, action alerts and pastoral accompaniment, and has held frequent communications among the members to discuss concerns and priorities. They also share episcopal guidance with outside partners such as Catholic Relief Services; Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.; Center for Migration Studies; and Catholic Charities USA.

Archbishop Gomez and Bishop Vásquez presented an oral report to the full body of bishops on the activities of the working group on June 14.

June 15, 2017
USCCB’S INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE AND PEACE CHAIR URGES SOLIDARITY WITH THOSE SUFFERING RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION IN ASIA, MIDDLE EAST
 
INDIANAPOLIS — “Persecution has a face,” said Bishop Oscar Cantú, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, as he presented an oral report to the full body of bishops on the situation of religious discrimination and persecution in Asia and the Middle East.

The oral report is based on his participation last year at the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference Plenary Assembly in Sri Lanka, where he represented the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).  During the year, Bishop Cantu also took part in other solidarity visits to India, Iraq and the Holy Land, where he met with bishops, refugees and persecuted people.
 
“Tragically, religious persecution and harassment is not limited to one or two regions in our world,” said Bishop Cantú. Citing statistics from the Pew Research Center, Cantu noted that “Christians are harassed in the largest number of countries, 128, followed closely by Muslims in 125 countries. This is partly due to the fact that Christians and Muslims are the largest religious groups in the world.”
 
Harassment consists of both social hostilities and government restrictions. It can include physical assaults, arrests and detentions, desecration of holy sites, and discrimination in housing, employment and educational opportunities.  In Asia, Bishop Cantú learned about concerns in countries like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Malaysia.
 
“At times, it rises to persecution and genocide,” Bishop Cantú said. Regarding the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, particularly in Syria and Iraq, he called it “a crisis within a crisis” and argued that “to focus attention on the plight of Christians is not to ignore the suffering of others.” A focus on Christians and other minorities strengthens “the entire fabric of society to protect the rights of all” and is “inclusive” of a concern for “both minorities and majorities, both Christians and Muslims.”
 
Bishop Cantú highlighted the efforts of the local Church in Iraq to reach out to all in need in partnership with Caritas Iraq and Catholic Relief Services (CRS). He also pointed to the importance for the U.S. Church in following the lead of the local Churches enduring persecution in expressing solidarity, particularly in Syria and Iraq. 
 
Even in the midst of persecution there are moments of joy.  He contrasted the image of “a tent camp for Christians” covering “the Church grounds across the street from our hotel” in Erbil with attending “the ordination of three deacons in Erbil” where “the Cathedral erupted [in joy] when a displaced man from Mosul was ordained.”
 
In his report, Bishop Cantú also highlighted the following recommendations for the U.S. government that include:
    •    Providing assistance to refugees and displaced persons, including through faith-based organizations like CRS:
    •    Assisting in the resettlement of refugees, including victims of genocidal actions and other vulnerable families. 
    •    Encouraging central and regional governments in Iraq and Syria to strengthen the rule of law based on citizenship, to insure the protection of vulnerable minorities, and to improve policing, judiciary and local governance with the help of U.S. assistance.
 
He also invited the Church and Catholics in the United States, who wish to help, to:  
 
    •    Pray for those suffering from persecution.
    •    Become aware of the Christian presence in the Middle East and of an accurate understanding of Islam with openness to dialogue with Muslim neighbors. Resources are available at: www.usccb.org/middle-east-christians.
    •    Donate to non-profit Catholic organizations such as CRS, Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), Aid to the Church in Need and the Knights of Columbus.
    •    Advocate with the U.S. government for assistance and the dignity of refugees.
 
Bishop Cantú also shared with the bishops the research study In Response to Persecution, conducted by the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture, the Religious Freedom Institute, and Georgetown University’s Religious Freedom Research Project.  The study is available at: http://ucs.nd.edu/assets/233538/ucs_report_2017_web.pdf.

June 15, 2017
BISHOPS VOTE ON PERMANENT COMMITTEE FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY, REVISED GUIDELINES FOR CELEBRATION OF SACRAMENTS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
 
INDIANAPOLIS — The U.S. bishops voted on and approved a number of items including, establishing a permanent Committee for Religious Liberty and the revised Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities, during their Spring General Assembly in Indianapolis, June 14.

The bishops voted to approve establishing a permanent Committee for Religious Liberty. The proposal received a vote of 132 votes in favor, 53 votes against and 5 abstaining. The USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty seeks to strengthen and sustain religious freedom by assisting the U.S. bishops, individually and collectively, to teach about religious freedom to the faithful and the broader public, and to promote and defend religious freedom in law and policy.
 
The revised Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities were approved by a 180-1-0 vote. The document is a revision of an earlier version, last updated in 1995. These new Guidelines take into account medical and technological innovations of recent years, and emphasize the importance of the inclusion of all members of parishes. While not legislative in nature, they will be a helpful resource for dioceses and parishes. This vote required support of the majority of the Latin Church members of the USCCB.
 
The bishops also voted 178-3-0 in favor of a new translation of the Order of Blessing the Oil of Catechumens and of the Sick and of Consecrating the Chrism. This brief ritual is used each year at the Chrism Mass, which is celebrated during Holy Week in most dioceses. This vote also requires a two-thirds vote of the Latin Church members of the USCCB with subsequent confirmation by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
 
The Bendicional: Sexta Parte, a collection of blessings in Spanish for use in the United States, which will complement English texts already included in the Book of Blessings. The proposal received 171 votes in favor, 2 votes against and 2 abstaining, falling short of the required two-thirds vote of the Latin Church members of the USCCB. Therefore, the voting will be completed by mail ballot with the Latin Rite bishops who are not present. After passing, it also requires subsequent recognitio by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
 
The U.S. bishops’ Spring General Assembly is livestreamed and available at: www.usccb.org/about/leadership/usccb-general-assembly/index.cfm.

June 14, 2017
USCCB WORKING GROUP ON IMMIGRATION PRESENTS UPDATE DURING BISHOPS’ ASSEMBLY

INDIANAPOLIS — The chairmen of the U.S. Bishops’ Working Group on Immigration, and the Committee on Migration, presented an oral report to the full body of bishops on the work done to advance collaboration in developing spiritual, pastoral and policy advocacy support for refugees and immigrants. The presentation took place at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Spring General Assembly in Indianapolis, June 14.

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, respectively, spoke about the origins, activities and continued collaboration of the working group, which was established following the November 2016 General Assembly.

“There was a desire to express solidarity with and pastoral concern for those at risk, but also a desire to avoid encouraging exaggerated fears,” Archbishop Gomez said.

Other group members include: Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Social Development; Auxiliary Bishop Nelson J. Perez of Rockville Centre, New York, chairman of the Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs; Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Washington, chairman of the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants; and Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace.

Activities carried out by member-chairmen of the working group included statements responding to executive orders on interior enforcement, sanctuary cities, and refugee resettlement; and on pieces of legislation including the BRIDGE Act, which would provide temporary relief from deportation to youth previously protected through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The group has also facilitated diocesan resources such as policy reports, prayers, educational materials, action alerts and pastoral accompaniment, and has held frequent communications among the members to discuss concerns and priorities. They have also shared episcopal guidance with outside partners such as Catholic Relief Services; Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.; Center for Migration Studies; and Catholic Charities USA.

Although this oral report concludes the formal work of the Working Group on Immigration, the coalition of USCCB committees will continue collaborating as needed under the leadership of the Committee on Migration.

“In short, it is to convey a comprehensive vision for immigration reform, to paint a fuller picture of what justice means, and what mercy means, with respect to migrants and refugees in our country today,” said Bishop Vásquez. “Our purpose will be to move beyond simple reaction to the various negative proposals we have seen lately—and expect to see for some time to come, albeit at a slower pace—and to proactively raise and advance the issues that we would prioritize.”

Bishop Vasquez also highlighted the importance to seek initiatives based on the five principles of the 2003 pastoral letter Strangers No Longer, which states:

    •    People have the right to find opportunities in their homeland
    •    People have the right to migrate to support themselves and their families
    •    Sovereign nations have the right to control their borders
    •    Refugees and asylum seekers should be afforded protection
    •    The human dignity and human rights of undocumented migrants should be respected

More information on the work of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, recent statements and other resources are available at: www.justiceforimmigrants.org.

The U.S. bishops’ Spring General Assembly is livestreamed and available at: www.usccb.org/about/leadership/usccb-general-assembly/index.cfm.

June 14, 2017
PRESIDENT OF U.S. BISHOPS CONFERENCE APPOINTS FOUR NEW MEMBERS OF NATIONAL REVIEW BOARD FOR THE CHARTER FOR PROTECTION OF CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE

INDIANAPOLIS — Four new members have been appointed to serve on the National Review Board (NRB) by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).  The NRB advises the bishops’ committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, and the Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection at the USCCB.  The NRB was established by the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People, which the bishops adopted in 2002.

As Cardinal DiNardo said in a letter sent to all newly appointed members, “The National Review Board plays a vital role as a consultative body assisting me and the bishops in ensuring the complete implementation and accountability of the Charter… The whole Church, especially the laity, at both the diocesan and national levels, needs to be engaged in maintaining safe environments in the Church for children and young people.”

The four new NRB members include those with expertise in communications, psychology and victim outreach, and the medical field and they are as follows:

Ms. Amanda Callanan, Director of Communications for the Claremont Institute, has occupied several positions in the communications field—including digital and broadcast development for The Heritage Foundation, public relations for Fortune 500 clients at Hill+Knowlton Strategies, corporate branding and strategy with a boutique agency in Baltimore, and direct-response marketing for the National Association of Corporate Directors’ educational events and programs.  She attended Loyola University in Maryland, is married and resides within the Archdiocese of Washington.

Ms. Suzanne Healy was the Victims Assistance Coordinator for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles from 2007 through 2016.  She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with experience in private practice and as a high school counselor.  Healy also has 18 years of business management and strategic planning experience with AT&T Pacific Bell.  Healy has a BS in Psychology and an MS in Counseling, M.F.C.C. option, with a Pupil Personnel Services Credential with Advanced Specializations in School Counseling and Child Welfare and Attendance Services, both from California State University at Los Angeles.  Healy was an Executive Board Member of the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health Faith Based Advocacy Council, and a Committee Member for Los Angeles City Attorney Office Cyber Crime Prevention Symposium in Los Angeles from 2008 – 2016.  In 2016, Healy received the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Department of Health Affairs Excellence Award.  She is married with two adult children and currently volunteers as a counselor.

Dr. Christopher McManus is the owner and President of CP & RP McManus, MD, Ltd where McManus practices Internal Medicine in the Diocese of Arlington, VA.  He is active in the Northern Virginia Guild of the Catholic Medical Association and is a charter member and current leader for Privia Medical Group.  McManus was a professor for Georgetown University Medical School from 1998-2006 and has served as a Physician Advisor for Quality Resource Management.  McManus served his residency training at the University of Vermont and received his degree from the University of Virginia School of Medicine.  He currently serves on the Arlington County Executive Board and has previously served as President of the Arlington Medical Society.  Other volunteer activities for McManus include serving at the Arlington Free Clinic, volunteering in the Medical Reserve Corps for the Arlington County Health Department, and local service to his home parish.  He has been married for over thirty years, has four adult children, and enjoys spending time outdoors with his family.

Ms. Eileen Puglisi held the position of Director of the Office for the Protection of Children and Young People in the Diocese of Rockville Centre where from 2003-2014.  Her prior work history involves director level work at various Psychiatric Centers in New York, including Deputy Director of the Queens Children’s Psychiatric Center.  Puglisi received a Professional Degree in School Psychology from St. John’s University in New York and an M.S. in Guidance and Counseling from Hunter College in New York.  She has direct experience as a psychologist and is an avid golfer.

Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D., president of Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, will continue to chair the NRB until his term expires in 2020.
Details regarding the National Review Board, its functions and other members can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/about/child-and-youth-protection/the-national-review-board.cfm

June 13, 2017
USCCB CHAIRMAN WELCOMES NINTH CIRCUIT DECISION UPHOLDING PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION ON REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT PAUSE AND TRAVEL BAN  

INDIANAPOLIS — On June 12, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit largely affirmed a nationwide preliminary injunction against implementation of sections of the Administration’s executive order that attempted to suspend and limit the U.S. refugee resettlement program and also attempted to ban the entry of people from six Muslim-majority countries.

A statement from Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chair of the Committee on Migration regarding the Ninth Circuit ruling follows:
 
“I am heartened by the decision of the 9th Circuit to maintain the temporary halt implementing certain provisions of the March 6th Executive Order. Upholding the injunction will allow us to continue welcoming and serving refugees fleeing persecution.  Together with my brother bishops, we believe it is possible to simultaneously provide for the security of our country and have a humane refugee policy that upholds our national heritage and moral responsibility. We remain dedicated to accompanying and supporting our brothers and sisters who for various reasons have been forced to leave their homeland. We follow the example of Pope Francis and pledge to them “a duty of justice, civility and solidarity.”

June 9, 2017
POPE NAMES BISHOP CHARLES THOMPSON AS ARCHBISHOP OF INDIANAPOLIS
 
WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Bishop Charles Thompson, of Evansville, Indiana, as Archbishop of Indianapolis.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, June 13, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. 

 
Archbishop-designate Thompson, was born April 11, 1961, in Louisville. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in accounting from Bellarmine College, a master of divinity degree from St. Meinrad School of Theology, and a licentiate in Canon Law from St. Paul University in Ottawa. He was ordained a priest for the Louisville Archdiocese in 1987 and was ordained and installed as Bishop of Evansville on June 29, 2011.
 
As a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he is currently a member of the Administrative Committee, the Committee on Priorities and Plans, and the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.
 
The Archdiocese of Indianapolis has been a vacant see since November 7, 2016. The Archdiocese comprises 13,758 square miles and it has total population of 2,621,455 people of which 223,815 or nine percent, are Catholic.

June 9, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE CHAIRMAN URGES SENATE PASSAGE OF “IRAQ AND SYRIA GENOCIDE EMERGENCY RELIEF AND ACCOUNTABILITY ACT”

WASHINGTON — Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, has urged the Senate to pass the “Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act” (H.R. 390).

The proposed legislation calls for much needed assistance for survivors of genocide, especially in Iraq and Syria, and would allow faith-based organizations (such as Catholic Relief Services) that are already providing humanitarian assistance to these populations, to access U.S. government funding in their work, increasing aid to those desperately in need.

In a letter to U.S. Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Benjamin Cardin, Ranking Member, Bishop Cantú wrote, “I commend you for your efforts to support those suffering persecution in Iraq and Syria and trust that swift Senate consideration and passage of H.R. 390 will contribute to a longer-term solution to the crisis in the region.”

A link to Bishop Cantú's full letter  can be found here:

June 9, 2017
U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS RELEASES 2016 ANNUAL REPORT ON THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE  
 
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People has released their 2016 Annual Report – Findings and Recommendations on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The 2016 report for audit year July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016, states that 1,232 adults that came forward with 1,318 allegations. This increase is focused within six dioceses: two dioceses with bankruptcy proceedings and four where the state extended the statute of limitations. These six dioceses received an additional 351 allegations compared to the 2015 audit year. Also, it notes that 1,510 victim/survivors received ongoing support.

Also noted in the report is the ongoing work of the Church in continuing to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults.  In 2016, over 2.4 million background checks were conducted on our clerics, employees, and volunteers.  Over 2.3 million adults and 4.2 million children have also been trained on how to identify the warning signs of abuse and how to report those signs.

All dioceses and eparchies that received an allegation of sexual abuse during the 2016 audit year reported them to the appropriate civil authorities.

Twenty-five new allegations came from minors. As of June 30, 2016, two were substantiated, eight were still under investigation, and eleven were unsubstantiated or unable to be proven. Of the remaining four, two were referred to a religious order, one was referred to another diocese, and one investigation was postponed due to an order of confidentiality from the bankruptcy court.

Regarding Charter Compliance, the reported noted the following: 

    •    Two eparchies did not participate in the audit this year, but have expressed their intention to participate in next year’s audit.
    •    191 dioceses and eparchies were found compliant with the Charter.
    •    All dioceses/eparchies participating in the 129 data collection audits were found compliant with the process.
    •    Of the sixty-five dioceses/eparchies participating in the on-site audits, all were found compliant except for two dioceses and one eparchy. 
    •    One diocese was found non-compliant with respect to Article 2 and one diocese with respect to Article 3. One eparchy was found non-compliant with respect to Articles 2 and 12.
 
The Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People continues to emphasize that the audit and maintaining zero-tolerance policies are two important tools in the Church’s broader program of creating a culture of protection and healing that exceeds the requirements of the Charter.

This is the fourteenth such report since 2002 when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People making a promise to protect and a pledge to heal.  
The full Annual Report can be found here:

June 7, 2017
SISTER TRACEY HORAN IS WINNER OF 2017 CCHD CARDINAL BERNARDIN NEW LEADERSHIP AWARD
 
WASHINGTON—Sister Tracey Horan has been named as the winner of the 2017 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award, sponsored by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD).  CCHD is the anti-poverty program of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).  Sister Horan will be honored at a reception Wednesday, June 14, during the bishops’ annual Spring General Assembly in Indianapolis.

Sr. Tracey Horan

Sr. Horan is a mission novice with the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She currently serves as a community organizer for the Indianapolis Congregation Action Network (ICAN) and the Justice for Immigrants Campaign of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. In these roles, she has worked to promote the common good alongside immigrants, returning citizens and people living in poverty. A graduate of the University of Dayton, Sr. Horan is a former intern at White Violet Center for Eco-Justice, a ministry of the Sisters of Providence, and has taught middle school children at St. Pius X Catholic School in El Paso, Texas while living with Sisters of Charity at Casa de Caridad in New Mexico.
 
“We are pleased to honor Sr. Tracey Horan’s commitment to solidarity with the people living in poverty and those who are most vulnerable. Her work and her witness embody the mission of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development – to end the cycle of poverty by developing the capacity of the most vulnerable to act on their behalf,” said Bishop David P. Talley, chairman of the bishops’ CCHD subcommittee.
 
Each year, the Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award honors a Catholic between the age of 18 and 40 who demonstrates leadership in fighting poverty and injustice in the United States through community-based solutions. It is named for the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, who served as archbishop of Chicago from 1982 till his death in 1996. He served as the first general secretary of the U.S. bishops from 1968-1972 and as third president of the U.S. bishops from 1974-1977. More information about the award is available online: www.usccb.org/about/catholic-campaign-for-human-development/cardinal-bernardin-new-leadership-award.cfm.

June 5, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS WILL CELEBRATE MASS OF PRAYER AND PENANCE FOR HEALING OF SURVIVORS OF CLERGY SEX ABUSE OPENING JUNE ASSEMBLY

WASHINGTON — As they begin the Spring General Assembly, Bishops from across the U.S. will gather at Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis for a Mass of Prayer and Penance for survivors of sexual abuse within the Church.  The Mass is being held in response to a call from Pope Francis for all episcopal conferences across the world to have a Day of Prayer and Penance for victims of sexual abuse within the Church and will be held June 14, 2017 at 5:00 pm at Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

The bishops will gather together in solidarity to pray for victims and to acknowledge the pain caused by the failures of the Church in the past.  The Mass will mark the opening for the June Plenary Assembly of bishops taking place June 14-15 in Indianapolis.  Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will be the principal celebrant. Archbishop Wilton D.  Gregory, of Atlanta, and former President of the USCCB, will be the homilist.
In an act of penance and humility, the bishops will also kneel and recite a commemorative prayer that has been written for survivors of abuse in their healing.  Intercessory Prayers of the Faithful will also be offered for those who have suffered due to clergy sex abuse.  All dioceses and eparchies have been provided the suggested intercessory Prayers of the Faithful for use at any time of their choosing after June 14.
  
In addition to this specific Day of Prayer and Penance, many dioceses and eparchies will also schedule their own Masses or other events to promote healing within their diocese/eparchy throughout the year.
The Mass is scheduled to be livestreamed.  The livestream link will be available on the  USCCB website.  

June 4, 2017
PRESIDENT OF U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS AND CATHOLICS ACROSS THE U.S. JOIN IN PRAYING FOR VICTIMS OF THE LATEST TERROR ATTACK IN LONDON

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following statement following last night’s terror attack which has left seven people dead and at least 48 injured. This is the third terrorist attack on British soil in as many months.

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

“The Vigil of Pentecost had barely begun when the world was burdened yet again, this time by the sinister attacks on innocent men and women in the heart of London.  In such tragic hours we implore the Holy Spirit to pour out His gift of comfort on those who grieve the loss of loved ones and on the dozens who were so tragically injured in this horrible attack. At the same time, we see in the courage of the first responders the true and courageous spirit of our brothers and sisters, the people of Great Britain.  May God grant strength, wisdom and protection to the men and women who safeguard our families and may He convert the hearts of all who follow the path of evil extremism.  Our solidarity in Christian hope and commitment to peace is a bond that cannot be broken.

Together with my brother bishops and with Catholics throughout the United States, we join the prayerful intercession made already by Pope Francis: ‘May the Holy Spirit grant peace to the whole world. May He heal the wounds of war and of terrorism, which even this [Saturday] night, in London, struck innocent civilians: let us pray for the victims and their families.’"

June 2, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS CHAIRMEN PROVIDE SENATE WITH MORAL PRINCIPLES FOR HEALTH CARE REFORM

WASHINGTON — As the U.S. Senate begins to discuss health care reform, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin provided moral principles to help guide policymakers in their deliberations.

In a letter sent on June 1, the Chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stressed the “grave obligations” that Senators have “when it comes to policy that affects health care.”  While commending the bill passed by the House of Representatives, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), for its protections for unborn children, the Bishops emphasized the “many serious flaws” in the AHCA, including unacceptable changes to Medicaid.

“The Catholic Church remains committed to ensuring the fundamental right to medical care, a right which is in keeping with the God-given dignity of every person, and the corresponding obligation as a country to provide for this right,” the Chairmen wrote.  “[T]hose without a strong voice in the process must not bear the brunt of attempts to cut costs.”

Cardinal Dolan is chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Lori chairs the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, Bishop Dewane heads the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Vásquez is the chairman of the Committee on Migration.

The Bishops outlined key principles for Senators such as universal access, respect for life, true affordability, the need for high quality and comprehensive medical care, and conscience protections.

If the Senate takes up the House bill as a starting point, the letter urges that lawmakers “must retain the positive elements of the bill and remedy its grave deficiencies.”  Specifically, the Chairmen called on the Senate to:  reject dramatic changes to Medicaid; retain the AHCA’s life protections; increase the level of tax assistance, especially for low-income and older people; retain the existing cap on costs of plans for the elderly; protect immigrants; and add conscience protections, among other things.

The full letter to Congress can be found at:  www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/upload/Senate-Principles-letter-Health-Care-Reform-2017-06-01.pdf

June 1, 2017
USCCB CHAIRMAN ENCOURAGES BROADENING OF EXEMPTION FROM HHS MANDATE

WASHINGTON – Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, has issued an initial response to the apparent draft interim final regulations that were recently leaked, pertaining to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring health insurance coverage of sterilization, contraception, and drugs and devices that may cause abortions:

“While they have yet to be formally issued and will require close study upon publication, the leaked regulations provide encouraging news.  If issued, these regulations would appropriately broaden the existing exemption to a wider range of stakeholders with religious or moral objections to the mandated coverage—not just houses of worship.  This not only would eliminate an unwarranted governmental division of our religious community ‘between our houses of worship and our great ministries of service to our neighbors,’ but would also lift the government-imposed burden on our ministries ‘to violate their own teachings within their very own institutions.’ United for Religious Freedom (2012). 

Relief like this is years overdue and would be most welcomed. Regulations like these reflect common sense, and what had been the consistent practice of the federal government for decades to provide strong conscience protection in the area of health care.  We look forward to the final version of the regulations with hope that they will remain strong.  At that time, we will analyze those regulations more carefully and comment on them more formally.  Throughout, our goal will remain to protect both the conscience of individuals and our mission of sharing the Gospel and serving the poor and vulnerable through our ministries.”

This HHS mandate was first announced in 2011, triggering dozens of lawsuits, including by the Little Sisters of the Poor.


June 1, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS' CHAIRMAN REGRETS THE PRESIDENT’S WITHDRAWAL FROM THE PARIS AGREEMENT

WASHINGTON—President Donald J. Trump announced today that the United States will not honor the Paris agreement on climate change. The United States and China, the two largest carbon emitters, and 195 other nations, signed the agreement that was ratified in November 2016. The Paris agreement establishes that nations must reduce their carbon dioxide emissions in order to keep global temperatures well below a two-degree Celsius increase in relation to pre-industrial levels.

In the following statement, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, stresses that, although the Paris agreement is not the only possible mechanism for addressing global carbon mitigation, the lack of a current viable alternative is a serious concern.
 
Full statement follows:
 
“The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), along with Pope Francis and the entire Catholic Church, have consistently upheld the Paris agreement as an important international mechanism to promote environmental stewardship and encourage climate change mitigation. The President’s decision not to honor the U.S. commitment to the Paris agreement is deeply troubling.

The Scriptures affirm the value of caring for creation and caring for each other in solidarity. The Paris agreement is an international accord that promotes these values. President Trump’s decision will harm the people of the United States and the world, especially the poorest, most vulnerable communities.  The impacts of climate change are already being experienced in sea level rise, glacial melts, intensified storms, and more frequent droughts. I can only hope that the President will propose concrete ways to address global climate change and promote environmental stewardship.”
 
The USCCB has voiced support for prudent action and dialogue on climate change since its 2001 statement: “Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good”. In a letter to Congress in 2015, the U.S. Bishops, along with the presidents of Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services, encouraged the United States to sign the Paris agreement.  They have since reiterated their support on several occasions. Pope Francis and the Holy See have also consistently voiced support for the Paris agreement.

June 1, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS’ CHAIRMAN URGES THE PRESIDENT TO HONOR THE PARIS AGREEMENT

WASHINGTON — According to White House officials, President Donald J. Trump is reviewing the United States’ commitment to the Paris agreement on climate change. The president tweeted that he will make an official statement on the agreement in a few days.

In recent weeks, the United States Conference of Bishops (USCCB) and the president of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) have urged administration officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster, to support U.S. international leadership on climate change.

Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, has issued the following statement emphasizing the importance of honoring the Paris Agreement in order to “mitigate the worst impacts of climate change” on our planet.
   
Bishop Cantú’s full statement follows:

“The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is on record supporting prudent action to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. Our Conference of Bishops has vigorously promoted the teaching of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, on care for our common home. The Holy Father’s encyclical letter, Laudato si’, was timed in order to urge the nations of the world to work together in Paris for an agreement that protects our people and our planet. We hope the United States will honor the commitment it made there.”

The full letters to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, and National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster can be found at:

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/environment/usccb-crs-letter-to-secretary-tillerson-on-care-for-creation-2017-02-17.cfm

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/environment/usccb-crs-letter-to-treasury-secretary-mnuchin-on-environment-2017-05-05.cfm

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/environment/usccb-crs-letter-to-nsa-mcmaster-on-environment-2017-05-05.cfm





DOLC Campaign
Support The Diocese
Event Registration
Vatican YouTube Videos
Catholic TV
Together For Life