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

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August 12, 2020
Archbishop Gregory to succeed Cardinal Dolan on National Council of Synagogues
WASHINGTON — Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Washington will succeed Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, as Catholic co-chair of the consultation with the National Council of Synagogues at the dialogue’s meeting today. Cardinal Dolan has completed ten years of service as Catholic co-chair of the dialogue. 

Archbishop Gregory was installed on May 21, 2019 as the seventh archbishop of Washington. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1973 in the Archdiocese of Chicago and ordained as an auxiliary bishop for Chicago in 1983. He served as bishop of Belleville from 1994-2004 before being named as archbishop of Atlanta. He has previously served as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) from 2001-2004 and acted as Catholic co-chair of the National Council of Synagogues consultation during Cardinal Dolan’s tenure as president of the USCCB from 2010-2013. 

“I am honored, once again, to represent the USCCB in the important dialogue between Catholics and Jews which involves a number of rabbis, leaders of Jewish organizations, and professors,” reflected Archbishop Gregory. “The friendships and the collaboration that these conversations generate are blessings for both of our communities.” 

Rabbi Harold Berman, executive director of the National Council of Synagogues, added: “It has been a great honor for the National Council of Synagogues to be able to work with Cardinal Dolan, whose personal warmth, intellect and energy have inspired all of our encounters. We are thrilled to welcome Archbishop Gregory, already well-known to many members of our leadership and we look forward to a very productive dialogue under his leadership in the years ahead.” 

The National Council of Synagogues includes a variety of Jewish organizations from Reconstructing Judaism and the Reform and Conservative movements. This dialogue began in 1987 as the successor to the dialogue with the Synagogue Council of America that began in 1977. It meets biannually to discuss theological and pastoral concepts and issues of common concern. Currently, Rabbi David Straus, chair of the National Council of Synagogues, serves as Jewish co-chair.

August 6, 2020
USCCB president joins in solidarity after deadly explosion in Lebanon
WASHINGTON — Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued the following statement in solidarity with Lebanon after the explosion in the Port of Beirut: 

“The world watched with shock and horror the catastrophic explosion in the Port of Beirut Tuesday. Over 135 have died, thousands are injured, and the suffering has only begun to be told. 

“Lebanon was already reeling from economic and government corruption along with the novel coronavirus pandemic. The plight of the Lebanese people is now even more dire. We received Lebanon’s patriarch, Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai’s Appeal to the Nations of the World with fraternal love and solidarity. We encourage Catholics and all people of good will to pray for the afflicted and give generously to Catholic Relief Services’ Lebanon disaster response at www.crs.org. In addition, we call on the U.S. government to accelerate any and all humanitarian assistance to Lebanon in this hour of critical need. 

“Joining in Pope Francis’ prayer Wednesday that Lebanon may ‘overcome the grave crisis they are experiencing’ and beseeching the intercession of Our Lady of Lebanon, we place our sure hope in Him who reconciles all things unto himself.”

August 6, 2020
Request made to Congress for emergency aid for Catholic schools
WASHINGTON — Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, OFM, Cap. of Boston, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R. of Newark and Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ of Oakland and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Catholic Education cosigned a letter requesting that emergency aid to Catholic schools be included in the next federal COVID emergency relief package. 

“The economic devastation that has hit so many of America’s families has made it impossible for many struggling families to continue paying tuition,” the bishops wrote. “As a result, already 140 Catholic schools have permanently closed their doors, and hundreds more are in danger of being unable to open in the fall. The closure of schools that serve urban areas are disproportionately harmful to low-income and black children served by these schools.” 

They continued, “Not only is this devastating to each of those school communities, their staff and business partners, but it has a detrimental impact on local taxpayers. For every student educated in a Catholic or non-public school, taxpayers save thousands of dollars. Nationwide, Catholic schools save state and local governments more than $20 billion annually.” 

The letter asked for the U.S. Congress to designate 10% of emergency K-12 education funding for scholarship aid to low-middle income private school families. 

According to the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), Catholic school student enrollment for the current academic year is 1,737,297 across 6,183 schools. 21.8% of students represent racial minorities and 19.1% of the total enrollment in non-Catholic.
 
The full text of the letter to Congress is available here.

August 6, 2020
Pope Francis accepts resignation of Bishop John Levoir of New Ulm
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Most Reverend John M. Levoir from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of New Ulm. 

The resignation was publicized in Washington, D.C. on August 6, 2020 by Monsignor Walter Erbi, chargé d’affaires at the apostolic nunciature in Washington in the temporary absence of Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

August 5, 2020
Bishop Malloy shares solidarity with Pope in condemning attack in Nicaragua
WASHINGTON — Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued the following statement:

“Alongside Pope Francis and my brother bishops throughout Latin America, I condemn the sacrilegious attack against the Cathedral of Managua that occurred on Friday, July 31. Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, archbishop of Managua, called the incendiary-bomb attack an ‘act of terrorism.’ The apparent target of the explosion — an historic crucifix crafted in the 17th century — has become a poignant image of the country’s suffering Church, which has sustained repeated rhetorical and physical attacks (three in the last three weeks) since attempting to mediate peace in 2018. 

“I thank the U.S. government for its prompt statement of support for the Church in Nicaragua in the aftermath of this attack. I urge the Administration to continue its search for peace in Nicaragua.

“The Church in the United States stands with the suffering Nicaraguan faithful, and with all people of goodwill striving for peace and reconciliation in Nicaragua.”

July 31, 2020
Bishop chairmen request federal relief for urban Catholic school students
WASHINGTON — Catholic schools, especially those serving urban areas have been disproportionately impacted in the ongoing fallout of the novel coronavirus. Three bishop chairmen of committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have sent a letter to Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, requesting support for black families in Catholic schools as the U.S. Congress debates the next COVID relief package. Bishop Michael C. Barber, S.J. of Oakland and chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education, Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux and chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, and Bishop Joseph N. Perry, auxiliary bishop of Chicago and chairman of the Subcommittee on African American Affairs addressed the crisis facing Catholic schools, especially those serving urban areas, and asked members of the Congressional Black Caucus to support aid to low-income families in the form of tuition scholarships.

“As the impact of the coronavirus has disproportionately affected the black community, the same is true for our Catholic schools that serve predominately black communities, and we are imploring your help for these families who have sought a Catholic education for their children,” the bishops wrote.

They continued, “Catholic schools are facing a crisis at this very moment. Over one hundred-thirty schools have already announced permanent closure, including schools in Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston, New Jersey, and New York. These closures are disproportionately harmful to low-income and black children that are educated in urban schools. A recent survey of Catholic school principals showed that currently 10% are uncertain about their ability to open in the fall; this equals over 500 Catholic schools and thousands of families in turmoil. Strong action from Congress could provide these families and schools the confidence they need to stay in the Catholic school of their choice.”

The letter asked for Congress to designate emergency funding for direct scholarship aid to low-middle income private school families.

Total enrollment in Catholic schools nationally for the current academic year is 1,737,297, across approximately 6,183 schools. Racial minorities comprise 21.8% of total enrollment, and 19.1% of all students are non-Catholic.

July 30, 2020
USCCB president reflects on the 75th Anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
WASHINGTON — Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued the following statement on the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki:

“This week we are observing the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and August 9, 1945.

“My brother bishops and I mourn with the Japanese people for the innocent lives that were taken and the generations that have continued to suffer the public health and environmental consequences of these tragic attacks.

“On this solemn occasion, we join our voice with Pope Francis and call on our national and world leaders to persevere in their efforts to abolish these weapons of mass destruction, which threaten the existence of the human race and our planet.

“We ask our Blessed Mother Mary, the Queen of Peace, to pray for the human family, and for each one of us. Remembering the violence and injustice of the past, may we commit ourselves to being peacemakers as Jesus Christ calls us to be. Let us always seek the path of peace and seek alternatives to the use of war as a way to settle differences between nations and peoples.” 

The USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace has produced resources for study, prayer, and action that the faithful may use in observing the August 6 and 9 anniversary, which may be found at: http://www.usccb.org/nuclear.

July 29, 2020
Migration chairman calls for prayers for trafficking survivors
WASHINGTON — The United Nations designated July 30 as the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons in 2013 to raise awareness of the devastating impact human trafficking has on women, men, and children and to promote survivors’ rights and human dignity. The international day is observed annually in the United States and throughout the world. There are nearly 25 million individuals trapped in modern-day slavery, according to the International Labor Organization. Human trafficking a “crime against humanity,” Pope Francis has said, because it is “an unjustifiable violation of the victims’ freedom and dignity, which are integral dimensions of the human person willed and created by God.” 

Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration issued the following statement:

“Today we take a moment to pray for all victims and survivors of human trafficking and to reflect upon our responsibilities as individuals and as a Church to make their well-being and protection a priority. We are renewing our call to educating about human trafficking and proclaiming the value of all human life. Pope Francis reminds us that ‘it is the responsibility of all to denounce these injustices and to firmly oppose this shameful crime.’ We are called by our Holy Father to take a firm stance against this terrible violation of the dignity of the human person and to do everything in our power to eradicate it.”

Resources on raising awareness and fighting trafficking may be found on the Justice for Immigrants website and www.usccb.org/stopslavery

July 28, 2020
Weakened Fair Housing rule fails to promote dignity of human person
WASHINGTON — Last week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it would terminate the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation (AFFH) issued in 2015 and replace it with a new rule on fair housing titled Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice. 

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Charities USA filed comments in March 2020 on HUD’s proposed changes to the AFFH rule. The comments urged HUD to withdraw the proposed rule because it weakens the definition of AFFH, fails to address barriers to fair housing, reduces community engagement, and diminishes the role of Public Housing Authorities. 

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, chairman of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, and Sister Donna Markham OP, PhD, president & CEO of Catholic Charities USA, issued a statement in response to HUD’s announcement: 

“HUD’s replacement of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule undermines efforts to promote fair housing and human dignity. Discriminatory practices such as redlining, disinvestment from communities, discriminatory practices in selling or renting homes, and racial and economic segregation have undermined fair housing for generations and continue to harm communities of color today. HUD’s new rule minimizes the affirmative responsibility to promote fair housing by removing clear guidance and effective accountability. 

“Fair housing regulations remain one of the key tools for addressing long standing inequities and historical disadvantages and must be strengthened, not weakened. As the U.S. bishops wrote 45 years ago in The Right to a Decent Home, ‘an absence of racial discrimination is no longer enough. We must insist upon effective programs to remedy past injustice.’ Let us renew this call to action to ensure all people have access to safe, decent, and affordable housing.”

July 22, 2020
Bishop chairmen condemn acts of vandalism, destruction at Catholic sites
WASHINGTON — Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Religious Liberty, and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued the following statement in response to reports of increasing incidents of church vandalism and fires:

“In the last few weeks, we have witnessed, among other things, one church rammed with a car and set on fire, as well as statues of Jesus Christ and of the Virgin Mary defaced or even beheaded. An historic mission church has also been badly damaged by fire, and the cause is still under investigation.

“Whether those who committed these acts were troubled individuals crying out for help or agents of hate seeking to intimidate, the attacks are signs of a society in need of healing.

“In those incidents where human actions are clear, the motives still are not. As we strain to understand the destruction of these holy symbols of selfless love and devotion, we pray for any who have caused it, and we remain vigilant against more of it.

“Our nation finds itself in an extraordinary hour of cultural conflict. The path forward must be through the compassion and understanding practiced and taught by Jesus and his Holy Mother. Let us contemplate, rather than destroy, images of these examples of God’s love.  Following the example of Our Lord, we respond to confusion with understanding and to hatred with love.”

July 22, 2020
U.S. bishops urge president to rescind divisive memorandum
WASHINGTON — On July 21, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce ordering that undocumented people counted in the 2020 Census be excluded from consideration when determining the number of U.S. Representatives each state is allotted in the U.S. House of Representatives. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration issued the following statement:

“As we have stated before, we urge all people to be counted and fully included in the Census.   Counting the undocumented in the Census and then denying them and the states in which they reside their rightful representation in Congress is counter to the Constitution and a grave injustice. Furthermore, such a policy makes people feel invisible and not valued as human beings.”

“This action is simply wrong and divisive. We follow the lead of Pope Francis, who has noted that in the face of ‘profound and epochal changes’ that the present moment offers ‘a precious opportunity to guide and govern the processes now under way, and to build inclusive societies based on respect for human dignity, tolerance, compassion, and mercy.’ We urge the President to rescind this Memorandum and instead, to undertake efforts to protect and heal our nation and all who are living in our country.”

To learn more about participation in the U.S. Census and information-sharing, visit the Justice for Immigrants website.

July 22, 2020
Ministry leaders to examine Church's engagement with young people
WASHINGTON — On Saturday, July 25, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, in collaboration with other offices at the USCCB and joined by the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFYCM), will convene a yearlong intercultural process with young adults and ministry leaders.

The initiative, entitled Journeying Together is meant to explore the Church’s engagement with young people of diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds and mobilize the faithful on issues and concerns related to culture and race in the United States. It is based on Pope Francis’ call for encounter and dialogue in his 2019 apostolic exhortation Christus Vivit. Due to health concerns with the novel coronavirus, the initiative will primarily take place online from July 2020 through May 2021, with an anticipated live gathering next summer, pending health and safety directives.

The process will feature intracultural and intercultural digital gatherings and conversations with young adult delegates and key ministry leaders from different cultural communities including African Americans, Asian and Pacific Islanders, European Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, and Native Americans, as well as immigrant groups, migrants, and refugees. The conversations will be facilitated by young adults in response to Pope Francis’ encouragement of young people to be “protagonists” in the Church’s mission of evangelization. The initiative, led by the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, will include collaboration with the USCCB’s Secretariat for Catholic Education; Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis; and Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.

Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez of Philadelphia, and chairman of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, said of this initiative, “This dialogue comes at an incredibly important time in our nation’s history where we find ourselves engaged in a serious conversation about race and racism, with calls for meaningful and lasting social reform, a movement led in large part by young people across the country and around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic also has affected communities of color most significantly. Over the course of the next year, it is my hope that we can have honest conversations on these and other issues impacting young people and on how we can move ahead on the important questions of race, culture, and community. We have been very intentional about making sure every cultural family has their voice represented and a seat at the table as we journey together. The bishops are looking forward to learning from the young people and those who accompany them.”

The delegates within the Journeying Together process, including bishops, young adults, and local ministry leaders, will seek to involve their peers in the dialogue and mobilization aspects of this yearlong experience. The goal of the initiative is to help the Church better engage and respond to the realities facing young people of all cultural backgrounds. 

For more information about the process, go to http://www.usccb.org/journey2020

July 22, 2020
National grant approved to put Laudato Si' in action
WASHINGTON — The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the domestic anti-poverty program of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has approved a strategic national grant totaling $500,000 to the Direct Action & Research Training Center (DART) to empower poor and low-income persons in the southeastern U.S. to overcome the impacts and address the root causes of climate change over the next five years. The bishops of the CCHD subcommittee approved the grant during their virtual meeting on June 9.

The five-year project, “Caring for Creation, Caring for Community” will enable DART to engage local organizations in campaigns to identify the local impact of environmental changes on their community, empower low-income and minority communities to address the negative impact of environmental changes, and raise the profile of how these environmental changes hurt poor and marginalized communities the most.

Bishop David G. O’Connell, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles and chairman of the CCHD subcommittee said, “As CCHD marks it’s 50th Anniversary this year, we are pleased to support this strategic national effort to put Laudato Si’ in action. The adverse effects of climate change devastate poor communities around the country and with this project, CCHD and DART will seek to live out the call of Pope Francis to respond to ‘the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.’”

Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, who has worked in close collaboration with DART for over 30 years on issues such as lack of affordable housing, transportation, juvenile justice reform and violence reduction in the Archdiocese of Miami, said in support of the project, “The DART proposal “Caring for Creation, Caring for Community” is a needed organizing effort to better engage people from low-moderate income communities in identifying and addressing the impacts of climate change in local communities.”

The Strategic National Grant Program was established by the U.S. bishops as part of CCHD’s Review and Renewal to address urgent regional or national needs, issues, or priorities impacting low-income communities. These grants are intended for organizations working to promote justice or economic development on a significantly larger scale than the community-based organizations that typically receive support from the CCHD. Additional information about the programs and work of CCHD is available online at http://www.usccb.org/cchd.

July 22, 2020
National grant approved to provide support to Native CDFI Network
WASHINGTON — The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the domestic anti-poverty program of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has approved a strategic national grant totaling $300,000 in emergency assistance to the Native Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Network to maintain vital access to credit for low-income Native American households across the country. The bishops of the CCHD subcommittee approved the grant during their virtual meeting on June 9.

The Native CDFI Network is a 501(c)(3) corporation with over 60 Native CDFIs across 27 states who lend capital to Native American businesses and economically disadvantaged households, providing access to unavailable credit, credit repair, and business technical assistance. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the business closings that followed, many Native CDFIs are experiencing dramatic changes in cash flow, portfolio realignment, and staffing. This strategic national grant will enable the Native CDFI Network to immediately address member concerns, provide top-level expertise in governance, financial management, and board/staffing support to respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bishop David G. O’Connell, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles and chairman of the CCHD subcommittee said, “For the last 50 years, CCHD has supported projects that empower low-income communities to address systems and structures that perpetuate poverty. Over the last several months we have seen the coronavirus pandemic disproportionately impact Native American communities throughout the United States. This strategic national grant will provide vital assistance to the Native CFDI Network as they continue their important work supporting and empowering Native American families and communities.”

The Strategic National Grant Program was established by the U.S. bishops as part of CCHD’s Review and Renewal to address urgent regional or national needs, issues, or priorities impacting low-income communities. These grants are intended for organizations working to promote justice or economic development on a significantly larger scale than the community-based organizations that typically receive support from the CCHD. Additional information about the programs and work of CCHD is available online at http://www.usccb.org/cchd

July 17, 2020
Pope Francis names Bishop Ronald A. Hicks as bishop of Joliet
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Bishop Ronald A. Hicks, auxiliary bishop of Chicago as Bishop of Joliet. The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on July 17, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Hicks was born on August 4, 1967 and ordained to the priesthood on May 21, 1994. He has served as auxiliary bishop of Chicago since 2018. His full biography may be accessed here.

The Diocese of Joliet is comprised of 4,218 square miles in the State of Illinois and has a total population of 1,950,354 of which 564,709 are Catholic.

July 16, 2020
Pope Francis names Bishop Malesic as Bishop of Cleveland
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Bishop Edward C. Malesic of Greensburg as Bishop of Cleveland. The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on July 16, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Malesic was born on August 14, 1960 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and ordained to the priesthood on May 30, 1987. He was named bishop of Greensburg in 2015. His full biography may be accessed here.

The Diocese of Cleveland has been a vacant see since January 2020. The diocese is comprised of 3,414 square miles in the State of Ohio and has a total population of 2,769,738 of which 663,919 are Catholic.

July 14, 2020
USCCB chairman issues statement on status of Hagia Sophia
WASHINGTON – During its 1,500-year history, the Hagia Sophia (“Holy Wisdom”) in Istanbul has been both a church and mosque. A museum for the last 84 years, it has served as a symbol of good will and coexistence between the Christian and Muslim communities. Last week, the President of Turkey announced his decision to overturn this policy and change its status. Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, have joined Pope Francis and other leaders in expressing their regret over the decision of Turkey’s president. 

Archbishop Gomez and Bishop Bambera’s statement follows: 

“We join Pope Francis and our Orthodox Christian brothers and sisters in expressing deep sadness over the decree by Turkey’s president to open Hagia Sophia as a mosque. 

“Since its foundation as a Christian cathedral in 537, Hagia Sophia has been one of the world’s great artistic and spiritual treasures. For many years now, this beautiful and cherished site has served as a museum where people of all faiths can come to experience the sublime presence of God. It has also stood as a sign of good will and peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims and an expression of humanity’s longings for unity and love. 

“On behalf of our brother bishops in the United States, we urge President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to reverse this unnecessary and painful decision and restore Hagia Sophia as a place of prayer and reflection for all peoples.”

July 14, 2020
Migration Committee chairman opposes proposed new rules on asylum
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) issued new proposed rules on asylum on June 15 with comments due on July 15. The new proposed rules would, among other changes: allow immigration judges to summarily deny applications before the asylum-seeker can see a judge; redefine the term “particular social group” in asylum law to effectively eliminate asylum for those fleeing domestic violence or gangs; and raise standards for initial asylum interviews. The following statement was made by Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington, and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration:

“These proposed asylum regulations will have devastating consequences for those seeking protection in the United States who are fleeing domestic violence or persecution from gangs in their home countries. The Catholic Church teaches us to look at the root causes of migration, poverty, violence, and corruption. Pope Francis reminds us that ‘we must keep our eyes open ..., keep our hearts open ..., to remind everyone of the indispensable commitment to save every human life, a moral duty that unites believers and non-believers.’ We cannot turn our backs on the vulnerable.”

Read the USCCB’s comment on the proposed asylum rule on the Conference’s website.

To learn more about asylum and root causes of migration, visit the Justice for Immigrants website.

July 13, 2020
Call for solidarity in prayer on 75th Anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
August 6 and 9 mark the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the first, and one hopes the last, times that atomic weapons are employed in war. Since Pope St. John Paul II’s visit to Japan in 1981, each year the Catholic Church in Japan has observed Ten Days of Prayer for Peace. In observation of this 75th anniversary, we invite Catholics in the United States, and all those of good will, to come together in solidarity in our personal prayers and Masses on Sunday, August 9.
 
The 21st century continues to witness geopolitical conflicts with state and non-state actors, increasingly sophisticated weapons, and the erosion of international arms control frameworks. The bishops of the United States steadfastly renew the urgent call to make progress on the disarmament of nuclear weapons. The Church in the U.S. proclaims her clarion call and humble prayer for peace in our world which is God’s gift through the salvific sacrifice of Christ Jesus.
 
“A world of peace, free from nuclear weapons, is the aspiration of millions of men and women everywhere,” Pope Francis said during his visit to Nagasaki last year. He continued, “Our response to the threat of nuclear weapons must be joint and concerted, inspired by the arduous yet constant effort to build mutual trust and thus surmount the current climate of distrust.”
 
Recently, we, the bishops of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace re-affirmed the Holy Father’s call to “renewed effort to bring about a world of peace and justice that is not based upon fear or the threat of nuclear annihilation but justice and human solidarity.” Fear, distrust, and conflict must be supplanted by our joint commitment, by faith and in prayer, that peace and justice reign now and forever.
 
The Committee on International Justice and Peace has produced resources for study, prayer, and action that the faithful may use in observing the August 6thand 9th anniversary, which may be found at: www.usccb.org/nuclear
 

July 10, 2020
Bishop chairman comments on Paycheck Protection Program
WASHINGTON –  Following the publication of a national news story on Catholic churches receiving loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued the following statement in response:

“The Catholic Church is the largest non-governmental supplier of social services in the United States. Each year, our parishes, schools and ministries serve millions of people in need, regardless of race, ethnicity or religion. The novel coronavirus only intensified the needs of the people we serve and the demand for our ministries. The loans we applied for enabled our essential ministries to continue to function in a time of national emergency.

“In addition, shutdown orders and economic fallout associated with the virus have affected everyone, including the thousands of Catholic ministries -- churches, schools, healthcare and social services -- that employ about 1 million people in the United States. These loans have been an essential lifeline to keep hundreds of thousands of employees on payroll, ensure families maintain their health insurance, and enable lay workers to continue serving their brothers and sisters during this crisis.

“The Paycheck Protection Program was designed to protect the jobs of Americans from all walks of life, regardless of whether they work for for-profit or non-profit employers, faith-based or secular. 

“Despite all of this, more than 100 Catholic schools have announced that they plan to close, with hundreds more facing an uncertain future.  Businesses, hospitals, schools, and churches all across the country are facing many of the exact same problems.  

“We will continue advocating for everyone negatively affected by this terrible pandemic, praying for all the sick, for all who have died and are in mourning, and especially the poor and vulnerable at this time of great need.”

Examples of the USCCB’s advocacy on COVID relief, which encompassed the needs of all of the poor and vulnerable, may be found here, here, and several letters are linked here

July 8, 2020
Supreme Court preserves religious liberty of Little Sisters of the Poor
WASHINGTON – The Little Sisters of the Poor recently went to the Supreme Court of the United States again to defend their community against attempts to force Catholic religious to cooperate with immoral activities, and again, the Supreme Court has recognized their right to religious freedom. By a vote of 7-2, the Court ruled in favor of the Little Sisters.

Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, have issued a statement addressing the case:

“This is a saga that did not need to occur. Contraception is not health care, and the government should never have mandated that employers provide it in the first place. Yet even after it had, there were multiple opportunities for government officials to do the right thing and exempt conscientious objectors. Time after time, administrators and attorneys refused to respect the rights of the Little Sisters of the Poor, and the Catholic faith they exemplify, to operate in accordance with the truth about sex and the human person. Even after the federal government expanded religious exemptions to the HHS contraceptive mandate, Pennsylvania and other states chose to continue this attack on conscience.

“The Little Sisters of the Poor is an international congregation that is committed to building a culture of life. They care for the elderly poor. They uphold human dignity. They follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and his Church. The government has no right to force a religious order to cooperate with evil. We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision. We hope it brings a close to this episode of government discrimination against people of faith. Yet, considering the efforts we have seen to force compliance with this mandate, we must continue to be vigilant for religious freedom.”

The USCCB filed amicus curiae briefs supporting these religious institutions. The briefs can be found here:
http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/19-431-and-19-454_Amici-Brief.pdf  

http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/2019-11-04-LSP-SPPH-v-COP-SONJ.pdf

July 8, 2020
Supreme Court rules in favor of Catholic schools' right to choose teachers
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court of the United States has issued its decision in the consolidated cases of Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru and St. James School v. Biel. These cases involved the right of Catholic schools, free of government interference, to choose teachers who will teach and model the Catholic faith. By a vote of 7-2, the Court ruled in favor of the schools. 

Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Michael C. Barber, S.J. of Oakland, chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education, have issued a statement addressing the decision: 

“Education is a central aspect of the Church’s mission. Indeed, teaching is one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy. Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. James schools continue the Catholic tradition of offering Christian education. As institutions carrying out a ministry of the Church, Catholic schools have a right, recognized by the Constitution, to select people who will perform ministry. The government has no authority to second-guess those ministerial decisions. We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision, which rightly acknowledged this limit on state authority. This decision means that the Church can continue to serve her neighbors with integrity.” 

The USCCB filed an amicus curiae brief supporting these religious institutions, which may be found here: Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrisey-Berru

July 8, 2020
Pope Francis names Father Stephen Parkes as Bishop of Savannah
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Father Stephen Parkes, a priest of the Diocese of Orlando, as the Bishop of Savannah.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on July 8, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. The Diocese of Savannah has been a vacant see since March 2020.

Bishop-elect Parkes was born on June 2, 1965 in Mineola, New York, and ordained to the priesthood on May 23, 1998 for the Diocese of Orlando. Father Parkes attended Massapequa High School in New York and received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration/Marketing from the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. He studied philosophy and theology at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida, and holds a Master of Divinity.

After ordination, Father Parkes was assigned to Annunciation Church in Longwood as parochial vicar where he served until 2005 when he was named Parochial Administrator at Most Precious Blood Church in Oviedo. Additionally, in 2004 he was named Spiritual Director for Catholic Campus Ministry at the University of Central Florida in Orlando where he served until 2011.

Since 2011, Bishop-elect Parkes has served as Pastor at Annunciation Church in Longwood. His ministry also includes serving as Dean of the North Central Deanery (2010-present), and Spiritual Director of the

Catholic Foundation of Central Florida (2009-present). He speaks both English and Spanish.

The Diocese of Savannah is comprised of 37,038 square miles in the state of Georgia and has a total population of 2,934,000 of which 75,603 are Catholic. 

June 30, 2020
Chairman calls on Administration to reverse course on federal executions
WASHINGTON – Following the U.S. Attorney General’s decision to set new federal execution dates for four federal death row inmates beginning July 13, 2020, and the decision by the Supreme Court of the United States declining to hear their appeal, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called on the Administration to reverse course on presiding over federal executions for the first time in 17 years.

Archbishop Coakley’s full statement follows:

“Now that the Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeals of four federal death row inmates, and the Justice Department has set new execution dates beginning July 13, I reiterate the call made last July for the Administration to reverse course. 

“As articulated to the Supreme Court in another case earlier this year, the bishops have been calling for an end to the death penalty for decades. Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis have all called for an end to the death penalty around the world. As Pope Francis articulated through the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the death penalty is unacceptable as an affront to the Gospel and to respect for human life. At their June 2019 meeting, the Catholic bishops of the United States voted overwhelmingly in affirmation of this position.

“Two of my brother bishops and I wrote last year: ‘To oppose the death penalty is not to be “soft on crime.” Rather, it is to be strong on the dignity of life.’ To this end, I implore Attorney General Barr and President Trump to abandon this path to preside over the first federal executions in 17 years.”  

June 30, 2020
Survey of permanent diaconate highlights importance of their work
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations has shared the results of the annual survey on the permanent diaconate. A Portrait of the Permanent Diaconate: A Study for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 2019-2020, was conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) and provides an illustration of the state of the permanent diaconate in the United States, including the number of those ordained and retired in the past year, percentages of those involved in various Church ministries, and other demographic information.

Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, chairman of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations expressed his gratitude for the ministry of permanent deacons in the Church. “Permanent deacons provide an invaluable service to the universal Church. Through their leadership in parish and pastoral ministry, proclamation and preaching of the Gospel, and involvement in corporal and spiritual works of mercy, deacons imitate Christ the Servant by bringing the presence of Jesus to those who are often the most vulnerable in our society.” 

With contact information provided by the National Association of Diaconate Directors and CARA’s Catholic Ministry Formation database, CARA contacted the 187 dioceses and eparchies in the United States with an active Office of the Permanent Diaconate. Of this total, 129 responded to the survey for an overall response rate of 69%. Of that total, 71% of responses were from Latin Catholic dioceses and 36% were from Eastern Catholic eparchies. Some of the major findings of the report based on the responding dioceses and eparchies are:

  • The dioceses with the largest number of permanent deacons: Chicago (764), Galveston-Houston (478), and New York (355). Adjusting for Catholic population size, Latin Rite dioceses with the lowest ratio of Catholic per permanent deacon include: Lexington (481 Catholics to every deacon), Bismarck (690 Catholics per deacon), Rapid City (704 Catholics per deacon), Duluth (708 Catholics per deacon), and Jefferson City (733 Catholics per deacon).
  • The 123 Latin Rite dioceses that responded to the survey report a total of 13,810 permanent deacons, both active and non-active. The four eparchies that responded reported a total of 57 permanent deacons. Extrapolating to include the dioceses and eparchies that did not respond to the survey, it can be estimated that there are as many as 19,833 permanent deacons in the United States today.
  • Latin Rite dioceses report having 9,935 permanent deacons active in ministry. The four eparchies report 50 active permanent deacons. Extrapolating to include dioceses and eparchies that did not respond to the survey, it can be estimated that there are 14,287 deacons active in ministry in the United States today, or about 72% of all permanent deacons.
  • During the 2019 calendar year, 383 new permanent deacons were ordained. At the same time, 334 deacons retired from active ministry and another 289 deacons died. As is the case with priests in the United States, there are not enough new permanent deacons being ordained to make up for the numbers who are retiring from active ministry or dying each year.
  • Ninety-five percent of active permanent deacons are at least 50 years old. About a fifth (20%) are in their 50s, four in ten (41%) are in their 60s, and two-fifths (41%) are 70 or older.
  • Three-quarters of active deacons (76%) are non-Hispanic whites. Seventeen percent are Hispanic or Latino. Three percent are African American and 4% are Asian or Pacific Islander.

The entire CARA report can be accessed at: http://usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/diaconate/upload/Diaconate-Post-Ordination-Report-2019-2020.pdf 

June 30, 2020
USCCB chairmen grateful for Supreme Court’s decision in Blaine Amendment Case
WASHINGTON – Today, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its decision in the case of Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, which challenged a decision by the Montana Supreme Court to invalidate a tax credit scholarship program because families benefiting include those who choose to send their children to religiously-affiliated schools, a violation of the Montana state constitution’s “Blaine Amendment” of 1889 against aid to religious schools. By vote of 5-4, the Court ruled in favor of the petitioners. 

Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Michael C. Barber, S.J. of Oakland, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Catholic Education, have issued a statement:

“The Court has rightly ruled that the U.S. Constitution does not permit states to discriminate against religion. This decision means that religious persons and organizations can, like everyone else, participate in government programs that are open to all. This is good news, not only for people of faith, but for our country. A strong civil society needs the full participation of religious institutions. By ensuring the rights of faith-based organizations’ freedom to serve, the Court is also promoting the common good.

“The Court has also dealt a blow to the odious legacy of anti-Catholicism in America. Blaine Amendments, which are in 37 states’ constitutions, were the product of nativism and bigotry. They were never meant to ensure government neutrality towards religion, but were expressions of hostility toward the Catholic Church. We are grateful that the Supreme Court has taken an important step that will help bring an end to this shameful legacy.”

The USCCB filed an amicus curiae brief supporting the petitioners, which can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/Laycock-Berg-CLS-Amicus-Brief.pdf.

June 29, 2020
Catholic Bishop's Pro-Life chairman responds to decision on La. abortion case
WASHINGTON — Today, the Supreme Court of the United States announced its decision in an abortion case out of Louisiana, June Medical Services v. Russo. The Court ruled 5 to 4 to strike down the Louisiana law that requires abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Pro-Life Activities issued the following statement:

“Abortion violently ends the life of a child, and often severely harms women. Abortion becomes even more destructive when basic health and safety standards are ignored, and profit margins are prioritized over women’s lives. As Catholics, we condemn abortion as a grave injustice that denies the fundamental human right to life. Yet even as we seek to end the brutality of legalized abortion, we still believe that the women who seek it should not be further harmed and abused by a callous, profit-driven industry.

“The Court’s failure to recognize the legitimacy of laws prioritizing women’s health and safety over abortion business interests continues a cruel precedent. As we grieve this decision and the pregnant women who will be harmed by it, we continue to pray and fight for justice for mothers and children.

“We will not rest until the day when the Supreme Court corrects the grave injustice of Roe and Casey and recognizes the Constitutional right to life for unborn human beings. And we continue to ask all people of faith to pray for women seeking abortion, often under enormous pressure, that they will find alternatives that truly value them and the lives of their children.”

The USCCB filed an amicus curae brief in the case along with the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Association of Evangelicals urging the Court to uphold the law.  The brief can be viewed here: http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/18-1323-USCCB-amicus-June-Med-v-Gee-12-30-2019.pdf

June 25, 2020
U.S. Bishops' Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection releases annual report
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection has released the 2019 Annual Report – Findings and Recommendations on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The report is based on the audit findings of StoneBridge Business Partners, a specialty consulting firm headquartered in Rochester, New York, which provides forensic, internal, and compliance audit services to leading organization nation-wide. A survey on allegations conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) is also included as part of the report.

This is the seventeenth such report since 2002 when the U.S. bishops established and adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People a comprehensive set of procedures to address allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and made a promise to protect and a pledge to heal.

The 2019 report for audit year July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019 states that 4,220 adults came forward with 4,434 allegations. Compared to 2018, the number of allegations has increased significantly.  This is in part due to the additional allegations received as a result of lawsuits, compensation programs, and bankruptcies.

A total of 37 allegations were made by current minors, of which 8 were substantiated, 7 were unsubstantiated, 6 were unable to be proven, 12 still under investigation, and 3 others were referred to religious orders, and 1 was referred to another diocese.

During the audit period, dioceses and eparchies provided outreach and support to 1,138 survivors and their families who reported during this audit period. Continued support was provided to 1,851 survivors and their families who reported abuse in prior audit periods. Support offered by the dioceses and eparchies may include counseling, spiritual assistance, support groups, and other social services.

The report also notes the ongoing work of the Church in continuing the call to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults. In 2019, over 2.6 million background checks were conducted on clergy, employees, and volunteers. In addition, in 2019 over 2.6 million adults and 3.6 million children and youth were trained on how to identify the warning signs of abuse and how to report those signs.

The Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People and the National Review Board continue to emphasize that the audit and continued application of 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.

The full Annual Report, may be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/upload/2019-Annual-Report-Final.pdf

The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People may be found at: http://www.usccb.org/charter

Additional information on diocesan requirements for the protection of children and youth maybe found at:

http://www.usccb.org/about/communications/bishops-resources/upload/cyp-norms-bulletin-insert.pdf

June 25, 2020
New Directory for Catechesis released by Pontifical Council
WASHINGTON — The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization has released a new Directory for Catechesis.

As the Preface explains, “The criterion that prompted the reflection on and production of this Directory finds its basis in the words of Pope Francis: ‘we have rediscovered the fundamental role of the first announcement or kerygma, which needs to be the center of all evangelizing activity and all efforts at Church renewal…. All Christian formation consists of entering more deeply into the kerygma, which is reflected in and constantly illumines, the work of catechesis, thereby enabling us to understand more fully the significance of every subject which the latter treats. It is the message capable of responding to the desire for the infinite which abides in every human heart’.”

Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, welcomed the new text: “We are excited to have a fresh and focused tool to enhance our evangelization efforts in catechesis. The new Directory highlights the centrality of the Church’s mission of bringing the world to an authentic encounter with Christ, an encounter that inspires and propels people as witnesses for the faith. In an age marked by tremendous social and cultural challenges, as well as ever-expanding digital tools which have often left the field of catechesis behind, the timing of this updated resource is providential.”

The Second Vatican Council originally inspired a Directory for Catechesis to ensure that the Church's catechetical efforts might be vibrant, informed, faithful, and attuned to the needs of the times. First released in 1971 and then updated in 1997, this latest edition considers both the opportunities and the challenges which the Church faces in an ever more global and secular society. The new Directorybuilds upon the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the ongoing work of the new evangelization—particularly as called for in Pope Francis’ 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). With a vision that brings the content of these beautiful resources alive in the context of contemporary society, the Directory invites the Christian faithful to be courageous witnesses of Jesus Christ in the family, in the workplace, and in the wider community.

Bishop Barron observed that, “The Directory’s call for a ‘kerygmatic catechesis’ affirms the Conference’s recent focus on the importance of living as missionary disciples. The authentic proclamation of the Gospel leads to the conversion of hearts and minds, which cannot help but manifest that ‘missionary impulse capable of transforming everything’ with the healing power of the Holy Spirit (EG 27).”

June 24, 2020
Bishop chairmen call for better police formation and accountability
WASHINGTON — In the wake of the recent deaths of African Americans in police custody and the national discussion on police reform and racial justice, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington, chairman of the Committee on Migration; and Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, have sent a letter to all members of the U.S. Congress to offer reflections and principles for police accountability and reform.

In their letter, the bishops note that, although law enforcement officers offer “a great and needed service,” the “terrible and unjust killing of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and so many more,” demonstrates that there must be “better practices for formation and accountability for police, certainly in the use of lethal force, but also in patterns of discrimination and prejudice, so that real accountability can happen before more lives are lost.” The bishops make reference to their pastoral letters on criminal justice and racism over the years, commentary from Pope Francis on the death of George Floyd as well as a previous address on the use of force by police, and remarks on the role of police in society from Pope Benedict XVI and Pope St. John Paul II. 

The bishops write, “We stand in the long tradition — from St. Augustine, to St. Thomas Aquinas, to Dr. Martin Luther King — that claims that the purpose of law and law enforcement is the promotion of justice.” The “only solution to the challenges of this moment,” is to follow the wise counsel of Pope St. Paul VI: “If you want peace, work for justice.” 

The full text of the letter to the Senate may be found online here. An identical letter was addressed to the House of Representatives.

June 22, 2020
Theme for Religious Freedom Week 2020 is 'For the Good of All'
WASHINGTON — Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, the acting chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty has encouraged Catholics to pray and uphold religious liberty at home and abroad during Religious Freedom Week 2020. Commencing on June 22, the Feast of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher, Religious Freedom Week runs through June 29, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. The theme chosen for this year is “For the Good of All.”

Archbishop Wenski stated:

“Religious freedom is under stress throughout the world. Even in our Western liberal democracies, discrimination against religion in general and Catholic Christianity, in particular, is growing — albeit in perhaps more sophisticated and less violent ways.

“Political analysts and human rights advocates do include religion on their agenda. But most emphasize ‘tolerance’ as if religion were only a source of conflict. Or, they speak about religion in terms of ‘individual choices,’ as if religion were merely the concern of an individual’s conviction and were devoid of any social consequences.

“Yet, just as freedom of speech depends not only on one’s right to say what’s on one’s mind but also on the existence of institutions like newspapers, universities, libraries, political parties and other associations that make up what we call ‘civil society,’ so too freedom of religion ‘for the good of all’ must also encompass protecting those institutions that nourish the individual’s free exercise of religion.

“The right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person. Religious freedom is the human right that guarantees all other rights — peace and creative living together will only be possible if freedom of religion is fully respected.”

Resources for Religious Freedom Week and other religious liberty resources may be found at www.usccb.org/ReligiousFreedomWeek and www.usccb.org/freedom. Social media posts will use the hashtag #ReligiousFreedomWeek.

June 22, 2020
Archbishop Wenski appointed acting chairman of Committee for Religious Liberty
WASHINGTON – Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has appointed Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami to serve as acting chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty until the November 2020 General Assembly. The appointment was made following the death of Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., of Youngstown, previous chairman of the committee. 

“Archbishop Wenski is an energetic leader with a truly strong commitment to religious liberty and a servant’s heart for ministry,” said Archbishop Gomez. “I deeply appreciate his willingness to step into this role and lead the important work of the Committee for Religious Liberty.” 

Archbishop Wenski served as chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development from 2013 to 2016, and chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace from 2005 to 2008. He also served as chairman of the Committee on Migration from 2002 to 2005, and chairman of the board of Catholic Legal Immigration Network from 1998 to 2001. Additionally, he has served as a member of several committees, including the Committee on Pro-Life Activities and the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America. 

Thomas Wenski was born October 18, 1950 in West Palm Beach, Florida. He was ordained a priest on May 15, 1976, appointed as auxiliary bishop of Miami on June 21, 1997, and was installed as the fourth archbishop of Miami on June 1, 2010. Archbishop Wenski holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Divinity degrees from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, and he holds a Master of Arts in Sociology from Fordham University. He speaks Spanish and Haitian Creole fluently. His episcopal motto is Omnia omnibus, taken from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians: “I have become all things to all in order to save at least some.” 

June 19, 2020
U.S., European bishops offer prayers for U.S.-Russia arms control meeting
WASHINGTON/BRUSSELS – Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Bishop Rimantas Norvila of Vilkaviškis, Lithuania, president of the COMECE[1] Commission on the External Relations of the European Union, have issued a joint statement as senior officials from the United States and Russia are scheduled to meet in Vienna, Austria on June 22 to discuss nuclear arms control and the fate of the New START Treaty.

Their joint statement follows:

“We offer our prayers and invite Catholics and all those of faith to join in praying for fruitful dialog that will advance necessary arms control and disarmament, promoting a more peaceful and just world.

“If the New START Treaty is allowed to expire in February 2021, the United States and Russia will have no legally binding, verifiable limits on their strategic nuclear arsenals for the first time since 1972, which might also have significant implications for European security and global peace.

“As U.S. and European bishops said in 2017[2] : ‘For many, the horror of a potential nuclear war receded from consciousness with the end of the Cold War, but recent geopolitical developments remind us that our world remains in grave danger.’ In an increasingly multipolar and complex environment, may this meeting be marked by wisdom, trust-building and cooperation in making arms control and nuclear disarmament a high priority.

“As Pope Francis reminded us during his recent visit to Japan: ‘May prayer, tireless work in support of agreements and insistence on dialogue be the most powerful ‘weapons’ […] to build a world of justice and solidarity that can offer an authentic assurance of peace.’”[3]
 
June 19, 2020
Pope Francis names Father Michael Mulloy as Bishop of Duluth
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Father Michel Mulloy, a priest of the Diocese of Rapid City and current Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Rapid City as the Bishop of Duluth. 
 

The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on June 19, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. The Diocese of Duluth has been a vacant see since December 2019.

Bishop-elect Mulloy was born on May 20, 1954 in Mobridge, South Dakota. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Classical Humanities from St. Mary University in Winona, Minnesota. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Sioux Falls on June 8, 1979.

After ordination, Father Mulloy was assigned to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in the Diocese of Rapid City (1979-1981). He returned to the Diocese of Sioux Falls in 1981 and was assigned to Christ the King Parish in Sioux Falls where he served until 1983 when he was named Administrator of St. Joseph Parish in Faith, with two mission parishes of St. Anthony in Red Owl and Our Lady of Victory in Plainview. In 1986, Father Mulloy was incardinated into the Diocese of Rapid City and he was appointed Pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish in Faith and continued his ministry with the two mission parishes.

Other assignments have included: Pastor at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Sturgis (1989-1996); Pastor at Blessed Sacrament Church in Rapid City (1996) and the missions at Keystone (2000) and Hill City (2003); Pastor of Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help with missions of St. Michael’s in Hermosa and the Immaculate Conception Chapel in Rapid City (2004-2010), Pastor of the parishes of St. Bernard in McLaughlin, Assumption in Kenel, St. Aloysius in Bullhead, and St. Bede in Wakpala (2016).

Bishop-elect Mulloy’s ministry has also included: Director of Vocations (1989-1992) and Director for Office of Worship (1994) for the Diocese of Rapid City, and Director of Spiritual Life and Liturgy at Terra Sancta Retreat Center (2018). He has been a Consultor, member of the Presbyterial Council, and served on the Contingency Board as well as several other committees. He was named Vicar General and Vicar for Clergy of the Diocese of Rapid City in 2017, and in August 2019, he was elected Diocesan Administrator for the vacant see of Rapid City.
 
The Diocese of Duluth is comprised of 22,354 square miles in the state of Minnesota and has a total population of 447,896 of which 45,283 are Catholic. 

June 18, 2020
Statement on celebration of fifth anniversary of Laudato Si'
WASHINGTON – On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the publication of the encyclical Laudato Si’, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, released the following statement: 
 

“Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ is a wonderful gift which has moved the Catholic Church around the world to care more deeply for our common home and to grow closer in relationship with God, the Creator of all life. As the Holy Father reminds us, Laudato Si’ is a social encyclical about ecology, connected to the rich tradition of Catholic social teaching that addresses what it means to be fully human in light of the Gospel. Its message has also reached members of other religions and non-believers, sparking reflection, dialogue, and common action among individuals, families, and communities around the world.  

“In the United States, the Catholic Church has been a witness to Laudato Si’ through its numerous dioceses, institutions, religious orders, lay associations, and individual members. Aware that the cry of the earth and cry of the poor grows louder with injustice and technocracy that throws away the most vulnerable among us, ‘the love of Christ impels us’ (2 Cor 5:14) to do more in the years ahead.”

A summary and record of the many activities inspired by Laudato Si’ undertaken by the USCCB and several partner organizations may be found here

June 18, 2020
USCCB president welcomes Supreme Court decision on DACA
WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion preventing the Trump Administration from terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. On November 12, 2019, the Court heard the challenge to the Trump Administration’s DACA repeal efforts, in which U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) submitted an amicus curiae brief in support of maintaining the program. The DACA program was implemented in 2012 and has enabled approximately 800,000 young people, who paid a fee and submitted to a background check, the opportunity to work legally, access educational opportunities and not fear deportation. DACA recipients on average contribute over $42 billion annually to the U.S. economy. Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the USCCB and Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the USCCB’ Committee on Migration issued the following statement: 
 

“We welcome the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision noting that the Trump Administration did not follow proper administrative procedures required to repeal the DACA program.

“First, to DACA youth, through today’s decision and beyond, we will continue to accompany you and your families. You are a vital part of our Church and our community of faith. We are with you.

“Next, we urge the President to strongly reconsider terminating DACA. Immigrant communities are really hurting now amidst COVID-19 and moving forward with this action needlessly places many families into further anxiety and chaos. In times of uncertainty, let us remember the teachings of the Gospel which encourage us to be open and receptive to those in need: ‘If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him?’ (1 John 3:17). In this moment, we must show compassion and mercy for the vulnerable.”

“Lastly, we strongly encourage our U.S. Senators to immediately pass legislation that provides a path to citizenship for Dreamers. Permanent legislative protection that overcomes partisanship and puts the human dignity and future of Dreamers first is long overdue.”

For more information and resources on DACA see https://justiceforimmigrants.org/what-we-are-working-on/immigration/daca-resource-page. 

June 15, 2020
Statement issued on Supreme Court decision to redefine legal meaning of 'sex'
WASHINGTON — The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, provided a statement on the decision issued today by the Supreme Court of the United States – combining Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga., Altitude Express v. Zarda, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Opportunity Employment Comm’n. The justices ruled that the prohibition on “sex” discrimination in employment in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 now prohibits discrimination based on “sexual orientation” and “transgender” status. 
 

Archbishop Gomez’s statement follows:

I am deeply concerned that the U.S. Supreme Court has effectively redefined the legal meaning of ‘sex’ in our nation’s civil rights law. This is an injustice that will have implications in many areas of life.

By erasing the beautiful differences and complementary relationship between man and woman, we ignore the glory of God’s creation and harm the human family, the first building block of society. Our sex, whether we are male or female, is part of God’s plan for creation and for our lives. As Pope Francis has taught with such sensitivity, to live in the truth with God’s intended gifts in our lives requires that we receive our bodily and sexual identity with gratitude from our Creator. No one can find true happiness by pursuing a path that is contrary to God’s plan.

Every human person is made in the image and likeness of God and, without exception, must be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect. Protecting our neighbors from unjust discrimination does not require redefining human nature.

We pray that the Church, with the help of Mary, the Mother of God, will be able to continue her mission to bring Jesus Christ to every man and woman.

On August 23, 2019, the USCCB, joined by other national religious organizations, filed amicus curiae briefs in the cases. They are available at http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/Bostock-8-23-19.pdf and http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/Harris-8-23-19.pdf. 

June 12, 2020
World Day of Prayer encourages priests to reflect on vocation
WASHINGTON – The World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests will be celebrated by the universal Church on June 19, 2020. Occurring annually on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests was established by Pope St. John Paul II in 2002 and encourages priests to reflect upon the importance and dignity of their vocation. 
 

In his Holy Thursday homily. . . on April 9, 2020, Pope Francis reminded priests that in order to serve others, they must first allow themselves to be served by Christ. Just like Saint Peter, priests must be willing to be washed by Christ, forgiven by Christ, and loved by Christ so that they, in turn, may be dispensers of divine forgiveness and love to others. The Holy Father also remembered those courageous priests in hospital ministry who have died in service to their brothers and sisters suffering from coronavirus. He also commended those priests who serve prisoners and those ministering in remote parts of the world.

Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations echoed Pope Francis’ gratitude for priests during this time of pandemic. “We give thanks to priests who are continuing to serve the people of God in this challenging time. Priests are the face of Christ and allow people to encounter Jesus, especially through the celebration of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. On this World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests, I encourage my brother priests to contemplate with gratitude the great gift Jesus has given us in our vocation. I ask the faithful to pray for all priests that they may be filled with joy and strength as they continue their important work of shepherding God’s people.”

More information on World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests and resources for healthy priestly life and ministry, may be found at: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/priesthood/priestly-life-and-ministry/index.cfm.

 
 

June 9, 2020
Pope Francis names Monsignor Toups Bishop-elect of Beaumont
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Curtis J. Guillory, SVD, 76, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Beaumont and has named Monsignor David L. Toups, a priest of the Diocese of Saint Petersburg as Bishop-elect of Beaumont.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on June 9, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop-elect Toups was born on March 26, 1971 in Seattle, Washington and was ordained to the priesthood on June 14, 1997 for the Diocese of Saint Petersburg. Monsignor Toups attended Florida Southern College in Lakeland before entering St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Theology in 1993. He attended the Pontifical North American College in Rome and obtained a Bachelor of Sacred Theology and Licentiate of Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, and a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum).

His assignments after ordination include: Parochial Vicar at St. Francis Cabrini Parish in Spring Hill (1997-2001); doctoral studies at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (2002-2004), Assistant Dean of Students (2004) and Dean of Students (2004-2006) at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach; the Administrative Council, Faculty Council and Seminary Formation Team, and Professor of Sacramental and Liturgical Theology at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary (2004-2006).

Between 2007-2010, Monsignor Toups was released from diocesan assignment to serve as the Associate Director of the Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington. He returned to the Diocese of Saint Petersburg in 2010 and served as Pastor of Christ the King Parish in Tampa (2010-2012) before being named as President and Rector of St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in 2012 where he currently serves.

Bishop-elect Toups has also served as a member of the diocesan Presbyteral Council (1997-2001), the National Board of the National Federation of Priests’ Councils (1997-2001), and as Observer for Region IV to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ November meetings from 2000-2002. He is fluent in English and Spanish and has familiarity with Italian.

The Diocese of Beaumont is comprised of 7,878 square miles in the State of Texas and has a total population of 643,798 of which 68,597 are Catholic.

May 4, 2020
Statement urges leaders to examine African American communities by COVID-19
WASHINGTON — Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux and chairman of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City and chairman of USCCB’s Domestic Justice and Human Development, Archbishop Nelson J. Perez of Philadelphia, and chairman of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, and Bishop Joseph N. Perry, auxiliary bishop of Chicago, and chairman of Subcommittee on African American Affairs have release the following statement in response to the impact of the COVID-19 virus in African American communities:

“Our hearts are wounded for the many souls mourned as African American communities across the nation are being disproportionately infected with and dying from the virus that causes COVID-19. We raise our voices to urge state and national leaders to examine the generational and systemic structural conditions that make the new coronavirus especially deadly to African American communities.

“We stand in support of all communities struggling under the weight of the impact this virus has had not only on their physical health, but on their livelihoods, especially front line medical and sanitation workers, public safety officers, and those in the service industry. We are praying fervently for an end to the pandemic, and for physical health for all, and emotional healing amongst all who have lost loved ones.” 

 

April 17, 2020
Bishop chairmen urge FDA to develop ethical COVID-19 vaccine
WASHINGTON – Four bishop chairmen of committees for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have urged Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to ensure that vaccines for the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) are developed ethically and are free from any connection to the exploitation of abortion.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas and chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City and chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend and chairman of the Committee on Doctrine; and Bishop John F. Doerfler of Marquette and chairman of the Subcommittee on Healthcare Issues, signed the letter to the FDA Commissioner. They were joined by the leaders of many healthcare, bioethics, and pro-life organizations.

The letter expressed strong support for efforts to develop an effective, safe, and widely available vaccine as quickly as possible, but also strongly urged that the federal government “ensure that fundamental moral principles are followed in the development of such vaccines, most importantly, the principle that human life is sacred and should never be exploited.”

The letter noted that “among the dozens of vaccines currently in development, some are being produced using old cell lines that were created from the cells of aborted babies.” Furthermore, “there is no need to use ethically problematic cell lines to produce a COVID vaccine, or any vaccine, as other cell lines or processes that do not involve cells from abortions are available and are regularly being used,” the signers stated. “It is critically important that Americans have access to a vaccine that is produced ethically: no American should be forced to choose between being vaccinated against this potentially deadly virus and violating his or her conscience.”

To view all of the signatories and to read the full text of the letter, click here

 

 

March 13
USCCB Statements on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
WASHINGTON — On March 13, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued a reflection and prayer on Coronavirus (COVID-19). His statement is part of the USCCB’s ongoing engagement on the issue over the last several weeks.

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued a statement encouraging lawmakers to consider measures providing relief and aid to those suffering from COVID-19, those affected by workplace closures and other disruptions, and prayers for those suffering from the virus and for healthcare providers.

In response to news of progression of COVID-19 outbreaks in other parts of the world, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued a statement with Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Health Association of the United States that addressed the Catholic response to the outbreak.

The faithful are encouraged to consult their local (arch)diocese or (arch)eparchy as to local directives on the celebration of the sacraments. The USCCB’s Committee on Divine Worship has shared helpful considerations with the U.S. bishops regarding their role in regulating liturgical celebrations as they make decisions for their respective dioceses in the wake of growing public health concerns. 

February 18, 2020
Catholic Response to Outbreak of Coronavirus
WASHINGTON — Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace; Sean Callahan, president of Catholic Relief Services; and Sr. Mary Haddad, RSM, president of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, issued a statement addressing the Catholic response to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Their joint statement follows:

“As communities and public health officials respond to the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in China and closely monitor its presence and progression in other parts of the world, we join in solidarity and prayer for those impacted or working to treat those infected by the disease. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Relief Services, and the Catholic Health Association of the United States hope that governments will work together in partnership to improve all nations’ capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to this virus.

“The Catholic Church in the United States stands in solidarity with those affected by the coronavirus and their families, health workers who are valiantly trying to diagnose and treat patients, and those under quarantine awaiting results of their screening for the virus. We offer our prayers for healing and support those organizations, both domestic and international, working to provide medical supplies and assistance to address this serious risk to public health.

“In early February, the Holy See sent 700,000 respiratory masks to China to help prevent the spread of the disease. Within the United States, Catholic healthcare providers are at the front line of providing treatment and care to those impacted by the virus.  

“We also commend the U.S. government for transporting more than 17 tons of donated medical supplies to China. This response to the novel coronavirus demonstrates the critical importance of the need to work together and to invest in crucial health care systems here and in other countries, thus preventing and responding to community-wide emergencies. We urge the U.S. Congress to support these efforts by protecting access to domestic health care safety net programs and by providing additional emergency international assistance to areas impacted by the virus.

“We also urge individuals to stay informed as information becomes available by going to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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