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PRESIDENT OF U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS' STATEMENT ON CALIFORNIA FIRES

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops offered the following statement of solidarity with the people of California.

Full statement follows:
“On this holy day of the Immaculate Conception, we commit ourselves to the loving protection of Mary the Mother of God and patroness of America.  Let us remember, especially, her sons and daughters in danger from the terrible wildfires in California, both those whose homes are in the fire’s path and those courageous first responders and firefighters who are putting their lives at risk. Please find a moment today, whether after Mass or while gathered as a family around the Advent wreath, to pray a Rosary in gratitude for Mary’s gifts to humanity and entrusting to her protection our sisters and brothers in the fire’s path.  I am sure all the faithful join me in saying: we stand ready to help in the recovery."

December 7, 2017
FEAST OF OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE WILL BE CELEBRATED, DECEMBER 12, AS DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH IMMIGRANTS

WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, December 12, the Catholic Church will celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas and the Unborn. Celebrations in dioceses across the nation will be held throughout the month of December to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe. These events seek to honor the accomplishments, hopes, fears, and needs of all families who have come to the U.S. seeking a better life.

"As we enter the Advent season and Christmas approaches, we are reminded of the unique role and importance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a unifier and peacebuilder for communities. We honor her role as protectress of families, including those families separated and far from home," stated Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, Texas, and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration.



Over 55 prayer services, Masses, processions and other events will be held in dioceses across the country as the Catholic Church continues to accompany migrants and refugees seeking opportunity to provide for their families. On December 12, 2017, a Mass honoring our Lady of Guadalupe will be celebrated by the Most Reverend Mario Dorsonville, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington, at St. Peter’s Church in Washington, DC at 12:10 PM. All are welcome to attend.



For more information, please visit the Justice for Immigrants (JFI) website at https://justiceforimmigrants.org/lady-guadalupe-resource-page/ which has background material and scriptural information on Our Lady of Guadalupe in English and Spanish, a nationwide map of events, and community celebration ideas.
 
December 6, 2017
ADVANCE FINAL TAX REFORM BILL ONLY IF IT MEETS KEY MORAL CONCERNS, SAYS USCCB CHAIRMAN
 
WASHINGTON — As Congress prepares to reconcile the House of Representatives and Senate tax reform bills, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, insisted that “Congress should advance a final tax reform bill only if it meets the key moral concerns . . .”

“According to Congress’ own nonpartisan analysis, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act bills recently passed by the House and the Senate raise taxes on the poor and cut taxes on the rich, violating basic principles of justice,” wrote Bishop Dewane.  “Congress has proposed a web of wide-ranging and complex changes to the tax code, yet is approaching the process at a pace that makes it difficult even for experts in the impacted areas to analyze effects.” 
 
According to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, the Senate and House bills eventually increase taxes on taxpayers in the lowest brackets, while at the same time maintaining tax cuts for higher earners, including the very wealthy. Bishop Dewane expressed support for positive proposals contained in both the House and Senate bill, such as doubling the Standard Deduction, expansion of 529 savings plans, increases for deductions for educator expenses, and the idea of expanding the child tax credit, though he urged a robust expansion that includes the refundable portions of the credit.
 
However, the Bishop highlighted serious problems that remain in one or both of the proposed bills:  elimination of personal exemptions, repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual insurance mandate apart from broader health care reform, and failure to include changes that will protect against a steep drop in charitable giving, among others.
 
“Policy that is good for workers, families who welcome life, families who are struggling to reach (or stay in) the middle class, and the very poor, has by design been a part of our tax code for years,” noted Bishop Dewane.  “Any modifications to these important priorities of our nation should only be made with a clear understanding and concern for the people who may least be able to bear the negative consequences of new policy.”
 
The full letter can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Tax-Conference-Letter-Congress-2017-12-06.pdf

December 5, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS’ CHAIRMEN EXPRESS DISAPPOINTMENT WITH U.S. GOVERNMENT WITHDRAWAL FROM UN’S PROCESS TO DEVELOP A GLOBAL COMPACT ON MIGRATION
 
WASHINGTON — Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Joe E. Vásquez, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, expressed disappointment after the Trump Administration announced on Saturday, December 2, 2017, that the U.S. government is withdrawing from the process of the United Nations (UN) to develop a Global Compact on Migration. That process was begun when the UN General Assembly ratified the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants on September 19, 2016.

Catholic social teaching on migration recognizes and respects the sovereignty of each nation, indeed each nation’s right and responsibility, to ultimately decide how it will regulate migration into its territory,” explained Bishop Vásquez. “The Church has long articulated that it is the obligation of nations to assure human rights for all migrants and special protections for vulnerable migrants, such as refugees, forced migrants, victims of human trafficking, and women and children at risk. Pope Francis has described such obligations as part of building ‘global solidarity’ on behalf of migrants and refugees. In fact, the Bishops continue to promote the international campaign initiated by Pope Francis, Share the Journey, as a sign of solidarity with our immigrant brothers and sisters.”
 
“With a growing global concern about protracted forced migration situations, the UN process provides an opportunity for the United States to help build international cooperation that respects such rights and protections on behalf of those seeking safety and security for their families.  Participation in that process allows the US to draw on our experience and influence the compact,” said Archbishop Broglio. “Therefore, the USCCB encourages the Administration to reconsider its decision to withdraw from this process.”  

December 5, 2017
POPE FRANCIS NAMES AUXILIARY BISHOP OF WASHINGTON AS NEW BISHOP OF RICHMOND



WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Auxiliary Bishop Barry C. Knestout of the Archdiocese of Washington as the new bishop of Richmond, Virginia.  

The appointment was publicized in Washington on December 5, 2017 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Knestout was born in Cheverly, Maryland, on June 11, 1962. He attended Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where he earned a Master of Divinity degree in 1988 and a Master of Arts degree in 1989.

He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Washington on June 24, 1989. 

Assignments after ordination included: associate pastor, St. Bartholomew’s Parish, Bethesda, MD (1989-1993); associate pastor, St. Peter’s Parish, Waldorf (1993-1994); priest secretary to Cardinal James Hickey (1994-2004); executive director, Archdiocesan Office of Youth Ministry, (2001-2003); priest secretary to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick (2003-2004); pastor, St. John the Evangelist Parish, Silver Spring (2004-2006); and the Archdiocesan Secretary for Pastoral Life and Social Concerns (2006-2008).

Named Monsignor by Pope John Paul II in 1999, he was then named moderator of the curia in April 2007 and assisted Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl in overseeing administrative affairs.
 
On November 18, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI named Msgr. Knestout Auxiliary Bishop of Washington and titular bishop of Leavenworth. He was ordained a bishop by then-Archbishop Donald Wuerl on December 29, 2008.
He has been a member of the Administrative Board of the Maryland Catholic Conference and the Episcopal Moderator of the American Catholic Correctional Chaplains Association. He serves as the Regional IV representative on the USCCB Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People as well as the Episcopal Liaison to the Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference.

As of today’s appointment, Bishop Knestout will be the 13th Bishop of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, succeeding the late Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo who passed away on August 17, 2017.

The Diocese of Richmond comprises 36,711 square miles. It has a total population of 5,118,519 people of which 222,283, or 4 percent, are Catholic.
 
December 4, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS’ SUBCOMMITTEE AWARDS GRANTS FOR 187 PROJECTS IN LATIN AMERICA
 
WASHINGTON — With the goal of strengthening and supporting the pastoral work of the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America awarded nearly $3.2 million in grants for 183 pastoral projects in the region for 2018. These most recent grants were made at the Subcommittee’s meeting in November and bring the total awarded for pastoral grants 2018 to almost $7.2 million. Four other projects were awarded in response to natural disasters.
 
“Each year the generosity of Catholics in the United States is transformed into programs that nourish the faith of our brothers and sisters in Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America. “This generosity sustains the faith for many marginalized and vulnerable people, like migrants and victims of natural disasters.”
 
Instability in some areas of Latin America has resulted in an increased number of migrants within the region from countries like Venezuela, Colombia, and Haiti. Projects in support of the pastoral care of migrants that received funding from the Subcommittee include support to the Hermanas Misioneras de San Carlos Borromeo in Ecuador and the Archdiocese of Santiago in Chile. The religious congregation received a grant to support and integrate migrant families into Ecuadorian society. Migrant families will receive spiritual support through conferences, retreats, and catechetical formation. This project is anticipated to reach over 1,500 beneficiaries. The Archdiocese of Santiago’s Department of Migration received funds to provide formation to 250 pastoral ministers, many expected to be migrants themselves, to learn about their rights and how to defend them and work on evangelization of other immigrants. The project will also create booklets as supporting material for the ministers as they work in parishes.

Additionally, three grants were awarded to projects in Haiti to support rebuilding efforts of the Church in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. Hurricane Matthew swept through Haiti in 2016, and the country continues to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake. A grant to the Diocese of Jérémie will be used for repairs and reconstruction of three church buildings and a grant to the Diocese of Anse-à-Veau et Miragoâne will be used for the reconstruction of two church buildings. These funds were awarded from the Hurricane Matthew emergency collection that was taken in most dioceses last year. In addition to grants to help with the reconstruction efforts after Hurricane Matthew, the Subcommittee also funded a project to rebuild a church destroyed during the 2010 earthquake. The funds for this rebuilding came from the Special Collection for Haiti which took place in the aftermath of the earthquake.
 
Other areas of funding for the Subcommittee’s pastoral grants include seminarian and consecrated religious formation, prison ministry, youth ministry, and lay leadership training. The issues covered by these ministries are pro-life, environmental justice, ministry to indigenous and African-Americans as well as urban ministries, among others. “As it proclaims the Gospel of joy, the Church is called to develop ministries to all those in need, whether materially or spiritually, and thus the Subcommittee supports all the ministries available to the faithful,” said Bishop Elizondo.
 
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 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, the many projects it funds, and resources to promote it, can be found at www.usccb.org/latin-america.
 
December 4, 2017
POPE FRANCIS NAMES FR. MARIO ALBERTO AVILÉS AS AUXILIARY BISHOP OF BROWNSVILLE

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Fr. Mario Alberto Avilés, C.O., up until now the Procurator General of the Congregation of the Oratory, as Auxiliary Bishop of Brownsville, Texas.

The announcement was publicized in Washington on December 4 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.  

Father Aviles was born in Mexico on September 16, 1969.  He joined the Congregation of the Oratory in Mexico City in 1986 and in 1988 he moved to the Pharr Oratory in Texas. He attended the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in Philosophy in 1998.

He was ordained a priest on July 21, 1998.  He then earned a master of divinity degree from Holy Apostles in Cromwell, CT in 2000. Additional education includes a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Phoenix.

Assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar, Jude Thaddeus parish in Pharr, Texas, 1998-2002; pastor, Sacred Heart parish in Hidalgo, Texas, 2002-present.

Other responsibilities include: deputy, Confederation of the Oratory, permanent deputation, 2000-2012; director of the Oratory Academy and Oratory Athenaeum, 2005-2012; member of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, 2011-present; procurator general of the Confederation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, 2012-present.

The Diocese of Brownsville comprises 4, 296 square miles. It has a total population of 1,350,158 people of which 1,147,634 or 85 percent, are Catholic. The current bishop of Brownsville is Bishop Daniel E. Flores.

December 2, 2017
CONGRESS MUST CHANGE FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED TAX POLICIES IN FINAL BILL, SAYS U.S. BISHOPS CHAIRMAN

WASHINGTON— As the U.S. Senate passed its tax reform bill, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called for Congress to fix fundamentally flawed tax policies as the House of Representatives and Senate attempt to reach agreement on a final bill.

The full statement follows:

“Today, the U.S. Senate passed its tax reform legislation, and it will now be reconciled with the House of Representatives’ passed bill in an effort to reach agreement on the details of a final piece of legislation. Congress must act now to fix the fundamental flaws found in both bills, and choose the policy approaches that help individuals and families struggling within our society.

We are reviewing the final Senate bill and will soon provide analysis about key improvements that are necessary before a final agreement should be reached and moved forward.  For the sake of all people—but especially those we ought, in justice, to prioritize—Congress should advance a final tax reform bill only if it meets the key moral considerations outlined in our previous letters.”

The November 9 USCCB letter analyzing the House of Representatives tax reform bill can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Tax-Cuts-and-Jobs-Act-Letter-11-9-2017.pdf

The November 22 USCCB letter analyzing the Senate tax reform bill can be found at:  http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Senate-Tax-Cuts-and-Jobs-Act-Letter-2017-11-22.pdf

December 1, 2017
COALITION OF CATHOLIC ORGANIZATIONS AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING ADVOCATE FOR SLAVE-FREE SEAFOOD LABEL
 
WASHINGTON — To commemorate the United Nations International Day for the Abolition of Slavery on December 2, 2017, the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking (CCOAHT) is asking seafood producers, distributors and seafood retailers to make public, through packaged product labeling, their efforts to fight human trafficking in their product supply chains. According to CCOAHT, consumers are not receiving enough information needed to make moral purchasing decisions.
 
CCOAHT, which is facilitated by Migration and Refugee Services of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, consists of over 30 national and international Catholic agencies working to eliminate the plight of trafficked victims. Its pursuit of ethical consumerism seeks to echo the Vatican’s commitment to “proof” its own supply chains from slave labor.
 
To support the request for slave-free seafood labels, CCOAHT distributed a survey to its networks, asking consumers if slave-free labeling would affect purchases. Over 2,200 people responded and the results showed that 99% of consumers want companies to take steps to engage in ethical business practices, 98% want their packaged seafood to be labeled, and 97% said labels would influence their purchasing decisions.
 
“Catholics are becoming increasingly aware of the collective power they possess as consumers to press for positive change in the lives of those who catch our fish. As my CCOAHT colleagues have remarked, ‘we are asking the seafood industry to do better. The companies that do will be supported by consumers’”, said Hilary Chester, Director of Anti-Trafficking at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 
 
The consumer survey built upon a 2016 Lenten postcard campaign organized by CCOAHT.  Members’ networks mailed 15,000 postcards to U.S. seafood retailers urging them to examine their supply chains and commit to a product free of slave labor.  CCOAHT members will highlight survey data in upcoming dialogue with seafood supply chain shareholders.
 
For additional details about Labeling for Lent, refer to: Consumers Want the Choice to Buy Slave-Free Seafood.
 
November 28, 2017
JONATHAN REYES, PH.D., NAMED AS ASSISTANT GENERAL SECRETARY FOR INTEGRAL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT FOR THE USCCB

WASHINGTON — Jonathan J. Reyes, Ph.D., has been appointed as Assistant General Secretary for Integral Human Development for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), based in Washington D.C.

In the newly established position, Dr. Reyes will become executive administrator of the Office of Government Relations while also continuing to oversee the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development (JPHD), which supports the Committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development and International Justice and Peace, the Subcommittee for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Committee on Religious Liberty, and Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism.

Jonathan Reyes joined the Conference as Executive Director of JPHD in 2012. He will begin the new position effective January 1, 2018.

Msgr. Brian Bransfield, USCCB General Secretary, made the appointment.

“Jonathan is a proven administrator having worked successfully in the service of the bishops and the Conference in overseeing a broad area and numerous projects, including the 2017 Convocation of Catholic Leaders, the Task Force on Peace in Our Communities, the Immigration Working Group, Biblia in America, and Forming Consciences of Faithful Citizenship,” said Msgr. Bransfield. “I feel confident that his extensive knowledge, experience and commitment to the Church’s social mission and teachings will prove invaluable in advancing the issues impacting our most vulnerable sisters and brothers.”

Prior to joining the Conference, Dr. Reyes served as President and CEO of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Denver from 2009-2012. During that time, he also served as Director of Social Ministry for the Archdiocese. His previous work in Denver included co-founding the Augustine Institute, where he was president from 2005-2008. The Institute is a Catholic graduate school that combines education in theology, Scripture and history with practical formation in pedagogy and leadership. From 2004-2005, he was vice president for campus ministry and leadership formation of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) in Denver. FOCUS is a team-based evangelization program aimed toward students on college campuses.
 
Among his other contributions to the social mission of the Church, Reyes oversaw the creation of Regina Caeli Catholic Counseling Services and Lighthouse Women’s Care Center and completed the Guadalupe Community Assistance Center in Greeley, Colorado.
 
From 1998-2004, Reyes served on the staff of Christendom College, where he held senior administrative and teaching positions.
 
Jonathan received a doctorate in European History from the University of Notre Dame in 2000. He received a bachelor of arts degree in history from the University of Michigan in 1990. He is married and has seven children.  

November 28, 2017
CHAIRMAN OF U.S. BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE COMMITTEE ON COMMUNICATIONS VOICES STRONG SUPPORT FOR NET NEUTRALITY PROTECTIONS
 
WASHINGTON — Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Communications, is urging the retention of an open internet in the wake of a Federal Communications Commission proposal unveiled last week that would repeal protections intended to keep the internet open and fair. The concept of an open internet has long been called "net neutrality," in which internet service providers neither favor nor discriminate against internet users or websites. Bishop Coyne continues to voice strong support for net neutrality protections in a statement in response to last week’s proposed FCC action.

Bishop Coyne’s full statement follows:
 
“Strong net neutrality protections are critical to the faith community to function and connect with our members, essential to protect and enhance the ability of vulnerable communities to use advanced technology, and necessary for any organization that seeks to organize, advocate for justice or bear witness in the crowded and over-commercialized media environment.
 
Robust internet protections are vital to enable our Archdioceses, Dioceses, and Eparchies, our parishes, schools and other institutions to communicate with each other and our members, to share religious and spiritual teachings, to promote activities online, and to engage people – particularly younger persons – in our ministries.  Without open internet principles which prohibit paid prioritization, we might be forced to pay fees to ensure that our high-bandwidth content receives fair treatment on the internet.  Non-profit communities, both religious and secular, cannot afford to pay to compete with profitable commercialized content.”

November 24, 2017
PRESIDENT OF U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS RESPONSE TO EGYPT MOSQUE ATTACK
WASHINGTON -- Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement in response to today’s bombing at a mosque in Egypt’s North Sinai region. The bombing has left at least 200 dead and has injured at least 100 others.

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

“As President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I join with my brother bishops in unequivocally condemning the monstrous terrorist attack on innocent people at prayer in Egypt. Terrorist acts can never be justified in the name of God or any political ideology, and the fact this attack took place at a Mosque, a place of worship, is especially offensive to God.  The Catholic Church in the United States mourns with the people of Egypt at this time of tragedy, and assures them of our prayerful solidarity. We join with all those of good will in prayer that these acts of terror and mass killings – these acts of grave evil – will end and will be replaced with genuine and mutual respect for the dignity of each and every person.”

November 22, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS’ CHAIRMAN CALLS FOR SENATE TO AMEND TAX PROPOSAL TO ENSURE JUST MORAL FRAMEWORK
 
WASHINGTON — Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called for amendments to the Senate tax reform proposal to “ensure a just and moral framework for all.”

“The Senate bill doubles the standard deduction, which will provide tax relief to many.  However, the ‘Chairman’s Mark,’ as written, will raise income taxes on the working poor while simultaneously providing a large tax cut to the wealthy,” wrote Bishop Dewane.  “Tax breaks for the financially secure, including millionaires and billionaires, should not be made possible by increased taxes to families struggling to meet their daily needs.”
 
According to the nonpartisan congressional Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), on average, taxpayers making between $10,000 and $30,000 per year will see a tax increase in 2021.  Significant tax breaks to the very wealthy—including millionaires and billionaires—are projected for the same year.  In 2023 and 2025, average taxes will increase for those making less than $30,000, but they will go down for those making more than $30,000.  By 2027, after most individual tax cuts are set to expire, average taxes will increase for taxpayers making less than $75,000, while decreasing for those making more.
 
Bishop Dewane expressed support for positive aspects of the bill, including the fact that the Senate plan does not repeal the adoption tax credit or the exclusion for employer adoption assistance programs.  It also recognizes children in utero by allowing contributions to a 529 savings plan before birth. However, the Bishop highlighted serious problems with the legislation which include the elimination of personal exemptions (which “places a significant burden on larger families”), and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual insurance mandate apart from broader health care reform.
 
“The Senate proposal repeals one portion of the Affordable Care Act—the individual insurance mandate—apart from a needed comprehensive approach to health care reform, one that would protect against millions of additional people becoming uninsured and fix problems that pertain to affordability, protect unborn life, conscience and immigrant access,” noted Bishop Dewane.  “Tax reform should not become the vehicle for a partial health care reform that fails to address significant problems in our health care system while exacerbating other difficulties.”
 
Bishop Dewane also highlighted a November 14, 2017 Congressional Budget Office letter that stated that a deficit increase of $1.5 trillion over ten years would require spending cuts as early as 2018, if other legislation is not enacted.  “These cuts will almost certainly include deep reductions to programs that help those in need,” the USCCB letter said.
 
The full letter can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Senate-Tax-Cuts-and-Jobs-Act-Letter-2017-11-22.pdf .

November 21, 2017
MIGRATION CHAIRMAN RESPONDS TO TROUBLING TERMINATION OF TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS FOR HAITI; CALLS ON CONGRESS TO FIND A SOLUTION
 
WASHINGTON — On November 20, the Department of Homeland Security announced termination of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti. TPS is a temporary, renewable, and statutorily-authorized humanitarian migration program that permits individuals to remain and work lawfully in the U.S. during a period in which it is deemed unsafe for nationals of that country to return home. There are an estimated 50,000 Haitian TPS recipients living in the U.S.

Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, issued the following statement in response:

“Yesterday’s decision to terminate TPS for Haiti is deeply troubling. As discussed in our recent delegation trip report, Haiti is not yet in a position where it can safely accept return of the estimated 50,000 Haitian nationals who have received TPS. This decision will devastate many families with TPS members, including those with U.S. citizen children. It will tear individuals from their loved ones, homes, careers, and communities. It will also have direct negative consequences for many in Haiti who rely on remittances for vital support. 

Our nation has a responsibility to provide continued temporary protection until TPS holders’ return and reintegration can be safely accomplished. Catholic Social Teaching recognizes a duty to not turn our backs on our neighbors in need. Scripture states: ‘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). Our Haitian neighbors, at home and abroad, need our compassion while their country rebuilds and recovers. Yesterday’s decision ignores such needs.

The Administration has provided an 18-month period during which TPS recipients from Haiti can legally stay in the United States and prepare for their departure. While this time is appreciated, it will not remedy the protection concerns and family separation that Haitian TPS recipients will face.

Congress needs to find a legislative solution for long-term TPS recipients and enact legislation that keeps these families together.

Our prayers and continued support are with the Haitian people who have deep ties to our communities, parishes, and country. They are businesses owners, successful professionals, home owners, and parents of U.S. citizen children and most importantly, they are children of God.”

November 21, 2017
“TRADE MUST BENEFIT PEOPLE,” SAY U.S. AND MEXICAN BISHOPS IN STATEMENT ON NAFTA RENEGOTIATION

WASHINGTON — The chairmen of the Committee on International Justice and Peace and Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as chairmen of the Conference of the Mexican Episcopate’s Pastoral Social Committee, have issued a joint statement on the ongoing renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

NAFTA — a trilateral commercial agreement among the United States, Canada, and Mexico—came into force in 1994, and has brought about many positive outcomes as well as some negative ones, especially for poor and vulnerable persons in the United States and Mexico.

The statement, entitled, “RENEGOTIATING NAFTA: Rebuilding our Economic Relationship in Solidarity, Mutual Trust, and Justice,” restates longstanding principles and guidelines of Catholic Social Doctrine regarding international trade. The bishops remind all involved that:

“Trade must, first of all, benefit people, in addition to markets and economies. It is crucial   that these complex and multifaceted agreements arise from a sound legal and moral framework that protects the common good and the most vulnerable.”

Noting that trade agreements “have consequences beyond the economic sphere,” the bishops of both countries offer in their statement criteria based on experience, as pastors, to help guide the renegotiation process so that it might serve as a “means of achieving the welfare and integral development of all.”

The full statement is available in both English and Spanish at:
 
www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/trade/upload/NAFTA-STATEMENT-ENGLISH.pdf
 
www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/trade/upload/NAFTA-STATEMENT-SPANISH.pdf

November 21, 2017
POPE FRANCIS NAMES NEW BISHOPS IN NASHVILLE AND JEFFERSON CITY 





WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Father J. Mark Spalding of the Archdiocese of Louisville as the new bishop of Nashville.  Pope Francis also named Father Shawn McKnight, a priest of the Diocese of Wichita, as the new bishop of Jefferson City after accepting the resignation of Bishop John R. Gaydos.

The appointments were publicized in Washington on November 21, 2017 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Father J. Mark Spalding was born January 13, 1965 and was ordained a priest on August 3, 1991.

He attended St. Meinrad College Seminary in St. Meinrad, Indiana where he studied philosophy.  He later attended the American College at Louvain in Belgium (1991) where he earned a degree in theology. He later attended the Catholic University of Louvain, where he earned a Licentiate of Canon Law in 1992.

Assignments after ordination included parochial vicar, St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral, Bardstown (1992-1996); parochial vicar, St. Augustine Parish, Lebanon (1996-1998); parochial vicar, St. Margaret Mary Parish, Louisville (1998-1999); pastor, Immaculate Conception Parish, LaGrange (1999-2011); pastor, Holy Trinity Parish, Louisville (2011-present).
 
Father Spalding also served as judicial vicar for the Archdiocese of Louisville from 1998-2011 and is currently vicar general for the Archdiocese, 2011-present.
 
Father Shawn McKnight was born June 26, 1968.  He was ordained a priest for the diocese of Wichita on May 28, 1994.
 
He earned a master of arts degree and a master of divinity degree from the Pontifical College Josephinum (1993-1994) and later earned a Licentiate of Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm in Rome in 1999.  In 2001, he earned a Doctor of Sacred Theology also from the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm.

Assignments after ordination include: associate pastor, Blessed Sacrament Parish, Wichita (1994-1997); pastoral administrator, St. Patrick Parish, Chanute (1999); chaplain, Newman University, Wichita (2000-2001); priestly service, St. Mary’s Parish, Delaware (2003-2008); pastor, Blessed Sacrament Parish, Wichita (2008-2010); priestly service, parishes in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and Washington (2010-2015); presbyteral council and college of consultors, Wichita (2000-2005); pastor, Church of the Magdalen, Wichita (2015-present).

Father McKnight formerly served as executive director of the Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV) of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) from 2010-2015. He has also held numerous academic, professional and academic society positions among them serving as director of Liturgy and director of Formation at the Pontifical College Josephinum.
 
Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop John R. Gaydos, who has served as the third bishop of Jefferson City.
 
Bishop Gaydos was born August 14, 1943 and will turn 75 this August. On June 25, 1997, Gaydos was appointed bishop of Jefferson City by Pope John Paul II. He was ordained as bishop on August 27, 1997.

He also served within the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as Chairman of the Committee on Priestly Life and Ministry, now known as the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV).

The Archdiocese of Louisville comprises 8,124 square miles. It has a total population of 1,408,733 people of which 177,725 or 7 percent, are Catholic.
 
The Diocese of Jefferson City comprises 22,127 square miles. It has a total population of 920,234 people of which 81,958 or 11 percent, are Catholic. 

November 20, 2017
USCCB PRESIDENT MAKES THANKSGIVING DAY APPEAL FOR PROTECTION OF THE VULNERABLE, ESPECIALLY MIGRANT & REFUGEE FAMILIES

 WASHINGTON— Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), offers a Thanksgiving Day message to the nation with special gratitude for the gift of immigrants and refugees.

Full statement follows:
 
“As we do every year, we will pause this coming Thursday to thank God for the many blessings we enjoy in the United States. My brother bishops and I, gathered last week in Baltimore, were attentive in a special way to those who are often excluded from this great abundance—the poor, the sick, the addicted, the unborn, the unemployed, and especially migrants and refugees.

My brothers expressed a shared and ever-greater sense of alarm—and urgency to act—in the face of policies that seemed unthinkable only a short time ago:  the deportation of Dreamers, young hard-working people who should be the lowest priority for deportation; the anxiety and uncertainty of those with Temporary Protected Status from countries like Haiti, El Salvador, and Honduras, which are still recovering from natural disasters and remain ill-equipped to humanely receive and integrate them; and an unprecedented reduction in the number of people we will welcome this year into our country who seek refuge from the ravages of war and religious persecution in their countries of origin. 

One common feature of all these developments is their tendency to tear apart the family, the fundamental building block of our, or any, society. These threats to so many vulnerable immigrant and refugee families must end now. My brothers have urged me to speak out on their behalf to urge the immediate passage—and signature—of legislation that would alleviate these immediate threats to these families.

Another common feature of these policies is that they are symptoms of an immigration system that is profoundly broken and requires comprehensive reform. This is a longer-term goal, one that the bishops have advocated for decades to achieve, and one that must never be overlooked. Only by complete reform will we have the hope of achieving the common goals of welcoming the most vulnerable, ensuring due process and humane treatment, protecting national security, and respecting the rule of law. We are committed to such reforms and will continue to call for them.

So this year, I give thanks for the gift and contributions of immigrants and refugees to our great nation. I also pray that next year, families now under threat will not be broken and dispersed, but instead will be united in joy around their tables, giving thanks for all the blessings our nation has to offer. 

Have a Happy Thanksgiving all!”

November 18, 2017
CATHOLIC PARTNERS URGE 18-MONTH EXTENSION OF TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS FOR HAITI
 
WASHINGTON — On November 17, 2017, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, was joined by Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), and Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) in sending a letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, urging an 18-month extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti.

TPS is a temporary, renewable, and statutorily authorized immigration status that allows individuals to remain and work lawfully in the U.S. during a period in which it is deemed unsafe for nationals of that country to return home.



While the current designation for Haiti is set to expire in January 2018, the Department of Homeland Security is required to make a decision to terminate or extend TPS for Haiti by November 23, 2017. As noted by the partners: “[I]t would be premature and detrimental to the country’s redevelopment to return TPS holders to Haiti.” The letter, sharing insights from the recent USCCB/Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) delegation trip to Haiti, explained that the country is still recovering from the 2010 earthquake and subsequent natural disasters and is not currently in a position to adequately handle return of its nationals who have TPS. 



As discussed in the USCCB/MRS trip report, Haiti’s Ongoing Road to Recovery: The Necessity of an Extension of Temporary Protected Status, an extension of TPS for the nation is crucial for humanitarian, regional security, and economic stability reasons. Consequently, the Catholic partners urged Secretary Duke to extend TPS for Haiti to “allow the country to build upon the progress it has made towards recovery and help ensure individuals’ return and reintegration can be safely accomplished.” 



The letter also reiterated the Church's commitment to standing “ready to support measures to help ensure TPS recipients and their families are provided the protection and support they need while Haiti rebuilds.”



Read the full letter here: https://justiceforimmigrants.org/news/catholic-partner-letter-dhs-urging-extension-tps-haiti/.

November 16, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS’ CHAIRMAN GREATLY DISAPPOINTED BY HOUSE PASSAGE OF TAX BILL THAT HARMS POOR, MANY FAMILIES

 
WASHINGTON — Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, expressed “great disappointment” over the House of Representatives’ passage of the deeply flawed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, calling on the Senate to work toward legislation that fixes the problems with H.R.1.

The full statement reads as follows:
 
“It is greatly disappointing that the U.S. House of Representatives ignored impacts to the poor and families—including those who welcome life through adoption or have more than three children—and passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act without needed changes. According to the nonpartisan congressional Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), this bill raises taxes on the working poor beginning in 2023, and simultaneously gives large tax cuts to millionaires. The November 9 letter of the USCCB detailed the many deficiencies in the House bill, including the elimination of the personal exemption, which will hurt larger families, and the repeal of the out-of-pocket medical expenses deduction, which will harm those with serious and chronic illness.  While we are grateful that the House restored the adoption tax credit, it still repeals an important exclusion for families assisted by their employer to adopt children in need, and eliminates incentives for charitable giving. For families working hard for economic security, the bill eliminates the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, and tax relief for persons paying for tuition and student loans, as well as those who retire on disability, among other things. 
 
While H.R. 1 takes an important step toward strengthening parents' ability to choose a school that best suits their child, its repeal of important provisions that aid both teachers and students in non-government elementary and secondary schools should be reversed.
 
The Senate is currently debating its bill, and the USCCB will release a more detailed analysis shortly. The Senate must act decisively to avoid the deficiencies in the House legislation, and craft a final bill that affirms life, cares for the poor, and ensures national tax policy aimed at the common good. Right now, the Senate bill does not eliminate many of the tax benefits that the House bill does, and this is commendable. However, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) wrote on November 14 that the $1.5 trillion deficit that is created over 10 years will require spending cuts, and much of these will likely come from programs that help the poor.  The Senate bill does not include a needed ‘above-the-line’ charitable deduction, the omission of which will result in up to a $13 billion annual decrease in charitable giving. 
 
Senate legislation has also been scored by the JCT as raising taxes on the working poor while giving large tax cuts to millionaires. In addition, the Senate proposes to cut additional tax benefits that help working families, and these must be fully understood. It is laudable that the Senate tries to incentivize paid family and medical leave, but the provision is designed to sunset at the end of 2019.  Although the Senate bill further expands the child tax credit, the elimination of the personal exemption will cause a net loss for larger families.
 
The Senate must work to ensure a legislative process characterized by integrity, one in which Americans can fully understand the implication of tax proposals which will be voted upon. It must also seek to pass a law that demonstrates that our nation prioritizes care for the most vulnerable among us.”

November 16, 2017
POPE FRANCIS ACCEPTS RESIGNATION OF AUXILIARY BISHOP JUSTICE OF SAN FRANCISCO
 
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop William J. Justice as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Bishop Justice’s resignation was accepted upon reaching the retirement age of 75.

Bishop Justice’s retirement was publicized in Washington, November 16, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
 
William Justice was born May 8, 1942 in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and moved to San Mateo, California in 1946. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Saint Joseph College in Philosophy in 1962 and a Master of Arts degree in Philosophy from Saint Patrick College in 1964. He graduated from St. Patrick Seminary in 1968 with a Master of Divinity Degree.
 
On May 17, 1968 he was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Joseph T. McGucken.
 
Assignments after ordination to the priesthood include: parochial vicar, Saint John the Evangelist, San Francisco, 1968-1970; parochial vicar, All Souls Church, San Francisco, 1970-1976; parochial vicar, Saint Paul Church, San Francisco, 1976-1979; parochial vicar, Saint Timothy Church, San Francisco, 1979-1982; director, Permanent Diaconate, Pastoral Center, San Francisco, 1979-1981; secretary, Office of Pastoral Ministry, Pastoral Center, San Francisco, 1981-1982; in residence, Saint Kevin Church, San Francisco, 1982-1985; pastor, Saint Peter Church, 1985-1991; sabbatical, 1989-1990; parochial vicar, All Souls Church, San Francisco, 1991-2003; pastor, Mission Dolores Basilica, San Francisco, 2003-2008; vicar for clergy, Archdiocese of San Francisco, 2006-2008.
 
On April 10, 2008, he was named an auxiliary bishop by Pope Benedict XVI.  On May 28, 2008, he was ordained a bishop at St. Mary's Cathedral by Archbishop George H. Niederauer.
 
The Archdiocese of San Francisco comprises 1,016 square miles. It has a total population of 1,776,095 people of which 441,736 or 25 percent, are Catholic. Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone is the current Archbishop of San Francisco.

November 14, 2017
AT GENERAL ASSEMBLY, BISHOPS APPROVE 2018 BUDGET, DIOCESAN ASSESSMENT INCREASE, ORDER OF BAPTISM FOR CHILDREN; ELECT CRS BOARD

BALTIMORE — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved today their 2018 budget and a three percent increase in the diocesan assessment for 2019 during their annual Fall General Assembly in Baltimore.

The 2018 budget was approved with 125 votes in favor, 4 against, and 3 abstentions. The vote required a majority of the members present to pass.

The three percent increase in the diocesan assessment for 2019 was approved with 136 votes in favor, 31 against, and 5 abstentions. This vote required approval by two-thirds of diocesan and eparchial bishops.

The bishops also approved the ICEL Gray Book translation of the Order of Baptism of Children for use in the dioceses of the United States of America with 200 voting in favor, 23 against, and 3 abstaining. The vote required affirmation by two-thirds of the Latin Church members and is subject to confirmatio by the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. In other actions, the bishops approved:

    •    Development of a formal statement that would offer a renewed pastoral plan for marriage and family life ministry and advocacy in light of Amoris Laetitia under the lead of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth (223-Yes, 12-No, 2-Abstain). 


    •    The addition of one staff position in service to the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, contingent upon funding through external grants (177-Yes, 22-No, 2-Abstain).



The bishops also elected the following members to the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Board of Directors:

Bishop Edward J. Burns, Diocese of Dallas; Bishop Felipe J. Estévez, Diocese of St. Augustine; Bishop Shelton J.  Fabre, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux; Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda, Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis; Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend; and Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski, Archdiocese of Miami.

November 14, 2017
BISHOPS APPROVE CANONICAL STEP FOR SAINTHOOD CAUSE FOR LAKOTA CATECHIST

BALTIMORE — The U.S. Bishops have approved by voice vote the canonical consultation of canonization for a Lakota Catechist at their annual fall General Assembly in Baltimore. Sought by Bishop Robert D. Gruss of Rapid City, South Dakota, the voice vote is in keeping with the Episcopal consultation process as a step in the Catholic Church’s process toward declaring a person a saint.

Nicholas W. Black Elk, Sr., was born into the Oglala Lakota Tribe in 1863 in Wyoming. The fourth generation to be named Black Elk, he was third in succeeding his father and grandfather as a prominent medicine man.  In 1885, he learned about St. Kateri Tekakwitha and signed the petition supporting the cause of her canonization. In 1904, he met a Jesuit priest who invited him to study Christianity at Holy Rosary Mission near Pine Ridge, SD.  On December 6, on the Feast of St. Nicholas, he was baptized Nicolas William.  In 1907, the Jesuits appointed him a catechist because of his love for Christ, his enthusiasm and his excellent memory for learning scripture and Church teachings. During the second half of his life, he traveled widely to various reservations, peaching, sharing stories, and teaching the Catholic faith.  He is attributed to having 400 Native American people baptized.

On March 14, 2016, a petition with over 1,600 signatures to begin the cause for canonization was presented to Bishop Gruss by the Nicholas Black Elk family. 
 
More information on the sainthood process is available at: http://www.usccb.org/about/public-affairs/backgrounders/saints-backgrounder.cfm.

November 14, 2017
U. S. BISHOPS VOTE FOR CONFERENCE SECRETARY, CHAIRMAN AND CHAIRMEN-ELECT OF SIX COMMITTEES AT FALL GENERAL ASSEMBLY

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) gathering in Baltimore for today’s 2017 General Assembly have elected a new conference secretary-elect along with a new chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty and chairmen-elect of five additional standing committees. 

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, Archdiocese of Detroit has been elected as secretary-elect for the USCCB on the ballot with 96 votes over Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City who received 88 votes.

Additionally, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Archdiocese of Louisville, has been elected as chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty in a 113 to 86 vote over Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
The five chairmen-elect are:

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Diocese of Arlington, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Communications in a 116 to 70 vote over Bishop John O. Barres, Diocese of Rockville Centre. 

Bishop Nelson J. Pérez, Diocese of Cleveland, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church in a 102 to 77 vote over Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux.
 
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend as chairman-elect of the Committee on Doctrine in a 110 to 95 vote over Bishop Daniel E. Thomas, Diocese of Toledo.

Bishop Joseph R. Cistone, Diocese of Saginaw as chairman-elect of the Committee on National Collections in a 124 to 65 vote over Archbishop Michael O. Jackels, Archdiocese of Dubuque.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities in a 96 to 82 vote over Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archdiocese of Chicago. 

The secretary-elect and the five committee chairmen-elect will serve one year before beginning three-year terms at the conclusion of the bishops' 2018 Fall General Assembly.  

November 11, 2017
TIME NEEDED TO REVIEW IMPACT OF TAX PLANS, SAYS U.S. BISHOPS CHAIRMAN
 
WASHINGTON — As the U.S. Senate unveiled details of its tax reform proposal, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called for prudence and adequate time for Americans to understand the impacts of the bill.

The full statement follows:
 
“Less than one week after the release of the U.S. House of Representatives’ ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,’ the U.S. Senate released a summary of its tax reform proposal.  A mark-up of the language is apparently set for Monday, November 13, 2017.  The USCCB released its fuller analysis of the House bill Thursday, and will review the Senate proposal carefully to provide a more detailed analysis of that bill as well.
 
However, Congress and the nation must have adequate time to understand these bills, as the financial wellbeing of every household and our society at large are at stake. Marking up a comprehensive revision to the tax code on the next business day from when initial language is released does not allow time for careful consideration of the effects of the proposals.  
 
It remains imperative that lawmakers examine the tax bill in light of the moral principles outlined in our letter of two weeks ago (http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Tax-Reform-Principles-Letter-Congress-2017-10-25.pdf):
 
    •    Caring for the poor;
    •    Strengthening families;
    •    Maintaining progressivity of the tax code;
    •    Raising adequate revenue for the common good;
    •    Avoiding cuts to poverty programs to finance tax reform; and
    •    Incentivizing charitable giving and development.
 
Knowledge takes time, and running feet miss the mark (cf. Prov. 19:2). Getting tax policy right is imperative for the sake of families, and particularly the poor, of our nation.”   

The November 9 USCCB letter analyzing the House of Representatives tax reform bill

November 10, 2017
USCCB CHAIRMEN URGE CONGRESS TO PROVIDE INTERNATIONAL FUNDING FOR CLIMATE CHANGE
 
WASHINGTON — In a letter to members of Congress today, Bishop Frank J. Dewane and Bishop Oscar Cantú urge the United States to support international climate assistance during the year-end appropriations process. The bishops request that Congress dedicate $10 million to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the international body that guides climate policy.
 
The letter appeals to the responsibility to care for the common good and affirms that the “blessings of God’s creation and the duty to care for the common good overflow beyond our borders, especially when it comes to the air and climate shared with all peoples and creatures living on the planet.

”

The UNFCCC facilitates international cooperation on climate change through initiatives such as the annual U.N. Climate Change Conference, which is currently taking place in Bonn, Germany. Two years ago, this conference resulted in the Paris Climate Agreement, from which the United States intends to withdraw. The U.S. bishops have expressed disappointment about the decision to not uphold this agreement that is based on unified global action against climate change.



“Restricting funding to the UNFCCC will only weaken the ability of the United States to dialogue in the international arena using a common language based on the best science available,” said Bishops Dewane and Cantú.



“By supporting the UNFCCC, the United States can direct attention and resources towards adaptation measures that help all people, especially the poor, adapt to the effects of climate change globally,” continued the bishops. “By doing so, our nation can better pursue the national interest, support credible climate research and promote the common good within and beyond our borders.” 



Bishop Dewane of Venice, Florida, is chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. Bishop Cantú of Las Cruces is chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the USCCB.

 

The full text of the letter can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/environment/upload/UNFCCC-letter-2017-11-10.pdf.

November 9, 2017
USCCB MIGRATION CHAIR OPPOSES TERMINATION OF CENTRAL AMERICAN MINORS (CAM) PROGRAM



WASHINGTON — Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, expresses his opposition to the Administration's decision to end refugee processing for individuals in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala who apply to enter the U.S. through the Central American Minors (CAM) program. Bishop Vasquez notes that the elimination of this program puts the lives of vulnerable children at risk for greater harm and represents a step backwards in the prevention of irregular migration.



Bishop Vásquez's full statement follows:



"I am deeply disappointed by the Administration's decision to terminate the entire CAM program. I have previously expressed disappointment when the parole option of the program was cancelled, and now disapprove all the more of the decision to eliminate the whole program. Especially troubling is the short cutoff date for accepting CAM applications, which is barely 24 hours advance notice to service providers. This decision of the Administration unnecessarily casts aside a proven and safe alternative to irregular and dangerous migration for Central American children.



Already, the end of the CAM parole program has caused heartbreaking family separation for families who have learned that their child has no safe means of arriving to the United States. The end of the overall CAM program will sadly perpetuate more of the same family breakdown.

Pope Francis has called on us to protect migrant children, noting that ‘among migrants, children constitute the most vulnerable group.’ The CAM program, which included both refugee and parole options, should have been maintained precisely because it provided a legal and organized way for children to migrate to the United States and reunify with families. Terminating the entire CAM program will neither promote safety for these children nor help our government regulate migration.

 
We continue to pray and express our support for parents who endure anxiety and emotional hardship knowing their children will continue to languish in violence; and to the children themselves, who will not be able to reunite and embrace their parents.”

November 9, 2017
HOUSE TAX REFORM BILL “UNACCEPTABLE” AS WRITTEN, SAY U.S. BISHOPS CHAIRMEN
 
WASHINGTON — In a letter of November 9, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Bishop George V. Murry, SJ of Youngstown, Ohio called for amendments to the current draft of the House of Representatives tax reform bill “for the sake of families” and “for those struggling on the peripheries of society who have a claim on our national conscience.”
 
“Doubling the standard deduction will help some of those in poverty to avoid tax liability, and this is a positive good contained in the bill,” wrote the Bishops of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.  “However, as written, this proposal appears to be the first federal income tax modification in American history that will raise income taxes on the working poor while simultaneously providing a large tax cut to the wealthy.  This is simply unconscionable.”
 
Bishop Dewane is the Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Cantú chairs the Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Bishop Murry heads the Committee on Catholic Education.
 
According to the nonpartisan congressional Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), households with income of $20,000 and $40,000 per year will see their taxes raised in 2023, 2025, and again in 2027.  Taxes will also increase on average taxpayers earning between $10,000 and $20,000 in 2025.  At the same time, significant tax breaks to the very wealthy—including millionaires and billionaires—are projected for each year.
 
The bishop-chairmen highlighted positive provisions in the areas of education and modest increases to child tax credits, but stressed that the bill places “new and unreasonable burdens on families,” and must be changed.  Included among them are the elimination of:  the adoption tax credit and adoption assistance program exclusion, the personal exemption (which will harm many larger families), the out-of-pocket medical expenses deduction, and incentives to employees and employers dependent care assistance or child care, among others.
 
The letter also cautioned that the deficit could “be used as an argument to further restrict or end programs that help those in need, programs which are investments to help pull struggling families out of poverty.”  Finally, the Bishops called for fixes to disincentives for charitable giving and affordable housing and community revitalization development projects that will result from the legislation.
 
The full letter can be found at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Tax-Cuts-and-Jobs-Act-Letter-11-9-2017.pdf.

November 9, 2017
USCCB MIGRATION AND REFUGEE SERVICES RELEASES REPORT RECOMMENDING EXTENSION OF TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS (TPS) FOR HAITI
 
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office of Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB/MRS), released its report today, entitled Haiti’s Ongoing Road to Recovery:
The Necessity of an Extension of Temporary Protected Status, recommending the U.S. government extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti.

Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, in a letter introducing the report, states: “[W]hile conditions in Haiti are improving, the country is not yet in a position where it can adequately and safely accept return of the estimated 50,000 Haitian nationals who have received TPS.”
 
A delegation from USCCB/MRS traveled to Haiti, from September 4-7, 2017, to examine the progress Haiti had made since its initial designation for TPS in 2010 and the challenges that remain. The delegation also assessed the ability of the country to safely accept and reintegrate returned nationals should TPS for Haiti be terminated. USCCB/MRS Committee Member, Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, Florida, led the delegation and was accompanied by Bishop Launay Saturné of Jacmel, Haiti, as well as staff from MRS and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.
 
Currently, there are an estimated 50,000 Haitians living in the U.S. with TPS. Through its work in Haiti and in the United States, the Catholic Church knows these individuals to be hardworking contributors to American communities, Catholic parishes, and our nation. Unfortunately, Haitian TPS recipients are living in a state of uncertainty and flux as Haiti’s current TPS designation is set to expire on January 22, 2018, with the Administration required to make a decision to extend or terminate the status by November 23, 2017.
 
Bishop Vásquez states in his introductory letter: “We urge the Administration to provide an 18-month extension of TPS for Haiti to ensure recipients’ continued protection while their country rebuilds. We further urge Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to find a legislative solution for TPS recipients who have been in the United States for many years.”
 
This report and other resources related to TPS are available on the Justice for Immigrants website at: www.justiceforimmigrants.org. Resources include a backgrounder on TPS, a toolkit for Catholic leaders that offers ideas on how to show their support and solidarity with TPS recipients, and the USCCB/MRS report on TPS for El Salvador and Honduras.
The full text of the Haiti report can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/about/migration-policy/fact-finding-mission-reports/upload/mrs-haiti-trip-report.pdf

November 8, 2017
MIGRATION CHAIRMAN RESPONDS TO AUTOMATIC SIX-MONTH EXTENSION OF TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS FOR HONDURAS
 
WASHINGTON — On November 6th, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it needs more time to assess country conditions before rendering a final decision on Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Honduras, thereby automatically extending the current TPS designation for Honduras for six months, through July 5, 2018. TPS is a temporary, renewable, and statutorily authorized humanitarian migration program that permits individuals to remain and work lawfully in the U.S. during a period in which it is deemed unsafe for nationals of that country to return home. There are an estimated 57,000 Hondurans in the U.S. with TPS.

Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of Committee on Migration (USCCB/COM), issued the following statement:
 
“I appreciate that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is seriously evaluating country conditions in Honduras. The automatic extension while DHS continues its evaluation is the right thing to do for the Honduran TPS recipients living in the United States, for the continued prosperity and growth of Honduras, and for the security in the region. DHS should take this time to vigorously look at conditions on the ground in Honduras, to comprehensively note the existing violence and security threats to citizens, the nascent but growing protection infrastructure, the ongoing poverty, and the environmental degradation that continue to exist in Honduras. Our recent report “Temporary Protected Status: A Vital Piece of the Central American Protection and Prosperity Puzzle,” highlights such concerns. As DHS continues this process, we pledge continued engagement, information gathering, and cooperation with both the U.S. government and our Catholic partners in Honduras who provide extensive social welfare services in partnership with the U.S. and Honduran government.
 
While appreciative of DHS’s attention to this issue, my continued thoughts and prayers are with Honduran TPS recipients and their families who still face uncertainty in their situation here in the United States. I also support efforts in Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to find a legislative solution for long-term TPS recipients.
 
TPS recipients have deep ties to our communities, parishes, and country. They are businesses owners, successful professionals, home owners, parents of U.S. citizen children, and most importantly, children of God. We must find a solution for these individuals and their families, and we stand ready to support Congress in its effort to do so.”

November 7, 2017
DOMESTIC JUSTICE CHAIRMAN URGES TRUE DEBATE ON GUN VIOLENCE

WASHINGTON — In the aftermath of the recent and horrific attacks in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the First Baptist Church of Southerland Springs, Texas, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, urged national leaders to engage in a true debate about solutions to gun violence.

The full statement follows:

"For many years, the Catholic bishops of the United States have been urging our leaders to explore and adopt reasonable policies to help curb gun violence.  The recent and shocking events in Las Vegas and Southerland Springs remind us of how much damage can be caused when weapons—particularly weapons designed to inflict extreme levels of bloodshed—too easily find their way into the hands of those who would wish to use them to harm others.
Violence in our society will not be solved by a single piece of legislation, and many factors contribute to what we see going on all around us. Even so, our leaders must engage in a real debate about needed measures to save lives and make our communities safer.  The USCCB continues to urge a total ban on assault weapons, which we supported when the ban passed in 1994 and when Congress failed to renew it in 2004. 

In addition, the bishops have supported:

    •    Measures that control the sale and use of firearms, such as universal background checks for all gun purchases;
    •    Limitations on civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines;
    •    A federal law to criminalize gun trafficking;
    •    Improved access to mental health care for those who may be prone to violence;
    •    Regulations and limitations on the purchasing of handguns; and
    •    Measures that make guns safer, such as locks that prevent children and anyone other than the owner from using the gun without permission and supervision.

While acknowledging the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and related jurisprudence, we live in a fallen world with daily advances in modern technology. Some weapons are increasingly capable of easily causing mass murder when used with an evil purpose. Society must recognize that the common good requires reasonable steps to limit access to such firearms by those who would intend to use them in that way.”  

November 5, 2017
PRESIDENT OF U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS RESPONDS TO MASS SHOOTING IN TEXAS

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued the following statement in response to today’s mass shooting during a church service in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

“Earlier today, we heard of the mass shooting at the Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.  With Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, I extend my prayers and the prayers of my brother bishops for the victims, the families, the first responders, our Baptist brothers and sisters, indeed the whole community of Sutherland Springs.  We stand in unity with you in this time of terrible tragedy -- as you stand on holy ground, ground marred today by horrific violence.  
We ask the Lord for healing of those injured, His loving care of those who have died and the consolation of their families. 
 

This incomprehensibly tragic event joins an ever-growing list of mass shootings, some of which were also at Churches while people were worshipping and at prayer.  We must come to the firm determination that there is a fundamental problem in our society.  A Culture of Life cannot tolerate, and must prevent, senseless gun violence in all its forms. May the Lord, who Himself is Peace, send us His Spirit of charity and nonviolence to nurture His peace among us all.”

November 3, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS CHAIRMAN URGES PRUDENCE AND THOUGHTFUL DELIBERATION ON TAX REFORM
 
WASHINGTON — Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chair of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, urged the U.S. House of Representatives toward prudence, ensuring that they and the nation understand fully the impacts of tax reform proposals before voting on them.
 
The full statement follows:
 
“The USCCB is currently studying the U.S. House of Representatives’ ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,’ which was released yesterday, and will be releasing a more detailed statement soon. The changes proposed in this bill are significant and complex, affecting the entire nation. Current information indicates that the House is planning to move this bill quickly through the legislative process. However, prudence requires that members of Congress and the people of the country have adequate time to fully understand and debate the consequences of any tax bill so that decisions serve the dignity of the human person and the common good. This is not a moment for hurried action, but thoughtful deliberation.
 
It is imperative, too, that lawmakers consider the tax bill through the lens of the moral principles outlined in our letter of one week ago:
•           Caring for the poor;
•           Strengthening families;
•           Maintaining progressivity of the tax code;
•           Raising adequate revenue for the common good;
•           Avoiding cuts to poverty programs to finance tax reform;
•           Incentivizing charitable giving and development.
 
A clear understanding and careful consideration of the impacts of these tax proposals is essential for the sake of all people, but particularly the poor.”
 
Bishop Dewane’s October 25 letter can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Tax-Reform-Principles-Letter-Congress-2017-10-25.pdf.



November 2, 2017
HINDUS AND CATHOLICS MEET FOR THIRD TIME; APOSTOLIC NUNCIO TO GIVE KEYNOTE ADDRESS

WASHINGTON — Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, will deliver a keynote address for the third Hindu-Catholic meeting to be held on Saturday, November 11, 2017 at the Sri Siva Vishnu Temple in Lanham, MD. The theme for the gathering is “Love of Neighbor in the Catholic and Hindu Traditions: Reflections on Nationalism, War & Poverty.” The meeting is co-sponsored by the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The bishops’ ecumenical and interreligious committee is in the process of building stronger relations with the Hindu community in the United States. Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski of Springfield, Massachusetts, chair of the committee, affirmed that continued opportunities for encounter and reflection on areas of mutual concern are precious in these socially divisive times.

“As the conversation around nationalism, economic inequality, and the proliferation of state-sanctioned violence grows increasingly fraught, driven by fear and often willful misinformation, the Catholic Church must help to model real dialogue and good will,” said Bishop Rozanski. “Our hope is to advance the goals of greater understanding, mutual esteem and collaboration between Hindus and Catholics, and continue to grow in true friendship and respect. I am grateful to Archbishop Pierre for supporting the foundations of fruitful dialogue between Hindus and Catholics in the United States.”

Dr. Abhaya Asthana, President of Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA), one of USCCB’s dialogue partners stated, “These dialogues, over the past two years, continue to bring our communities together with a deeper understanding of each other’s traditions, thoughts and practices. The theme this year is both meaningful and pragmatic.”

The dialogue members will continue to meet yearly, as together they strive to deepen their friendship and build a vibrant network of collaboration on topics of mutual concern.

November 2, 2017
STATEMENT ON THE EMERGING CRISIS IN PUERTO RICO AND THE RESPONSE BY THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
 
WASHINGTON — In a November 2 statement, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chair of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Anchorage, Alaska, Chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions, called on Catholics and people of good will across the United States to remember those who continue to suffer in Puerto Rico and surrounding islands in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. 
 
The full statement follows:
 
“Since the immediate statements of His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, USCCB President, in response to the initial impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, it has become clear that the people of Puerto Rico face an unprecedented level of need as a result of those devastating storms. Meaningful action must address both the immediate and long-term needs of the Puerto Rican population. The Island is in the midst of a public health crisis, and food security, health care access, and sustainable alleviation of the island's debt are challenges that must be resolved in a comprehensive way. These will require great effort and significant contributions of financial resources and material assistance.
 
In addition, the people of other islands in this region, including the United States Virgin Islands, also face dramatic consequences to their economies, which are predicated on an active tourist industry. The enormous and adverse impact of the storms for the livelihood of the Virgin Islands is evident.
 
In addition to these human costs, the Church in Puerto Rico’s physical plant, including parish buildings and schools, has been grievously damaged by the hurricanes. As the Archbishop of San Juan noted, virtually every church structure on the island has been affected by these storms. This need is particularly compelling considering the central role that parishes perform as natural centers in providing pastoral outreach to impacted individuals and families in times of crisis. Aid and financial resources are necessary to restore the physical settings where the Church heals through its ministries those most desperately in need.
 
The people of Puerto Rico have been facing serious problems for many years: economic upheaval and scarcity, persistent joblessness, and other social problems resulting from the financial crisis gripping the Commonwealth's economy. They bear little responsibility for the island's financial situation yet have suffered most of the consequences. Now, the recent devastation has made the circumstances, especially for those in need, unbearable.
 
As pastors, we share in the suffering borne by our brother bishops and the people they shepherd in Puerto Rico. We stand ready, through legislative advocacy as well as by means of the emergency funds set up in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, to support with compassion our brothers and sisters in such dire need. We urgently beseech all Catholics in the United States to join with all people of good will in supporting these crucial initiatives at this critical point in time for the people of Puerto Rico.”
 
Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane                                        
Bishop of Venice                                                       
Chairman, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development                                


Most Rev. Paul D. Etienne
Archbishop of Anchorage
Chairman,
Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions

November 1, 2017
U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS PRESIDENT ON DIALOGUE WITHIN THE CHURCH

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement on the nature of dialogue within the Church today.

Full statement follows:

“The departure today of Fr. Thomas Weinandy, O.F.M., Cap., as a consultant to the Committee on Doctrine and the publication of his letter to Pope Francis gives us an opportunity to reflect on the nature of dialogue within the Church.  Throughout the history of the Church, ministers, theologians and the laity all have debated and have held personal opinions on a variety of theological and pastoral issues.  In more recent times, these debates have made their way into the popular press.  That is to be expected and is often good.  However, these reports are often expressed in terms of opposition, as political – conservative vs. liberal, left vs. right, pre-Vatican II vs Vatican II.  These distinctions are not always very helpful.

Christian charity needs to be exercised by all involved.  In saying this, we all must acknowledge that legitimate differences exist, and that it is the work of the Church, the entire body of Christ, to work towards an ever-growing understanding of God’s truth.

As Bishops, we recognize the need for honest and humble discussions around theological and pastoral issues.  We must always keep in mind St. Ignatius of Loyola’s “presupposition” to his Spiritual Exercises: “…that it should be presumed that every good Christian ought to be more eager to put a good interpretation on a neighbor’s statement than to condemn it.”  This presupposition should be afforded all the more to the teaching of Our Holy Father.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is a collegial body of bishops working towards that goal.  As Pastors and Teachers of the Faith, therefore, let me assert that we always stand in strong unity with and loyalty to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, who “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful” (LG, no. 23).
 
November 1, 2017
CONSULTANT STEPS DOWN FROM COMMITTEE ON DOCTRINE

WASHINGTON — James Rogers, chief communications officer for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), released the following statement this afternoon. 
 
“After speaking with the General Secretary of the Conference today, Father Thomas Weinandy, O.F.M., Cap., has resigned, effective immediately, from his position as consultant to the USCCB Committee on Doctrine. The work of the Committee is done in support of, and in affective collegiality with, the Holy Father and the Church in the United States.  Our prayers go with Father Weinandy as his service to the Committee comes to a close.”

November 1, 2017
PRESIDENT OF U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS RESPONDS TO TERROR ATTACK IN NEW YORK CITY

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued the following statement in response to this afternoon’s deadly attack on innocent people in Manhattan that has left at least eight people dead.

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

“This afternoon we heard of what appears to be a deliberate attack on innocent people in New York City. This horrendous act weighs on all of our hearts. Reports about the attack are too preliminary to understand fully what has happened, but it grieves me deeply that we must again respond to such acts of terror.

To the family and friends of those who have died, please know that you are not alone, and that the prayers of the Bishops and of all the Church are with you and your loved ones. To you and to everyone, I would like to say that the forces of darkness always try to wipe away our hope; but our hope is in the name of the Lord and will always remain firm. Let us remember the words of the Lord to prophet Joshua: be strong and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD, your God, is with you wherever you go.”

October 31, 2017
2017 CATHOLIC CAMPAIGN FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT COLLECTION TO BE HELD ON FIRST WORLD DAY OF THE POOR

WASHINGTON — The annual collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) will be held in most parishes the weekend of November 18-19, on the celebration of the First World Day of the Poor instituted by Pope Francis.

In his statement establishing the World Day of the Poor on the Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Pope Francis called for Christian communities to mark the occasion with “moments of encounter and friendship, solidarity and concrete assistance” with people living in poverty.  

“Poverty challenges us daily in the United States, but it also presents an opportunity for true encounter with the suffering flesh of Christ. CCHD is a concrete sign of the Church’s solidarity with people living in poverty and its commitment to bringing hope and the joy of the Gospel to our sisters and brothers in need,” said Bishop David P. Talley of Alexandria, chair of the CCHD Subcommittee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

Nearly 41 million people live in poverty in the United States – that’s $24,600 for a family of four and $12,600 for a single person. This collection supports the work of groups that empower low-income people to participate in decisions that affect their lives and work break the cycle of poverty in their own communities. Many of the projects supported by CCHD embody the corporal works of mercy, including the protection of worker rights, expanding access to healthcare, and reforming the criminal justice system.

CCHD is the official domestic anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic bishops. This national collection is the primary source of funding for CCHD's community and economic development grants and education programs aimed at fostering a culture of life and hope in communities across the nation. Twenty-five percent of funds collected remain in each diocese to support local anti-poverty projects.

October 31, 2017
POPE FRANCIS NAMES NEW BISHOP OF CHALDEAN EPARCHY OF TORONTO
 
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Bishop Bawai Soro, 63, as bishop of the Chaldean Eparchy of Mar Addai of Toronto. Up until now, Bishop Soro has been an auxiliary bishop of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Saint Peter the Apostle in San Diego.
 
The announcement was publicized in Washington on October 31, 2017 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
 
Bishop Soro was born March 3, 1954 in Kerkûk.  He was ordained a priest on February 21, 1982.
 
Pope Francis appointed Bishop Soro as auxiliary eparch for the Chaledean Catholic Eparchy of Saint Peter the Apostle of San Diego on January 11, 2014.  At that same time, he was also named Titular Bishop of Foratiana.
 
The Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Mar Addai of Toronto is the sole eparchy of the Chaldean Catholic Church for Canada.  Its cathedral episcopal see is the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in North York, near Toronto, in Ontario. The Chaldean Diocese of Mar Addai has a population of 37,716 Catholics.  Neighboring dioceses include Saint Peter the Apostle of San Diego and Saint Thomas the Apostle of Detroit.   

October 30 2017
CATHOLIC PARTNERS URGE DHS TO EXTEND TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS FOR HONDURAS AND EL SALVADOR
 
WASHINGTON—On October 30, 2017, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, joined representatives of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), and Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) in sending a letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, urging an 18-month extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Honduras and El Salvador.

TPS is a temporary, renewable, and statutorily authorized immigration status that allows individuals to remain and work lawfully in the U.S. during a period in which it is deemed unsafe for nationals of that country to return home.
The current designation for both countries is set to expire shortly, but, as noted by the letter’s signatories, “[t]erminating TPS at this time would be inhumane and untenable.” In the letter, the partners shared insights from the recent USCCB/Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) delegation trip to El Salvador and Honduras, and Catholic partners’ work in the region and with affected communities in the U.S., when explaining that the countries are not currently in a position to adequately handle return of their nationals who have TPS.

As discussed in the USCCB/MRS trip report, Temporary Protected Status: A Vital Piece of the Central American Protection and Prosperity Puzzle, an extension of TPS for both countries is crucial for humanitarian, regional security, and economic stability reasons. Consequently, the partners urged Secretary Duke to extend TPS for Honduras and El Salvador until individuals can return and reintegrate into their countries safely. They also reiterated the Church’s commitment to “stand ready to support measures to protect the well-being and dignity of Honduran and Salvadoran families as the two countries are on the path to reform, addressing citizen security and building protection infrastructure.”

Read the full letter here.

October 25, 2017
U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS PUBLISH “PRAYERS AGAINST THE POWERS OF DARKNESS”

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is making available through their publishing division prayers drawn from the appendix of the first official English-language translation of the ritual book on the rite of Exorcism. While the ritual book is not available for widespread distribution, it contains an appendix of prayers that can be used by anyone. Available through the USCCB’s online bookstore, the appendix is available for purchase in a small booklet entitled Prayers Against the Powers of Darkness.

Father Andrew Menke, executive director of the USCCB’s Secretariat of Divine Worship, notes that these prayers can strengthen and assist anyone who prays them. “The book is meant to facilitate a very reflective kind of prayer. It’s meant to be a meditative, patient, trusting, quiet sort of prayer,” says Father Menke.

Prayers Against the Powers of Darkness can be ordered online.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship is also announcing the release of the first official English-language translation of the ritual book, Exorcisms and Related Supplications. The book will only be distributed to bishops. Others who have a legitimate use for it, such as exorcists, clergy, scholars and seminary professors, will need to obtain a copy through their bishop.

“Some priests might not be all that comfortable using a Latin text, so having it available in the vernacular now means they can concentrate on prayer and on the ritual, without needing to worry about working in another language,” says Father Menke. “This should make it easier for bishops to find priests who can help them with this important ministry. Another benefit of the vernacular translation is that hearing the prayers in English can also bring comfort to the person undergoing an exorcism.”

Drawing from rituals used by the Catholic Church for centuries, the English translation has been prepared from the rite that was revised following the Second Vatican Council.  Ultimately, it is up to the discretion of the exorcist to choose which language to use during the rite.

It is important to note that under canon law (Canon 1172), only those priests who receive permission from their bishops can perform an exorcism, after proper training. Bishops automatically have the right to perform an exorcism and can share that authority with other priests. 

Each of the texts affirms the reality of evil in the world, but above all, affirms the sovereignty of Jesus to overcome any and all evil on a personal level and in the world. 
 
Additional books and resources pertaining to marriage and family life, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Vatican, ministry and more can be found by visiting the USCCB’s online bookstore

October 25, 2017
CONGRESS URGED TO REMEMBER THE POOR AND STRENGTHEN FAMILIES IN U.S. BISHOP’S LETTER ON TAX REFORM
 
WASHINGTON — In a letter today addressed to all members of Congress, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called for legislators to consider bedrock moral principles as they approach tax reform.

“The U.S. bishops have long emphasized that ‘[t]he tax system should be continually evaluated in terms of its impact on the poor,’” Bishop Dewane wrote.  Quoting Pope Francis concerning the family, Bishop Dewane stressed that “[t]hose services which society offers its citizens are not a type of alms, but rather a genuine ‘social debt’ with respect to the institution of the family, which is foundational and which contributes to the common good.”
 
As Congress formulates proposals for tax reform based on the “Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code,” Bishop Dewane’s letter articulated six moral principles that should guide lawmakers’ decisions:
 
    •    Care for the poor;
    •    Strengthening families;
    •    Maintaining progressivity of the tax code;
    •    Raising adequate revenue for the common good;
    •    Avoiding cuts to poverty programs to finance tax reform; and
    •    Incentivizing charitable giving and development.
 
Bishop Dewane called on legislators to remember the poor and the common good when considering taxes, writing that “you are urged to recognize the critical obligation of creating a just framework aimed at the economic security of all people, especially the least of these.”
 
The full letter is available at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Tax-Reform-Principles-Letter-Congress-2017-10-25.pdf
 
October 19, 2017
U. S. BISHOPS TO VOTE FOR CONFERENCE SECRETARY, CHAIRMAN AND CHAIRMEN-ELECT OF FIVE COMMITTEES AT FALL GENERAL ASSEMBLY

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will be voting for the conference secretary, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty and chairmen-elect of five additional standing committees at the upcoming annual 2016 General Assembly taking place November 13-14 in Baltimore, Maryland.

The five committee chairmen will serve for one year as chairmen-elect before beginning a three-year term at the conclusion of the bishops' 2018 Fall General Assembly.  

Nominees for the Conference Secretary, Chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty and Chairman-elect of each committee are as follows:

Conference Secretary
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City
Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, Archdiocese of Detroit
 

Committee on Communications 


Bishop John O. Barres, Diocese of Rockville Centre
Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Diocese of Arlington
 
Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church
Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux
Bishop Nelson J. Pérez, Diocese of Cleveland
 
Committee on Doctrine
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend
Bishop Daniel E. Thomas, Diocese of Toledo
 
Committee on National Collections
Bishop Joseph R. Cistone, Diocese of Saginaw
Archbishop Michael O. Jackels, Archdiocese of Dubuque
 
Committee on Pro-Life Activities
 Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archdiocese of Chicago
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas
 
Committee on Religious Liberty - Chairman
 Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Archdiocese of Louisville
Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, Archdiocese of Milwaukee


October 18, 2017
POPE NAMES AUXILIARY BISHOP JOSEPH SIEGEL BISHOP OF EVANSVILLE
 
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Bishop Joseph M. Siegel, up until now Auxiliary Bishop of Joliet, as the new bishop of Evansville, Indiana.

The announcement was publicized in Washington on October 18 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
 
Bishop Siegel was named Auxiliary Bishop of Joliet, Illinois, by Pope Benedict XVI on October 28, 2009 and was ordained a bishop on January 19, 2010 by Bishop Peter Sartain.

He was born in Lockport Township on July 18, 1963 and is the youngest of nine children. He attended St. Meinrad Seminary, Indiana, where he completed his college education.  He was then sent to the North American College in Rome (1984-1988), attending the Gregorian and Angelicum Universities.

Bishop Siegel was ordained a priest for the Joliet Diocese in 1988 and then completed his Licentiate in Sacred Theology at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein, Illinois.
Assignments after ordination include: associate pastor, St. Isidore Parish, Bloomingdale, Illinois, 1988-1994; associate pastor, St. Mary Immaculate Parish, Plainfield, Illinois, 1994-1998; parochial vicar, St. Mary Nativity Church, Joliet, Illinois, 1998-2000; parochial vicar, Cathedral of St. Raymond, Joliet, Illinois, 2000-2004; pastor, Visitation Parish, Elmhurst, Illinois, 2004-2009. In July 2011, Bishop R. Daniel Conlon appointed Bishop Siegel as his Vicar General.

Bishop Siegel has served as a member and chairman of the Presbyteral Council and was appointed to the Diocesan Board of Consultors. He also served as director of Continuing Formation for Priests, a member of the Diocesan Vocation Board, the Priest Personnel Board and Dean of Eastern Will County.
 
At the Catholic Conference of Illinois, he served on the Executive Committee and was chairman of the Catholics for Life Department. He chaired the Steering Committee for the Joliet Diocesan Year of the Eucharist and Eucharistic Congress and has been a member of the Bishops’ Respect Life Advisory Board. He is a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus and a member of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.

The Diocese of Evansville, Indiana, comprises 5,010 square miles. It has a total population of 512,870 people of which 76,218, or 15 percent, are Catholic.

October 17, 2017
USCCB MIGRATION AND REFUGEE SERVICES REPORT RECOMMENDS EXTENSION OF TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS (TPS) FOR EL SALVADOR AND HONDURAS
 
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office of Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB/MRS), released its report today, entitled Temporary Protected Status: A Vital Piece of the Central American Protection and Prosperity Puzzle recommending the U.S. government extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador and Honduras.

Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, in a letter of introduction of the report states: “As this report indicates, there is ample evidence to suggest that current TPS recipients from Honduras and El Salvador cannot return safely to their home country at this time.”
 
A delegation from MRS/USCCB traveled to Honduras and El Salvador, from August 13 to 19, 2017, to examine conditions in both countries regarding Honduras and El Salvador’s ability to adequately receive and integrate the possible return of existing TPS recipients. USCCB/MRS Committee Member, Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell of Los Angeles, California, led the delegation and was accompanied by MRS staff from Children’s Services, Policy and Public Affairs, and the National Collections offices. 
 
Currently, El Salvador and Honduras have Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from the U.S. government for certain nationals living in the United States, and the review of TPS is shortly to be re-evaluated by the U.S. government. It is estimated that there are approximately 200,000 current TPS recipients from El Salvador and 57,000 TPS recipients from Honduras living in the United States. TPS recipients living in the United States are parents to over 270,000 U.S. citizen children and are very integrated into American daily life.
 
Bishop Vásquez states in his introductory letter: “As you read this report, I urge you to keep the people of El Salvador and Honduras, including TPS recipients, in your thoughts and prayers. I encourage you to engage the Administration in requesting a TPS extension for El Salvador and Honduras . . . and to reach out to your elected Congressional leaders to request they support a legislative solution for TPS recipients who have been in the United States for many years.”


Resources and information about Temporary Protected Status and the report are available on the Justice for Immigrants website. The information includes a backgrounder on the temporary protected status and a toolkit for Catholic leaders that offers ideas on how to show their support and solidarity with TPS recipients.

The full text of the report can be found here.


October 16, 2017
POPE ACCEPTS RESIGNATION OF AUXILIARY BISHOP OF NEWARK

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the retirement of Bishop John W. Flesey from the office of auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Newark. 

The announcement was publicized in Washington on October 16 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Flesey has served in the Archdiocese since 1969.

As required by Canon Law, Bishop Flesey submitted to Pope Francis his letter offering his retirement having reached 75 years of age.

The Most Reverend John Walter Flesey, STD was born in Jersey City, NJ in 1942.  He attended Immaculate Conception Seminary until 1969, when he was ordained.
Bishop Flesey’s first assignment was to St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish, Plainfield, after which he earned an STL degree in Spiritual Theology from the Gregorian University in Rome, and a Doctorate of Sacred Theology from the University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.

He also holds an MS degree in Pastoral Counseling from Iona College and an STB from Catholic University of America.

He has served the Archdiocese as a member of the faculty, Rector and Dean, and Spiritual Director of Immaculate Conception Seminary, Seton Hall University, as well as Director of Ongoing Formation for the Priests of the Archdiocese of Newark.

Bishop Flesey was named Titular Bishop of Allegheny and Auxiliary Bishop of Newark in May 2004.  He currently serves as Regional Bishop of Bergen County and Pastor of Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Franklin Lakes.

October 14, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS CHAIRMAN EXPRESSES CONCERN, CALLS FOR CAREFUL IMPLEMENTATION OF HEALTH CARE EXECUTIVE ORDER
 
WASHINGTON — On October 13, President Trump signed an Executive Order on health care, and news about the Administration ending subsidies to insurers to help lower-income individuals was confirmed by Administration officials around the same time.  In light of these developments, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called for the Administration and Congress to protect low income people, as well as enact comprehensive reform for the sake of the most vulnerable.

Bishop Dewane’s full statement follows:

“President Trump signed an executive order yesterday intended to allow the sale of health insurance across state lines, and expanding certain insurance options and arrangements.  The USCCB will closely monitor the implementation and impacts of this executive order by the relevant administrative agencies.

In general, robust options for people to obtain health coverage, as well as flexibility and approaches aimed at increased affordability, are important strategies in health care. However, in implementing this executive order, great care must be taken to avoid risk of additional harm to those who now receive health care coverage through exchanges formed under the Affordable Care Act.
 
Administration officials also confirmed that subsidies to insurers designed to help low income individuals afford insurance would be ending. This is of grave concern. The Affordable Care Act is, by no means, perfect, but as leaders attempt to address impending challenges to insurance market stability and affordability, they must not use people’s health care as leverage or as a bargaining chip.  To do so would be to strike at the heart of human dignity and the fundamental right to health care. The poor and vulnerable will bear the brunt of such an approach.

Ultimately, this Executive Order ignores many more significant problems in the nation’s health care system.  Congress must still act on comprehensive reform in order to provide a sustainable framework for health care, providing lasting solutions for the life, conscience, immigrant access, market stability, and underlying affordability problems that remain unaddressed.”

October 12, 2017
ATTORNEY GENERAL’S RELIGIOUS LIBERTY GUIDANCE PROTECTS FREEDOM OF FAITH-BASED ORGANIZATIONS

WASHINGTON – On Friday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum for all executive departments and agencies on the subject of “Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty”.  Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has offered the following statement in response:

“The Attorney General’s guidance helpfully reaffirms that the law protects the freedom of faith-based organizations to conduct their operations in accordance with their religious mission.  The guidance also reaffirms that the federal government should never exclude religious organizations from competing on an equal footing for government grants or contracts, and religious entities should never be forced to change their religious character in order to participate in such programs.  We appreciate the Attorney General’s clarification of these matters, which will protect faith-based organizations’ freedom to serve all those in need, including the homeless, immigrants, refugees, and students attending religious schools.”

October 12, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS CHAIRMAN CALLS FOR PRAYER FOR THOSE IMPACTED BY CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES

WASHINGTON — Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, asked for prayers for favorable weather and assistance for those impacted by devastating fires raging through Northern California.

Bishop Dewane’s full statement follows:


“Do not fear: I am with you;
do not be anxious: I am your God.
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”
– Isaiah 41:10
 
Today we ask for the intercession of Almighty God as wildfires rage in Northern California. Already, these blazes have killed over 20 people, destroyed hundreds of houses and other buildings, and forced thousands of individuals to leave their homes and livelihoods behind in uncertainty. High winds and dry conditions have greatly increased the danger for the people in this region.
 
As brave men and women respond to these disasters, battling the fires and helping people to safety, we call upon God for improved weather, for the blessing of rain and favorable winds, to assist them.  We pray that those who are missing or are still in harm’s way will be found and protected. May God grant eternal rest to those who have died, and bring them into glory with him forever.
 
We pray, too, for generosity, care, and concern from neighbors and surrounding communities for those who are grieving and displaced. Though we may be weary from all that has taken place around the country in recent days, we know that God cannot be outdone in generosity and charity.  May he provide us with new wellsprings of love to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters who are hurting so deeply today.

October 12, 2017
POPE FRANCIS APPOINTS NEW AUXILIARY BISHOP OF MIAMI

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has appointed Father Enrique Delgado as a new auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Miami, Florida. Father Delgado is a priest of the Archdiocese of Miami and currently serves as pastor of St. Katharine Drexel Church in Weston, Florida.

The appointment was publicized in Washington on October 12 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Father Delgado was born December 26, 1955 in Lima, Peru. He earned a master’s degree in economics with a concentration in finance and accounting from the University of Lima in Peru. He worked for several years managing a company before immigrating to the United States. He entered seminary in the Archdiocese of Miami in 1991.

He completed his studies in philosophy at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami and finished a master’s degree in theology in 1995 and a master of divinity in 1996 from St. Vincent de Paul Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida.

He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Miami on June 29, 1996, in a Holy Mass in Peru officiated by Monsignor Agustin Roman.

Assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar at St. Agnes Church, Key Biscayne, Florida, 1996-1999; parochial vicar, Nativity Catholic Church, Hollywood, Florida, 1999-2003; pastor, St. Justin the Martyr Catholic Church, Key Largo, Florida, 2003-2010; pastor, St. Katharine Drexel Church, Weston, Florida, 2014-present. 
 
Father Delgado finished his doctoral studies in practical theology on December 19, 2015 from St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Florida.

The Archdiocese of Miami, Florida, comprises 4,958 square miles. It has a total population of 4,317,591 people of which 496,528, or 12 percent, are Catholic.

October 11, 2017
NATIONAL VOCATIONS AWARENESS WEEK SET FOR NOVEMBER 5-11

The Catholic Church in the United States will celebrate National Vocations Awareness Week, November 5-11, 2017. This annual event is a special time for parishes in the United States to actively foster and pray for a culture of vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, and consecrated life

Cardinal Joseph Tobin, the Chair of the US Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations, reminds us that each of us in the Church has a key role to play in the witness of our vocation in ordinary circumstances, “As we go about our everyday life and most especially this week, we must keep vocations in our prayers, while, at the same time, being a mindful witness with our own vocation. We may never know how our lives may have an impact on someone else’s story.  Simply living out our call as disciples of Jesus Christ fully and joyfully in the world bears witness to the love of Christ as He generously bestows on each of us our own personal call.”

National Vocations Awareness Week, sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations, is designed to help promote vocation awareness and to encourage young people to ask the question: “To what vocation in life is God calling me?” Parish and school communities across the nation are encouraged to include, during the first full week in November, prayer and special activities that focus on vocation awareness.  

Observance of Vocation Awareness Week began in 1976 when the U.S. bishops designated the 28th Sunday of the year for the celebration. It was later moved to Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in January. The USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations moved the observance of National Vocation Awareness Week to November to engage Catholic schools and colleges more effectively in this effort. 

October 10, 2017
U.S. BISHOP CHAIRMAN STATEMENT ON IMMIGRATION PRINCIPLES AND NEED FOR CONGRESSIONAL ACTION TO PROTECT DREAMERS

WASHINGTON — On Sunday evening, the White House released Immigration Principles and Policies that are a proposed list of priorities to be considered when working on legislative protection for Dreamers. Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the Committee on Migration, issued the following statement urging Congress to “ensure true protection for Dreamers once and for all.”

Full statement follows:

“The Administration’s Immigration Principles and Policies do not provide the way forward for comprehensive immigration reform rooted in respect for human life and dignity, and for the security of our citizens. They are not reflective of our country’s immigrant past, and they attack the most vulnerable, notably unaccompanied children and many others who flee persecution. Most unfortunately, the principles fail to recognize that the family is the fundamental building block of our immigration system, our society, and our Church.

“Since July, Congress has introduced legislative solutions for Dreamers, including the Dream Act. The Administration should focus attention on ensuring that a legislative solution for Dreamers is found as soon as possible. Every day that passes without that solution, these youth experience growing apprehension for their futures and their families. Each passing day brings us all a step closer to March 2018, when DACA recipients will begin to lose legal work privileges, and far worse, face the threat of deportation and family separation.

“For this reason, we exhort Congress to take up legislation and move forward promptly to ensure true protection for Dreamers once and for all. Together with so many others of good will, we shall continue to offer welcome and support to these remarkable young people, and we shall not stop advocating for their permanent protection and eventual citizenship.”

October 10, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS TO MEET NOVEMBER 13-14 IN BALTIMORE

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will meet in Baltimore, November 13-14, for their fall general assembly. During the assembly, the bishops will elect a new secretary for the Conference as well as five committee chairs. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, will also give his first address to the body of bishops as President of the USCCB as he completes the first year of his three-year term. In addition, the body of bishops will also hear an update from the bishops working group on immigration.

The bishops will vote for new chairmen-elect of the following six USCCB committees: Committee on Communications, Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, Committee on National Collections, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Committee on Doctrine, and a Chairman for the Committee for Religious Liberty.  Bishop nominees for the board of directors for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) will also elected.

The assembly will vote on the ICEL Gray Book translation of the Order of Baptism of Children text which reflects the translation principles introduced in Liturgian authenticam. They will also discuss and vote on the Conference's 2018 budget. 



There will also be a voice vote on the cause for canonization for a Lakota holy man and medicine man turned Catholic teacher named Nicholas Black Elk, Sr., sought by Bishop Robert Gruss of Rapid City.  



Several reports will also be given including a report from the National Advisory Council, as well as a report from Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and from Bishop Frank Dewane, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. Bishop George Murry, Chairman of the newly established Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, will also give an update report. The bishops will also hear updates on the Share the Journey campaign launched by Pope Francis on September 27 and reports from Sean Callahan, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services as well as Sister Donna Markham, OP, Ph.D., President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA). 



An update will also be given on the Convocation of Catholic Leaders in America that took place July 1-4, 2017 in Orlando, Florida, as well as reports on preparations for the upcoming V National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry and the 2018 Synod for Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment. The Most Reverend José Domingo Ulloa Mendieta, OSA, Archbishop of Panama will also present on preparations for the 2019 World Youth Day. 

On Sunday evening, a Mass will also be held in downtown, Baltimore. The Mass will mark the Centennial Anniversary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

The Conference will take place at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront hotel.

October 10, 2017
USCCB DOMESTIC JUSTICE CHAIRMAN CALLS FOR RENEWED CARBON EMISSIONS SOLUTIONS

WASHINGTON — After Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt announced that the EPA will formally seek to revoke the Clean Power Plan, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, expressed disappointment about the decision and called on leaders to “hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”


The full statement follows:

“The USCCB, in unity with Pope Francis, strongly supports environmental stewardship, and has for several years called on our nation to help curb carbon emissions through a national carbon standard.  Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Pruitt announced that the EPA will now take steps to revoke the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the national program designed to reduce carbon emissions from power plants by 32% in relation to 2015 levels by the year 2030.

The CPP may not have been the only possible mechanism for addressing carbon emissions, but, unfortunately, the Administration does not propose an adequate alternative as it seeks to dismantle the CPP.  Having already withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement, this change in course by the EPA solidifies the already troubling approach of our nation in addressing climate change, and places at risk many people, including the poor who can least bear the consequences of inaction.

Many states have already made great progress toward carbon mitigation goals under the CPP, making this decision even more difficult. Pope Francis' encyclical, Laudato si', calls us to action in caring for our common home.  A national carbon standard is a critical step for the U.S. at this time. Facing this shift from the Trump Administration, our leaders should heed the Holy Father’s moral call and seek new legislative solutions that will help the nation and world ‘hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor’ once more.”

October 6, 2017
HHS MANDATE DECISION REPRESENTS RETURN TO COMMON SENSE
 
WASHINGTON – Today’s decision to expand the HHS mandate exemption is a “return to common sense, long-standing federal practice, and peaceful coexistence between church and state,” according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the USCCB, and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, are hailing the Trump Administration’s announcement to provide a broad religious and moral exemption from the mandate requiring health insurance coverage of sterilization, contraception, and drugs and devices that may cause abortions.
 
Cardinal DiNardo and Archbishop Lori offered the following joint statement in response:
 
“The Administration’s decision to provide a broad religious and moral exemption to the HHS mandate recognizes that the full range of faith-based and mission-driven organizations, as well as the people who run them, have deeply held religious and moral beliefs that the law must respect.  Such an exemption is no innovation, but instead a return to common sense, long-standing federal practice, and peaceful coexistence between church and state.  It corrects an anomalous failure by federal regulators that should never have occurred and should never be repeated.
 
“These regulations are good news for the Little Sisters of the Poor and others who are challenging the HHS mandate in court.  We urge the government to take the next logical step and promptly resolve the litigation that the Supreme Court has urged the parties to settle.
 
“The regulations are also good news for all Americans.  A government mandate that coerces people to make an impossible choice between obeying their consciences and obeying the call to serve the poor is harmful not only to Catholics but to the common good.  Religious freedom is a fundamental right for all, so when it is threatened for some, it is threatened for all. We welcome the news that this particular threat to religious freedom has been lifted, and with the encouragement of Pope Francis, we will remain ‘vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.’”

October 6, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS CHAIRMAN CALLS ON U.S. GOVERNMENT TO ADDRESS BURMA REFUGEE CRISIS FOR RELIGIOUS MINORITY

WASHINGTON — Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, submitted written testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee for a hearing on October 5, 2017, entitled “The Rohingya Crisis: U.S. Response to the Tragedy in Burma.” The hearing addressed the U.S. government response to the plight of a Muslim religious minority from Rakhine State, Burma, known as the Rohingya.

In part of his testimony, Bishop Vásquez states, “We turn now to the grim situation of those forced to flee from Rakhine State, Burma. Forced out by what the Burmese military reportedly has referred to as a ‘clearance campaign,’ an estimated 501,000 people have fled from Rakhine State, Burma, to Bangladesh since August 25, 2017. Most are women and children, and the most vulnerable are newborns, pregnant women, and the elderly. Many have only makeshift shelters at best, are struggling to find the mere basics of life, and are trying to avoid debilitating and life-threatening waterborne and airborne diseases. They are all in our thoughts and prayers as the Catholic Church joins with others to mobilize in response to the horrific situation.”

The most recent violence is part of an historical pattern of persecution against the Muslim minority in Rakhine State, and also continues against other religious and ethnic minorities, such as a Christian ethnic minority group in Kachin State, Burma. While such persecution has lessened in recent years with democratic elections, the Burmese military still maintains substantial political power and economic control. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, human rights icon and the major democratic leader in Burma, has not been very vocal about the plight of those fleeing Rakhine State, but she has played a major role in changing the day-to-day life for her people and continues to lead a major peacebuilding effort with ethnic groups in Burma known as the Panglong Process to build a viable democratic federal system.

“As we shed light on the human rights tragedies in Burma, we urge continued U.S. support to resolve these critical situations and to support the democratically elected government in addressing these situations while also supporting their broader efforts to build a new, democratic, inclusive Burma,” notes Bishop Vásquez.
 
Bishop Vásquez’s full testimony can be found at: https://justiceforimmigrants.org/statements/written-testimony-reverend-joe-s-vasquez-bishop-austin-texas-chair-u-s-conference-catholic-bishops-committee-migration-rohingya-crisis-u-s-response/.

October 6, 2017
POPE FRANCIS NAMES NEW AUXILIARY BISHOP OF ORANGE

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Father Thanh Thai Nguyen as a new auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Orange, California. Father Nguyen is a priest of the Diocese of St. Augustine where he currently serves as pastor of St. Joseph Church in Jacksonville, Florida.

The appointment was publicized in Washington on October 6 by Msgr. Walter Erbi, Chargé d'Affaires at the Apostolic Nunciature in the United States.

Father Nguyen was born April 7, 1953 in Nha Trang, Vietnam.  In 1979, he escaped Vietnam by boat with his family and spent 10 months in a refugee camp in the Philippines before arriving in the United States in 1980.

He holds a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from Merrimack College, North Andover, Massachusetts and a master of divinity degree from Weston School of Theology, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Father Nguyen entered the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette in 1984 and served as a priest of that congregation for eight years.  He was ordained a priest on May 11, 1991.  He was incardinated in the Diocese of St. Augustine, June 29,1999.

Assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, Smyrna, Georgia, 1991-1994; parochial vicar, St. Ann Parish, Marietta, Georgia, 1994-1996; parochial vicar, Christ the King Parish, Jacksonville, Florida, 1996-2001; pastor, Christ the King Parish, Jacksonville, 2001-2014; pastor, St. Joseph Parish, Jacksonville, 2014-present.
    
The Diocese of Orange, California comprises 782 square miles. It has a total population of  3,145,515 people of which 1,346,540, or 42 percent, are Catholic.

October 3, 2017
POPE ACCEPTS RESIGNATION OF BISHOP GERALD F. KICANAS OF TUCSON; NAMES BISHOP EDWARD J. WEISENBURGER AS SUCCESSOR

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, 76, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Tucson, Arizona.  Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger, up until now Bishop of Salina, Kansas, has been named as the new bishop for the diocese.

The appointment was publicized in Washington on October 3 by Msgr. Walter Erbi, Chargé d'Affaires at the Apostolic Nunciature in the United States.

Bishop Weisenburger was born in Alton, Illinois on December 23, 1960.  He pursued seminary studies at the American College Seminary at the Catholic University of Louvain in Leuven, Belgium where he earned a bachelor of Sacred Theology degree along with both a masters in Religious Studies in 1986 and Moral and Religious Science in 1987.
  
Bishop Weisenburger was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City on December 19, 1987.  He later earned his pontifical J.C.L. degree from the University of St. Paul in Ottawa, Canada (1992).  Upon returning to the archdiocese, he was appointed vice-chancellor and adjutant judicial vicar.
  
In addition to chancery duties, he worked in parish and prison ministries from 1992-1995 and served as the on-site chaplain for rescue workers following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.  In 1996, he was appointed Vicar General of the archdiocese of Oklahoma City.  He remained with the Oklahoma City Tribunal for almost 20 years and served in various capacities including Promoter of Justice for the cause of canonization of Stanley Francis Rother, Servant of God.  He served as pastor of Holy Trinity parish in Okarche, Oklahoma (1995-2002) and as pastor of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (2002-2012).  On February 6, 2012, he was appointed Bishop of Salina by Pope Benedict XVI and was ordained on May 1, 2012.
 
Bishop Kicanas was born August 18, 1941 in Chicago, Illinois.  He was ordained a priest on April 27, 1967 and served in various capacities in the seminary system of the Archdiocese of Chicago for 25 years.  In 1984, he was appointed Rector of Mundelein Seminary and held seminary postings that included rector, principal, and dean of formation at the former Quigley Seminary South.
  
Bishop Kicanas is the former Vice President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and former Secretary of the USCCB.   He currently serves on the USCCB Committee on Catholic Education, Committee on Communications, the Subcommittee on the Church in Africa, Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs (consultant), and he is a member of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc, (CLINIC).
He is also the former Chair of the Board of Directors of Catholic Relief Services and has chaired and served on numerous USCCB committees.

Bishop Kicanas was named coadjutor bishop of Tucson on October 30, 2001, and was installed on January 15, 2002.  He became the seventh Bishop of Tucson on March 7, 2003.

The diocese of Tucson comprises 42,707 square miles of the southern part of Arizona.  It has a population of 1,904,477 people of whom 390,418 or 20 percent are Catholic.

October 2, 2017
BISHOPS CONFERENCE PRESIDENT CALLS FOR PRAYERS, CARE FOR OTHERS AFTER TRAGIC SHOOTING IN LAS VEGAS
 
WASHINGTON — On October 2, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), expressed “deep grief” after a deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas.

The full text of the statement follows:

“We woke this morning and learned of yet another night filled with unspeakable terror, this time in the city of Las Vegas, and by all accounts, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.  My heart and my prayers, and those of my brother bishops and all the members of the Church, go out to the victims of this tragedy and to the city of Las Vegas.  At this time, we need to pray and to take care of those who are suffering.  In the end, the only response is to do good – for no matter what the darkness, it will never overcome the light.  May the Lord of all gentleness surround all those who are suffering from this evil, and for those who have been killed we pray, eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.”











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