(USCCB News Archives can be accessed at www.usccb.org/news/)
(For interesting commentary on Catholic issues go to http://usccbmedia.blogspot.com/)
USCCB statement on Pope Francis' Urbi et Orbi message
WASHINGTON – Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following statement on the Holy Father’s Urbi et Orbi message today.
Archbishop Gomez’s full statement follows:
“Along with my brother bishops of the United States, I am grateful for Pope Francis’ Urbi et Orbi message today. We join with him in asking God to bless the world and to deliver us from the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think we all understand that we took part today in something historic, as the whole world was gathered together through communications media by the successor of St. Peter, united in one prayer before the living presence of Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist.
“In his message, the Holy Father reminds us that this time of the coronavirus is a call to courage, a call to faith. And as he says, faith does not mean simply agreeing with a set of ideas. Faith means making a decision to entrust our lives to Jesus Christ and to follow his path, to embrace his cross.
“The Holy Father tells us today that this pandemic is a time for conversion, a time for us to make choices about what truly matters in our lives, a time for us to change the priorities of our societies. It is a time to turn to God and to recognize that no matter how advanced our civilization and technology, we cannot save ourselves. We need God.
“In this moment saints are being made, the Holy Father tells us, pointing to the quiet heroism of ordinary people carrying out their daily duties in extraordinary times, serving one another with kindness and patience. ‘How many people pray, offer and intercede for the good of all,’ our Holy Father observes. ‘Prayer and silent service: these are our winning weapons.’
“So, let us continue to unite with Pope Francis in asking the Lord, through the intercession of Mary our Blessed Mother, to bless our world and to give us the courage to love and serve our brothers and sisters in this time of trial.”
Pope Francis accepts resignation of Birmingham diocese bishop
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Robert J. Baker, 75, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Birmingham and has named Bishop Steven J. Raica of Gaylord to succeed him.
The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on March 25, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop Raica was born on November 8, 1952 and ordained to the priesthood on October 14, 1978. He was named Bishop of Gaylord in 2014.
The Diocese of Birmingham is comprised of 28,091 square miles in the State of Alabama and has a total population of 3,073,473 of which 104,837 are Catholic.
25th Anniversary of The Gospel of Life
WASHINGTON — Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities has issued the following announcement on the 25th anniversary of The Gospel of Life (Evangelium vitae).
Archbishop Naumann’s full statement follows:
As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord on March 25, we also mark the 25th anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II’s prophetic encyclical, The Gospel of Life (Evangelium vitae). Here, this saint provides a clear challenge to us: “With great openness and courage, we need to question how widespread is the culture of life today among individual Christians, families, groups and communities in our Dioceses. With equal clarity and determination we must identify the steps we are called to take in order to serve life in all its truth” (EV 95).
With this, Pope St. John Paul II invites each of us to ask ourselves how we are assisting women in need who are pregnant or have young children. He challenges us to open our hearts even wider, and to improve our responses where needed, especially at the local level—in short, to truly accompany each pregnant or parenting woman in need.
This past November, the bishops enthusiastically embraced an initiative entitled Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Service to celebrate the anniversary by assessing and expanding our help to mothers in need. I am very excited to see dioceses and parishes across the country making plans to join in the Year of Service in their own unique ways. It is capturing the imagination of our people.
As Pope Francis reminds us, our parishes are called to be “islands of mercy in the midst of a sea of indifference.” Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Servicecommences on March 25, 2020. Parish resources for the Year of Service are being posted at www.walkingwithmoms.com.
Many areas of the country have had to temporarily suspend gatherings and Masses due to the coronavirus concern. In light of current events, dioceses and parishes are encouraged to adjust their schedules for the Year of Service according to what is pastorally and practically appropriate for everyone’s safety. In the meantime, we can still pray, wherever we are on March 25, that this Year of Service will help us increase our outreach, so that every pregnant and parenting mother in need may know she can turn to her local Catholic community for help and authentic friendship.
Statement upon death of Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk
WASHINGTON – Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following statement on the passing of Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk:
“His Excellency Daniel E. Pilarczyk, archbishop emeritus of Cincinnati, passed away Sunday at the age of 85. He was known as a shepherd close to his flock. The Archbishop led during challenging times but sought reconciliation and reform with humility.
“Archbishop Pilarczyk was generous also in service to his brother bishops. We benefited greatly from his pastoral leadership as president of what is now the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from 1989 to 1992.
“Join me in a prayer of gratitude for the life of Archbishop Pilarczyk as he meets the Lord he so dearly loved and served.”
March 17, 2020
Catholic Relief Services Delivers Hope of Christ
WASHINGTON – The Executive Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a statement in support of Catholic Relief Services.
The full statement follows:
“In the name of our Catholic faith, the donors, staff, and volunteers of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) deliver life-saving food, medicine, shelter, and training to the most vulnerable of our sisters and brothers around the world. They do this work often in remote, dangerous places that most people would fear to visit. We extend our prayers and gratitude for this courageous witness of Christ’s mercy.
“The humanitarian relief efforts of CRS are grounded in the loving teachings of the Catholic Church. CRS stands in firm defense of life. Criticisms to the contrary should not detract from the powerful impact your donations have on the lives of otherwise forgotten suffering populations.
“We have confidence in the thorough vetting system utilized by CRS by which complaints are investigated and corrective action taken, if necessary. CRS works alongside other relief agencies that may not share our teaching. In these instances, CRS keeps its work distinct.
“We firmly stand with the personnel of Catholic Relief Services in their solidarity to the least among us. Together, we affirm the sacredness of every human life from the moment of conception until natural death.”
USCCB Statements on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
WASHINGTON — On March 13, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued a reflection and prayer on Coronavirus (COVID-19). His statement is part of the USCCB’s ongoing engagement on the issue over the last several weeks.
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued a statement encouraging lawmakers to consider measures providing relief and aid to those suffering from COVID-19, those affected by workplace closures and other disruptions, and prayers for those suffering from the virus and for healthcare providers.
In response to news of progression of COVID-19 outbreaks in other parts of the world, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued a statement with Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Health Association of the United States that addressed the Catholic response to the outbreak.
The faithful are encouraged to consult their local (arch)diocese or (arch)eparchy as to local directives on the celebration of the sacraments. The USCCB’s Committee on Divine Worship has shared helpful considerations with the U.S. bishops regarding their role in regulating liturgical celebrations as they make decisions for their respective dioceses in the wake of growing public health concerns.
March 9, 2020
Annual CRS Collection Supports Marginalized Communities
WASHINGTON — Each year, a national collection that supports some of the most marginalized communities in the world is held in dioceses around the country. Through development projects, pastoral outreach, legal support services, advocacy, and educational opportunities, the programs supported through The Catholic Relief Services Collection serve people who live in poverty and victims of persecution, war, and natural disasters. This year’s collection will be held in many dioceses the weekend of March 21-22.
Funds donated to the annual collection are provided to six Catholic groups that share in the Catholic mission of promoting the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the human person: the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church, Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, and Department of Migration and Refugee Services, as well as Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), and the Holy Father's Relief Fund. The USCCB’s Administrative Committee is responsible for grant-making from this national collection.
“Through almsgiving, we extend a hand of fraternal charity and give witness to the Risen Christ while offering hope to people who live on the margins,” said Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Seattle, chairman of the Committee on National Collections for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
More information about the collection, who it supports and how the funds are distributed, can be found at www.usccb.org/catholic-relief/howtogive. You can support this work by giving to the annual collection taken up in your parish. If you miss your parish collection, or wish to give outside of the collection, visit http://www.usccb.org/catholic-relief/howtogive.
March 5, 2020
Pope Francis Names New Archbishop of Atlanta
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, O.F.M., Conv. of Savannah, as Archbishop of Atlanta. The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on March 5, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Archbishop-designate Hartmayer was ordained to the priesthood on May 5, 1979 as a member of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual (Conventual Franciscans). He was named bishop of Savannah in 2011. His full biography may be accessed here. . . .
The Archdiocese of Atlanta has been a vacant see since April 2019. The archdiocese is comprised of 21,445 square miles in the State of Georgia and has a total population of 7,480,000 of which 1,170,000 are Catholic.
March 3, 2020
Pope Francis Names New Auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Centre
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Rev. Luis M. Romero Fernandez, M. Id. as Auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Centre.
Bishop-elect Romero is a priest of the Institute of Christ the Redeemer (Idente Missionaries) and currently serves as Pastor of Our Lady of Loretto Parish in Hempstead, NY. He is fluent in English and Spanish, and also has familiarity with French, Portuguese and Italian languages. The appointment was publicized Tuesday in Washington, D.C. by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Father Romero was born June 16, 1954 in Palencia, Spain. He studied Philosophy and Theology at the International Seminary of Idente Missionaries in Tenerife, Spain (1974-1980). He holds graduate degrees in Biological Sciences (University of Seville, Spain, 1978), Philosophy and Letters (Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain, 1985), and a Doctoral degree in Medicine (University of Saragossa, Spain, 1987).
He entered the Idente Missionaries in 1972 and was ordained to the priesthood on September 11, 1981 in Tenerife, Spain.
Father Romero’s assignments after ordination include: Provincial Superior of Idente Missionaries in Saragossa, Spain (1981-1987), La Paz, Bolivia (1987-1996) and Santiago, Chile (1994-1997). From 1987 to 1994, Father Romero served as Director of the University Pastoral (Campus Ministry) and Religious Sciences Department of the Catholic University of Bolivia in La Paz, Bolivia. He was also Adjunct Director of the Religious Sciences Department at the Catholic University of Bolivia (1991-1994).
From 2009 to 2010, Father Romeo was part of several missions in the headquarters of Idente Missionaries Institution in Rome, Italy, and the General See of the Male Branch in Madrid, Spain. He served as Director of the University Pastoral Department (Campus Ministry) in the Diocese of Cadiz, Spain (2009-2011); Counsellor of the General See of Idente Missionaries, Men’s Branch (2009-2017). From 2011 to 2013, he served as Provincial Superior of Idente Missionaries in India (Cochin). Bishop-elect Romero has also held positions as Professor/Researcher, University of Saragosa, Spain (1978-1987), Professor/Researcher, Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, La Paz, Bolivia (1990-1996), and Professor, School of Medicine and School of Biochemistry, Private Technical University of Loja, Ecuador (1998-2008).
The Diocese of Rockville Centre is comprised of 1,198 square miles in the state of New York and has a total population of 3,004,366 of which 1,428,296 are Catholic. Bishop John O. Barres is the current bishop of Rockville Centre.
March 2, 2020
Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Grosz of Bufflo
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Most Reverend Edward M. Grosz as Auxiliary Bishop of Buffalo. Bishop Grosz has reached the retirement age for bishops of 75.
The resignation was publicized in Washington on March 2, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
February 27, 2020
Pope Francis Names New Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed the Rev. Ramon Bejarano as Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego.
Father Bejarano is a priest of the Diocese of Stockton and currently serves as Pastor of the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Stockton, CA. The appointment was publicized today in Washington, D.C. by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Father Bejarano was born July 17, 1969 in Laredo, TX. His family is from Chihuahua, Mexico, and he lived there from 1972 until 1987 when he moved with his family to Tracy, CA in the Diocese of Stockton. In 1989, he entered formation for the Diocese of Stockton. Bishop-elect Bejarano attended and received his Master of Philosophy from Seminario Diocesano de Tijuana (1989-1992) and his Master of Divinity from Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon (1992-1998). He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Stockton on August 15, 1998.
Assignments after ordination include: Parochial Vicar at St. George Church, Stockton, CA (1998-2003) and Sacred Heart Church, Turlock, CA (2004-2006), Founding Pastor of Holy Family Parish in Modesto, CA (2006-2008). From 2008 until present, he has served as Pastor of Saint Stanislaus Parish in Modesto, CA. Father Bajarano has served on the Presbyteral Council and the Board of Consultors for the Diocese of Stockton. He is fluent in both English and Spanish.
The Diocese of San Diego is comprised of 8,852 square miles in the state of California and has a total population of 3,484,311 of which 1,391,278 are Catholic. Bishop Robert W. McElroy is the current bishop of San Diego.
February 27, 2020
Pope Francis Names Three New Auxiliary Bishops of Newark
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Rev. Msgr. Gregory Studerus, Rt. Rev. Elias Lorenzo, O.S.B., and Rev. Michael Saporito as Auxiliary Bishops of Newark.
Monsignor Studerus is a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark and currently serves as Pastor of St. Joseph of the Palisades Church in West New York, NJ. Rt. Rev. Elias Lorenzo, O.S.B. is a monk of St. Mary’s Abbey in Morristown, NJ and serves as Abbot President of the American Cassinese Benedictine Congregation. Father Michael Saporito is a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark and currently serves as Pastor of St. Helen Parish in Westfield, NJ. The appointments were publicized today in Washington, D.C. by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop-elect Studerus was born March 31, 1948 in West Orange, NJ. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education (1970) from Montclair State College. He received his Master of Divinity from the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, NY and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Newark on May 31, 1980. He was named a Chaplain to His Holiness by Pope Benedict XVI with the title of “Monsignor” in 2005. He has been serving as Pastor of St. Joseph of the Palisades Church in West New York, NJ since 2005.
Bishop-elect Lorenzo was born October 6, 1960, in Brooklyn, NY. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy (1982) from Don Bosco College Seminary in Newton, NJ. In 1983, Abbot Lorenzo entered Saint Mary’s Abbey, Benedictine Monastery, American Cassinese Congregation in Morristown, NJ. In 1985, he made his First Profession, and his Solemn Profession in 1988, both at St. Mary’s Abbey in Morristown, NJ. He was ordained a priest on June 24, 1989. Abbot Lorenzo is a founding member of the International Commission for Benedictine Education (1999-present), President of the International Commission for Benedictine Education (2013-present), Abbot President of the American Cassinese Congregation of the Order of St. Benedict (2016-present), and a member of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, as well as a member of the Union of Superior General (2016-present).
Father Saporito was born May 3, 1962. He holds a Bachelor of Accountancy from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ (1984) and a Master of Divinity from the Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology, South Orange, NJ (1992). He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Newark on May 30, 1992. Since 2011, Father Saporito has been serving as a pastor at St. Helen Parish in Westfield, NJ.
The Archdiocese of Newark is comprised of 513 square miles in the state of New Jersey and has a total population of 2,965,397 of which 1,220,143 are Catholic. Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, CSsR is the current archbishop of Newark.
February 18, 2020
Statement on Cardinal Dolan’s Pastoral Solidarity Visit to the Church in Cuba
WASHINGTON — Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued the following statement:
“I would like to congratulate His Eminence Cardinal Timothy Dolan on his recently concluded pastoral solidarity visit to the Church in Cuba. His Eminence, who traveled to the island at the invitation of the Cuban bishops, celebrated Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Caridad del Cobre in Santiag — the spiritual heart of Cuba — as well as at the Cathedral of Havana, the Adolfo Rodriguez convalescent home in Camaguey, the Carmelite Convent in Havana, among others.
“The Cardinal reiterated longstanding Holy See and USCCB policy on Cuba: Mutually beneficial trade relations, tourism, and cultural exchange with the United States are key in transforming Cuba and bringing prosperity to the Cuban people.
“Recognizing the Church's role in the development of Cuban civil society, His Eminence visited the Dominican-founded University of Havana and the tomb of Fr. Felix Varela, the great 19th century Cuban priest-patriot. The Cardinal also visited the Latin American School of Medicine and Caritas Cuba.
“In addition to expressing solidarity with our brother bishops in Cuba and meeting with Apostolic Nuncio Giampiero Gloder, His Eminence met with President Miguel Diaz-Canel. The Church in Cuba and the United States believe in the transformative power of dialogue, especially regarding the promotion of life, dignity, integral human development, and prosperity. I echo the Cardinal's expressions of solidarity and urge Cuban and U.S. leaders to work for concord and collaboration between our countries.”
February 18, 2020
Catholic Response to Outbreak of Coronavirus
WASHINGTON — Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace; Sean Callahan, president of Catholic Relief Services; and Sr. Mary Haddad, RSM, president of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, issued a statement addressing the Catholic response to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Their joint statement follows:
“As communities and public health officials respond to the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in China and closely monitor its presence and progression in other parts of the world, we join in solidarity and prayer for those impacted or working to treat those infected by the disease. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Relief Services, and the Catholic Health Association of the United States hope that governments will work together in partnership to improve all nations’ capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to this virus.
“The Catholic Church in the United States stands in solidarity with those affected by the coronavirus and their families, health workers who are valiantly trying to diagnose and treat patients, and those under quarantine awaiting results of their screening for the virus. We offer our prayers for healing and support those organizations, both domestic and international, working to provide medical supplies and assistance to address this serious risk to public health.
“In early February, the Holy See sent 700,000 respiratory masks to China to help prevent the spread of the disease. Within the United States, Catholic healthcare providers are at the front line of providing treatment and care to those impacted by the virus.
“We also commend the U.S. government for transporting more than 17 tons of donated medical supplies to China. This response to the novel coronavirus demonstrates the critical importance of the need to work together and to invest in crucial health care systems here and in other countries, thus preventing and responding to community-wide emergencies. We urge the U.S. Congress to support these efforts by protecting access to domestic health care safety net programs and by providing additional emergency international assistance to areas impacted by the virus.
“We also urge individuals to stay informed as information becomes available by going to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
February 14, 2020
Statement on International Justice and Peace Committee on Nuclear Disarmament
WASHINGTON — The Committee on International Justice and Peace for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has released the following statement on nuclear disarmament.
During the recent visit of Pope Francis to Japan, the Holy Father took the opportunity to speak forcefully on the subject of nuclear weapons and the threat that they represent to the world. Speaking at Nagasaki, he emphasized the need for a wide and deep solidarity to bring about security in a world not reliant on atomic weaponry, stating, “A world of peace, free from nuclear weapons, is the aspiration of millions of men and women everywhere. To make this ideal a reality calls for involvement on the part of all: individuals, religious communities and civil society, countries that possess nuclear weapons and those that do not, the military and private sectors, and international organizations.” - Address of the Holy Father on Nuclear Weapons. . . , Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Park (Nagasaki) Sunday, 24 November 2019.
Later that same day, Pope Francis spoke in Hiroshima, the other Japanese city to have known the horror of a nuclear explosion. Addressing the moral implications of nuclear weaponry he stated, “The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral …” Peace Memorial (Hiroshima) Sunday, 24 November 2019.
The words of Pope Francis serve as a clarion call and a profound reminder to all that the status quo of international relations, resting on the threat of mutual destruction, must be changed. As Bishops of the United States, we have made similar appeals in the past when we stated, “the moral task is to proceed with deep cuts and ultimately to abolish these weapons entirely.” - The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace (1993).
So too, has the international community recognized the need to move away from the threat of mutual destruction and toward genuine and universal disarmament, as reflected in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Article VI of that Treaty, which dates back to 1968, states each party of that accord will work in good faith for the end of the nuclear arms race by seeking nuclear disarmament based in “…a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”
Pope Francis has used his visit to Japan to remind the faithful and all actors, states or non-states, of the moral obligation to re-commit to the work of ridding the world of nuclear weapons and the threat that they pose. That obligation weighs on the consciences of all to find a means for complete and mutual disarmament based in a shared commitment and trust that needs to be fostered and deepened.
The Committee on International Justice and Peace is grateful to the Holy Father for this renewed effort to bring about a world of peace and justice that is not based upon fear or the threat of nuclear annihilation but justice and human solidarity. As such, we also call upon our own government to be part of and indeed renew its primary responsibility in that effort. The nations which have nuclear weapons must take the lead in mutual reduction of their weapons. The non-nuclear nations too must refrain from pursuing them if Article VI of the NPT is to be the effective instrument to bring about the elimination of all nuclear weapons.
“Come, Lord, for it is late, and where destruction has abounded, may hope also abound today that we can write and achieve a different future.” (Pope Francis, Hiroshima, November 24, 2019.)
Statement on Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation
WASHINGTON — Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement regarding the release today of Pope Francis’s Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Querida Amazonia. The exhortation follows upon the Special Synod of Bishops held in Rome from October 6-27, 2019 that focused on the Amazon region.
Archbishop Gomez’s statement follows:
“Today our Holy Father Pope Francis offers us a hopeful and challenging vision of the future of the Amazon region, one of the earth’s most sensitive and crucial ecosystems, and home to a rich diversity of cultures and peoples. The Pope reminds us that the Church serves humanity by proclaiming Jesus Christ and his Gospel of love, and he calls for an evangelization that respects the identities and histories of the Amazonian peoples and that is open to the ‘novelty of the Spirit, who is always able to create something new with the inexhaustible riches of Jesus Christ.’
“He also calls all of us in the Americas and throughout the West to examine our ‘style of life’ and to reflect on the consequences that our decisions have for the environment and for the poor. Along with my brother bishops here in the United States, I am grateful for the Holy Father’s wisdom and guidance and we pledge our continued commitment to evangelizing and building a world that is more just and fraternal and that respects the integrity of God’s creation.”
Annual Ash Wednesday Collection Supports the Catholic Church in Central and Eastern Europe
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe has announced February 26 as this year’s date for the special collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. Dioceses may elect a different date to take up the collection to avoid conflicts with local activities. The funds collected support seminaries, youth ministry, social service programs, pastoral centers, church construction and renovation, and Catholic communications projects in 28 countries in the region.
In Baranovichi, Belarus, the parish of Divine Mercy and Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn was established in November 2013 to meet the pastoral needs of the faithful in the region. Through local efforts and funding from the collection, the dream of building a parish home for the growing number of Catholics in Baranovichi is now becoming a reality.
“The Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe provides critical witness to our hope in God and the Risen Christ in places where many people still confront obstacles to practicing their faith freely and fully,” said Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton of Steubenville and chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. “Thanks to the solidarity of Americans through the collection, their ministries are supported through both prayer and financial resources with assurances that they are not alone.”
On November 10, 2019, the Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe awarded $1.6 million in funding for 100 projects in 22 countries in the region. Information about the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, including the 2018 annual report, may be found at www.usccb.org/ccee. Promotional resources in English and Spanish for use in dioceses and parishes can be found at http://www.usccb.org/catholic-giving/opportunities-for-giving/central-and-eastern-europe/index.cfm.
National Marriage Week and World Marriage Day Uphold Marriage as the Foundation of the Domestic Church
WASHINGTON — National Marriage Week will be observed from February 7-14, 2020, in the United States. World Marriage Day will be observed on Sunday, February 9; it is annually celebrated on the second Sunday of February.
Each year, National Marriage Week and World Marriage Day provide the opportunity to focus on building a culture of life and love that begins with supporting, promoting, and upholding marriage and the family.
The theme chosen by the USCCB to celebrate National Marriage Week, “Stories from the Domestic Church,” was announced by Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth in a letter to his brother bishops. The theme was chosen to demonstrate how “spouses are consecrated and by means of a special grace build up the Body of Christ and form a domestic church” as Pope Francis reminded the faithful in his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (n. 67).
Among the resources provided to dioceses for National Marriage Week to use in their parishes are a preaching aid for priests, a bulletin insert or flyer prayer intentions, and a seven-day virtual marriage retreat for married couples, available in English and Spanish. These resources are available for download at https://www.foryourmarriage.org/celebrate-national-marriage-week/ in English and Spanish.
This year’s retreat features testimonies of couples who live out the call of love and form “domestic churches” within their immediate and extended families. The term “domestic church” can be used to describe how “the Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion”. (John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, n. 21) The retreat, which runs from February 7 to 14, offers married couples an opportunity to pray and reflect about marriage in God’s plan.
A rosary for married couples and families in need of healing will be live-streamed from the chapel at the USCCB in Washington on the Conference’s Facebook page on Wednesday, February 12 at 2:00 pm CT.
The USCCB offers resources to uphold marriage as a lifelong union of one man and one woman through its dedicated websites ForYourMarriage.org, PorTuMatrimonio.org, and MarriageUniqueForAReason.org.
National Marriage Week USA is a national movement promoting education about the benefits of marriage for reducing poverty and benefiting children. It was launched in 2010 as part of International Marriage Week, with 20 major countries around the world now mobilizing leaders and events to strengthen marriage in their countries. World Marriage Day was started in 1983 by Worldwide Marriage Encounter as a marriage enrichment program.
USCCB videos promote prayer and action in political life
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has released videos to inspire prayer and action in political life and to help Catholics apply the Church’s teaching as handed down by Pope Francis. The scripts for the videos were approved by the full body of bishops at their November General Assembly in Baltimore. The videos complement Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the bishops’ teaching document for the faithful on the political responsibility of Catholics, and they seek to help the faithful participate in public life, prioritize faith over partisan politics, engage with civility, and respond to pressing issues of our day. Each video ends with a prayer.
The videos, which are available on the USCCB’s YouTube channel in four languages (English, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese), are titled:
• Catholics Participate in Public Life
• Catholics Protect Human Life and Dignity
• Catholics Promote the Common Good
• Catholics Love their Neighbors
• Faithful Citizens Work with Christ as He Builds His Kingdom (a compilation of the four videos)
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the USCCB, served as chairman of the working group on Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. He emphasized the importance of these videos in advance of a heightened political season saying,
“The bishops of the U.S. invite all Catholics to bring their faith into the public square. Political engagement and participation are important ways that together, we can work to protect the unborn, welcome immigrants, bring justice to victims of racism and religious intolerance, support families, accompany those experiencing poverty, and advocate on behalf of all who are vulnerable. As we enter an election year, these Faithful Citizenshipvideos are meant to help the faithful reflect on this call, and we hope they will be widely shared.”
In addition to several young adult voices, the videos also feature several bishops. The English language videos feature: Archbishop José H. Gomez, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, and Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles. The Spanish language videos feature: Archbishop José H. Gomez, Archbishop-designate Nelson J. Perez of Philadelphia, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, and Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville. The videos in Tagalog feature Bishop Oscar A. Solis of Salt Lake City, and the videos produced in Vietnamese feature Auxiliary Bishop Thanh Thai Nguyen of Orange.
Additional supplemental resources are available at www.faithfulcitizenship.org
Statement from U.S. Bishops' Chairman on Trump's "Peace to Prosperity" Plan
WASHINGTON — In response to the release of the Trump Administration’s “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People,” Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace, stated in a recent letter to Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo:
“Intrinsic to a fruitful discussion is the necessity that each state recognizes and supports the legitimacy of each other. The future peace and flourishing of life in the Holy Land depend on such a mutual recognition that calls for concrete steps in mutual counsel and collaboration, before the fundamental agreements can be achieved. The United States and all other interested parties who offer their counsel and aid must do so as contributors to strengthen bilateral agreement between the two principal entities. As such, we are concerned ‘Peace to Prosperity’ makes propositions without these requisite conditions being met.
“May the good offices of our nation assist Israel and Palestine to travel the road of mutual recognition and mutual legitimacy to its intended goal. As Pope Francis declared when he visited Israel in 2014, ‘The two-state solution must become a reality and not merely a dream.’ We shall be one in our prayers that both Palestinians and Israelis be able to live side by side with sovereignty, dignity, and peace.”
February 2, 2020
U.S. Bishop Chairmen Voice Opposition to Immigration Restrictions
WASHINGTON — The President issued a proclamation Friday restricting the issuance of immigrant visas to people from Burma (Myanmar), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan and Nigeria. People from Sudan and Tanzania will no longer be eligible for certain visas to come to the United States, commonly called “Diversity Visas.”
Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, and Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento and chairman of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., along with Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, and Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA issued the following statement strongly disagreeing with the administration’s latest action:
“The proclamation restricting immigration further undermines family reunification efforts and will make ensuring support for forced migrants in the designated countries more difficult. This proclamation also serves as a painful reminder of the 2017 ban which threatened our country’s founding principle of religious freedom. Over the last three years, waivers to allow visas from current travel ban nations based on undue hardship (such as family illness) were supposed to be available but were almost never authorized. We note with particular sadness and have witnessed firsthand the trauma of family separation that occurs with travel bans, which will only increase with this new proclamation.
“We respect that there are challenges in assuring traveler documentation and information exchange between countries as a means to ensure the safety of citizens. However, we also believe that ill-conceived nation-based bans such as this injure innocent families. As the bishops’ conference president Archbishop José Gomez has stated. . . , ‘Welcoming families has allowed our country to integrate successive immigrant generations into the fabric of American life, allowing them to contribute their faith, values and talents to make this country great.’
“We urge the administration to reverse this action and consider the human and strategic costs of these harmful bans.”
January 30, 2020
Healy Named Chair of U.S. Bishops’ National Review Board
WASHINGTON – Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has appointed Mrs. Suzanne Healy, the former Victims Assistance Coordinator for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles as the next chair of the National Review Board (NRB). Mrs. Healy succeeds Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D., who concludes his term as chair after the bishops’ June 2020 meeting.
The National Review Board advises the bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People and works closely with the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection in accordance with the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People, which the bishops adopted in 2002.
Archbishop Gomez thanked Mrs. Healy, who joined the NRB in 2017, for accepting this leadership position. “I wish to acknowledge the excellent and collaborative manner of the NRB and the Committee on Child and Youth Protection and to the bishops as a whole as we carry out the Apostolic responsibilities that have been entrusted to us. The last several years have witnessed great strides and challenges in the continued and ongoing efforts of the Catholic Church in the United States to strengthen and renew our efforts for the protection of young people and healing for survivors. I thank Dr. Cesareo for his longtime service to the Church on this most important issue, and I look forward to continuing that process in the future, especially under the new leadership of Mrs. Healy.”
Mrs. Healy holds a BS in Psychology and a MS in Counseling, M.F.C.C. option, with a Pupil Personnel Services Credential with Advanced Specializations in School Counseling and Child Welfare and Attendance Services, both from California State University in Los Angeles. She is also a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with experience in private practice and as a school counselor and has eighteen years of business management and strategic planning experience with AT&T and Pacific Bell. From 2008-2016, Mrs. Healy served on the Executive Board of the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health Faith Based Advocacy Council, and as a Committee Member for the Los Angeles City Attorney Office Cyber Crime Prevention Symposium. In 2016, she received the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Department of Health Affairs Excellence Award. She is currently retired and serves on the board of directors for Valley Family Center in San Fernando, CA.
Details regarding the National Review Board, its functions, and other members can be found: http://www.usccb.org/about/child-and-youth-protection/the-national-review-board.cfm
U.S. Bishops’ Chairmen Very Concerned About Impact of Recent Supreme Court Decision on Public Charge
WASHINGTON — On January 27, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a decision allowing the Trump Administration to implement its “public charge” rule everywhere in the United States (except Illinois) while litigation challenging the legality of the rule proceeds through the federal courts. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:
“Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision allowing the Administration to move forward with implementing its new changes to the ‘public charge’ while lawsuits are still pending is very concerning, as it will have an immediate and negative impact upon immigrant and newcomer families. In our experience serving the poor and vulnerable, we know that many immigrant families lawfully access important medical and social services that are vital to public health and welfare. There is already misinformation about the ‘public charge’ rule circulating in immigrant communities, and this decision will further deter families eligible for assistance from coming forward to access the services they need, such as nutrition assistance and housing. The Supreme Court’s decision will have devastating consequences for immigrant communities, as those impacted are cast into the shadows because they fear deportation and family separation for seeking critical support. . . The Church upholds the dignity of all human life, and the Gospel compels us to serve those who are in need, regardless of their circumstances. Preventing anyone from having access to life-saving services is contrary to our belief that all life is sacred from its beginning to its end.
“We note yesterday’s Supreme Court decision focuses solely on the preliminary injunction and, as such, we remain hopeful that the courts will declare the ‘public charge’ rule illegal. The Church will redouble public education efforts to ensure that immigrant families, and our direct services networks which assist them, are educated about this rule and its impacts. We remain steadfast in Pope Francis’ call to welcome, protect, promote and integrate our immigrant brothers and sisters.”
WASHINGTON — On January 24, on the occasion of the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., the Trump Administration announced that it is taking steps to enforce the Weldon Amendment, a federal law that prohibits discrimination by states against health insurance plans that do not cover abortion. In 2014, the California Department of Managed Health Care began forcing all employers—even churches—to fund and facilitate elective abortions in their health plans in direct violation of the Weldon amendment. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop George V. Murry, S.J. of Youngstown, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, issued the following statement in response to this enforcement action:
“Today’s announcement is extraordinarily good news for the right to life, conscientious objection, religious freedom and the rule of law. For nearly six years, employers in California — including churches — have been forced to fund and facilitate abortions in their health insurance plans in direct violation of a federal conscience protection law known as the Weldon amendment. This coercive California policy is abhorrent, unjust and illegal. We strongly commend the Trump Administration for taking this critical action to enforce federal law and correct this supreme injustice to the people and employers of California. Sadly, violations of federal conscience laws are on the rise. We hope that this enforcement action, and subsequent actions by the Administration, will stop further unlawful discrimination against people who reject abortion as a violation of the most basic human and civil rights.”
WASHINGTON – Each year, the Catholic Church celebrates the World Day for Consecrated Life. Instituted by Pope John Paul II in 1997, the celebration is in conjunction with the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known as Candlemas Day, commemorating the coming of Christ, the Light of the World, through the symbolic lighting of candles. Similarly, consecrated men and women are called to spread the light and love of Jesus Christ through their unique witness of selfless service, such as caring for the poor, the contemplative work of prayer, or through their professional careers.
Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations, reiterated the importance of the witness offered by those in consecrated life: “Consecrated men and women are a special treasure in the Church who allow the love of Jesus to become tangible. By dedicating their entire lives to following Christ, consecrated persons are particularly able to reach out to those on the peripheries of our society and bring the message of the Gospel to all those in need.”
Each year, the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations asks the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) to conduct a survey of those solemnly professed in the United States in the past year. Some of the major findings of this year’s report are:
• The average age of the profession class of 2019 is 39. Half of the responding religious are age 34 or younger. The youngest is 24 and the oldest is 71.
• Two-thirds of the responding religious (69 percent) report their primary race or ethnicity as white. One in ten (10 percent) identifies as Hispanic, and one in ten (9 percent) identify as Asian.
• Three in four of responding religious (74 percent) were born in the United States. Of those born outside the United States, the most common country of origin is the Philippines.
• Twenty-five percent of responding religious earned a graduate degree before entering their religious institute. Three-fourths (74 percent) entered their religious institute with at least a bachelor’s degree (77 percent for women and 69 percent for men).
• Around nine in ten responding religious (89 percent) served in one or more church ministries before entering their religious institute, most commonly as a lector (51 percent), altar server (44 percent), or Extraordinary Minister of Communion (42 percent).
• On average, responding religious report that they were 19 years old when they first considered a vocation to religious life, but half were 18 or younger when they first did so.
• Nine in ten responding religious (91 percent) regularly participated in some type of private prayer activity before they entered their religious institute. Three-fifths or more participated in Eucharistic Adoration or prayed the rosary before entering. Nearly six in ten participated in spiritual direction or retreats before entering.
The full survey from CARA, as well as resources for use by parishes are available at: http://cms.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/consecrated-life/world-day-for-consecrated-life.cfm
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M., Cap., from the pastoral governance of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and has named Bishop Nelson J. Pérez of Cleveland. . . to succeed him.
The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington on January 23, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is comprised of 2,202 square miles in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and has a total population of 4,119,268 of which 1,292,704 are Catholic.
Pro-Life Committee Chairman’s Roe v. Wade Anniversary Statement Asks Faithful to Serve Moms in Need
WASHINGTON — January 22 is the National Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children, when the Catholic Church remembers the 47th anniversary of Roe v. Wade—the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in all 50 states. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued the following statement:
“January 22 marks the sorrowful anniversary of the tragic Supreme Court decisions of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, which legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. The Church will never abandon her efforts to reverse these terrible decisions that have led to the deaths of millions of innocent children and the traumatization of countless women and families.
“As the Church and growing numbers of pro-life Americans continue to advocate for women and children in courthouses and legislatures, the Church’s pastoral response is focused on the needs of women facing pregnancies in challenging circumstances. While this has long been the case, the pastoral response will soon intensify.
“The Committee on Pro-Life Activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is asking bishops to invite parishes in their dioceses to join a nationwide effort from March 25, 2020 through March 25, 2021 entitled, ‘Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Service.’
“Recognizing that women in need can be most effectively reached at the local level, the ‘Year of Service’ invites parishes to assess, communicate, and expand resources to expectant mothers within their own communities. The U.S. Bishops will be providing resources, outreach tools, and models to assist parishes in this important effort.
“We pray that ‘Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Service’ will help us reach every pregnant mother in need, that she may know she can turn to her local Catholic community for help and authentic friendship.”
U.S. Bishops’ Conference and Loyola Press Release Children’s Book on Overcoming Racism
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism and Loyola Press have published a new book for children ages 5-12, to help young readers engage in conversations about racism.
Inspired by the bishops’ 2018 pastoral letter “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love, A Pastoral Letter Against Racism,” the children’s book Everyone Belongs allows young readers to reflect on the impact of racism in our society. The book helps readers see racism through the lens of history and faith, and teaches them how to engage in respect, understanding, and friendship.
In this fully illustrated book, Ray Ikanga is a boy whose family flees violence in their home country to come to the United States as refugees. The family moves into a new neighborhood but Ray’s excitement is interrupted when someone spray paints “Go home!” on their garage door.
Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, and chairman of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, who oversaw the production of the book, said, “Everyone Belongs is a book about recognizing the image of God in all people, valuing our differences, righting wrongs, and forgiveness. It is my hope that Everyone Belongs will help families, schools, and parishes engage in conversation and reflection about the dignity of every person made in God’s image.”
Everyone Belongs may be purchased online at LoyolaPress.com/EveryoneBelongs. . . . Additional education and prayer resources to accompany the bishops’ pastoral letter on racism may be found at usccb.org/racism.