(USCCB News Archives can be accessed at www.usccb.org/news/)
December 1, 2022
Chairman addresses Senate vote on Respect for Marriage Act
WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 8404). The bill, which first passed the U.S. House of Representatives in July, will codify the nationwide redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples in federal statute for the first time. The bill will also heighten the threats to religious liberty that have persisted after the Supreme Court’s Obergefelldecision of 2015. Bishop Robert E. Barron of Winona-Rochester, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, issued the following statement in response:
“We are gravely disappointed that the misnamed Respect for Marriage Act passed the Senate and continue to call for its rejection.
“Pope Francis wrote in 2016 that ‘we can hardly stop advocating marriage simply to avoid countering contemporary sensibilities…. We would be depriving the world of values that we can and must offer.’ Indeed marriage, which is a lifelong and exclusive union, a complete and mutual gift of the husband and wife to each other for their good and for the procreation and education of children, is essential to the common good.
“However, decades of social and legal developments have torn sexuality, childbearing, and marriage from each other in the public consciousness. Much of society has lost sight of the purpose of marriage and now equates it with adults’ companionship.
“This bill fails to include clear, comprehensive, and affirmative conscience protections for religious organizations and individuals who uphold the sanctity of traditional marriage that are needed.
“We affirm our respect for the dignity of all engaged in this debate, and acknowledge differing perspectives in our civil society, but the impact of this bill will only contribute to the diminishment of the sacredness and integrity of marriage in our society.”
Archbishop Cordileone, the prior chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, had also written to Congress in opposition the Act, in a joint letter
to the House of Representatives on July 19, 2022, and a separate letter to
the Senate on July 22.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty, wrote about the religious freedom harms of the bill in a recent article
. Last week, Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Barron implored
Congress to reverse course, offering a detailed analysis of how the bill tips the scales against religious freedom.
November 28, 2022Committee emphasizes recommitment to relationship with Jewish Community
WASHINGTON — In 1965, Pope Paul VI issued the Vatican Council’s declaration about other world religions, Nostra Aetate
(“In our time”), marking a key milestone in the relationship between the Catholic Church and Judaism. As the 60th anniversary of this prophetic document approaches, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs has issued a statement urging all believers in Christ once again to decry all “hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.” (Nostra Aetate
The full Committee’s statement follows:
“More than ever, members of the Body of Christ must now become aware of their spiritual ties to the Jewish people chosen first to hear the Word of God. In his letter to the Romans, Saint Paul spoke of the Church as wild shoots grafted onto an olive tree, that is, the Jews. He cautioned: “you do not support the root, the root supports you.” (Rom 11:17-24) As a result, the Church must take care to protect that same root from which she continues to draw sustenance as all await in varied ways the coming of the Messiah. (cf. Nostra Aetate, 4). The rising trend of antisemitic incidents has become even more painful in light of the Church’s relationship to the Jewish tradition and our connections to the Jewish people in dialogue and friendship.
“Beginning with the leadership of St. Paul VI, who guided the drafting and approval of Nostra Aetate through the Second Vatican Council and continuing without interruption to the present day with Pope Francis, the Catholic Church has continually fostered and recommended ‘that mutual understanding and respect which is the fruit, above all, of biblical and theological studies as well as of fraternal dialogues.’ (cf. Nostra Aetate, 4)
“Over the last six decades, the USCCB’s Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs has been proud to build partnerships with the National Council of Synagogues, the Orthodox Union, and the newly established Modern Orthodox Group, promoting those positive relations so encouraged by the Council. In each of these exchanges, leaders in the Catholic and Jewish faithshave learned to encounter each other in a spirit of good will and a sincere desire to encourage our respective faithful to live together in a society increasingly diverse in its racial, ethnic, religious, and political makeup.
“Today, however, these same lessons are being challenged by the re-emergence of antisemitism in new forms. Outraged by the deeply hurtful proliferations of antisemitic rhetoric, both online and in-person, and the violent attacks on Jewish individuals, homes, and institutions, we wish to convey our sincere support to the Jewish people. As Pope Francis has stated, ‘A true Christian cannot be an antisemite.’ (Address to Members of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations
, June 24, 2013).
“We must remain ever vigilant of the various ways in which these dangers arise. In unequivocal terms, we condemn any and all violence directed at the Jewish people, whether motivated by religious, racial, or political grievances. We furthermore denounce any rhetoric which seeks to demonize or dehumanize the Jewish people or Judaism as a religious tradition. We continue to remind ourselves of the shared spiritual patrimony that remains the foundation of our relationship with the Jewish people. We affirm that the Jewish people cannot be held responsible for the death of Christ or be depicted as rejected or accursed in theological discourse. It must always be remembered that Jesus, Mary, and his apostles were all Jewish. Finally, we remain firm in our dedication to a just political solution - a secure and recognized Israel living in peace alongside a viable and independent Palestine.
“As partners and neighbors, we seek to foster bonds of friendship between members of the Body of Christ and the Jewish people. With this in mind, and in light of the upcoming 60th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, we recommit ourselves to broadening the implementation of the teaching found within that prophetic document. In the nearly six decades since the promulgation of Nostra Aetate, the relationship between the Church and the Jewish people has continued to grow and strengthen with mutual respect and admiration. May God continue to bless us with a renewed friendship and a mutual understanding that one day will allow us to address the Lord and stand as brothers and sisters to serve him ‘shoulder to shoulder.’ (Soph. 3.19).”
November 23, 2022
Bishop chairmen implore Congress to reverse course on "Respect for Marriage Act"
WASHINGTON — In advance of Monday’s Senate vote on H.R. 8404, the “Respect for Marriage Act” (RMA), Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Robert Barron of Winona-Rochester, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth, issued a joint letter and analysis urging Congress to oppose the measure.
“Our opposition to RMA by no means condones any hostility toward anyone who experiences same-sex attraction. Catholic teaching on marriage is inseparable from Catholic teaching on the inherent dignity and worth of every human being. To attack one is to attack the other. Congress must have the courage to defend both.
“The Respect for Marriage Act’s rejection of timeless truths about marriage is evident on its face and in its purpose. It would also betray our country’s commitment to the fundamental right of religious liberty…
“Unfortunately, a number of religious groups and senators are asserting that the amended text of RMA sufficiently protects religious freedom. From the perspective of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, whose bishops’ ministries comprise the largest non-governmental provider of social services in the United States, the provisions of the Act that relate to religious liberty are insufficient. If passed, the amended Act will put the ministries of the Catholic Church, people of faith, and other Americans who uphold a traditional meaning of marriage at greater risk of government discrimination.
“This bill is needless and harmful and must be voted down. At the same time, Congress, and our nation as a whole, must resolve to foster a culture where every individual, as a child of God, is treated with respect and compassion.”
The letter to Congress is accompanied by a detailed explanation of the religious liberty problems in the Act and its potential consequences.
The complete letter and analysis are available here
Previous USCCB statements and resources on the Act may be found at the following links:
Cardinal Dolan’s November 15 article
, “The ’Respect for Marriage Act’ Stacks the Deck against Religious Freedom”
Archbishop Cordileone’s letter
to the House of Representatives and letter
to the Senate.
November 23, 2022
Pope Francis accepts resignation of Bishop Evans
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Robert C. Evans, 75, from the Office of Auxiliary Bishop of Providence. At the same time, Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Richard G. Henning, currently auxiliary bishop of Rockville Centre, as Coadjutor Bishop of Providence.
The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington, D.C. on November 23, 2022, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop Henning’s biography may be found here
The Diocese of Providence is comprised of 1,085 square miles in the state of Rhode Island and has a total population of 1,097,379 of which 603,558 are Catholic.
November 17, 2022Recap of U.S. Bishops’ annual Fall Plenary Assembly in Baltimore
BALTIMORE — The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) gathered November 14-17 for their Fall Plenary Assembly in Baltimore. During their meeting, the bishops elected a new president
, vice-president, and secretary to lead the Conference; their terms began immediately at the conclusion of the 2022 plenary on November 17. During their gathering, the body of bishops also elected new chairmen
of seven standing committees. Six of the elected bishops will serve for one year as the committee chairman-elect before beginning a three-year term that begins at the conclusion of the bishops’ 2023 Plenary Assembly, and the new chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities assumes the chairmanship immediately to complete the term of the previous chairman who was voted Conference vice president.
The assembly began with an address
by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, papal nuncio to the United States. Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles gave his final address
as USCCB president upon completion of his three-year term.
The bishops spent time in prayer and fraternal dialogue with one another throughout the gathering. In acknowledgment of twenty years
since the drafting and passage of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People
, the bishops were led in prayer and reflection by Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, CSsR of Newark and Mr. Mark Joseph Williams.
The robust agenda for the bishops’ assembly included updates on the following items: the Synod of Bishops; the ongoing war in Ukraine; the bishops’ Eucharistic Revival initiative and national congress; the Church’s support for women and families in light of the Supreme Court’s decision this summer in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization; policy advocacy and ongoing work of Migration and Refugee Services; information on World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal; and the Journeying Together intercultural dialogue and encounter process.
The bishops also engaged in discussion on the approach to their teaching document on the political responsibility of Catholics, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, and its related materials to be executed over the next year. By an overwhelming majority, the bishops voted to reissue the teaching document without revisions but add supplemental materials and begin a process of reexamining the teaching document following the 2024 election.
The bishops voted with 215 in favor, 4 against, and 1 abstention to approve the 2023 proposed budget, presented by the Committee on Budget and Finance.
The Latin Church members of the USCCB voted to approve revisions in rites related to the anointing of the sick and lay ministry to the sick, as well as liturgical texts for two recently instituted feast days:
A revision of the U.S. English-language edition of “The Order of the Anointing of the Sick and of their Pastoral Care” was approved with 196 in favor, 4 against, and 1 abstention. A new U.S. Spanish language edition of the same text was approved with 200 in favor, 3 against, and 3 abstentions.
The texts of prayers and rites in English that can be used by lay ecclesial ministers in their ministry to the sick, “Lay Ministry to the Sick” was approved with 196 in favor, 8 against, and 2 abstentions. The Spanish-language edition of the same text was approved with 196 in favor, 8 against, and 2 abstentions.
Liturgical texts for the two optional memorials, the memorial for Saint Paul VI (May 29), and the memorial for Our Lady of Loreto (December 10) passed with 204 in favor, 0 against, and 0 abstentions.
The approval of all texts requires a two-thirds vote of the Latin-rite bishops, and the “The Order of the Anointing of the Sick and of their Pastoral Care” also requires “recognitio” from the Vatican.
November 17, 2022
USCCB statement on “Respect for Marriage Act” by Senate
WASHINGTON — On November 16, 2022, the United States Senate voted 62–37 to advance the Respect for Marriage Act. In response, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, issued the following statement:
“It is deeply concerning that the U.S. Senate has voted to proceed toward potential passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would essentially codify the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell that found a constitutional right to same-sex civil marriages.
“The Catholic Church will always uphold the unique meaning of marriage as a lifelong, exclusive union of one man and one woman. In doing so, we are joined by millions of what the Obergefell Court called ‘reasonable and sincere’ Americans – both religious and secular – who share this time-honored understanding of the truth and beauty of marriage.
“Senators promoting the Act have claimed that their amended bill ‘respects and protects Americans’ religious liberties,’ but the provisions of the Act that relate to religious liberty are insufficient.
“Obergefell created countless religious liberty conflicts, but the Act offers only limited protections. Those protections fail to resolve the main problem with the Act: in any context in which conflicts between religious beliefs and same-sex civil marriage arise, the Act will be used as evidence that religious believers must surrender to the state’s interest in recognizing same-sex civil marriages. Wedding cake bakers, faith-based adoption and foster care providers, religious employers seeking to maintain their faith identity, faith-based housing agencies – are all at greater risk of discrimination under this legislation.
“The bill is a bad deal for the many courageous Americans of faith and no faith who continue to believe and uphold the truth about marriage in the public square today. The Act does not strike a balance that appropriately respects our nation’s commitment to the fundamental right of religious liberty. Senators supporting the Act must reverse course and consider the consequences of passing an unnecessary law that fails to provide affirmative protections for the many Americans who hold this view of marriage as both true and foundational to the common good.”
November 15, 2022
USCCB elect President and Vice President at Plenary Assembly
BALTIMORE – Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, was elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) during the Fall Plenary Assembly in Baltimore. Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore was elected as USCCB vice president. They succeed Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit, who are concluding their terms as Conference president and vice president, respectively.
Archbishop Broglio has served as the Conference secretary since 2019, a position that he will vacate upon assuming the presidency. Therefore, the bishops will vote in their session on Wednesday for a Conference secretary to fill the vacancy that results as Archbishop Broglio assumes his new office.
Archbishop Broglio was elected president with 138-99 votes over Archbishop Lori in a runoff on the third ballot. Archbishop Lori was elected vice president on the third ballot by 143-96 votes in a runoff vote against Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend. The president and vice president are elected by a simple majority from the same slate of 10 nominees
. If no president or vice president is chosen after the second round of voting, a third ballot is a run-off between the two bishops who received the most votes on the second ballot. Both bishops will assume their new offices for a three-year term after the adjournment of this year’s USCCB Plenary Assembly.
Archbishop Lori currently serves as chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, a position that he will vacate upon assuming the vice presidency. Therefore, the bishops will vote during their session tomorrow for a chairman to fill the vacancy left as Archbishop Lori assumes the vice presidency. The new Conference secretary will assume office following the adjournment of this plenary assembly and serve out the remainder of Archbishop Broglio’s term through November 2024. Additionally, the new chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities will also assume the chairmanship of the committee following the adjournment of this plenary assembly, and will serve out the remainder of Archbishop Lori’s elected term thru November 2024.
November 9, 2022
2022 winner named for Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award
WASHINGTON — The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the anti-poverty program of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has named Father Guillermo Treviño, Jr. of the Diocese of Davenport as the recipient of the 2022 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award. Each year, this prestigious award from the CCHD recognizes a young adult between the ages of 18 and 40 who demonstrates leadership in fighting poverty and injustice in the United States through community-based solutions. Fr. Guillermo will be honored at a reception on November 15 during the U.S. bishops’ annual General Assembly in Baltimore.
Fr. Guillermo is the pastor of twin Hispanic parishes, St. Joseph West Liberty and St. Joseph Columbus Junction, and chaplain and co-chair of Escucha Mi Voz Iowa, a faith-based community organization in Iowa City. With Escucha Mi Voz (which means “Listen to my voice”), Fr. Guillermo played a key role in accompanying parish leaders and community members to fight for and win millions of dollars in pandemic relief for thousands of essential and excluded immigrant workers in Eastern Iowa. As a Catholic priest serving rural Hispanic Catholics who live and work in agriculture and meatpacking, Fr. Guillermo did more than provide spiritual relief to parishioners hard-hit by the COVID pandemic. He helped meatpacking plant workers find their own voice, identify issues impacting their lives, and take effective action to address them, including by contacting government and corporate decision-makers. Fr. Guillermo brings a unique perspective and understanding to his ministry – he knows first-hand the daily struggles of the immigrant families he serves since his own father was deported twelve times. He sees his role as one of empowerment, helping lay people become leaders in both the parish and the community as an expression of their dignity as children of God.
Bishop David G. O’Connell, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles and chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development said, “Fr. Guillermo’s dedication and tireless service to the vulnerable and excluded immigrant workers of Eastern Iowa embodies CCHD’s mission to empower individuals experiencing poverty to become the protagonists of their own development. CCHD is honored to award Fr. Guillermo with the 2022 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award, and we hope that his inspiring example moves us all to put our faith in action and walk in solidarity with our most vulnerable brothers and sisters.”
November 7, 2022
National Religious Retirement Collection supports Religious Orders in U.S.
Annual collection aims to support nearly 25,000 elderly men and women religious
WASHINGTON — The annual collection that supports nearly 25,000 elderly religious sisters, brothers and religious order priests in the United States will take place in participating dioceses on the weekend of December 10-11. The collection, coordinated by the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO), distributes financial assistance for retirement needs to eligible religious institutes.
Historically, Catholic sisters, brothers, and religious order priests served in Church ministries such as parishes, schools, and health care facilities for little to no pay. As a result, many now lack adequate retirement savings. With rising health-care expenses, hundreds of U.S. religious communities are struggling to care for elder members and now face a large gap between the needs of their older members and the funds available to support members’ care. The bishops of the United States initiated the Retirement Fund for Religious Collection in 1988 to help address this deficit in retirement funding among U.S. religious orders. Last year, the NRRO annual collection raised more than $28 million.
“The care of our aging religious presents an enormous financial responsibility. I feel we are deeply blessed by the generosity of the Catholic faithful who steadfastly contribute to this fund, helping us meet the needs of our aging religious,” said Sister Stephanie Still, a member of the Sisters of the Presentation of San Francisco, and executive director of the NRRO. “This national collection is one way that we can honor the life-long work of the women and men in religious communities by caring for them in their retirement,” she added.
According to statistical data gathered by the NRRO in 2022, only 7% of the religious communities that provided data to the NRRO reported being adequately funded for retirement. Since 1988, U.S. Catholics have generously donated close to $948 million, with almost $920 million distributed to support hundreds of religious communities as they care for aging members and plan for their retirement. Since 2009, the annual cost to support senior women and men religious has exceeded $1 billion.
November 2, 2022
National Vocation Awareness Week Nov. 6-12
WASHINGTON — The Catholic Church in the United States will celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week, November 6-12, 2022. Across the United States, dioceses, parishes, and Catholic organizations will host events to promote vocations to the ordained ministry and consecrated life. The faithful are encouraged during this week to renew their prayerful support for those currently discerning a vocation to the priesthood, diaconate, or consecrated life.
In his Message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations
, Pope Francis, reiterating his call for the Church to become increasingly synodal, compared the diversity of vocations in the Church to that of a beautiful mosaic. “As Christians, we do not only receive a vocation individually; we are also called together. We are like the tiles of a mosaic. Each is lovely by itself, but only when they are put together do they form a picture. Each of us shines like a star in the heart of God and in the firmament of the universe. At the same time, though, we are called to form constellations that can guide and light up the path of humanity, beginning with the places in which we live. This is the mystery of the Church: a celebration of differences, a sign, and instrument of all that humanity is called to be.”
Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations emphasized that vocational discernment always takes place within a community. “Each year, the CCLV Committee commissions the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate to conduct surveys of those recently ordained
and religiously professed
in the past year. These studies consistently show that vocations are the fruit of communal accompaniment. The family, healthy and holy friendships, youth group, campus ministry, and the broader parish and diocesan community form supportive environments in which vocations are first nurtured and grown.”
Observance of Vocation Awareness Week began in 1976 when the U.S. bishops designated the 28th Sunday of the year to call attention to the importance of upholding vocations and praying for those discerning a religious vocation and celebrating those who were in ordained ministry and consecrated life. In 1997, the celebration was moved to the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord and in 2014, the USCCB’s Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations moved the observance of National Vocation Awareness Week to November to influence youth and young adults by engaging Catholic schools and colleges.
October 28, 2022
USCCB President on attack of Paul Pelosi
WASHINGTON — Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, offered the following statement today:
“I join with Archbishop Cordileone
in offering my prayers for the full recovery of Paul Pelosi and comfort for his family following the terrible attack that occurred earlier this morning. I am deeply grieved over this violence, which should have no place in our communities, our political process, or our great nation. May Our Lady of Perpetual Help intercede for us, provide healing, and guide us to paths of peace.”
October 27, 2022
USCCB to meet Nov. 14-17 in Baltimore; Assembly will be live streamed
WASHINGTON — The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will gather for the 2022 Fall Plenary Assembly in Baltimore, November 14-17.
The assembly will begin with an address by the Papal Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre. The bishops will hear from Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, as he gives his final address as USCCB president upon completion of his three-year term. Prior to the general sessions, the bishops will spend time in prayer and fraternal dialogue with one another.
The bishops are anticipating a full agenda with plenary sessions including a number of items such as: the Synod of Bishops
; the ongoing war in Ukraine; the bishops’ Eucharistic revival initiative
and national congress; supporting women and families
since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs
decision this summer; an update from the migration
committee chairman; a discussion of a new catechumenate model of marriage preparation
; World Youth Day 2023; the review and approval of five translations for liturgical rituals; the Journeying Together
intercultural dialogue and encounter process; a consultation of the bishops on causes of beatification and canonization; and a vote on the USCCB’s 2023 budget. The bishops are expected to decide their approach to Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship
and related materials, to be executed over the following year. The agenda is expected to include presentations from Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities USA, and Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC). In acknowledgment
of twenty years since the drafting and passage of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People
, the bishops will also take time during the plenary for prayer and reflection.
During the assembly, the bishops will vote
for the new Conference president and vice-president, as well as chairmen-elect of six Conference committees. The terms for the bishops elected for Conference president and vice president will begin at the conclusion of this November meeting, and the bishops elected for committee chairmen will serve for one year as chairman-elect before beginning a three-year term at the conclusion of the 2023 Fall Plenary Assembly.
Public sessions of the assembly will be held on November 15 and 16 will be livestreamed at: www.usccb.org/meetings
. News updates, vote totals, texts of addresses and presentations, and other materials will be posted to this page. Those wishing to follow the meeting on social media can use the hashtag #USCCB22 and follow on Twitter (@USCCB) as well as on Facebook (www.facebook.com/usccb
) and Instagram (https://instagram.com/usccb
October 27, 2022Document will be used for next phase of 2021-2024 Synod
WASHINGTON — Earlier today, the Holy See’s General Secretariat of the Synod issued the Document for the Continental Stage (DCS)
of the 2021-2024 Synod: For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.
The DCS is a working document that will be used for the next step, the Continental Stage, of the Synod process and is a result of the Holy See hearing from 112 episcopal conferences, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), as well as Eastern Catholic Churches, religious congregations, ecclesial associations and movements, the Vatican dicasteries, and individual contributions. In the first stage of the Synod, listening sessions were held at the local level across the world. Bishops in each country along with lay persons then reflected on these listening sessions and then shared what was heard with the Holy See in a national synthesis. The USCCB National Synthesis can be found here
. Now, in this next stage of the Synod, the DCS serves as a tool for discussion and reflection between episcopal conferences based on a continental grouping.
Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine, who has been shepherding the synodal process in the United States, welcomed the DCS saying, “The Document for the Continental Stage is a profound reflection that brings together the hopes and concerns expressed by the geographically diverse communities within the universal Church in the first stage of the Synod. As we continue to the next stage, this document will be fundamental in our ongoing discernment.”
For the Continental Stage of the Synod, the USCCB will be joining with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in holding 10 virtual Continental Assemblies, including several in Spanish and French, in late 2022 and early 2023. Representatives from each diocese in the U.S. and Canada will be attending one of these assemblies to reflect on and discuss the Document for the Continental Stage. These discussions will then be brought together in the North American Continental Synthesis and submitted to the Holy See by March 31, 2023.
“The North American Continental Stage will create opportunities to engage the diversity of the People of God in the Church in North America in continued listening and meditation on the content and the reflection questions proposed by the Document for the Continental Stage,” said Richard Coll, executive director of the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development, who was appointed in June 2021 to coordinate the effort of the U.S. bishops for the Synod. “The virtual format will allow for greater accessibility, and thus a wider and more diverse participation by the People of God and will also provide more opportunities for the bishops in the United States and Canada to engage in the listening sessions.”
Begun in October 2021, the “Synod on Synodality” was recently extended by Pope Francis through October 2024, to allow for more time for reflection and discernment from both the local and universal Church. The Universal Phase of the Synod will be held in two parts, the first in October 2023 and the second a year later in October 2024.
“The Holy Father has given the Church a great gift in extending the Synod through October 2024,” said Bishop Flores. “As we move forward, I encourage the People of God to utilize this Synodal time as an invitation to continue to cultivate the insights and fruits of their local Synodal consultations, and to work toward building an ecclesial culture of meditation on the Gospel, attentive listening, and prayerful pastoral decision-making.”
October 25, 2022
USCCB statement in light of Biden's intent to codify national right to abortion
WASHINGTON — Last week, President Biden stated that his top legislative priority after the midterm elections will be codifying a national right to abortion. Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following response emphasizing the teaching of the Catholic Church on upholding the dignity of human life:
“The President is gravely wrong to continue to seek every possible avenue to facilitate abortion, instead of using his power to increase support and care to mothers in challenging situations. This single-minded extremism must end, and we implore President Biden to recognize the humanity in preborn children and the genuine life-giving care needed by women in this country. As pastors who deal daily with the tragic impacts of abortion, we know that abortion is a violent act which ends the life of preborn children and wounds untold numbers of women. The Catholic Church wishes to continue in our work with our government and leaders to protect the right to life of every human being and to ensure that pregnant and parenting mothers are fully supported in the care of their children before and after birth.”
October 25, 2022
Pope Francis names new auxiliary bishop of Atlanta
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed the Rev. John-Nhan Tran as auxiliary bishop of Atlanta. Bishop-elect Tran is a priest of the Archdiocese of New Orleans and currently serves as pastor of Mary, Queen of Peace Church in Mandeville, Louisiana. The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on October 25, 2022, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Father Tran was born February 6, 1966, in Vietnam. He was nine years old when he and his family escaped Vietnam and found refuge in the United States. He attended Don Bosco College in Newton, New Jersey and St. Joseph Seminary College in St. Benedict, Louisiana (1989). He earned a Master of Divinity in theology (1992) from Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 30, 1992.
Bishop-elect Tran’s assignments in the Archdiocese of New Orleans after ordination include: parochial vicar at Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Violet (1992-1995); parochial vicar at The Visitation of Our Lady parish in Marrero (1995-1997); parochial vicar at St. Angela Merici parish in Metairie (1997-1998); parochial vicar at Our Lady of Divine Providence parish in Metairie (1999-2001); pastor at St. Louise de Marillac parish in Arabi (2001-2003); pastor at St. Bonaventure parish in Avondale (2003-2007); and pastor at St. Joan of Arc parish in LaPlace (2007-2014). Since 2014, he has served as pastor of Mary Queen of Peace parish in Mandeville. Bishop-elect Tran speaks English and Vietnamese.
The Archdiocese of Atlanta is comprised of 21,445 square miles in the State of Georgia and has a total population of 7,700,000, of which 1,190,000 are Catholic.
October 24, 2022
Four recognized for pro-life work at 2022 People of Life Awards
WASHINGTON — Each October, the Catholic Church in the United States celebrates Respect Life Month, a time to focus on God’s precious gift of human life and our duty to cherish, protect and defend human life wherever it is vulnerable or threatened. It is also a time the Church honors those who have shown their commitment to the cause of life through their personal witness and sacrifices.
Four champions of the pro-life cause, Mary Huber, Barbara Lyons, Greg Schleppenbach, and the late Laura Jean Ebert were honored this year at the 2022 People of Life awards for their lifetime contributions to the movement. The awards were presented during the annual Diocesan Pro-Life Leadership Conference on July 18 where approximately 50 diocesan Catholic pro-life leaders and guests were in attendance at the awards dinner. Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, and chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), presided over the festivities.
The People of Life award recognizes Catholics who have answered the call outlined by Saint John Paul II in The Gospel of Life (Evangelium vitae
, 1995) by dedicating themselves to pro-life activities and promoting respect for the dignity of the human person. It is bestowed in honor of their significant and longtime contributions to the culture of life.
Mary Huber spent her 24-year career in dedicated pro-life ministry at the Diocese of San Bernardino, beginning as a part-time bookkeeper and ultimately becoming the director of Respect Life and Pastoral Care for the diocese’s Department of Life, Dignity, and Justice. Throughout her years of service, Huber worked closely with the California Catholic Conference of Bishops advocating for life-saving protections for pre-born children, women, and teen girls at risk for abortion, and the elderly at risk for assisted suicide. She launched their first diocesan Project Rachel program, coordinating training for priests and volunteers, and providing bilingual phone counseling as well as abortion healing retreats in English and Spanish. Huber also facilitated mental health programming in parish ministries, particularly for those wounded by abortion, or struggling with end-of-life care. She ultimately developed comprehensive programs to provide educational resources for accompanying the dying during their final journey.
Barbara Lyons began her lifesaving work in 1974 as the volunteer president of the Milwaukee County chapter of Wisconsin Right to Life. She joined the staff of Wisconsin Right to Life in 1977 where she served as legislative director for ten years, becoming executive director in 1987. Her public policy efforts resulted in multiple life-saving laws, and she showed great leadership in educational outreach through the Veritas Society media campaign, teen and college training programs and development of the organization’s grassroots efforts. Lyons “retired” from WRTL in 2014 after 40 years of outstanding work in the pro-life movement, yet in her seventies, she was asked to serve as coalitions director for the Patient’s Rights Action Fund, where her advocacy efforts prevented many states from adopting physician-assisted suicide. She has worked tirelessly into her eighties to prevent vulnerable persons from being targeted by assisted suicide.
Greg Schleppenbach has dedicated his career to defending human life from its beginning and at its end. During his studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he became a member of Students for Life. With the establishment of a pro-life directorship at the Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC) in 1991, he took up that position and served in it until 2014. He worked with Nebraska’s three Catholic bishops to implement the USCCB’s Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities. Then for two years he served as the NCC’s executive director. In 2016, Schleppenbach succeeded Richard Doerflinger as associate director for the USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, where he was a force for coalition-building, innovation, and growth within the Church and the pro-life movement. After leaving the USCCB in 2022, Schleppenbach now works on the “demand side” of preventing abortion as executive director for the Culture Project, a missionary organization providing education and mentorship for teens on the issues of human dignity and sexual integrity.
Laura J. Ebert, who passed away in 2021, spent her life in dedicated service to the Catholic Church and the pro-life movement. Ebert helped establish pro-life pregnancy centers in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, and also in Canada. She also served as a housemother at a maternity home in Arkansas. In addition to her pro-life witness, Ebert was passionate about Catholic education and worked for many years as a teacher in Illinois. She continued her leadership in compassionate service to women and children at pregnancy care centers near her home of Menominee, Michigan until her death at 73.
The awardees join 37 other People of Life award recipients since the USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities established the award in 2007.
October 4, 2022
USCCB Pro-Life Chairman affirms Church teaching on dignity of human life
WASHINGTON – Marking 100 days since the Supreme Court of the United States’ decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization
, which overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey
, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, called for “radical solidarity
” with pregnant women, and reiterated Catholic teaching on life in response to recent public comments from people in public life who distort the Catholic Church’s teaching.
“The Catholic Church recognizes that all people, born and unborn, have been created in the image and likeness of God, and therefore have inherent dignity, and the right to life. When a woman is carrying a child, both mother and child are valued and should be protected, and the life of one should not be set against the life of another. The goal is always to save life, never to intentionally destroy life. The Church seeks the protection of all unborn children, this includes the innocent child conceived in rape or incest.
“Mothers should also be protected and supported, and we all have a responsibility to stand with mothers
in need and provide the material and emotional support necessary to allow mothers, children, and families to live in dignity. In the post-Roe
world, we must act in radical solidarity with the pregnant woman and her child, as we work and pray for the day when abortion is unthinkable.
“Whereas the Church always seeks the protection of all unborn children, it is licit to support legislation that falls short of this goal, if it advances protections and limits harm. Evangelium Vitae, Sec. 73: ‘This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.’
“The USCCB supports legislation that seeks to limit the harm of abortion, including some legislation that includes exceptions. We will continue to pray and work for the day when all human life is welcomed in love and protected by law.”