(USCCB News Archives can be accessed at www.usccb.org/news/)
November 17, 2021
U.S. bishops approve action items at Fall General Assembly
BALTIMORE— The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) gathered for the 2021 Fall General Assembly in Baltimore this week. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the bishops’ June 2020 spring meeting was canceled, and the November 2020 fall meeting and June 2021 spring meeting were held in a virtual format. This was the first in-person meeting of the full body of bishops since November 2019.
The meeting agenda included more than a dozen action items that were up for a vote:
- By a voice vote, the bishops affirmed their support for the advancement of the causes of beatification and canonization for three lay individuals at the diocesan level: Charlene Marie Richards, Auguste Robert Pelafigue, and Joseph Dutton.
- The bishops received an update on the Eucharistic revival initiative and voted on moving forward with a National Eucharistic Congress in the summer of 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The bishops approved the national event with 201 votes in favor, 17 against, and 5 abstentions.
- Through the USCCB’s Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines, the Conference exercises faithful, competent, and socially responsible stewardship in how it manages its financial resources. The updated guidelines were presented to the body of bishops and this action item was approved with 216 votes in favor, 10 against, and 5 abstentions.
- The bishops discussed the draft of a statement that is meant to be a reflection on the transformative beauty of the Eucharist that invites each of us into a deeper relationship with Christ. The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church was approved with 222 votes in favor, 8 against, and 3 abstentions.
- The Latin Church members voted to approve the revised National Statutes for the Catechumenate for use in the dioceses of the U.S. by a vote of 222 - 1 with 0 abstentions. It was followed with a vote to approve the Estatutos Nacionales para el Catecumenado for use in the dioceses of the U.S. with 224 votes in favor, 0 against, and 1 abstention.
- The Conference’s longstanding commitment to promote financial accountability in the pastoral governance of the diocesan bishop is affirmed through the Resolution on Diocesan Financial Reporting, which encourages the adoption of a voluntary financial reporting system by the dioceses as a means of offering further evidence of their compliance with canon law (Church law) pertaining to fiscal administration. Since its original passage in 2000, the resolution has been renewed by the bishops approximately every five years. It was approved by the bishops with 233 votes in favor, 0 against, and 1 abstention.
- Each year, the USCCB publishes the Liturgical Calendar for the Dioceses of the United States of America which lists each day’s celebration, rank, liturgical color, citations for the Lectionary for Mass, and Psalter cycle for the Liturgy of the Hours. In a vote of 213 votes in favor, 0 against, and 1 abstention, the bishops approved the proposal to inscribe Saint Teresa Calcutta as an optional memorial on September 5.
- The Latin Church members of the Conference voted to approve the translation by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) of Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery Outside Mass for use in the dioceses of the United States, which was approved with 200 votes in favor, 14 against, and 4 abstentions.
- The Latin Church members of the Conference approved the revised English edition of the Order of the Christian Initiation of Adults with 215 votes in favor, 6 against, and 2 abstentions. It was followed by a vote on a revised Spanish edition of the Ritual para la Iniciación cristiana de adultos, which was likewise approved with 218 votes in favor, 3 against, and 1 abstention.
- The full body of bishops authorized the Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People to begin a review of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young Adults in advance of the June 2025 mandated review date. The proposal was approved with 230 votes in favor, 5 against, and 0 abstentions.
- The bishops accepted the recommendations of the USCCB’s Committee on Budget and Finance to approve the 2022 budget by a vote of 223 - 4 with 5 abstentions.
Recordings of the bishops’ general assembly and the press conferences may be accessed at www.usccb.org/meetings.
November 16, 2021
USCCB election results announced at Fall General Assembly
BALTIMORE — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) have convened their November General Assembly in Baltimore, their first in person meeting in two years in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, the bishops elected a new Conference treasurer and chairmen of five standing committees. The elected bishops will serve for one year as the treasurer-elect or as committee chairman-elect before beginning a three-year term that begins at the conclusion of the bishops’ 2022 Fall General Assembly. The bishops also elected 3 members to the Board of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), and a general secretary for the Conference.
Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen as treasurer-elect and chairman-elect of the Committee on Budget and Finance in a vote 135 to 106 over Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Seattle.
Bishop Earl A. Boyea of Lansing as chairman-elect of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations in a 137-103 vote over Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver.
Bishop Steven J. Lopes of Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter as chairman-elect of the Committee on Divine Worship in a 121-120 vote over Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski of St. Louis.
Archbishop Borys Gudziak of Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development in a 125-116 vote over Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield.
Bishop Robert Barron, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles as chairman-elect of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth in a 140-103 vote over Bishop Edward J. Burns of Dallas.
Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso as chairman-elect of the Committee on Migration in a 127-116 vote over Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami.
Reverend Michael J. K. Fuller, STD was elected as General Secretary of the USCCB in a vote over Reverend Daniel Hanley. The general secretary’s term is five years.
Additionally, 3 members of the Board of Directors for Catholic Relief Services were elected from a slate of 4 candidates. They are (alphabetical order):
- Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio
- Bishop Donald J. Hying
- Bishop Oscar A. Solis
News updates, vote totals, texts of addresses and presentations and other materials of the General Assembly are posted at: www.usccb.org/meetings
Winner of CCHD’s Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award named
WASHINGTON — The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the anti-poverty program of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has named Ms. Ogechi Akalegbere of the Archdiocese of Washington as the recipient of the 2021 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. Ogechi will be honored at a reception on November 16 during the U.S. bishops’ annual General Assembly in Baltimore.
USCCB Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection Releases Annual Report
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection has released the 2020 Annual Report – Findings and Recommendations on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The report is based on the audit findings of StoneBridge Business Partners, a specialty consulting firm headquartered in Rochester, New York, which provides forensic, internal, and compliance audit services to leading organizations nation-wide. A survey on allegations conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) is also included as part of the report.
- 61 dioceses/eparchies were visited either in-person or via remote technology and data collected from 135 others.
- There were four instances of non-compliance: the Diocese of Fort Worth and the Diocese of Helena were found non-compliant with Article 2 of the Charter due to inactivity of their Review Boards; St Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy and Our Lady of Deliverance of Newark Eparchy were both found non-compliant with Articles 12 (training of youth and adults) and Article 13 (background checks) of the Charter.
- Two eparchies did not participate in the audit: the Eparchy of St. Mary Queen of Peace, and the Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle.
The full Annual Report, and all previously published Annual Reports, may be found on the Secretariat’s audit page.
The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People may be found at: https://www.usccb.org/offices/child-and-youth-protection/charter-protection-children-and-young-people
Additional information on diocesan requirements for the protection of children and young people may be found at: http://www.usccb.org/about/communications/bishops-resources/upload/cyp-norms-bulletin-insert.pdf
Pope Francis names new Auxiliary Bishop of Pittsburgh
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed the Rev. Mark A. Eckman as auxiliary bishop of Pittsburgh. Bishop-elect Eckman is a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh and currently serves as pastor of Resurrection parish in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on November 5, 2021, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
October 22, 2021
Bishop chairmen call on U.S. Senate to retain bipartisan pro-life policies
WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, the chairman of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Appropriations released the text of several appropriations bills which, like their House counterparts, currently exclude several longstanding, bipartisan provisions like the 46-year-old Hyde Amendment and the Weldon Amendment. Eliminating these provisions would force taxpayers to pay for elective abortions and would have the effect of forcing health care providers and professionals to perform and refer for abortion against their deeply-held beliefs, as well as forcing employers and insurers to cover and pay for abortion.
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement:
“The bills released by the Senate Appropriations chairman this week represent a radical departure from the will of the American people and the principle of justice for all. By proposing to eliminate the Hyde and Weldon Amendments, among other longstanding, bipartisan pro-life provisions, the Senate is staking out an extreme position of forcing taxpayers to pay for the taking of innocent unborn human life and forcing health care providers to participate in this injustice.
“We recognize and appreciate that these bills also include many life-affirming provisions that help vulnerable people, including pregnant moms, refugees, low-income families, and the elderly. The laudable concern and support these provisions represent must also extend to our vulnerable brothers and sisters in the womb.
“We reiterate the fact that funding the destruction of innocent unborn human lives, and forcing people to participate, are grave abuses of human rights. We call on the Senate to prevent this injustice by passing appropriations bills that fully support and protect human dignity, and the most vulnerable among us.”
The U.S. bishops have made previous statements on upholding the dignity of life in appropriations bills:
- U.S. Bishops’ Chairmen Call on House of Representatives to Retain Longstanding, Bipartisan Pro-Life Policies, June 28, 2021
- Bishop Chairmen Respond to Extreme Abortion Push in Appropriations Bill, July 13, 2021
- U.S. Bishops’ Chairmen Respond to House Vote to Force Taxpayers to Fund Elective Abortions, July 29, 2021
October 20, 2021
Diocesan level phase of “Synod on Synodality” begins
WASHINGTON – In May 2021, Pope Francis invited the global Catholic Church to gather and reflect on communion, participation, and mission within the Church. The two-year process of listening and dialogue is themed, For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, & Mission being referred to as the “synod on synodality,” which the Holy Father officially opened with Mass at Saint Peter’s Basilica on October 10. This past weekend, dioceses throughout the world began the next phase of the synod which includes consultation and dialogue at the diocesan level. Using a preparatory document and questionnaire to guide the discussion from the Holy See’s synod office, this phase runs through April 2022.
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) expressed solidarity with Pope Francis and the universal Church on the embarkation of the synod saying, “The Holy Father has called for the local churches to hold inclusive consultations with the People of God as part of the synod. We face a challenge after over a year of being physically distanced within our communities because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This synod is an opportunity to meet the immense and important request of the Holy Father to engage in dialogue to better understand our call to holiness and feel the responsibility to participate in the life of the Church.” He continued, “Outreach, communication, support, and encouragement are vital in order to be missionary disciples. As is with the nature of the synod, I hope we will learn as we ‘journey together,’ and I pray that the process will enrich and guide the future path of both the local Church as well as the universal Church over the course of the next two years, and beyond.”
In carrying out the synod here in the United States, Father Michael Fuller, interim general secretary for the USCCB has been leading the efforts of the Conference to share information with the U.S. bishops. Richard Coll, executive director of the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development was appointed as the bishops’ diocesan liaison. “The Conference’s role in supporting the local diocesan efforts of the synod includes sharing the resources prepared by the general secretariat of the Synod of Bishops in Rome such as the Preparatory Document and Vademecum, as well as additional tools and tips,” he said. “I welcome the opportunity to be a resource to the diocesan representatives as they engage with their local faithful in this most important phase of the synod.”
In order to best share the many materials in an organized manner, the USCCB’s website will be updated regularly with highlights from the synod at the local level, as well as an ongoing effort to incorporate synodal lessons learned into the resources offered. The USCCB’s webpage on the synod may be found at: www.usccb.org/synod.
October 18, 2021
Pope Francis appoints Bishop Cozzens as Bishop of Crookston
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, as Bishop of Crookston. The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on October 18, 2021, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
The biography for Bishop Cozzens may be found here.
The Diocese of Crookston is comprised of 17,210 square miles in the State of Minnesota and has a total population of 227,689 of which 34,875 are Catholic.
October 14, 2021
Total of 100 vandalism incidents reported at Catholic sites in U.S.
WASHINGTON — In May of 2020, the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty began tracking incidents of arson, vandalism, and other destruction at Catholic sites across the United States. October 10 marked the 100th incident: satanic and other hateful graffiti scrawled on the walls before Sunday Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, Colorado.
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued the following statement:
“These incidents of vandalism have ranged from the tragic to the obscene, from the transparent to the inexplicable. There remains much we do not know about this phenomenon, but at a minimum, they underscore that our society is in sore need of God’s grace.
“In all cases, we must reach out to the perpetrators with prayer and forgiveness. True, where the motive was retribution for some past fault of ours, we must reconcile; where misunderstanding of our teachings has caused anger toward us, we must offer clarity; but this destruction must stop. This is not the way.
“We call on our elected officials to step forward and condemn these attacks. We thank our law enforcement for investigating these incidents and taking appropriate steps to prevent further harm. We appeal to community members for help as well. These are not mere property crimes – this is the degradation of visible representations of our Catholic faith. These are acts of hate”.
The USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty and Committee for Domestic Justice and Human Development previously issued a statement on church vandalism on July 22, 2020.
The Committee for Religious Liberty’s “Beauty Heals” project, launched in response to the destruction of Catholic statues, features videos from various dioceses discussing the significance of sacred art.
The committees are advocating for increased funding for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program.
WASHINGTON — On October 8, the Biden Administration announced a Fiscal Year 2022 Presidential Determination (PD) of 125,000 refugees for resettlement through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). This is the highest PD since 1993 and follows four consecutive years of historic lows. During the previous fiscal year, which ended on September 30, the U.S. resettled only 11,411 refugees out of a possible 62,500, the lowest number in the program’s history.
October 7, 2021
Dates announced for World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal
WASHINGTON — Lisbon, Portugal will be the host of the next international World Youth Day (WYD), from August 1 to 6, 2023. Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Bishop Edward J. Burns of Dallas, the USCCB’s episcopal liaison to World Youth Day, released a statement expressing solidarity with Pope Francis and the universal Church as anticipation builds for the major international event.
“We are overjoyed to now have the dates we can look forward to when millions of people will come together and join the Holy Father for World Youth Day in Lisbon in August 2023.
“We hope that many from the U.S. will participate, and we invite all youth and young adults – in fact, every person age 16 to 35 in the United States – to join us. Whether you plan to travel to Lisbon, participate through digital media, or join your peers at one of many local celebrations taking place in dioceses across the country, we want you to be part of this moment in the life of the Church.
“It is providential that the WYD Mass with the Holy Father will take place on the feast of the Transfiguration, August 6, 2023. The experience of the Peter, James and John at the Transfiguration was a pivotal moment of transformation for them. We hope that WYD will have a similar impact on young people today, no matter where or how they make this pilgrimage to celebrate this special international festival of faith.”
Since 1985, the international World Youth Day has been held every two to three years in a different country and is intended to draw together youth and young adults, ages 16 to 35, from every continent for a worldwide pilgrimage and festival of faith along with the Holy Father. The Lisbon WYD gathering was originally scheduled to take place in the summer of 2022; however, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis extended the preparatory period to August 2023.
The USCCB will be developing materials and supporting local communities in the coming months before WYD 2023. More details can be found online at: https://www.usccb.org/topics/world-youth-day.
October 7, 2021
Pro-life chairman's statement over rescinding of "Protect Life Rule"
WASHINGTON – The Biden Administration has published a new rule rescinding the “Protect Life Rule” governing the Title X family planning program. That rule had the commendable effect of ensuring compliance with federal law by stipulating that Title X projects may not share office space or financing with abortion facilities and are not required to refer for abortion. The rescission becomes effective on November 8.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities issued the following statement:
“The Catholic bishops have grave concerns about government promotion of contraceptives. At the same time, we have long supported efforts to ensure that abortion is kept physically and financially separate from family planning under Title X.
“Title X was intended and authorized to be a program entirely separate from abortion and it plainly states that ‘the funds authorized under this legislation [shall] be used only to support preventive family planning services, population research, infertility services, and other related medical, informational, and educational activities’ (emphasis added).
“Abortion is not family planning. Abortion takes the life of an already-conceived and growing child. The violence of abortion wounds countless women physically, spiritually, and emotionally. The Administration is wrong to allow taxpayer dollars to fund abortion providers who participate in a pre-pregnancy program specifically designed to exclude abortion.”
In January, Archbishop Naumann issued a statement reacting to the White House’s decision to rescind the Title X Rule: U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Chairman on White House Action to Rescind Title X Rule | USCCB.
The USCCB filed comments to the proposed rule: 2021.title-X-comments-final (usccb.org).
October 5, 2021
Statement on report of clergy sexual abuse in France
WASHINGTON – Following the news this week of a report commissioned by the French bishops on sexual abuse in the Church in France, Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. of Kansas City-St. Joseph, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People issued the following statement:
“I am deeply saddened by the news reports coming out of France of sexual abuse by clergy there, and I echo our Holy Father, Pope Francis who has expressed his sorrow at the news. In renewed solidarity with victim-survivors who have courageously come forward, we join the Church of France in praying for forgiveness, healing, and protection.
“This report underscores the need for us to repent and grow in our commitment to serve the people of God. The Holy Father, in his pastoral concern for the Universal Church has called us all to greater accountability and transparency in addressing the sins of abuse and the mishandling of abuse claims at every level.
“Here in the United States, the Catholic Church has established a comprehensive set of child protection standards that the dioceses and eparchies have committed to following, but the painful experience of survivors always calls us to continual vigilance and improvement. This report opens painful wounds for those who have suffered abuse by a priest, bishop, or someone in the Church, and to those who have experienced this, I urge you to report this to law enforcement and to Church authorities. Let us all continue to pray for healing and reconciliation.”
For more information on how and where to report abuse, please visit www.usccb.org/committees/protection-children-young-people/how-report-abuse.
September 24, 2021
Response to House vote that imposes “abortion on demand until birth"
WASHINGTON — Today, the House of Representatives voted to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, H.R. 3755. This bill would impose abortion on demand nationwide at any stage of pregnancy through federal statute and would eliminate pro-life laws at every level of government — including parental notification for minor girls, informed consent, and health or safety protections specific to abortion facilities. H.R. 3755 also would compel all Americans to support abortions here and abroad with their tax dollars and would also likely force health care providers and professionals to perform, assist in, and/or refer for abortion against their deeply-held beliefs, as well as force employers and insurers to cover or pay for abortion.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities issued the following statement:
“This deceptively-named bill is the most extreme pro-abortion bill our nation has ever seen. H.R. 3755 is not about the health of women, but only about eliminating any and all protections for unborn children — including baby girls. It would lead to the deliberate destruction of millions of unborn lives, leaving countless women with physical, emotional, and spiritual scars.
“This bill assumes that abortion can be the only, or best, solution to a crisis pregnancy, H.R. 3755 is built on a false and despairing narrative that utterly fails women. In treating abortion as the moral equivalent to the removal of an appendix, this proposal is radically out of step with the American public. As a nation built on the recognition that every human being is endowed by its Creator with the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, this bill is a complete injustice. Congress should embrace public policy that respects the rights of mothers, their children, and the consciences of all Americans, not advance a radical ‘abortion on demand until birth’ policy that is completely out of step with our country’s principles.”
September 9, 2021
Updated edition of National Directory for diaconate program released
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has released the second edition of the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States. First promulgated in November 2004, the directory outlines the guidelines and directives to be used by dioceses in preparing or updating a diaconate program and formulating policies for the ministry and life of deacons.
According to the most recent available data from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, there are 18,075 permanent deacons in the United States; it is also reported that 97 percent of the world’s permanent deacons live in the Americas and Europe. The updated directory reflects on the wisdom gleaned from a broad spectrum of deacons and their formators. With a focus on the identity of the deacon as a “living icon of Christ the Servant within the Church,” and a minister of Word, Liturgy, and Charity in the community, the new edition reflects poignantly on fifty years since the establishment of the permanent diaconate in the United States. Developed by the USCCB’s Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV), the second edition includes norms that will take effect on June 9, 2022.
In a recent meeting with permanent deacons and their families in Rome, Pope Francis described the spirituality of deacons as “availability inside and openness outside…available inside, from the heart, ready to say ‘yes,’ docile, without making one’s life revolve around one’s own agenda; and open outside, looking at everyone, especially those who are left out, those who feel excluded.” The Holy Father reminded those present that the Church should have “a heart that burns with love and serves with humility and joy.”
Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations expressed gratitude for the update of the document. “I am grateful for the good work of the CCLV committee that has led to the publication of the updated National Directory. This document will serve as an instrumental resource for dioceses as they work to strengthen their permanent diaconate programs. It is my hope that permanent deacons and those who accompany them will be encouraged by the new edition of the Directory and be inspired to continue in their faithful service to the Church in imitation of Christ the Servant.”
The National Directory, 2nd edition is available for purchase on the USCCB store: https://store.usccb.org/products/national-directory-for-the-formation-ministry-and-life-of-permanent-deacons.