Welcome to the Diocese of Lake Charles
2018-2019 DOLC Seminarians

Thirteen Men Return To Seminary Studies

The 2018-2019 class of men continuing their discernment and training for the priesthood for the Diocese of Lake Charles is one of its largest and each man has been assigned to various seminaries by Bishop Glen John Provost. The Bishop, seen center in the above photo, is seated with the class. Seated with him are, from left, Andrew DeRouen, Joseph Caraway, Deacon Michael Caraway, and Levi Thompson. Standing, from left, are Michael Beverung, Alec January, Josh Page, Conner Chaisson, Samuel Bond, Treville Belcher, Lai Nguyen, Olin Scot Chester, and Garrett Broussard. Belcher, Chaisson, and Broussard are the three newest men accepted by Bishop Provost for entry into the seminary. Deacon Michael Caraway, who will return to the Pontifical North American College in Rome following his fall internship, was ordained to the diaconate in June. He will join three other men, at the PNAC - Andrew DeRouen, Joseph Caraway, and Levi Thompson. Deacon Caraway will be completing his fourth year of theological study while the trio are in their third theological year. They, along with Sam Bond, studying at Notre Dame Seminary College in New Orleans, are expected, with God’s grace, to be ordained next June to the transitional diaconate by Bishop Provost. The priestly ordination of Deacon Caraway is expected at the same time.

New seminarians, Treville Belcher and Garrett Broussard, both in First Year Pre-Theology at Notre Dame Seminary and Conner Chaisson in First Year College at St. Joseph Seminary College. Alec January and Josh Page are in their fourth year of philosophy study at St. Joseph. Also, at Notre Dame Seminary will be Michael Beverung in second year theology, Lai Nguyen in second year pre-theology, and Olin Scott Chester in first year theology. The men represent 10 church parishes of the diocese – Michael Beverung – Our Lady Queen of Heaven; Sam Bond – Our Lady of LaSalette, DeQuincy; Levi Thompson – St. Theodore, Moss Bluff; Joseph Caraway – St. Charles Borromeo, Fenton and its mission, St. John the Evangelist, Lacassine; Andrew DeRouen – Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception; Lai Nguyen, Garrett Broussard, and Treville Belcher – all Our Lady of Good Counsel; Deacon Michael Caraway – Our Lady Help of Christians, Jennings; Alec January – St. Philip Neri, Kinder; Olin Scott Chester – St. Joseph, Vinton; and Josh Page and Conner Chaisson – both Our Lady of Prompt Succor, Sulphur. Rev. Jeffrey Starkovich, the pastor of St. Pius X Catholic Church in Ragley, serves as Director of Seminarians and Vocations for the diocese, overseeing the education, training, and discernment of these men. Additionally, before their return to school, three seminarians – Olin Scott Chester, Michael Beverung, and Sam Bond - were accepted by Bishop Provost to Candidacy for Admission to Holy Orders. The Rite of Admission is celebrated when a seminarian has reached a maturity of purpose regarding his vocation and has shown the necessary qualities for ordained ministry. Through this liturgical rite, a seminarian makes a public intention of receiving Holy Orders and resolves to continue his preparation, in mind and spirit, in order to give faithful service to Christ and His Church.

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

(For interesting commentary on Catholic issues go to http://usccbmedia.blogspot.com/)


WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Rev. Juan Miguel Betancourt, S.E.M.V. as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Hartford. Father Betancourt is a member of the Institute of the Servants of the Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary (Esclavos de la Eucaristia y de Maria Virgen).

Father Betancourt entered the Institute Servants of the Eucharist and the Virgin Mary as a canonical postulant on January 1, 1992. He professed vows as a religious on October 7, 1994. He received his bachelor’s in theological studies in May 2000 from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico and earned a Master of Divinity in 2002. He also holds a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute (2005). He was ordained on April 21, 2001.

His assignments include: professor of sacred scripture at the Pontifical University of Puerto Rico (2005-2006), professor of sacred scripture at Regina Cleri Major Seminary in Puerto Rico (2005-2006), assistant professor of sacred scripture at the Seminary of Saint Paul (2006-present), adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas (2006-present), local superior at the Casa de San Jose in Saint Paul, MN, (2006-present) and pastor of the churches of Saint James and Saint Francis de Sales in Saint Paul, MN (2006-present).

Father Betancourt is also a Board Member of the National Conference for Seminarians in Hispanic Ministry (2009-present) and a liaison for Foreign Seminarians at St. Paul Seminary (2008-present).

The Archdiocese of Hartford comprises 2,288 square miles. It has a total population of 1,938,914 people of which 538, 983, or 27 percent, are Catholic.  Archbishop Leonard P. Blair is the current Archbishop of Hartford. 

September 13. 2018

VATICAN CITY — Following a private audience with Pope Francis this morning in Vatican City, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following statement regarding the recent moral crisis in the American Catholic Church.

“We are grateful to the Holy Father for receiving us in audience.  We shared with Pope Francis our situation in the United States -- how the Body of Christ is lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse. He listened very deeply from the heart. It was a lengthy, fruitful, and good exchange.

As we departed the audience, we prayed the Angelus together for God’s mercy and strength as we work to heal the wounds.  We look forward to actively continuing our discernment together identifying the most effective next steps.”

September 13, 2018

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael Bransfield from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia.  Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop William E. Lori as Apostolic Administrator of the  Wheeling-Charleston. He will remain Archbishop of Baltimore. The Holy Father has additionally instructed Archbishop Lori to conduct an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment of adults against Bishop Bransfield.

The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington, September 13, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Bransfield was born September 8, 1943, in Philadelphia, PA. He graduated from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in 1971, where he earned a master's in Divinity. He also earned his Master’s in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America.

He was ordained to the priesthood on May 15, 1971 by Cardinal John Krol for service in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Assignments after ordination included: teacher, chaplain, and Chairman of the Religion Department at Lansdale Catholic High School.  In 1980, Bishop Bransfield went on to serve as  Assistant Director and Director of Liturgy, Director of Finance, and then Rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (1990).

On December 9, 2004, Pope Saint John Paul II appointed Bishop Bransfield the eighth Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia.   He was ordained a bishop on February 22, 2005.

Bishop Bransfield served as a member of the Communications Committee, the National Collections Committee, and Treasurer of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is comprised of 24,282 square miles in the state of West Virginia and has a total population of 1,844,128 of which 77,874 or 4 percent, are Catholic.

September 10, 2018
WASHINGTON — Theresa Ridderhoff has been appointed as Associate General Secretary for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Ms. Ridderhoff is currently Executive Director of the USCCB Office of Human Resources.  She has been appointed to the new role upon the retirement of Ms. Linda Hunt, who has served the conference for the past 22 years and as the USCCB’s Associate General Secretary since 2011.  Msgr. Brian Bransfield, USCCB General Secretary, made the appointment which will take effect at the end of the calendar year. 

Ms. Ridderhoff will function as chief operations officer for the ongoing management of Conference administration.  She will also join the USCCB Executive Leadership team in conducting the regular business of the General Secretariat and in collaboration with USCCB staff.

“I express my gratitude to Theresa for accepting this major responsibility in service to the Conference. Theresa brings many years of experience in both the for profit and not for profit worlds.  During her time with the Conference, she also collaborated on major projects including in the General Secretariat and has always been an invaluable and dedicated partner in the significant work of the Conference staff,” said Msgr. Bransfield.

After earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Stonehill College, Theresa went on to receive a Master of Arts in Education (in Instructional Technology) and a Certificate in Human Resource Management, both from George Mason University.  She holds the Senior Professional in Human Resources certification from the HR Certification Institute and the SHRM-SCP from the Society for Human Resources Management.  Before joining the Conference, Theresa served at Sallie Mae most recently as Senior Director of Human Resources. Additionally, she has worked as a human resource consultant and in retail training and management.  Theresa joined the Conference in 2011 and has served successfully since then in the important position of Executive Director of the Office of Human Resources.  She is a practicing Catholic, married for 18 years, and is the mother of two sons.  She regularly volunteers at her parish in Petersville, Maryland, and in local community organizations.

“The successful and effective fulfillment of the mission of the USCCB depends greatly on the high caliber of persons that serve the Church and bishops through their work as Conference staff.  I count among them as an esteemed colleague Ms. Linda Hunt, Associate General Secretary, who informed me earlier this year of her intention to retire at the end of this calendar year,” said Msgr. Bransfield.  “For more than two decades, Linda has devoted countless hours of dedicated service to the work of the USCCB and for this, we are deeply grateful.”

Ms. Hunt began her tenure with us the USCCB as Associate Director of the Office of Human Resources followed by her subsequent appointment as Director two years later. In 2010, Linda began service in the General Secretariat as Associate General Secretary.  Her love of the Church, her leadership in the area of management and operations, and her professional and friendly interaction with us all, will be sorely missed.

August 30, 2018

WASHINGTON — In his 2018 Labor Day statement, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, calls for all persons to work together for just wages, which are necessary for families to flourish. A just wage is one that “not only provides for workers’ financial well-being, but fosters their social, cultural, and spiritual dimensions as individuals and members of society.”

The full statement is available in English is at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/labor-employment/labor-day-statement-2018.cfm

A Spanish translation of the statement is available at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/labor-employment/labor-day-statement-2018-spanish.cfm

August 28, 2018

WASHINGTON — The National Review Board (NRB) has issued the following in response to the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report and recent allegations against Archbishop McCarrick.  In the statement, the NRB calls for a lay-lead investigation into all allegations of sexual misconduct within the Church as well as strengthening  the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

Established in 2002, the purpose of the National Review Board is to work collaboratively with the Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People in preventing the sexual abuse of minors in the United States by persons in the service of the Church.

The full National Review Board statement follows:

“While the policies and procedures that  have been implemented by the Church since 2002 to address the sexual abuse of minors by the clergy have resulted in a significant decrease of such abuse, the revelations of horrific incidents of abuse in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, along with the abuse perpetrated by Archbishop McCarrick point to a systemic problem within the Church that can no longer be ignored or tolerated by the episcopacy in the United States.  The National Review Board has for several years expressed its concern that bishops not become complacent in their response to sexual abuse by the clergy.  The recent revelations make it clear that the problem is much deeper.  We are saddened, angry, and hurt by what we have learned in the past few weeks. The evil of the crimes that have been perpetrated reaching into the highest levels of the hierarchy will not be stemmed simply by the creation of new committees, policies, or procedures. What needs to happen is a genuine change in the Church’s culture, specifically among the bishops themselves.  This evil has resulted from a loss of moral leadership and an abuse of power that led to a culture of silence that enabled these incidents to occur.  Intimidation, fear, and the misuse of authority created an environment that was taken advantage of by clerics, including bishops, causing harm to minors, seminarians, and those most vulnerable.  The culture of silence enabled the abuse to go on virtually unchecked.  Trust was betrayed for the victims/survivors of the abuse; the entire Body of Christ was betrayed in turn by these crimes and the failure to act. 

“The National Review Board firmly believes, as has been expressed by several bishops in recent days, that the episcopacy needs to be held accountable for these past actions, and in the future, for being complicit, either directly or indirectly, in the sexual abuse of the vulnerable.  Holding bishops accountable will require an independent review into the actions of the bishop when an allegation comes to light.  The only way to ensure the independence of such a review is to entrust this to the laity, as recently suggested by Cardinal DiNardo.  The NRB, composed exclusively of lay members, would be the logical group to be involved in this task.  Establishing an anonymous whistleblower policy, as is found in corporations, higher education and other institutions in both the public and private sector, that would be independent of the hierarchy with participation by the laity, perhaps the NRB, who would report allegations to the local bishop, local law enforcement, the nuncio and Rome, needs to be established immediately.  Another problem that needs to be addressed is the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.  The Charter has been helpful in the Church’s response to sexual abuse by the clergy.  However, the Charter should be understood as a living document that is in constant need of revision based on what we have learned and experienced over the years, as well as current new realities. The members of the NRB have on numerous occasions pointed out the weaknesses in the Charter given its deliberate ambiguity and its lack of inclusion of bishops.  During the most recent revision process of the Charter, many of the recommendations made by the NRB to strengthen the Charter were not incorporated for a variety of reasons.  These recommendations need to be re-considered in light of the current situation, as well as the inclusion of bishops in the Charter.  The NRB also believes that the statement of Episcopal Commitment is ineffective and needs to be revised into a meaningful, actionable commitment.  In particular, the notion of “fraternal correction” must outline concrete steps that will be taken when a bishop is alleged to have committed sexual abuse or has failed to respond immediately and without hesitation when a cleric is accused of sexual abuse.  To ensure that bishops undertake their obligation to act decisively when they have knowledge of incidences of sexual abuse committed by the clergy or their brother bishops, there must be substantive formation of newly appointed bishops on their responsibility as moral leaders within the Church, especially in responding to sexual abuse, something which is currently lacking. 

“Since its creation in the Charter, the NRB has sought to provide its advice to the bishops to assist them in addressing the sexual abuse of minors.  We will continue to work with the bishops, particularly in responding to Cardinal DiNardo’s request for the NRB’s assistance in the proposed investigation he has called for regarding recent revelations. In the coming weeks, the NRB will consider what recommendations to make to the bishops in light of that request.  We recognize that the overwhelming majority of our current bishops have, and continue to, take the sexual abuse of minors seriously and who act accordingly by adhering to the Charter, some even going beyond these basic requirements.  However, every time one bishop fails to act, the entire episcopate is tainted.  It is time for the laity to assume courageous leadership to help the Church respond and to heal and for the bishops to listen carefully to our recommendations. We need not only to pray for the Church and most especially for the victims/survivors and their families who have been wounded by this terrible scourge, but we must take concrete action to address the systemic problems underlying the problem of sexual abuse in the Church.”

More information on the National Review Board.

August 27, 2018

WASHINGTON— Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has issued the following statement.

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

“In communion with the Holy Father, I join the Executive Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in taking upon ourselves his exhortation, ‘this open wound [of abuse] challenges us to be firm and decisive in the pursuit of truth and justice.’

“On August 1st, I promised that USCCB would exercise the full extent of its authority, and would advocate before those with greater authority, to pursue the many questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick.  On August 16th, I called for an Apostolic Visitation, working in concert with a national lay commission granted independent authority, to seek the truth.  Yesterday, I convened our Executive Committee once again, and it reaffirmed the call for a prompt and thorough examination into how the grave moral failings of a brother bishop could have been tolerated for so long and proven no impediment to his advancement.

“The recent letter of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò brings particular focus and urgency to this examination.  The questions raised deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence. Without those answers, innocent men may be tainted by false accusation and the guilty may be left to repeat sins of the past.

“I am eager for an audience with the Holy Father to earn his support for our plan of action.  That plan includes more detailed proposals to: seek out these answers, make reporting of abuse and misconduct by bishops easier, and improve procedures for resolving complaints against bishops.  Inspired by his recent letter to the people of God, and his motu proprio of two years ago, As a Loving Mother, I am confident Pope Francis shares our desire for greater effectiveness and transparency in the matter of disciplining bishops. We renew our fraternal affection for the Holy Father in these difficult days.

“To the survivors of abuse and the families who have lost a loved one to abuse, I am sorry.  You are no longer alone.  Since 2002, hundreds of professionally trained staff across the country have been working with the Church to support survivors and prevent future abuse.  Nationwide, the Church has a zero-tolerance policy toward priests and deacons who abuse, safe environment training, background checks for those working around children, victim assistance coordinators, prompt reporting to civil authorities, and lay review boards in dioceses.

“In other ways, we have failed you.  This is especially true for adults being sexually harassed by those in positions of power, and for any abuse or harassment perpetrated by a bishop.  We will do better. The more she is buffeted by storms, the more I am reminded that the Church’s firm foundation is Jesus Christ.  The failures of men cannot diminish the light of the Gospel.  Lord, by the help of your mercy, show us the way to salvation.”

August 23, 2018

WASHINGTON — To mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the first and only World Youth Day (WYD) in the United States (Denver, Colorado - August 1993), the official World Youth Day Cross and Marian Icon is making a five-city tour across the United States.

Through August 27, the WYD symbols are making stops in Miami (Aug 21-23), Houston (Aug 23-24), Washington DC (Aug 24-25), and Los Angeles (Aug 26-27).

Each of the five locations will feature special events and liturgical celebrations in commemoration of this historic journey. After leaving the United States, the WYD Cross and Marian Icon will continue onto Panamá, where it will tour that country in advance of the next international WYD with Pope Francis, which is being held there in January 2019.

At least ten U.S. bishops will be part of the pilgrimage including Abp. José H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles; Abp. William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore; and Abp. Thomas G. Wenski, Archbishop of Miami; Bp. Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport; Bp. Barry C. Knestout, Bishop of Richmond; Bp. Roy E. Campbell and Bp. Mario E. Dorsonville-Rodríguez, Auxiliary Bishops of Washington; Bp. George Rassas, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago; Bp. George A. Sheltz, Auxiliary Bishop of Galveston-Houston; and Bp. Marc Trudeau, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles. Abp. José Domingo Ulloa Mendieta, O.S.A., Archbishop of Panamá and host of WYD 2019, will also be present at the events in Miami and Washington DC.

The visit of the WYD symbols takes place 25 years since their last organized tour within the USA, when they preceded the August 1993 WYD celebration with St. John Paul II. Over 500,000 young people traveled to Denver for that landmark event. Since then, the U.S. has actively participated in the global WYD celebrations, held every two or three years in different cities around the world.

“We want women and men of all ages to come out and encounter these important symbols of faith when they are here in our country,” said Bp. Caggiano, who also serves as the USCCB’s chief liaison for WYD. “In addition to those preparing to go to Panamá, we hope that young people and young adults who are unable to travel to World Youth Day next year will be part of these local celebrations. We also hope that veterans of past World Youth Days, including those who went to Denver in 1993, will have a chance to join us along the way.”

August 20, 2018

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued the following statement in response to Pope Francis’s Letter to the People of God, issued earlier today. In his letter addressed to the whole People of God, the Pope calls on the Church to join in acts of prayer and fasting in “combatting all forms of abuse of power, sexual abuse and the abuse of conscience.”

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

 “I am grateful to the Holy Father for his Letter to the People of God, responding to the Pennsylvania Grand Jury investigation and other revelations that have surfaced.  The very fact that he opens the letter with the words of Saint Paul: ‘If one part suffers, all parts suffer with it’ (1 Cor 12:25), shows that he is writing to all of us as a pastor, a pastor who knows how deeply sin destroys lives. I find these words of the Holy Father particularly helpful: ‘penance and prayer will help us to open our eyes and our hearts to other people’s sufferings and to overcome the thirst for power and possessions that are so often the root of those evils.’  These words must provoke action – especially by the bishops.  We bishops need to– and we must – practice with all humility such prayer and penance.

 “The Holy Father is also inviting, and I am asking this as well, that all the faithful join in prayer and fasting as a way to help foster conversion and genuine change of life wherever it is needed, even in the shepherds of the Church.  Jesus remarked once, ‘This kind can only come out through prayer and fasting’ (Mark 9:29); a humble reminder that such acts of faith can move mountains and can even bring about true healing and conversion.

 “On behalf of my brother bishops, I offer that only by confronting our own failure in the face of crimes against those we are charged to protect can the Church resurrect a culture of life where the culture of death has prevailed.”

August 16, 2018

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued the following statement after a series of meetings with members of the USCCB’s Executive Committee and other bishops. The following statement includes three goals and three principles, along with initial steps of a plan that will involve laity, experts, and the Vatican. A more developed plan will be presented to the full body of bishops at their general assembly meeting in Baltimore in November.

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

“Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Two weeks ago, I shared with you my sadness, anger, and shame over the recent revelations concerning Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.  Those sentiments continue and are deepened in light of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report.  We are faced with a spiritual crisis that requires not only spiritual conversion, but practical changes to avoid repeating the sins and failures of the past that are so evident in the recent report.  Earlier this week, the USCCB Executive Committee met again and established an outline of these necessary changes.

The Executive Committee has established three goals: (1) an investigation into the questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick; (2) an opening of new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops; and (3) advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints.  These goals will be pursued according to three criteria:  proper independence, sufficient authority, and substantial leadership by laity.

We have already begun to develop a concrete plan for accomplishing these goals, relying upon consultation with experts, laity, and clergy, as well as the Vatican.  We will present this plan to the full body of bishops in our November meeting.  In addition, I will travel to Rome to present these goals and criteria to the Holy See, and to urge further concrete steps based on them.

The overarching goal in all of this is stronger protections against predators in the Church and anyone who would conceal them, protections that will hold bishops to the highest standards of transparency and accountability.

Allow me to briefly elaborate on the goals and criteria that we have identified.

The first goal is a full investigation of questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick.  These answers are necessary to prevent a recurrence, and so help to protect minors, seminarians, and others who are vulnerable in the future.  We will therefore invite the Vatican to conduct an Apostolic Visitation to address these questions, in concert with a group of predominantly lay people identified for their expertise by members of the National Review Board and empowered to act.

The second goal is to make reporting of abuse and misconduct by bishops easier.  Our 2002 “Statement of Episcopal Commitment” does not make clear what avenue victims themselves should follow in reporting abuse or other sexual misconduct by bishops.  We need to update this document.  We also need to develop and widely promote reliable third-party reporting mechanisms.  Such tools already exist in many dioceses and in the public sector and we are already examining specific options.

The third goal is to advocate for better procedures to resolve complaints against bishops.  For example, the canonical procedures that follow a complaint will be studied with an eye toward concrete proposals to make them more prompt, fair, and transparent and to specify what constraints may be imposed on bishops at each stage of that process.

We will pursue these goals according to three criteria.

The first criterion is genuine independence.  Any mechanism for addressing any complaint against a bishop must be free from bias or undue influence by a bishop.  Our structures must preclude bishops from deterring complaints against them, from hampering their investigation, or from skewing their resolution.

The second criterion relates to authority in the Church.  Because only the Pope has authority to discipline or remove bishops, we will assure that our measures will both respect that authority and protect the vulnerable from the abuse of ecclesial power.

Our third criterion is substantial involvement of the laity.  Lay people bring expertise in areas of investigation, law enforcement, psychology, and other relevant disciplines, and their presence reinforces our commitment to the first criterion of independence.

Finally, I apologize and humbly ask your forgiveness for what my brother bishops and I have done and failed to do.  Whatever the details may turn out to be regarding Archbishop McCarrick or the many abuses in Pennsylvania (or anywhere else), we already know that one root cause is the failure of episcopal leadership.  The result was that scores of beloved children of God were abandoned to face an abuse of power alone.  This is a moral catastrophe.  It is also part of this catastrophe that so many faithful priests who are pursuing holiness and serving with integrity are tainted by this failure.

We firmly resolve, with the help of God’s grace, never to repeat it. I have no illusions about the degree to which trust in the bishops has been damaged by these past sins and failures.  It will take work to rebuild that trust.  What I have outlined here is only the beginning; other steps will follow.  I will keep you informed of our progress toward these goals.

Let me ask you to hold us to all of these resolutions.  Let me also ask you to pray for us, that we will take this time to reflect, repent, and recommit ourselves to holiness of life and to conform our lives even more to Christ, the Good Shepherd.”

August 14, 2018

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is hosting a series of meetings this week responding to the broader issue of safe environments within the Church. An update will be offered upon their conclusion.

In response to today’s Pennsylvania grand jury report, Cardinal DiNardo joins Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette in Indiana, in issuing the following joint statement. Bishop Doherty is Chairman for the USCCB’s Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The full statement follows:

“The report of the Pennsylvania grand jury again illustrates the pain of those who have been victims of the crime of sexual abuse by individual members of our clergy, and by those who shielded abusers and so facilitated an evil that continued for years or even decades. We are grateful for the courage of the people who aided the investigation by sharing their personal stories of abuse. As a body of bishops, we are shamed by and sorry for the sins and omissions by Catholic priests and Catholic bishops.

We are profoundly saddened each time we hear about the harm caused as a result of abuse, at the hands of a clergyman of any rank. The USCCB Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People and the office of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection will continue to offer avenues to healing for those who have been abused. We are committed to work in determined ways so that such abuse cannot happen.

The Pennsylvania grand jury report covers a span of more than 70 years. In 2002 the U.S. Catholic bishops adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which commits us to respond promptly and compassionately to victims, report the abuse of minors, remove offenders and take ongoing action to prevent abuse. This Charter was revised and updated in 2011 and again in 2018. We pledge to maintain transparency and to provide for the permanent removal of offenders from ministry and to maintain safe environments for everyone.  All policies and procedures regarding training and background check requirements are made publicly available by dioceses and eparchies.

We pray that all survivors of sexual abuse find healing, comfort and strength in God’s loving presence as the Church pledges to continue to restore trust through accompaniment, communion, accountability and justice.”   
August 3, 2018

WASHINGTON — Following the publication of the revised section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church regarding the death penalty, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, welcomed the change and echoed the call to end the death penalty in the United States.

The full statement follows:

"Today, we welcome the Holy Father’s decision to revise the Catechism and its explanation of the Church’s teaching on the death penalty.  All human beings are created in the image and likeness of God, and the dignity bestowed on them by the Creator cannot be extinguished, even by grave sin, such that all persons, from conception until natural death possess inalienable dignity and value that points to their origin as sons and daughters of God.  The new section in the Catechism is consistent with the statements of Pope Francis’ teaching on the death penalty, including his 2015 address to the U.S. Congress, as well as the statements of his predecessors.  Pope Benedict the XVI urged ‘the attention of society’s leaders to the need to make every effort to eliminate the death penalty,’ and Pope St. John Paul II observed that ‘Not even a murderer loses his personal dignity, and God himself pledges to guarantee this.

“For decades, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has called for the end of the death penalty in the United States.  As the revised Catechism states, “more effective systems of detention…which ensure the due protection of citizens: exist, ones that also maintain the human dignity of all.  It is our hope that today’s announcement will bring new attention to this critical issue, and speed along the end of this practice, which, as Pope Francis has said, in the light of the Gospel, is ‘inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.’”      

August 1, 2018

WASHINGTON — Mary Pat Donoghue has been appointed as Executive Director of the Secretariat of Catholic Education for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Monsignor Brian Bransfield, USCCB Secretary General, made the appointment, which will take effect August 13, 2018.

Over her 28 years of service to Catholic education, Ms. Donoghue is perhaps best known for her tenure as Principal of St. Jerome Academy in Hyattsville, Maryland, where she led the effort to move the parish school from near failure to a now-thriving and growing institution.  Before then, she served as a Vice Principal and as a teacher in the classroom; since then, she has consulted nationwide with superintendents, pastors, and principals, sharing her experience in teacher formation and supervision, curriculum implementation, and financial stability, in conjunction with the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education.

“In all of her endeavors, Mary Pat has brought a strong enthusiasm for the special role of Catholic education in the evangelical mission of the Church," said Msgr. Bransfield. "I am grateful to her for accepting this important position in service to the bishops and to the Conference."

“I am humbled and honored to support the vital work of our bishops in the area of Catholic education,” said Ms. Donoghue, “and to support diocesan leaders in fulfilling the Church’s beautiful vision for the formation of our young people.”

Mary Pat holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Maryland, and a Master’s in Education Administration from Trinity University, Washington, D.C.  A native of the Washington, DC area, Mary Pat currently resides in Silver Spring, MD.

For more information on the USCCB Secretariat of Catholic Education, please visit: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/catholic-education/index.cfm.

August 1, 2018

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed the Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted, as the Apostolic Administrator Sede Plena of the Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Catholic eparchy of Phoenix.  Bishop Olmsted will also retain his current Office as Bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix.

The announcement was publicized in Washington on August 1, 2018 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Olmsted has served as the fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix since December 20, 2003.

Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, Bishop Olmsted served as Bishop of Wichita, Kansas from 2001-2003, after being ordained Coadjutor Bishop on April 20, 1999. Before serving in Wichita, he served as the Rector and President of the Pontifical College Josephinum, a Catholic Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. Since 1974, Bishop Olmsted has been a member of the Jesus Caritas ­fraternity of priests. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., July 2, 1973.

For 16 years, Bishop Olmsted lived in Rome, where he obtained a master’s degree in theology and a doctorate in Canon Law from the Pontifical Gregorian University (1981) and worked more than nine years as an official in the Vatican Secretariat of State from 1979 to 1988.   During his time in Rome, he was also an assistant spiritual director at the Pontifical North American College.

Bishop Olmsted is currently a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

July 28, 2018

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement upon Pope Francis’s acceptance of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals.

Pope Francis has also imposed on Cardinal McCarrick, suspension ad divinis and has directed him to observe a life of prayer and penance in seclusion until the completion of the canonical process.

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

“I thank the Holy Father for his leadership in taking this important step. It reflects the priority the Holy Father places on the need for protection and care for all our people and the way failures in this area affect the life of the Church in the United States.”

July 28, 2018

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, from the College of Cardinals.

Pope Francis has also imposed on Cardinal McCarrick suspension ad divinis and directs him to observe a life of prayer and penance in seclusion until the completion of the canonical process.

The statement of this resignation and these stipulations was publicized in Rome on July 28, 2018.

July 25, 2018

WASHINGTON — In honor of the 50th Anniversary of Blessed Paul VI’s papal encyclical, Humanae Vitae, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued the following statement. Originally published in 1968, Blessed Paul VI's letter promotes the whole human person in the context of marital love that respects both the spiritual and physical dimensions of man and woman, which is faithful, generous, and life-giving.

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

“Fifty years ago, today, Blessed Paul VI issued the Encyclical Humanae Vitae. In it, he reaffirmed the beautiful truth that a husband and wife are called to give themselves completely to each other. Marriage reflects the love of God, which is faithful, generous, and life-giving. Through their vocation, spouses cooperate with God by being open to new human life.

Blessed Paul VI, who bore the criticism of Humanae Vitae with charity and patience, courageously affirmed that when we love as God designed, we experience true freedom and joy. He has also been proven correct in his warnings about the consequences of ignoring the true meaning of married love.

On this anniversary, I encourage all to read and prayerfully reflect upon this Encyclical, and be open to the gift of its timeless truths.

We wait in joyful anticipation for the canonization of Paul VI in October.”

For more information and resources on Humanae Vitae, please visit www.usccb.org/HV50.

July 24, 2018

WASHINGTON — The upcoming 2018 People of Life awards will recognize the extraordinary lifetime achievements of three inspiring individuals: an advocate for persons with disabilities, a diocesan priest involved in abortion healing ministry, and a leader in the effort to oppose assisted suicide.

The awards will be presented during the annual Diocesan Pro-Life Leadership Conference taking place July 29 to August 1 in Phoenix, Arizona. This year’s award winners are Janice Benton, Monsignor Joseph Ranieri, and James J. Hanson (who will be recognized posthumously). Over 125 diocesan, state, and national Catholic pro-life leaders and guests from across the country will attend the event with the Most Reverend Thomas Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix, the Most Reverend Brendan Cahill, Bishop of Victoria, and the Most Reverend Eduardo Nevares, Auxiliary Bishop of Phoenix. Bishop Olmsted and Bishop Cahill serve on the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The People of Life award recognizes Catholics who have answered the call outlined by Pope 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.

Even before beginning her nearly 15 years as the executive director of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD), Janice Benton had already spent 25 years in ministry and advocacy for and with persons with disabilities. Jan has been a prophetic voice in upholding the dignity of every human life, especially the marginalized and those at risk of neglect or assisted suicide.

Msgr. Joseph A. Ranieri is the Coordinator of Pastoral Care of Priests in the Archdiocese of Washington, where he has also served as parish priest, pastor, and in countless other roles throughout his 60 years of priesthood. Monsignor Ranieri assists his diocesan Project Rachel Ministry in many capacities. He is also an active member of the Project Rachel Ministry National Training Team for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Finally, the secretariat will honor James J. Hanson posthumously for his tireless efforts to oppose assisted suicide and for his own personal witness to the dignity of every human person, especially those facing a terminal illness. J.J. Hanson served as president of the Patients’ Rights Action Fund, promoting measures that protect patients' civil rights and working against efforts to legalize assisted suicide.

The awardees join 31 other People of Life award recipients since the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities established the award in 2007. More information on previous recipients and on the People of Life campaign is available.

July 23, 2018

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has ratified the members elected by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to represent the United States at the upcoming XV Ordinary General Assembly: Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment.  The Synod will take place October 3-28.

The delegates are:

  • Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • Archbishop José H. Gomez, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Vice President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth
  • Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, Diocese of Bridgeport, member of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.
  • Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis

The XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops has been convened by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, along with the Vatican Synod Office. In preparation for this Synod, the USCCB and other episcopal conferences, as well as ecclesial movements, associations, and experts in the field, were consulted throughout 2017 on the topic of “young people, the faith, and vocational discernment.” In addition, the Vatican collected responses from an online questionnaire aimed at youth and young adults conducted last year. In March 2018, over 300 young adult delegates gathered in Rome, where Pope Francis convened a pre-synod gathering to listen directly to the voice of young people from around the world. The gathering produced a Final Pre-Synodal document.

The Working Document (“Instrumentum Laboris”) for the October Synod was released in late June 2018 and includes a summary of all the Synod consultations to date. It describes the purpose of the 2018 Synod of Bishops as an opportunity for the Church “to accompany all young people, without exception, towards the joy of love,” realizing that “taking care of young people is not an optional task for the Church, but an integral part of her vocation and mission is history.”  

Cardinal Joseph Tobin, C.Ss.R., of Newark, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, and Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., of Philadelphia, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, welcomed the recent release of the Synod Working Document, saying:

    “After a lively discussion with our brother bishops at the Spring 2018 General Assembly on the topic of the Synod, we are happy to receive this Instrumentum Laboris,
     and look forward to exploring how it sheds light on the pastoral challenges of United States. The 2018 Synod will powerfully renew the Catholic Church’s engagement
     with youth and young adults, and provide a deeper understanding of vocational discernment.

The official Vatican website for the Synod, which is inclusive of the Pre-Synod gathering, is http://www.synod2018.va/content/synod2018/en.html.

The official USCCB webpage for the Synod is www.usccb.org/synod-2018.

July 23, 2018

WASHINGTON — The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is making available a new book titled, Pope Francis, Deacons: Servants of Charity.

Written through the eyes of a deacon, this study of the permanent diaconate discerns who deacons are in relation to the Church and the service that flows from their interior character as ordained ministers, preachers of the Word, and models of Christ. As deacons move along the path of charity, they herald the Good News of Jesus Christ in the world.

The narrative takes the reader through Pope Francis’s vision for the permanent diaconate as ministers to the community of believers, in the service of Christ, their bishop, the poor, and the Body of Christ. This story additionally reviews the renewal of the permanent diaconate and significant magisterial teachings on the office of the diaconate. It looks at Pope Francis’s words as bishop of Buenos Aires and his papal teachings, including his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium.

This beautiful narrative draws the reader into the sacred ministry of the diaconate and will inspire deacons, those thinking of becoming deacons, and all those drawn to the service of charity in the Church.

The USCCB has made the book available for order online.

 July 19, 2018

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, Archbishop of New York and Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued a statement today inviting all people of good will to join in a prayer campaign that the change in the U.S. Supreme Court will move our nation closer to the day when every human being is protected in law and welcomed in life.

Cardinal Dolan’s full statement follows:

“As soon as Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, pro-abortion groups began lobbying the U.S. Senate to reject any nominee who does not promise to endorse Roe v. Wade. While the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops does not support or oppose the confirmation of any presidential nominee, we can and should raise grave concerns about a confirmation process which is being grossly distorted by efforts to subject judicial nominees to a litmus test of support for Roe v. Wade. And we must pray.

Each Friday, from August 3 - September 28, 2018, I urge all people of good will to join me in prayer that this change in the U.S. Supreme Court will move our nation closer to the day when every human being is protected in law and welcomed in life. The USCCB Call to Prayer network will share prayers and educational resources and an invitation to fast on Fridays for this intention.

May Our Lady of Guadalupe intercede for the healing of our nation and our people from decades of abortion on demand.”

July 17, 2018

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Africa has approved 54 grants totaling $1.4 million in funding to support dioceses and pastoral projects across the African continent.

Projects slated to receive funding through the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa include the following:

●   In Lesotho, Radio Maria offers Christian educational programs designed to enrich the faith and improve the lives of its listeners. This grant will help Radio Maria to install three new transmitting stations, which will allow their programs to reach the entire Lesotho population.

●   In Ghana, the Diocese of Wa’s newly established Child Protection Office seeks to create a new culture where safeguarding children is the responsibility of all. This grant will support the diocese to organize training for the Diocesan and School Child Protection Teams, clergy, religious and pastoral agents. The workshops will convey information and create sensitivity on protection of children and vulnerable adults, promote creation of safe environments for children, offer skill development, and help the diocese develop policies, as well as liaise with government and civil society on child protection.

●   In Rwanda, the Episcopal Conference continues to promote reconciliation and peace education following the genocide. This grant will allow the Conference to translate conflict prevention materials into the local language of Kinyarwanda to be used within Catholic schools across the country.

“Through the generous support of the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa, the Catholics of the United States show that we stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Africa and recognize their courageous commitment to peace, justice, reconciliation, and Christian hope throughout the continent,” said Cardinal Joseph Tobin, CSsR, of Newark, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Church in Africa.

Additional areas of funding include seminarian and religious formation, evangelization, family ministries, and lay leadership training.

The Subcommittee on the Church in Africa oversees the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. It allocates revenue received from the Solidarity Fund, which is a voluntary collection, as pastoral grants to episcopal conferences and their regional associations in Africa. To learn more about the work of the Subcommittee visit www.usccb.org/africa.

July 17, 2018

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe approved $4.9 million in funding for 209 projects in 22 countries in Central and Eastern Europe at its meeting on June 12 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Projects approved for funding include:

● Refurbishment of St. Luke Social and Rehabilitation Center for children with cancer in Belarus. This Caritas-run facility in Minsk, Belarus, offers free lodging and psychological support to more than 50 poor families annually as their children undergo examination, treatment, and rehabilitation. This center is an important expression of how the Church, whose activities were previously forbidden, today continues to renew its capacity for social ministry and outreach to the poor.

● Expansion of a center for the homeless and the marginalized run by the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul in Rijeka, Croatia. For many years the Sisters of Charity have worked on a voluntary basis to help the immediate needs of people experiencing homelessness in Rijeka, where many live among abandoned buildings in the city. This grant will help the Sisters of Charity continue their ministry to aid the homeless and marginalized at a full-day center, engaging volunteers and social workers in managing individual cases and so mobilizing the local church to address underlying issues of homelessness.

● Development of a leadership course for youth ministers in Romania. Since independence, the Archdiocese of Alba Iulia in Romania has been in the process of renewing pastoral work in more than 250 parishes. However, ministry to youth is still developing and, to date, only one-third of those parishes have youth activities. This grant will support a seven-week youth formation program to develop leadership skills and further develop youth programs for the Church in Romania.

● Support of summer camps for children and youth from families internally displaced by war in Ukraine. Since war broke in 2014 in the East of Ukraine, children of internally displaced persons and children of soldiers have been among those most affected psychologically by the events. This grant will allow Caritas Donetsk to conduct two summer camps for 100 affected children and youth, where they will have the opportunity to interact with each other and receive rehabilitation and spiritual care with the assistance of mental health professionals, priests, and volunteers.

“As the people of Central and Eastern Europe continue to build a new future after decades of repression, we are all inspired by the example of great hope they give to the world that it is possible to bring healing to the wounds of the past. We can take pride that our steadfast support makes a significant contribution to all their efforts in renewing their communities and passing on the faith of their ancestors to the next generation,” said Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe.

Other projects approved by the Subcommittee include scholarships and formation for church leadership, church and pastoral center construction, Catholic education renewal and development, and evangelization programs. Grants approved by the Subcommittee support the Church in countries previously oppressed by communism.

Grants are funded by the annual Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. The national date for this collection is Ash Wednesday, although dioceses may take it up on different dates. The Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe oversees the collection and an annual grant program as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. More information about the collection and who it supports can be found at www.usccb.org/ccee.

July 12, 2018

WASHINGTON — The Migration and Refugee Services of USCCB and Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) today issued the following statement on the ongoing efforts to reunite children separated from their families at the border.

“As we have long done, CCUSA and Migration and Refugee Services of USCCB are lending our experience and expertise to support Catholic Charities agencies in their efforts to reunite families and care for immigrant children during this sensitive time. While we strongly oppose the policies that led to these families being separated, we remain committed to working to ensure their safe reunification.  Protection of families is a foundational element of Catholic Social Teaching and this moment calls on all people of good will to lend a hand to reunite these children with their parents.”

To learn more about how you can help visit:  Justice for Immigrants and Catholic Charities USA

About USCCB Migration and Refugee Services
Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) fulfills the commitment of the U.S. Catholic bishops to protect the life and dignity of the human person. For more than 50 years, MRS has served and advocated for refugees, asylees, migrants, unaccompanied children, and victims of human trafficking. To learn more about MRS, please visit www.usccb.org/mrs.

About Catholic Charities USA             
Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) is the national office for the Catholic Charities ministry nationwide. CCUSA’s members provide help and create hope to more than 8 million people a year regardless of religious, social, or economic backgrounds. To learn more about CCUSA, please visit our website at www.catholiccharitiesusa.org.

July 12, 2018

WASHINGTON — Lucas Koach has been appointed as Director of the Office of International Justice and Peace for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Monsignor Brian Bransfield, USCCB Secretary General, made the appointment, which will take effect July 30, 2018.

Mr. Koach brings over 20 years of experience in Christian ministry and global humanitarian public policy.  Since 2011, he has served as the Director of Public Policy and Advocacy for Food for the Hungry.  Along with extensive interaction with the US Congress and administrative branch, he has participated in multilateral agency policy forums at the UN and the World Bank and has gained a reputation as a respected coalition builder.  He serves on the Board of the Accord network, an association of 90 US-based Christian relief and development organizations and also the board of the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities, which elevates the relief and development capacities of international faith-based organizations among multilateral institutions.

Mr. Koach is a convert to Catholicism, having served many years prior as an associate pastor in the Anglican Church in Florida and Arkansas.

“Mr. Koach brings the kind of experience, relationships, knowledge and managerial acumen necessary for a position of such breadth,” said Msgr. Bransfield. “We look forward to working with him on the major international issues that are so important to the Church and the world.”

Lucas Koach graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 1992. He earned his Master of Arts in Counseling Ministries from the Denver Seminary in 2002.

For more information on the USCCB Office of International Justice and Peace, please visit: http://www.usccb.org/about/international-justice-and-peace/ 

July 11, 2018
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed the Most Reverend Oscar Cantú as Coadjutor Bishop of San Jose, California. Bishop Cantú was up until now Bishop of Las Cruces, New Mexico.

The appointment was publicized in Washington on July 11, 2018, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Cantú was born in Houston on December 5, 1966. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Dallas, and received his Masters in Divinity and Masters in Theological Studies from the University of St. Thomas, also in Houston. He also attended the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he earned his Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) as well as his Doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.). Bishop Cantú was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Houston in 1994.

He spent his priestly career working in parishes throughout the Houston metropolitan area. His first assignment was as parochial vicar at St. Christopher Parish. He also taught at the University of St. Thomas and at St. Mary’s Seminary. He served as pastor at Holy Name Parish. He was involved in the Christian Family movement; conducted retreats and worked with the Engaged Encounter ministry. Bishop Cantú was also involved in The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) that addresses social issues in the community.

Bishop Cantú was appointed and then ordained Auxiliary Bishop of San Antonio and Titular Bishop of Dardano in  2008.  In 2013, Bishop Cantú was appointed as bishop of the Diocese of Las Cruces, NM. He was installed as bishop on February 28, 2013.

Bishop Oscar Cantú is the former Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace. He is currently a member of the USCCB Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America and Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs.

Most Rev. Cantú was one of two delegates chosen by the Bishops’ Conference to represent the USCCB at Pope Francis’ visit to Mexico in 2016.

The Diocese of San Jose is comprised of 1,300 square miles in the state of California and has a total population of 1,918,044 of which 620,000 or 32.32 percent are Catholic.

July 9, 2018

WASHINGTON — The Cardinal who announced the election of Pope Francis to the world in 2013 with the famous phrase "habemus papam (we have a pope)," has died.  Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, has issued the following statement on behalf of the bishops of the United States who mourn the loss of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.  Cardinal Tauran passed away on July 5th at the age of 75.  He had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Bishop Bambera’s statement follows:

“Ordained a priest in 1969, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran led a distinguished life in service to the Church.  In 1975, he entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See and served as Vatican ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Lebanon.  In 1988, he was named undersecretary for the Section for Relations with States in the Secretariat of State and in 1991 Pope John Paul II appointed him an archbishop. In the years that followed, he represented the Holy See in numerous international conferences.  In 2007, he was named President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

In this new role, Cardinal Tauran made a great impact on Catholic relations with non-Christian religions, most especially in convening interreligious coalitions to address the pressing questions of culture and society.  He was especially tireless in his work to build relations with the Muslim community.   

For those involved in interreligious dialogue, his death is a great loss.  An important part of his legacy remains his commitment to interfaith understanding and cooperation in service to Christ and the Church.  May he rest in peace.”

July 6 2018

WASHINGTON — The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is publishing a new document, Encountering Christ in Harmony: A Pastoral Response to Our Asian and Pacific Island Brothers and Sisters. The full text is available by clicking here.

Approved by the U.S. bishops during their Spring 2018 General Assembly, the pastoral response will guide the Catholic Church in the United States in addressing the pastoral needs of Asian and Pacific Island communities and provide a framework for dioceses and parishes for creating their pastoral plans or actions specific to their circumstances.

The Asian and Pacific Island population in the United States is the fastest growing minority population according to research referenced in the document. Yet, this population “tends to go unrecognized in the wider U.S. society, and there remains a need to bring more attention and support to the Asian and Pacific Island communities,” the bishops say in the pastoral response.

Encountering Christ in Harmony aims to: (a) advance the Church’s mission of evangelization to specific cultural groups; (b) assist dioceses, parish leaders, other Catholic entities, and the faithful in pastoral outreach to Asian and Pacific Island Catholics; and (c) provide resources and information about Asian and Pacific Island Catholic communities.

The printed version of the document will be available at the USCCB online store at a later date.

July 6, 2018

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), wrote to the members of the Senate on July 6, urging them not to use support for Roe v. Wade as a litmus test for judicial nominees in their deliberations about the upcoming vacancy on the Supreme Court of the United States.

The letter makes clear that the USCCB “does not support or oppose confirmation of particular presidential nominees.”  Instead, the letter expresses “grave concerns about the confirmation process…being grossly distorted by efforts to subject judicial nominees to a litmus test in support of Roe, as though nominees who oppose the purposeful taking of innocent human life are somehow unfit for judicial office in the United States.”

“By any measure,” the Cardinal says, “support for Roe is an impoverished standard for assessing judicial ability. For forty-five years, Roe has sparked more informed criticism and public resistance than any other court decision of the late 20th century.”

The letter points to decades of polling showing that most Americans oppose Roe’s policy of unlimited abortion, to a growing number of state legislatures passing pro-life laws, to mainstream medicine rejecting abortion, and to many legal scholars who support abortion who have criticized Roe for not being grounded in the U.S. Constitution.

“If a Supreme Court ruling was wrongly decided, is widely rejected as morally flawed and socially harmful, and is seen even by many supporters as having little basis in the Constitution, these are very good reasons not to use it as a litmus test for future judges. Further, a nominees’ faith should not be used as a proxy for their views on Roe. Any religious test for public office is both unjust and unconstitutional.”

The full text of Cardinal DiNardo’s letter to the Senate.

For more on the U.S. Bishops’ pro-life efforts, including information on Roe v. Wade, visit: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/abortion/roe-v-wade.cfm

July 3, 2018

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Reverends Ronald Hicks, Robert Casey and Mark Bartosic as auxiliary bishops of the Archdiocese of Chicago and has accepted the resignations of the Most Reverends George Rassas and Francis Kane from the Office of Auxiliary Bishops of the same archdiocese. Bishops Rassas and Kane have reached the retirement age for bishops of 75.

The resignations and appointments were publicized in Washington on July 3, 2018, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Reverend Ronald Hicks was born in Chicago, IL, on August 4, 1967. He is a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago and is currently serving as Vicar General.

Father Hicks graduated from Quigley Seminary South in 1985 and four years later received his B.A. in philosophy from Niles College of Loyola University in Chicago in 1989. He also received his master of divinity degree in 1994 and his doctor of ministry degree in 2003, both from the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, IL. He was ordained a priest on May 21, 1994 for the Archdiocese of Chicago.

As a priest, Father Hicks worked as associate pastor at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Chicago from 1994 to 1996 and then at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Orland Hills, IL, from 1996 to 1999. From 1999-2005, he lived and ministered at St. Joseph College Seminary as the Dean of Formation.

In July 2005 with permission from Francis Cardinal George, Father Hicks moved to El Salvador to begin his five-year term as Regional Director of Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH) in Central America. NPH is a home dedicated to caring for over 3,400 orphaned and abandoned children in nine different countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

From 2010-2014, Father Hicks served as the Dean of Formation at Mundelein Seminary. During that time, he also assisted with Masses on the weekend at St. Jerome Parish in Rogers Park.

Father Hicks was appointed vicar general of the Archdiocese of Chicago by Cardinal Cupich on January l, 2015.1t has been his practice to celebrate Mass in a different parish in the Archdiocese each weekend.

Reverend Robert G. Casey was born in Chicago, Il, on September 23, 1967. He is a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago and currently serving as pastor of St. Bede the Venerable Church in Chicago.

Reverend Casey received his B.A. in English from Niles College of Loyola University Chicago in 1989. He received his master of divinity degree in 1994 from the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, IL. He was ordained a priest in 1994 for the Archdiocese of Chicago.

As a priest, Father Casey was first assigned in 1994 as associate pastor to St. Ita Parish in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood. In 1998, Cardinal George appointed Fr. Casey as the associate director of Casa Jesus while serving in his last year at St. Ita. In 1999, Fr. Casey began his work with Casa Jesus as its full-time director.

In 2003, after completing a 40-day pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, Fr. Casey began his service as pastor of Our Lady of Tepeyac in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago. In 2008, Fr. Casey co-founded Taller de José, a sponsored ministry of the Congregation of St. Joseph that offers accompaniment to people in need.

In 2009, Fr. Casey became the pastor at St. Barbara Parish in Brookfield, IL. In 2016, Fr. Casey became the pastor of St. Bede the Venerable Parish in Chicago's Scottsdale neighborhood.

Fr. Casey currently serves on the Placement Board of the Archdiocese of Chicago, assisting with the assignment process of priests to parishes. He has also been part of the Priest Steering Committee for Renew My Church.

Reverend Mark Bartosic was born in Neehah, Wisconsin, on June 21, 196. He is a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago and is currently serving as pastor of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Chicago and director/chaplain of Kolbe House, Cook County Jail.

He was raised in Ashland, Ohio and attended St. Edward School and public schools. In 1983 he received a bachelor of arts degree in theater from Ashland University. He earned both a master of divinity degree in 1994 and a licentiate in Sacred Theology in 2001 from the University of St. Mary of the Lake.

He was ordained a priest by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin on May 21, 1994 at Holy Name Cathedral. His first assignment was as associate pastor of St. Agnes of Bohemia from 1994-2000. From 2001-2016 he served as pastor of St. Frances of Rome, and from 2009-2016 as pastor of Our Lady of Charity while maintaining his responsibilities as pastor at St. Frances of Rome. Since 2016 he has served as pastor of Assumption BVM and director of the Kolbe House Jail Ministry.

Bishop George Rassas was born on May 26, 1942 in Baltimore, MD. He graduated from Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary (1961) in Chicago, and then attended Niles College and the University of St. Mary of the Lake, from where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. After serving as a deacon at St. Thaddeus Church in Chicago for a year, he was ordained to the priesthood by John Cardinal Cody on May 2, 1968. He earned a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Loyola University in 1974 and a doctorate in pastoral theology from St. Mary of the Lake in 1984. Rassas was pastor of the Church of St. Mary in Lake Forest from 1990 to 2004, during which time he also served as chairman of the Archdiocesan Presbyteral Council from 1999 to 2002. In 2004, he became vicar general of the Archdiocese of Chicago. On December 1, 2005, Rassas was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago and Titular Bishop of Reperi by Pope Benedict XVI.

Bishop Francis Kane was born on October 30, 1942 in Chicago and was ordained to the priesthood by John Cardinal Cody at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary on May 14, 1969.

He then served as associate pastor at St. John Fisher Parish until 1975, and was also named associate director of Center for Pastoral Ministry in 1973. He was associate pastor at St. Nicholas of Tolentine Parish from 1975 to 1979, and director of the Office for the Ministry of Peace and Justice (1979-1985) and of the Office of Evangelization and Christian Life (1983-1993). He was director of Catholic Relief Services from 1982 to 1987. From 1993 to his appointment as auxiliary bishop in 2003, Kane served as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Wilmette. On January 24, 2003, Kane was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago and Titular Bishop of Sault Sainte Marie by Pope John Paul II. As an auxiliary bishop, Kane also serves as Episcopal Vicar for Vicariate II, and the Cardinal's liaison for the Annual Catholic Appeal and for the Office for Lay Ecclesial Ministry.

The Archdiocese of Chicago is comprised of 1,411 square miles in the state of Illinois and has a total population of 5,943,689 of which 2,199,000 or 37 percent are Catholic.

July 2, 2018

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Most Reverend Dominick Lagonegro as Auxiliary Bishop of Archdiocese of New York. Bishop Lagonegro has reached the retirement age for bishops of 75.

The resignation was publicized in Washington on July 2, 2018, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Most Reverend Dominick Lagonegro was born on March 6, 1943 in White Plains, NY. He was ordained a priest at St. Patrick's Cathedral on May 31, 1969.

Since his ordination in 1969, Bishop Lagonegro was appointed to various parishes throughout the northern counties of New York and served on many commissions and committees throughout his ministry. In 1997, Bishop Lagonegro was appointed Vicar for the Vicariate of Dutchess County and on December 12, 2001 he was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of New York and Titular Bishop of Modruš.

The Archdiocese of New York is comprised of 4,683 square miles in the state of New York and has a total population of 5,904,416 of which 2,656,987 or 45 percent are Catholic.

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