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/)


POPE FRANCIS NAMES NEW AUXILIARY BISHOPS OF ARCHDIOCESE FOR THE MILITARY SERVICES, USA

 

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has appointed the Rev. Joseph Coffey and Rev. William Muhm as Auxiliary Bishops of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA.

The appointments were publicized today in Washington, DC, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.

Rev. Coffey is a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and currently serves as a Chaplain and Captain in the United States Navy. Rev. Muhm is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York and up until now, served as Administrator of Most Precious Blood Parish in Walden, NY.

Father Coffey was born May 31, 1960 in Minnesota. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from LaSalle University, Philadelphia (1982), and spent one semester at the Sorbonne, Paris. He attended St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia where he earned a Master of Divinity degree in 1995. He was ordained a priest on May 18, 1996. In 2002, Rev. Coffey received a Master Administration in Moral Theology from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia in 2002. For one year, after university and before seminary, Rev. Coffey was an auto salesman in Europe, selling cars to American serviceman in Germany and Belgium.

Assignments after ordination include: Parochial Vicar at St. Katherine of Siena Parish, Philadelphia Spiritual, 1996-2001. From 1997 to 2001, Rev. Coffey was the Director of the Legion of Mary (Holy Family Curia) Military Chaplain. During this time, he was assigned to the United States Naval Reserve (1998-2001); Chaplain, Department of AIDS Ministry (1999-2001); Board Member, Archdiocesan Council of Priests (2000-2001). Since 2001 to present, he has been U.S. Navy Chaplain and a Recruiter for the Chaplain Corps.

Father Coffey’s Naval assignments have included: Chaplain to Combat Assault Battalion of the Marine Corps, Okinawa, Japan; MAG-39 at Camp Pendleton, CA; Coast Guard Recruit Training center in Cape May, NJ; Chaplain Recruiter for U.S. Navy; Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego; Coast Guard recruit center in Cape May and deployments with both the Marines and Navy, including to Afghanistan.

Father Coffey received the Distinguished Service Award (Chaplain of the Year) in 2004 from the Military Chaplains Association.

Rev. William J. Muhm was born June 27, 1957, in Billings, Montana. He was ordained a priest on May 30, 1995 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York by Cardinal John O’Connor.

Father Muhm attended Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO, (1977); Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, (1980) and then he graduated in 1995 from St. Joseph Seminary, Yonkers, NY (STB, Master Divinity). He served in the Navy for some time before entering the seminary.

Assignments after ordination include: Parochial Vicar at St. Ann Parish, Ossining, NY, (1995-1996); Parochial Vicar at Holy Family Parish, Staten Island, NY (1996-1998), and since 1998 to present, he has been Chaplain and Captain in the United States Navy.

Rev. Muhm’s assignments as U.S. Navy Chaplain have included: 2008-2009: Deployment with 1st Marine Regiment, RCT 1, Anbar Prov., Iraq. Since 2009 to 2012, he was Catholic Chaplain at U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD and from 2012 to 2018 he served at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Jacksonville, NC. He voluntary managed the Navy priests’ retreat the last several years and was on sabbatical June – November 2018.  From November 2018 to present, he has served as Administrator of Most Precious Blood Parish, Walden, NY.

Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., is the current Archbishop for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA.

The Archdiocese for the Military Services serves U.S. Catholics of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Department of veterans Affairs and those in Government Service outside the USA.  It was created by Pope John Paul II to provide the Catholic Church’s full range of pastoral ministries and spiritual services to those in the United States Armed Forces. This includes more than 220 installations in 29 countries, patients in 153 V.A. Medical Centers, and federal employees serving outside the boundaries of the USA in 134 countries. Numerically, the AMS is responsible for more than 1.8 million men, women, and children.

January 20, 2019
BISHOPS' PRESIDENT, CHAIR OF MIGRATION COMMITTEE URGING THE PRESIDENT AND LAWMAKERS TO END SHUTDOWN

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, of Houston, President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, of Austin, Chair of USCCB Committee on Migration, issued the following joint statement in response to the President’s January 19th remarks:

“We urge the President and lawmakers to end the shutdown. Political leaders must come together to ensure a bipartisan solution is reached which recognizes the economic struggle that many families are facing including those dependent on federal workers and those assisted by critical nutrition and housing programs.

We are encouraged by the President’s openness to providing legislative relief for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients. However, we understand that the President’s proposal would only provide temporary relief, leaving many in a continued vulnerable state. We believe that a permanent legislative solution for TPS holders and for all Dreamers is vital. Moreover, the proposal calls for the construction of a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, a proposal that our brother bishops on both sides of the U.S. border with Mexico oppose, and it suggests changes in current law that would make it more difficult for unaccompanied children and asylum seekers to access protection.

Throughout our parishes, there are many DACA youth and TPS holders, who have lived substantial parts of their lives in the U.S. contributing to this country. We listen and understand the fear and uncertainty they and their families face and the anguish that they are currently experiencing as their existing immigration protections hang in the balance and come to an end. Temporary relief will not ease those fears or quell that anxiety. It is for this reason that we have long advocated for comprehensive immigration reform; reform that will provide permanent solutions: including border security, protection for vulnerable unaccompanied children and asylum seekers, and a defined path to citizenship to enable our immigrant brothers and sisters to fully contribute to our society.

We look forward to reviewing the President’s proposal in detail and hope to work with the White House and Congress to advance legislation that shows compassion, keeps us safe, and protects the vulnerable.”

January 18, 2019
CHAIRMAN OF THE USCCB COMMITTEE ON ECUMENICAL AND INTERRELIGIOUS AFFAIRS ISSUES INVITATION TO CELEBRATE ANNUAL WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY

WASHINGTON — Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, invites all to celebrate the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which takes place January 18-25, 2019. This week provides an opportunity to join together and pray as Jesus did “that they may all be one.” (John 17:21)

The practice, originally called the Christian Unity Octave, was first observed in 1908 by Fr. Paul Wattson and Sr. Lurana White, co-founders of the Society of Atonement. Today, it is a collaborative project by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches.

This year’s theme is “Justice, Only Justice, You Shall Pursue.” (Deuteronomy 16:20). It was chosen by Christians from Indonesia, highlighting the unique opportunity the call for justice plays in our ecumenical efforts. According to Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute (GEII) who promotes the Week of Prayer in the United States, Christian communities "become newly aware of their unity as they join in a common concern and a common response to an unjust reality. At the same time, confronted by these injustices, we are obliged, as Christians, to examine the ways in which we are complicit. Only by heeding Jesus’s prayer 'that they all may be one' can we witness to living unity in diversity. It is through our unity in Christ that we will be able to combat injustice and serve the needs of its victims."

Further information and other resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity are available. 

January 18, 2019
PRO-LIFE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN’S ROE V. WADE ANNIVERSARY STATEMENT ENCOURAGES FAITHFUL TO BE “WITNESSES OF MERCIFUL LOVE”

WASHINGTON — Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City called on the faithful "to pray for an end to the human rights abuse of abortion, and for a culture of life, where through God’s grace all will come to know they are made in His Divine Image.”

His statement on January 18 marks the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in all 50 states. Archbishop Naumann, who gave the opening prayer at the March for Life the same day, chairs the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“Protecting the life of the unborn children is the pre-eminent human rights issue of our time, not only because of the sheer magnitude of the numbers, but because abortion attacks the sanctuary of life, the family,” wrote Archbishop Naumann. “Every abortion not only destroys the life of an innocent child, but it wounds and scars mothers and fathers...in reality, the welfare of parents and their child are always intimately linked.”

Naumann also made it clear that pro-life Catholics “are concerned about the life and dignity of the human person wherever it is threatened or diminished,” and highlighted the sexual abuse crisis within the Church as an example of “grave injustice” to this dignity. “The abuse of children or minors upends the pro-life ethic,” the Archbishop explained, because it is an “egregious offense against the dignity of the human person.”

The Archbishop spoke of a Church “devastated by the scandal of sexual misconduct by clergy and of past instances of the failure of bishops to respond with compassion to victims of abuse and to protect adequately the members of their flock.” He urged the Church and the faithful to “seek justice for all of God’s children.”

“We must do all we can to be God’s witnesses of merciful love in the world,” the Archbishop continued. “We know and give thanks for the great dignity God has given to us from the moment of conception, to be made in his image. We also must pray for the grace to remind others of this inherent dignity, in our words and in our actions.”

The Archbishop encouraged all Catholics to take part in the National Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of the Unborn on January 22: “Let us pray that we can be great and effective witnesses for life, witnesses for love, witnesses for mercy.”

The full text of Archbishop Naumann's message is available online.

January 18, 2019
PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES COMMITMENT TO UPHOLD PRO-LIFE LAWS

WASHINGTON — Today, President Trump reiterated his enduring support for pro-life laws or policies. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, chairman of the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities responded with the following statement:

“As Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, I commend President Trump for announcing at today’s March for Life that he will oppose repealing or weakening any existing pro-life laws or policies. These pro-life laws and policies reflect the convictions of millions of Americans, many of whom attended today’s March, that taxpayers should not be forced to fund abortions, or organizations that promote abortion, or participate in any way in the deliberate destruction of unborn human life.

We are deeply grateful for the President’s pro-life commitment, and for all the actions this administration has taken to protect unborn children and their mothers from the violence of abortion. We look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to advance policies that value human life and dignity from conception to natural death.”

January 18, 2019
SOCIETY NEEDS “ARTISANS OF PEACE” BY FOLLOWING DR. KING’S EXAMPLE

WASHINGTON — The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, has issued the following statement in relation to the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 21.

Cardinal DiNardo's full statement follows:

“Today more than ever, our societies need ‘artisans of peace’ who can be messengers and authentic witnesses of God the Father, who wills the good and the happiness of the human family.”

Pope Francis’ words, given in his 2019 World Day of Peace address, remind us how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was such an artisan of peace.  Dr. King was a messenger and true witness to the power of the gospel lived in action through public life. This year, as we again mark the anniversary of his life, and reflect upon the 51st anniversary of his death, we are thankful for the path forged by Dr. King and the countless others who worked tirelessly and suffered greatly in the fight for racial equality and justice.

As a nation and as a society, we face great challenges as well as tremendous opportunities ahead. This past November, the entire body of Catholic bishops approved Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love— A Pastoral Letter Against Racism. The letter’s goal is to again name and call attention to a great affliction and evil that persists in this nation, and to offer a hope-filled Christian response to this perennial sickness. Racism is a national wound from which we continually struggle to heal. As we wrote in the pastoral letter, “Racism can only end if we contend with the policies and institutional barriers that perpetuate and preserve the inequality—economic and social—that we still see all around us.”

Today, remembering how Dr. King contended with policies and institutional barriers of his time, many which persist today, we renew our pledge to fight for the end of racism in the Church and in the United States. We pledge our commitment to build a culture of life, where all people are valued for their intrinsic dignity as daughters and sons of God.  We encourage Catholics and all people of good will to study the pastoral letter, and to study and reflect upon Dr. King’s witness against the destructive effects of racism, poverty and continuous war.

We call on everyone to embrace our ongoing need for healing in all areas of our lives where we are wounded, but particularly where our hearts are not truly open to the idea and the truth that we are all made in the image and likeness of God. As Dr. King said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."

USCCB Pastoral Letter on racism and other information about the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism can be found here.

January 18, 2019
HOLY LAND 2019 COORDINATION COMMUNIQUÉ: CHRISTIANS IN ISRAEL – CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES  

WASHINGTON — Representatives of bishops' conferences from several countries, including Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Chairman of the International Justice and Peace Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, met in the Holy Land January 12-17, 2019.  Together, they have issued their annual communiqué in which they acknowledge the challenges and opportunities that Christians face in Israel.  In the communiqué, the bishops call for prayer, pilgrimage and practical solidarity on behalf of Christians in Israel to help keep hope for the future alive.

Noting that Israel was founded on the principle of equality for all citizens, representatives of bishops’ conferences from several countries, including the United States, acknowledged that Christians in Israel face challenges and opportunities. In the final communiqué of the Holy Land Coordination, the bishops called for prayer, pilgrimage and practical solidarity to help Christians in Israel keep their hope for the future alive.

Nineteen bishops from Europe, the United States, Canada and South Africa made the annual solidarity visit which included time spent in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Haifa, and villages meeting with Christian mayors, villagers, and migrants to hear of their stories of living and working in Israel.

In their communiqué, the bishops note that many Christians, along with Palestinian Arabs and migrants, face systematic discrimination and are marginalized.  In particular they noted that Israel’s Nation State Law passed in 2018 creates “a constitutional and legal basis for discrimination” against minorities and supported “all those challenging discrimination.”

After visiting a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) camp and school in Jenin, the bishops also called for their governments to help fund health care, education and other basic services for Palestinian refugees. This was in response to the U.S. government’s decision to withdraw funding for the Palestinians and call for the closing of UNRWA.

The bishops expressed admiration for their sisters and brothers in the Holy Land for not losing hope and committed themselves to help keep that hope alive.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops along with bishops from other nations on this solidarity visit continue to decry violence as a way to resolve conflict but instead strongly support a two-state solution in which the two democratic sovereign states of Israel and Palestine exist in peace.

The Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church in the Holy Land has met every January since 1998 to pray and act in solidarity with the Christian community in the Holy Land.

The bishops’ 2019 communiqué is available here.

January 17, 2019
PRO-LIFE SECRETARIAT EXPRESSES DEEP DISAPPOINTMENT AT SENATE FAILURE TO PASS NO TAXPAYER FUNDING FOR ABORTION ACT

WASHINGTON — “Taxpayer dollars should not pay for abortion. The majority of Americans, including many who consider themselves pro-choice, agree on this,” said Kat Talalas, spokeswoman on abortion for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), responding to the Senate’s vote today on the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2019” (S. 109). The Senate voted (48-47) in favor of the bill, but Talalas expressed deep disappointment that it did not receive the 60 votes needed for passage in the Senate. The Senate held its vote on January 17, the day before the annual March for Life in Washington.

The bill would codify a permanent, government-wide policy against taxpayer subsidies for abortion and abortion coverage. It would also require health plans offered under the Affordable Care Act to disclose the extent of their coverage for abortion and the amount of any surcharge for that coverage to consumers. Archbishop Joseph Naumann, chair of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities at the USCCB, wrote to Congress prior to the vote, urging support for the legislation. Naumann said that “abortion is a false and violent response to an unplanned pregnancy that turns a woman in crisis and her unborn child against each other,” and that the federal government “should not force taxpayers to subsidize this violence.”

“The USCCB urges the House and Senate to work together to pass legislation that reflects the will of the American people, and prevents tax dollars from funding elective abortion,” Talalas said.

January 16, 2019
OVER 12,000 U.S. PILGRIMS AND 34 U.S. BISHOPS TRAVELING TO PANAMA FOR WORLD YOUTH DAY
 
WASHINGTON -- The United States will be sending over 12,000 youth and young adults, ages 16 to 35, to Panama for the thirty-fourth annual celebration of World Youth Day (WYD). The global event, taking place January 22-27, 2019, in and around Panama City, is expected to draw over 1 million people from all six continents.

“The bishops of the United States and I joyfully walk with the young people and young adults of our country as fellow pilgrims,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport and the WYD liaison for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.  In all, 32 bishops from the U.S. are planning to attend the global event.

Bishop Caggiano will be one of 20 bishops who also have been invited by the Vatican to serve as English- and Spanish-language catechists in Panama, giving reflections to groups of pilgrims on the 2019 WYD theme, “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38). Other U.S. catechist bishops include Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, and Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami.

Pope Francis arrives in Panama on Wednesday, January 23, with a special welcome ceremony planned for Thursday, January 24.  He will also preside at a Via Crucis prayer service (January 25), a candlelight vigil and adoration (January 26), and the Closing Mass (January 27), where he will announce the location of the next international WYD in 2022.

While the pope and the WYD pilgrims meet in Panama this January, several dioceses and communities across the United States will be hosting “stateside celebrations” concurrent with tWYD events for thousands of young people in the U.S. There will be major gatherings for youth and young adults in California, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington State, and a multi-diocesan flagship event in Washington, D.C., called “Panama in the Capital” with the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Mark Kennedy Shriver of Save the Children Action Network, and many others. Details of these events can be found at http://www.usccb.org/about/world-youth-day/stateside-wyd-celebrations.cfm

“We pray in solidarity with the thousands of young people across the United States who are celebrating this experience digitally and stateside in their local communities,” noted Bishop Caggiano on the connection of the Panama pilgrims and those experiencing WYD at home.

On Wednesday, January 23, the USCCB will collaborate with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) and the Knights of Columbus on a special one-day event called “Fiat Festival,” to be held at the Figali (Amador) Convention Center in Panama from 3:00 to 10:00 pm ET.  The event will feature music, keynotes, panels, video, prayer, and a closing Holy Hour with Bishop Robert Barron and Cardinal Sean O’Malley.  It will be livestreamed through FOCUS Catholic’s YouTube Channel.

For more information about World Youth Day and the U.S. engagement, go to www.wydusa.org and follow the USCCB’s social media channels throughout WYD.

January 16, 2019
NATIONAL CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK  JANUARY 27-FEBRUARY 2; THEME - “CATHOLIC SCHOOLS: LEARN. SERVE. LEAD. SUCCEED.”

WASHINGTON — National Catholic Schools Week 2019 (CSW) will be observed in dioceses around the country January 27–February 2. This year’s theme, “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.,” focuses on the important spiritual, academic and societal contributions provided by a Catholic education firmly rooted in the Truth of the Gospel.

As Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, Oakland, newly elected chairman of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Catholic Education said, “Young people today need Catholic education more than ever. In a world where truth, beauty and goodness are considered all but subjective, the Way, Truth and Life offered us in Jesus Christ are our only source of direction, clarity and hope. Furthermore, being rooted in faith does not endanger the academic quality of Catholic schools, but in fact is their very motivation for excellence in all things.”

Nearly 1.8 million students are currently educated in 6,352 Catholic schools in cities, suburbs, small towns and rural communities around the country. Students receive an education that helps them become critical thinkers, strong communicators and active members of society, thus equipping them for higher education, a competitive work environment, and most importantly, living a Christian life of virtue in a challenging society.  “Following Christ’s example of loving and serving all people, Catholic schools proudly provide a well-rounded education to disadvantaged families, new arrivals to America and to all who seek a seat in our schools. Since the inception of Catholic schools in our country, we have always sought to welcome families of all backgrounds while maintaining our principles and teaching in a spirit of charity,” Bishop Barber said.

The observance of CSW began in 1974. Schools and parishes around the country will hold activities such as Masses, open houses, and family gatherings to celebrate the communities they represent.  The week also highlights the educational and community successes of Catholic schools nationwide. Ninety nine percent of Catholic school students graduate from high school and 86 percent of Catholic school graduates attend college.  This percentage has been consistent for over 20 years.

For the second year, the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) will lead the Many Gifts, One Nation: A Day of Giving to Catholic Schools, in partnership with FACTS Management, January 29, 12 PM EST through January 30, 12 PM EST. This 24-hour period is one way to support development programs in Catholic schools throughout the country.  Scheduled during National Catholic Schools Week, this Day of Giving is a perfect time for individuals to give to their local Catholic schools. In 2018, more than $850,000 was donated to 539 participating Catholic schools, six dioceses and NCEA.  For more information on the Day of Giving, please go to www.NCEA.org/csw/manygifts.

January 15, 2019
BISHOPS EXPRESS DISMAY AT COURT RULING ENJOINING MORAL AND RELIGIOUS EXEMPTION TO HHS MANDATE

WASHINGTON – In response to Monday’s federal court ruling from Pennsylvania granting a nationwide injunction barring the broadened moral and religious exemption to the HHS mandate, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Chairman of the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty, issued the following statement:

“Yesterday’s court ruling freezing these common-sense regulations leaves those with conscientious or religious objections to the HHS mandate out in the cold.  In a free country, no one should be forced to facilitate or fund things like contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs and devices, which go against their core beliefs. We pray that this decision will be appealed and that future courts will respect the free exercise arguments of the Little Sisters of the Poor and so many others who simply seek the freedom to serve their neighbors without the threat of massive government fines hanging over their heads.”

January 14, 2019
9 DAYS FOR LIFE UNITES OVER 100,000 FAITHFUL IN PRAYER AHEAD OF ROE V. WADE ANNIVERSARY

WASHINGTON — Over one hundred thousand people nationwide have joined 9 Days for Life, the annual pro-life prayer and action campaign, beginning this year on January 14. The novena is an opportunity for recollection and reparation in observation of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade — the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal throughout the United States.

The overarching intention of the novena is the end to abortion, but each day treats a different aspect of respecting the dignity of the human person—from the beginning of life to its natural end. Each daily intention highlights a related topic and is accompanied by a reflection, educational information, and suggested daily actions. The novena culminates on January 22, the annual Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.

Joining tens of thousands nationwide, participants can build a culture of life through prayer and sacrifice, and share their experiences on social media with the hashtag #9DaysforLife. Those still hoping to participate can sign up at www.9daysforlife.com. Participants can choose to receive the novena via email, text message, a printable version, or through a free "9 Days for Life" mobile app (with customizable reminders) in English or Spanish.

9 Days for Life, sponsored by the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, began in 2013 in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

January 10, 2019
NATIONAL PRAYER VIGIL FOR LIFE TAKING PLACE IN NATION’S CAPITAL, JANUARY 17-18

WASHINGTON — The National Prayer Vigil for Life will be held from Thursday afternoon, January 17 to Friday morning, January 18, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Over 20,000 pilgrims from around the nation will gather at the Shrine to pray for an end to abortion before the annual March for Life, taking place the following day. The Vigil marks the 46th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions legalizing abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy. Since those decisions, over 60 million abortions have been performed legally in the United States.

The principal celebrant and homilist at the Vigil Opening Mass will be Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, KS, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities. Many of the nation's bishops and priests will concelebrate with him in the Basilica's Great Upper Church from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The Vigil continues in the Crypt Church with confessions, a National Rosary for Life, Byzantine Rite Night Prayer, and Holy Hours led by seminarians throughout the night and into the next morning. Morning Prayer on Friday, January 18, begins at 6:00 a.m. in the Crypt Church, followed by Benediction at 6:30 a.m. The Vigil's Closing Mass will take place at 7:30 a.m. in the Great Upper Church, with Bishop Barry Knestout of Richmond as principal celebrant and homilist.

“Again, this year, the Vatican has granted that a plenary indulgence may be obtained under the usual conditions by participating in the National Prayer Vigil for Life, as well as the other sacred celebrations surrounding the March for Life,” said Kat Talalas, assistant director for pro-life communications at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). “This is a special opportunity for grace offered to pilgrims for their witness, prayer, and sacrifice.”

The National Prayer Vigil for Life is co-sponsored by the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and The Catholic University of America.

January 10, 2019
CHAIRMAN OF U.S. BISHOPS’ COMMITTEE ON MIGRATION CALLS ON PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS TO CREATE A BORDER SOLUTION AND END SHUT-DOWN

WASHINGTON — Bishop Joseph Vásquez, of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the Committee on Migration issued the following statement calling for the President and Congressional leaders to create a border solution and end the government shut-down.

Bishop Vasquez’s full statement follows:

“Secure borders and humane treatment of those fleeing persecution and seeking a better life are not mutually exclusive. The United States can ensure both and must do so without instilling fear or sowing hatred. We will continue to advocate for immigration reform to advance the common good and address these issues.

Pope Francis states that migrants are not statistics, but persons with feelings that need ongoing protection. From our work serving immigrant and refugees along the U.S./Mexico border, in the interior of the United States and throughout the world, we know this to be true. We urge lawmakers to look beyond rhetoric and remember the human dignity that God our Father has given each of us simply because we are all His children.

The President and Congressional leaders need to come together and end the shut-down with a solution that recognizes the dignity of work of affected employees, respects the humanity of all regardless of immigration status, and protects the sanctity of human life.”

January 4, 2019
NATIONAL MIGRATION WEEK CELEBRATED JANUARY 6 – 12

WASHINGTON — National Migration Week 2019 will take place January 6 - 12. For nearly a half century, the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated National Migration Week, which provides an opportunity for the Church to highlight the presence and situation of immigrants, refugees, victims, and survivors of human trafficking. The week serves as a time for both prayer and action in support of immigrants and refugees.

The theme for this year’s celebration – “Building Communities of Welcome” – emphasizes our responsibility and opportunity as Catholics to engage and welcome newcomers on their arrival and help to ease their transition into a new life here in the United States. Welcoming communities do not emerge by chance but are established through the hard work and conviction of people on the ground through direct service, shared experience and faith, advocacy, and institution building

“In this moment, it is particularly important for the Church to highlight the spirit of welcome that we are all called to embody in response to immigrant and refugee populations who are in our midst sharing our Church and our communities,” said Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Migration.

January 3, 2019
U.S. BISHOPS RECEIVE LETTER FROM POPE FRANCIS AS THEY GATHER FOR SPIRITUAL RETREAT

WASHINGTON— The U.S. Bishops have received a letter from Pope Francis as they gather in northern Illinois at Mundelein Seminary this week. The week-long retreat is taking place at the invitation of Pope Francis who has asked all bishops in the United States to pause in prayer as the Church seeks to respond to the signs of the times.

The Preacher to the Papal Household, Capuchin Friar Father Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., is directing the retreat under the theme of “He appointed Twelve, to be with Him and to Send Out to Preach” based on Mark 3:14. The structure of the retreat includes time for quiet reflection, including silent meal times, daily Mass, time for personal and communal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, vespers, and an opportunity for confession. No ordinary business is being conducted during the retreat.

Mundelein Seminary, located on the campus of the University of St. Mary of the Lake, is the principal seminary and school of theology for the formation of priests in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago and educates nearly 200 seminarians from 34 dioceses across the country and around the world.

Pope Francis’s full letter can be found here in both English and Spanish.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), sent the following message on behalf of the U.S. bishops upon the opening of the retreat.

The Cardinal’s full message follows:

Most Holy Father:

As the bishops of the United States gather today in prayer, we humbly ask Your Holiness to pray for us that we may draw closer to one another and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In this closeness, we seek to find the wisdom and strength necessary to meet the great challenges ahead. We carry with us these days the pain and hope of all who may feel let down by the Church. Yet, we find ourselves grateful for the reminder that the future does not rest with any of us alone, but rather belongs to God. Hope is to be found in Christ. In Him, hope becomes unshakable.

Holy Father, we also draw near to you in our prayer and ministry. Your witness to those suffering around the world strengthens us. May our days together reflect the communion of the Universal Church.

December 31, 2018
NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF USCCB OFFICE OF HUMAN RESOURCES NAMED

WASHINGTON — Allison McGinn has been appointed as Executive Director of the Office of Human Resources for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Monsignor Brian Bransfield, USCCB General Secretary, made the appointment which will take effect January 7, 2019. 

“Allison has a wealth of experience as a Human Resources professional.  I am confident that her skills and abilities will be of tremendous value to the USCCB, and I am grateful to her for accepting this important position in service to the bishops and to the Church,” said Msgr. Bransfield.  

McGinn earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Educational Psychology from Mississippi State University.  She holds senior-level certifications in Human Resources from both the Society for Human Resources Management and the Human Resources Certification Institute. 

Most recently, McGinn was self-employed as a Human Resources Consultant, working with firms in the areas of performance management, employee benefits and compensation, recruiting, HR policy and compliance.  Prior to her consulting work, McGinn oversaw the HR function for organizations in the government contracting and airline industries, including over 18 years of service with US Airways.   

McGinn lives in Alexandria, VA with her husband and two daughters. They attend the Basilica of St. Mary Church in Old Town.  McGinn takes on the leadership of the department after the tenure of Mrs. Theresa Ridderhoff, who had served until recently as Executive Director of Human Resources and was appointed as USCCB Associate General Secretary effective January 1, 2019.

December 23, 2018
PRESIDENT OF U.S. BISHOPS EXPRESSES SUPPORT, PRAYER FOR TSUNAMI VICTIMS

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, expresses support and prayer for those affected by the recent tsunami in Indonesia.

Cardinal DiNardo’ statement follows:

“Speaking for the bishops and the Catholic faithful of the United States, our prayers and condolences go out to all those who have died or have been injured by the tsunami that struck Indonesia in the area around the Sunda Strait, including Anyerbeach in the west coast area of West Java and Lampung in southern part of Sumatera last evening (Indonesia time).

The people of Indonesia have faced several major natural disasters this year alone, with the earthquake in July and the devastating quake and tidal wave that took so many lives in October.  

Not only do our prayers go out to all who have been affected by this most recent natural disaster, which came without warning, but also our pledge of support and aid. Together with our Holy Father Pope Francis, I appeal for the ‘solidarity and the support of the International Community’ for our brothers and sisters.  I know that Catholic Relief Services, Caritas Indonesia, and other local partners have teams on the ground responding and they will be providing relief and assistance.

As we prepare for the celebration of the birth of Christ, I ask all those in the Church here in the United States, to pray for healing, consolation, and relief to our sisters and brothers suffering in Indonesia”

December 20, 2018
BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE PRAISES SENATE FOR PASSAGE OF THE FIRST STEP ACT, ENCOURAGES HOUSE PASSAGE

WASHINGTON — Following the passage of the FIRST STEP Act in the U.S. Senate this week, Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of Venice, FL, and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, praised the Senate for passing the bill and encouraged the House to do likewise.

The full statement is as follows:

“I am grateful to the members and staff in the U.S. Senate, especially Chairman Chuck Grassley and Senators Mike Lee, Dick Durbin, and Cory Booker, for years of hard work and bipartisan collaboration that culminated in the resounding passage of the FIRST STEP Act last night.  I am also grateful to President Trump and his staff for their strong support and advocacy for this legislation.

The FIRST STEP Act contains several much-needed reforms for the federal prison system, including sentencing reform, strongly limiting the practice of shackling pregnant women in prison, establishing a maximum geographical distance between prisoners and their families, enhancing compassionate release for terminally ill and elderly prisoners, assisting returning citizens with obtaining government identification documents, and fixing the time credit system.  The bill also reauthorizes the Second Chance Act which will provide important resources for reentering citizens after release from incarceration.  I am very grateful to Senator Lankford for resolving a religious liberty concern that arose in a late version of the bill, correcting the issue prior to final passage. The bill contains many more fine provisions which will help foster a more just and merciful criminal justice system.

Today, the House of Representatives has an opportunity to pass this improved version of the bill and send it to the President for his signature.  Our nation’s criminal justice system is in need of reform, and this legislation is a worthy “first step” in the right direction and a model of bipartisan collaboration and good policy making.  As we approach the Nativity of our Lord, we are reminded of the need to promote justice and mercy in our society.  In this spirit, I call on the House to take up this legislation and pass the FIRST STEP Act."

December 19, 2018
POPE ACCEPTS RESIGNATION OF LOS ANGELES AUXILIARY BISHOP ALEXANDER SALAZAR  
 
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Alexander Salazar from the office of Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

The resignation was publicized in Washington, December 19, 2018, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles said in a statement that the announcement comes after Archbishop José H. Gomez requested a full review of all allegations of sexual misconduct involving minors to bring up to date the 2004 Report to the People of God lists of accused priests. More information will be available from the Archdiocese at www.AngelusNews.com.

Bishop Alexander Salazar was born on November 28, 1949 in San Jose, Costa Rica and later moved with his family to the United States.

In 1977, Salazar entered St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California.  He was ordained to the priesthood on June 16, 1984.  After ordination he served as associate pastor at St. Gregory the Great, in Whittier; Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Pasadena, and at the Cathedral of St. Vibiana.  From 1995-2004, he was pastor of St. Teresa of Avila Church in Silverlake and served as Dean of Deanery 14.  He also served as a member the Council of Priests, College of Consultors, and on the Clergy Pension Board. He additionally served on the Archdiocesan Personnel Board.  In 2003, he was named Vice-Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Honorary Chaplain of His Holiness.

On September 7, 2004, he was appointed as Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles and Titular Bishop of Nesqually by Pope John Paul II.  He was ordained as auxiliary bishop on November 4, 2004 by Roger Cardinal Mahony who appointed him Episcopal Vicar of the San Pedro Region.

December 18, 2018
CHAIRMAN OF THE USCCB COMMITTEE AND BISHOPS FROM TEXAS  ISSUE STATEMENT ON THE JAKELIN CAAL MAQUIN DEATH

On December 8, seven-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin died in the custody of United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP). She and her father had been apprehended the evening of December 6 in a remote stretch of the U.S./Mexico border in Antelope Wells, New Mexico.  Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, along with Most Reverend Mark J. Seitz, Bishop of El Paso and Most Reverend Gerald Kicanas, Administrator of the Diocese of Las Cruces, issued the following statement:

“We are extremely distressed at the news of seven-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin’s death shortly after crossing the U.S./Mexico border with her father and turning themselves into CBP in search of asylum in the United States.  Our prayers and heart-felt condolences go out to Jakelin’s family. The death of a child is always a moment of great sadness, a jarring disruption of the natural order of life.  From this tragedy, we must remember this profound human consequence of our failed immigration policies, including also that restrictions on the flow of asylum seekers at the border can push more families to seek entrance between ports of entry which place them at greater risk. Jakelin’s death is a tragic reminder of the desperate situation that many fleeing violence, persecution, and poverty face - both in their home countries and now at our border.

We welcome the investigation of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General.  We recognize the work and commitment of CBP officers to ensure our safety, but urge CBP leadership to critically review policies regarding the care of vulnerable populations in their custody. We pledge our assistance to help CBP do so.

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas and the birth of Jesus, himself a child whose parents were told “there is no room,” we continue to recognize and affirm that seeking asylum and protection is legal.  As a nation, we have the obligation to receive distraught individuals and families with welcome, compassion, and humane treatment.  We must heed the words of Christ that “Whatsoever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

December 18, 2018
DEFENSE OF USING BABY BODY PARTS FROM ABORTIONS FOR RESEARCH “DEEPLY DISTURBING”

WASHINGTON — Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), recently defended current NIH research that uses the body parts of babies destroyed by elective abortions and said that fetal tissue research “will continue to be the mainstay.”

Greg Schleppenbach, Associate Director of the U.S. Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, responds with the following statement:

“Dr. Collins’ comments are deeply disturbing.  Research using fetal tissue from aborted babies is unethical and should not continue under his leadership. The use of fetal remains procured from abortions can be interpreted as legitimizing abortion by saying it is an important source for research.  It also requires close collaboration with the abortion industry. Every abortion stops a beating heart, unjustly denying a defenseless human being of her or his life.  There is nothing pro-life about further violating these aborted babies by scavenging, even commodifying, their body parts for use in research.  The remains of aborted babies are human remains and should be given the full respect they deserve. Millions of pro-life Americans find such research morally offensive and do not want their tax dollars to be used to pay for it.

Researchers have demonstrated the ability to both pursue excellence in research and to avoid violating the rights and dignity of nascent human beings. Dr. Collins can and should lead the NIH in a way that honors both ends, incentivizing research that all Americans can support.” 

December 13, 2018
PASTORAL SUPPORT OF $1 MILLION APPROVED BY U.S. BISHOPS FOR AFRICA

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Africa has approved 33 grants totaling $1 million in funding to support pastoral projects for episcopal conferences and dioceses across the African continent. The grants were approved at the Subcommittee's meeting on November 11 in Baltimore.

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

  • Strengthening the availability and accessibility of Natural Family Planning services in Uganda
  • Creation of a continent-wide platform of Catholic student action movements, through the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM)
  • Ongoing leadership and child-protection formation of local clergy in Zambia
  • Integration of Catholic social teaching during priestly formation in the African Great Lakes region

"The Solidarity Fund enriches the Church in both Africa and the United States by building relationships of mutual solidarity through pastoral support for our sisters and brothers in Africa,” said Cardinal Joseph Tobin, CSsR, of Newark, chairman of the Subcommittee on the Church in Africa. “I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all of the faithful who give generously to the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa and who continue to pray for our universal Church."

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.

December 13, 2018
U.S. BISHOPS APPROVE $4 MILLION IN GRANTS TO THE CHURCH IN LATIN AMERICA

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America awarded over $3.2 million in funding for 173 grants to support the pastoral work of the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, and nearly $800,000 toward seven grants for recovery and reconstruction projects in areas devastated by earthquakes in Haiti and Mexico and Hurricanes Matthew, Maria, and Irma.

The Subcommittee approved funding for several projects in many countries of the region. For example, projects supporting lay formation and leadership were funded in Cuba and Ecuador; evangelization and catechesis projects were supported in Uruguay and El Salvador. Other projects were funded to support to indigenous populations in Brazil and Venezuela.

The Subcommittee also approved grants to support youth ministry and travel for delegates from various Latin American countries, including Haiti, Peru and Cuba, to participate in World Youth Day in Panama City, Panama, January 22-27, 2019.

“The Collection for the Church in America has an immeasurable impact on people throughout the region, particularly among the most vulnerable,” said Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Anchorage, Chairman for the Committee on National Collections. “I sincerely thank the Catholics of the United States for their generosity to, and solidarity with, our sisters and brothers in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

Pastoral grants are funded by the annual Collection for the Church in Latin America, taken in many dioceses across the United States on the fourth Sunday in January. The emergency and reconstruction grants were awarded from various special collections called by the USCCB.

The Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America oversees the collection and an annual grant program as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. It allocates revenue received from the Collection for the Church in Latin America as grants across Latin America and the Caribbean. More information about the Collection for the Church in Latin America and the many grants it funds, the latest list of the approved projects, as well as resources to promote it across the country, can be found at www.usccb.org/latin-america.

December 12, 2018
BISHOPS APPROVE $4 MILLION IN AID FOR MINISTRIES IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe approved $4 million in funding for 143 projects at the Subcommittee's meeting on November 11, 2018, in Baltimore.

Central and Eastern Europe projects receiving funding include:

  • Charitable support for single mothers in areas of Armenia experiencing high emigration rates of men. Through Armenian Caritas, mothers and children in need will receive food, hygienic items, school supplies, fuel, medicine, and other necessities.
  • The construction of a rehabilitation center in Georgia to provide services to children, people with disabilities, and others living in poverty. The center, which will be managed by the Georgian branches of the Camillians and the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Christiana, will offer rehabilitation, mental health, and speech therapy services to the people of South Georgia and northern Armenia.
  • Financial support to help young people from Latvia participate in World Youth Day in Panama City, Panama, in January 2019.
  • Translation of Papal encyclicals and other important Catholic social teaching documents into modern Ukrainian, many for the first time. The translated documents will be published in both printed and electronic format and presented through a series of workshops in different areas of Ukraine.
  • Support for the development of the most rapidly growing seminary in Eastern Europe in Kyiv, Ukraine, where the number of seminarians has increased from 39 to 79 in the last five years.

“Our support for the Catholics of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union helps rebuild and restore the faith where people continue to feel the repercussions of decades of communism and oppression,” said Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Anchorage, Chairman of the Committee on National Collections.

The USCCB Subcommittee on the Church in Central and Eastern Europe funds projects in 28 countries to build the pastoral capacity of the Church in these places. The funds collected in the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe are used to support seminaries, youth ministry, social service programs, pastoral centers, church construction and renovation, and Catholic communications projects.

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.

December 12, 2018
BISHOPS APPROVE $9.5 MILLION IN GRANTS TO U.S. MISSION DIOCESES AND EPARCHIES

WASHINGTON—  The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions approved $9.5 million in grants to assist 79 dioceses and eparchies at the subcommittee's meeting October 9-10, in Spokane, Washington.

“Many dioceses and eparchies throughout the United States cannot provide basic pastoral services without outside assistance. Through the generosity of Catholics to the Catholic Home Missions Appeal, we can help strengthen the Church here at home,” said Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Anchorage, Chairman for the Committee on National Collections.

Subcommittee grants assist dioceses and eparchies that would otherwise struggle due to difficult geography, impoverished populations, and limited resources. Catholic Home Missions funding supports various pastoral programs, including religious education and youth ministry, priestly and religious formation, prison ministries, and lay ministry training.

Projects approved for funding include the following:

  • Migrant Ministry in the Diocese of Stockton, California, to provide pastoral care and evangelization to thousands of farmworkers and their families.
  • Seminarian Education and Formation in the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, to develop vocations, provide personal assistance with discernment, and support current seminarians as they prepare for ordained ministry.
  • Mission and Ministry Fund in the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky, to help rural and mountain parishes develop their missionary presence and action in Appalachian Kentucky.
  • Young Adult Ministry/Community College Outreach in the Diocese of Dodge City, Kansas, to extend outreach ministries to young people between the ages of 18-39 through events, mission trips, and other programs for prayer and fellowship.
  • Manua Mission in the Diocese of Samoa-Pago Pago, American Samoa, to provide missionary services and pastoral support to children and families who are isolated from the main island of Tutuila and live in the outlying islands of Manua.

The Subcommittee’s grants are funded by donations to an annual collection, the Catholic Home Missions Appeal. The Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions oversees the Catholic Home Missions Appeal as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. The national date for the annual appeal is the fourth Sunday in April.

More information on Catholic Home Missions can be found online at www.usccb.org/home-missions.

December 11, 2018
BISHOP CHAIRMEN EXPRESS RELIEF AT MODIFICATIONS TO “PARKING LOT TAX” BUT SEEK FULL REPEAL

WASHINGTON – The guidance promulgated Dember 10 by the Treasury Department is an “effort to alleviate the ‘parking lot tax,’” but “full relief is needed from Congress,” according to Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

Archbishop Kurtz and Bishop Dewane offered the following joint statement in response:

“We appreciate the Administration’s effort to alleviate the ‘parking lot tax’ by allowing employers, including many non-profits, to retroactively reduce their nondeductible parking expenses.  But full relief is needed from Congress to fix this unjust tax.  As we, along with many ecumenical and interreligious leaders, noted in a coalition letter to Congress last month: ‘Unless repealed, this provision will require tens of thousands of houses of worship to file tax returns for the first time in our nation’s history and will impose a new tax burden on houses of worship and nonprofit organizations.’”

The November 13 coalition letter can be found here:

November 27, 2018
CARDINAL DINARDO'S STATEMENT ON THE DEATH OF PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH

WASHINGTON - Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement on the passing of President George Herbert Walker Bush.

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

“We join with people across the nation as we mourn the passing of President George H.W. Bush. We remember with gratitude this great man who spent his life selflessly in service of his country. With an unwavering commitment to building bridges of peace and ensuring our nation's freedoms, he also inspired many as a devoted husband, father and family patriarch.

On behalf of my brother bishops of the United States, we pray for the repose of the soul of our forty-first president as we remember a life well lived.

We also offer our deepest sympathy and prayers for his bereaved family and all those who mourn his passing. May you find peace and comfort in the consoling love of Jesus Christ.”

November 27, 2018
POPE FRANCIS NAMES AUXILIARY BISHOP TO LEAD DIOCESE OF MONTEREY   

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named the auxiliary bishop of Austin, the Most Reverend Daniel E. Garcia, as the new Bishop of Monterey.

The appointment was publicized in Washington on Tuesday, November 27, 2018, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Garcia was born August 30, 1960 in Cameron, Texas.  He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Saint Mary's Seminary at the University of St. Thomas in 1984. He completed his Master of Divinity studies at Saint Mary's in 1988. In 2007, he earned a Master of Arts in Liturgical Studies from the Saint John’s School of Theology.  

He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Austin on May 28, 1988. Since then, he has served at the parishes of St. Catherine of Siena, Cristo Rey, St. Louis, and St. Vincent de Paul, all in Austin.  He also served three years in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston at St. Mary Magdalene Parish in Humble, Texas.  In the Diocese of Austin, he has served as a dean and as a member of the Priests' Personnel Board, the College of Consultors, and the Diocesan Liturgical Commission, as well as a member and chairman of the Presbyteral Council.

On January 21, 2015, Pope Francis appointed him as Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Austin, the first auxiliary bishop in the history of the diocese, as well as Titular Bishop of Capsus.  He was ordained a bishop on March 3, 2015.

Bishop Garcia currently serves as Chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on Worship in Spanish.  He is a member of the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship and the USCCB Committee on Communications, as well as a consultant to the USCCB Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs.

Bishop Daniel Garcia has been named bishop following the death of Bishop Richard Garcia of Monterey on July 11, 2018, due to complications of Alzheimer’s disease.  He was diagnosed with the disease in April 2018.

The Diocese of Monterey is comprised of 21,916 square miles in California with a total population of 1,048,237 of which 209,650 or 20 percent, are Catholic.  

November 20, 208
USCCB STATEMENT ON CHICAGO HOSPITAL SHOOTING

WASHINGTON — Following the tragic shooting yesterday in Chicago, Illinois, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement calling for prayers and steps to curb gun violence.

The full statement of Cardinal DiNardo follows:

"Yesterday, at a place which should be a center of healing, a police officer, a doctor and a pharmaceutical resident lost their lives in a senseless act of gun violence. The shooting was carried out at Mercy Hospital on the south side of Chicago. We entrust to Almighty God the victims and their loved ones and for the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe. May her love and compassion embrace and bring comfort to those who sorrow.

Again, we must ask the question how a person capable of such violence was able to obtain a firearm to carry out this heinous act. In our desire to help promote a culture of life, we bishops will continue to ask that public policies be supported to enact reasonable gun measures to help curb this pervasive plague of gun violence. Our prayers are with the staff of Mercy Hospital and the people of the Archdiocese of Chicago as they continue God’s healing work.”

November 20, 2018
CONFRATERNITY OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE ANNOUNCES GRANT RECIPIENTS IN HONOR OF NATIONAL BIBLE WEEK

WASHINGTON — In honor of National Bible Week (November 18-24, 2018), the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) announces the awarding grants in the amount of $60,844 for three projects that support the goals of the CCD to promote Catholic biblical literacy and Catholic biblical interpretation.

Funding for these grants comes from the royalties received from the publication of the New American Bible and its derivative works which the CCD develops, publishes, promotes, and distributes.

The three projects sponsored by the CCD are as follows:

  • $1,240 to Robert D. Miller Il for travel and research related to his work on "Orality and Old Testament Law."
  • $42,000 to Ahida E. Pilarski and the Asociación Bíblica Argentina to support an international conference on the 80th anniversary of the journal Revista Biblica.
  • $17,604 to Olivier-Thomas Venard, O.P. and the Bible in Its Traditions Program to fund research apprenticeships for three students at the École biblique in Jerusalem.

The CCD works with the Catholic Biblical Association (CBA) to offer these grants accepting applications only from the CBA, including the organization itself, its designees, and its active and associate members. In fidelity to Dei Verbum, the CBA's purpose is to promote scholarly study in Scripture and related fields by meetings of the association, publications, and support to those engaged in such studies. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Administrative Committee comprises the membership of the CCD.

November 14, 2018
PRESIDENT OF USCCB MAKES STATEMENT AT CLOSE OF PUBLIC SESSIONS

BALTIMORE — On the final day of the public sessions of the U.S. Bishops fall general assembly in Baltimore, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, delivered the following remarks.

Cardinal DiNardo’s full address follows:

Brothers, I opened the meeting expressing some disappointment.  I end it with hope.

My hope is first of all grounded in Christ, who desires that the Church be purified and that our efforts bear fruit.

In late summer on your behalf, I expressed our renewed fraternal affection for our Holy Father.  In September the Administrative Committee expressed for all of us our “love, obedience and loyalty” for Pope Francis.  Now together with you today, gathered in Baltimore in Plenary Assembly, we the members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops pledge to His Holiness our loyalty and devotion in these difficult days.  I am sure that, under the leadership of Pope Francis, the conversation that the global Church will have in February will help us eradicate the evil of sexual abuse from our Church.  It will make our local efforts more global and the global perspective will help us here.

Brothers, you and the speakers we have heard from have given me direction and consensus.  I will take it as a springboard for action.  Listening is essential, but listening must inform decisive action.  Let me take this moment to thank the many survivors and experts who have given us such good counsel and direction these last few days.

When the summer’s news first broke, we committed to three goals:  to do what we could to get to the bottom of the Archbishop McCarrick situation; to make reporting of abuse and misconduct by bishops easier; and, to develop a means of holding ourselves accountable that was genuinely independent, duly authorized, and had substantial lay involvement.

Now, we are on course to accomplish these goals.  That is the direction that you and the survivors of abuse across our country have given me for the February meeting in Rome. More than that, in the days prior to the meeting of episcopal conference presidents, the Task Force I established this week will convert that direction into specific action steps.  Some of those actions steps include:

  • A process for investigating complaints against bishops reported through a third-party compliance hotline.  We will complete a proposal for a single national lay commission and a proposal for a national network relying upon the established diocesan review boards, with their lay expertise, to be overseen by the metropolitan or senior suffragan.

  • Finalizing the Standards of Accountability for Bishops.

  • Finalizing the Protocol for Removed Bishops.

  • Studying national guidelines for the publication of lists of names of those clerics facing substantiated claims of abuse.

  • Supporting the fair and timely completion of the various investigations into the situation surrounding Archbishop McCarrick and publication of their results.  We are grateful for the Holy See’s Statement of October 6 in this regard.

We leave this place committed to taking the strongest possible actions at the earliest possible moment. We will do so in communion with the Universal Church.  Moving forward in concert with the Church around the world will make the Church in the United States stronger, and will make the global Church stronger.  

But our hope for true and deep reform ultimately lies in more than excellent systems, as essential as these are.  It requires holiness: the deeply held conviction of the truths of the Gospel, and the eager readiness to be transformed by those truths in all aspects of life.

As the nuncio reminded us on Monday, “if the Church is to reform herself and her structures, then the reform must spring from her mission of making known Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  No system of governance or oversight, however excellent and necessary, suffices alone to make us, weak as we all are, able to live up to the high calling we have received in Christ.

We must recommit to holiness and to the mission of the Church.

Brothers, I have heard you today.  I am confident that in unity with the Holy Father and in conversation with the Universal Church in February we will move forward.  

There is more to be done, but what we have done is a sign of hope.

Commending everything to the intercession of Our Lady, we pray together . . . Hail Mary…"

November 14, 2018
U.S. BISHOPS APPROVE “OPEN WIDE OUR HEARTS: THE ENDURING CALL TO LOVE,” A PASTORAL LETTER AGAINST RACISM 

BALTIMORE— The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved today, during its November General Assembly, the formal statement, “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love,” A Pastoral Letter Against Racism. The full body of bishops approved it by a two-thirds majority vote of 241 to 3 with 1 abstention.

The USCCB Cultural Diversity in the Church Committee, chaired by Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, MSpS, of San Antonio, Texas, spearheaded the letter’s drafting and guided it through the voting process. Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, of Houma-Thibodaux, Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism and Chair of the Sub-committee on African American Affairs within the Cultural Diversity Committee, issued the following statement:

“The entire body of bishops felt the need to address the topic of racism, once again, after witnessing the deterioration of the public discourse, and episodes of violence and animosity with racial and xenophobic overtones, that have re-emerged in American society in the last few years. Pastoral letters from the full body of bishops are rare, few and far between.  But at key moments in history the bishops have come together for important pronouncements, paying attention to a particular issue and with the intention of offering a Christian response, full of hope, to the problems of our time. This is such a time.”

Initiated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in August 2017, the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism was created to address the sin of racism in our society and Church, to address the urgent need to come together as a society to find solutions, and to support the implementation of the bishops’ pastoral letter on racism.

“Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love,” is a Pastoral Letter from the full body of bishops to the lay faithful and all people of goodwill addressing the sin of racism.

The pastoral letter asks us to recall that we are all brothers and sisters, all equally made in the image of God. Because we all bear the image of God, racism is above all a moral and theological problem that manifests institutionally and systematically. Only a deep individual conversion of heart, which then multiplies, will compel change and reform in our institutions and society. It is imperative to confront racism’s root causes and the injustice it produces. The love of God binds us together. This same love should overflow into our relationships with all people. The conversions needed to overcome racism require a deep encounter with the living God in the person of Christ who can heal all division.

"Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love," is not the first time the U.S. Bishops have spoken as a collectively on race issues in the United States, but it is the first time in almost 40 years.

In 1979, they approved "Brothers and Sisters to Us: A Pastoral Letter on Racism in Our Day." Among the many things, they discussed was the fact that "Racism is a sin: a sin that divides the human family, blots out the image of God among specific members of that family, and violates the fundamental human dignity of those called to be children of the same Father." The newly approved “Open Wide Our Hearts” continues the message that “Brothers and Sisters to Us” sought to convey.

The full text, as well as many accompanying pastoral resources, will soon be posted. Resources will include a bulletin insert, homily help, prayer materials, background information on systemic racism, and activities for primary, secondary, and higher education classroom settings.

November 14, 2018
BISHOPS CONDUCT CONSULTATION ON CAUSE FOR CANONIZATION OF SR. THEA BOWMAN

BALTIMORE — At their annual fall Plenary Assembly in Baltimore, MD, the U.S Bishops participated in a consultation on the cause for sainthood of the Servant of God Sr. Thea Bowman, F.S.P.A.

Bishop Robert P. Deeley, Chairman of the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, and Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, Bishop of Jackson, Mississippi, the petitioner of the cause, facilitated the discussion. By a voice vote, the bishops indicated unanimous support for the advancement of the cause on the diocesan level.

A self-proclaimed, “old folks’ child,” Bowman, was the only child born to middle-aged parents, Dr. Theon Bowman, a physician and Mary Esther Bowman, a teacher. At birth she was given the name Bertha Elizabeth Bowman. She was born in 1937 and reared in Canton, Mississippi. As a child she converted to Catholicism through the inspiration of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity who were her teachers and pastors at Holy Child Jesus Church and School in Canton.

At an early age, Thea was exposed to the richness of her African-American culture and spirituality, most especially the history, stories, songs, prayers, customs and traditions. At the age of fifteen, she told her parents and friends she wanted to join the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and left the familiar Mississippi terrain to venture to the unfamiliar town of LaCrosse, Wisconsin where she would be the only African-American member of her religious community. At her religious profession, she was given the name, “Sister Mary Thea” in honor of the Blessed Mother and her father, Theon. Her name in religious life, Thea, literally means “God.” She was trained to become a teacher. She taught at all grade levels, eventually earning her doctorate and becoming a college professor of English and linguistics.

In 1984, Sister Thea faced devastating challenges: both her parents died, and she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Sister Thea vowed to “live until I die” and continued her rigorous schedule of speaking engagements. Even when it became increasingly painful and difficult to travel as the cancer metastasized to her bones, she was undeterred from witnessing and sharing her boundless love for God and the joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Donned in her customary African garb, Sister Thea would arrive in a wheel chair with no hair (due to the chemotherapy treatments) but always with her a joyful disposition and pleasant smile. She did not let the deterioration of her body keep her from one unprecedented event, an opportunity to address the U.S. Bishops at their annual June meeting held in 1989 at Seton Hall University in East Orange, NJ. Sister Thea spoke to the bishops as a sister having a “heart to heart” conversation with her brothers.

She explained what it meant to be African-American and Catholic. She enlightened the bishops on African-American history and spirituality. Sister Thea urged the bishops to continue to evangelize the African-American community, to promote inclusivity and full participation of African-Americans within Church leadership, and to understand the necessity and value of Catholic schools in the African- American community. At the end of her address, she invited the bishops to move together, cross arms and sing with her, “We Shall Overcome.” She seemingly touched the hearts of the bishops as evidenced by their thunderous applause and tears flowing from their eyes.

During her short lifetime (52 years), many people considered her a religious Sister undeniably close to God and who lovingly invited others to encounter the presence of God in their lives. She is acclaimed a “holy woman” in the hearts of those who knew and loved her and continue to seek her intercession for guidance and healing.

Today across the United States there are schools; an education foundation to assist needy students to attend Catholic universities; housing units for the poor and elderly, and a health clinic for the marginalized named in her honor. Books, articles, catechetical resources, visual media productions, a stage play, have been written documenting her exemplary life. Prayer cards, works of art, statues, and stained-glass windows bearing her image all attest to Sister Thea’s profound spiritual impact and example of holiness for the faithful.

November 14, 2018
U. S. BISHOPS VOTE FOR CONFERENCE TREASURER-ELECT, CHAIRMEN OF TWO COMMITTEES, AND CHAIRMEN-ELECT OF FIVE OTHERS

BALTIMORE — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) gathering in Baltimore for today's 2018 General Assembly have elected a new conference treasurer-elect along with a new chairman of the Committee for Catholic Education and Committee on National Collections, and chairmen-elect of five additional standing committees.

Bishop Gregory L. Parkes, Diocese of St. Petersburg has been elected as treasurer-elect for the USCCB on the ballot with 157 votes over Archbishop Charles C. Thompson, Archdiocese of Indianapolis, who received 87 votes.

Additionally, Bishop Michael C. Barbour Diocese of Oakland, has been elected as chairman of the Committee for Catholic Education in a 142 to 103 vote over Bishop David J. Malloy, Diocese of Rockford.

Also, Archbishop Paul D. Etienne, Archdiocese of Anchorage, was also voted chairman of the Committee on National Collections in a 137 to 111 vote over Bishop Thomas A. Daly, Diocese of Spokane.    

The five chairmen-elect are:   

Bishop James F. Checchio, Diocese of Metuchen, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations in a 168 to 77 vote over Bishop Michael F. Olson, Diocese of Fort Worth.  

Archbishop Leonard P. Blair, Archdiocese of Hartford, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Divine Worship in a 132 to 113 vote over Bishop David L. Ricken, Diocese of Green Bay.

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City as chairman-elect of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development in a 140 to 105 vote over Archbishop John C. Wester, Archdiocese of Santa Fe.  

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco was elected chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth after a tie vote of 125 votes with nominee Bishop John F. Doerfler of Marquette. Archbishop Cordileone was named chairman, per voting protocol, due to having been ordained a bishop longer.

Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville-Rodriguez, Archdiocese of Washington as chairman-elect of the Committee on Migration in a 158 to 88 vote over Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv., Diocese of Lexington.  

The treasurer-elect and the five committee chairmen-elect will serve one year before beginning three-year terms at the conclusion of the bishops' 2019 Fall General Assembly.   

Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Archdiocese of the Military Services, Bishop James V. Johnston Jr., Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Bishop Oscar A. Solis, Diocese of Salt Lake City, were also elected to the board of Catholic Relief Services.

The 2019 USCCB budget was also voted on and passed by the Bishops' vote - 223 to 12.

November 14, 2018
STATEMENT ISSUED ON CONCERN ABOUT RESTRICTING ACCESS TO ASYLUM

WASHINGTON — Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, Sister Donna Markham, OP, Phd, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, Jeanne Atkinson, Executive Director of Catholic Legal Immigration Network, and Sean Callahan, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services issued a statement reiterating that it is not a crime to seek asylum and urging the Administration to seek other solutions that will strengthen the integrity of the existing immigration system.

On November 9, 2018, President Trump issued a proclamation barring people arriving to the U.S./Mexico border from receiving U.S. asylum unless they request it at a U.S. port of entry, a direct contradiction of existing U.S. asylum law (see here).

The full statement follows:

“While our teaching acknowledges the right of each nation to regulate its borders, we find this action deeply concerning. It will restrict and slow access to protection for hundreds of children and families fleeing violence in Central America, potentially leaving them in unsafe conditions in Mexico or in indefinite detention situations at the U.S./Mexico border. We reiterate that it is not a crime to seek asylum and this right to seek refuge is codified in our laws and in our values. We urge the Administration to seek other solutions that will strengthen the integrity of the existing immigration system, while assuring access to protection for vulnerable children and families. The Catholic Church will continue to serve, accompany and assist all those who flee persecution, regardless of where they seek such protection and where they are from.” 

November 13, 2018
ECUMENICAL AND INTERFAITH LEADERS ASK CONGRESS TO REPEAL THE “PARKING LOT TAX

WASHINGTON—  Today, leaders of diverse faiths and religious nonprofits asked Congress to repeal a recent change to the Internal Revenue Code in Section 512(a)(7) that threatens to tax nonprofit organizations—including houses of worship—for the cost of parking and transit benefits provided to their employees. Many have referred to this provision as the “parking lot tax”.

Leaders representing a broad range of institutions, including houses of worship, primary and secondary education, higher education, and faith-based nonprofit organizations sent a letter to House and Senate chairmen and ranking members.

The letter states: “We write with serious concerns about how a little-noticed provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would tax parking and transit benefits provided by nonprofit organizations and churches. Unless repealed, this provision will require tens of thousands of houses of worship to file tax returns for the first time in our nation’s history and will impose a new tax burden on houses of worship and nonprofit organizations.”

The letter continues: “Perhaps worst of all, this provision will hopelessly entangle the IRS with houses of worship, simply because these houses of worship allow their clergy to park in their parking lots. For good reasons grounded in the First Amendment, houses of worship are not required to file tax returns each year. This policy allows houses of worship to operate independently from the government and shields houses of worship from government interference and intrusive public inspection into their internal, constitutionally protected operations, as nonprofit tax returns are available to the public.”

Signatories from the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, The Jewish Federations of North America, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Agudath Israel of America, Islamic Relief USA, Indian American Muslim Council, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Church of Scientology National Affairs Office, The Episcopal Church, National Association of Evangelicals, Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty, Catholic Charities USA, and many other organizations concerned about this new tax joined Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Chairman of the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Frank R. Dewane of Venice, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, in signing the letter.

A link to the letter can be found here.

November 13, 2018
REVIEW BOARD URGES NEED TO BROADEN THE SCOPE OF THE CHARTER TO INCLUDE BISHOPS

BALTIMORE — On Tuesday, November 13, the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' independent lay advisory panel on the protection of children and young people delivered a special report to the body of U.S. bishops regarding the abuse crisis in the Church.

In an address to the bishops who have gathered in Baltimore for the annual fall general assembly, National Review Board Chairman Francesco Cesareo, Ph.D., outlined key reforms and urged action. The report calls for broadening the scope of the Charter on the Protection of Children and Young People to include bishops; the publication of complete lists of credibly accused clergy in all dioceses; improving the audit process; and enhancing accountability for bishops regarding cases of abuse.

You can find the full report here.

November 11, 2018
BISHOPS APPLAUD FINAL RULES PROVIDING EXPANDED MORAL AND RELIGIOUS EXEMPTIONS TO HHS MANDATE

WASHINGTON – The final rules announced Wednesday by the federal government regarding the HHS mandate “allow people like the Little Sisters of the Poor, faith-based schools, and others to live out their faith in daily life,” according to leaders of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the USCCB, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty, are applauding the Trump Administration’s decision to finalize regulations providing expanded religious and moral exemptions from the mandate requiring health insurance coverage of sterilization, contraception, and drugs and devices that may cause abortions.

Cardinal DiNardo and Archbishop Kurtz offered the following joint statement in response:

“We are grateful for the Administration’s decision to finalize common-sense regulations that allow those with sincerely held religious or moral convictions opposing abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception to exclude such drugs and devices from their health plans. These final regulations restore free exercise rights in accordance with the First Amendment and long-standing statutory protections for religious freedom. The regulations allow people like the Little Sisters of the Poor, faith-based schools, and others to live out their faith in daily life and to continue to serve others, without fear of punishing fines from the federal government.”

November 8, 2018
PRESIDENT OF U.S. BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE ISSUES STATEMENT FOLLOWING DEADLY SHOOTING IN CALIFORNIA

WASHINGTON — Following the tragic shooting early this morning in Thousand Oaks, California, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement calling for the enactment of reasonable measures to end gun violence.

The full statement of Cardinal DiNardo follows:

"Many of us learned at dawn today that at least a dozen people died early this morning in a shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks, CA, outside of Los Angeles.  Early reports indicate that the bar was filled with college students, and among the dead are a law enforcement officer as well as the shooter himself.

We must bring this tragedy to the Lord in prayer.  This new incident of gun violence strikes just as the funerals are barely complete from the last mass shooting.  More innocent lives are lost because of one individual and his ability to procure weapons and commit violence.  The bishops continue to ask that public policies be supported that would enact reasonable gun measures to help curb this mad loss of life.

Only love can truly defeat evil.  Love begets love, and peace begets peace, but anger, hatred and violence breed more of the same.   Today we pray for the victims and their loved ones and all those impacted by this senseless violence. Let us pray that "In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace."  Lk. 1:78-79.”

November 7, 2018
2018 CATHOLIC CAMPAIGN FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT COLLECTION

WASHINGTON — The annual collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) will be held in most parishes the weekend of November 17-18 to coincide with the Second World Day of the Poor.

Nearly 40 million people live in poverty in the United States. This collection supports the work of groups that allow low-income people to participate in decisions that affect their lives. Projects supported by CCHD include expanding access to affordable housing, developing worker-owned businesses and protecting worker rights, and reforming the immigration system.

In his statement for this year’s celebration of the World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis called on the faithful to “make tangible the Church’s response to the cry of the poor, to experience this World Day as a privileged moment of new evangelization.”

“The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is one of the many ways that the Church hears the cry of the poor and recognizes their needs. This collection empowers low-income people to work to break the cycle of poverty in their communities, helping them to live life anew in dignity,” said Bishop David P. Talley of Alexandria chairman of the CCHD Subcommittee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

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

Resources to learn about poverty in the United States can be found at https://povertyusa.org/. Materials include Poverty Facts, a Poverty Map, and Stories of Hope from groups supported through the annual collection.

 

 


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