(USCCB News Archives can be accessed at www.usccb.org/news/)
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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.
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.
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.
October 30, 2018
BISHOP'S STATEMENT URGES HUMANE ACTION TOWARDS THOSE SEEKING PROTECTION
WASHINGTON — Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, Sean Callahan, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, and Sister Donna Markham OP PhD, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA issued the following statement urging all people of goodwill to speak and act with compassion towards those migrating north and seeking refuge from violence and poverty.
The full statement follows:
“As Catholic agencies assisting poor and vulnerable migrants in the United States and around the world, we are deeply saddened by the violence, injustice, and deteriorating economic conditions forcing many people to flee their homes in Central America. While nations have the right to protect their borders, this right comes with responsibilities: governments must enforce laws proportionately, treat all people humanely, and provide due process.
We affirm that seeking asylum is not a crime. We urge all governments to abide by international law and existing domestic laws that protect those seeking safe haven and ensure that all those who are returned to their home country are protected and repatriated safely.
Furthermore, we strongly advocate for continued U.S. investments to address the underlying causes of violence and lack of opportunity in Central America. Our presence throughout the Americas has convinced us that migration is a regional issue that requires a comprehensive, regional solution. An enforcement-only approach does not address nor solve the larger root causes that cause people to flee their countries in search of protection.
As Christians, we must answer the call to act with compassion towards those in need and to work together to find humane solutions that honor the rule of law and respect the dignity of human life.”
October 29, 2018
U.S. BISHOPS TO MEET NOV. 12-14 IN BALTIMORE
WASHINGTON — The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will gather for the 2018 Fall General Assembly in Baltimore, November 12-14.
The assembly will begin with an address by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the USCCB and also an address by the Papal Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre. The body of bishops will then adjourn to an on-site chapel for a full day of spiritual discernment and prayer. This will be followed by a Mass celebrated Monday evening at the site of the assembly.
During the assembly the bishops will discuss and vote on a series of concrete measures to respond to the abuse crisis, including those approved for the agenda at the September meeting of the Administrative Committee, such as a third-party reporting mechanism, standards of conduct for bishops, and protocols for bishops resigned or removed because of abuse. The bishops will also hear reports from the National Advisory Council and National Review Board.
The assembly will also vote on the Pastoral Letter Against Racism and will also hear a report on the 15th Ordinary Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment. The bishops will also vote on the 2019 budget.
The bishops will also vote for a Conference Treasurer-elect, new chairmen of the Committee on Catholic Education, and new chairmen-elect of the following five USCCB committees: Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations, Committee on Divine Worship, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth, and the Committee on Migration.
There will also be a voice vote on the cause for canonization for Sr. Thea Bowman, FSPA.
Public sessions of general assembly discussions and votes as well as portions of the day of spiritual discernment will be available via livestream at: http://www.usccb.org/live
News updates, vote totals, texts of addresses and presentations and other materials will be posted to this page: www.usccb.org/meetings as soon as possible.
Those wishing to follow the meeting on social media can use the hashtag #USCCB18 and follow on Twitter (@USCCB) as well as on Facebook (www.facebook.com/usccb) and Instagram (https://instagram.com/usccb).
Live stream is expected to run Monday, 12, 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Eastern, Tuesday, November 13, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Eastern and Wednesday, November 14, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., at: http://www.usccb.org/about/leadership/usccb-general-assembly/usccb-general-assembly-live-stream.cfm.
October 28, 2018
BISHOP JOSEPH BAMBERA ISSUES STATEMENT ON PITTSBURGH VIOLENCE
WASHINGTON — Bishop Joseph Bambera, Bishop chair of the Committee for Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, released the following statement regarding the violence in Pittsburgh.
Full statement follows:
“Yesterday morning, death and violence entered a house of worship. The attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, is a cowardly act and to be condemned by all Americans. Those killed and injured represent the best of who we are: people of faith gathered to pray and celebrate the birth of a child and officers responding to the ensuring violence with no concern for their own safety.
Anti-Semitism is to be condemned and has to be confronted by our nation. The Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stands with our Jewish brothers and sisters during this time of great distress. May God grant peace to the dead, healing to the injured, and comfort to the families of those hurt and killed and to all the Jewish Community.”
October 27, 2018
PRESIDENT OF U.S. BISHOPS' CONFERENCE ISSUES STATEMENT FOLLOWING SHOOTING IN PITTSBURGH
WASHINGTON — Following the tragic shooting this morning at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement calling for prayer and action to put an end to violence.
The full statement is as follows:
"This morning violence, once again, struck one of our communities, this time in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is apparent at least eight souls lost their lives in a shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue. To our brothers and sisters of the Jewish community, we stand with you. We condemn all acts of violence and hate and yet again, call on our nation and public officials to confront the plague of gun violence. Violence as a response to political, racial, or religious differences must be confronted with all possible effort. God asks nothing less of us. He begs us back to our common humanity as His sons and daughters.
I commend to our Lord the victims, including first responders, and for the consolation of their families. May Almighty God be with them and bring them comfort at this tragic time."
October 23, 2018
BISHOPS TO GATHER FOR SEVEN DAYS OF PRAYER, REFLECTION AT POPE'S INVITATION
WASHINGTON — At the invitation of Pope Francis, the Bishops of the United States will gather for a spiritual retreat set to take place at Mundelein Seminary in the Archdiocese of Chicago. The bishops will gather in prayer and unity for seven days, from January 2-8, as brothers in the Episcopacy.
“The Holy Father has kindly offered the preacher to the Papal Household, Reverend Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., to serve as the retreat director as we come together to pray on the intense matters before us. For this, I am grateful,” said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “I am also grateful to Cardinal Blase Cupich for his kind offer to use the campus of Mundelein Seminary as the location for this retreat.”
The announcement comes after Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo met with the Pope earlier this month as part of a regularly scheduled Curia visit. The retreat takes place as the U.S. bishops continue their work to address the current U.S. clergy sex abuse crisis. In September, the U.S. bishops Administrative Committee announced an action plan including a third-party reporting mechanism, standards of conduct for bishops, and protocols for bishops resigned or removed because of abuse.
October 17, 2018
REPORT ON AGENCIES ASSISTING TRUMP ADMINISTRATION WITH FAMILY REUNIFICATION RELEASED
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office of Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB/MRS) and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), released its report today, entitled Serving Separated and Reunited Families: Lessons Learned and the Way Forward to Promote Family Unity, which documents the work of Catholic and Lutheran agencies who assisted the Administration with reuniting separated families during the month of July.
Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, in a letter of introduction of the report states: “I am proud of the response of USCCB/MRS, LIRS and of our Catholic (in particular CCUSA and the Catholic Charities network) and Lutheran partners around the country, including my brother bishops, to be able to work with the Administration to provide support to these vulnerable families.” He further states: “USCCB/MRS (in collaboration with 75 Catholic Charities agencies) and LIRS continue to provide assistance including helping families comply with their immigration obligations. I believe the recommendations made [in this report] are important and should be seriously considered in order to avoid pain and suffering in the future caused by the separation of families.”
In July 2018, USCCB/MRS and LIRS assisted over 1200 families who were reunified after being separated due to the Administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policy. The report highlights the work that was undertaken by Catholic and Lutheran partners on the ground and gives a unique data point regarding the separated and reunited families.
Resources and information about family separation and the report are available on the Justice for Immigrants website www.justiceforimmigrants.org. Included is a backgrounder on family separation and information about the current release practices of immigrant families at the U.S./Mexico border and their immigration compliance requirements.
October 15, 2018
USCCB CHAIRMAN AND CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES COMMEND CONGRESS
WASHINGTON — Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Sean Callahan, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), issue the following statement in response to today’s action regarding the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR):
Full statement follows:
“We welcome Congressional reauthorization of PEPFAR, which has so far saved millions of lives, prevented millions of new infections and supported 6.4 million orphans, vulnerable children and their caregivers around the world. The action on the PEPFAR Extension Act of 2018 by the House Foreign Affairs Committee and by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee paves the way for final passage and for another five years of U.S. leadership in the fight against HIV, TB and Malaria and the protection and support of orphans and vulnerable children.
“Although we have principled concerns about certain aspects of PEPFAR and the Global Fund prevention activities that we find inconsistent with Catholic teaching and do not implement or advocate for those activities, overall PEPFAR is one of the most successful global health programs in history demonstrating U.S. leadership in saving lives and safeguarding human dignity of the most vulnerable people. Through the work of PEPFAR, in partnership with other governments and communities, the U.S. has changed the course of the AIDS pandemic globally. Since 2003 when it was first authorized, PEPFAR has received strong bipartisan support in Congress.
“The legislation also sets U.S. policy for the support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. Health programs supported by the Global Fund partnership have saved 27 million lives as of the end of 2017. Overall, the number of deaths caused by AIDS, TB and malaria each year has been reduced by one-third since 2002 in countries where the Global Fund invests.
“We greatly appreciate the leadership of Chairmen Royce, Smith and Corker, Ranking Members Engel, Bass and Menendez as well as Representatives Barbara Lee and Betty McCollum and Senator Cardin, for their work to ensure that children were not forgotten in this bill. Saving lives and protecting the future of vulnerable children is a proud U.S. legacy thanks to the U.S. Congress.”
October 15, 2018
DOMESTIC JUSTICE CHAIRMAN WELCOMES END TO DEATH PENALTY IN WASHINGTON STATE
WASHINGTON — Following the Washington Supreme Court’s ruling striking down the state death penalty statute, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, welcomed the decision and reiterated the Church’s call to end the death penalty.
The full statement of Bishop Dewane follows:
"The Washington Supreme Court is to be commended for its unanimous decision to strike down the state death penalty statute. In his 2015 address to the U.S. Congress, Pope Francis called for ‘the global abolition of the death penalty,’ as he explained, ‘I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. . . . [A] just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.’
“In the Court’s opinion, the death penalty was deemed ‘invalid because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner.’ This echoes one of the reasons to oppose the death penalty that the bishops gave in their 2005 statement A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death:
[The death penalty’s] application is deeply flawed and can be irreversibly wrong, is prone to errors, and is biased by factors such as race, the quality of legal representation, and where the crime was committed.
“We join the Catholic Bishops of Washington, the Washington State Catholic Conference, the Catholic Mobilizing Network, and all people of good will in welcoming this development and persevering in the work to end the death penalty.”
October 13, 2018
PRESIDENT OF USCCB CALLS FOR PRAYERS AND HELP FOR THOSE HARMED BY HURRICANE MICHAEL
ROME — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued the following statement on the devastating impact of Hurricane Michael from the Florida Panhandle to Virginia.
Full statement of Cardinal DiNardo follows:
“In the wake of two powerful hurricanes, people across the southeast now face the long process of recovery. May God’s mercy comfort family and friends who have lost loved ones and sustain those rebuilding their homes and businesses. Let us respond with prayer and personal generosity.
As a community of faith, we remain with our brothers and sisters throughout their journey. I am grateful for the way so many volunteer their time, make donations, and witness to the need long after the headlines fade. Your generosity reveals Christ is present.
Humanitarian needs still exist from previous hurricanes. New storms will bring new suffering. Together, we can help communities carry this cross. Thousands of parishes have taken up an Emergency Collection for 2018 Natural Disasters. You can also support relief efforts in the United States by visiting www.catholiccharitiesusa.org or internationally at www.crs.org.
Thank you and may God bless you in this time of great need.”
October 13, 2018
CHAIRMAN OF USCCB COMMITTEE ON DOMESTIC JUSTICE CALLS FOR PRAYERS FOR ALL IMPACTED BY HURRICANE
WASHINGTON — Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice Florida, Chairman of the of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, has issued the following statement regarding Hurricane Michael’s swath of deadly destruction which has devastated the Florida Panhandle, along with parts of Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia. In his statement, Bishop Dewane calls for prayers for all those who have been impacted, as well as prayers for the first responders and those who have been evacuated.
Full statement from Bishop Dewane follows:
"Our nation is yet again facing the impact of a powerful and deadly hurricane. Our brothers and sisters in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Cuba have already felt Hurricane Michael’s destruction, and we pray for their recovery efforts.
As Hurricane Michael has moved with deadly force through the Florida Panhandle, Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia; we lift up in prayer all of those who are impacted, asking almighty God to guide the steady hands of first responders and to widen the hearts of all who are able to be generous to neighbors facing danger, grief, or displacement of any kind due to the disaster.
While the fury of this storm season continues, I am reminded of the disciples’ plea to Jesus as a violent storm threatened their lives: ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ (Mk 4, 38). At a time like this, when human lives are disrupted and the mystery of suffering becomes a painful reality for so many, we implore to the one who ‘commands even the winds and the sea’ (Lk 8, 25) to give them strength and protection.
Prayers and generosity are greatly needed at this time. With great faith and hope in the midst of this crisis may all our work and efforts go towards helping those in need. Last week, the day after tropical storm Michael was first monitored, the USCCB ‘requested that dioceses across the country take up an emergency collection on behalf of those devastated by Hurricane Florence, as well as any forthcoming natural disasters this year.’ The funds collected in this special appeal for 2018 Disasters will be used to support the efforts of Catholic Charities USA and/or Catholic Relief Services, the official relief agencies of the U.S. Catholic Church as they and their local agencies respond to immediate emergency needs.
As the impact of Hurricane Michael becomes clearer, we will work closely with local dioceses, Catholic relief entities and with other organizations to assess the needs on the ground and offer assistance.
Let us join in prayer for all those who are in the path of Hurricane Michael. May God bless and protect you."
October 12, 2018
POPE FRANCIS ACCEPTS RESIGNATION OF CARDINAL DONALD WUERL
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl from the pastoral governance of the Archdiocese of Washington.
The resignation was publicized in Washington, DC, October 12, 2018, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Cardinal Wuerl had presented his resignation almost three years ago, when he reached the retirement age for bishops of 75.
In April 2008, Cardinal Wuerl hosted in Washington, Pope Benedict XVI and in September, 2015, Pope Francis for their first pastoral visits to the United States. He was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to help direct the October 2012 Synod of Bishops on The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith. Cardinal Wuerl was also appointed by Pope Francis as a member of both the 2014 and the 2015 Synods on the Family.
The Cardinal was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and received graduate degrees from The Catholic University of America, the Gregorian University in Rome and a doctorate in theology from the University of Saint Thomas in Rome. He was ordained a bishop by Pope John Paul II on January 6, 1986, in Saint Peter’s Basilica, Rome. He served as Auxiliary Bishop in Seattle until 1987 and then as Bishop of Pittsburgh for 18 years until his appointment to Washington. His titular church in Rome is Saint Peter in Chains.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl was born November 12, 1940, in Pittsburgh, PA. He attended the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., earning a bachelor's degree (1962) and master's degree (1963) in philosophy. He continued his studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome and earned a master's degree in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1967, also in Rome.
He was ordained a priest on December 17, 1966.
From 1981 to 1985, he was rector of Saint Paul Seminary in Pittsburgh. On November 30, 1985 he was appointed titular Bishop of Rosemarkie and Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle. Pope John Paul ordained him a bishop on January 6, 1986. On February 12, 1988, he was installed as Bishop of Pittsburgh. He was appointed Archbishop of Washington on May 16, 2006.
He holds honorary degrees from eleven universities and is a Knight of Malta, a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre, and a fourth degree Knight of Columbus.
Cardinal Wuerl served previously as Chairman of the Doctrine Committee for the USCCB and has served on other various USCCB committees.
The Archdiocese of Washington is comprised of 2,104 square miles and has a total population of 2,867,377 million of which 630,823 or 22 percent, are Catholic.
October 9, 2018
CATHOLIC CAMPUS MINISTRY STUDY CALLS FOR INNOVATIVE GROWTH
WASHINGTON — On the Feast Day of Blessed John Henry Newman, patron of Catholic Campus Ministry in the United States, USCCB Secretariat of Catholic Education has issued a report highlighting the key findings from the National Study on Catholic Campus Ministry. The Secretariat commissioned the study seeking to advance Catholic identity in higher education and to rejuvenate the vision of Catholic campus ministry nationally.
Utilizing an innovative and collaborative process, the study brought together practioners from public, private and Catholic institutions, mission officers, faculty members, missionaries, bishops and stakeholders representing the breadth of Catholic campus ministry in the United States. The effort was led by Barbara H. McCrabb, Assistant Director for Higher Education at the USCCB, and Dr. Brian Starks, PhD, Associate Professor of Kennesaw State University.
The national study considered the contemporary context for campus ministry as well as the formation and professional development of those who minister on campus. The report offers valuable insights into the landscape of Catholic campus ministry and the formation of those who serve as campus ministers or missionaries on campus. Key findings call for innovative growth, steadfast cooperation and on-going formation to enhance the efficacy of Catholic campus ministry, as explained in the report by Bishop John M. Quinn of Winona, Chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education.
Based on the data gathered, the report offers practical suggestions to develop and enhance Catholic campus ministry. According to Auxiliary Bishop Fernand Cheri of the Archdiocese of New Orleans and Episcopal Liaison for the Catholic Campus Ministry Association, “the Church must be intentional and campus ministry must be accountable in every way possible to enrich the character and formation of the whole community; taking into account the ethnic, social and spiritual diversity of each campus and its surrounding community.” He goes on to say, “Our ministry must center on people, for we are forming men and women to be people that reflect Christ to each other and to the world.”
The study had a 56 percent response rate among the 1,911 campus ministers across the country. The report and other support data can be found on the Secretariat of Catholic Education website: www.usccb.org/campus-ministry.
October 8, 2018
CARDINAL DINARDO, USCCB PRESIDENT, ISSUES LETTER FOLLOWING NATURAL DISASTERS IN INDONESIA
WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote a letter of solidarity to Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, Archbishop of Jakarta in light of the recent earthquakes and tsunami in Indonesia. As of recent reports, those killed now number over 1,200 and over 50,000 displaced.
The full letter follows:
“May the Lord protect and assuage the grief of those affected by natural disaster in Indonesia.
It is with great sadness that I learned of the enormous twin tragedies that struck this past weekend, killing over 800 people on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. Undoubtedly many are suffering injuries and thousands have been made homeless as the earthquakes and tidal wave devastated homes, schools, churches and other buildings. The fact that these natural disasters have come so soon after a large earthquake struck Lombok Island and surrounding areas in July 2018 means that emergency relief efforts have already been put to the test. I am pleased to learn that Catholic Relief Services in Indonesia, together with Caritas Indonesia, are on hand to assess conditions and provide humanitarian assistance as quickly as possible.
On behalf of my brother bishops of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I want to assure you of our prayers and expressions of solidarity with the Church in Indonesia in this difficult time. I pray for the victims of these disasters and the survivors who are struggling to regain their lives. I join with the Holy Father in praying for consolation, healing, and protection for victims and their families as he said, ‘May the Lord console them and sustain the efforts of those who are taking part in the relief efforts.’”
October 7, 2018
PRESIDENT OF USCCB WELCOMES STEPS BEING TAKEN BY HOLY SEE
ROME — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), is welcoming the recent announcement by the Holy See outlining steps to ensure the faithful are protected by the evil of sexual assault.
Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:
“On behalf of my brother bishops in the United States, I welcome the statement of October 6 from the Holy See which outlines additional steps Pope Francis is taking to ensure the faithful are protected from the evil of sexual assault. The Holy Father’s ‘pressing invitation to unite forces to fight the grave scourge of abuse within the Church and beyond’ has been and will continue to be diligently accepted by the bishops of the United States.
“The truth will ensure terrible sins of the past are not repeated. The courage of abuse survivors who first brought the horrific truth of sexual abuse to light must continue to be matched by our courage as pastors to respond in justice. Pope Francis echoes the call of Christ to be with survivors in their time of need. Let us respond simply. ‘Yes, Lord!’
“The bishops of the United States offer our prayers and solidarity for the Holy Father. We urge all in the Church, particularly the bishops, to reaffirm our communion with Pope Francis who is the visible guarantor of the communion of the Catholic church. We unite in prayer and service with His Holiness as he leads the Church to meet our brothers and sisters in their suffering. With a pastor’s heart, the Holy Father calls us to a path of healing.”
BISHOPS' CHAIR EXPRESSES DEEP CONCERN ABOUT REFUGEES LEFT IN HARM’S WAY
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has issued the Presidential Determination (PD) for refugee admissions for fiscal year 2019, setting the level at 30,000 refugees. The PD will be the lowest refugee ceiling in the 38-year history of the resettlement program, with the average annual limit being 95,000 refugees. Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration has offered the following statement regarding the PD.
Full statement follows: “As Christians, we believe it is our duty to welcome and help those who are persecuted, including the vulnerable such as children and religious minorities. Resettlement in our country is a way through which we live out our Gospel call to welcome the persecuted into our communities--individuals and families with no viable options to stay where they are or return home. I am saddened by today’s major reduction in resettlement to 30,000 refugees. I worry and pray for those refugees left in harm’s way by this decision. We urge the Administration to diligently work to reach this year’s Presidential Determination as we know that many in the world fleeing war, persecution and religious discrimination continue to desperately need our support. We pledge to work with the Administration to ensure that we reach that goal. We will continue to call for a higher refugee admissions level for next year. We can and must do more to assist those in need.”
RESPECT LIFE MONTH BEGINS; THEME AND NEW, YEAR-ROUND RESOURCES ANNOUNCED
WASHINGTON — Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, Archbishop of New York and Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued a statement today for Respect Life Month. New resources have been developed around the theme “Every Life: Cherished, Chose, Sent” and are available at www.usccb.org/respectlife.
Cardinal Dolan's full statement follows:
“My dear friends in Christ:
The month of October is annually observed by the Catholic Church in the United States as Respect Life Month. We are called to cherish, defend, and protect those who are most vulnerable, from the beginning of life to its end, and at every point in between.
Yet this year on Respect Life Sunday, October 7, our hearts are heavy with revelations of how those who should be most trustworthy have not only failed in this regard but have inflicted immense evil. As USCCB President Cardinal Daniel DiNardo expressed, ‘the Body of Christ is lacerated.’
At such a time as this, we become even more aware of the need for messengers of God’s love and instruments of His healing. We realize again, with renewed urgency, our personal call to help others encounter God’s transforming, life-giving love and to defend the sanctity of every person’s life, at every stage and in every circumstance.
This year’s Respect Life theme is “Every Life: Cherished, Chosen, Sent,” highlighting our call to build a culture of life as missionary disciples. Drawing upon the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego, this theme is briefly unpacked in a short reflection. I humbly invite you to read and reflect on it during this Respect Life Month (www.usccb.org/respect-life-reflection).
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul tells us, “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. …If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it” (1 Cor 12:12,26).
We are called and sent to be messengers of God’s love, treating one another as cherished and chosen by Him. In doing so, we help build a culture that respects all human life. The Body of Christ needs you. The world needs you.”
EMERGENCY COLLECTION ANNOUNCED FOR 2018 NATURAL DISASTERS
WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has requested that dioceses across the country take up an emergency collection on behalf of those devastated by Hurricane Florence, as well as any forthcoming natural disasters this year.
In a letter sent to bishops last week, Cardinal DiNardo wrote, in part:
“The traditional storm season has only just begun and already we have witnessed the devastating impact of Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas. Five days after land-fall, torrential rain was still falling, and catastrophic flooding is predicted. Already, thousands of homes, businesses, and churches have been severely damaged or destroyed.”
“We offer our prayers to families who have lost loved ones or are among those injured. As is often the case, the poor are the hardest hit by these conditions, but many will have immense unmet needs. Staff of our Office for National Collections has been in touch with several bishops to learn about their situations and to offer our prayers and our desire to be of assistance in this time of need.
“Given the patterns of recent years, it is reasonable to expect much more unpredictable weather and an increasing number of natural disasters. Therefore, I suggest we take up a special collection for the humanitarian, long-term recovery, and Church needs arising from these storms. In anticipation of more disasters awaiting us this year, I ask that we make a special appeal for the ongoing disasters of 2018 and that we each take up the collection as soon as possible so that those most in need can receive assistance quickly.”
Funds will be used in response to Hurricane Florence and any other natural disasters that occur this year. Initially, funds will be used to support the efforts of Catholic Charities USA as they reach out to provide humanitarian aid in the form of water, food, shelter, and medical care, as well as to their long-term efforts to restore communities after widespread destruction. Also, funds will go to support the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ efforts to assist with pastoral and reconstruction aid to the Church. Humanitarian funds for any future disasters impacting communities outside the US may be shared with Catholic Relief Services for their response efforts.
October 1, 2018
V ENCUENTRO DELEGATES CHARGED WITH BUILDING A CULTURE OF ENCOUNTER THAT REKINDLES HOPE
WASHINGTON—Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, Archbishop of San Antonio and chairman of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement today following the close of the V National Encuentro that took place September 20-23 in Grapevine, Texas.
Archbishop García-Siller’s full statement follows:
Brothers and Sisters,
What a wonderful Fifth National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry we had in Grapevine, Texas, September 20-23! For us bishops it was both humbling and awe-inspiring to witness and participate in this grace-filled event that culminated a process of several years. Four days of prayer, sharing, listening, and learning revealed a people of God alive in the love of Jesus. The process now continues with the charge to take back to our communities and dioceses what we experienced at the National V Encuentro.
Build “a culture of encounter that rekindles hope.” With this call, Pope Francis welcomed the nearly 3,200 people from more than 160 dioceses and over 200 Catholic organizations from around the country to the V Encuentro. Following the Holy Father’s video message, his Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, invited us to go forth out of our comfort zone and become leaven of communion. We, the delegates to the V Encuentro, bishops and people together, gratefully take this charge back to our communities filled with a missionary spirit.
The V Encuentro process, and specially the national gathering, will go down in history as a special moment of grace for the Church in the United States in these turbulent and difficult times. As Cardenal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops aptly put it in his welcoming remarks: “Amidst this darkness, the Encuentro is a light that shines and illuminates the way forward. The enthusiasm, the passion, the love, and the joy of the Encuentro process is a means of grace, a gift to us as we rebuild the Church.” A special highlight of the National V Encuentro was the participation of hundreds of young adults who brought us hope with their enthusiasm and courage, witness of faith and commitment to the Church. As the process of Encuentro continues, may we welcome their energy, their gifts and talents for the service of the entire Church.
This mountaintop experience of God’s Providence, of the love of Christ for his Church, impels us and we are now readier to be the Church Christ wants us to be. Thousands of faithful have returned home to share their experience with those whose voices they represented and with everyone unable to attend. In this way, the Holy Spirit will multiply the graces of renewal and conversion.
I am grateful to all who made this V Encuentro possible, from the pastors and parish coordinators to the diocesan and regional teams. I am grateful for all the national organizations and sponsors that accompanied and supported us thus far. And I am grateful to my brother bishops who have accompanied their people in this process locally and at the National V Encuentro. I ask for your continued support and prayers as the process of the V Encuentro enters now a new phase of implementation.
Coming together across cultures and geographic regions, the Body of Christ draws strength from the diverse gifts of its individual members. In fidelity to Christ and in communion with the successor of Peter, open to the impulses of the Spirit and under the merciful gaze of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, let us use that strength to share the hope of the Gospel with all who are in need of God’s love and mercy.
October 1, 2018
NATIONAL VOCATION AWARENESS WEEK ENCOURAGES YOUNG PEOPLE TO ENCOUNTER CHRIST’S CALL
WASHINGTON — The Catholic Church in the United States will celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week, November 4-10. This annual event is a special time for parishes in the U.S. to foster a culture of vocations for the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life.
Pope Francis, in his message for the 2018 World Day of Vocations, emphasized that it is at the loving initiative of God, and by His personal encounter with each of us, that one is called. “Even amid these troubled times, the mystery of the Incarnation reminds us that God continually comes to encounter us. He is God-with-us, who walks along the often dusty paths of our lives. He knows our anxious longing for love and he calls us to joy. In the diversity and the uniqueness of each and every vocation, personal and ecclesial, there is a need to listen, discern and live this word that calls to us from on high and, while enabling us to develop our talents, makes us instruments of salvation in the world and guides us to full happiness.”
National Vocation Awareness Week, sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, is designed to help promote vocation awareness and to encourage young people to ask the question: "To what vocation in life is God calling me?" Parish and school communities across the nation are encouraged to include, during the first week in November, special activities that focus on vocation awareness and provide opportunities for prayerful discernment.
Contemporary society is all too often saturated by constant activity and noise, so it is important this week to encourage young discerners to take time for silent, contemplative prayer. Results of studies conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), notes that 72 percent of those ordained to the Priesthood or solemnly professed within the last year cited participation in Eucharistic Adoration as a prayer experience that proved influential in their discernment. Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations echoes this finding, stating: “Quiet reflection and prayer are essential elements for vocational discernment. It is in the interior depths of our heart where we hear the voice of Christ, where he speaks to us, and where he reveals his will for our lives.”
Observance of Vocation Awareness Week began in 1976 when the U.S. bishops designated the 28th Sunday of the year for the celebration. It was later moved to the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in January. The USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations moved the observance of National Vocation Awareness Week to November to engage Catholic schools and colleges more effectively in this effort.
More information and resources for National Vocation Awareness Week, including a prayer card, suggested prayers of the faithful and bulletin-ready quotes are available online.
September 27, 2018
CARDINAL DOLAN APPLAUDS CANCELLATION OF FDA FETAL TISSUE CONTRACT, URGES ADDITIONAL HHS ACTION
WASHINGTON — Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, Archbishop of New York and Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued a statement today applauding initial steps taken by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to terminate a Food and Drug Administration contract to purchase aborted baby parts for research, but urging quick action to cease all funding for research using body parts from aborted babies.
Cardinal Dolan's full statement follows:
We applaud Secretary Azar and the Administration for cutting off ties to a company whose business is to procure aborted baby parts for research. Not only has this company been referred for criminal investigation by the House and Senate but using federal tax dollars for such purposes is unethical and unacceptable.
While we are grateful for this first step, it remains incumbent on the Administration to act quickly to cease all funding for research involving body parts from aborted babies. The question is not exclusively what is permitted by law, but what is right and just. For the federal government to create a demand for abortion and use these children’s body parts for research is wrong. We look forward to receiving answers to the questions we and other pro-life organizations asked of Secretary Azar in our September 11, 2018 letter regarding the funding and use of fetal tissue from aborted babies. Under a pro-life Administration, there is simply no room for callously using aborted children to further a research goal. This must stop immediately. Our government should only use taxpayer dollars for ethical research.
September 23, 2018
BISHOP VASQUEZ RESPONDS TO DHS NOTICE
WASHINGTON -- On September 22, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that dramatically alters certain longstanding government policies related to legal immigrants’ access to essential safety net programs.
Bishop Joe Vasquez, Chair of the Committee on Migration and Bishop of Austin, Texas, together with Bishop Frank Dewane, Chair of Committee on Domestic and Social Development and Bishop of Venice, Florida stated:
“Yesterday’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking undercuts decades of administrative policies and guidelines on how immigrants are treated by the United States government. This further compounds strict eligibility guidelines already in place preventing many immigrants from receiving federal aid. While just beginning to review the Proposed Rule, upon initial analysis, it appears that this will be very harmful to families, raising fear among immigrant families already struggling to fulfill the American Dream. Further, it is likely to prevent families from accessing important medical and social services vital to public health and welfare.”
September 21, 2018
DOMESTIC JUSTICE CHAIRMAN ENCOURAGES CONGRESSIONAL EFFORTS TO ADDRESS THE OPIOID CRISIS
WASHINGTON — As Congress considers a bipartisan bill that addresses several aspects of the opioid crisis, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, applauded Congressional efforts to address the crisis and encouraged lawmakers not to allow politics to delay their work.
Bishop Dewane's full statement follows:
"The opioid crisis has affected all corners of our country. Preliminary estimates by the Centers for Disease Control indicate that more than 72,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2017, which is about one death every eight minutes. In the face of the staggering challenges in confronting this tragedy, it is encouraging that lawmakers in Congress appear to be making progress in bipartisan legislation that would address many issues related to the crisis.
"As Pope Francis has said, '[e]very drug addict has a unique personal story and must be listened to, understood, loved, and, insofar as possible, healed and purified. We cannot stoop to the injustice of categorizing drug addicts as if they were mere objects or broken machines; each person must be valued and appreciated in his or her dignity in order to enable them to be healed.' Congress should press on in its work for precisely these purposes.
"The Senate passed bill is but a first step in addressing several aspects of the opioid crisis, including support for increases in research, treatment, education, and security and law enforcement. As the midterm elections and the end of the year approach, it can be difficult to complete complex legislation during the remaining time. The opioid crisis, however, cannot wait until next year. Congress is to be applauded for the bipartisan efforts that have already occurred and should swiftly work through remaining obstacles to find effective solutions that can become law."
September 19, 2018
USCCB ADMINISTRATIVE COMMITTEE STATEMENT ON SEX ABUSE SCANDALS; ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Administrative Committee has issued the following statement in response to the recent sex abuse scandals. In the statement, the bishops say they pledge to “heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us.”
Turning to the Lord
“When each of us was ordained as a bishop, we were told:
‘Keep watch over the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit has appointed you to shepherd the Church of God.’
We, the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, assembled last week in Washington at this time of shame and sorrow. Some bishops, by their actions or their failures to act, have caused great harm to both individuals and the Church as a whole. They have used their authority and power to manipulate and sexually abuse others. They have allowed the fear of scandal to replace genuine concern and care for those who have been victimized by abusers. For this, we again ask forgiveness from both the Lord and those who have been harmed. Turning to the Lord for strength, we must and will do better.
The Administrative Committee took the following actions within its authority:
- Approved the establishment of a third-party reporting system that will receive confidentially, by phone and online, complaints of sexual abuse of minors by a bishop and sexual harassment of or sexual misconduct with adults by a bishop and will direct those complaints to the appropriate ecclesiastical authority and, as required by applicable law, to civil authorities.
- Instructed the USCCB Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance to develop proposals for policies addressing restrictions on bishops who were removed or resigned because of allegations of sexual abuse of minors or sexual harassment of or misconduct with adults, including seminarians and priests.
- Initiated the process of developing a Code of Conduct for bishops regarding the sexual abuse of a minor; sexual harassment of or sexual misconduct with an adult; or negligence in the exercise of his office related to such cases.
- Supported a full investigation into the situation surrounding Archbishop McCarrick, including his alleged assaults on minors, priests, and seminarians, as well any responses made to those allegations. Such an investigation should rely upon lay experts in relevant fields, such as law enforcement and social services.
This is only a beginning. Consultation with a broad range of concerned parents, experts, and other laity along with clergy and religious will yield additional, specific measures to be taken to repair the scandal and restore justice. We humbly welcome and are grateful for the assistance of the whole people of God in holding us accountable.
As these initiatives get underway, the Administrative Committee invites each of our brother bishops to join us in acts of prayer and penance. This is a time of deep examination of conscience for each bishop. We cannot content ourselves that our response to sexual assault within the Church has been sufficient. Scripture must be our guide forward, “be doers of the word and not hearers only” (James 1:22).
In all of this, we do not want anyone – ourselves included – to lose sight of those who have suffered from those who have acted or failed to act as the Gospel demanded. For survivors of sexual abuse, these days may re-open deep wounds. Support is available from the Church and within the community. Victims Assistance Coordinators are available in every diocese to help you find resources. We are grateful to hundreds of dedicated people who, since the adoption of the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, have been working with the Church to support survivors and prevent future abuse.
To anyone who has been abused, never hesitate to also contact local law enforcement. If you don’t feel comfortable for any reason with the Church providing help, your diocese can connect you with appropriate community services. With compassion and without judgement, the bishops of the United States pledge to heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us.
Acting in communion with the Holy Father, with whom we once again renew our love, obedience, and loyalty, we make our own the prayer of Pope Francis in his August 20 letter to the people of God, “May the Holy Spirit grant us the grace of conversion and the interior anointing needed to express before these crimes of abuse our compunction and our resolve courageously to combat them.”
September 18, 2018
BISHOP VÁSQUEZ RELEASES STATEMENT ON THE SETTING OF THE U.S. REFUGEE LIMIT
WASHINGTON—The United States Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, announced yesterday that the Administration will set the Presidential Determination, the level of refugees allowed into the United States, at 30,000 refugees for 2019. This is the lowest number set in the history of the U.S. refugee admissions program which was formally created in 1980.
Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, Texas, Chair of the of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:
“The announcement of the Presidential Determination is deeply disturbing and leaves many human lives in danger. To cut off protection for many who are fleeing persecution, at a time of unprecedented global humanitarian need, contradicts who we are as a nation. Offering refuge to those fleeing violence, torture, or religious persecution is a cornerstone of our history. We as a country are blessed with vast resources making us capable of securely welcoming those fleeing harm. Closing our doors on those seeking such safety is not who we are as a people. In the coming days, we pray that Congress will have the opportunity to engage in the formal consultation process with the Administration that is required by law. During this mandatory consultation process, Congress should strongly urge the Administration to return to a refugee admission level that reflects local community response and support of refugees, global refugee protection needs, and our long history of compassionately welcoming refugees.”
September 18, 2018
POPE FRANCIS NAMES AUXILIARY BISHOP OF HARTFORD
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Rev. Juan Miguel Betancourt, S.E.M.V. as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Hartford. Father Betancourt is a member of the Institute of the Servants of the Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary (Esclavos de la Eucaristia y de Maria Virgen).
Father Betancourt entered the Institute Servants of the Eucharist and the Virgin Mary as a canonical postulant on January 1, 1992. He professed vows as a religious on October 7, 1994. He received his bachelor’s in theological studies in May 2000 from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico and earned a Master of Divinity in 2002. He also holds a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute (2005). He was ordained on April 21, 2001.
His assignments include: professor of sacred scripture at the Pontifical University of Puerto Rico (2005-2006), professor of sacred scripture at Regina Cleri Major Seminary in Puerto Rico (2005-2006), assistant professor of sacred scripture at the Seminary of Saint Paul (2006-present), adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas (2006-present), local superior at the Casa de San Jose in Saint Paul, MN, (2006-present) and pastor of the churches of Saint James and Saint Francis de Sales in Saint Paul, MN (2006-present).
Father Betancourt is also a Board Member of the National Conference for Seminarians in Hispanic Ministry (2009-present) and a liaison for Foreign Seminarians at St. Paul Seminary (2008-present).
The Archdiocese of Hartford comprises 2,288 square miles. It has a total population of 1,938,914 people of which 538, 983, or 27 percent, are Catholic. Archbishop Leonard P. Blair is the current Archbishop of Hartford.
September 13. 2018
CARDINAL DINARDO ISSUES STATEMENT FOLLOWING MEETING WITH POPE FRANCIS
VATICAN CITY — Following a private audience with Pope Francis this morning in Vatican City, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following statement regarding the recent moral crisis in the American Catholic Church.
“We are grateful to the Holy Father for receiving us in audience. We shared with Pope Francis our situation in the United States -- how the Body of Christ is lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse. He listened very deeply from the heart. It was a lengthy, fruitful, and good exchange.
As we departed the audience, we prayed the Angelus together for God’s mercy and strength as we work to heal the wounds. We look forward to actively continuing our discernment together identifying the most effective next steps.”
September 13, 2018
POPE FRANCIS ACCEPTS BISHOP MICHAEL BRANSFIELD RESIGNATION;
ARCHBISHOP LORI TO CONDUCT INVESTIGATION
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael Bransfield from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia. Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop William E. Lori as Apostolic Administrator of the Wheeling-Charleston. He will remain Archbishop of Baltimore. The Holy Father has additionally instructed Archbishop Lori to conduct an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment of adults against Bishop Bransfield.
The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington, September 13, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop Bransfield was born September 8, 1943, in Philadelphia, PA. He graduated from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in 1971, where he earned a master's in Divinity. He also earned his Master’s in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America.
He was ordained to the priesthood on May 15, 1971 by Cardinal John Krol for service in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Assignments after ordination included: teacher, chaplain, and Chairman of the Religion Department at Lansdale Catholic High School. In 1980, Bishop Bransfield went on to serve as Assistant Director and Director of Liturgy, Director of Finance, and then Rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (1990).
On December 9, 2004, Pope Saint John Paul II appointed Bishop Bransfield the eighth Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia. He was ordained a bishop on February 22, 2005.
Bishop Bransfield served as a member of the Communications Committee, the National Collections Committee, and Treasurer of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is comprised of 24,282 square miles in the state of West Virginia and has a total population of 1,844,128 of which 77,874 or 4 percent, are Catholic.
September 10, 2018
USCCB NAMES NEW ASSOCIATE GENERAL SECRETARY
WASHINGTON — Theresa Ridderhoff has been appointed as Associate General Secretary for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Ms. Ridderhoff is currently Executive Director of the USCCB Office of Human Resources. She has been appointed to the new role upon the retirement of Ms. Linda Hunt, who has served the conference for the past 22 years and as the USCCB’s Associate General Secretary since 2011. Msgr. Brian Bransfield, USCCB General Secretary, made the appointment which will take effect at the end of the calendar year.
Ms. Ridderhoff will function as chief operations officer for the ongoing management of Conference administration. She will also join the USCCB Executive Leadership team in conducting the regular business of the General Secretariat and in collaboration with USCCB staff.
“I express my gratitude to Theresa for accepting this major responsibility in service to the Conference. Theresa brings many years of experience in both the for profit and not for profit worlds. During her time with the Conference, she also collaborated on major projects including in the General Secretariat and has always been an invaluable and dedicated partner in the significant work of the Conference staff,” said Msgr. Bransfield.
After earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Stonehill College, Theresa went on to receive a Master of Arts in Education (in Instructional Technology) and a Certificate in Human Resource Management, both from George Mason University. She holds the Senior Professional in Human Resources certification from the HR Certification Institute and the SHRM-SCP from the Society for Human Resources Management. Before joining the Conference, Theresa served at Sallie Mae most recently as Senior Director of Human Resources. Additionally, she has worked as a human resource consultant and in retail training and management. Theresa joined the Conference in 2011 and has served successfully since then in the important position of Executive Director of the Office of Human Resources. She is a practicing Catholic, married for 18 years, and is the mother of two sons. She regularly volunteers at her parish in Petersville, Maryland, and in local community organizations.
“The successful and effective fulfillment of the mission of the USCCB depends greatly on the high caliber of persons that serve the Church and bishops through their work as Conference staff. I count among them as an esteemed colleague Ms. Linda Hunt, Associate General Secretary, who informed me earlier this year of her intention to retire at the end of this calendar year,” said Msgr. Bransfield. “For more than two decades, Linda has devoted countless hours of dedicated service to the work of the USCCB and for this, we are deeply grateful.”
Ms. Hunt began her tenure with us the USCCB as Associate Director of the Office of Human Resources followed by her subsequent appointment as Director two years later. In 2010, Linda began service in the General Secretariat as Associate General Secretary. Her love of the Church, her leadership in the area of management and operations, and her professional and friendly interaction with us all, will be sorely missed.