(USCCB News Archives can be accessed at www.usccb.org/news/)
(For interesting commentary on Catholic issues go to http://usccbmedia.blogspot.com/)
Statement from USCCB president on death of George Floyd and protests
WASHINGTON – Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has issued a statement on George Floyd and the protests in American cities that have taken place over the last several days. This follows the Friday statement from seven U.S. bishop chairmen of committees within the USCCB.
Archbishop Gomez’s full statement follows:
The killing of George Floyd was senseless and brutal, a sin that cries out to heaven for justice. How is it possible that in America, a black man’s life can be taken from him while calls for help are not answered, and his killing is recorded as it happens?
I am praying for George Floyd and his loved ones, and on behalf of my brother bishops, I share the outrage of the black community and those who stand with them in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and across the country. The cruelty and violence he suffered does not reflect on the majority of good men and women in law enforcement, who carry out their duties with honor. We know that. And we trust that civil authorities will investigate his killing carefully and make sure those responsible are held accountable.
We should all understand that the protests we are seeing in our cities reflect the justified frustration and anger of millions of our brothers and sisters who even today experience humiliation, indignity, and unequal opportunity only because of their race or the color of their skin. It should not be this way in America. Racism has been tolerated for far too long in our way of life.
It is true what Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, that riots are the language of the unheard. We should be doing a lot of listening right now. This time, we should not fail to hear what people are saying through their pain. We need to finally root out the racial injustice that still infects too many areas of American society.
But the violence of recent nights is self-destructive and self-defeating. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost. Let us keep our eyes on the prize of true and lasting change.
Legitimate protests should not be exploited by persons who have different values and agendas. Burning and looting communities, ruining the livelihoods of our neighbors, does not advance the cause of racial equality and human dignity.
We should not let it be said that George Floyd died for no reason. We should honor the sacrifice of his life by removing racism and hate from our hearts and renewing our commitment to fulfill our nation’s sacred promise — to be a beloved community of life, liberty, and equality for all.
May 27, 2020
Grants awarded for projects that support Catholic biblical literacy
WASHINGTON — This spring, the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) awarded grants in the amount of $146,168 for eight projects that support the goals of the CCD to promote Catholic biblical literacy and Catholic biblical interpretation.
Bishop Felipe J. Estévez of Saint Augustine and a member of the CCD-CBA Liaison Committee, noted that “We are blessed by those scholars who dedicate the best of their talents to unfold the treasures of the Scriptures for God’s people.”
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.
25th Anniversary of Encyclical on Church's commitment to ecumenism
WASHINGTON – On the anniversary of the encyclical. . . on the Catholic Church’s commitment to ecumenism, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton and chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, has issued the following statement:
“May 25, 2020, marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the promulgation of Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical on the Catholic Church’s commitment to ecumenism, Ut Unum Sint. . . This anniversary should serve as a reminder that the way of ecumenism is the way of the Church (7), and that all Catholics are called to espouse a strong commitment to building Christian unity.
“Pope St. John Paul II, who worked tirelessly to build ecumenical relationships, described the impulse of working for unity between Christians as ‘a duty of Christian conscience enlightened by faith and guided by love’ (8). We rejoice that Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have continued to advance this singular mission between the Catholic Church and other Christian communities. We celebrate numerous theological convergences that have been discovered in ecumenical dialogues over the course of the past twenty-five years as we seek to grow closer together.
“Pope St. John Paul II concluded this encyclical with a profound insight from St. Cyprian’s Commentary on the Lord’s Prayer: ‘God can be appeased only by prayers that make peace. For God, the better offering is peace, brotherly concord, and a people made one by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit’ (102). In a time of pandemic, people seek refuge and unity in their faith community. May this anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II’s call for Christian unity serve as a unique pastoral opportunity to build bridges by continuing to reach out with love to all of our brothers and sisters in Christ. May He heal our wounds of division and help us grow closer in unity, especially in this moment, by witnessing together to the peace of Christ that our world needs so very much.”
Chairman urges care in further consideration of COVID-19 relief legislation
WASHINGTON — Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, released a statement urging lawmakers to remember the needs of the poor and vulnerable as they consider additional relief packages related to the COVID-19 crisis. This follows the statements of Archbishop Coakley on March 12 and March 28 on the previous legislation providing emergency relief to those suffering from the impact of the coronavirus.
‘This is not a time for indifference, because the whole world is suffering and needs to be united in facing the pandemic. May the risen Jesus grant hope to all the poor, to those living on the peripheries, to refugees and the homeless. May these, the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters living in the cities and peripheries of every part of the world, not be abandoned. Let us ensure that they do not lack basic necessities...’
May 19, 2020
Pope Francis merges Archdiocese of Anchorage and Diocese of Juneau
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has merged the Archdiocese of Anchorage and the Diocese of Juneau and has erected the new ecclesiastical circumscription of the Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau. At the same time, he named the current bishop of Juneau and apostolic administrator for Anchorage, Andrew E. Bellisario, CM as the new metropolitan archbishop of Anchorage-Juneau.
The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on May 19, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Archbishop Bellisario was appointed bishop of Juneau in July 2017. He has also been serving as apostolic administrator of Anchorage since June 2019. He is a member of the religious order, the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentian Fathers and Brothers).
The Archdiocese of Anchorage is comprised of 138,985 square miles in the State of Alaska and has a total population of 481,023 of which 24,115 are Catholic. The Diocese of Juneau is comprised of 37,566 square miles in the State of Alaska and has a total population of 75,000 of which 7,249 are Catholic.
Bishop chairmen statement on Native and Indigenous communities
WASHINGTON — Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux and chairman of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City and chairman of USCCB’s Committe on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup and chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on Native American Affairs have released the following statement in solidarity with Native and Indigenous communities who are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
“As Native Communities continue to greatly suffer from the COVID-19 epidemic, the Church is developing ways to draw upon its deep roots in the person of Jesus to foster strength, charity and support to those who are sick and those who have died. We cherish our close connections to Native Communities through our Catholic parishes, missions and schools. We recall once more our profound desire to develop pathways to hope. We are heartbroken over reports that Native and Indigenous communities across this country are suffering at disproportionately high rates from the COVID-19 pandemic and concerned about the lack of sufficient resources to respond to the crisis. We are especially mindful of the Navajo Nation where people are being infected with the coronavirus at some of the highest rates in the country. We hold in prayer our brothers and sisters who are suffering and grieving in these communities, and we stand with them in calling for a robust response to the pandemic in their lands. Click here to read the full statement.
Pope Francis names Father Muhich as Bishop of Rapid City diocese
Pope names Father Louis Tylka as Coadjutor Bishop of Peoria
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Father Louis Tylka, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago as the Coadjutor Bishop of Peoria.
The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on May 11, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC is the current bishop of Peoria, and the appointment as coadjutor bishop confers on Bishop-elect Tylka the right of succession for the Diocese of Peoria.
Bishop-elect Tylka was born on May 26, 1970 in Harvey, Illinois and ordained to the priesthood on May 18, 1996 for the Archdiocese of Chicago. He attended Niles College Seminary of Loyola University Chicago (1989-1992) and received a Bachelor of Arts from Loyola University Chicago (1992). Father Tylka attended Mundelein Seminary, IL (1992-1996) where he received his Bachelor of Sacred Theology (1995) and his Master of Divinity (1996).
Father Tylka’s assignments in the Archdiocese of Chicago after ordination include: Associate Pastor at St. Michael Paris in Orland Park (1996-2003); Associate Pastor at Ss. Faith, Hope & Charity Parish in Winnetka (2003-2004); and Pastor at Mater Christi Parish in North Riverside (2004-2014). Since 2014, Father Tylka has served as President of the Archdiocesan Presbyteral Council and Pastor of St. Julie Billiart Parish in Tinley Park.
The Diocese of Peoria is comprised of 16,933 square miles in the State of Illinois and has a total population of 1,492,335 of which 139,835 are Catholic.
Pope Francis accepts resignation of Auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer as Auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati. The resignation was publicized in Washington, D.C. on May 7, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Little Sisters of the Poor and other Christian ministries
WASHINGTON – The Little Sisters of the Poor again find themselves in court defending their community against attempts to force Catholic religious to violate their conscience. The Supreme Court of the United States hears oral argument today in the case of Little Sisters of the Poor v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Additionally, the Court will hear oral argument on May 11 in the consolidated cases of Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berruand St. James School v. Biel. These cases involve the right of Catholic schools, free of government interference, to choose teachers who will teach and model the Catholic faith.
Bishop George V. Murry, S.J. of Youngstown, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop Michael C. Barber, S.J. of Oakland, chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education, have issued a statement addressing the cases:
“The Little Sisters of the Poor is an international congregation that is committed to building a culture of life. They care for the elderly poor, a ministry we appreciate even more as we endure a pandemic to which the elderly poor are particularly vulnerable. Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. James schools continue the Catholic tradition of offering Christian education. All of these ministries are animated by the Spirit of Christ. They are responses to the call of lay and religious to bear witness to the kingdom of God in the world.
“Religious organizations have a right, recognized by the Constitution, to select people who will perform ministry, and the government has no legitimate authority to second guess those ministerial decisions. Nor may the government force a religious order to violate the religious beliefs that animate its mission. It is dismaying that after the federal government expanded religious exemptions to the HHS contraceptive mandate, Pennsylvania and other states chose to continue this attack on conscience. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will reaffirm the freedom of our Catholic religious orders and schools to practice their faith and to serve others in love.”
The USCCB filed amicus curiae briefs supporting these religious institutions. The briefs can be found here:
May 5, 2020
Bishops condemn racism, xenophobia in context of pandemic
WASHINGTON – In the midst of fear and anxiety being fueled by the COVID-19 virus, there have been increased reports of incidents of racism and xenophobia against Americans of Asian and Pacific Island heritage. Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez of Philadelphia and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Cultural Diversity in the Church, Bishop Oscar A. Solis of Salt Lake City and chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Island Affairs, and Bishop Shelton Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux and chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism have issued a statement expressing their deep concern.
“The pandemic resulting from the new coronavirus continues to sweep across the world, impacting our everyday behavior, practices, perceptions, and the way we interact with one another. While we have been heartened by the countless acts of charity and bravery that have been modeled by many, we are also alarmed to note the increase in reported incidents of bullying and verbal and physical assaults, particularly against Americans of Asian and Pacific Island heritage.
“While a high percentage of Asian Americans work in the health care sector risking their own health to save lives, some have experienced rejection and requests to be treated ‘by someone else.’ Way before state and local ordinances brought to a halt almost every economic sector in the country, communities across the country, from Oakland, California to New York City, reported a sharp decline in the patronage for businesses owned and operated by Asian Americans. These are only a few painful examples of the continuing harassment and racial discrimination suffered by people of Asian and Pacific Islanders and others in our country.
“As Catholic bishops, we find these actions absolutely unacceptable. We call on Catholics, fellow Christians and all people of good will to help stop all racially motivated discriminatory actions and attitudes, for they are attacks against human life and dignity and are contrary to Gospel values. As we wrote in our pastoral letter Open Wide Our Hearts (2018), racism is ‘a failure to acknowledge another person as a brother or sister, created in the image of God.’
“Our hearts go out to all those who have been victims of these vile displays of racism and xenophobia. These dreadful occurrences are a reminder that, in an environment of increased anxiety and fear, racial profiling and discrimination continue to negatively impact the lives of certain populations, adding to the pain and suffering already caused by the pandemic.
“The acts of violence and unjust discrimination evoke and prod a long history of xenophobia and racism in this country. If uncontested, they could lead once again to a normalization of violence and abuse against particular groups. It would be a tragedy for the United States to repeat this history or for any American to act as if it is appropriate to do so.
“Rather, the reality of the times and all the suffering caused by this pandemic call for a stronger resolve towards unity, demonstrated through acts of solidarity, kindness and love toward one another, so that we can emerge from this crisis renewed and stronger as one American people; a people that places value in every human life, regardless of race, ethnic origin, gender or religious affiliation.
“While we continue to pray fervently for an end to the pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus, we call for a firm rejection of racial categorizations or presumptions, racially based verbal assaults or slurs, and for an end to all forms of violence. We ask our elected officials and public institutions, as well as all public figures, to do all that they can to promote and maintain peace in our communities; and we encourage all individuals, families and congregations to assist in promoting a greater appreciation and understanding of the authentic human values and cultural contributions brought by each racial heritage in our country.”
May 4, 2020
Statement urges leaders to examine African American communities by COVID-19
WASHINGTON — Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux and chairman of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City and chairman of USCCB’s Domestic Justice and Human Development, Archbishop Nelson J. Perez of Philadelphia, and chairman of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, and Bishop Joseph N. Perry, auxiliary bishop of Chicago, and chairman of Subcommittee on African American Affairs have release the following statement in response to the impact of the COVID-19 virus in African American communities:
“Our hearts are wounded for the many souls mourned as African American communities across the nation are being disproportionately infected with and dying from the virus that causes COVID-19. We raise our voices to urge state and national leaders to examine the generational and systemic structural conditions that make the new coronavirus especially deadly to African American communities.
“We stand in support of all communities struggling under the weight of the impact this virus has had not only on their physical health, but on their livelihoods, especially front line medical and sanitation workers, public safety officers, and those in the service industry. We are praying fervently for an end to the pandemic, and for physical health for all, and emotional healing amongst all who have lost loved ones.”
Pope Francis accepts resignation of Bishop Conlon in Diocese of Joliet in Ill.
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop R. Daniel Conlon from the Office of Bishop of Joliet in Illinois and has appointed Most Reverend Richard E. Pates as the Apostolic Administrator sede vacante.
The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on May 4, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop Conlon has been on medical leave since December 2019 and Bishop Pates, who retired as Bishop of Des Moines in 2019, has been serving as Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Joliet in Illinois. Read Bishop Pates’ full biography.
The Diocese of Joliet in Illinois is comprised of 4,218 square miles in the State of Illinois and has a total population of 1,950,354 of which 564,709 are Catholic.
Bishops tasked with pastoral care of migrants issue statement
WASHINGTON — “We urge our political leaders and policymakers to consider the realities and emerging, pressing needs of the farmworker communities across the country during this time of the coronavirus outbreak. To defeat the virus, no one must be left out,” said a group of four U.S. bishops tasked with the pastoral care of migrant populations.
Catholic leaders respond to President Trump's halt to immigration
WASHINGTON — Responding to the proclamation signed by President Trump announcing a temporary reviewable immigration halt, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, and Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento and chair of the Board of Directors of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), issued the following response:
“In this moment, our common humanity is apparent more now than ever. The virus is merciless in its preying upon human life; it knows no borders or nationality. Pope Francis teaches us that to live through these times we need to employ and embody the ‘creativity of love.’ The President’s action threatens instead to fuel polarization and animosity. While we welcome efforts to ensure that all Americans are recognized for the dignity of their work, the global crisis caused by COVID-19 demands unity and the creativity of love, not more division and the indifference of a throw-away mentality. There is little evidence that immigrants take away jobs from citizens. Immigrants and citizens together are partners in reviving the nation’s economy. We must always remember that we are all sons and daughters of God joined together as one human family.
“We are extremely concerned about how the proclamation will impact immigrant families looking to reunify, as well as religious workers. The proclamation prevents certain immigrant family members from reuniting with their loved ones living in the United States. Additionally, it bars religious workers seeking to come to the United States as lawful permanent residents from supporting the work of our Church, as well as many other religions, at this time. This will undoubtedly hurt the Catholic Church and other denominations in the United States, diminishing their overall ability to minister to those in need.”
April 23, 2020
Ordination Class of 2020 study provides hope for state of vocations
WASHINGTON – The release of the study of the Ordination Class of 2020 reveals a great sign of life and hope in the Church in the United States, despite the midst of uncertainty in the world brought by the oronavirus pandemic. At a moment when the faithful are prone to despair and struggle with the sadness of not having the sacraments available, and the public celebration of the Mass suspended, this profile of the 2020 Ordination Class is a ray of light. It is a tangible sign of God’s continued care for His Church.
As a part of its mandate, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations sponsors an annual survey, in conjunction with the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), of the members of the current year’s Ordination Class. Each of the men to be ordained in the coming months shows the loving work of God to sustain His Church through the calling of new priests to minister His saving Sacraments and preach the Good News. The survey shows a wide variety of men from varied backgrounds who have all responded to God’s call to serve His people. Below is a summary of the results of the findings of the CARA study.
This year, 77% of the 448 identified members of the Ordination Class of 2020 responded to the survey. Of those responding, 82% will be ordained to the diocesan priesthood and 18% will be ordained to the priesthood for an institute of religious life or society of apostolic life. Some of the major findings of the report are:
- The average age of the Ordination Class of 2020 is 34 years old. On average, the respondents were 16 years old when they first considered the priesthood.
- Two-thirds of the respondents (67%) are Caucasian; one in six (16%) is Hispanic/Latino; one in ten (10%) is Asian/Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian; one in twenty (6%) is African/African American/black.
- The four most common countries of birth among those foreign-born are Mexico, the Philippines, Nigeria, and Colombia.
- Between 35% and 44% of all respondents attended a Catholic school for at least some part of their schooling.
- Seven in ten respondents (72%) participated in Eucharistic Adoration on a regular basis before entering the seminary, a similar proportion (70%) prayed the rosary, more than two in five (44%) attended prayer group/Bible study, and two in five (38%) participated in high school retreats.
- Seven in ten respondents (73%) served as altar servers before entering the seminary. Half (50%) served as lectors. Four in ten (40%) served as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.
- Nine in ten respondents (89%) were encouraged to consider the priesthood by someone in their life, most frequently a parish priest, friend, or another parishioner.
The full CARA report and profiles of the Ordination Class of 2020 can be found at http://cms.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/ordination-class/index.cfm.
April 21, 2020
Pope Francis names Father Marshall as Bishop of Alexandria
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Father Robert W. Marshall, a priest of the Diocese of Memphis as the Bishop of Alexandria.
The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on April 21, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. The Diocese of Alexandria has been a vacant see since March 2019.
Bishop-elect Marshall was born in Memphis, Tennessee on June 17, 1959 and ordained to the priesthood on June 10, 2000 for the Diocese of Memphis. He attended Christian Brothers University in Memphis (1977-1980) where he received a Bachelor of Arts in History. In 1983, he received a Juris Doctorate from the Humphreys School of Law at University of Memphis, and a Master of Divinity from Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans in 2000. Prior to entering seminary, Father Marshall worked as a civil attorney.
Father Marshall’s assignments in the Diocese of Memphis after ordination include: Parochial Vicar at Incarnation Church in Collierville (2000-2002); Pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Humboldt and St. Matthew Parish in Milan (2002-2004); Pastor at Church of the Ascension in Memphis (2004-2012); Pastor at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Cordova (2012-2017); and Parochial Administrator at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Memphis (2017-2019). Since 2019, Bishop-elect Marshall has served as Vicar General for the Diocese of Memphis and Pastor of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
The Diocese of Alexandria is comprised of 11,108 square miles in the State of Louisiana and has a total population of 389,837 of which 35,402 are Catholic.
April 17, 2020
Bishop chairmen urge FDA to develop ethical COVID-19 vaccine
WASHINGTON – Four bishop chairmen of committees for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have urged Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to ensure that vaccines for the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) are developed ethically and are free from any connection to the exploitation of abortion.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas and chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City and chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend and chairman of the Committee on Doctrine; and Bishop John F. Doerfler of Marquette and chairman of the Subcommittee on Healthcare Issues, signed the letter to the FDA Commissioner. They were joined by the leaders of many healthcare, bioethics, and pro-life organizations.
The letter expressed strong support for efforts to develop an effective, safe, and widely available vaccine as quickly as possible, but also strongly urged that the federal government “ensure that fundamental moral principles are followed in the development of such vaccines, most importantly, the principle that human life is sacred and should never be exploited.”
The letter noted that “among the dozens of vaccines currently in development, some are being produced using old cell lines that were created from the cells of aborted babies.” Furthermore, “there is no need to use ethically problematic cell lines to produce a COVID vaccine, or any vaccine, as other cell lines or processes that do not involve cells from abortions are available and are regularly being used,” the signers stated. “It is critically important that Americans have access to a vaccine that is produced ethically: no American should be forced to choose between being vaccinated against this potentially deadly virus and violating his or her conscience.”
To view all of the signatories and to read the full text of the letter, click here.
Pope Francis accepts resignation of Bishop Serratelli of Paterson
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli, 75, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Paterson and has named Father Kevin J. Sweeney, a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn as Bishop-elect of Paterson.
The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on April 15, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop-elect Sweeney was born on January 17, 1970 in Elmhurst, New York and was ordained to the priesthood on June 28, 1997 for the Diocese of Brooklyn. Father Sweeney graduated from St. John’s University, Queens, New York in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts and received a Master of Divinity from Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, New York in 1997.
Father Sweeney's assignments in the Diocese of Brooklyn after ordination include: Parochial Vicar at St. Nicholas of Tolentine Parish in Jamaica (1997-2003); Coordinator of the Irish Apostolate (1999-2001); Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Sorrows, Corona (2003-2004); Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Brooklyn (2004-2010); Chaplain at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, Brooklyn (2005); Administrator at St. Michael Parish, Brooklyn (2010-2012); Spiritual Director at Jovenes de Valor (2010-2013). His service includes membership on the Seminary Admissions Board (2010-present); Presbyteral Council (2011-2016); Dean of the Brooklyn 8 Deanery (2013-present); Vocations Representative (2014-present); and the Priest Personnel Assignment Board (2017-present). Bishop-elect Sweeney, who speaks both English and Spanish, is currently Pastor of St. Michael Church in Brooklyn where he has served since March 2012.
The Diocese of Paterson is comprised of 1,214 square miles in the State of New Jersey and has a total population of 1,153,982 of which 430,000 are Catholic.
April 13, 2020
Call for prayers, hope, assistance following deadly storms in South
WASHINGTON — Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, have issued the following statement after severe weather killed at least 19 people in the South late Sunday into early Monday morning. In their statement, Archbishops Gomez and Coakley call for prayer and assistance for all those who were in the path of the storm, as well as hope in the good news of Easter.
Full statement from Archbishops Gomez and Coakley follows:
“This Easter Monday began with the sad news that storms swept through multiple states in the South overnight, killing at least 19 people at the time of this statement across Mississippi, Georgia, Arkansas, and South Carolina. The weather also inflicted significant damage in Texas, Louisiana, and West Virginia. Many people have suffered damage or loss of their homes.
“In the midst of these tragedies, we must reach out and offer assistance to those affected, especially those who are grieving the loss of loved ones. This situation is made even more difficult by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. We pray for those who are suffering, for those who have died, and for the first responders who are courageously offering help. We also pray for those who remain in the path of these storms and for their safety and well-being.
“In the Gospel this morning, we hear the Lord after his resurrection tell Mary Magdalene and the other women, ‘Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.’ (Mt. 28:10). The letter to the Hebrews describes the hope we have in God’s promise as ‘an anchor of the soul, sure and firm.’ (cf. Heb. 6:19). In the midst of disasters from weather and illness, we cling to this hope, that God can redeem our suffering and loss, that God is present to us even now, and that the Lord has conquered death for all time, inviting us to see him face to face in eternal life.”
President of USCCB deilivers Easter message
WASHINGTON – Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following Easter message.
Archbishop Gomez’s full statement follows:
My dear brothers and sisters:
Christ is risen!
This is the joy of Easter. And what a gift it is to hear these words in this time of the coronavirus.
Jesus asked us to carry our cross with him during this long Lent. This has been a time when we confront the reality that our life is fragile. This has been a time for us to reflect on what really matters, and what makes life truly worth living.
As we stand in the joyful light of Easter, we know that our world is still darkened by loss and despair.
Jesus rises to tell us that his love is stronger than death!
He has passed through the valley of the shadow of death. And there is no evil that we should fear. He will wipe away every tear from our eyes.
Christ is risen and we will rise with him! This is the promise of Easter. And God does not withdraw his promise, even when Easter comes during a pandemic.
So, let us stay close to Jesus.
And let us stay close to Mary our Blessed Mother. May she help us to always carry our cross with her Son, that we may be raised up with him and share in his Resurrection.
May you and your families have a blessed Easter season.
The video of Archbishop Gomez’s Easter message is also available: https://youtu.be/q13CLfJKPeg.
U.S. Bishops cancel June Assembly in Detroit
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) were scheduled to gather for their Spring General Assembly in Detroit, June 10-12. Given the current situation with the Coronavirus that has been classified by the World Health Organization as a pandemic, the Administrative Committee of the USCCB voted earlier this week to cancel the June assembly.
In announcing the decision, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the USCCB said, “The Administrative Committee made this very difficult decision with consideration of multiple factors, but most importantly the health, well-being and safety of the hundreds of bishops, staff, observers, guests, affiliates, volunteers, contractors and media involved with the general meetings. Additionally, even if the numerous temporary restrictions on public gatherings resulting from conditions associated with COVID-19 are lessened by June, the priority for the physical and pastoral presence of the bishop in his See will be acute to tend to the faithful.”
This marks the first cancellation of a plenary assembly in the Conference’s history. The bylaws of the Conference state that a plenary assembly is to be convened at least once a year. As such, the November general assembly meeting in Baltimore (scheduled for November 16-19) would fulfill this requirement.
April 3, 2020
Pope accepts resignation of Bishop Braxton of Belleville
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Edward K. Braxton, 75, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Belleville and has named Father Michael G. McGovern, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago as Bishop-elect of Belleville.
The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on April 3, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop-elect McGovern was born on August 1, 1964 and ordained to the priesthood on May 21, 1994 for the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Father McGovern graduated from Loyola University, Chicago, in 1990, and holds a Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology from the University of St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, Mundelein, Illinois. His assignments in the Archdiocese of Chicago after ordination include: Associate Pastor of Queen of the University Parish (1995-1998) and St. Mary Parish (1998-1999); Associate Chancellor (1998-1999); Vice Chancellor (1999-2000); and Archbishop’s Delegate for Extern and International Priests (2000-2002). Father McGovern has also served as Associate Pastor of St. Juliana Parish (2003-2004), Pastor of St. Mary Parish (2004-2016) and as Dean of one of the deaneries of the archdiocese since 2007. He is currently Pastor of St. Raphael the Archangel Parish where he has served since 2016.
The Diocese of Belleville is comprised of 11,678 square miles in the State of Illinois and has a total population of 841,814 of which 90,968 are Catholic.
USCCB president releases message for Holy Week 2020
WASHINGTON – Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following statement for Holy Week.
Archbishop Gomez’s full statement follows:
“Future generations will look back on this as the long Lent of 2020, a time when disease and death suddenly darkened the whole earth. As we enter into Holy Week, these most sacred days of the year, Catholics across the United States and the world are living under quarantine, our societies shut down by the coronavirus pandemic.
“But we know that our Redeemer lives. Even in this extraordinary and challenging moment, we give thanks for what Jesus Christ has done for us by his life, death, and resurrection. Even now, we marvel at the beautiful mystery of our salvation, how precious each one of us is in the eyes of God.
“These are times almost without precedent in the long history of the Church. In the face of this worldwide contagion, bishops here and in almost every country have been forced to temporarily suspend public worship and celebration of the sacraments.
“My brother bishops and I are painfully aware that many of our Catholic people are troubled and hurt by the loss of the Eucharist and the consolation of the sacraments. This is a bitter affliction that we all feel deeply. We ache with our people and we long for the day when we can be reunited around the altar of the Lord to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
“In this difficult moment, we ask God for his grace, that we might bear this burden together with patience and charity, united as one family of God in his universal Church.
“On Good Friday, on behalf of the bishops in the United States, I will pray the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus for an end to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I ask you to join me in this prayer,. . . which will be livestreamed over the internet at 9 a.m. on the West Coast and 12 noon on the East Coast. Let us join as one family of God here in the United States in asking our Lord for his mercy.
“The Holy Father has granted a special plenary indulgence to those who pray for an end to this pandemic. To receive this indulgence, you need to pray the Litany of the Sacred Heart on Good Friday, be truly sorry for your sins and desire to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation as soon as it is possible, and you need to pray for the intentions of the Pope.
“In the heart of Jesus, pierced as he hung on the cross on Good Friday, we see the love of God for humanity, his love for each one of us.
“This Holy Week will be different. Our churches may be closed, but Christ is not quarantined and his Gospel is not in chains. Our Lord’s heart remains open to every man and woman. Even though we cannot worship together, each of us can seek him in the tabernacles of our own hearts.
“Because he loves us, and because his love can never change, we should not be afraid, even in this time of trial and testing. In these mysteries that we remember this week, let us renew our faith in his love. And let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary to intercede for us, that he might deliver us from every evil and grant us peace in our day.”
USCCB calls for National Moment of Prayer on Good Friday
WASHINGTON – Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has invited the faithful to join him in a moment of prayer at 11 a.m. CDT Good Friday, April 10, to pray the Litany of the Sacred Heart. ... Praying together as a nation, the archbishop asks that we seek healing for all who are unwell, wisdom for those whose work is halting the spread of coronavirus, and strength for all God’s children.
Good Friday is a day when Christians around the world solemnly commemorate the day when Jesus suffered and died on the cross. Catholics traditionally mark the day with fasting, penance, and reflection on Jesus’ loving sacrifice. This opportunity to pray together during the coronavirus pandemic offers a special moment of unity for the faithful during a time when communities throughout the United States and worldwide are physically unable to congregate for Holy Week and Easter because of COVID-19.
Additionally, with special permission received from the Apostolic Penitentiary of the Holy See, a plenary indulgence is available for those who join Archbishop Gomez in praying the Litany of the Sacred Heart on Good Friday.
A livestream of the Litany of the Sacred Heart with Archbishop Gomez will be available on the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ website: www.lacatholics.org and on the USCCB Facebook page: www.facebook.com/usccb.
USCCB statement on Pope Francis' Urbi et Orbi message
WASHINGTON – Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following statement on the Holy Father’s Urbi et Orbi message today.
Archbishop Gomez’s full statement follows:
“Along with my brother bishops of the United States, I am grateful for Pope Francis’ Urbi et Orbi message today. We join with him in asking God to bless the world and to deliver us from the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think we all understand that we took part today in something historic, as the whole world was gathered together through communications media by the successor of St. Peter, united in one prayer before the living presence of Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist.
“In his message, the Holy Father reminds us that this time of the coronavirus is a call to courage, a call to faith. And as he says, faith does not mean simply agreeing with a set of ideas. Faith means making a decision to entrust our lives to Jesus Christ and to follow his path, to embrace his cross.
“The Holy Father tells us today that this pandemic is a time for conversion, a time for us to make choices about what truly matters in our lives, a time for us to change the priorities of our societies. It is a time to turn to God and to recognize that no matter how advanced our civilization and technology, we cannot save ourselves. We need God.
“In this moment saints are being made, the Holy Father tells us, pointing to the quiet heroism of ordinary people carrying out their daily duties in extraordinary times, serving one another with kindness and patience. ‘How many people pray, offer and intercede for the good of all,’ our Holy Father observes. ‘Prayer and silent service: these are our winning weapons.’
“So, let us continue to unite with Pope Francis in asking the Lord, through the intercession of Mary our Blessed Mother, to bless our world and to give us the courage to love and serve our brothers and sisters in this time of trial.”
Pope Francis accepts resignation of Birmingham diocese bishop
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Robert J. Baker, 75, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Birmingham and has named Bishop Steven J. Raica of Gaylord to succeed him.
The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on March 25, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop Raica was born on November 8, 1952 and ordained to the priesthood on October 14, 1978. He was named Bishop of Gaylord in 2014.
The Diocese of Birmingham is comprised of 28,091 square miles in the State of Alabama and has a total population of 3,073,473 of which 104,837 are Catholic.
25th Anniversary of The Gospel of Life
WASHINGTON — Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities has issued the following announcement on the 25th anniversary of The Gospel of Life (Evangelium vitae).
Archbishop Naumann’s full statement follows:
As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord on March 25, we also mark the 25th anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II’s prophetic encyclical, The Gospel of Life (Evangelium vitae). Here, this saint provides a clear challenge to us: “With great openness and courage, we need to question how widespread is the culture of life today among individual Christians, families, groups and communities in our Dioceses. With equal clarity and determination we must identify the steps we are called to take in order to serve life in all its truth” (EV 95).
With this, Pope St. John Paul II invites each of us to ask ourselves how we are assisting women in need who are pregnant or have young children. He challenges us to open our hearts even wider, and to improve our responses where needed, especially at the local level—in short, to truly accompany each pregnant or parenting woman in need.
This past November, the bishops enthusiastically embraced an initiative entitled Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Service to celebrate the anniversary by assessing and expanding our help to mothers in need. I am very excited to see dioceses and parishes across the country making plans to join in the Year of Service in their own unique ways. It is capturing the imagination of our people.
As Pope Francis reminds us, our parishes are called to be “islands of mercy in the midst of a sea of indifference.” Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Servicecommences on March 25, 2020. Parish resources for the Year of Service are being posted at www.walkingwithmoms.com.
Many areas of the country have had to temporarily suspend gatherings and Masses due to the coronavirus concern. In light of current events, dioceses and parishes are encouraged to adjust their schedules for the Year of Service according to what is pastorally and practically appropriate for everyone’s safety. In the meantime, we can still pray, wherever we are on March 25, that this Year of Service will help us increase our outreach, so that every pregnant and parenting mother in need may know she can turn to her local Catholic community for help and authentic friendship.
USCCB Statements on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
WASHINGTON — On March 13, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued a reflection and prayer on Coronavirus (COVID-19). His statement is part of the USCCB’s ongoing engagement on the issue over the last several weeks.
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued a statement encouraging lawmakers to consider measures providing relief and aid to those suffering from COVID-19, those affected by workplace closures and other disruptions, and prayers for those suffering from the virus and for healthcare providers.
In response to news of progression of COVID-19 outbreaks in other parts of the world, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued a statement with Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Health Association of the United States that addressed the Catholic response to the outbreak.
The faithful are encouraged to consult their local (arch)diocese or (arch)eparchy as to local directives on the celebration of the sacraments. The USCCB’s Committee on Divine Worship has shared helpful considerations with the U.S. bishops regarding their role in regulating liturgical celebrations as they make decisions for their respective dioceses in the wake of growing public health concerns.
February 18, 2020
Catholic Response to Outbreak of Coronavirus
WASHINGTON — Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace; Sean Callahan, president of Catholic Relief Services; and Sr. Mary Haddad, RSM, president of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, issued a statement addressing the Catholic response to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Their joint statement follows:
“As communities and public health officials respond to the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in China and closely monitor its presence and progression in other parts of the world, we join in solidarity and prayer for those impacted or working to treat those infected by the disease. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Relief Services, and the Catholic Health Association of the United States hope that governments will work together in partnership to improve all nations’ capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to this virus.
“The Catholic Church in the United States stands in solidarity with those affected by the coronavirus and their families, health workers who are valiantly trying to diagnose and treat patients, and those under quarantine awaiting results of their screening for the virus. We offer our prayers for healing and support those organizations, both domestic and international, working to provide medical supplies and assistance to address this serious risk to public health.
“In early February, the Holy See sent 700,000 respiratory masks to China to help prevent the spread of the disease. Within the United States, Catholic healthcare providers are at the front line of providing treatment and care to those impacted by the virus.
“We also commend the U.S. government for transporting more than 17 tons of donated medical supplies to China. This response to the novel coronavirus demonstrates the critical importance of the need to work together and to invest in crucial health care systems here and in other countries, thus preventing and responding to community-wide emergencies. We urge the U.S. Congress to support these efforts by protecting access to domestic health care safety net programs and by providing additional emergency international assistance to areas impacted by the virus.
“We also urge individuals to stay informed as information becomes available by going to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
USCCB videos promote prayer and action in political life
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has released videos to inspire prayer and action in political life and to help Catholics apply the Church’s teaching as handed down by Pope Francis. The scripts for the videos were approved by the full body of bishops at their November General Assembly in Baltimore. The videos complement Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the bishops’ teaching document for the faithful on the political responsibility of Catholics, and they seek to help the faithful participate in public life, prioritize faith over partisan politics, engage with civility, and respond to pressing issues of our day. Each video ends with a prayer.
The videos, which are available on the USCCB’s YouTube channel in four languages (English, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese), are titled:
• Catholics Participate in Public Life
• Catholics Protect Human Life and Dignity
• Catholics Promote the Common Good
• Catholics Love their Neighbors
• Faithful Citizens Work with Christ as He Builds His Kingdom (a compilation of the four videos)
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the USCCB, served as chairman of the working group on Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. He emphasized the importance of these videos in advance of a heightened political season saying,
“The bishops of the U.S. invite all Catholics to bring their faith into the public square. Political engagement and participation are important ways that together, we can work to protect the unborn, welcome immigrants, bring justice to victims of racism and religious intolerance, support families, accompany those experiencing poverty, and advocate on behalf of all who are vulnerable. As we enter an election year, these Faithful Citizenshipvideos are meant to help the faithful reflect on this call, and we hope they will be widely shared.”
In addition to several young adult voices, the videos also feature several bishops. The English language videos feature: Archbishop José H. Gomez, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, and Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles. The Spanish language videos feature: Archbishop José H. Gomez, Archbishop-designate Nelson J. Perez of Philadelphia, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, and Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville. The videos in Tagalog feature Bishop Oscar A. Solis of Salt Lake City, and the videos produced in Vietnamese feature Auxiliary Bishop Thanh Thai Nguyen of Orange.
Additional supplemental resources are available at www.faithfulcitizenship.org