Welcome to the Diocese of Lake Charles

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

April 16, 2021
USCCB chairman calls for Easter response to mass shooting at FedEx
WASHINGTON — Following the mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development issued the following statement:
“Tragically, we awoke to learn of another mass shooting today, this time in Indianapolis, that has reportedly left eight dead and several wounded. As we heard at Mass yesterday, ‘The Lord is close to the brokenhearted’ (Ps. 34:19). We again need prayer and concrete acts of charity for the families, and for all victims of violent crime. 
“Again and again, we react in horror to these violent acts, but many cannot agree on how to stop them. The bishops continue to support a number of policy measures to try to reduce homicides and suicides.[1] In this Easter season, when we are reminded that there is always hope, even when we seem to be at a dead end, I would ask our political leaders, and all people of good will, once more to examine this issue and propose prudential solutions. It is good that President Biden and some leaders in Congress are drawing renewed attention to this. For a comprehensive and long-lasting path to peace, it will take bipartisan cooperation. In the spirit of Easter, let us pray for renewed reverence for the gift of life, and faith that by the grace of God, we can always begin again and work towards peace.”   
April 16, 2021
USCCB’s pro-life committee chairman on chemical abortion pill policy change
WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday that they will no longer be enforcing the “in-person dispensing requirement” for the chemical abortion pills during the remainder of the COVID-19 public health emergency. This requirement was put in place by public health officials over 20 years ago, under President Bill Clinton, as a necessary precondition to ensure that pregnant women do not have contraindications that would make the abortion pills even more unsafe and possibly deadly for the woman. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities issued the following statement:
“It is difficult to see the FDA’s decision to not enforce important safety protocols as anything other than callous capitulation to the requests of abortion activists without regard for the health and safety of the women involved. An in-person evaluation by a medical professional is necessary to accurately determine the age of the baby (abortion pills are only approved for use in the first 70 days), whether the pregnancy is ectopic (which the woman has no way of knowing on her own), and to test and treat for Rh-incompatibility between mother and baby. Without this information and proper treatment, a woman’s health, future fertility, and life are placed in serious jeopardy. With this decision, not only are women being sold the lie that abortion will solve their problems, but also that chemical abortion is a safe and easy way to go about it. By pushing women away from medical oversight, abortion advocates are luring women into isolated, unsafe, and medically unwise decisions. The inalienable dignity of women and their unborn children deserves so much more.”

April 15, 2021
#iGiveCatholic online giving platform for pastoral, charitable programs
WASHINGTON — Catholics can now support eight programs administered by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) through the online giving platform #iGiveCatholic Together

The programs being supported provide material aid to people of all faiths and support Catholic ministries in regions where the Church cannot sustain itself. Annual national collections have been the primary source of funding for these vital programs since their inception. People can learn more about each of the eight programs at https://www.usccb.org/committees/national-collections

“These programs help those living on the margins of society and those who are spiritually isolated, said Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Seattle, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on National Collections. “The need is great because gifts to some of these programs plummeted by more than half in 2020 with the COVID pandemic. These programs rely on the modest gifts that make a tremendous impact in the lives of people who are hungry, persecuted, or in spiritual need.” 

“#iGiveCatholic makes it simple to do what our Lord has told us to do: to love God and our neighbors,” Archbishop Etienne said. “Gifts to these USCCB programs are a tangible testimony of the love and mercy of Catholic people across the United States. Together, we are one Church with one mission.” 

#iGiveCatholic is the nonprofit parent organization of #iGiveCatholic on #GivingTuesday, the U.S. Catholic Church’s Giving Day. The newly established #iGiveCatholic Together is a year-round platform to connect the generosity of faithful donors with ministries that impact our communities locally, nationally, and around the world. 

#iGiveCatholic Together expands opportunities to give, supplementing the online and e-giving platforms of dioceses and parishes. “As a gesture of solidarity and support of the U.S. bishops’ efforts, #iGiveCatholic covered the costs associated with the development of program giving pages on the platform,” Archbishop Etienne shared. “The Committee on National Collections is tremendously grateful for this generosity and for #iGiveCatholic’s ongoing support of our efforts to engage Catholics in the outreach efforts of our Church.”

April 14, 2021
New director appointed for National Pontifical Mission Societies
WASHINGTON — Monsignor Kieran E. Harrington of the Diocese of Brooklyn, has been named the new national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies. The appointment was made by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Monsignor Harrington succeeds Father Andrew Small, OMI, who is completing his second five-year term. 

Monsignor Harrington has served as vicar for communications for the Diocese of Brooklyn since being appointed to the role in 2006 by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio. In this role, Monsignor Harrington has been responsible for overseeing the diocesan public information office, government affairs and public policy office, NET, the cable station of the Diocese of Brooklyn, and The Tablet newspaper of the Diocese of Brooklyn. Monsignor Harrington is the rector of the Co-Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Brooklyn and graduated with honors from St. John’s University with a degree in philosophy. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception and a Master of Business Administration from New York University’s Stern School of Business. 

“I am humbled by the trust placed in me to serve the Church in this most important area of missionary evangelization,” said Monsignor Harrington. “I look forward to working with the bishops and dioceses to support the pastoral work of the pontifical missions.” 

Father Small warmly welcomed the news of Monsignor Harrington’s appointment, adding, “Having gotten to know Monsignor Kieran over the last ten years, I am delighted that someone of such ability and passion has been chosen as the next National Director of the Holy Father’s mission societies.” 

The Pontifical Mission Societies are organizations that are under the direction of the Holy Father. Their purpose is the promotion of a universal missionary spirit among all baptized Catholics. There are four societies: the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Holy Childhood Association, the Society of St. Peter Apostle, and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious. These four societies each received the title “pontifical” in 1922 to indicate their status as official instruments of the pope and of the universal Catholic Church. The national director heads the four societies in the United States and oversees the World Missions Sunday Collection, which is taken up on the third Sunday of October each year. For more information, please visit www.onefamilyinmission.org

April 13, 2021
Pope accepts resignation of Bishop of the Diocese of Crookston
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Most Reverend Michael Hoeppner from the Office of Bishop of Crookston and has appointed Most Reverend Richard E. Pates as the Apostolic Administrator sede vacante of the Diocese of Crookston.

The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington, D.C. on April 13, 2021, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

The Diocese of Crookston is comprised of 17,210 square miles in the state of Minnesota and has a total population of 277,689, of which 34,649 are Catholic.

April 7, 2021
Pope Francis accepts resignation of Auxiliary Bishop John O’Hara
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Most Reverend John O’Hara, 75, as Auxiliary Bishop of New York.

The resignation was publicized in Washington on April 7, 2021 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. 

April 7, 2021
Pope Francis names Father Daniel Felton as Bishop of Duluth
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Rev. Daniel J. Felton as Bishop of Duluth. Bishop-elect Felton is a priest of the Diocese of Green Bay and currently serves as a vicar general and moderator of the curia for Green Bay. The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on April 7, 2021 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. The Diocese of Duluth has been a vacant see since December 2019. 

Father Felton was born February 5, 1955 in Portsmouth, Virginia. He attended St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin where he received a Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies and Psychology (1977) and a Master’s degree in Theology at St. John University in Collegeville, Minnesota (1981). He received his Licentiate in Sacred Theology in Dogmatic Theology and a Master’s degree in Social Communications from the Gregorian University in Rome (1990). He was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Green Bay on June 13, 1981. 

Bishop-elect Felton’s assignments after ordination include: associate pastor at Blessed Holy Innocents in Manitowoc (1981-1985); director of affiliate affairs for the Catholic Telecommunications Network of America in New York (1985-1987); correspondent for the Catholic Telecommunications Network of America in Rome (1987-1990); pastor of St. Raphael parish in Oshkosh (1990-2004); pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Manitowoc (2004-2011); and pastor of the combined parishes in Mackville, Greenville, and Freedom, Wisconsin (2011-2014). Since 2014, Father Felton has served as vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Diocese of Green Bay. 

Bishop-elect Felton’s pastoral ministry also includes assignments as a member of the college of consultors, the presbyteral council, the diocesan finance committee, and the personnel board. He has also served as a member of the National Advisory Council for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

The Diocese of Duluth is comprised of 22,354 square miles in the state of Minnesota and has a total population of 448,983 of which 46,763 are Catholic.

April 1, 2021
Joint statement on situation at the U.S.-Mexico Border
WASHINGTON — The bishops along the border of the United States and Northern Mexico have issued a joint statement on the situation at the border of the two countries. Their joint statement follows:
As U.S. and Mexican bishops along the border, we witness daily the dilemma that our migrant sisters and brothers face. For most, the decision to migrate is not motivated by an indifference toward their homeland or the pursuit of economic prosperity; it is a matter of life or death. The situation is all the more difficult for children.
Challenges such as these require humanitarian solutions. Undoubtedly, nations have the right to maintain their borders. This is vital to their sovereignty and self-determination. At the same time, there is a shared responsibility of all nations to preserve human life and provide for safe, orderly, and humane immigration, including the right to asylum.
For that reason, we renew our appeal to our governments, to political leaders, and civil society, that they work together to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate migrants in accordance with their intrinsic dignity, as well as work with other countries in the region to eliminate conditions that compel their citizens to resort to dangerous and irregular migration, producing long-term solutions.  “Unlike disagreement and conflict,” Pope Francis reminds us, “persistent and courageous dialogue does not make headlines, but quietly helps the world to live much better than we imagine.”
Conscious of the importance of public health and safety, we encourage policies supported by sound scientific rationales. We maintain that family unity must be a vital component of any response. We ask that special attention be given to particularly vulnerable populations, such as children. We strongly urge that structures be put in place and reforms in our laws be made to both promote a welcoming culture for our sisters and brothers and respect the sovereignty and safety of our countries.
We pledge our support to continue helping our respective governments’ efforts to protect and care for families, as well as individuals who feel compelled to migrate. To accomplish this we commit   to the ongoing work of Catholic organizations at the border and elsewhere, which are generously tended to by lay people, consecrated persons, and the clergy.
One year ago, on the eve of Easter Sunday, Pope Francis, exclaimed: “How beautiful it is to be Christians who offer consolation, who bear the burdens of others and who offer encouragement: messengers of life in a time of death.” As we once again enter into Holy Week, in which we experience the power of love in Christ’s Death and Resurrection, we feel encouraged to keep going, helping migrants, conscious that while the way ahead is long and arduous, it is not impossible if we journey together.
U.S. Bishops:
Most Reverend Mario E. Dorsonville
Auxiliary Bishop of Washington
Chairman, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration
Most Reverend Mark J. Seitz
Bishop of El Paso
Most Reverend James A. Tamayo
Bishop of Laredo
Most Reverend Edward J. Weisenburge
Bishop of Tucson
Most Reverend Daniel E. Flores
Bishop of Brownsville
Most Reverend Peter Baldacchino
Bishop of Las Cruces
Most Reverend Robert W. McElroy
Bishop of San Diego
Most Reverend Michael J. Sis
Bishop of San Angelo
Most Reverend Gustavo Garcia-Siller, MSpS
Archbishop of San Antonio
Mexican Bishops:
Monsignor José Guadalupe Torres Campos
Bishop of Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua
Encargado de la Dimensión Episcopal de Pastoral de la Movilidad Humana (DEPMH)
Monsignor Jesús José Herrera Quiñones
Bishop of Nuevo Casas Grandes, Chihuahua
Monsignor Alonso Garza Treviño
Bishop of Piedras Negras, Coahuila
Monsignor Enrique Sánchez Martínez
Bishop of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas
Monsignor Eugenio Andrés Lira Rugarcía
Bishop of Matamoros, Tamaulipas
Monsignor Hilario González García
Bishop of Saltillo, Coahuila
March 31, 2021
USCCB Catholic Home Missions Appeal strengthens the Church in the US
WASHINGTON — Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Catholic Home Missions Appeal supported ministry in U.S. dioceses and parishes that, even in the best of times, are challenged to sustain worship and outreach activities without financial help. These “home mission” dioceses rely on annual funding from this collection to help provide basic pastoral services.

This year’s Catholic Home Missions Appeal will be taken up in most parishes on April 25, 2021. Donations may also be made through parish e-offertory platforms, diocesan websites, or by mail. Because many parishioners were unable to attend Mass for most of last year due to COVID-related restrictions there was a significant decline in giving to the 2020 Catholic Home Missions Appeal, which is trending down by more than half.

“Grants may need to be cut by 10-15 percent,” said Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions. “Funded dioceses can hardly absorb such an additional loss of funding. I pray that parishioners will support the appeal when it is taken up in their parish. Your generosity is a tangible expression of unity in the Holy Spirit with our brothers and sisters in home mission dioceses.”

Currently, 87 dioceses and eparchies in the U.S. and its territories receive support through the Catholic Home Missions Appeal. Due to poverty and a small, often scattered Catholic population, they cannot sustain ministries such as evangelization, religious education, seminary formation, or ministry to ethnic communities on their own. Dioceses funded through this appeal account for about 40 percent of all U.S. dioceses, from Alaska to the Mississippi Delta to the Virgin Islands and remote Pacific Islands.

The Syriac Eparchy of Our Lady of Deliverance, home to many Catholic Iraqi refugees who fled anti-Christian persecution and arrived in the U.S. with nothing, could not survive without this collection.

“Your support . . . is more than just generosity, it is a witness of the faith, the Christian faith of the Catholic Church,” said Bishop Yousif Habash of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Deliverance, which encompasses the entire United States. “I have never known any nation more generous than the American nation. With your support we have this wonderful witness that we are one Church, as we are one nation under God. We are one body of Jesus Christ.”

The Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions oversees the Catholic Home Missions Appeal as part of the USCCB’s Committee on National Collections. To learn more about the Catholic Home Missions Appeal, visit www.usccb.org/home-missions.  

March 30, 2021
Annual liturgical celebration of youth and young adults moved to Christ the King
WASHINGTON — In March 2021, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Administrative Committee voted to align its nationwide liturgical celebration of youth and young adults, which was traditionally celebrated on Palm Sunday, with the new universal date, the feast of Christ the King. Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth issued the following statement:

“The Holy Father asked Catholic churches around the world to renew their celebration of youth and young people on Christ the King Sunday, to help connect younger generations with “the Mystery of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of Man” (Homily, Nov. 22, 2020).”

“We welcome this opportunity to join Pope Francis in lifting up youth and young adults, in particular those on the margins who feel disconnected from our faith communities. In his apostolic exhortation, Christus Vivit, Pope Francis told young people, ‘Christ is alive, and he wants you to be alive! He is in you, he is with you, and he never abandons you… he will always be there to restore your strength and your hope.’ This celebration will allow our local churches to once again communicate this important pastoral message to the young on a day focused on Jesus as our Lord and King, the one who invites all generations into his loving embrace.”

This year, the Feast of Christ the King falls on Sunday, November 21, 2021. 

More information will be posted on the Youth and Young Adult Ministries page of the USCCB website at https://www.usccb.org/topics/youth-and-young-adult-ministries.

March 24, 2021
USCCB chairman welcomes repeal of death penalty in Virginia
WASHINGTON — Following passage of legislation to repeal the death penalty in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development issued the following statement: 

“I welcome Virginia’s repeal of the death penalty as a bold step towards a culture of life.  Virginia will become the twenty-third state to abolish the death penalty, and I urge all other states and the federal government to do the same. 

“Congratulations are in order for the Virginia bishops, the Virginia Catholic Conference, the Catholic Mobilizing Network, and all other advocates who worked very hard to achieve this historic result. 

“This Lent, we are called once again to repent and believe in the Gospel. We are reminded that God created and loves every person, and we can respond to this love with reverence for the dignity of every human life, no matter how broken, unformed, disabled, or desperate that life may seem. As we prepare for Easter, let us give thanks for God’s many gifts and continue to build a culture of life.”

March 24, 2021
USCCB chairman mourns loss of life in Colorado mass shooting
WASHINGTON — Following a mass shooting at a supermarket in Boulder, CO, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development issued the following statement:

“As we are still reeling from the loss of life in the mass shootings in Atlanta, it is heartbreaking to hear of yet another mass shooting at a supermarket in Boulder, CO, that reportedly has resulted in the deaths of ten people. We pray for the families and friends of those who were lost and for their communities. We are especially grateful for the efforts of first responders to safeguard the community and treat victims and urge all people of good will to offer concrete support to victims of violence wherever possible.

“The bishops have long promoted prudent measures of gun control to limit mass shootings and other gun homicides and suicides, and we stand by those positions.[1] We must always remember that each of us is a brother or sister in Christ, created in the image and likeness of a loving God. As we approach Holy Week, let us continue to reflect on God’s love and mercy for each one of us and renew the call for conversion of heart.”

March 17, 2021
Web pages launched for celebration of “Year of Amoris Laetitia Family"
WASHINGTON — Marking the fifth anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), Pope Francis has asked the Church to celebrate the family and reflect upon how ministry supports married couples and the family in every level of Church life. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth is coordinating the anniversary celebration in the U.S.

The “Year of Amoris Laetitia Family” is meant to be an opportunity for reflection and appreciation of the Holy Father’s apostolic exhortation. In launching this initiative, the Vatican is upholding the important role that families play, which has been highlighted during the COVID pandemic. The spiritual, pastoral, and cultural content and resources for the initiative are meant to reach families around the world and are meant to be implemented at the local level in parishes and dioceses, as well as in universities, by ecclesial movements, and family associations.

The USCCB has launched new pages on its website to celebrate the Year of Amoris Laetitia Family, which will run from March 19, 2021 to June 26, 2022. The year-long celebration will conclude at the Tenth World Meeting of Families in Rome in June 2022.

The USCCB’s new Amoris Laetitia webpages feature:

  • Links to the Vatican website about the initiative with videos of Pope Francis teaching about the family and frequently asked questions about the apostolic exhortation
  • Catechesis on the Sacrament of Marriage, the Family as Domestic Church, Theology of the Body, and Natural Family Planning
  • Sharing the joy of marital and familial love with youth and young adults
  • Resources for families in many situations of need
  • Monthly reflections by the staff of the USCCB’s Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth on each of Pope Francis’s “Twelve Ways to Walk with Families”
  • Resources for pilgrims who plan to attend the World Meeting of Families in Rome
  • Resources for dioceses preparing simultaneous events to celebrate the World Meeting of Families locally.

More information for the initiative may be found at: https://www.usccb.org/topics/marriage-and-family-life-ministries/year-amoris-laetitia-family.

March 15, 2021
Protections reaffirmed for faith-based foster care, adoption providers
WASHINGTON — Three committee chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) are affirming their strong support for the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2021. The Act would prevent the federal government and any state receiving federal funds for child welfare services from taking adverse action against a provider that declines to conduct its services in a manner that would violate its religious or moral principles.  

“Child welfare providers, who serve the needs and rights of children regardless of background, enjoy the cherished freedom of religious liberty like all Americans,” wrote the bishops in a letter of support to Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), who introduced identical bills in their respective chambers.

Some faith-based child welfare providers, including those operating in Massachusetts, Illinois, California, Philadelphia, New York, and the District of Columbia, have been excluded from carrying out adoption and foster care services because the providers act on their belief that children deserve to be placed with a married mother and father. The chairmen said, “The Inclusion Act would remedy this unjust discrimination, and maximize the benefit to thousands of children in need, by enabling all foster care and adoption providers to serve the needs of parents and children in a manner consistent with the providers’ religious beliefs and moral convictions.”

Stressing that the Inclusion Act also respects the importance of a parent’s choice, the chairmen remarked, “Adoptive and foster care parents, as well as women and men who want to place their children, ought to be able to choose an agency that shares their religious beliefs or convictions about the best interests of their children.”

The letter of support was signed by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty; Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; and Bishop David A. Konderla of Tulsa, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, and is available here.

March 9, 2021
Pastoral message on one-year anniversary of COVID-19 pandemic
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Administrative Committee has issued the following message today on the global COVID-19 pandemic. The USCCB’s Administrative Committee is led by the president of the Conference, and is made up of all the chairmen of the Conference’s committees and a representative from each Episcopal Region of the United States and operates as the board of directors. 

The full text follows:

This month we mark one year since the pandemic dramatically changed life in our country, ushering in immense suffering. Many have endured extraordinary hardships: sickness, death, mourning, a lack of food, unstable housing, loss of work and income, struggles with education, separation, abuse, isolation, depression, and anxiety. We witnessed racial injustices, the diminishment of the poor and the elderly, and painful divisions in our political life. Yet we know, as the Psalms remind us, that we find comfort in God’s promise that gives uslife (Ps 119:50). 

We also saw countless acts of sacrifice by health care workers, first responders, chaplains, those who work in our soup kitchens and homeless shelters, mail carriers, agricultural and grocery store workers, friends and even strangers. Countless acts of kindness were offered by so many people, which served to remind us that we are all in this together. For all these acts of sacrifice, we are very grateful. We are also very grateful to our priests, deacons, religious, teachers, catechists, and lay ecclesial ministers who have ministered to the People of God during these difficult times.  

In the pandemic, God has once more revealed us to ourselves. As Pope Francis reminded us in St. Peter’s square last year, we are not as powerful or as in control as we thought.[1] Rather than being ashamed of this powerlessness, or crushed by the fear of what we cannot control, our interconnectedness and dependence on God has been revealed. As Christians, this is a very familiar lesson: St. Paul reminds us to bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ (Gal 6:2). And that law is the law of love.   

The pandemic has also revived our sense that we are a global community, and that each of us is indeed each other’s keeper. While the growing availability of vaccines is a clear sign of hope that this pandemic, too, will pass, that hope must be given to every human being on the planet by making the vaccines universally available. Richer nations and pharmaceutical companies must work together to ensure that no nation, no person is left behind. 

There is so much to learn from this global suffering. We must build on the kindness and openness that we have witnessed on the local level by creating more social structures that not only heal the fractures and isolation felt by so many during this pandemic but will prevent such divisions from occurring again. As Pope Francis has implored, “Let us dream, then, as a single human family,”[2] to a horizon where we are more caring of one another. Let us keep this sense alive and continue the work of promoting the common good. 

Renewed by this season of Lent, we, the members of the Administrative Committee, place our confidence in the Lord, who suffered, was crucified, and is resurrected. We join our brother bishops in urging everyone to continue to keep God’s love alive in their hearts and in their families and communities. And we look forward to welcoming the Catholic faithful back when we all may safely participate physically in the Eucharistic celebration of the Mass and gather once more in our parishes.  

March 5, 2021
Bishop chairmen join statement on abortion funding in American Rescue Plan 
WASHINGTON — Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has been joined by the chairmen of seven USCCB committees in a statement on abortion funding in the American Rescue Plan.

Joining Archbishop Gomez were Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty; Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the Committee on Justice, Peace and Human Development; Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace; Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, of Oakland, chairman for the Committee on Catholic Education;  Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism; and Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington, chairman of the Committee on Migration. 

The full statement from the bishops follows:

“Our nation needs to heal, come together, and help one another. The American Rescue Plan is an important step in the right direction. It should provide much needed assistance for American families and businesses hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. 

“However, we are deeply concerned that this important legislation, as written, risks creating new divisions by abandoning a longstanding bipartisan compromise that respects the consciences of millions of Americans. 

“For 45 years, the United States Congress – whether controlled by Democrats or Republicans – has maintained that taxpayers should not be forced against their conscience to pay for abortions. Abandoning this compromise in a time of national emergency only serves to divide people in the very moment we should be united. Please, let us instead focus on delivering the COVID relief so desperately needed. 

“We urge President Biden and the leadership on Capitol Hill not to force upon Americans the wrenching moral decision whether to preserve the lives and health of the born or unborn, all of whom are our vulnerable neighbors in need. We ask that our leaders please not pit people against one another in such a way. We ask all Members of Congress to include the same protections against abortion funding that have been present in every COVID relief bill to date, and every annual spending bill for almost half a century.” 

March 2, 2021
USCCB addresses concern over Johnson & Johnson vaccine’s link to abortion
WASHINGTON — On March 2, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Doctrine, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued a statement on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine recently approved for use in the United States.  

“The approval of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in the United States again raises questions about the moral permissibility of using vaccines developed, tested, and/or produced with the help of abortion-derived cell lines.

“Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines raised concerns because an abortion-derived cell line was used for testing them, but not in their production. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, however, was developed, tested and is produced with abortion-derived cell lines raising additional moral concerns. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has judged that ‘when ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines are not available … it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.[1]  However, if one can choose among equally safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, the vaccine with the least connection to abortion-derived cell lines should be chosen. Therefore, if one has the ability to choose a vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccines should be chosen over Johnson & Johnson’s.  

“While we should continue to insist that pharmaceutical companies stop using abortion-derived cell lines, given the world-wide suffering that this pandemic is causing, we affirm again that being vaccinated can be an act of charity that serves the common good.”

March 2, 2021
USCCB chairman expresses solidarity with people in Myanmar
WASHINGTON — In response to the military coup in Myanmar, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace expressed solidarity with the people of Myanmar. 

Bishop Malloy’s statement follows: 

“On February 1, the military in Myanmar took control of the country, arresting many democratic political leaders and activists, including State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint. Since the coup, protesters have gathered peacefully around the country, calling for a return to democracy. Pope Francis has condemned the coup and expressed his solidarity with the people of Burma and called on its leaders to work for the common good. I echo the call by the Holy Father and the bishops of Myanmar on the need for dialogue as a way forward toward peace and reconciliation. 

“On behalf of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, I wrote a solidarity letter to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar and have asked U.S. government officials to carefully consider the insights the local Church can offer towards achieving a just resolution to the current crisis. As protests continue in Myanmar, I call on all Catholics and people of good will to pray for the people and leaders of this land.”

March 2, 2021
Pope Francis appoints new bishop of U.S. Virgin Islands
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Rev. Msgr. Jerome Feudjio as Bishop of Saint Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Bishop-elect Feudjio is a priest of the Diocese of Saint Thomas and currently serves as a vicar general and chancellor of that See, and rector of Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral. The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on March 2, 2021 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Monsignor Feudjio was born September 30, 1955 in Fonakeukeu, Dschang, Cameroon. He graduated from St. Albert Catholic School in Dschang in 1967 and attended St. John College of the Christian Brothers of Quebec in Mbanga, Cameroon (1968-1972) and received a degree in Bookkeeping (1972). He was postulant for the religious order, the Congregation of the Fathers of the Sacred Heart (SCJ) in 1972 and attended Saint Apostles Seminary of the Fathers of the Sacred Heart in Otelé, Cameroon (1972-1975), and the Major Seminary of Nkolbison in Yaoundé, Cameroon (1975-1979). 

In 1980, while he was at the Sacred Heart Novitiate, Monsignor Feudjio travelled to the United States and he met in Washington then-Father Seán O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap. who invited him to stay at San Francisco House, run by the Spanish Catholic Center of the Archdiocese of Washington. He attended Oblate College which was then part of the Washington Theological Consortium, where he completed his studies in Philosophy and Theology for the priesthood. In 1987, he joined the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and made his temporary religious profession. He enrolled in the Administration of Justice Program at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, where he completed his graduate program with an internship at a local transitional house that helped former inmates re-adjust to society. 

Following the appointment of Bishop O’Malley to the Diocese of Saint Thomas (1984-1992), Monsignor Feudjio was invited to work as a campus minister at Saints Peter & Paul School in 1988. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Saint Thomas on September 29, 1990. In 2002, he was named by Pope John Paul II a Chaplain of His Holiness, a recognition that carried the honorary title of Monsignor. In 2004, Monsignor Feudjio returned to Southern Illinois University to pursue graduate studies in Rehabilitation Administration at the request of Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., who was bishop of Saint Thomas from 1999-2007. 

Monsignor Feudjio’s assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar at Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral and Saint Anne Chapel (1990-1997); French and religion teacher (1992-1997) and assistant principal at Saints Peter and Paul School (1995-1997); diocesan finance officer (1996-2004); director of vocations (1996-2020); administrator (1997-2000) and rector (2000-2001) of Saints Peter & Paul Cathedral; vicar for clergy and religious (2001-present). Father Feudjio also served as chancellor for the Diocese of Saint Thomas (2002-2004); pastor of Holy Family Parish (2004-2008). He has been rector of the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral since 2008. 

Bishop-elect Feudjio’s pastoral ministry also includes assignments such as diocesan consultor, member of the Board of Directors for Catholic Charities, member of Diocesan Finance Committee, moderator of the curia, and vicar for communications. 

The Diocese of Saint Thomas is comprised of the islands of Saint Thomas, Saint Croix, Saint John, and Water Island in the U.S. Virgin Islands and has a total population of 110,000 of which 30,000 are Catholic.

February 23, 2021
Bishop chairmen: Equality Act would discriminate against people of faith
WASHINGTON — Five committee chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) wrote a letter to members of Congress opposing the recent reintroduction of the Equality Act (H.R. 5), which is scheduled to be voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives this week. The bishops warned of the threats posed by the proposed legislation to both people of faith and of no faith, with respect to mandates impacting charities and their beneficiaries in need, health care and other conscience rights, taxpayer funding of abortion, freedom of speech, women’s sports and sex-specific facilities, and more. Their letter explained:

“[E]very person is made in the image of God and should be treated accordingly, with respect and compassion. This commitment is reflected in the Church’s charitable service to all people, without regard to race, religion, or any other characteristic. It means we need to honor every person’s right to gainful employment free of unjust discrimination or harassment, and to the basic goods that they need to live and thrive. It also means that people of differing beliefs should be respected.”

Furthermore, the bishop chairmen asserted, “The [Equality Act] represents the imposition by Congress of novel and divisive viewpoints regarding ‘gender’ on individuals and organizations. This includes dismissing sexual difference and falsely presenting ‘gender’ as only a social construct. As Pope Francis has reflected, however, ‘“biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated.” … It is one thing to be understanding of human weakness and the complexities of life, and another to accept ideologies that attempt to sunder what are inseparable aspects of reality.’ Tragically, this Act can also be construed to include an abortion mandate, a violation of precious rights to life and conscience.”

“Rather than affirm human dignity in ways that meaningfully exceed existing practical protections, the Equality Act would discriminate against people of faith,” they concluded.

The letter was jointly signed by Bishop Michael C. Barber, S.J., of Oakland, chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education; Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Cardinal Timothy M. Dolanof New York, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty; Bishop David A. Konderla of Tulsa, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage; and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

The letter is available at https://www.usccb.org/resources/Letter_to_Congress_on_Equality_Act_Feb_23_2021.

Live Stream Coronavirus Updates
DOLC Campaign
Support The Diocese
Event Registration
Grief to Grace
Rachel's Vineyard

Together For Life

Diocesan Policies & Guidelines

DOLC Financial Statements