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

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USCCB PRESIDENT AND BISHOP CHAIRMEN URGE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY TO DEFER DEPORTATION OF REFUGEES WHO HAVE ESCAPED RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION 
 
WASHINGTON — The President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston as well as the Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, have sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, John F. Kelly, urging him to defer deportation of those persons to Iraq, particularly Christians and Chaldean Catholics, who pose no threat to U.S. public safety.

The letter has been sent to specifically address the pending deportation of dozens of Christian and Chaldean Catholics in Michigan and Tennessee.
 
While the bishops recognize that some of the individuals may have orders of deportation because they have committed criminal offenses in the past, they are gravely concerned that they would then be sent back to a country where religious persecution and persecution against ethnic minorities remains an ongoing threat. The letter states that “the fact that they have a significant risk in experiencing persecution, and even possible bodily harm because of their faith is, from our moral perspective, an important factor to be weighted in the calculation to deport.” 
 
The full letter to Secretary Kelly can be found here:  https://justiceforimmigrants.org/uncategorized/1287/
June 20, 2017
USCCB PRESIDENT AND CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEE ON ECUMENICAL AND INTERRELIGIOUS AFFAIRS RESPOND TO TERROR ATTACK AT MOSQUE IN LONDON  
 
WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, Bishop of Springfield, Massachusetts and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs have issued a joint statement in response to Sunday’s attack on worshipers outside a mosque in London. 
 
The attack occurred after a van plowed into a crowd existing a mosque after Ramadan prayers near Finsbury Park located in north London.
 
The full joint statement follows:
 
“We would like to express our deepest condolences to the people of London who once again woke to the news of a terrorist attack.  Our prayers extend especially to the community of Muslims from Finsbury Park Mosque in North London whom it appears were the intended victims of the attacker.
 
Once again, in this now sad reality of regular acts of terror that are meant to destroy life and to crush hope, we remember that light has overcome darkness once and for all. Let us be united in hope and with one voice reject utterly all forms of terror and violence that seek to dissuade us from the pursuit of a culture of life and solidarity.
 
The Bishops of the United States unequivocally reject such acts of violence and plead with all people to cease from committing or plotting to commit further acts. 
 
In this dark hour for the people of London, especially the Muslim community, please know that we stand in solidarity with you, mourning for the loss of life and praying for the victims, their families, and the entire nation.”

June 19, 2017
U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS CHAIRMAN OF INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE AND PEACE STATEMENT ON CUBA POLICY CHANGES
 
WASHINGTON — President Donald J. Trump recently announced modifications to existing U.S. policy towards Cuba that will impact travel by U.S. citizens to the island, as well as U.S. commercial relations with Cuban government-controlled entities.

In the following statement, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, expressed regret at the scaling-back of U.S. engagement with Cuba, while also appreciating the President´s concern for the human rights situation on the island.
 
Full statement follows:
 
On the eve of my pastoral visit to Cuba at the invitation of the Cuban bishops, I was saddened to learn that President Trump scaled-back our country’s bilateral engagement with the island nation.  The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in solidarity with the bishops of Cuba and the Holy See, has long held that human rights and religious freedom will be strengthened through more engagement between the Cuban and American people, not less. For decades, we have called for the U.S. travel ban and embargo against Cuba to be lifted.
 
In my capacity as international chairman, I urge that as the implementing regulations are drafted the President consider the ramifications for many ordinary Cubans who have taken advantage of new opportunities to support their families. The President is correct; serious human rights concerns persist.  The Cuban government must be urged to respect religious freedoms and to extend greater social, political and economic rights to all Cubans.  The fruits of investment in Cuba should benefit individuals and families, and not the security forces.
 
Pope Francis helped our nations to come together in dialogue. It is important to continue to promote dialogue and encounter between our neighboring nations and peoples.”
 
For more information about the Committee on International Justice and Peace regarding Cuba, please visit the following page on the USCCB website: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/latin-america-caribbean/cuba/

June 15, 2017
USCCB PRESIDENT EXTENDS BISHOPS’ WORKING GROUP ON IMMIGRATION

INDIANAPOLIS — Recognizing the continued urgency for comprehensive immigration reform, a humane refugee policy and a safe border, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has extended the bishops Working Group on Immigration.

Cardinal DiNardo made the announcement on the second day of the 2017 Spring General Assembly in Indianapolis.

The working group is chaired by Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles. Other members of the working group include the chairmen of the following USCCB committees: Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the Committee on Migration; Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Social Development; Auxiliary Bishop Nelson J. Pérez of Rockville Centre, New York, chairman of the Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs; Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Washington, chairman of the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants; and Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace.
Activities carried out by member-chairmen of the working group included statements responding to executive orders on interior enforcement, sanctuary cities, and refugee resettlement; and on legislation including the BRIDGE Act, which would provide temporary relief from deportation to youth previously protected through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The group also facilitates diocesan resources such as policy reports, prayers, educational materials, action alerts and pastoral accompaniment, and has held frequent communications among the members to discuss concerns and priorities. They also share episcopal guidance with outside partners such as Catholic Relief Services; Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.; Center for Migration Studies; and Catholic Charities USA.

Archbishop Gomez and Bishop Vásquez presented an oral report to the full body of bishops on the activities of the working group on June 14.

June 15, 2017
USCCB’S INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE AND PEACE CHAIR URGES SOLIDARITY WITH THOSE SUFFERING RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION IN ASIA, MIDDLE EAST
 
INDIANAPOLIS — “Persecution has a face,” said Bishop Oscar Cantú, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, as he presented an oral report to the full body of bishops on the situation of religious discrimination and persecution in Asia and the Middle East.

The oral report is based on his participation last year at the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference Plenary Assembly in Sri Lanka, where he represented the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).  During the year, Bishop Cantu also took part in other solidarity visits to India, Iraq and the Holy Land, where he met with bishops, refugees and persecuted people.
 
“Tragically, religious persecution and harassment is not limited to one or two regions in our world,” said Bishop Cantú. Citing statistics from the Pew Research Center, Cantu noted that “Christians are harassed in the largest number of countries, 128, followed closely by Muslims in 125 countries. This is partly due to the fact that Christians and Muslims are the largest religious groups in the world.”
 
Harassment consists of both social hostilities and government restrictions. It can include physical assaults, arrests and detentions, desecration of holy sites, and discrimination in housing, employment and educational opportunities.  In Asia, Bishop Cantú learned about concerns in countries like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Malaysia.
 
“At times, it rises to persecution and genocide,” Bishop Cantú said. Regarding the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, particularly in Syria and Iraq, he called it “a crisis within a crisis” and argued that “to focus attention on the plight of Christians is not to ignore the suffering of others.” A focus on Christians and other minorities strengthens “the entire fabric of society to protect the rights of all” and is “inclusive” of a concern for “both minorities and majorities, both Christians and Muslims.”
 
Bishop Cantú highlighted the efforts of the local Church in Iraq to reach out to all in need in partnership with Caritas Iraq and Catholic Relief Services (CRS). He also pointed to the importance for the U.S. Church in following the lead of the local Churches enduring persecution in expressing solidarity, particularly in Syria and Iraq. 
 
Even in the midst of persecution there are moments of joy.  He contrasted the image of “a tent camp for Christians” covering “the Church grounds across the street from our hotel” in Erbil with attending “the ordination of three deacons in Erbil” where “the Cathedral erupted [in joy] when a displaced man from Mosul was ordained.”
 
In his report, Bishop Cantú also highlighted the following recommendations for the U.S. government that include:
    •    Providing assistance to refugees and displaced persons, including through faith-based organizations like CRS:
    •    Assisting in the resettlement of refugees, including victims of genocidal actions and other vulnerable families. 
    •    Encouraging central and regional governments in Iraq and Syria to strengthen the rule of law based on citizenship, to insure the protection of vulnerable minorities, and to improve policing, judiciary and local governance with the help of U.S. assistance.
 
He also invited the Church and Catholics in the United States, who wish to help, to:  
 
    •    Pray for those suffering from persecution.
    •    Become aware of the Christian presence in the Middle East and of an accurate understanding of Islam with openness to dialogue with Muslim neighbors. Resources are available at: www.usccb.org/middle-east-christians.
    •    Donate to non-profit Catholic organizations such as CRS, Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), Aid to the Church in Need and the Knights of Columbus.
    •    Advocate with the U.S. government for assistance and the dignity of refugees.
 
Bishop Cantú also shared with the bishops the research study In Response to Persecution, conducted by the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture, the Religious Freedom Institute, and Georgetown University’s Religious Freedom Research Project.  The study is available at: http://ucs.nd.edu/assets/233538/ucs_report_2017_web.pdf.

June 15, 2017
BISHOPS VOTE ON PERMANENT COMMITTEE FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY, REVISED GUIDELINES FOR CELEBRATION OF SACRAMENTS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
 
INDIANAPOLIS — The U.S. bishops voted on and approved a number of items including, establishing a permanent Committee for Religious Liberty and the revised Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities, during their Spring General Assembly in Indianapolis, June 14.

The bishops voted to approve establishing a permanent Committee for Religious Liberty. The proposal received a vote of 132 votes in favor, 53 votes against and 5 abstaining. The USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty seeks to strengthen and sustain religious freedom by assisting the U.S. bishops, individually and collectively, to teach about religious freedom to the faithful and the broader public, and to promote and defend religious freedom in law and policy.
 
The revised Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities were approved by a 180-1-0 vote. The document is a revision of an earlier version, last updated in 1995. These new Guidelines take into account medical and technological innovations of recent years, and emphasize the importance of the inclusion of all members of parishes. While not legislative in nature, they will be a helpful resource for dioceses and parishes. This vote required support of the majority of the Latin Church members of the USCCB.
 
The bishops also voted 178-3-0 in favor of a new translation of the Order of Blessing the Oil of Catechumens and of the Sick and of Consecrating the Chrism. This brief ritual is used each year at the Chrism Mass, which is celebrated during Holy Week in most dioceses. This vote also requires a two-thirds vote of the Latin Church members of the USCCB with subsequent confirmation by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
 
The Bendicional: Sexta Parte, a collection of blessings in Spanish for use in the United States, which will complement English texts already included in the Book of Blessings. The proposal received 171 votes in favor, 2 votes against and 2 abstaining, falling short of the required two-thirds vote of the Latin Church members of the USCCB. Therefore, the voting will be completed by mail ballot with the Latin Rite bishops who are not present. After passing, it also requires subsequent recognitio by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
 
The U.S. bishops’ Spring General Assembly is livestreamed and available at: www.usccb.org/about/leadership/usccb-general-assembly/index.cfm.

June 14, 2017
USCCB WORKING GROUP ON IMMIGRATION PRESENTS UPDATE DURING BISHOPS’ ASSEMBLY

INDIANAPOLIS — The chairmen of the U.S. Bishops’ Working Group on Immigration, and the Committee on Migration, presented an oral report to the full body of bishops on the work done to advance collaboration in developing spiritual, pastoral and policy advocacy support for refugees and immigrants. The presentation took place at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Spring General Assembly in Indianapolis, June 14.

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, respectively, spoke about the origins, activities and continued collaboration of the working group, which was established following the November 2016 General Assembly.

“There was a desire to express solidarity with and pastoral concern for those at risk, but also a desire to avoid encouraging exaggerated fears,” Archbishop Gomez said.

Other group members include: Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Social Development; Auxiliary Bishop Nelson J. Perez of Rockville Centre, New York, chairman of the Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs; Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Washington, chairman of the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants; and Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace.

Activities carried out by member-chairmen of the working group included statements responding to executive orders on interior enforcement, sanctuary cities, and refugee resettlement; and on pieces of legislation including the BRIDGE Act, which would provide temporary relief from deportation to youth previously protected through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The group has also facilitated diocesan resources such as policy reports, prayers, educational materials, action alerts and pastoral accompaniment, and has held frequent communications among the members to discuss concerns and priorities. They have also shared episcopal guidance with outside partners such as Catholic Relief Services; Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.; Center for Migration Studies; and Catholic Charities USA.

Although this oral report concludes the formal work of the Working Group on Immigration, the coalition of USCCB committees will continue collaborating as needed under the leadership of the Committee on Migration.

“In short, it is to convey a comprehensive vision for immigration reform, to paint a fuller picture of what justice means, and what mercy means, with respect to migrants and refugees in our country today,” said Bishop Vásquez. “Our purpose will be to move beyond simple reaction to the various negative proposals we have seen lately—and expect to see for some time to come, albeit at a slower pace—and to proactively raise and advance the issues that we would prioritize.”

Bishop Vasquez also highlighted the importance to seek initiatives based on the five principles of the 2003 pastoral letter Strangers No Longer, which states:

    •    People have the right to find opportunities in their homeland
    •    People have the right to migrate to support themselves and their families
    •    Sovereign nations have the right to control their borders
    •    Refugees and asylum seekers should be afforded protection
    •    The human dignity and human rights of undocumented migrants should be respected

More information on the work of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, recent statements and other resources are available at: www.justiceforimmigrants.org.

The U.S. bishops’ Spring General Assembly is livestreamed and available at: www.usccb.org/about/leadership/usccb-general-assembly/index.cfm.

June 14, 2017
PRESIDENT OF U.S. BISHOPS CONFERENCE APPOINTS FOUR NEW MEMBERS OF NATIONAL REVIEW BOARD FOR THE CHARTER FOR PROTECTION OF CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE

INDIANAPOLIS — Four new members have been appointed to serve on the National Review Board (NRB) by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).  The NRB advises the bishops’ committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, and the Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection at the USCCB.  The NRB was established by the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People, which the bishops adopted in 2002.

As Cardinal DiNardo said in a letter sent to all newly appointed members, “The National Review Board plays a vital role as a consultative body assisting me and the bishops in ensuring the complete implementation and accountability of the Charter… The whole Church, especially the laity, at both the diocesan and national levels, needs to be engaged in maintaining safe environments in the Church for children and young people.”

The four new NRB members include those with expertise in communications, psychology and victim outreach, and the medical field and they are as follows:

Ms. Amanda Callanan, Director of Communications for the Claremont Institute, has occupied several positions in the communications field—including digital and broadcast development for The Heritage Foundation, public relations for Fortune 500 clients at Hill+Knowlton Strategies, corporate branding and strategy with a boutique agency in Baltimore, and direct-response marketing for the National Association of Corporate Directors’ educational events and programs.  She attended Loyola University in Maryland, is married and resides within the Archdiocese of Washington.

Ms. Suzanne Healy was the Victims Assistance Coordinator for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles from 2007 through 2016.  She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with experience in private practice and as a high school counselor.  Healy also has 18 years of business management and strategic planning experience with AT&T Pacific Bell.  Healy has a BS in Psychology and an MS in Counseling, M.F.C.C. option, with a Pupil Personnel Services Credential with Advanced Specializations in School Counseling and Child Welfare and Attendance Services, both from California State University at Los Angeles.  Healy was an Executive Board Member of the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health Faith Based Advocacy Council, and a Committee Member for Los Angeles City Attorney Office Cyber Crime Prevention Symposium in Los Angeles from 2008 – 2016.  In 2016, Healy received the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Department of Health Affairs Excellence Award.  She is married with two adult children and currently volunteers as a counselor.

Dr. Christopher McManus is the owner and President of CP & RP McManus, MD, Ltd where McManus practices Internal Medicine in the Diocese of Arlington, VA.  He is active in the Northern Virginia Guild of the Catholic Medical Association and is a charter member and current leader for Privia Medical Group.  McManus was a professor for Georgetown University Medical School from 1998-2006 and has served as a Physician Advisor for Quality Resource Management.  McManus served his residency training at the University of Vermont and received his degree from the University of Virginia School of Medicine.  He currently serves on the Arlington County Executive Board and has previously served as President of the Arlington Medical Society.  Other volunteer activities for McManus include serving at the Arlington Free Clinic, volunteering in the Medical Reserve Corps for the Arlington County Health Department, and local service to his home parish.  He has been married for over thirty years, has four adult children, and enjoys spending time outdoors with his family.

Ms. Eileen Puglisi held the position of Director of the Office for the Protection of Children and Young People in the Diocese of Rockville Centre where from 2003-2014.  Her prior work history involves director level work at various Psychiatric Centers in New York, including Deputy Director of the Queens Children’s Psychiatric Center.  Puglisi received a Professional Degree in School Psychology from St. John’s University in New York and an M.S. in Guidance and Counseling from Hunter College in New York.  She has direct experience as a psychologist and is an avid golfer.

Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D., president of Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, will continue to chair the NRB until his term expires in 2020.
Details regarding the National Review Board, its functions and other members can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/about/child-and-youth-protection/the-national-review-board.cfm

June 13, 2017
USCCB CHAIRMAN WELCOMES NINTH CIRCUIT DECISION UPHOLDING PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION ON REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT PAUSE AND TRAVEL BAN  

INDIANAPOLIS — On June 12, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit largely affirmed a nationwide preliminary injunction against implementation of sections of the Administration’s executive order that attempted to suspend and limit the U.S. refugee resettlement program and also attempted to ban the entry of people from six Muslim-majority countries.

A statement from Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chair of the Committee on Migration regarding the Ninth Circuit ruling follows:
 
“I am heartened by the decision of the 9th Circuit to maintain the temporary halt implementing certain provisions of the March 6th Executive Order. Upholding the injunction will allow us to continue welcoming and serving refugees fleeing persecution.  Together with my brother bishops, we believe it is possible to simultaneously provide for the security of our country and have a humane refugee policy that upholds our national heritage and moral responsibility. We remain dedicated to accompanying and supporting our brothers and sisters who for various reasons have been forced to leave their homeland. We follow the example of Pope Francis and pledge to them “a duty of justice, civility and solidarity.”

June 9, 2017
POPE NAMES BISHOP CHARLES THOMPSON AS ARCHBISHOP OF INDIANAPOLIS
 
WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Bishop Charles Thompson, of Evansville, Indiana, as Archbishop of Indianapolis.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, June 13, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. 

 
Archbishop-designate Thompson, was born April 11, 1961, in Louisville. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in accounting from Bellarmine College, a master of divinity degree from St. Meinrad School of Theology, and a licentiate in Canon Law from St. Paul University in Ottawa. He was ordained a priest for the Louisville Archdiocese in 1987 and was ordained and installed as Bishop of Evansville on June 29, 2011.
 
As a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he is currently a member of the Administrative Committee, the Committee on Priorities and Plans, and the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.
 
The Archdiocese of Indianapolis has been a vacant see since November 7, 2016. The Archdiocese comprises 13,758 square miles and it has total population of 2,621,455 people of which 223,815 or nine percent, are Catholic.

June 9, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE CHAIRMAN URGES SENATE PASSAGE OF “IRAQ AND SYRIA GENOCIDE EMERGENCY RELIEF AND ACCOUNTABILITY ACT”

WASHINGTON — Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, has urged the Senate to pass the “Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act” (H.R. 390).

The proposed legislation calls for much needed assistance for survivors of genocide, especially in Iraq and Syria, and would allow faith-based organizations (such as Catholic Relief Services) that are already providing humanitarian assistance to these populations, to access U.S. government funding in their work, increasing aid to those desperately in need.

In a letter to U.S. Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Benjamin Cardin, Ranking Member, Bishop Cantú wrote, “I commend you for your efforts to support those suffering persecution in Iraq and Syria and trust that swift Senate consideration and passage of H.R. 390 will contribute to a longer-term solution to the crisis in the region.”

A link to Bishop Cantú's full letter  can be found here:

June 9, 2017
U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS RELEASES 2016 ANNUAL REPORT ON THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE  
 
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People has released their 2016 Annual Report – Findings and Recommendations on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The 2016 report for audit year July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016, states that 1,232 adults that came forward with 1,318 allegations. This increase is focused within six dioceses: two dioceses with bankruptcy proceedings and four where the state extended the statute of limitations. These six dioceses received an additional 351 allegations compared to the 2015 audit year. Also, it notes that 1,510 victim/survivors received ongoing support.

Also noted in the report is the ongoing work of the Church in continuing to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults.  In 2016, over 2.4 million background checks were conducted on our clerics, employees, and volunteers.  Over 2.3 million adults and 4.2 million children have also been trained on how to identify the warning signs of abuse and how to report those signs.

All dioceses and eparchies that received an allegation of sexual abuse during the 2016 audit year reported them to the appropriate civil authorities.

Twenty-five new allegations came from minors. As of June 30, 2016, two were substantiated, eight were still under investigation, and eleven were unsubstantiated or unable to be proven. Of the remaining four, two were referred to a religious order, one was referred to another diocese, and one investigation was postponed due to an order of confidentiality from the bankruptcy court.

Regarding Charter Compliance, the reported noted the following: 

    •    Two eparchies did not participate in the audit this year, but have expressed their intention to participate in next year’s audit.
    •    191 dioceses and eparchies were found compliant with the Charter.
    •    All dioceses/eparchies participating in the 129 data collection audits were found compliant with the process.
    •    Of the sixty-five dioceses/eparchies participating in the on-site audits, all were found compliant except for two dioceses and one eparchy. 
    •    One diocese was found non-compliant with respect to Article 2 and one diocese with respect to Article 3. One eparchy was found non-compliant with respect to Articles 2 and 12.
 
The Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People continues to emphasize that the audit and maintaining zero-tolerance policies are two important tools in the Church’s broader program of creating a culture of protection and healing that exceeds the requirements of the Charter.

This is the fourteenth such report since 2002 when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People making a promise to protect and a pledge to heal.  
The full Annual Report can be found here:

June 7, 2017
SISTER TRACEY HORAN IS WINNER OF 2017 CCHD CARDINAL BERNARDIN NEW LEADERSHIP AWARD
 
WASHINGTON—Sister Tracey Horan has been named as the winner of the 2017 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award, sponsored by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD).  CCHD is the anti-poverty program of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).  Sister Horan will be honored at a reception Wednesday, June 14, during the bishops’ annual Spring General Assembly in Indianapolis.

Sr. Tracey Horan

Sr. Horan is a mission novice with the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She currently serves as a community organizer for the Indianapolis Congregation Action Network (ICAN) and the Justice for Immigrants Campaign of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. In these roles, she has worked to promote the common good alongside immigrants, returning citizens and people living in poverty. A graduate of the University of Dayton, Sr. Horan is a former intern at White Violet Center for Eco-Justice, a ministry of the Sisters of Providence, and has taught middle school children at St. Pius X Catholic School in El Paso, Texas while living with Sisters of Charity at Casa de Caridad in New Mexico.
 
“We are pleased to honor Sr. Tracey Horan’s commitment to solidarity with the people living in poverty and those who are most vulnerable. Her work and her witness embody the mission of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development – to end the cycle of poverty by developing the capacity of the most vulnerable to act on their behalf,” said Bishop David P. Talley, chairman of the bishops’ CCHD subcommittee.
 
Each year, the Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award honors a Catholic between the age of 18 and 40 who demonstrates leadership in fighting poverty and injustice in the United States through community-based solutions. It is named for the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, who served as archbishop of Chicago from 1982 till his death in 1996. He served as the first general secretary of the U.S. bishops from 1968-1972 and as third president of the U.S. bishops from 1974-1977. More information about the award is available online: www.usccb.org/about/catholic-campaign-for-human-development/cardinal-bernardin-new-leadership-award.cfm.

June 5, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS WILL CELEBRATE MASS OF PRAYER AND PENANCE FOR HEALING OF SURVIVORS OF CLERGY SEX ABUSE OPENING JUNE ASSEMBLY

WASHINGTON — As they begin the Spring General Assembly, Bishops from across the U.S. will gather at Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis for a Mass of Prayer and Penance for survivors of sexual abuse within the Church.  The Mass is being held in response to a call from Pope Francis for all episcopal conferences across the world to have a Day of Prayer and Penance for victims of sexual abuse within the Church and will be held June 14, 2017 at 5:00 pm at Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

The bishops will gather together in solidarity to pray for victims and to acknowledge the pain caused by the failures of the Church in the past.  The Mass will mark the opening for the June Plenary Assembly of bishops taking place June 14-15 in Indianapolis.  Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will be the principal celebrant. Archbishop Wilton D.  Gregory, of Atlanta, and former President of the USCCB, will be the homilist.
In an act of penance and humility, the bishops will also kneel and recite a commemorative prayer that has been written for survivors of abuse in their healing.  Intercessory Prayers of the Faithful will also be offered for those who have suffered due to clergy sex abuse.  All dioceses and eparchies have been provided the suggested intercessory Prayers of the Faithful for use at any time of their choosing after June 14.
  
In addition to this specific Day of Prayer and Penance, many dioceses and eparchies will also schedule their own Masses or other events to promote healing within their diocese/eparchy throughout the year.
The Mass is scheduled to be livestreamed.  The livestream link will be available on the  USCCB website.  

June 4, 2017
PRESIDENT OF U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS AND CATHOLICS ACROSS THE U.S. JOIN IN PRAYING FOR VICTIMS OF THE LATEST TERROR ATTACK IN LONDON

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following statement following last night’s terror attack which has left seven people dead and at least 48 injured. This is the third terrorist attack on British soil in as many months.

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

“The Vigil of Pentecost had barely begun when the world was burdened yet again, this time by the sinister attacks on innocent men and women in the heart of London.  In such tragic hours we implore the Holy Spirit to pour out His gift of comfort on those who grieve the loss of loved ones and on the dozens who were so tragically injured in this horrible attack. At the same time, we see in the courage of the first responders the true and courageous spirit of our brothers and sisters, the people of Great Britain.  May God grant strength, wisdom and protection to the men and women who safeguard our families and may He convert the hearts of all who follow the path of evil extremism.  Our solidarity in Christian hope and commitment to peace is a bond that cannot be broken.

Together with my brother bishops and with Catholics throughout the United States, we join the prayerful intercession made already by Pope Francis: ‘May the Holy Spirit grant peace to the whole world. May He heal the wounds of war and of terrorism, which even this [Saturday] night, in London, struck innocent civilians: let us pray for the victims and their families.’"

June 2, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS CHAIRMEN PROVIDE SENATE WITH MORAL PRINCIPLES FOR HEALTH CARE REFORM

WASHINGTON — As the U.S. Senate begins to discuss health care reform, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin provided moral principles to help guide policymakers in their deliberations.

In a letter sent on June 1, the Chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stressed the “grave obligations” that Senators have “when it comes to policy that affects health care.”  While commending the bill passed by the House of Representatives, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), for its protections for unborn children, the Bishops emphasized the “many serious flaws” in the AHCA, including unacceptable changes to Medicaid.

“The Catholic Church remains committed to ensuring the fundamental right to medical care, a right which is in keeping with the God-given dignity of every person, and the corresponding obligation as a country to provide for this right,” the Chairmen wrote.  “[T]hose without a strong voice in the process must not bear the brunt of attempts to cut costs.”

Cardinal Dolan is chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Lori chairs the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, Bishop Dewane heads the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Vásquez is the chairman of the Committee on Migration.

The Bishops outlined key principles for Senators such as universal access, respect for life, true affordability, the need for high quality and comprehensive medical care, and conscience protections.

If the Senate takes up the House bill as a starting point, the letter urges that lawmakers “must retain the positive elements of the bill and remedy its grave deficiencies.”  Specifically, the Chairmen called on the Senate to:  reject dramatic changes to Medicaid; retain the AHCA’s life protections; increase the level of tax assistance, especially for low-income and older people; retain the existing cap on costs of plans for the elderly; protect immigrants; and add conscience protections, among other things.

The full letter to Congress can be found at:  www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/upload/Senate-Principles-letter-Health-Care-Reform-2017-06-01.pdf

June 1, 2017
USCCB CHAIRMAN ENCOURAGES BROADENING OF EXEMPTION FROM HHS MANDATE

WASHINGTON – Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, has issued an initial response to the apparent draft interim final regulations that were recently leaked, pertaining to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring health insurance coverage of sterilization, contraception, and drugs and devices that may cause abortions:

“While they have yet to be formally issued and will require close study upon publication, the leaked regulations provide encouraging news.  If issued, these regulations would appropriately broaden the existing exemption to a wider range of stakeholders with religious or moral objections to the mandated coverage—not just houses of worship.  This not only would eliminate an unwarranted governmental division of our religious community ‘between our houses of worship and our great ministries of service to our neighbors,’ but would also lift the government-imposed burden on our ministries ‘to violate their own teachings within their very own institutions.’ United for Religious Freedom (2012). 

Relief like this is years overdue and would be most welcomed. Regulations like these reflect common sense, and what had been the consistent practice of the federal government for decades to provide strong conscience protection in the area of health care.  We look forward to the final version of the regulations with hope that they will remain strong.  At that time, we will analyze those regulations more carefully and comment on them more formally.  Throughout, our goal will remain to protect both the conscience of individuals and our mission of sharing the Gospel and serving the poor and vulnerable through our ministries.”

This HHS mandate was first announced in 2011, triggering dozens of lawsuits, including by the Little Sisters of the Poor.


June 1, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS' CHAIRMAN REGRETS THE PRESIDENT’S WITHDRAWAL FROM THE PARIS AGREEMENT

WASHINGTON—President Donald J. Trump announced today that the United States will not honor the Paris agreement on climate change. The United States and China, the two largest carbon emitters, and 195 other nations, signed the agreement that was ratified in November 2016. The Paris agreement establishes that nations must reduce their carbon dioxide emissions in order to keep global temperatures well below a two-degree Celsius increase in relation to pre-industrial levels.

In the following statement, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, stresses that, although the Paris agreement is not the only possible mechanism for addressing global carbon mitigation, the lack of a current viable alternative is a serious concern.
 
Full statement follows:
 
“The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), along with Pope Francis and the entire Catholic Church, have consistently upheld the Paris agreement as an important international mechanism to promote environmental stewardship and encourage climate change mitigation. The President’s decision not to honor the U.S. commitment to the Paris agreement is deeply troubling.

The Scriptures affirm the value of caring for creation and caring for each other in solidarity. The Paris agreement is an international accord that promotes these values. President Trump’s decision will harm the people of the United States and the world, especially the poorest, most vulnerable communities.  The impacts of climate change are already being experienced in sea level rise, glacial melts, intensified storms, and more frequent droughts. I can only hope that the President will propose concrete ways to address global climate change and promote environmental stewardship.”
 
The USCCB has voiced support for prudent action and dialogue on climate change since its 2001 statement: “Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good”. In a letter to Congress in 2015, the U.S. Bishops, along with the presidents of Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services, encouraged the United States to sign the Paris agreement.  They have since reiterated their support on several occasions. Pope Francis and the Holy See have also consistently voiced support for the Paris agreement.

June 1, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS’ CHAIRMAN URGES THE PRESIDENT TO HONOR THE PARIS AGREEMENT

WASHINGTON — According to White House officials, President Donald J. Trump is reviewing the United States’ commitment to the Paris agreement on climate change. The president tweeted that he will make an official statement on the agreement in a few days.

In recent weeks, the United States Conference of Bishops (USCCB) and the president of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) have urged administration officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster, to support U.S. international leadership on climate change.

Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, has issued the following statement emphasizing the importance of honoring the Paris Agreement in order to “mitigate the worst impacts of climate change” on our planet.
   
Bishop Cantú’s full statement follows:

“The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is on record supporting prudent action to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. Our Conference of Bishops has vigorously promoted the teaching of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, on care for our common home. The Holy Father’s encyclical letter, Laudato si’, was timed in order to urge the nations of the world to work together in Paris for an agreement that protects our people and our planet. We hope the United States will honor the commitment it made there.”

The full letters to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, and National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster can be found at:

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/environment/usccb-crs-letter-to-secretary-tillerson-on-care-for-creation-2017-02-17.cfm

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/environment/usccb-crs-letter-to-treasury-secretary-mnuchin-on-environment-2017-05-05.cfm

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/environment/usccb-crs-letter-to-nsa-mcmaster-on-environment-2017-05-05.cfm

May 30, 2017
BE A WITNESS OF CHARITY WITH THE PETER’S PENCE COLLECTION 

WASHINGTON — The annual Peter’s Pence collection will be taken in many dioceses across the United States the weekend of July 1-2. Funds from this collection support Pope Francis’ charitable outreach to the suffering and marginalized around the world.


“The Peter’s Pence collection is a tangible way to be a witness of the tenderness and mercy of God,” said Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile, Alabama, chairman of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. “We join our brothers and sisters in the United States and around the world to support Pope Francis as he cares for those most in need.”

The Peter’s Pence collection is taken up worldwide to help Pope Francis provide relief to victims of war, religious persecution, and natural disasters. More information about the collection can be found at www.usccb.org/ppc.

May 29, 2017
POPE NAMES NEW BISHOP OF PENSACOLA-TALLAHASSEE

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Father William A. Wack, 49, as bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida. Father Wack is a member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross and pastor at St. Ignatius Martyr Parish in Austin, Texas.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, May 29, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
 
William A. Wack was born June 28, 1967, in South Bend, Indiana. He entered the Novitiate for the Congregation of the Holy Cross in 1989. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in government and international relations (1989), and a master of divinity (1993), from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. He professed final vows in 1993 and was ordained a priest on April 9, 1994.

Assignments after ordination included: associate pastor at Sacred Heart Parish, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1994-1997; associate director of vocations, 1997-2002; director of Andre House, Phoenix, Arizona, 2002-2008; pastor of St. Ignatius Martyr Parish, 2009-present.

Other assignments include: board member of: Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission, Colorado Springs, 1996-1998; Holy Cross Associates, Notre Dame, Indiana, 1998-2002; Holy Cross College, 2002-2003; Catholic Charities, Phoenix, Arizona, 2003-2008. And a member of the Presbyteral Council, Diocese of Austin.
 
The Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee has been a vacant see since November 2016. The Diocese comprises 14,044 square miles and it has total population of 1,463,116 people of which 67,316 or five percent, are Catholic.

May 26, 2017
USCCB PRESIDENT OFFERS PRAYERS FOR VICTIMS IN LATEST ATTACK ON COPTIC CHRISTIANS

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued the following statement in the wake of the latest attack on Christians in the Middle East. In what officials are calling a terrorist attack, masked gunmen opened fire on a bus that killed 28 people including men, women and children. State TV is reporting the Coptic Christians were attacked while on their way to Mass at the St. Samuel Monastery in Minya province, located about 140 miles south of Cairo. Many children are reported among the dead. The attack also wounded up to 22 others.  

Full statement follows:

"They were children on their way to Mass.  They were mothers and fathers taking their children to Mass.  And this morning they became targets of yet another horrendous attack on Christians, murdered as they rode to Church together.  Dozens of others were injured in the attack today in Egypt on Coptic Christians. Only a few short weeks ago, on Palm Sunday, many Christians were slaughtered simply because they were worshipping God.  Now, as we approach Pentecost, the same unspeakable evil emerges again and repeats itself.  Pope Francis, during his recent visit to the noble land of Egypt said, ‘ ... the innocent blood of defenseless Christians was cruelly shed: their innocent blood unites us.’  Though our grief is unbearable, our unity grows all the more strong. That unity is the way to peace.

On behalf of the Bishops of the United States, on behalf of Catholics and all people of good will across our nation, I commend the souls of those who have died to the loving arms of the Lord Jesus and entrust those who are injured and those who mourn to the embrace of Our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Mercy."

May 24, 2017
ORDINATION CLASS OF 2017: ENCOUNTER, ENCOURAGEMENT, ACTIVE PARISH LIFE, ARE KEY FACTORS IN DISCERNMENT PROCESS, ANSWERING THE CALL

WASHINGTON — According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate’s (CARA) annual survey, 82 percent of the 2017 class of men ordained to the priesthood were encouraged by about four people in their lives including parish priests, friends or other parishioners. The report also says that ordinands were, on average, 16 years old when they first considered a vocation to the priesthood, and religious ordinands reported they knew the members of their religious institute an average of six years before entering.

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, CSsR, of Newark, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, notes that the CCLV Committee has commissioned this annual study since 1998. It remains part of the ongoing work of the CCLV to highlight various ways that vocations to the priesthood have been and can be encouraged. The CCLV website features resources that are available for vocations promotion throughout the United States.

“A staggering number of the 2017 ordination class report to have been encouraged by others to consider a priestly vocation,” Cardinal Tobin said. “That statistic should motivate all the faithful to be sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit, who may wish to use them to extend the invitation to ordained ministry.”

The total number of potential ordinands for the class of 2017, 590, is slightly up from 548 in 2016 and down from 595 in 2015.

The Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate gathered the data for “The Class of 2017: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood.” CARA collects the data annually for the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. Approximately 75 percent of the 590 potential ordinands reported to CARA. These 444 respondents include 343 ordinands to the diocesan priesthood, from 140 different dioceses and archdioceses, and 101 ordinands to the religious priesthood.

 The full report can be found online: www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/ordination-class/index.cfm.

 Among the survey’s major findings:

On average, they lived in the diocese or eparchy for which they will be ordained for 16 years before entering seminary.

 • The average age for the Class of 2017 is 34. Since 1999, the average age of responding ordinands has decreased by approximately two months each year, from an average of 36 in 1999 to the current average age of 34.

 • Seven in ten ordinands are Caucasian and three in four were born in the United States. One in four respondents were born outside the United States, with the largest numbers coming from Colombia, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland and Vietnam. On average, respondents born in another country have lived in the United States for 12 years.

 • Most ordinands have been Catholic since infancy, and eighty percent report that both of their parents are Catholic and more than a third (35 percent) have a relative who is a priest or a religious. The average age of conversion was 21, among those who became Catholic later in life.

 • Nearly half completed college (43 percent) before entering the seminary. One in six (18 percent) entered the seminary with a graduate degree. The most common fields of study for ordinands before entering the seminary are theology or philosophy, liberal arts, and business.

 • Nearly half of responding ordinands (between 40 and 50 percent) attended a Catholic school for at least some part of their schooling, and 59 percent participated in a religious education program in their parish for an average of seven years.

 • About six in ten ordinands (57 percent) report some type of full-time work experience prior to entering the seminary, most often in education. One in twenty ordinands report prior service in the U.S. Armed Forces. About one in eight ordinands (12 percent) report that either parent had a military career in the U.S. Armed Forces.

 • Four in five (75 percent) indicate they served as altar servers and about half (52 percent) report service as a lector. Forty seven percent of responding ordinands reported participating in “Come and See” weekends at their seminary or religious institute.

 • About seven in 10 report regularly praying the rosary (73 percent) and participating in Eucharistic adoration (77 percent) before entering the seminary.

 • About half (51 percent) indicated that they were discouraged from considering the priesthood by at least one individual, most commonly a friend, classmate or family member other than parents.

May 23, 2017
USCCB PRESIDENT OFFERS CONDOLENCES ON BEHALF OF U.S. CATHOLICS AND ALL PEOPLE OF GOODWILL ACROSS AMERICA TO VICTIMS AND FAMILIES OF MANCHESTER TERROR ATTACK

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), is expressing shock and sadness in the wake of last night’s terror attack at Manchester Arena.

In this moment of national tragedy and grief for England, Cardinal DiNardo has written a letter of condolence to the Most Reverend John Stanley Kenneth Arnold, Bishop of Salford and the people of England. The Diocese of Salford serves the area of greater Manchester and Lancashire.  In the letter, Cardinal DiNardo expresses solidarity along with the continued prayers of the Church in the United States in the face of such unspeakable loss.
    
Full letter follows:

Dear Bishop Arnold,

Words are not enough to convey the deep shock and sadness with which Catholics and all people of good will in the United States learned of the horrible attack which took place yesterday at England's Manchester Arena.

The unspeakable loss of life, terrible injuries, and untold trauma to families -- especially to children -- summon prayers from around the world. In a way, I assure you and all those who suffer from this atrocious evil the continued prayers of the Church in the United States.

We commend to the comforting arms of our crucified and Risen Lord the many who have died, and we entrust to Our Lady of Manchester those who suffer.

Evil, as dense and dark as it is, never has the last word. As we prepare to celebrate the new dawn of Pentecost again, may the Easter words of the Risen Christ, "Peace be with you" (John 20:19), settle deep into the hearts of the citizens of your great country.
Fraternally in the Risen Lord,

Daniel Cardinal DiNardo

Archbishop of Galveston-Houston

President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

May 23, 2017
USCCB COMMITTEE ON MIGRATION CHAIR THANKFUL FOR ADMINISTRATION’S DECISION TO EXTEND TEMPORARY PROTECTION FOR HAITIANS; URGES CONTINUED ENGAGEMENT ON HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE



WASHINGTON — The chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, offered his appreciation to Secretary John Kelly of the Department of Homeland Security for his decision to extend Temporary Protective Status for Haitians in the United States for six months but urged continued engagement and humanitarian assistance to improve conditions in Haiti.

Full statement follows:

On behalf of the USCCB Committee on Migration, I express gratitude to Secretary Kelly of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Trump Administration for extending another six months of Temporary Protective Status (TPS) to over 58,000 Haitians living and working in the United States legally.  While this extension is helpful, it still leaves many Haitian families in the United States in an insecure and vulnerable position, particularly with respect to ensuring legal work authorization. Extending TPS serves an important humanitarian role by providing for the safety, well-being, and stability of Haitians living in the United States. We encourage our government to work proactively with the Haitian government to provide life-saving aid and recovery assistance. Haiti will continue to struggle to receive back those who are temporarily protected, even those who may be returned in the near future. Through the Church’s service networks, we will continue to assist Haitian families in the U.S., aid the rebuilding process in Haiti and look for opportunities to collaborate with the Church in Haiti and the Haitian and U.S. governments.”

May 22, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS SEND LETTER IN ADVANCE OF PRESIDENT TRUMP’S PROPOSED BUDGET EMPHASIZING THE NEED FOR SPENDING PRIORITIES PROMOTING THE COMMON GOOD

WASHINGTON —  Six Chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have released a letter in advance of the anticipated unveiling of President Donald J. Trump’s full budget plan.

That proposed budget is expected to call for a sharp increase in military spending while making significant cuts across much of the rest of government, including the planned elimination of dozens of long-standing federal programs that assist the poor and vulnerable.

In letters to both the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate sent May 19, the bishops reaffirmed the federal budget as a moral document containing profound implications for the common good of our nation and world. The letter states that the “budget requires difficult decisions that ought to be guided by moral criteria that protect human life and dignity, give central importance to ‘the least of these’ (Matthew 25), and promote the welfare of workers and families who struggle to live in dignity.”

The letter was signed by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, Chairman, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Chairman, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, Chairman, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Bishop George V. Murry, SJ, of Youngstown, Chairman, Committee on Catholic Education, Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, of Burlington, Chairman, Committee on Communications, and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman, Committee on Migration.

The full text of the letter sent to the U.S. Senate/U.S. House of Representatives is available at:    
www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/letter-to-congress-on-fy-2018-federal-budget-2017-05-19.cfm

May 12, 2017
POPE FRANCIS NAMES PRIEST AS NEW AUXILIARY BISHOP OF ATLANTA

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Father Bernard E. Shlesinger, III, a priest of the Diocese of Raleigh, as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Atlanta. Father Shlesinger,57, currently serves as Director of Spiritual Formation at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, May 15, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bernard Shlesinger was born December 17, 1960.  He earned a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Engineering from Virginia Tech in 1983.  He went on to attend Theological College in Washington, DC (Pre-Theology/Philosophy) before attending Pontifical Gregorian University where he earned a B.A. in Sacred Theology in 1995.  He then began Licentiate of Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) studies at the Angelicum (Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome) that same year.  He was ordained a priest on June 22, 1996.

Father Shlesinger also served in the US Air Force from 1983 to 1990.  An Air Force pilot who retired as Captain, he flew the C130E Hercules while stationed at Pope AFB, in Fayetteville, NC.
 
Assignments after ordination included: parochial vicar at St. Mary, Wilmington, NC, 1996-1998; Pastor at our Our Lady of Guadalupe parish as well as Assistant Vocation Director, Newton Grove, NC (1998-2007); Director of Vocations and Seminary Formation, Diocese of Raleigh (2007-2013); Administrator, Maria Reina de las Americas, Mount Olive, NC (2010-2012); Director of Spiritual Formation, Theology Division, St. Charles Borremeo Seminary, Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, 2013 to present.  Other responsibilities include: vicar forane, Newton Grove Deanery.

The Archdiocese of Atlanta comprises 21,445 square miles. It has a total population of 7,048,083 people of which 1,023,594 or 14.5 percent, are Catholic. Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory has been archbishop of Atlanta since 2005.  The archdiocese currently has one active auxiliary bishop, Bishop Luis R. Zarama.

May 12, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS TO MEET JUNE 14-15 IN INDIANAPOLIS; DISCUSSIONS WILL INCLUDE RELIGIOUS LIBERTY, IMMIGRATION, UPCOMING SYNOD

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will gather for their annual Spring General Assembly, June 14-15, in Indianapolis. During the assembly, the full body of bishops will address issues of immigration and refugees, religious freedom at home and abroad as well as health care policy developments. The bishops will also begin consultation on the upcoming Ordinary Synod of Bishops being convened by the Holy Father in 2018.

Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, will lead a presentation on religious persecution, genocide and human rights violations in the Middle East.  The bishops will receive a briefing from their working group on immigration and hear from outside experts.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap., of Philadelphia, chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R of Newark, chairman of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, will lead the discussion on the 2018 Ordinary Synod of Bishops, which will focus on young people, faith and vocational discernment.
 
The bishops will also discuss and vote on whether to establish the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty as a permanent USCCB committee. Other items considered for discussion and votes are: the revised Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities, a collection of blessings in Spanish (the Bendicional: Sexta Parte), and a new translation of the Order of Blessing the Oil of Catechumens and of the Sick and of Consecrating the Chrism.

The Wednesday evening Mass will be moment of prayer and penance for the bishops as they respond to the call from Pope Francis for an international Day of Prayer to pray for the survivors of clerical sex abuse.     

May 4,2017
U.S. BISHOPS CHAIRMAN CALLS ON SENATE TO STRIP HARMFUL PROPOSALS FROM HOUSE-PASSED HEALTH CARE BILL

WASHINGTON—After the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628), Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called on the Senate to strip out the harmful provisions of the bill when the chamber takes it up for consideration.

“Even with efforts to improve the bill before passage, the American Health Care Act still contains major defects, particularly regarding changes to Medicaid that risk coverage and affordability for millions; it is deeply disappointing that the voices of those who  will be most severely impacted were not heeded,” said Bishop Dewane. “The AHCA does offer critical life protections, and our health care system desperately needs these safeguards.  But still, vulnerable people must not be left in poor and worsening circumstances as Congress attempts to fix the current and impending problems with the Affordable Care Act.”

Since discussions about repealing the Affordable Care Act began, the U.S. Bishops have repeatedly called for Congress to honor key moral principles in health care reform. Among them are: access for all people to comprehensive, quality health care that is truly affordable, including extra consideration for pre-existing conditions; respect for life by preventing the use of federal funds for abortion or to purchase health care plans that cover it; and conscience protections.  Prior to Thursday’s vote, Bishop Dewane urged House members to insist on changes, especially for the sake of those who are struggling.

“When the Senate takes up the AHCA, it must act decisively to remove the harmful proposals from the bill that will affect low-income people—including immigrants—as well as add vital conscience protections, or begin reform efforts anew.  Our health care policy must honor all human life and dignity from conception to natural death, as well as defend the sincerely-held moral and religious beliefs of those who have any role in the health care system,” said Bishop Dewane.

May 4, 2017
USCCB PRESIDENT: TODAY’S EXECUTIVE ORDER BEGINS A PROCESS

WASHINGTON – Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued a response to President Donald J. Trump’s executive order signed this morning.

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

“Today’s Executive Order begins the process of alleviating the serious burden of the HHS mandate. We will engage with the Administration to ensure that adequate relief is provided to those with deeply held religious beliefs about some of the drugs, devices, and surgical procedures that HHS has sought to require people of faith to facilitate over the last several years.  We welcome a decision to provide a broad religious exemption to the HHS mandate, but will have to review the details of any regulatory proposals.

In recent years, people of faith have experienced pressing restrictions on religious freedom from both the federal government and state governments that receive federal funding.  For example, in areas as diverse as adoption, education, healthcare, and other social services, widely held moral and religious beliefs, especially regarding the protection of human life as well as preserving marriage and family, have been maligned in recent years as bigotry or hostility — and penalized accordingly. But disagreement on moral and religious issues is not discrimination; instead, it is the inevitable and desirable fruit of a free, civil society marked by genuine religious diversity.

We will continue to advocate for permanent relief from Congress on issues of critical importance to people of faith.  Religious freedom is a fundamental right that should be upheld by all branches of government and not subject to political whims.  As president of the Bishops’ Conference, I had the opportunity to meet with President Trump this morning in the Oval Office to address these and other topics.”

May 1, 2017
NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER AND REMEMBRANCE FOR MARINERS AND PEOPLE OF THE SEA, MAY 22

WASHINGTON — The National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Mariners and People of the Sea will be celebrated on May 22. The day is observed in conjunction with National Maritime Day in the United States of America, which has been celebrated since 1933 to honor those who serve as merchant mariners and to recognize the benefits of the maritime industry.

Bishop J. Kevin Boland, bishop emeritus of Savannah, Georgia, and Apostleship of the Sea (AOS) promoter, is encouraging dioceses to mark the national day by remembering the men and women of the sea in homilies and by including special petitions during Mass. When Mass is celebrated on May 22, the text for the Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of the Sea, is also encouraged.

Bishop Boland will celebrate a Mass in observance of Maritime Day on Saturday, May 20, at 12:10 p.m., in the Crypt Church at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. The Mass is sponsored by the AOS national office and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church.

Apostleship of the Sea (AOS) is a worldwide Catholic maritime ministry that reaches out to seafarers, fishers, their families, port personnel and all who work or travel on the high seas, regardless of race, color or creed. The maritime ministry shows the Church’s care and concern to seafarers who are often away from home for many months because of the nature of their work and lifestyle. A network of AOS port offices and Catholic chaplains provides spiritual and practical assistance that accommodate a seafarer's unique lifestyle and needs.

In the United States, AOS is present in 53 maritime ports in 26 states, and in 48 dioceses.  Priest chaplains, deacons, religious and lay people extend hospitality by providing a “home away from home” for seafarers. AOS has 10 Stella Maris centers, and over 100 chaplains and pastoral teams, including priests, religious, deacons and lay ecclesial ministers providing many services including: Mass, communion, confession and other sacraments, assistance to seafarers in distress, ship visits, transportation to visit business centers, a place to relax while on the port, computers with internet connection at the center, cell phones and phone cards as well as facilitating seafarers’ access to services that others provide.

In his profound love of the sea and ministry to the people of the sea, Bishop Boland says, “the needs of the invisible and silent merchant mariner, fisherman, seafarer spouse and retired seafarer to quality pastoral care are as needed as an inner-city community needs a pastor who is a good community organizer, or a new subdivision needs a new parish…the Catholic Church’s ministry to the people of the sea is not a marginal ministry, but is an essential ministry of the Church.” He encourages dioceses with maritime personnel to ensure that there is an active, viable Apostleship of the Sea ministry, and to ensure that AOS port chaplains and pastoral agents have the proper training and support for this ministry.

April 27, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS CHAIRMAN URGES HOUSE MEMBERS TO “INSIST ON CHANGES” TO PROPOSED HEALTH CARE BILL

WASHINGTON — As the U.S. House of Representatives appears poised to vote on the American Health Care Act (HB 1628), Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, stressed that remaining flaws in the bill will harm poor and vulnerable people and called on members to insist upon changes.

“It is deeply disappointing to many Americans that, in modifying the American Health Care Act to again attempt a vote, proponents of the bill left in place its serious flaws, including unacceptable modifications to Medicaid that will endanger coverage and affordability for millions of people, according to reports,” said Bishop Dewane.  “Sadly, some of the recently proposed amendments—especially those designed to give states flexibility—lack apparent safeguards to ensure quality of care. These additions could severely impact many people with pre-existing conditions while risking for others the loss of access to various essential coverages.”

In an earlier letter sent to Representatives on March 17, Bishop Dewane had urged members of the U.S. House of Representatives to correct provisions that would place a per capita cap on Medicaid funding to states, as well as to ensure adequate, quality coverage for those who are part of the recent Medicaid expansion, among other things.  Bishop Dewane also called for conscience protections for those who participate in the delivery or coverage of health care services and against mandates like the contraception and sterilization regulatory requirement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“The American Health Care Act includes some praiseworthy features, among them restricting funding which flows to abortion providers and prohibiting federal funding for abortion or the purchase of plans that cover it,” noted Bishop Dewane.  “But the AHCA, as it now stands, creates new and grave challenges for poor and vulnerable people, including immigrants.  The House must not pass the legislation as it is.  Members should insist on changes, especially for the sake of those who are struggling in our communities.”

April 26, 2017
CARDINAL DOLAN CALLS PRO-ABORTION DNC PLEDGE EXTREME, DISTURBING, INTOLERANT

WASHINGTON – Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chair of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, reacted to the announcement by the Democratic National Committee’s chair pledging support only for pro-abortion candidates. Calling the pledge “very disturbing,” Cardinal Dolan urged party members to “challenge their leadership to recant this intolerant position.”

Full statement follows:

“The recent pledge by the Democratic National Committee chair to support only candidates who embrace the radical unrestricted abortion license is very disturbing. The Democratic Party platform already endorses abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy, even forcing taxpayers to fund it; and now the DNC says that to be a Democrat—indeed to be an American—requires supporting that extreme agenda.

True solidarity with pregnant women and their children transcends all party lines. Abortion doesn’t empower women. Indeed, women deserve better than abortion.

In the name of diversity and inclusion, pro-life and pro-‘choice’ Democrats, alike, should challenge their leadership to recant this intolerant position.”

April 20 2017
POPE FRANCIS NAMES BISHOP ALEKSIYCHUK AS HEAD OF CHICAGO EPARCHY 

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Bishop Venedykt (Valery) Aleksiychuk, M.S.U., as bishop of the Eparchy of St Nicholas in Chicago for Ukrainians, in Illinois. Prior to the appointment, Bishop Aleksiychuk was an auxiliary bishop of the Archeparchy of Lviv, Ukraine.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, April 20, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Valery Aleksiychuk was born January 16, 1968, in Borshchivka, Ukraine. He pursued seminary studies and was ordained a priest on March 29, 1992. He was named auxiliary bishop of Lviv on August 3, 2010, and ordained a bishop on September 5, 2010.
 
The Eparchy of St Nicholas in Chicago for Ukrainians has been a sede vacante since August 2016; it has a population of about 11,000 Ukrainian Catholics. About 70 priests and deacons serve the eparchy in 46 parishes and mission stations in 16 states throughout the United States.

April 19, 2017
POPE FRANCIS MAKES U.S. EPISCOPAL APPOINTMENTS

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Martin Amos, 75, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa, and named Monsignor Thomas R. Zinkula, to succeed him.  Monsignor Zinkula is a priest of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, currently serving as rector of St. Pius X Seminary at Loras College in Dubuque.  

Pope Francis has also named Father John P. Dolan as Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego. Father Dolan is a priest of the Diocese of San Diego where he currently serves as Episcopal Vicar for Clergy and Pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish.   

The resignation and appointments were publicized in Washington, April 19, 2017, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop-designate, Msgr. Thomas Zinkula, 60, was born April 19, 1957, in Mount Vernon, Iowa.  He attended Catholic University in Washington, DC, where he earned a master’s in Theology in 1990.  In 1998, he received a licentiate in Canon Law from St. Paul’s University, Ottawa, Canada.  He also earned a law degree from the University of Iowa in 1983 and he holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, economics and business from Cornell College in Mount Vernon.  

He was ordained to the priesthood on May 26, 1990, for the Archdiocese of Dubuque. 

Assignments after ordination included: assistant pastor, St. Columbkille, Dubuque,  1990-1993; assistant pastor at Joseph the Worker,  Dubuque, 1993-1996; a student of Canon Law at St. Paul University in Ottawa from 1996-1998; pastor of St. Joseph in Rickardsville and sacramental priest for the parishes of St. Francis in Balltown, and SS. Peter and Paul in Sherill from 1998-2002;  judge at the Archdiocesan Tribunal from 1998-2000; judicial vicar, 2000-2010; pastor, Holy Ghost, Dubuque 2005-2011; episcopal vicar for the region of Cedar Rapids, 2012-2014; and rector of St. Pius X Seminary in Dubuque, 2014-present. 

Bishop Amos was ordained a priest in 1968.  He served as an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland in the state of Ohio from 2001 to 2006, and then as the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Davenport since 2006.

The Diocese of Davenport is comprised of 11,438 square miles in the state of Iowa and has a total population of 792,199 of which 97,202, or 12 percent, are Catholic.

Auxiliary bishop-designate, Father John Dolan was born in San Diego, June 8, 1962 and was ordained to the priesthood on July 1, 1989 for the Diocese of San Diego. 

Fr. Dolan holds a Master of Arts degree in Liturgy from St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, California.

Assignments  after ordination included: parochial vicar, Saint Michael’s Parish, San Diego from 1989-1991; associate pastor, Santa Sofia Parish, El Cajon, 1991-1992; director of vocations, 1992-1994; pastor of St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish, Oceanside, 1996-2001; pastor, St. Michael’s Parish, San Diego, 2001-2002; pastor, St. Rose of Lima Parish, Chula Vista, 2002-2014; pastor, Saint Michael’s Church, Poway, 2014-2016; episcopal vicar for the clergy and pastor, St. John the Evangelist Parish, San Diego 2016-present. 

The Diocese of San Diego is comprised of 8,852 square miles in the state of California and has a total population of 3,285,849 of which 1,012,486 or 30 percent are Catholic.  The Bishop of the San Diego Diocese is Robert W. McElroy.

April 16, 2017
CARDINAL DANIEL N. DINARDO'S EASTER MESSAGE ENCOURAGING JOY OVER FEAR

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued the following Easter message as we celebrate the joy of Christ’s Resurrection.

A video version of Cardinal DiNardo’s Easter message is also available at:  https://www.facebook.com/usccb/videos/10154506949682285/

Full statement follows: 

“Through Christ’s passion, His burial in the tomb and His glorious resurrection, we come to realize the enormity of the Lord’s sacrifice for us.  We may feel unworthy of His love who paid so high a price for our salvation.  Let us not be afraid. Let’s allow ourselves to be taken – even seized – with Easter joy. As we proclaim on Easter Sunday, ‘Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining.’

In the Gospel of John, chapter 10, Jesus says the shepherd calls his own sheep by name, ‘I am the Good Shepherd and I know mine.’ In chapter 20, how much fear and doubt must have gripped Mary of Magdala as she stood by the tomb?  There, it was Jesus who rescued Mary from her fears and darkness by calling her name. Listen carefully.  Mary thought she had discovered the Risen Lord, but it was the Risen Lord who discovered her. Jesus calls out to each of us by name today as He did the very first Easter Sunday.  His promise fulfilled.  His word brings life, ‘I am the Good Shepherd and I know mine.’

Jesus waits for you and me, embracing us in our moments of greatest need and desire.  Welcome the love of God into your life. Share it those around you, especially the most vulnerable of our sisters and brothers.  In this way, we proclaim with Mary, ‘I have seen the Lord.’ Sing joyfully, ‘the Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.’  Happy Easter!”

April 13, 2017
U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS CHAIRMAN CALLS FOR ARKANSAS TO ABANDON SCHEDULED DEATH ROW EXECUTIONS

WASHINGTON—Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development issued a statement this morning in response to the scheduled executions of seven men in 11 days in Arkansas. The state is planning to begin the executions on Easter Monday. Bishop Dewane joins the Catholic community of Arkansas, and people of good will across the country and around the world, in urging Governor Hutchinson to reconsider this plan.

“This Easter, let us ask the Lord for the grace to infuse our justice with mercy.  May those in Arkansas who hold the lives of these individuals on death row in their hands be moved by God’s love, which is stronger than death, and abandon the current plans for execution,” Bishop Dewane wrote in asking for commutation of the sentences of those scheduled to be executed to life imprisonment. 

In his statement, Bishop Dewane noted that Pope Francis called for “the global abolition of the death penalty,” in his 2015 address to the U.S. Congress, where the Holy Father said, “I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. . . . [A] just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.”  The Catholic Bishops of the United States have echoed this call for many years, including in their 2005 statement A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death.

“It can be very difficult to think of mercy at a time when justice for unthinkable crimes seems to cry out for vengeance,” Bishop Dewane commented, “[t]he harm and pain caused by terrible sin is real.”  Yet, he invoked Pope Francis’ reflection that, “Jesus on the cross prayed for those who had crucified him: ‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they do’ (Lk. 23:34).  Mercy is the only way to overcome evil.  Justice is necessary, very much so, but by itself it is not enough.  Justice and mercy must go together.”

Bishop Dewane’s full statement can be found here:

April 10, 2017
INCLUSION ACT RECEIVES CONTINUED STRONG SUPPORT FROM USCCB CHAIRMEN

WASHINGTON — Three chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) are offering their strong support for the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2017. 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, for religious or moral reasons, declines to provide a child welfare social service.

“Our first and most cherished freedom, religious liberty, is to be enjoyed by all Americans, including child welfare providers who serve the needs of children,” wrote Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty; and Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage; in letters of support to Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) in the U.S. House of Representatives and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) in the U.S. Senate, who introduced the bill.

Some faith-based child welfare providers, including in Massachusetts, Illinois, California, 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 by enabling all 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 respects the importance of parental choice, the chairmen remarked, “Women and men who want to place their children for adoption ought to be able to choose from a diversity of adoption agencies, including those that share the parents’ religious beliefs and moral convictions.”

The letters of support are available online at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/upload/Ltr-to-Rep-Kelly-Inclusion-Act-2017.pdf and http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/upload/Ltr-to-Sen-Enzi-Inclusion-Act-2017.pdf

A backgrounder on the Inclusion Act is available at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/upload/Backgrounder-Inclusion-Act-2017.pdf

April 10, 2017
THOUSANDS OF NEW CATHOLICS TO BE WELCOMED AT EASTER VIGIL

WASHINGTON — A married couple in their golden years, a couple inspired by their late daughter’s legacy, and a salesman who heard Jesus’ call to conversion on a stranger’s porch, are among the thousands who will be welcomed into the Catholic Church on Easter Vigil, April 15, in parishes across the United States. All have participated in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), a process of conversion and study in the Catholic faith for catechumens and candidates coming into full communion with the Church.

Catechumens, who have never been baptized, will receive baptism, confirmation and first Communion at the Holy Saturday Easter Vigil. Candidates, who have already been baptized in another Christian tradition whose baptism is recognized by the Catholic Church, will enter the Church through a profession of faith and reception of confirmation and the Eucharist.

In the Diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan, 175 catechumens and 249 candidates will receive the sacraments. Among them, Mac, 90, and Barb Harless, 85, who will join the Church this Easter after finding their parish, St. John Paul II Church in Cedar Springs, a source of prayer, peace and hope during Barb’s battle with cancer.

In the Diocese of Rochester, New York, the RCIA involvement of Dan and Michaela Cady –along with their sons Aidan, 15, Solas, 12, and Merritt, 10 – was spurred by a family tragedy. Two years ago their daughter and sister Kennis, then 12, died suddenly. "It just turned our heads about life," Dan Cady said. He added that his family was grateful for the support it received from the staff of St. Jerome Parish in East Rochester, and from there opted to pursue RCIA. As the Cadys advance on their faith journey, Dan said he's confident his daughter is watching over them: "We would like to think it's orchestrated by her," he said. Some of the family members will receive the sacraments this year, and others next year.

While in Orlando, Florida, Jarrid Perusse of Most Precious Blood Parish in Oviedo said he, “got saved on a porch” during a summer internship as a door-to-door salesman. He realized that God was reaching out to him, and “it was my turn to start reaching back,” he said.

 About 60 of the nearly 200 dioceses in the United States reported numbers for 2017 to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the largest diocese in the United States, will welcome 1,756 catechumens and 938 candidates; while the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston reports 1,667 catechumens and 708 candidates; and the Archdiocese of Washington reports 483 catechumens and 698 candidates.

Other archdioceses report the following totals: Archdiocese of Seattle: 679 catechumens and 409 candidates; Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis: 201 catechumens, 623 candidates; Archdiocese of Philadelphia: 235 catechumens, 322 candidates; Archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky: 227 catechumens, 279 candidates; Archdiocese of Oklahoma City reports 290 catechumens, 368 candidates; Archdiocese of San Francisco: 174 catechumens, 207 candidates; Archdiocese of Newark: 499 catechumens, 693 candidates; Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa: 63 catechumens, 94 candidates; Archdiocese of Miami: 524 catechumens, 214 candidates.

In California, the Diocese of Stockton will welcome 284 candidates and 532 catechumens; Diocese of Oakland reports 176 catechumens and 376 candidates; the Diocese of San Diego reports 333 catechumens and 635 candidates; and the Diocese of Fresno will welcome 593 catechumens and 56 candidates; the Diocese of San Jose reports 496 catechumens and candidates.

In Florida, the Diocese of St. Petersburg reports 456 catechumens and 514 candidates; the Diocese of Orlando reports 586 catechumens and candidates; the Diocese of Palm Beach, Florida, reports 147 catechumens and 474 candidates.

In New York, the Diocese of Rockville Centre reports 232 catechumens 327 candidates; the Diocese of Rochester reports 96 catechumens and 149 candidates;  the Diocese of Buffalo reports 56 catechumens and 105 candidates;  the Diocese of Syracuse reports 49 catechumens and 70 candidates.

Other dioceses reporting hundreds of catechumens and candidates include: Diocese of Dallas: 945 catechumens and 1,230 candidates; Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas: 252 catechumens and 324 candidates;Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana: 187 catechumens and 208 candidates; Diocese of Salt Lake City, Utah: 273 catechumens, 153 candidates; Diocese of Tyler, Texas: 120 catechumens and 270 candidates; Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina: 160 catechumens and 317 candidates; Diocese of Pittsburgh: 444 catechumens and candidates;  Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut: 78 catechumens and 241 candidates; Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri: 106 catechumens and 172 candidates; Diocese of Tucson, Arizona: 111 candidates and 209 catechumens; Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio: 97 catechumens and 130 candidates; Diocese of Camden, New Jersey: 174 catechumens; Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey: 195 catechumens and candidates; Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey: 125 catechumens and 200 candidates; Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts: 114 catechumens and 101 candidates; Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts: 53 catechumens and 105 candidates; Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire:  95 candidates and 67 catechumens; Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware: 101 catechumens and 152 candidates; Diocese of Belleville, Illinois: 54 catechumens and 120 candidates; Diocese of Springfield, Illinois: 160 catechumens and 159 candidates; Diocese of Yakima, Washington: 115 catechumens, 145 candidates; Diocese of LaFayette, Louisiana: 55 catechumens and  96 candidates; Diocese of Reno, Nevada: 139 catechumens and 40 candidates; Diocese of Greensburg, Pennsylvania: 92 candidates and 44 catechumens; Diocese of Steubenville, Ohio: 39 catechumens and 52 candidates; Diocese of Rapid City: 27 catechumens, 83 candidates; Diocese of Shreveport, Louisiana: 40 catechumens, 89 candidates; the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut: 97 catechumens, 313 candidates; Diocese of Memphis, Tennessee: 60 catechumens, 200 candidates; Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan: 49 catechumens, 63 candidates.

In Minnesota, the Diocese of St. Cloud reports 17 catechumens, 76 candidates; Diocese of Crookston: 8 catechumens, 25 candidates; Diocese of Winona: 42 catechumens, 112 candidates; Diocese of Duluth: 11 catechumens, 69 candidates.

These numbers are based on participation in the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion, the final phase of the RCIA process celebrated at the beginning of Lent.

Not included are infant baptisms that according to the 2016 Official Catholic Directory (OCD) totaled 683,712 for the year 2015. The OCD also reported that there were 39,721 adult baptisms and 71,809 people received into full communion during the same year, the latest with complete statistical data.

April 9, 2017
PRESIDENT OF U.S. BISHOPS CONFERENCE RESPONDS TO TODAY’S EXPLOSIONS AT TWO COPTIC CHURCHES

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued the following statement in response to explosions on Palm Sunday at two Coptic Christian churches in Egypt that have killed at least 40 and injured at least 100:

“In the early hours of Palm Sunday, as Christians began the celebration of the holiest week of the year, our brothers and sisters in Egypt suffered unspeakable persecution. They were at Church.  They were praying.  And in the midst of what should be peace, horrible violence yet again.  I express our deepest sadness at the loss of those killed, our prayers for healing for all those injured, and our condolences to those who suffer the loss of loved ones.

I also express our solidarity with the Coptic church in Egypt, an ancient Christian community that faces mounting persecution in its historic home from violent extremism.  I also pray for the nation of Egypt, that it may seek justice, find healing, and strengthen protection for Coptic Christians and other religious minorities who wish only to live in peace.

I also join Pope Francis in his prayer for the victims of this attack, and that ‘the Lord [may] convert the hearts of the people who are sowing terror, violence and death, and also the hearts of those who make and traffic weapons.’ The Prince of Peace assures us that the darkness of terror cannot withstand the Easter light of Resurrection.  We entrust all those who suffer and who have perished into the arms of the crucified and Risen Christ.”

April 7, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS CONFERENCE CALLS FOR RENEWED PEACE EFFORTS IN SYRIA  

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Oscar Cantú, chair of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, have issued a joint statement calling for renewed peace efforts in Syria.  
 
The full statement is as follows:   

“Three days ago, our Conference of Bishops decried the chemical attack in Syria as one that ‘shocks the soul.’  The use of internationally banned indiscriminate weapons is morally reprehensible.  At the same time, our Conference affirmed the call of Pope Francis to attain peace in Syria ‘through dialogue and reconciliation.’

The longstanding position of our Conference of Bishops is that the Syrian people urgently need a political solution. We ask the United States to work tirelessly with other governments to obtain a ceasefire, initiate serious negotiations, provide impartial humanitarian assistance, and encourage efforts to build an inclusive society in Syria that protects the rights of all its citizens, including Christians and other minorities.

We once again make our own the earlier call of our Holy Father, Pope Francis: ‘I exhort the international community to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace in that country without further delay, a peace based on dialogue and negotiation, for the good of the entire Syrian people. May no effort be spared in guaranteeing humanitarian assistance to those wounded by this terrible conflict, in particular those forced to flee and the many refugees in nearby countries.’

Join us as we pray for the intercession of Our Lady Queen of Peace that the work of humanitarian assistance and peacebuilding will find strength in the merciful love of her Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 

April 6, 2017
CARDINAL DOLAN APPLAUDS ADMINISTRATION FOR WITHDRAWING FUNDING TO UNFPA’S COERCIVE ABORTION/STERILIZATION PROGRAM 

WASHINGTON–Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chair of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, welcomed the State Department’s April 4th announcement that it will withhold federal funding from the U.N. Population Fund (“UNFPA”) because UNFPA monies go to Chinese agencies that perform forced abortions and involuntary sterilizations.
The Administration’s decision invokes the 1985 Kemp-Kasten Amendment against funding organizations involved in coercive population programs. Millions of taxpayer dollars will now be redirected to maternal health and non-abortion reproductive health programs in developing countries.

“Chinese families have endured unspeakable abuses, including onerous fines, mandatory pregnancy exams, coerced sterilizations, and forced abortions,” Cardinal Dolan said. “Over 20 years ago, the U.N. condemned forced sterilization and forced abortion as ‘acts of violence against women’, and yet the UNFPA has enabled the Chinese government to continue their assault on the dignity of women and the lives of their unborn children – especially female children, who are most at risk.”

Since 1985, Congress has forbidden the funding of any organization which, as determined by the President of the United States, “supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.” There is no credible claim to counter the fact that Chinese population programs use coercive means or that UNFPA supports the Chinese programs. 

“This is a victory for women and children across the globe, as well as for U.S. taxpayers,” Cardinal Dolan said. “We are so grateful to the Trump Administration for taking this important action to end U.S. support for UNFPA so long as it remains committed to China's coercive abortion and sterilization programs.”

April 6, 2017
POPE NAMES TULSA PRIEST NEW AUXILIARY BISHOP OF SEATTLE

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Monsignor Daniel H. Mueggenborg, a priest of the Diocese of Tulsa, as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Seattle. Msgr. Mueggenborg currently serves as pastor of Christ the King Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, April 6, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. 

Daniel Mueggenborg was born in 1962. He attended Oklahoma State University, where he received a bachelor of science degree in geology in 1984, and pursued seminary studies at the Pontifical North American College, 1985-1989. He holds a bachelor degree in sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, 1989, where he also earned a licentiate in sacred theology (S.T.L.) in biblical theology, 1990. He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Tulsa in 1989.

Assignments after ordination included: associate pastor at Church of St. Mary, Tulsa, 1989, and at St. John Church, Bartlesville, 1990-1991; chaplain, Bishop Kelley High School, and associate pastor, Saint Pius X Church, Tulsa, 1991-1995; administrator pro-tempore, Saint Cecilia Church, Claremont, 1994-1996; pastor at Church of the Magdalene, Tulsa, 1996-2001, and St. Clement Church, Bixby, 2001-2005; assistant director of formation advising and formation advisor, Pontifical North American College, Rome, 2005-2006.

In 2004, Pope John Paul II named him a "Chaplain of His Holiness," carrying the title of “monsignor.”

The Archdiocese of Seattle comprises 28,731 square miles in the state of Washington and it has a total population of 5,501,540 people of which 583,000 or 11 percent, are Catholic. Archbishop J. Peter Sartain has been the archbishop of Seattle since 2010. The archdiocese currently has one active auxiliary bishop, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo.

April 5, 2017
PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT OF U.S. BISHOPS CONFERENCE RESPOND TO SYRIAN CHEMICAL WEAPONS ATTACK

WASHINGTON —  Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice president of the USCCB, have issued the following joint statement on yesterday’s chemical weapons attack in northern Syria.

Full statement follows:
“The chemical attack in Syria on April 4 shocks the soul. The many innocent lives targeted by these terrible tools of war cry out for humanity’s protection.  In this season of Lent when Christians draw near to the       suffering of Christ, let us match the horrific indifference shown for innocent life with a fervent prayer for love to break through the evil.  Let us also match our prayer with a faithful witness to suffering so that no life at  risk is forgotten.

Pope Francis has repeatedly issued an appeal to Syrian leaders and to the international community saying: ‘Please, silence the weapons, put an end to the violence! No more war! No more destruction! May humanitarian laws be respected, may the people who need humanitarian assistance be cared for and may the desired peace be attained through dialogue and reconciliation.’

We echo the Holy Father’s call. We pray for an end to the carnage in Syria and we pray that God will assuage all those who suffer and bring them consolation as we approach Easter and its message of love and hope.”



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