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

January 22, 2021
Response to Biden's statement on anniversary of Roe v. Wade
WASHINGTON — In a statement today, President Biden and Vice President Harris marked the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which overturned all limiting restrictions on abortion across the nation, calling the decision an advancement of women’s rights and health. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities responded:
 
“It is deeply disturbing and tragic that any President would praise and commit to codifying a Supreme Court ruling that denies unborn children their most basic human and civil right, the right to life under the euphemistic disguise of a health service. I take this opportunity to remind all Catholics that the Catechism states, ‘Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.’ Public officials are responsible for not only their personal beliefs, but also the effects of their public actions. Roe’s elevation of abortion to the status of a protected right and its elimination of state restrictions paved the way for the violent deaths of more than 62 million innocent unborn children and for countless women who experience the heartache of loss, abandonment, and violence.
 
“We strongly urge the President to reject abortion and promote life-affirming aid to women and communities in need.”
 
January 22, 2021
Bishop chairmen express concerns with Biden's executive order 
WASHINGTON — Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty; Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Bishop Michael C. Barber, S.J., of Oakland, chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education; Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism; and Bishop David A. Konderla of Tulsa, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, issued a statement responding to President Biden’s executive order of January 20 that addressed last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision, Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga.
 
Their joint statement follows:
 
“Every person has a right to gainful employment, education, and basic human services free of unjust discrimination. That right should be protected. The Supreme Court’s Bostock decision, however, needlessly ignored the integrity of God’s creation of the two complementary sexes, male and female, with reasoning that treated them as devoid of meaning.
 
“Wednesday’s executive order on ‘sex’ discrimination exceeds the Court’s decision. It threatens to infringe the rights of people who recognize the truth of sexual difference or who uphold the institution of lifelong marriage between one man and one woman. This may manifest in mandates that, for example, erode health care conscience rights or needed and time-honored sex-specific spaces and activities. In addition, the Court had taken care to note that Bostock did not address its clear implications for religious freedom. Yesterday’s executive order exercises no such caution.
 
“We are very grateful for the new administration’s actions on immigration and the climate, as well as for another executive order, ‘On Advancing Racial Equity,’ which is nobly aimed at identifying and remedying racism and its impact on society and in government. It is unfortunate that the goal of racial equality is partially conflated with the imposition of new attitudes and false theories on human sexuality which can produce social harms.
 
“We share the goal of ending unjust discrimination and supporting the dignity of every human, and we therefore regret the misguided approach of Wednesday’s order addressing Bostock.”
 
January 21, 2021
USCCB leaders welcome call for legislation on immigration reform
WASHINGTON — Yesterday, President Joe Biden issued a Memorandum preserving and fortifying the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The DACA program was implemented in 2012 and has enabled approximately 800,000 young people, who paid a fee and submitted to a background check, the opportunity to work legally, access educational opportunities and not fear deportation. It has been estimated that DACA recipients on average contribute over $42 billion annually to the U.S. economy. Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration issued the following statement:
 
“We welcome the announcement preserving and fortifying DACA. For years, DACA youth have been enriching our country. They are contributors to our economy, veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes and communities. They and their families deserve certainty, compassion, generosity, and justice.
 
“We applaud President Biden’s restoration of the DACA program, and we also strongly encourage him and the U.S. Congress to immediately enact legislation that provides a path to citizenship for Dreamers. Permanent legislative protection that overcomes partisanship and puts the human dignity and future of Dreamers first is long overdue.
 
“Protection for Dreamers should only be the first step in the systematic reform of our outdated immigration laws. Now is the time to move forward in a bipartisan manner to fix our broken immigration system.
 
“We also welcome the President’s efforts to immediately produce an immigration reform bill and look forward to reviewing it. We continue to call for immigration reform which provides a path to citizenship for Dreamers and the undocumented, upholds family-based immigration, honors due process and the rule of law, recognizes the contributions of workers, protects the vulnerable fleeing persecution, and addresses the root causes of migration.
 
“We stand ready to work with President Biden and his Administration, as well as the U.S. Congress on this urgent matter of human life and dignity.”  
 
January 21, 2021
Catholic leaders express hope with Biden’s decision to rejoin Paris Agreement
WASHINGTON — Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City and Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, respective chairmen of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development and International Justice and Peace, and Sean L. Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, have released the following joint statement:
 
“President Joseph R. Biden announced yesterday that the United States will rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change. It is our hope that the United States will not only seize this challenge to meet the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, called for by the U.S. bishops in 2017, but also become the global climate leader by implementing successful policies that both preserve the environment and promote economic development through innovation, investment and enterprise.
 
“On the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement, Pope Francis called for ‘a culture of care, which places human dignity and the common good at the center.’ The environment and human beings everywhere, especially the poor and vulnerable, stand to benefit from the care of our common home. For this reason, we urge the United States to do more to help poorer nations adapt to the changes in climate that cannot be prevented. 
 
“The Second Vatican Council asserted that ‘nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in’ the hearts of Christians. Climate change is a genuine human concern that affects all peoples, and the decision to rejoin the Paris Agreement is an important step in the path of care for the environment and respect for the human family.”
 

January 20, 2021
Statement from USCCB president on the inauguration of Biden 

My prayers are with our new President and his family today.
 
I am praying that God grant him wisdom and courage to lead this great nation and that God help him to meet the tests of these times, to heal the wounds caused by this pandemic, to ease our intense political and cultural divisions, and to bring people together with renewed dedication to America’s founding purposes, to be one nation under God committed to liberty and equality for all.
 
Catholic bishops are not partisan players in our nation’s politics. We are pastors responsible for the souls of millions of Americans and we are advocates for the needs of all our neighbors. In every community across the country, Catholic parishes, schools, hospitals, and ministries form an essential culture of compassion and care, serving women, children, and the elderly, the poor and sick, the imprisoned, the migrant, and the marginalized, no matter what their race or religion.
 
When we speak on issues in American public life, we try to guide consciences, and we offer principles.  These principles are rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the social teachings of his Church. Jesus Christ revealed God’s plan of love for creation and revealed the truth about the human person, who is created in God’s image, endowed with God-given dignity, rights and responsibilities, and called to a transcendent destiny.
 
Based on these truths, which are reflected in the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights, the bishops and Catholic faithful carry out Christ’s commandment to love God and love our neighbors by working for an America that protects human dignity, expands equality and opportunities for every person, and is open-hearted towards the suffering and weak.
 
For many years now, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has tried to help Catholics and others of good will in their reflections on political issues through a publication we call Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. The most recent edition addresses a wide range of concerns. Among them: abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, immigration, racism, poverty, care for the environment, criminal justice reform, economic development, and international peace.
 
On these and other issues, our duty to love and our moral principles lead us to prudential judgments and positions that do not align neatly with the political categories of left or right or the platforms of our two major political parties. We work with every President and every Congress. On some issues we find ourselves more on the side of Democrats, while on others we find ourselves standing with Republicans. Our priorities are never partisan. We are Catholics first, seeking only to follow Jesus Christ faithfully and to advance his vision for human fraternity and community.
 
I look forward to working with President Biden and his administration, and the new Congress. As with every administration, there will be areas where we agree and work closely together and areas where we will have principled disagreement and strong opposition.
 
Working with President Biden will be unique, however, as he is our first president in 60 years to profess the Catholic faith. In a time of growing and aggressive secularism in American culture, when religious believers face many challenges, it will be refreshing to engage with a President who clearly understands, in a deep and personal way, the importance of religious faith and institutions. Mr. Biden’s piety and personal story, his moving witness to how his faith has brought him solace in times of darkness and tragedy, his longstanding commitment to the Gospel’s priority for the poor — all of this I find hopeful and inspiring.
 
At the same time, as pastors, the nation’s bishops are given the duty of proclaiming the Gospel in all its truth and power, in season and out of season, even when that teaching is inconvenient or when the Gospel’s truths run contrary to the directions of the wider society and culture. So, I must point out that our new President has pledged to pursue certain policies that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender. Of deep concern is the liberty of the Church and the freedom of believers to live according to their consciences.
 
Our commitments on issues of human sexuality and the family, as with our commitments in every other area — such as abolishing the death penalty or seeking a health care system and economy that truly serves the human person — are guided by Christ’s great commandment to love and to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters, especially the most vulnerable.
 
For the nation’s bishops, the continued injustice of abortion remains the “preeminent priority.” Preeminent does not mean “only.” We have deep concerns about many threats to human life and dignity in our society. But as Pope Francis teaches, we cannot stay silent when nearly a million unborn lives are being cast aside in our country year after year through abortion.
 
Abortion is a direct attack on life that also wounds the woman and undermines the family. It is not only a private matter, it raises troubling and fundamental questions of fraternity, solidarity, and inclusion in the human community. It is also a matter of social justice. We cannot ignore the reality that abortion rates are much higher among the poor and minorities, and that the procedure is regularly used to eliminate children who would be born with disabilities.
 
Rather than impose further expansions of abortion and contraception, as he has promised, I am hopeful that the new President and his administration will work with the Church and others of good will. My hope is that we can begin a dialogue to address the complicated cultural and economic factors that are driving abortion and discouraging families. My hope, too, is that we can work together to finally put in place a coherent family policy in this country, one that acknowledges the crucial importance of strong marriages and parenting to the well-being of children and the stability of communities. If the President, with full respect for the Church’s religious freedom, were to engage in this conversation, it would go a long way toward restoring the civil balance and healing our country’s needs.
 
President Biden’s call for national healing and unity is welcome on all levels. It is urgently needed as we confront the trauma in our country caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the social isolation that has only worsened the intense and long-simmering divisions among our fellow citizens.
 
As believers, we understand that healing is a gift that we can only receive from the hand of God. We know, too, that real reconciliation requires patient listening to those who disagree with us and a willingness to forgive and move beyond desires for reprisal. Christian love calls us to love our enemies and bless those who oppose us, and to treat others with the same compassion that we want for ourselves. 
 
We are all under the watchful eye of God, who alone knows and can judge the intentions of our hearts. I pray that God will give our new President, and all of us, the grace to seek the common good with all sincerity.
 
I entrust all our hopes and anxieties in this new moment to the tender heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Christ and the patroness of this exceptional nation. May she guide us in the ways of peace and obtain for us wisdom and the grace of a true patriotism and love of country.
 
Most Reverend José H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles,
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
 

January 19, 2021
9 Days for Life’ Novena Jan. 21-29 for protection of human life
WASHINGTON — Catholics nationwide are preparing to pray 9 Days for Life, the annual pro-life novena beginning this year on January 21. New this year, dioceses across the country are live-streaming prayer events each day for the protection of human life.

In the Catholic Church, a ‘novena’ consists of prayers over nine successive days. This pro-life novena is an opportunity for recollection and reparation in observation of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade — the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal throughout the United States.

The overarching intention of the novena is the end to abortion. Each daily intention highlights a related topic and is accompanied by a reflection, educational information, and suggested daily actions. The novena encompasses the annual Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children on January 22.

All are invited to sign up. Participants can receive the novena in English or Spanish via email or text message, or access it online. Participants can share their pro-life witness and invite their social networks to pray on social media with the hashtag #9DaysforLife. A leader’s kit is available, and features the daily prayer intentions and reflections, among other resources. A press kit is also available.

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

For additional information and updates throughout the novena, please follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

January 19, 2021
March for Life rally goes virtual this year in nation's capital
WASHINGTON — The organizers for the annual March for Life announced that the 2021 rally would take place in a virtual format. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities has issued a statement about the change and invited participation in the virtual format:

“As long-time participants in the annual March for Life, my brother bishops and I commend the march organizers for their concern for the lives and safety of all participants. The countless, peaceful, pro-life marchers who would normally gather each year should not be put at risk.

“Peaceful prayer and witness must and will continue this year — just in a different format. I have the honor this year of opening the March for Life Virtual Rally in prayer, so please join me at  https://marchforlife.org/2021-virtual-events.

“In preparation for the virtual March for Life, and in observance of the annual Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children on January 22, I invite you to join many thousands of Catholics praying a nationwide novena from Thursday, January 21 through Friday, January 29. You can receive daily intentions, brief reflections, and suggested actions by signing up for 9 Days for Life. As part of this novena, dioceses nationwide are live-streaming Masses, Rosaries, Holy Hours and more for the protection of human life. Please join us in prayer.”

January 16, 2021
Cardinal Timothy Dolan reflects on importance of religious freedom
WASHINGTON — On January 16, the United States celebrates Religious Freedom Day.  Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, has issued a statement:

“The right to religious freedom is rooted in the dignity of the human person, who has a duty to seek the truth. Yet our country is riven by political and cultural factionalism, where competing groups seek not truth but rather mere power. Appeals to objective truth are treated as attempts to oppress. Narrative and spin are the weapons of choice.

“Recent popes have rejected this cynical view. Truth, not power, is the basis of our law and politics, even in a pluralistic society. In his recent encyclical, Fratelli tutti, Pope Francis says, ‘If society is to have a future, it must respect the truth of our human dignity and submit to that truth.’ And he adds, ‘In a pluralistic society, dialogue is the best way to realize what ought always to be affirmed and respected apart from any ephemeral consensus.’ 

“Religious freedom opens up space for that dialogue by allowing communities to live in accordance with their convictions and thus contribute to the larger society. When that space for dialogue is constricted, the broader society suffers.

“On this National Religious Freedom Day, may American Catholics and all people of good will commit themselves to nurturing our country’s great legacy of religious liberty for all.”

January 16, 2021
USCCB chairman urges peace ahead of presidential inauguration
WASHINGTON — Following the violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, and reports of an FBI bulletin warning of “armed protests” in state capitals and Washington, DC, in the coming week, including groups urging participants to “storm” state capitols and other government buildings and threatening “a huge uprising,” as well as reports of threats against lawmakers and their families, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, urged peace.

The full statement is as follows:

“Like Pope Francis, after viewing the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, I was ‘astonished’: a violent attack on a peaceful political process at the heart of our democracy, bombs placed at political party headquarters, the murder of a police officer and others dead and injured, symbols of racial hatred, calls to execute politicians, a gallows and a noose. There were those present who misappropriated Christian symbols as well.  There must be accountability for these actions.

“As a Christian, I must say to anyone considering further violence: you are being led astray by a voice that is not from God.  St. Paul gave us a reliable test of what is from God and what is not. 

             . . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Gal 5:22-23).  

“Please look into your heart.  Look at the images of the events on January 6.   Look at the messages that accompanied them on social media.   Look at the symbols of racial hatred in the crowd.  If you supported this, or are considering further actions in the coming week, ask: is what I intend the fruit of the Holy Spirit?  Are my intentions expressions of love for others, including those I may consider enemies?  Are they reflections of joy? Will they lead to peace? Do they exhibit patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control?  The violence of January 6, and the many voices that urged it on, including some political leaders, were the opposite of these things.

“St. Paul names what is opposed to the Spirit: “…hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions…” (Gal. 5:20).  Do not listen to those sowing hatred, anger, and divisions!  They lead you away from God.  Though sometimes masked in deceit or seemingly demanded by fear, for your sake and the sake of others, do not mistake empty promises for the love and peace that come only from God.”

January 15, 2021

Statement for Observance of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Most Reverend José H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

 

 For much of the past year, America has been reckoning with the legacy of slavery and the persistence of racial injustice in our country. Sadly, it is still true that the “color of our skin” often matters more in our society than the “content of our character,” as Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., said a half-century ago.

This year as we commemorate the legacy of this great American, we remember especially Rev. King’s belief in nonviolence and the power of love.

As we witnessed in the violence in our cities last summer and in the violence that broke out again last week at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., our country has become too angry, too bitter, and too divided.

And as we confront our deep divisions, we face the same choices that Rev. King and the civil rights movement faced. For us, too, the question is how will we struggle against the injustices in our society, what means will we use?

In 1958, Rev. King wrote: “Along the way of life, someone must have the sense enough and the morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethics of love to the center of our lives.” This is the challenge for every one of us who believes in the promise of America and seeks to renew the soul of this great nation.  

In the spirit of Rev. King, we must meet the forces of hate and ignorance with the power of love. We must learn again the wisdom of the Gospel and love our enemies and bless those who oppose us. In this moment, Rev. King would counsel everyone in public life to seek reconciliation and reject the easy temptation to reprisals and recrimination.

We do not love those who oppose us because they are loveable, or even likable, Rev. King once said. We love them because God loves them. And by our love, we seek their conversion and friendship, not their humiliation. This is our Christian duty in this moment — to be healers and peacemakers, to overcome evil and lies, not by more of the same, but with words of truth and works of love.

We ask our Blessed Mother Mary, the Queen of Peace, to guide us in this moment of transition and uncertainty in our country. May she help us to keep believing in the power of love. 

January 15, 2021
Bishop chairman issues urgent call to extend New START Treaty
WASHINGTON — Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued the following statement on the New START Treaty.

Bishop Malloy’s full statement follows:

“As the nation looks to the transition of power and a new president, we must not lose sight of the fact that New START, the last treaty limiting the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, is slated to expire on February 5.

“Extending the New START is essential to maintaining limits on the most dangerous nuclear weapons and is an existing means for needed progress toward nuclear disarmament, as mandated by Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

“On the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2020, Archbishop José Gomez, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops reminded us of the ongoing nuclear threat.[1] Months earlier, the Conference’s Committee on International Justice and Peace reaffirmed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), especially its call for nuclear powers to “work in good faith for the end of the nuclear arms race by seeking nuclear disarmament…‘under strict and effective international control.’” [2]

“January 22 also marks the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entering into force. The Holy See’s ratification of this treaty is a powerful reminder of the Catholic Church’s commitment to eliminate the nuclear threat.

“I renew our call to extend the New START Treaty, for a full five years, and urge President-elect Biden to make negotiations for nuclear disarmament a top priority.” 

January 11, 2021
Bishops call on Congress to abolish federal death penalty
WASHINGTON — With three more federal executions scheduled in January, two bishop chairmen call on the current Administration to stop, and for the new Congress and incoming Administration to abolish the death penalty in federal law. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement:

“Following a year where the federal government, for the first time, executed more people than all fifty states combined, there are three more federal executions scheduled this week.  We renew our constant call to President Trump and Acting Attorney General Rosen: stop these executions. 

“It is long past time to abolish the death penalty from our state and federal laws, and we call on the new Congress and President-Elect Biden to make this a priority.  One vehicle to accomplish this in federal law is the Federal Death Penalty Prohibition Act (S. 2390 and H.R. 4052 in the 116th Congress).  In addition, we ask President-Elect Biden to declare a moratorium on federal executions and to commute current federal death sentences to terms of imprisonment. 

“The terrible loss suffered by victims’ families must be considered as well.  We encourage lawmakers to redirect the energy and resources that currently go towards executions to provide compassionate and professional assistance to the families of victims.

“Every person is created in the image and likeness of God, and we encourage everyone to work to rid the death penalty from our state and federal laws and to develop greater appreciation for the sacred dignity of every human life.”

Archbishop Coakley and Archbishop Naumann wrote to all members of Congress asking to abolish the federal death penalty in a letter here

January 6, 2021
U.S. Bishop's president condemns violent protests at U.S. Capitol
WASHINGTON — Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued the following statement in response to today’s violence in the United States Capitol:

“I join people of good will in condemning the violence today at the United States Capitol. This is not who we are as Americans. I am praying for members of Congress and Capitol staff and for the police and all those working to restore order and public safety.

“The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of this great nation. In this troubling moment, we must recommit ourselves to the values and principles of our democracy and come together as one nation under God. I entrust all of us to the heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. May she guide us in the ways of peace, and obtain for us wisdom and the grace of a true patriotism and love of country.”  

January 5, 2020
Dioceses across U.S. participating in nationwide Prayer Vigil for Life, Jan. 28-29
WASHINGTON — Catholics across the country are encouraged to observe a nationwide prayer vigil from Thursday, January 28 to Friday, January 29, 2021 marking the 48th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions legalizing abortion through nine months of pregnancy. Since those decisions, over 60 million abortions have been performed legally in the United States. 

Each January, the National Prayer Vigil for Life is hosted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Pro-Life Secretariat, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and The Catholic University of America’s Office of Campus Ministry to pray for an end to abortion and a greater respect for all human life. 

While thousands of pilgrims typically attend the vigil in person each year, the Basilica will not be open to the public for the 2021 vigil due to local attendance restrictions in place because of the coronavirus pandemic. In response, this year, for the first time ever, in addition to the televised Mass, bishops in dioceses across the country will be taking turns leading live-streamed holy hours every hour on the hour throughout the all-night vigil. 

The vigil will begin with a live broadcast at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 28, from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. with a rosary, followed by Mass opening the National Prayer Vigil for Life. The principal celebrant and homilist for the opening Mass will be Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, who is chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). After the Mass and throughout the night, holy hours led by bishops from various dioceses around the country will be broadcast on the USCCB’s website. The vigil concludes at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, January 29, with Mass celebrated by Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore. 

“Now, more than ever, our nation is in need of prayer for the protection of the unborn and the dignity of all human life,” said Archbishop Naumann. “I am happy to be joined by bishops in dioceses across the country who are hosting pro-life prayer events, including during the overnight hours of Eucharistic adoration. I invite all Catholics to spend time with Our Lord and join in this nationwide vigil for life.” 

The schedule of the 2021 National Prayer Vigil for Life is listed below. (All times are in Eastern Time.) 

Thursday, January 28:

8:00 p.m. — National Rosary for Life

8:30 p.m. — Opening Mass with Archbishop Naumann

9:45 p.m. — Holy Hour for Life

11:00 p.m.— Live-stream of holy hours throughout the night 

Friday, January 29:

8:00 a.m. — Closing Mass with Archbishop Lori 

The live television broadcasts on January 28 from 8:00-11:00 p.m. and on January 29 from 8:00-9:00 a.m. will be provided by the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) and will also be available via live-stream on the Basilica’s website. Live-streaming information for the overnight bishop-led holy hours from various dioceses will be provided on the USCCB’s website.

December 30, 2020
USCCB subcommittee allocates $1.5M for Puerto Rico disaster recovery
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions has awarded Catholic Extension a $1.5M grant to help support a large-scale effort toward disaster recovery for the Catholic Church in Puerto Rico. The funds will be used to cover the startup expenses of the six Catholic dioceses in Puerto Rico as they seek funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to rebuild properties still left damaged from the 2017 hurricanes.
 
“The Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions appreciates the innovative groundwork that Catholic Extension’s staff has undertaken in the rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of the 2017 hurricanes,” said Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City and chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on Home Missions. “We are pleased to be able to support its work to seek additional funding through FEMA and to continue our shared efforts to rebuild the Church in Puerto Rico.” 
 
The initiative is expected to generate several hundred million dollars in federal funds for Catholic schools and churches to rebuild their structures. The Catholic Church in Puerto Rico continues to provide critical pastoral care by providing spiritual, emotional, and humanitarian outreach to the people of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of the hurricanes. This recovery effort will ensure that the Catholic Church in Puerto Rico has adequate and resilient facilities for its pastoral activities in the future, especially those that will serve the poor and vulnerable after future major natural disasters.   
 
This grant allocation was funded by donations to special collections called by USCCB to assist with recovery efforts after Hurricanes Irma and Maria and is in addition to the $3.3 million provided directly to five dioceses in Puerto Rico that requested support from the USCCB special collections. Since its founding in 1905, Catholic Extension has also financially supported the Church in Puerto Rico by rebuilding and repairing churches and supporting numerous ministries in marginalized communities of the island. 
 
The Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions oversees the Catholic Home Missions Appeal as part of the USCCB’s Committee on National Collections. The Subcommittee funds a wide range of pastoral services, including those that focus on evangelization activities, religious education, ministry training for priests, deacons, religious sisters and brothers, and laypeople, and support of poor parishes across the country. Home mission dioceses are located across the United States, including the Deep South, Appalachia, the Rocky Mountains, and U.S. territories in the Caribbean and Pacific.
 
More information about Catholic Home Missions, including what programs it supports and how the funds are distributed, can be found at www.usccb.org/home-missions
 

December 28, 2020
Pope Francis accepts resignation of Bishop Barnes of San Bernardino
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Gerald R. Barnes, 75, from the Office of Bishop of San Bernardino. Bishop Alberto Rojas, up until now coadjutor bishop of the same diocese, will succeed him as bishop of San Bernardino.

The appointment was publicized in Washington on December 28, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Rojas’ biography may be found here.

The Diocese of San Bernardino comprises 27,293 square miles in the state of California. It has a population of 4,622,361 people of whom, 1,797,173 are Catholic. 

December 18, 2020
Pope names Monsignor Larry Kulick as Bishop of Greensburg
WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has appointed Monsignor Larry James Kulick as the Bishop of Greensburg. Monsignor Kulick is a priest of the Diocese of Greensburg who has been serving as Diocesan Administrator of the diocese since September 2020. 

The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on December 18, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. The Diocese of Greensburg has been a vacant see since July 2020 following the appointment of Bishop Edward C. Malesic to Cleveland. 

Bishop-elect Kulick was born on February 24, 1966 in Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania, and ordained to the priesthood on May 16, 1992 for the Diocese of Greensburg. Monsignor Kulick graduated from Saint Joseph High School in Natrona Heights. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy (1988) and a Master’s degree in Theology (1992) from Saint Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and a Licentiate in Canon Law (JCL) from The Catholic University of America in Washington in 2012. 

After ordination, Father Kulick was assigned to Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg as parochial vicar where he served until 1995; he was assigned as parochial vicar at Immaculate Conception parish in Irwin from 1995-1997. In 1997, he was named pastor at Parish of the Good Shepherd in Kent, where he served until 2004, and pastor at St. Joseph parish in New Kensington from 2004-2008. 

From 1996-2001, Father Kulick served on the diocesan Priests’ Council as a consultant on priestly vocations. From 2008-2012, he served as co-episcopal master of ceremonies, co-director of the Office of Clergy Vocations and co-director of the Permanent Diaconate Office for the Diocese of Greensburg. 

Since 2012, Bishop-elect Kulick has been pastor of Saint James parish in New Alexandria, while also serving as a judge, defender of the bond, and advocate in the diocesan tribunal. During the same period, he has also served as vicar general, moderator of the curia, and acting chancellor for the diocese. He received the title of Monsignor by his office as Vicar General of the Diocese of Greensburg on May 21, 2014. Bishop-elect Kulick has also served as a member of the Administrative Board for the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and as chaplain for the Council of Catholic Women. 

The Diocese of Greensburg is comprised of 3,334 square miles in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and has a total population of 659,596 of which 126,649 are Catholic.

December 18, 2020
Bishop chairmen commend administration for enforcing conscience laws on abortion
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office for Civil Rights announced on December 17 that it is taking corrective action against the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMMC) and the State of California for violating federal conscience laws on abortion. The UVMMC violated the Church Amendment (enacted in 1973) by forcing a nurse to participate in an elective abortion against her religious beliefs and moral convictions. The State of California is violating the Weldon Amendment by state insurance and health care laws which require health plans to cover elective abortions. Most employers, including even some churches, are unable to obtain self-funded health plans that exclude this objectionable coverage. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement in response to this enforcement action: 

“We strongly commend the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for taking concrete steps to enforce long-standing and fundamental civil rights laws. These bi-partisan laws recognize that it is an abhorrent violation of conscience rights to force someone to perform, pay for, or otherwise participate in an abortion against their beliefs. Sadly, violations of these laws have increased in recent years, so we are deeply grateful to OCR for taking these strong and just actions to enforce the law. And because the right of freedom of conscience does not diminish as administrations change, we hope that today’s actions to enforce these crucial federal conscience laws will be sustained until the violators come into compliance.” 

USCCB chairmen address ethical concerns for COVID-19 vaccines
WASHINGTON – On December 14, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Doctrine, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued a statement on the new COVID-19 vaccines. In their statement, the bishops address the moral concerns raised by the fact that the three vaccines that appear to be ready for distribution in the United States all have some connection to cell lines that originated with tissue taken from abortions.

With regard to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, they concluded:

“In view of the gravity of the current pandemic and the lack of availability of alternative vaccines, the reasons to accept the new COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are sufficiently serious to justify their use, despite their remote connection to morally compromised cell lines.

“Receiving one of the COVID-19 vaccines ought to be understood as an act of charity toward the other members of our community.  In this way, being vaccinated safely against COVID-19 should be considered an act of love of our neighbor and part of our moral responsibility for the common good.”

With regard to the AstraZeneca vaccine, the bishops found it to be “more morally compromised” and consequently concluded that this vaccine “should be avoided” if there are alternatives available. “It may turn out, however, that one does not really have a choice of vaccine, at least, not without a lengthy delay in immunization that may have serious consequences for one’s health and the health of others,” the bishop chairmen stated. “In such a case … it would be permissible to accept the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

At the same time, the bishops also warned that Catholics “must be on guard so that the new COVID-19 vaccines do not desensitize us or weaken our determination to oppose the evil of abortion itself and the subsequent use of fetal cells in research.”

The full statement from the bishop chairmen may be found here.

December 7, 2020
U.S. Bishop chairmen call for end to executions
WASHINGTON — With more federal executions scheduled in December and January, two bishop chairmen call on the Administration to recall God’s mercy during Advent. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement: 

“We’ve asked many times to stop the federal executions. In fact, last Advent, three bishops wrote that the resumption of federal executions was at odds with this season of anticipated redemption. But the executions resumed. Eight since July. Two more this week. Three in January. A new regulation will permit federal execution by means other than lethal injection, such as the electric chair. 

“What does the birth of our Lord say to this? The Lord comes not to destroy, but to save. For the Second Sunday of Advent, we hear St. Peter counsel that the Lord ‘is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance’ (2 Pt. 3:9). Can we follow the Lord’s example? 

“We are all sinners. Some have done terrible things. Victims need help. Justice is needed for peace. But executions solve nothing. 

“This Advent, the Lord comes to love us even though we don’t deserve it. Let us repent and embrace his gift. We call on President Trump and Attorney General Barr, in recognition of God’s unmerited gift of self-giving love: stop these executions.”   

December 2, 2020
Ministry with young adults focus of virtual national leadership forum Dec. 7-11
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth (LMFLY) is hosting an online leadership conference December 7-11. The 2020 National Leadership Forum on Ministry with Young Adults is coordinated by the LMFLY secretariat’s National Advisory Team on Young Adult Ministry and will share best practices and introduce skills to better equip those who minister to young adults (ages 18-39) in the Catholic Church.

The forum planners used Pope Francis’ 2019 apostolic exhortation, Christus Vivit, and his 2020 message to young people as guideposts for this event, taking into account the urgent need for Catholics to take bold, creative, and innovative steps to accompany young adults in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The event is being held under the banner of “Arise!” which Pope Francis noted, in his annual message for World Youth Day in February 2020, was “an invitation to ‘dream’, to ‘take a risk’, to be ‘committed to changing the world’, to rekindle your hopes and aspirations, and to contemplate the heavens, the stars and the world around you.”

“While much seems dark and uncertain at this time, the Forum organizers see opportunities for a positive, hope-filled approach to the Church’s engagement of young adults,” said Mr. Dominic Lombardi, executive director for the LMFLY secretariat. “Rather than frustration, now is the time to rise to the occasion, to be bold, and to try something new and exciting.” 

The forum is taking place in a virtual format and will feature live webinars and discussions, daily prayer experiences, networking opportunities, and workshops from over sixty pastoral leaders and ministry experts. The event’s keynote address will be given on December 9, by Father Alexandre Awi Mello, I.Sch., the secretary for the Vatican’s Dicastery of Laity, Family and Life, which was created in 2016 by Pope Francis. Eleven U.S. bishops are also key contributors to the forum through several specialized video messages, which are being offered to event participants as part of their registration.

Attendees will have the opportunity to take part in live keynote presentations and creative conversations with other ministry leaders from around the country as well as build up their ministry toolbox with video workshops from ministry leaders. The forum is open to any Catholic who accompanies, in any way, young adults in their late teens, twenties, and thirties in their work, leadership, ministry efforts, or active engagement within the Catholic Church. More information, as well as registration is available at www.natyamforum.com.

December 1, 2020
Pope Francis names Bishop Michael W. Fisher as Bishop of Buffalo
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Bishop Michael W. Fisher, auxiliary bishop of Washington, as Bishop of Buffalo. The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on December 1, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Fisher’s biography may be found here.

The Diocese of Buffalo is comprised of 6,357 square miles in the State of New York and has a total population of 1,529,576 of which 571,000 are Catholic.

 

 

 

 

 


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