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U.S. CATHOLIC BISHOPS CHAIRMAN OF ECUMENICAL AND INTERRELIGIOUS AFFAIRS OFFERS CONDOLENCES ON THE DEATH OF THE REV. BILLY GRAHAM

WASHINGTON — His Excellency, Bishop Joseph Bambera of Scranton, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, has issued the following statement on receiving the news of the Rev. Billy Graham’s death:

“Headlines today will describe Billy Graham as the preacher to millions and the advisor of presidents but first and foremost, he was a man of deep Christian faith. Committed to the Gospel, his personal witness and preaching of Jesus Christ touched the hearts of Americans spanning many generations. 

In a particular way, Catholics feel the loss of one of the greatest pastors of our time. His ecumenical approach in ministry helped to forge bonds of friendship and understanding between Catholics and Protestants. He reminded us that what we had in common in Christ was greater than what divided us.
 
We pray for God to comfort his family and we join Christians throughout the nation and the world who pray today with blessed assurance, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your master!’” (Matt 25:23)

February 20, 2018
POPE FRANCIS NAMES AUXILIARY BISHOP OF THE MILITARY SERVICES AS AUXILIARY BISHOP OF ROCKVILLE CENTRE

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has transferred Auxiliary Bishop Robert J. Coyle of the Archdiocese for the Military Services to the office of auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

The appointment was publicized in Washington on February 20, 2018, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
 
Bishop Coyle was born on September 23, 1964 in Brooklyn, New York. He received a bachelor of arts degree in economics from Fordham University in 1986, and he attended the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, New York, earning a master of divinity degree and master of arts degree in theology in 1991.
 
He was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Rockville Centre on May 25, 1991, by Bishop John R. McGann at St. Agnes Cathedral.
 
Bishop Coyle was commissioned an ensign in the U.S. Navy on June 3, 1988 and served 24.5 years on Active and Reserve Duty before his retirement from the Naval Reserve on January 1, 2013. As a Navy Reserve Chaplain, Fr. Coyle served as Associate Pastor at St. Dominic Church in Oyster Bay, NY (1991-1996) and St. Patrick’s Church in Glen Cove, NY (1996-1999). He served as a Navy Reserve Chaplain from 1991-1999, and on Active Duty from 1999-2009. He was assigned to the 3rd Marine Division on Okinawa, Japan, from 1999-2000, during which time he was promoted to Lieutenant. He deployed to the Middle East (2000-2001) and served in Operation Southern Watch and Operation Iraqi Freedom (2002-2003). In 2005, he was promoted to the rank of Commander, U.S. Navy. From 2007 to 2009, he served on the USS Dwight D. EISENHOWER (CVN69) Aircraft Carrier and deployed to the Middle East in 2009 for Operation Enduring Freedom. In 2008, he was named by Pope Benedict XVI a Chaplain to His Holiness, a recognition that carried the honorary title of Monsignor.
 
On February 11, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI named Msgr. Coyle auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services. His episcopal ordination took place in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, DC, on the Feast of Saint Mark, April 25, 2013.
 
The Diocese of Rockville Centre, NY, comprises 1,198 square miles. It has a total population of 2,889,841 people of which 1,524,639, or 53 percent, are Catholic. Bishop John O. Barres is currently the fifth bishop of Rockville Centre.

February 20, 2018
USCCB PRESIDENT, VICE PRESIDENT, AND MIGRATION CHAIR ANNOUNCE NATIONAL CALL-IN DAY FOR DREAMERS

WASHINGTON — Late last week, the Senate failed to achieve the 60 votes needed to move forward with debate on legislation to provide relief to Dreamers.  Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB President; Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, USCCB Vice President; and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, together issued the following statement:

“We are deeply disappointed that the Senate was not able to come together in a bipartisan manner to secure legislative protection for the Dreamers.  With the March 5th deadline looming, we ask once again that Members of Congress show the leadership necessary to find a just and humane solution for these young people, who daily face mounting anxiety and uncertainty.

“We are also announcing a National Catholic Call-In Day to Protect Dreamers. This coming weekend, we will be asking the faithful across the nation to call their Members of Congress next Monday, February 26, to protect Dreamers from deportation, to provide them a path to citizenship, and to avoid any damage to existing protections for families and unaccompanied minors in the process.
 
“Our faith compels us to stand with the vulnerable, including our immigrant brothers and sisters.  We have done so continually, but we must show our support and solidarity now in a special way.  Now is the time for action.”

February 14, 2018
BISHOP CONFERENCE PRESIDENT REACTION TO SHOOTING AT FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL

WASHINGTON — Following the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called for prayer and healing.

The full statement is as follows:

“We are deeply saddened by the shootings in Broward County, Florida, and by the needless and tragic loss of life. May the mercy of God comfort the grieving families and sustain the wounded in their healing.  Catholics and many other Christians have begun the journey of Lent today. I encourage us to unite our prayers and sacrifices for the healing and consolation of all those who have been affected by violence in these last weeks and for a conversion of heart, that our communities and nation will be marked by peace. I pray also for unity in seeking to build toward a society with fewer tragedies caused by senseless gun violence.  Our hope is in the Lord, as he promised after his resurrection, ‘behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age’ (Mt. 28:20).”

February 14, 2018
PRESIDENT OF BISHOPS CONFERENCE ENCOURAGES CATHOLICS TO JOIN POPE FRANCIS IN A DAY OF PRAYER AND FASTING FOR PEACE
 
WASHINGTON — The President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, is encouraging Catholics across the nation to join with Pope Francis on Friday, February 23, for a special Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace. The day of prayer and fasting will focus on continued conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and other areas of the world.

Reflecting on the suffering caused by violent conflict, Pope Francis said, “Our heavenly Father always listens to His children who cry to Him in sorrow and anguish, who ‘heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds’ (Psalm 147:3). I make a heartfelt appeal so that we also listen to this cry and, each one of us in his/her own conscience before God, ask ourselves, ‘What can I do for peace?’”

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

“Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has called us to observe a special day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace on Friday, February 23, as Lent begins, with a particular concern for the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
 
Tragically, violent conflict rages in both nations.  South Sudan won its independence in 2011 only to find itself a victim to corruption and a bloody civil war.  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the government fails to honor the constitution as the Catholic Church courageously promotes a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the ruling and opposition parties. In both countries, innocent families suffer.

Let us answer the Holy Father’s call to pray and fast for peace, especially for the Church and peoples of South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And let us turn our fasting into almsgiving and support the work of Catholic Relief Services in both countries.
 
May God bless South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and our world with peace.”

To learn more about the special Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace and for additional resources on how Catholics can respond, please visit: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/war-and-peace/day-of-prayer-and-fasting-for-peace.cfm.

February 13, 2018
FEDERAL BUDGET SHOULD BUILD TOWARD COMMON GOOD, SAY U.S. BISHOPS CHAIRMEN
 
WASHINGTON — After the Trump Administration released its federal budget proposal, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, and the Most Reverend Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, expressed deep concerns about many of the priorities outlined in the blueprint, and called on Congress to “ensure a budget for our country that honors our obligations to build toward the common good.”

The full statement follows:
 
“The federal budget is a moral document, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has consistently urged our national leaders to consider important principles when deciding how to steward the finite resources entrusted to it by the American people. Budget decisions ought to be guided by moral criteria that safeguard human life and dignity, give central importance to ‘the least of these,’ and promote the well-being of workers and families who struggle to live in dignity. Our nation must never seek to balance the budget on the backs of the poor at home and abroad.
 
Yesterday, President Trump unveiled a budget plan, ‘Efficient, Effective, Accountable: An American Budget,’ that again calls for deep cuts to vital parts of government, including underfunding programs that serve the poor, diplomacy, and environmental stewardship. At the same time, the plan calls for increases in immigration enforcement spending and further increases in military spending, including on nuclear weapons. Prohibiting certain abortion providers from receiving federal funds and providing increased resources to combat opioid addiction is commendable. However, we urge Congress—and every American—to evaluate the Administration’s budget blueprint in light of its impacts on those most in need, and work to ensure a budget for our country that honors our obligations to build toward the common good.”

February 9, 2018
U.S. BISHOPS CHAIRMEN COMMEND PROVISIONS IN BUDGET ACT ENSURING HOUSES OF WORSHIP CAN APPLY FOR FEDERAL DISASTER ASSISTANCE

WASHINGTON – This morning, the Bipartisan Budget Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump.  The bill includes the Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act, which codifies fair and equal treatment for houses of worship damaged in natural disasters by enabling them to seek assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, chairman of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, praised Congress for including disaster relief fairness provisions in the Act:

“When hurricanes and other natural disasters strike, houses of worship are on the front lines of rebuilding efforts.  Churches, synagogues, and mosques are vital to their communities, and they, like other important community institutions, need help recovering from the impacts of natural disasters.  We applaud Congress for including provisions in the Budget Act that direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to make disaster relief assistance available to houses of worship on the same terms as other nonprofit entities.  These provisions ensure that houses of worship are treated fairly.  That’s good not only for houses of worship but for the communities that depend on them.”

Links to letters of support for the Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act can be found here: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/upload/Letter-of-Support-to-House-for-Federal-Disaster-Assistance-Nonprofit-Fairness-Act-of-2017.pdf

A backgrounder is available at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/upload/Federal-Disaster-Assistance-Nonprofit-Fairness-Act-2017-Fact-Sheet.pdf     

February 9, 2018
BISHOPS’ PRO-LIFE CHAIRMAN PRAISES TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FOR EXPANDED MEXICO CITY POLICY

WASHINGTON – Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, thanked and praised the Trump Administration following release of its six-month report showing early signs of successful implementation of an expanded Mexico City Policy aptly renamed Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance.

“As Chairman of the United States Bishops’ Committee, I again applaud this Administration for restoring our foreign assistance to its rightful goals of promoting health and human rights. Abortion undermines basic human rights, certainly for the child, and it also can wound the mother emotionally and physically. U.S. tax dollars have no business going to organizations that are unwilling to pursue health outcomes for every person and instead insist on promoting and imposing their abortion ideology on women and children. The six-month report just released by the Trump Administration provides early evidence that the vast majority of NGOs—729 out of 733—are willing and able to comply with this policy and that compliance does not appear to undermine delivery of appropriate health services.”
 
February 7, 2018
USCCB LAUNCHES NEW MOBILE RESPONSIVE FORYOURMARRIAGE.ORG WEBSITE 

WASHINGTON—In conjunction with the start of National Marriage Week USA, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is pleased to announce the launch of a new mobile responsive ForYourMarriage.org website on February 7, 2018.

Originally launched in 2007, ForYourMarriage.org is an initiative of the USCCB that began as the communications component of the National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage. It continues to play a key role in advancing the USCCB’s priority on marriage and family.
 
Thanks to a grant received from the Catholic Communications Campaign, the new website, developed in collaboration with Crosby Communications and Marketing, includes updated content, graphics, and a new section dedicated to marriage and family ministry leaders.
 
“I hope this new platform will reach many more people with the message of God’s plan for marriage and be a source of support to husbands and wives at every stage of their vocational journey,” said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap, of Philadelphia, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.
 
ForYourMarriage.org offers numerous resources on the meaning and beauty of marriage in God’s plan and provides support to couples at every stage of their journey. There are sections dedicated to dating, marriage preparation, mixed marriages, parenting and family, natural family planning, the stages of marriage, among others. A marriage resource section offers daily marriage tips, marriage help and support links, and solutions to common challenges. Finally, questions specific to planning a Catholic wedding as well as related Church documents and teachings are available on the website.
 
Along with these resources, the website features couples who write about their real-life experiences as engaged, newlyweds, or seasoned couples with weekly blog posts. Feature articles include book reviews, reports on current events and research related to marriage, and recent teachings about marriage and family life from the Holy Father.
 
Other websites hosted by the USCCB and dedicated to promoting marriage include PorTuMatrimonio.org and MarriageUniqueForAReason.org.

February 6, 2018
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER FOR VICTIMS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING TO BE OBSERVED FEBRUARY 8

WASHINGTON — The International Day of Prayer for Victims of Human Trafficking will be observed on February 8. Designated by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the International Union of Superiors General as a time of remembrance for victims and survivors of forced labor and commercial sex trafficking, the day coincides with the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita.

With an estimated over 25 million women, children, and men trapped in modern-day slavery, February 8th offers an opportunity to educate communities of faith about the prevalence of trafficking and to pray for its victims, who are often “hidden in plain sight”. Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Migration, notes “through prayer we grow in solidarity with those that have suffered this affront to human dignity. We demonstrate to survivors that they are not alone.”

In honor of this important day, the USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services, the Archdiocese of Washington, the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, and Trinity Washington University will host an Inter-Religious Prayer Service to remember victims and survivors of human trafficking, and to reflect on how we can unite against modern-day slavery. The service will take place on February 8th at 6:30 PM at the Chapel of Trinity University (125 Michigan Ave NE, Washington, DC). To rsvp  for an evening of prayer with representatives from the world’s major religions, see Inter-Religious Service.

For help in hosting an awareness event or prayer service locally, visit Become a Shepherd for downloadable resources.

February 5, 2018
COLLECTION FOR CHURCH IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE TAKES PLACE ON ASH WEDNESDAY

WASHINGTON — The annual collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe will be held in most parishes on Ash Wednesday, February 14.
The collection supports pastoral, evangelization, and construction projects, as well as educational scholarships in Central and Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. Other areas of funding include lay and religious formation, poverty outreach, and communications.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe awarded over $9.1 million in grants last year for 318 projects in support of the Church in formerly communist countries of the region.

“For decades, our brothers and sisters in Central and Eastern Europe faced a test of faith as they suffered religious and political persecution under oppressive regimes,” said Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago and chairman of the Subcommittee. “We rely on US Catholics’ generosity to this collection to support these communities as they rebuild their faith and continue to be modern witnesses of the Gospel message.”

The Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe oversees the collection and an annual grant program as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. More information about the collection and what it supports can be found at www.usccb.org/ccee. Shareable resources to promote it can be found at www.usccb.org/ccee/collection.

February 5, 2018
POPE FRANCIS NAMES NEW AUXILIARY BISHOP OF ATLANTA
 
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Father Joel Konzen, S.M, as a new auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Georgia. Father Konzen is a member of the Society of Mary (Marists) and currently serves as the principal of Marist School in Atlanta.  
 
The appointment was publicized in Washington on February 5, 2018, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
 
Joel Konzen was born on November 6, 1950, in Oak Harbor, Ohio, in the Diocese of Toledo. He attended St Meinrad College, Indiana, from 1968-1972, earning a bachelor’s degree in English. At Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans he earned a master’s degree in Divinity (1972-1974), and at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., he earned a master’s degree in Systematic Theology in 1978 and a master’s degree in Educational Administration in 1991.
 
In 1974, at Notre Dame, he entered the Society of Mary novitiate (Washington, DC) and took first vows as a Marist in 1975. He was ordained a priest in 1979 in New Orleans.
 
Assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar, St. Edmond Parish, Lafayette, LA, 1979-1980; director of Admissions & Financial Aid, Marist School, Atlanta, GA, 1980-1982; principal, Marist School, Atlanta, GA, 1982-1988; president, Marist School, Atlanta, GA, 1988-1989; Vicar Provincial, Marist Center, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992; president/principal, St. Michael’s Academy, Austin, TX, 1992-1997; vicar provincial, Marist Center, Washington, D.C., 1997-1999; principal, Marist School, Atlanta, GA, 1999-present. Fr. Konzen received the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) Catholic Secondary Schools Department Educational Excellence Award in 2015.
 
The Archdiocese of Atlanta, GA, comprises 21,445 square miles. It has a total population of 7,256,925 people of which 1,050,000, or 14 percent, are Catholic.

February 1, 2019
POPE FRANCIS ACCEPTS RESIGNATION OF BISHOP FRANCIS J. CHRISTIAN OF MANCHESTER
 
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Francis Joseph Christian, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Manchester, for reasons of age. He has reached the retirement age for bishops of 75.



Bishop Christian’s retirement was publicized in Washington, February 1, 2018, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
 
Francis J. Christian was born October 8, 1942 in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He attended St. Anselm College, Manchester, St. Paul Seminary, Ottawa, and the American College in Louvain, Belgium, earning his bachelor’s degree in Philosophy in 1964, his master’s degree in Theology in 1968, and a doctoral degree in Religious Studies with a specialization in Moral Theology in 1975.
 
He was ordained a priest by Bishop Ernest J. Primeau, the sixth bishop of Manchester, for the Diocese of Manchester on June 29, 1968, at St. Patrick Church, Jaffrey, NH.
 
Assignments after ordination include: assistant pastor, Our Lady of Mercy, Merrimack, 1968-1971; assistant pastor, St. Joseph Cathedral, Manchester, 1971-1972; post graduate student, Louvain, Ph.D. in Moral Theology, 1972-1975; Vice Chancellor, Diocese of Manchester, 1975-1977; Chancellor, Diocese of Manchester, 1977-1986; Secretary for Administrative/Canonical Affairs, 1986-1996. In 1986, Pope John Paul II named Bishop Christian a prelate of honor, which includes the title "Monsignor.”
 
On April 2, 1996, Pope John Paul II appointed then-Monsignor Francis Christian as Auxiliary Bishop of Manchester and Titular Bishop of Quincy. He was ordained a bishop on May 14, 1996 at St. Joseph Cathedral by Bishop Leo E. O'Neil.
 
The Diocese of Manchester comprises 9,305 square miles. It has a total population of 1,334,795 people of which 254,594, or 19 percent, are Catholic.

January 31, 2018
NEW POVERTY USA AND POBREZAUSA WEBSITES HELP CATHOLICS ENCOUNTER, LEARN AND ACT TO ADDRESS POVERTY


WASHINGTON — Catholics can encounter, learn and act to address poverty in the United States through two new websites from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). PovertyUSA.org and its Spanish mirror site, PobrezaUSA.org, were launched today, the last day of Poverty Awareness Month (January).

The mobile-friendly sites offer tools and resources to help Catholics put faith in action by working to address poverty. Resources include an interactive map with state and county level poverty statistics, learning activities about poverty, prayer materials, and multimedia. The sites also feature stories of hope about how communities are working to address poverty locally, and an interactive map to find community organizations funded by the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development.


“As disciples of Christ, we are invited to encounter those in our communities who experience poverty,” said Bishop David P. Talley of Alexandria, chair of the CCHD Subcommittee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. “Poverty in the United States is a reality. We must work together to put faith in action to work towards policies in our local communities, and nationally, that can help address it.”



Nearly 41 million people live in poverty in the United States, including 15 million children. The poverty threshold is $24,600 for a family of four and $12,200 for a single person.


Catholics can join the conversation about poverty in our communities on social media at www.facebook.com/povertyusa and twitter.com/endpovertyusa.



PovertyUSA.org and PobrezaUSA.org are an initiative of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the domestic anti-poverty program of the USCCB that works to break the cycle of poverty by helping low-income people participate in decisions that affect their lives, families and communities, and by helping Catholics encounter, learn and act to address the causes of poverty. 


January 31, 2018
NATIONAL MARRIAGE WEEK USA, WORLD MARRIAGE DAY PROMOTE GIFT OF MARRIAGE AS SCHOOL OF LIFE AND LOVE

WASHINGTON — National Marriage Week USA and World Marriage Day are opportunities “to focus on building a culture of life and love that begins with supporting and promoting marriage and the family,” wrote Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in a letter to his brother bishops.
 
February 7-14 marks the annual celebration of National Marriage Week USA. World Marriage Day is celebrated annually on the second Sunday of February. This year, World Marriage Day is Sunday, February 11, coinciding with the World Day of the Sick.
 
The USCCB offers resources to the faithful for the promotion and defense of marriage as a lifelong union of one man and one woman through its dedicated websites ForYourMarriage.org, PorTuMatrimonio.org, and MarriageUniqueForAReason.org. Additional resources specifically for the celebration of National Marriage Week, including a homily resource, bulletin insert, poster, and prayer intentions, can be found on the USCCB website: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/national-marriage-week.cfm.
 
Starting February 7, a daily virtual marriage retreat for couples will be made available on the ForYourMarriage.org website and via the For Your Marriage social media channels on Facebook and Twitter. The seven-day retreat will focus on the theme “Marriage: School of Life and Love.” A rosary for engaged and married couples and for families in need of healing will be live-streamed from the chapel at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, DC via the USCCB Facebook page and Twitter feed on Friday, February 9 at 3:00 pm EST.
 
A wide array of prayer cards, books and pamphlets on marriage and family can be ordered online through the USCCB store.
 
National Marriage Week USA, launched in 2010, is part of an international event seeking to mobilize individuals, organizations, and businesses in a common purpose to strengthen marriage in communities and influence the culture. For information and resources, visit: NationalMarriageWeekUSA.org. World Marriage Day was started in 1983 by Worldwide Marriage Encounter.

January 30, 2018
BISHOPS’ PILGRIMAGE TO THE HOLY LAND SEEKS “BRIDGES, NOT WALLS”



WASHINGTON — Ten bishops made a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land on January 18 - 27, 2018.  In reflections issued at the conclusion of the Pilgrimage, they noted the “many walls and some bridges” they encountered as they “sought out those on the peripheries.” The visit, had as its theme, “Bridges, Not Walls,” to help connect the bishops’ domestic experiences of walls on the U.S. southern border to the reality of walls in the Holy Land.

They offer a number of reflections regarding their visit, including:

In Sderot, the city that has suffered the most from rocket attacks by Hamas, the bishops noted “they encountered the real fears of Israelis who grieve for the loss of lives,” and also expressed great concern for their children who are “regularly required to practice air raid drills.” 

In addition to visiting Jerusalem, Nazareth, and many holy sites, where they celebrated daily Eucharist, the bishops traveled to Gaza and Jiffna in the Palestinian Territories to celebrate the Sunday Eucharist with “small, vibrant Christian communities.” 

They traveled extensively in the West Bank, including to Hebron, Susya and Bethlehem, witnessing firsthand the “stark reminders of the Israeli occupation—check-points that inhibit movement, confiscations of Palestinian lands, expansion of Israeli settlements, and a security barrier whose route cuts deep into the West Bank, which together with Israeli-only bypass roads, strangles natural urban growth and divides the Palestinian Territories into non-contiguous cantons.”

The bishops also urge the U.S. government not to cut badly needed humanitarian and development assistance. They had met with families in Gaza and the West Bank who depend on aid for basic necessities, health care and education.

The bishops also express a particular concern for the dramatic decline of the Christian presence throughout the Holy Land, but also noted there are reasons for hope. In particular, they pointed to schools sponsored by the Church where persons of different religions study together, health ministries that serve the most vulnerable, and relief and development agencies doing heroic work.

The Pilgrimage for Peace was originally proposed by Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, when he was Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, with the support of Bishop Nelson Jesus Perez of Cleveland, Chairman of the Sub-committee on Hispanic Affairs.  Catholic Relief Services and the Holy Land Incoming Tour Operators Association partnered with the USCCB Office of International Justice and Peace in planning the Pilgrimage.

Calling for an end to violence and the occupation, the bishops are asking “Catholics to pray for the peoples of the Holy Land, to come on Pilgrimage to both the Holy Sites and the local Christian community, and to urge our nation’s leaders to support policies that promote justice and peace.”

The other bishops who participated were Bishop José Arturo Cepeda of Detroit, Bishop Octavio Cisneros of Brooklyn, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, MSpS, of Seattle, Bishop Felipe de Jesús Estévez of St. Augustine, Bishop Armando Xavier Ochoa of Fresno, Bishop Rutilio del Riego of San Bernardino, Bishop Alberto Rojas of Chicago, and Bishop Plácido Rodriguez of Lubbock.

The full text of the statement can be found here:  http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/israel-palestine/bridges-not-wall-reflections-bishops-pilgrimage-holy-land-01-18-27-2018.cfm

January 30, 2018
CHAIRMAN OF U.S. BISHOPS’ COMMITTEE ON MIGRATION PRAISES PATH TO CITIZENSHIP FOR DREAMERS
 
WASHINGTON — In response to the White House framework on immigration released on January 26th, Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, stated the following:
 
“We welcome the Administration’s proposal to include a path to citizenship for Dreamers. However, the proposed cuts to family immigration and elimination of protections to unaccompanied children are deeply troubling. Family immigration is part of the bedrock of our country and of our Church. Pope Francis states: ‘the family is the foundation of co-existence and a remedy against social fragmentation.’ Upholding and protecting the family unit, regardless of its national origins, is vital to our faith. Additionally, in searching for a solution for Dreamers, we must not turn our backs on the vulnerable. We should not, for example, barter the well-being of unaccompanied children for the well-being of the Dreamers. We know them all to be children of God who need our compassion and mercy.
 
We urge a bipartisan solution forward that is narrowly-tailored. Time is of the essence. Every day we experience the human consequences of delayed action in the form of young people losing their livelihood and their hope. As pastors and leaders of the Church, we see this fear and sadness in our parishes and as such, continue to call for immediate action. Elected officials must show leadership to quickly enact legislation that provides for our security and is humane, proportionate and just.”

January 29, 2018
CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ PRO-LIFE CHAIRMAN CALLS SENATE FAILURE TO PASS PAIN-CAPABLE UNBORN CHILD PROTECTION ACT “APPALLING”
 
WASHINGTON— Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities called the Senate’s failure to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act “appalling”. The bill proposes to ban abortions starting at 20 weeks after fertilization.

“The U.S. Senate’s failure to adopt the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, prohibiting abortions at 20 weeks post-fertilization, is appalling. Abortions performed in the second half of pregnancy usually involve brutally dismembering a defenseless unborn child, while also posing serious dangers to his or her mother. The Senate’s rejection of this common-sense legislation is radically out of step with most Americans. Opinion polls consistently show that a strong majority of the public opposes late-term abortions—including those who self-identify as ‘pro-choice’. Furthermore, the United States is currently one of only seven countries that allows abortions beyond 20-weeks. The other six are North Korea, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada and the Netherlands. The Senate must rethink its extreme stance on late-term abortions. I call upon the public to tell the Senate that this vote is absolutely unacceptable.”
January 29, 2018
U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS TO CONVENE HISTORIC FIFTH NATIONAL ENCUENTRO  IN SEPTEMBER

WASHINGTON—Registration for the Fifth National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry (V Encuentro) will launch on February 20, 2018. In September, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will convene a historic ecclesial gathering of 3,000 Hispanic/Latino Ministry leaders/delegates from dioceses, ecclesial movements, schools, universities and Catholic organizations from across the country. The delegates representing more than165 dioceses were selected among nearly 250,000 people that participated in the local process over the past year. Over 100 bishops are expected to lead diocesan delegations.

The goal of the V Encuentro is to discern ways in which the Church in the United States can better respond to the Hispanic/Latino presence, and to strengthen the ways in which Hispanics/Latinos respond to the call to the New Evangelization as missionary disciples.

A priority activity of the USCCB’s Strategic Plan for 2017-2020, the V Encuentro is a four-year process of evangelization, mission and consultation under the theme Missionary Disciples: Witnesses of God’s Love inspired by Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). The process of Encuentro has been the catalyst for developing ministries among Hispanics/Latinos during the past fifty years.

Alejandro Aguilera-Titus, National Coordinator for the V Encuentro said, “The National Encuentro is the summit experience which comes at the midpoint of the 4-year process. One of the most important outcomes of the V National Encuentro is the discernment of priorities and recommendations that will guide Hispanic Ministry in the United States for the next ten to fifteen years.”
 
The National Encuentro will be held in Grapevine, Texas, at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center from September 20-23, 2018. This is an invitation-only event for diocesan delegates and other participants 18 years and older. Individuals will not be able to register separately.

Information to obtain media credentials to cover this event will be available at a future date. For more details regarding the V National Encuentro visit: www.vencuentro.org.

January 29, 2018
WORLD DAY FOR CONSECRATED LIFE TO BE CELEBRATED FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2; COINCIDES WITH RELEASE OF 2017 PROFESSION CLASS SURVEY 

WASHINGTON — As the Catholic Church prepares to celebrate the World Day for Consecrated Life, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV) is releasing the results of a survey taken of the most recent Profession Class of 2017 conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). The survey results have been released to coincide with the annual celebration of World Day for Consecrated Life, which will be celebrated in the Church on Friday, February 2, 2018 and in parishes on the weekend of February 3-4, 2018.

Commenting on the World Day for Consecrated Life, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Newark and Chair of the USCCB’s Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations states: “For twenty-one years, the Church has designated the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Candlemas Day, as an appropriate moment to thank God for the gift of consecrated life. Jesus is manifest as ‘light of revelation for the Gentiles’ and ‘glory for God’s people, Israel.’ Consecrated men and women reflect this light as witnesses of Jesus in a world that is often shrouded in shadow. They are the glory of God’s people. We pray for the perseverance of consecrated men and women and ask God to continue enriching the Church with their unique vocation.”

The survey polled women and men religious who professed perpetual vows in 2017 in a religious congregation, province, or monastery based in the U.S. CARA received a response from 600 of 768 major superiors for an overall response rate of 78 percent among religious institutes.

Of these 216 identified women and men religious, a total of 100 sisters and nuns and 51 brothers and priests responded to the survey. These 51 men may include some brothers who intend to pursue studies leading to priestly ordination. This represents a response rate of 73 percent of the 208 potential members of the Profession Class of 2017 that were reported to CARA by major superiors. 
Some of the major findings of the report are:•    Nearly nine in ten or 86 percent of responding religious regularly participated in some type of private prayer activity before they entered their religious institute. About two-thirds participated in Eucharistic Adoration, prayed the rosary, or attended retreats before entering. Nearly six in ten participated in spiritual direction before entering.



Most religious did not report that educational debt delayed their application for entrance to their institute. Among the 4 percent who did report having educational debt, however, they averaged about 4 years of delay while they paid down an average of $29,100 in educational debt. 



  • The average age of responding religious is 41.  Half of the responding religious are age 36 or younger. The youngest is 24 and the oldest is 86.


  • Two-thirds of responding religious (64 percent) identify as white, more than one in six (18 percent) identifies as Asian, and more than one in ten (11 percent) identifies as Hispanic.


  • Most responding religious (67 percent) were born in the U.S. Of those born outside the United States, the most common country of origin is Vietnam. 


  • Among those identifying as Hispanic/Latino almost six in ten (62 percent) are foreign born. Those identifying as Asian/Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian seven in ten are predominantly foreign born. Nearly all identifying as Caucasian/White (94 percent) are U.S. born.


  • One-half of responding religious attended a Catholic elementary school, more than four in ten (44 percent) attended a Catholic high school, and a near equal proportion (43 percent) attended a Catholic college before entering their religious institute.


  • On average, responding religious report that they were 19 years old when they first considered a vocation to religious life, but half were 18 or younger when they first did so.


  • Nearly nine in ten (87 percent) responding religious report that someone encouraged them to consider a vocation to religious life.        


  • Over four in ten reports that a parish priest (43 percent) encouraged their vocation.


  • Half say they were encouraged to consider a vocation by a religious sister or brother. Women religious were more likely than men religious to do so.


  • Over four in ten (41 percent) report that they were encouraged to consider a vocation by their friends.


The entire survey and press release, General Intercessions and a bulletin quote for the World Day for Consecrated Life, as well as more information on the Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations can be found at www.usccb.org/consecratedlife.

January 23, 2018
PRESIDENT OF U.S. BISHOPS CONFERENCE RESPONSE TO KENTUCKY HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTING

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement on today’s shootings at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky. The shooting has left up to two dead and more than a dozen others injured.

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

“Over the past two days in Kentucky and Texas, we have witnessed painful reminders of how gun violence can tragically alter the lives of those so precious to us – our school children. We pray for eternal rest for those who have died. Let us pray, too, for the families, teachers and friends who must now endure the suffering of losing those dearest to them. We stand in solidarity with the children who face a long road of recovery from serious injuries. May they find comfort in a loving community. As Christians, we experience this pain as if it were our own. Let us reach out in compassion to assist the grieving and may we move forward in greater resolve to treat one another as children of God, so that unthinkable acts like this become more and more rare and love more and more present in the world.”

January 23, 2018
COLLECTION FOR THE CHURCH IN LATIN AMERICA TO BE HELD JANUARY 27-28

WASHINGTON — The annual Collection for the Church in Latin America will be taken up in many dioceses the weekend of January 27-28. For more than 50 years, the collection has been a sign of solidary between the Churches of the United States and those in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2017, the collection approved nearly $7.2 million dollars in grants to support the Church in Latin America and Caribbean.

“Through this collection, Catholics across the United States put their faith into action and build community with our brothers and sisters in Latin America and Caribbean,” said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America. “Support to this collection is an act of the compassion that our faith calls us to.”

The collection supports the work of the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America by funding grants for a variety of pastoral efforts such as lay leadership training, seminarian and religious formation, prison ministry and youth ministry. All of these efforts help Catholics share their faith.

The Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America oversees the collection and an annual grant program as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections.  The home page for the collection is www.usccb.org/latin-america.

January 23, 2018
POPE FRANCIS ACCEPTS RESIGNATION OF BISHOP STEPHEN BLAIRE OF STOCKTON; NAMES AUXILIARY BISHOP MYRON COTTA AS SUCCESSOR

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, 75, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Stockton, California, and has named Auxiliary Bishop Myron Cotta as his successor, up until now the Auxiliary Bishop of Sacramento. 

The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington, January 23, 2018, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Myron Joseph Cotta was born on March 21, 1953 in Dos Palos, California. He attended St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, 1980-1987, receiving a bachelor’s degree and master of divinity degree.

He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Fresno, California, on September 12, 1987. Parish assignments included: Parochial vicar, St. Anthony, Atwater (1987-1989); administrator of the Our Lady of Fatima Shrine, Laton (1989-1992); and pastor of Our Lady of Miracles, Gustine (1994); as well as administrator, Holy Rosary Parish, Hilmar (1994).

Since 1996, he has served on the board of trustees, priest’s retirement board and personnel board. Since 1999, his duties have included vicar general, moderator of the curia, board of consultors,  vicar of clergy, director of continuing formation of the clergy, director of the Propagation of the Faith, director of pastoral support of the priests sensitive claims board, member of the diocesan finance council, and supervisor of the safe environment program.

He was named a chaplain to his holiness (monsignor) in 2002 and a prelate of honor in 2009. Upon the death of Bishop John Steinbock of Fresno on Dec. 5, 2010, Bishop Cotta was elected by the Diocesan College of Consultors as the Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Fresno. He served as administrator from Dec. 7, 2010 until Feb. 1, 2012, when Bishop Armando Ochoa assumed leadership of the Diocese of Fresno.

On January 24, 2014 Pope Francis appointed Cotta as the fifth Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Sacramento, and he was ordained a bishop on March 25, 2014.
 
Bishop Stephen Blaire was born December 22, 1941, in Los Angeles, California. He graduated from St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo in 1967, where he earned a master's in Theology. He also has graduate degrees in Education and Secondary School Administration.

He was ordained to the priesthood on April 29, 1967 for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Assignments after ordination included: associate pastor, St. Luke’s Church, 1967-1972; teacher/administrator, Alemany High School, 1972-1976; Vice Principal, Bishop Amat High School, 1976-1977; principal, Bishop Alemany High School, 1977-1986; Moderator of the Curia/Chancellor, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, 1986-1994; vicar general, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, 1990-1996.
On May 31, 1990, he ordained as Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles and Titular Bishop of Lamzella by Cardinal Roger Mahony. On January 19, 1999, he was appointed Bishop of Stockton by Pope John Paul II and was installed as the fifth Bishop of Stockton March 16, 1999 at the Cathedral of the Annunciation.

As a mem­ber of the United States Con­fer­ence of Catholic Bish­ops, Bishops Blaire has served as the chair­man of the Pas­toral Prac­tices Com­mit­tee and as a mem­ber of the Com­mit­tee for Ecu­meni­cal and Interreligious Affairs. Bishop Blaire has also served locally as pres­i­dent of the Cal­i­for­nia Catholic Con­fer­ence. In 2009, he was elected chairman of the USCCB Com­mit­tee on Domes­tic Jus­tice, Peace and Human Devel­op­ment.

The Diocese of Stockton is comprised of 9,938 square miles in the state of California and has a total population of 1,376,940 of which 298,061 or 22 percent, are Catholic.

January 23, 2018
CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES CELEBRATES 75TH ANNIVERSARY THIS YEAR

BALTIMORE – Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is proud to announce its 75th year as one of the leading humanitarian and development organizations around the world. At a time when humanitarian needs globally are at an all-time high, CRS has achieved more than 7 decades of innovation and growth to fight poverty around the world. CRS will commemorate this milestone with a number of recognition and promotional events over the next 12 months.
 
“This is a time when we celebrate all that we have accomplished over the past 75 years, and  double down on our commitment to provide life-saving and life-transforming assistance to some of the most disadvantaged people around the world,” said Sean Callahan, CEO and president of CRS, who become the agency’s eighth president last year. “This anniversary, more importantly, is an occasion to look forward to see how we can be even more effective as we confront global poverty in the coming decades.”

In three-quarters of a century, CRS has grown from a handful of people helping refugees to more than 7,000 employees around the world who touch the lives of 100 million people in more than 100 countries. The official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States, the organization has an annual budget that exceeds $800 million.

CRS continues to be on the cutting edge, using the latest in technology –  such as drones to map agricultural projects in West Africa, cell phones that deliver important health information to mothers in India, and satellite-linked sensors on wells in arid areas of Kenya. But CRS doesn’t stop there. As the organization develops a new 5-year strategy to begin next year, “we are considering some of the world’s most pressing issues, including a youth bulge and unemployment in Africa, the institutionalization of children in orphanages, the near-eradication of malaria and the effect of a changing climate on farmers, for example,” Callahan said.

CRS’ roots are now more relevant than ever, with a global refugee and migration crisis not seen since World War II. In 1943, with fighting raging around the world – and many remembering the millions of refugees that World War I produced – the Catholic bishops in the U.S. formed War Relief Services to deal with the refugee crisis as a result of World War II. Refugee assistance and resettlement – not only in Europe but also throughout Asia– remained the focus of War Relief Services for its first several years. In 1955 CRS began addressing the problem of chronic poverty in countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

“From its beginning, Catholics in the United States saw this agency as an expression of the compassion of Jesus Christ, carrying out the mission he gave us in the gospels,” said Bishop Gregory J. Mansour, Bishop of the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn and chairman of CRS’ Board. “Even as the work has expanded and grown more complex, that gospel mission has always remained the foundation of everything that CRS does.”

A new monthly podcast series, released this month, chronicles some of CRS’ history and the stories of people either affected by or working for CRS, such as Julek Plowey who as a 3-year-old in 1943 was among thousands of Polish refugees who had made their way from Siberia in the Soviet Union to Iran. War Relief Services’ initial mission was to help many of those refugees re-settle in Mexico. The podcast is available on a website devoted to the CRS’ 75 years anniversary: https://75.crs.org/ .

“In our work, we have been fortunate to assist some of the most resilient, resourceful and entrepreneurial people who work tirelessly to make a better life for their families,” Callahan said. “CRS gives them a hand-up, not a handout, and it’s because of their energy and the generosity of our donors that we can point to more farmers growing more food, more people starting small businesses, more children getting an education, and more women who don’t have to walk miles for water because of new wells, and countless other examples of people living lives of dignity.”

CRS has been a careful steward of donors’ funds, with one of the lowest overhead rates among  international development agencies.  With 94 percent of its budget going to programming around the world, 6 percent is used not just for administrative and fundraising efforts but pays for some of the top experts in areas like agriculture and health, for example, that inform and guide the efforts of those on the ground.

With its world headquarters in Baltimore, CRS is part of the Church’s international Caritas network, working through local partners at the invitation of the local bishop. Most of its employees are residents of countries that CRS serves.

To link to the CRS podcast, please use https://75.crs.org/podcasts/?utm_source=media-outlet&utm_medium=earned-media&utm_campaign=75th-anniversary.

January 20, 2018
CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ PRO-LIFE CHAIRMAN PRAISES HOUSE FOR PASSING BORN-ALIVE ABORTION SURVIVORS PROTECTION ACT
 
WASHINGTON – Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, thanked and praised the House of Representatives for passing the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act today with a bi-partisan vote of 241-183.

“As Chairman of the United States Bishops’ Committee, I offer gratitude and praise to the House of Representatives for passing the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (H.R. 4712). This common-sense legislation offers a simple and widely supported proposition: a child born alive following an abortion should receive the same degree of care to preserve her life and health as would be given to any other child born alive at the same gestational age.  I call on the Senate to pass this bill as well and ensure that the lethal mentality of Roe does not claim new victims – vulnerable human beings struggling for their lives outside the womb.”

January 19, 2018
BISHOPS’ CONFERENCES LOOK TO YOUTH TO BRING HOPE FOR A BETTER FUTURE IN THE HOLY LAND


WASHINGTON — Noting the deteriorating prospects for peace in the Holy Land, representatives of bishops’ conferences from several countries, including the United States, acknowledged the struggle of the young people they met but called them the “hope for a better future.”

The bishops made their annual solidarity visit to the Holy Land January 13 – 18, 2018.  They visited Gaza, met with school children there and in the West Bank and in Israel as well as with students at Hebrew University and Bethlehem University. They also visited l’Arche in Bethlehem and a home of the elderly in Beit Emmaus.

In a communique issued at the end of their visit, the bishops cited the many challenges (unemployment, discrimination, and lack of opportunity) faced by youth, particularly those living in the West Bank and Gaza. But in their discussions with Israeli youth, the bishops found that many shared with their Palestinian counterparts the “same aspirations for peaceful coexistence.”  
For the bishops, it was clear that it is the youth from West Bank, Gaza and Israel who are resilient and courageous in keeping alive the hope for a peaceful resolution to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
 
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops along with bishops from other nations on this solidarity visit have long decried violence as a way to resolve conflict but instead strongly supported a two-state solution in which a secure Israel coexists with a viable and independent Palestinian state.

The bishops called on communities in their respective countries to act in solidarity with youth who have an essential role in promoting peace through actions such as prayer, and supporting programs that create jobs, provide housing and foster dialogue.

The Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land has met every January since 1998 to pray and act in solidarity with the Christian community in the Holy Land. Bishops representing Europe, North America, and South Africa participated in this visit.

The bishops’ statement is available at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/israel-palestine/holy-land-coordination-communique-january-2018.cfm

January 19, 2018
CHAIRMEN APPLAUD NEW HHS INITIATIVES ON CONSCIENCE AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
WASHINGTON – Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, chair of the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty, offered the following joint statement in response to the creation of a new Division on Conscience and Religious Freedom within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights and other related administrative actions:

“We applaud HHS for its significant actions to protect conscience rights and religious freedom.  For more than forty years—dating back to the Church amendment of 1973—Congress has enacted federal laws protecting rights of conscience in health care.  We are grateful that HHS is taking seriously its charge to protect these fundamental civil rights through formation of a new division dedicated to protecting conscience rights and religious freedom.  For too long, we have seen medical professionals, including pro-life nurses like Cathy DeCarlo, who have been coerced by their employers into participating in abortion.  And we have seen states like California, New York, and Oregon demand that even religious organizations cover elective abortions in their health plans. These violations of federal law require a remedy from HHS.
 
We are pleased to see HHS’s proposed regulation to enforce civil rights laws to protect Americans involved in HHS-funded programs, and we look forward to filing more detailed public comments on this proposal.  We also appreciate the Administration’s action to rescind a 2016 guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that required states to provide Medicaid funding to family planning providers like Planned Parenthood that perform abortions.
 
Conscience protection should not be subject to political whims, however.  Permanent legislative relief is essential.  We urge Congress to pass the Conscience Protection Act in order to give victims of discrimination the ability to defend their rights in court.  No one should be forced to violate their deeply held convictions about the sanctity of human life.”
 
A list of current federal laws protecting conscience rights can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/upload/Federal-Conscience-Laws.pdf

January 16, 2018
CARDINAL DOLAN INVITES NATIONWIDE PARTICIPATION IN '9 DAYS FOR LIFE' PRAYER, ACTION CAMPAIGN
 
WASHINGTON — Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, is inviting Catholics and others to join the nationwide 9 Days for Life campaign. 



“We bring many needs to God this month, including care for displaced persons, racial harmony, Christian unity, and the protection of all human life,” Cardinal Dolan said. “I invite our brothers and sisters in Christ to join me and my brother bishops in 9 Days for Life from Thursday, January 18 through Friday, January 26. Our prayers matter. Every prayer matters, and if you can’t start at the beginning, jump in when you can!"


9 Days for Life is the U.S. bishops' annual, pro-life prayer and action campaign surrounding the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decisions legalizing abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy.

The overarching intention of the centerpiece novena is the end to abortion, and each day treats a different aspect of respecting the dignity of the human person—from the beginning of life to its natural end. This year, as part of the “Share the Journey” campaign supporting displaced persons, one day addresses human trafficking, something migrants and refugees are particularly at risk of suffering.
 
By responding to the U.S. bishops’ invitation, participants can make a “digital pilgrimage.” Joining tens of thousands nationwide, they can build a culture of life through prayer and action, and share their experiences on social media with the hashtags #9DaysforLife and #OurPrayersMatter. There’s also a Facebook frame participants can use on their profile picture to show their support for life.
 
The website, www.9daysforlife.com, features a video with Cardinal Dolan calling the campaign “a great way to put our faith into action.” The site offers a print version of the novena, as well as four ways to automatically receive the daily prayers, reflections, and suggested actions in either English or Spanish: free “9 Days for Life” mobile app (with customizable reminders), email, text message, and a Facebook event. 


January 12, 2018
U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS EMPHASIZE HUMAN BEINGS ALL MADE IN THE LIKENESS OF GOD
 
The following statement has been issued by James Rogers, Chief Communications Officer for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), emphasizing the USCCB position that all human beings are made in the image and likeness of God and therefore deserving of our respect and compassion.

Full statement follows:
 
“Reports of recent disparaging remarks about African countries and Haiti have aroused great concern. As our brothers and sisters from these countries are primarily people of color, these alleged remarks are especially disturbing. All human beings are made in the image and likeness of God, and comments that denigrate nations and peoples violate that fundamental truth and cause real pain to our neighbors. It is regrettable that this comes on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and could distract from the urgent bipartisan effort to help Dreamers and those with Temporary Protected Status. As a vigorous debate continues over the future of immigration, we must always be sure to avoid language that can dehumanize our brothers and sisters.”

January 12, 2018
NATIONAL PRAYER VIGIL FOR LIFE IN NATION’S CAPITAL, JANUARY 18-19 

WASHINGTON — The National Prayer Vigil for Life will be held from Thursday afternoon, January 18 to Friday morning, January 19, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Over 20,000 pilgrims from around the nation will pray there for an end to abortion before the annual March for Life. The Vigil marks the 45th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions legalizing abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy. Since those decisions, over 58 million abortions have been performed legally in the United States.

The principal celebrant and homilist at the Vigil Opening Mass will be Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities. His fellow cardinals and many of the nation's bishops and priests will concelebrate with him in the Basilica’s Great Upper Church from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The Vigil continues overnight in the Crypt Church with confessions, a National Rosary for Life, Byzantine Rite Night Prayer, and Holy Hours led by seminarians from across the country from 11 p.m.- 6 a.m.

“This year, pilgrims have been given a special spiritual gift. A plenary indulgence may be obtained under the usual conditions by participating in the National Prayer Vigil for Life or the other sacred celebrations surrounding the March for Life,” said Deirdre McQuade, assistant director for pro-life communications at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

For those seeking Sacramental Reconciliation while on site, confessions will be heard in the Our Lady of Hostyn Chapel of the Crypt Church over the course of nine hours before and after the Opening Mass. See www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/january-roe-events/national-prayer-vigil-for-life-schedule.cfm for additional details.

“We also invite all the faithful nationwide to be in solidarity with the bishops during their annual pro-life novena, 9 Days for Life, from January 18-26,” McQuade continued. “May our prayers, combined with acts of love, help build a culture that cherishes every human life.”

On the day of the March for Life, Friday, January 19, the Basilica will once again host Eucharistic Adoration in the Crypt Church at 6:00 a.m., with Morning Prayer/Benediction following at 6:30. The Vigil’s Closing Mass will take place at 7:30 a.m. in the Great Upper Church, with Bishop Edward Burns of Dallas as principal celebrant and homilist.

The National Prayer Vigil for Life is co-sponsored by the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and The Catholic University of America.

For more details on the overnight National Prayer Vigil for Life and some of the other pro-life events in the Washington, DC area, visit www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/january-roe-events.
To join -- and help spread the word about -- 9 Days for Life, visit www.9daysforlife.com.

January 10, 2018
USCCB CHAIRMAN SUPPORTS LEGISLATIVE SOLUTION FOR DREAMERS

WASHINGTON — On Jan 9th, congressional members met at the White House with President Trump to discuss immigration reform. In response to this important bipartisan meeting, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the Committee on Migration (USCCB/COM), issued the following statement:

“We are encouraged by the consensus that emerged from yesterday’s White House meeting that Congress and the President should move expeditiously to craft and enact legislation that would provide urgently needed relief for Dreamers. For years, these young people have been living in and enriching the United States in many ways. 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 also are pleased to see the mutual understanding that ensuring protection for these young people should be the first step in the systematic reform of our outdated immigration laws. We believe in measures that improve the security of our nation. Our teaching acknowledges and respects the right of sovereign nations to control their borders. Such measures should be financially sound, effective, and should not harm the vulnerable. However, we caution against introducing unrelated, unnecessary, or controversial elements of immigration policy—especially those that jeopardize the sanctity of families or unaccompanied children—into the bipartisan search for a just and humane solution for the Dreamers.
 
As a nation, we have a moral and humanitarian obligation to Dreamers. These young people have steadfastly worked to improve themselves and our country and attempted in good faith to comply with the law as it stood. Their futures hang in the balance. We stand ready to work with the President and with Congress in the coming days to help fashion a just solution that meets their needs, ensures our nation’s safety and security, and sets the stage for the larger debate on immigration reform that is so urgently and desperately needed.”
 
January 10, 2018
U.S. CATHOLICS PREPARE FOR BISHOPS’ LAUNCH OF “9 DAYS FOR LIFE” RESPECT LIFE CAMPAIGN ON JANUARY 18

WASHINGTON — On January 18, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will launch the national “9 Days for Life” campaign calling Catholics and the faithful together for a 9-day “digital pilgrimage” focusing on cherishing the gift of human life from conception to natural death. The campaign surrounds the annual Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children, which occurs on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade—the Supreme court decision that made abortion legal in the United States throughout pregnancy.

The overarching intention of the centerpiece novena is the end to abortion, and each day highlights a different intention related to respect for human life: end of life care, human trafficking, healing after abortion, the death penalty, and more. Participants are called to both prayer and action unified around each day’s specific intention and can subscribe to receive daily messages at www.9daysforlife.com.

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Announces Launch of Nationwide “Digital Pilgrimage” Cherishing Human Life; Multi-Faceted Call to Prayer and Action

WHO:  The U.S. bishops are calling Catholics, parishes, schools, organizations, and all people of good will to participate in the nationwide “9 Days for Life” campaign. Through our unified prayer and action, we can help create a culture that cherishes the gift of every human life.

WHEN: “9 Days for Life” will run from Thursday, January 18 – Friday, January 26, 2018.

WHAT:  9daysforlife.com is the dedicated website for joining the novena and for accessing resources to share and go deeper into this “digital pilgrimage.” Participants can receive the novena by downloading the free “9 Days for Life” app, or by subscribing to daily emails or text messages. (A printable version is also available online.) Those who join the campaign are invited to:

    Pray with a multi-faceted novena that includes a new intention, brief reflection, bonus information, and suggested actions each day.
    Gather in prayer and fellowship with others. (Suggestions are provided.)
    Share a culture of life online! #OurPrayersMatter #9DaysforLife

WHERE:       For additional information and updates on ways to get involved, please visit 9daysforlife.com and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

January 10, 2018
USCCB PRESIDENT CALLS FOR COURAGE AND COMMITMENT ON MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY
 
WASHINGTON — The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, has issued the following statement in relation to the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
 
Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:
 
“In recent years—including last summer in Charlottesville—we have glimpsed an appalling truth that lurks beneath the surface of our culture. Even with all the progress our country has made on the issue, racism remains a living reality. As our nation celebrates the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we are given an important time to recommit ourselves to the Gospel message he preached, that the sin of racism can be defeated by active love and the light of faith.
 
Our challenge is to bring Dr. King’s message into the present moment in a way that inspires lasting change. In a pivotal 1958 essay, he wrote that: ‘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.’
 
Breaking the chain of hate requires both courage and commitment. Sr. Mary Antona Ebo, a Franciscan Sister of Mary and the first African-American sister to march with Dr. King in Selma, exemplified these qualities. She told those gathered that: ‘I'm here because I'm a Negro, a nun, a Catholic, and because I want to bear witness.’ Sister Antona passed away on November 11 last year at the age of 93. She remained a bold and dedicated champion of civil rights throughout her lifetime, and her witness should inspire our own.
 
We pray in confidence that Jesus Christ will remind us all that he is the most powerful means to break the chains of hate that still bind too many hearts, a truth which lies at the center of Dr. King’s legacy.”
 
USCCB racism resources and information about the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/racism/

January 8, 2018
MIGRATION CHAIRMAN DEEPLY DISAPPOINTED BY TERMINATION OF TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS FOR EL SALVADOR
 
WASHINGTON — On January 8th, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it is terminating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador. TPS is a temporary, renewable, and statutorily authorized humanitarian migration program that permits individuals to remain and work lawfully in the U.S. during a period in which it is deemed unsafe for nationals of that country to return home. The vast majority of TPS recipients in the U.S. are Salvadoran.

Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the Committee on Migration (USCCB/COM), issued the following statement:

 “The decision to terminate TPS for El Salvador is heartbreaking. As detailed in our recent delegation trip report to the region, El Salvador is currently not in a position to adequately handle the return of the roughly 200,000 Salvadoran TPS recipients. Today’s decision will fragment American families, leaving over 192,000 U.S. citizen children of Salvadoran TPS recipients with uncertain futures. Families will be needlessly separated because of this decision.

We believe that God has called us to care for the foreigner and the marginalized: ‘So you too should love the resident alien, for that is what you were in the land of Egypt’ (Deut. 10:19). Our nation must not turn its back on TPS recipients and their families; they too are children of God.

DHS has provided an 18-month period (through September 9, 2019) during which TPS recipients from El Salvador can legally stay in the United States and prepare for their departure. While we recognize and appreciate this extra time, it will not remedy the underlying protection and family unity concerns that remain for Salvadoran TPS recipients.
 
We renew our call to Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to find a legislative solution for long-term TPS recipients, and we stand ready to support such efforts. TPS recipients are an integral part of our communities, churches, and nation. Without action by Congress, however, recipients’ lives will be upended and many families will be devastated. As with DACA, we strongly urge Congressional members and leadership to come together and address this issue as soon as possible.

To Salvadoran TPS recipients, we promise to continue to stand in solidarity with you and pray for you and your families, and all those who are displaced or forced to flee from their homes.”

January 5, 2018
A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE USCCB DURING NATIONAL MIGRATION WEEK

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), offers a National Migration Week message to the nation with special gratitude for the gift of immigrants and refugees.

Cardinal DiNardo's statement follows:  

“On Sunday, the Catholic Church across the United States will celebrate the beginning of National Migration Week.  For nearly 50 years, this week has been a time of prayer and reflection on our history as a migrant Church and nation.  In these five decades, the face of the immigrant may have changed – European, Asian, South American, and elsewhere -- but their faces reveal a common desire to secure the great blessings of American opportunity.

Pope Francis, in his statement on the World Day of Peace on January 1, 2018, advises us that if we view the situation of migrants and refugees through the wisdom of our faith ‘we discover that they do not arrive empty-handed.  They bring their courage, skills, energy and aspirations, as well as the treasures of their own cultures; and in this way, they enrich the lives of the nations that receive them.’

This week, I invite everyone to reflect on the Holy Father’s words as well as on your own family’s immigration story. Please also join me in prayer for all families, as together, we ‘Share the Journey’ toward a better life.”

January 5, 2018
NATIONAL MIGRATION WEEK 2018 TO BE CELEBRATED JANUARY 7-13TH


WASHINGTON — National Migration Week 2018 will take place January 7-13th. This year’s theme is "Many Journeys, One Family.” The theme coincides with the Caritas Internationalis migration campaign entitled “Share the Journey”. National Migration Week provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the contributions of migrants, including refugees, and victims of human trafficking in our communities.

With over 65 million people forcibly displaced from their homes globally, the world is increasingly affected by migration. National Migration Week offers a time to educate Catholic communities about migration and to come together to encounter immigrants and refugees in parishes, dioceses, and communities.

“National Migration Week allows for reflection upon the biblical teaching concerning welcoming the newcomer and allows us to share the journey with our brothers and sisters who have been forced from their homes.” said Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration.

As part of the 2018 National Migration Week celebration, USCCB/MRS will be participating in an event at The Catholic University of America with the Institute for Human Ecology entitled “On the Margins: At the Intersection of Catholic Thought and Migration” on January 11th. To register for the event in person, visit www.marginsevent.org, to view livestream of the event visit https://livestream.com/CatholicUniversity/events/8001597.

The US bishops began the observance of National Migration Week nearly 50 years ago to give Catholics an opportunity to honor and learn about the diverse communities of the Church, as well as the work that the Church undertakes to serve immigrants and refugees. The week serves as a time for both prayer and action in support of migrants and refugees.

Educational materials and other resources for National Migration Week are available for download at www.justiceforimmigrants.org/take-action/national-migration-week.

January 3, 2018
USCCB PRESIDENT OFFERS CONDOLENCES ON THE DEATH OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS PRESIDENT

Today, President Thomas S. Monson, leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died at his home in Salt Lake City, Utah. President Monson as the church’s 16th president presided over a faith community that now numbers 15.8 million members.  Known for his hands-on approach and concern for the poor, he also presided over a church confronting challenges and change, within and without.        

His Eminence, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, President of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, issued the following statement on receiving the news of President Monson’s death:

“The Catholic Church in the United States wishes to extend to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints community our prayers and condolences on the death of President Monson. During his tenure as president, understanding and friendship developed between our two communities on national and local levels. As we engage important questions on family and the dignity of the human person, Catholics and Mormons work together and support each other. Today, Catholics join their Latter-day Saints brothers and sisters in commending his soul to the mercy and love of God.”

December 29, 2017
USCCB CHAIRMAN CALLS FOR RENEWAL OF PRAYERS FOR COPTIC BRETHREN AFTER LATEST ATTACKS

WASHINGTON — Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of the Diocese of Scranton and Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs has issued the following statement on this morning’s deadly attack on a Coptic Church and nearby bookstore in Egypt.

Bishop Bambera’s full statement follows:

“This morning, at least ten people were killed as armed men attempted to enter Mar Mina Church in Helwan City, south of Cairo and a nearby bookshop. Among the dead are two policemen. The assault took place as a gunman tried to breach the church’s security cordon. It is estimated that over 2000 attacks on Coptic Christians by extremists have occurred in the last three years alone.

One week ago, on December 22, hundreds of Muslim demonstrators attacked an unlicensed church south of Cairo wounding three people. Demonstrators chanted anti-Christian slogans and called for the church’s demolition. The interior of the church was completely destroyed.

Earlier this year, on May 26, masked militants opened fired on a bus packed with Coptic Christians, including children on their way to the monastery of St. Samule the Confessor in Maghagha, in Minya governorate. In that attack, 28 people were killed and 22 were wounded.

On Palm Sunday, April 9, twin suicide bombings struck churches in the coastal city of Alexandria and the Nile Delta city of Tanta. At least 43 people were killed and many others were injured. One of the bombings narrowly missed a Palm Sunday service which was to be presided over by His Holiness Pope Tawadros II.

These attacks represent only some of the many attacks that have occurred over the past several years, targeting faithful of the Coptic Orthodox Church, who account for almost 10% of Egypt’s population. In the course of such rampant attacks, Muslims have also been targeted as well as police, military and members of the news media. On November 24 of this year, terrorists detonated a bomb at a mosque in Bir al-Abd in the northern Sinai Peninsula of Egypt killing over 300 worshipers and spraying gunfire on those escaping. Sadly, attacks such as these represent countless numbers of ongoing acts of violence that continue to burden the Egyptian nation.

 I ask Catholics and men and women of faith and good will to pray for peace in Egypt and the Middle East and for all victims of religious and political hatred. I especially ask Catholics to renew their support, love and prayers for our Coptic brethren who are enduring martyrdom for the sake of Christ. May all continue to receive from heaven the grace to witness to what is good and noble in the human spirit, recovery for all those who have been injured, and eternal rest for those who have died.”

December 20, 2017
PRESIDENT SHOULD WORK WITH CONGRESS TOWARD ACCEPTABLE TAX BILL, SAYS U.S. BISHOPS CHAIRMAN
 
WASHINGTON — After the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate passed The Tax Reform and Jobs Act, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, drew attention to unacceptable problems that remain, and called on President Trump to insist that Congress fix them before he signs a bill into law.

The full statement follows:
 
“Today, Congress passed its tax reform legislation, The Tax Reform and Jobs Act, and it has been sent to the President to consider.  The legislation achieves some laudable things, like doubling the standard deduction, which will help many struggling families avoid tax liability, expanding the use of 529 education plans, and increasing the child tax credit.
 
However, the Act contains a number of problematic provisions that will have dramatic negative consequences, particularly for those most in need.  Among other things, the Joint Committee on Taxation indicates that the bill will eventually raise taxes on those with lower incomes while simultaneously cutting taxes for the wealthy.  This is clearly problematic, especially for the poor.  The repeal of the personal exemption will cause larger families, including many in the middle class, to be financially worse off.  The final bill creates a large deficit that, as early as next year, will be used as a basis to cut programs that help the poor and vulnerable toward stability.  The legislation is also likely to produce up to a $13 billion drop in annual charitable giving to nonprofits that are relied upon to help those struggling on the margins.  This will also significantly diminish the role of civil society in promoting the common good.
 
As the President considers the tax bill before him, we ask that he take into account the full consequences of its provisions and work with Congress to remedy them before signing a tax bill into law.”
 
Bishop Frank J. Dewane’s December 6, 2017, letter analyzing the Senate and House bills prior to reconciliation can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Tax-Conference-Letter-Congress-2017-12-06.pdf

December 20, 2017
USCCB PRESIDENT ON THE PASSING OF CARDINAL LAW
 
WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the following statement this morning upon the death of Cardinal Bernard Law.

If you have been abused or know of someone who has been abused, contact the local diocesan victims assistance coordinator and, where you may have knowledge of a crime, local law enforcement. As we reflect on the legacy of Cardinal Law, it will likely bring back painful memories for survivors. The Church seeks to always respond as supportive pastors.
 
“Entrusting his soul to the mercy of Christ, I echo the statement released by Cardinal Seán O’Malley, the Archbishop of Boston and offer my prayers and condolences to the family and friends of Cardinal Law. Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord.  At this time especially we keep close in our prayer the brave survivors of sexual abuse.  Their witness would lead to a comprehensive response from the Church in the United States to protect and heal the deep wounds of abuse. I pray they may find strength and peace in the mercy of Christ.”

December 18, 2017
2018 CATHOLIC SOCIAL MINISTRY GATHERING FEBRUARY 3-6, WILL FOCUS ON RACISM, ENVIRONMENT, IMMIGRATION
 
WASHINGTON — The 2018 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering will take place February 3-6, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC.

The Gathering, organized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and 16 collaborating organizations, attracts more than 500 participants from around the country and seeks to equip Catholic leaders and emerging leaders to bring the voice of faith to the public square.
 
The theme for this year’s Gathering is “Building Community: A Call to the Common Good.” “The Catholic Social Ministry Gathering seeks to help Catholics respond to Pope Francis’ call to be missionary disciples who work together to promote the common good and protect the life and dignity of God’s children at home and around the world,” said Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Justice, Peace and Human Development.
 
Joining the USCCB Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development in organizing the Gathering are numerous other USCCB departments and national Catholic organizations, including Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Rural Life, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, and others.
 
Bishop Dewane will celebrate a Welcome Mass on Saturday, February 3, and USCCB’s president, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, will celebrate the Sending Mass on Tuesday, February 6. Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle, will deliver the Keynote Presentation on “Where is your brother?”.
 
Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism will address the ramifications of racism in society and the Church, and Mauricio López, Executive Secretary of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM), will lead a panel presentation on the experiences of indigenous and rural communities and their connection to environmental matters in anticipation of the 2019 Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon announced recently by Pope Francis.
 
A Plenary and Dialogue on “Moving from a Throwaway Culture to a Culture of Encounter” will include Sr. Patricia Chappell, Kim Daniels, Dr. Maryann Cusimano-Love, Dr. R.R. Reno, and Fr. Matt Malone.
 
Workshops include: Best Practices in Responding to Racial Unrest: Lessons Learned from Ferguson; Restorative Justice in Parish Life; the V Encuentro; a Catholic Response to Migration Policy; Nuclear Threats to the Common Good: Disarmament, North Korea and Iran; a Catholic Response to the Opioid Abuse Crisis; Common Ground on Climate Policy; Developing Affordable Housing for the Vulnerable; and others.
 
Coverage of the meeting is open to credentialed media. Reporters interested in covering the gathering can download a credential application form and submit it by email no later than January 12.
 
More information is available online: www.catholicsocialministrygathering.org/.


December 15, 2017
FAITH LEADERS AFFIRM THE INHERENT BEAUTY AND DIGNITY OF BEING CREATED MALE OR FEMALE

WASHINGTON — Following the USCCB General Assembly in November 2017, a group of ecumenical and interfaith partners gathered with bishops of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage to discuss gender ideology. As a result of this discussion, faith leaders today issued an open letter entitled “Created Male and Female”.

Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. of Philadelphia, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, chairman of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs signed the letter.

“We hope this letter communicates to the public our shared understanding of the goodness of the creation of humanity as male or female and underscores our commitment to service of this truth with both clarity and compassion,” said Bishop Conley.

The religious leaders stressed the importance of acknowledging the reality of sexual identity, noting, “Children especially are harmed when they are told that they can ‘change’ their sex or, further, given hormones that will affect their development and possibly render them infertile as adults. Parents deserve better guidance on these important decisions, and we urge our medical institutions to honor the basic medical principle of ‘first, do no harm.’”

The leaders close with a hope: “We hope for renewed appreciation of the beauty of sexual difference in our culture and for authentic support of those who experience conflict with their God-given sexual identity.”

The letter is available at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/created-male-and-female.cfm and follows three previous open letters: “The Protection of Marriage: A Shared Commitment,” issued December 6, 2010, “Marriage and Religious Freedom: Fundamental Goods That Stand or Fall Together,” issued January 12, 2012, and “The Defense of Marriage and the Right of Religious Freedom: Reaffirming a Shared Witness,” issued on April 23, 2015, which are available at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/ecumenical-and-interreligious-activities.cfm.

December 15, 2017
POPE FRANCIS ACCEPTS RESIGNATION OF AUXILIARY BISHOP OF HARTFORD

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Christie A. Macaluso from the Archdiocese of Hartford.

The announcement was publicized in Washington on December 15 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. 

The Most Reverend Christie Macaluso, D.D., was born in Hartford, Connecticut on June 12, 1945. He attended Saint Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore where he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a master's degree in Sacred Theology. He later earned master's degrees in psychology from New York University and in philosophy from Trinity College. In addition, he studied multiple languages and music.

On May 22, 1971, he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Hartford.
 
Assignments after ordination included assistant pastor at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in West Hartford and St. Joseph Parish, in New Britain. He also served as a faculty member of St. Thomas Seminary College and was appointed dean in 1980. In 1985, he became rector and president of Saint Thomas Seminary. During that time, he also served as a weekend assistant at St. Francis Parish in Torrington and Sacred Heart Parish in Bloomfield. From 1991-1997, he served as pastor of the Cathedral of St. Joseph. 

In 1995, he was named a prelate of honor, with the title of monsignor, by Pope John Paul II and was also named episcopal vicar for Hartford.

On March 18, 1997, Macaluso was appointed auxiliary bishop of Hartford and titular bishop of Grass Valley. As auxiliary bishop, he has served as vicar general of the Archdiocese of Hartford and moderator of the Curia.
  
In 2014, he was appointed rector of St. Thomas Seminary.

The Archdiocese of Hartford comprises 2,288 square miles and has total population of approximately 1,938,914 people of which 537,983 or 27 percent are Catholic.

December 14, 2017
RESPONSE TO THE CHIETI DOCUMENT ANOTHER STEP FORWARD FOR THE CATHOLIC AND ORTHODOX CHURCHES’ COMMON UNDERSTANDING

 

WASHINGTON — The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation (NAOCTC) has released its response to the most recent document produced by the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. Entitled, “Synodality and Primacy During the First Millennium: Towards a Common Understanding in Service to the Unity of the Church,” this work of the international dialogue was released in September 2016. It is often referred to as, “The Chieti Document,” because it was finalized during a meeting in Chieti, Italy.

 

The NAOCTC, which is co-chaired by Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, Archbishop of Newark and Consultant for the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, and by Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, prepared its response during its most recent meeting, which took place in Washington, DC, from 26-28 October. The response praises the Chieti Document “as the fruit of perseverance in fidelity to our one Lord.  It is a fruit holding many seeds, potentially yielding a harvest for the countless members of our Churches who experience the division every day in their lives and pray for it to be healed.”


The Chieti Document discusses the relationship between primacy and synodality during the first millennium Churches of the East and West. It specifically examines that relationship on three levels: the local, regional and universal. The NAOCTC response reflects upon each of the three levels and offers suggestions for further study and consideration. 



The North American dialogue has responded to every agreed statement produced by the International Dialogue including those finalized at Rhodes (1980), Munich (1982), Bari (1987), Valamo (1988), Balamand (1993), and Ravenna (2007).

 

The Chieti document is posted on the Vatican web site here:
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/ch_orthodox_docs/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_20160921_sinodality-primacy_en.html

  and on the web site of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople here:
https://www.patriarchate.org/dialogue-with-the-roman-catholic-church/-/asset_publisher/xPOzhhZ0zKIa/content/synodality-and-primacy-during-the-first-millennium-towards-a-common-understanding-in-service-to-the-unity-of-the-church-9-21-16-



The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation was established in 1965 by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in America, now the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States, and by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, now the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Since 1997, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has been a co-sponsor.



More information on the work of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation, including links to the full text of Statements and other documents, may be found at the respective sites of:
 
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States:
www.assemblyofbishops.org/ministries/dialogue/orthodox-catholic/
 
and The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-interreligious/ecumenical/orthodox/index.cfm
 
The response to the recent document produced by the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, “Synodality and Primacy During the First Millennium: Towards a Common Understanding in Service to the Unity of the Church,” The Chieti Document of the international dialogue can be found here:  http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-interreligious/ecumenical/orthodox/upload/Chieti-Response.pdf

December 8, 2017
PRESIDENT OF U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS' STATEMENT ON CALIFORNIA FIRES

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops offered the following statement of solidarity with the people of California.

Full statement follows:

“On this holy day of the Immaculate Conception, we commit ourselves to the loving protection of Mary the Mother of God and patroness of America.  Let us remember, especially, her sons and daughters in danger from the terrible wildfires in California, both those whose homes are in the fire’s path and those courageous first responders and firefighters who are putting their lives at risk. Please find a moment today, whether after Mass or while gathered as a family around the Advent wreath, to pray a Rosary in gratitude for Mary’s gifts to humanity and entrusting to her protection our sisters and brothers in the fire’s path.  I am sure all the faithful join me in saying: we stand ready to help in the recovery."

December 7, 2017
FEAST OF OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE WILL BE CELEBRATED, DECEMBER 12, AS DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH IMMIGRANTS

WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, December 12, the Catholic Church will celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas and the Unborn. Celebrations in dioceses across the nation will be held throughout the month of December to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe. These events seek to honor the accomplishments, hopes, fears, and needs of all families who have come to the U.S. seeking a better life.

"As we enter the Advent season and Christmas approaches, we are reminded of the unique role and importance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a unifier and peacebuilder for communities. We honor her role as protectress of families, including those families separated and far from home," stated Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, Texas, and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration.



Over 55 prayer services, Masses, processions and other events will be held in dioceses across the country as the Catholic Church continues to accompany migrants and refugees seeking opportunity to provide for their families. On December 12, 2017, a Mass honoring our Lady of Guadalupe will be celebrated by the Most Reverend Mario Dorsonville, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington, at St. Peter’s Church in Washington, DC at 12:10 PM. All are welcome to attend.



For more information, please visit the Justice for Immigrants (JFI) website at https://justiceforimmigrants.org/lady-guadalupe-resource-page/ which has background material and scriptural information on Our Lady of Guadalupe in English and Spanish, a nationwide map of events, and community celebration ideas.
 
December 6, 2017
ADVANCE FINAL TAX REFORM BILL ONLY IF IT MEETS KEY MORAL CONCERNS, SAYS USCCB CHAIRMAN
 
WASHINGTON — As Congress prepares to reconcile the House of Representatives and Senate tax reform bills, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, insisted that “Congress should advance a final tax reform bill only if it meets the key moral concerns . . .”

“According to Congress’ own nonpartisan analysis, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act bills recently passed by the House and the Senate raise taxes on the poor and cut taxes on the rich, violating basic principles of justice,” wrote Bishop Dewane.  “Congress has proposed a web of wide-ranging and complex changes to the tax code, yet is approaching the process at a pace that makes it difficult even for experts in the impacted areas to analyze effects.” 
 
According to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, the Senate and House bills eventually increase taxes on taxpayers in the lowest brackets, while at the same time maintaining tax cuts for higher earners, including the very wealthy. Bishop Dewane expressed support for positive proposals contained in both the House and Senate bill, such as doubling the Standard Deduction, expansion of 529 savings plans, increases for deductions for educator expenses, and the idea of expanding the child tax credit, though he urged a robust expansion that includes the refundable portions of the credit.
 
However, the Bishop highlighted serious problems that remain in one or both of the proposed bills:  elimination of personal exemptions, repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual insurance mandate apart from broader health care reform, and failure to include changes that will protect against a steep drop in charitable giving, among others.
 
“Policy that is good for workers, families who welcome life, families who are struggling to reach (or stay in) the middle class, and the very poor, has by design been a part of our tax code for years,” noted Bishop Dewane.  “Any modifications to these important priorities of our nation should only be made with a clear understanding and concern for the people who may least be able to bear the negative consequences of new policy.”
 
The full letter can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Tax-Conference-Letter-Congress-2017-12-06.pdf

December 5, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS’ CHAIRMEN EXPRESS DISAPPOINTMENT WITH U.S. GOVERNMENT WITHDRAWAL FROM UN’S PROCESS TO DEVELOP A GLOBAL COMPACT ON MIGRATION
 
WASHINGTON — Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Joe E. Vásquez, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, expressed disappointment after the Trump Administration announced on Saturday, December 2, 2017, that the U.S. government is withdrawing from the process of the United Nations (UN) to develop a Global Compact on Migration. That process was begun when the UN General Assembly ratified the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants on September 19, 2016.

Catholic social teaching on migration recognizes and respects the sovereignty of each nation, indeed each nation’s right and responsibility, to ultimately decide how it will regulate migration into its territory,” explained Bishop Vásquez. “The Church has long articulated that it is the obligation of nations to assure human rights for all migrants and special protections for vulnerable migrants, such as refugees, forced migrants, victims of human trafficking, and women and children at risk. Pope Francis has described such obligations as part of building ‘global solidarity’ on behalf of migrants and refugees. In fact, the Bishops continue to promote the international campaign initiated by Pope Francis, Share the Journey, as a sign of solidarity with our immigrant brothers and sisters.”
 
“With a growing global concern about protracted forced migration situations, the UN process provides an opportunity for the United States to help build international cooperation that respects such rights and protections on behalf of those seeking safety and security for their families.  Participation in that process allows the US to draw on our experience and influence the compact,” said Archbishop Broglio. “Therefore, the USCCB encourages the Administration to reconsider its decision to withdraw from this process.”  

December 5, 2017
POPE FRANCIS NAMES AUXILIARY BISHOP OF WASHINGTON AS NEW BISHOP OF RICHMOND



WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Auxiliary Bishop Barry C. Knestout of the Archdiocese of Washington as the new bishop of Richmond, Virginia.  

The appointment was publicized in Washington on December 5, 2017 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Knestout was born in Cheverly, Maryland, on June 11, 1962. He attended Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where he earned a Master of Divinity degree in 1988 and a Master of Arts degree in 1989.

He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Washington on June 24, 1989. 

Assignments after ordination included: associate pastor, St. Bartholomew’s Parish, Bethesda, MD (1989-1993); associate pastor, St. Peter’s Parish, Waldorf (1993-1994); priest secretary to Cardinal James Hickey (1994-2004); executive director, Archdiocesan Office of Youth Ministry, (2001-2003); priest secretary to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick (2003-2004); pastor, St. John the Evangelist Parish, Silver Spring (2004-2006); and the Archdiocesan Secretary for Pastoral Life and Social Concerns (2006-2008).

Named Monsignor by Pope John Paul II in 1999, he was then named moderator of the curia in April 2007 and assisted Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl in overseeing administrative affairs.
 
On November 18, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI named Msgr. Knestout Auxiliary Bishop of Washington and titular bishop of Leavenworth. He was ordained a bishop by then-Archbishop Donald Wuerl on December 29, 2008.
He has been a member of the Administrative Board of the Maryland Catholic Conference and the Episcopal Moderator of the American Catholic Correctional Chaplains Association. He serves as the Regional IV representative on the USCCB Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People as well as the Episcopal Liaison to the Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference.

As of today’s appointment, Bishop Knestout will be the 13th Bishop of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, succeeding the late Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo who passed away on August 17, 2017.

The Diocese of Richmond comprises 36,711 square miles. It has a total population of 5,118,519 people of which 222,283, or 4 percent, are Catholic.
 
December 4, 2017
U.S. BISHOPS’ SUBCOMMITTEE AWARDS GRANTS FOR 187 PROJECTS IN LATIN AMERICA
 
WASHINGTON — With the goal of strengthening and supporting the pastoral work of the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America awarded nearly $3.2 million in grants for 183 pastoral projects in the region for 2018. These most recent grants were made at the Subcommittee’s meeting in November and bring the total awarded for pastoral grants 2018 to almost $7.2 million. Four other projects were awarded in response to natural disasters.
 
“Each year the generosity of Catholics in the United States is transformed into programs that nourish the faith of our brothers and sisters in Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America. “This generosity sustains the faith for many marginalized and vulnerable people, like migrants and victims of natural disasters.”
 
Instability in some areas of Latin America has resulted in an increased number of migrants within the region from countries like Venezuela, Colombia, and Haiti. Projects in support of the pastoral care of migrants that received funding from the Subcommittee include support to the Hermanas Misioneras de San Carlos Borromeo in Ecuador and the Archdiocese of Santiago in Chile. The religious congregation received a grant to support and integrate migrant families into Ecuadorian society. Migrant families will receive spiritual support through conferences, retreats, and catechetical formation. This project is anticipated to reach over 1,500 beneficiaries. The Archdiocese of Santiago’s Department of Migration received funds to provide formation to 250 pastoral ministers, many expected to be migrants themselves, to learn about their rights and how to defend them and work on evangelization of other immigrants. The project will also create booklets as supporting material for the ministers as they work in parishes.

Additionally, three grants were awarded to projects in Haiti to support rebuilding efforts of the Church in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. Hurricane Matthew swept through Haiti in 2016, and the country continues to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake. A grant to the Diocese of Jérémie will be used for repairs and reconstruction of three church buildings and a grant to the Diocese of Anse-à-Veau et Miragoâne will be used for the reconstruction of two church buildings. These funds were awarded from the Hurricane Matthew emergency collection that was taken in most dioceses last year. In addition to grants to help with the reconstruction efforts after Hurricane Matthew, the Subcommittee also funded a project to rebuild a church destroyed during the 2010 earthquake. The funds for this rebuilding came from the Special Collection for Haiti which took place in the aftermath of the earthquake.
 
Other areas of funding for the Subcommittee’s pastoral grants include seminarian and consecrated religious formation, prison ministry, youth ministry, and lay leadership training. The issues covered by these ministries are pro-life, environmental justice, ministry to indigenous and African-Americans as well as urban ministries, among others. “As it proclaims the Gospel of joy, the Church is called to develop ministries to all those in need, whether materially or spiritually, and thus the Subcommittee supports all the ministries available to the faithful,” said Bishop Elizondo.
 
Grants are funded by the annual Collection for the Church in Latin America, taken in many dioceses across the U.S. on the fourth Sunday in January. The Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America oversees the collection and an annual grant program as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. It allocates revenue received from the Collection for the Church in Latin America as grants across Latin America and the Caribbean. More information about the Collection for the Church in Latin America, the many projects it funds, and resources to promote it, can be found at www.usccb.org/latin-america.
 
December 4, 2017
POPE FRANCIS NAMES FR. MARIO ALBERTO AVILÉS AS AUXILIARY BISHOP OF BROWNSVILLE

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Fr. Mario Alberto Avilés, C.O., up until now the Procurator General of the Congregation of the Oratory, as Auxiliary Bishop of Brownsville, Texas.

The announcement was publicized in Washington on December 4 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.  

Father Aviles was born in Mexico on September 16, 1969.  He joined the Congregation of the Oratory in Mexico City in 1986 and in 1988 he moved to the Pharr Oratory in Texas. He attended the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in Philosophy in 1998.

He was ordained a priest on July 21, 1998.  He then earned a master of divinity degree from Holy Apostles in Cromwell, CT in 2000. Additional education includes a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Phoenix.

Assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar, Jude Thaddeus parish in Pharr, Texas, 1998-2002; pastor, Sacred Heart parish in Hidalgo, Texas, 2002-present.

Other responsibilities include: deputy, Confederation of the Oratory, permanent deputation, 2000-2012; director of the Oratory Academy and Oratory Athenaeum, 2005-2012; member of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, 2011-present; procurator general of the Confederation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, 2012-present.

The Diocese of Brownsville comprises 4, 296 square miles. It has a total population of 1,350,158 people of which 1,147,634 or 85 percent, are Catholic. The current bishop of Brownsville is Bishop Daniel E. Flores.

December 2, 2017
CONGRESS MUST CHANGE FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED TAX POLICIES IN FINAL BILL, SAYS U.S. BISHOPS CHAIRMAN

WASHINGTON— As the U.S. Senate passed its tax reform bill, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called for Congress to fix fundamentally flawed tax policies as the House of Representatives and Senate attempt to reach agreement on a final bill.

The full statement follows:

“Today, the U.S. Senate passed its tax reform legislation, and it will now be reconciled with the House of Representatives’ passed bill in an effort to reach agreement on the details of a final piece of legislation. Congress must act now to fix the fundamental flaws found in both bills, and choose the policy approaches that help individuals and families struggling within our society.

We are reviewing the final Senate bill and will soon provide analysis about key improvements that are necessary before a final agreement should be reached and moved forward.  For the sake of all people—but especially those we ought, in justice, to prioritize—Congress should advance a final tax reform bill only if it meets the key moral considerations outlined in our previous letters.”

The November 9 USCCB letter analyzing the House of Representatives tax reform bill can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Tax-Cuts-and-Jobs-Act-Letter-11-9-2017.pdf

The November 22 USCCB letter analyzing the Senate tax reform bill can be found at:  http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Senate-Tax-Cuts-and-Jobs-Act-Letter-2017-11-22.pdf

December 1, 2017
COALITION OF CATHOLIC ORGANIZATIONS AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING ADVOCATE FOR SLAVE-FREE SEAFOOD LABEL
 
WASHINGTON — To commemorate the United Nations International Day for the Abolition of Slavery on December 2, 2017, the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking (CCOAHT) is asking seafood producers, distributors and seafood retailers to make public, through packaged product labeling, their efforts to fight human trafficking in their product supply chains. According to CCOAHT, consumers are not receiving enough information needed to make moral purchasing decisions.
 
CCOAHT, which is facilitated by Migration and Refugee Services of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, consists of over 30 national and international Catholic agencies working to eliminate the plight of trafficked victims. Its pursuit of ethical consumerism seeks to echo the Vatican’s commitment to “proof” its own supply chains from slave labor.
 
To support the request for slave-free seafood labels, CCOAHT distributed a survey to its networks, asking consumers if slave-free labeling would affect purchases. Over 2,200 people responded and the results showed that 99% of consumers want companies to take steps to engage in ethical business practices, 98% want their packaged seafood to be labeled, and 97% said labels would influence their purchasing decisions.
 
“Catholics are becoming increasingly aware of the collective power they possess as consumers to press for positive change in the lives of those who catch our fish. As my CCOAHT colleagues have remarked, ‘we are asking the seafood industry to do better. The companies that do will be supported by consumers’”, said Hilary Chester, Director of Anti-Trafficking at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 
 
The consumer survey built upon a 2016 Lenten postcard campaign organized by CCOAHT.  Members’ networks mailed 15,000 postcards to U.S. seafood retailers urging them to examine their supply chains and commit to a product free of slave labor.  CCOAHT members will highlight survey data in upcoming dialogue with seafood supply chain shareholders.
 
For additional details about Labeling for Lent, refer to: Consumers Want the Choice to Buy Slave-Free Seafood.
 










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