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

(For interesting commentary on Catholic issues go to http://usccbmedia.blogspot.com/)

BISHOPS APPROVE SEVERAL ITEMS AT SPRING MEETING

BALTIMORE — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved several action items today at their Spring General Assembly taking place in Baltimore, June 11-13.

The full body of bishops approved in a provisional vote of 213 to 8 with 4 abstentions the proposed, provisional Strategic Priorities for the 2021-24 USCCB Strategic Plan.

The Bishops also approved the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States, 2nd edition, for use in the dioceses of the United States by a vote of 217 to 5 with 2 abstentions; and a new translation of the ritual book used for the Ordination of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons for use in the dioceses of the United States of America. The Latin Church members of USCCB voted by the necessary two-thirds majority to approve the text.

The USCCB Committee on Priorities and Plans (CPP), based on two recent consultations with the body of bishops and one with the National Advisory Council (NAC), developed the 2021-24 Strategic Priorities. These two consultations with the body of bishops consisted of Regional Meeting questions at the November 2018 General Meeting wherein regions provided inputs on the Strategic Priorities for the 2021-24 Strategic Plan; and a Strategic Priorities Survey in January 2019 asking all bishops to further refine and prioritize the November 2018 regional meeting inputs; the National Advisory Council (NAC) also provided their inputs in January 2019 through a similar Strategic Priorities survey. The development of supporting 2021-24 Operational Plans by USCCB Committees, Subcommittees and Departments, which together make up the proximate 2021-24 Strategic Plan, will commence in July 2019.

The National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States, 2nd edition, fulfills the prescriptions of canon 236 of the Code of Canon Law and n.15 of the Ratio fundamentalis institutionis diaconorum permanentium to ensure unity, earnestness, and completeness in the formation, life, and ministry of permanent deacons in the United States. In September 2017, the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV) approved the National Directory, 2nd edition, and submitted it for review to the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance (CACG) and the Committee on Doctrine. In June 2018, after adopting the recommendations of the Doctrine and CACG Committees, the CCLV Committee approved the National Directory and recommended to present it to the body of bishops in the General Assembly session in November 2018, but the Administrative Committee decided to postpone the discussion and vote. This year 2019, the Administrative Committee approved the inclusion of the National Directory on the June 2019 General Assembly agenda for discussion and vote.

The Latin Church members of USCCB also voted today by the necessary two-thirds majority to approve the Ordination of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. It now requires a confirmation of the decision (confirmatio) by the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments before it can be published and used in the liturgy. Since Bishops in English-speaking countries around the world have been using a variety of translations of this text for their celebrations of Ordination, the Holy See expressed a desire for greater worldwide unity in these important ceremonies.

This new translation was prepared by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) with input from the international community. While the new text is not drastically different from what is currently used in the U.S., it does update the book to some degree, and the positive vote of the Bishops indicates their desire for an up-to-date text and their support for the Holy See’s perspective on the value of worldwide consistency. The bishops of Canada have already approved the same text, and today’s vote of the U.S. body of bishops suggests that the hopes of the Holy See are already bearing fruit. Depending on the speed with which the confirmatio is received, the new book might be in print and available for use as early as 2020, though the approval and publication process could take more time.

March 21, 2019
POPE FRANCIS APPOINTS NEW ARCHBISHOP FOR WASHINGTON

The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Wilton Daniel Gregory, Metropolitan Archbishop of  Washington D.C. in the United States.

Up to now Archbishop Gregory has been in charge of the Archdiocese of Atlanta in Georgia. He was appointed Archbishop in December 2004, and took office on 17 January 2005.

The Archbishop, who was born in 1947 in Chicago, Illinois, studied philosophy at Niles College and theology at Saint Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois. He was ordained a priest on May 9, 1973 for the Archdiocese of Chicago.

In 1980 Archbishop Gregory obtained his Doctorate in Liturgy at the Pontifical Athenaeum Sant'Anselmo in Rome.

After his priestly ordination, he held the following positions: Parish Vicar of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Glenview; Student in Rome (1976-1979); Professor of Liturgy at Saint Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelain, Member of the Archdiocesan Office for the Liturgy and Master of Ceremonies for Cardinals Cody and Bernardin (1980-1983).

In October of 1983 he was appointed titular Bishop of Oliva and Auxiliary of Chicago. He was transferred to the See of Belleville, Illinois, in 1993.

Within the United States Episcopal Conference, the Archbishop has held a number of positions including, President (2001-2004), Vice-President (1998-2001). He is currently Chair of the Committee on Divine Worship.

March 21, 2019
NATIONAL BLACK CATHOLIC CONGRESS ANNOUNCES NEW PRESIDENT

BALTIMORE -- The National Black Catholic Congress (NBCC) is pleased to announce the election of the Most Reverend Roy E. Campbell, Jr. as its next President.  Bishop Campbell was elected by the Black Bishops of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).  He succeeds the Most Reverend John Ricard who will remain active in the NBCC as its Immediate Past President.  The change in leadership will become effective on April 1, 2019. 

Although the first five gatherings of Black Catholics were convened from 1889 to 1894, these events inspired the creation of the NBCC in 1985 and rekindled the commitment to gather Black Catholics once more, with Congresses occurring every five years since that time.  Under the direction of Bishop Ricard, who has long provided leadership, administrative and financial oversight, the NBCC has grown in its ability to assist Black Catholics and Black Catholic Organizations in their mission to live and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Bishop Campbell, born in Charles County, MD in 1947 and raised in Washington, DC, was ordained a Catholic priest in 2007 for the Archdiocese of Washington. He was appointed an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington by Pope Francis and ordained a bishop in 2017.  He is currently a member of the USCCB Subcommittee on African American Catholics.

Bishop Ricard, the retired Bishop of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee and currently the Rector of the Josephite Seminary in Washington, DC, will work closely with Bishop Campbell in his new role.  Bishop Ricard continues to bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to assist the Congress in its mission.

March 5, 2019
POPE NAMES BISHOPS FOR FRESNO AND MEMPHIS ALONG WITH AN UXILIARY BISHOP FOR LOS ANGELES

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed the Reverend Monsignor Alejandro D. Aclan as Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles; accepted the resignation of Bishop Armando Xavier Ochoa from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Fresno, appointed as Bishop of that same See the Most Reverend Joseph V. Brennan, up until now Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles and named Bishop David Talley, until now Bishop of Alexandria in Louisiana, as Bishop of the Diocese of Memphis.

The appointments and resignation were publicized in Washington on March 5, 2019, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Rev. Msgr. Alejandro Aclan is currently serving as priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and most recently served as Vicar for Clergy. He was born February 9, 1951 in Pasay City, Philippines. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology (1971) from University of Santo Tomas in Manila. He also holds a Master of Divinity (1993) from St. John’s Seminary, in Camarillo. Father Aclan was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 1993.

Assignments after ordination include: Associate Pastor/St.Finbar, Burbank; St. John of God, Norwalk, 1993-2001; Director of Vocations in Progress (1996-1999). Rev. Msgr. Aclan served as a Pastor/St. Madeleine, Pomona (2001-2012); Member/Regional Pastoral Council, San Gabriel Valley Pastoral Region (2003-2008); Treasurer/Council of Priest (2006-2010); Regional Vocations Director, San Gabriel Valley Pastoral Region (2010-2012); Associate Vicar for Clergy (2015-2018). In July 2018 Monsignor Aclan began a sabbatical year.  

Bishop Joseph V. Brennan was born on March 20, 1954 in Van Nuys, California. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy from St. John’s Seminary College (1976) and a Masters in Divinity from St. John’s Seminary Theologate (1980). He was ordained a priest in June 21, 1980.

He was installed as Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles and Titular Bishop of Trofimiana, September 8, 2015. Bishop Brennan is the Episcopal Vicar of the San Fernando Pastoral Region, one of the five Pastoral Regions in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Bishop Brennan has also served as Moderator of the Curia for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Bishop Armando Ochoa was born in Oxnard, California, in 1943. In 1962 he entered St. John’s Seminary College and having graduated, continued his studies at St. John’s Seminary School of Theology. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles on May 23, 1970. He served as Associate Pastor at St. Alphonsus Church in East Los Angeles; St. John the Baptist Church in Baldwin Park; and St. Teresa of Avila Church, Los Angeles. Bishop Ochoa was appointed Pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Los Angeles, in December 1984. While an Associate Pastor at St. Teresa of Avila, he was named a Monsignor, Chaplain to His Holiness, in 1982. Bishop Ochoa was installed as the fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Fresno on February 1, 2012 and served on several U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) committees.

Pope Francis has also appointed Bishop David P. Talley as Bishop of the Diocese of Memphis. Bishop Talley has served up until now as Bishop of Alexandria in Louisiana.

Bishop Talley studied for the priesthood at St. Meinrad School of Theology. He earned his doctorate in canon law from the Pontificia University Gregorian in Rome. He also holds a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University and a graduate degree from the University of Georgia. He was ordained on June 3, 1989.

He was appointed as auxiliary bishop of Atlanta by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on January 3, 2013 and was consecrated a bishop on April 2, 2013. Pope Francis appointed him Coadjutor Bishop of Alexandria on September 21, 2016 and was installed a bishop of the diocese on February 2, 2017 following the resignation of Bishop Ronald Paul Herzog.  

His assignments include: parochial vicar at St. Jude the Apostle church, officer of the Archdiocese of Atlanta tribunal, director of vocations for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is comprised of 8,636 square miles in the state of California and has a total population of 11,541,404 of which 4,039,491 or 35 percent are Catholic.  

The Diocese of Fresno is comprised of 36,072 square miles in the state of California and has a total population of 2,906,023 of which 1,200,000 or 41.29 percent are Catholic.

The Diocese of Memphis comprises 10,682 square miles. It has a total population of 1,553,899 people of which 60,320 or 4% percent, are Catholic.

February 25, 2019
PRESIDENT OF U.S. BISHOPS ISSUES STATEMENT AT CLOSE OF MEETING ON PROTECTION OF MINORS IN THE CHURCH

ROME — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), on February 24, said the just-concluded Summit on the Protection of Minors in the Church, had been fruitful and had revealed to the bishops the deep wounds caused by the abuse in the Church.

“These have been challenging, fruitful days,” Cardinal DiNardo said. “The witness of survivors revealed for us, again, the deep wound in the Body of Christ. Listening to their testimonies transforms your heart. I saw that in the faces of my brother bishops. We owe survivors an unyielding vigilance that we may never fail them again.”

The Cardinal noted that a number of mechanisms must be put in place and the cooperation with the laity would be important in the process. He suggested the Dallas Charter be intensified.

Following is the Cardinal’s full statement:

“The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” Psalm 145:18

“These have been challenging, fruitful days. The witness of survivors revealed for us, again, the deep wound in the Body of Christ. Listening to their testimonies transforms your heart. I saw that in the faces of my brother bishops. We owe survivors an unyielding vigilance that we may never fail them again.

“How then to bind the wounds? Intensify the Dallas Charter. Pope Francis, whom I want to thank for this assembly, called us to ‘concrete and effective measures.’ A range of presenters from cardinals to other bishops to religious sisters to lay women spoke about a code of conduct for bishops, the need to establish specific protocols for handling accusations against bishops, user-friendly reporting mechanism, and the essential role transparency must play in the healing process.

“Achieving these goals will require the active involvement and collaboration of the laity. The Church needs their prayers, expertise, and ideas. As we have learned from diocesan review boards, a comprehensive range of skills is required to assess allegations and to ensure that local policies and procedures are regularly reviewed so that our healing response continues to be effective. All of the models discussed this week rely upon the good help of God’s people.

“I and the bishops of the United States felt affirmed in the work that is underway. Enhanced by what I experienced here, we will prepare to advance proposals, in communion with the Holy See, in each of these areas so that my brother bishops can consider them at our June General Assembly. There is an urgency in the voice of the survivors to which we must always respond. I am also aware that our next steps can be a solid foundation from which to serve also seminarians, religious women, and all those who might live under the threat of sexual abuse or the abuse of power.

“In our faith, we experience the agony of Good Friday. It can cause a sense of isolation and abandonment, but the Resurrection is God’s healing promise. In binding the wounds now before us, we will encounter the Risen Lord. In Him alone is all hope and healing.

“May I also add a sincere word of thanks to the many who prayed for me and for all that this meeting be a success.”

February 21, 2019
ASH WEDNESDAY COLLECTION TO SUPPORT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

WASHINGTON — The annual special Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe will be taken up in most dioceses on Ash Wednesday, March 6, 2019. The funds collected are used to support seminaries, youth ministry, social service programs, pastoral centers, church construction and renovation, and Catholic communications projects in 28 counties in Central and Eastern Europe.

“As we embark on our Lenten journey it is a fitting time to remember our sisters and brothers in Central and Eastern Europe, who are working to restore the Church and build the future after decades of oppression,” said Bishop Jeffrey Monforton, Bishop of Steubenville and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. “I thank the American faithful for their support. As a Paschal people, we help bring God’s consolation and the hope of rebirth when we extend our generosity to those in need.”

In 2017, the Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe awarded over $9 million through more than 300 grants. Among projects recently supported is the construction of a Catholic youth center in a remote part of Georgia, helping to form a new generation of disciples.

The Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe (CCEE) oversees the collection and an annual grant program as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. More information about the collection, including detailed information about who it supports and how the funds are distributed, can be found at www.usccb.org/ccee.

February 18, 2019
POPE FRANCIS NAMES ARCHBISHOP OF THE UKRAINIAN ARCHEPARCHY OF PHILADELPHIA

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Bishop Boris Gudziak as archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia. Bishop Gudziak, 58, currently serves as bishop of the Ukrainian Eparchy of Saint Vladimir-le Grand de Paris in France.

The appointment was publicized in Washington on February 18, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Gudziakwas born November 24, 1960 in Syracuse, New York. He was ordained on November 26, 1998 by Bishop Sofron Mudry O.S.B.M. He was ordained a bishop in France on August 26, 2012.

Bishop Gudziak holds a dual bachelor’s degree in philosophy and biology (1980) from Syracuse University, a degree in theology (1983) from the Pontifical Urban University in Rome, and a Ph.D., in Slavic and Byzantine Cultural History (1992) from Harvard University.

Post-ordination assignments include: vice rector of the Lviv Theological Academy, rector of the Lviv Theological Academy, and rector and president of the Ukrainian Catholic University.

The Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia includes the District of Columbia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and parts of eastern Pennsylvania. It has a total Catholic population of 67,250. The Archeparchy has been sede vacante since April 2018.

February 16, 2019
PRESIDENT OF USCCB STATEMENT ON THEODORE MCCARRICK IN RESPONSE TO JUDGEMENT BY THE HOLY SEE

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement upon the decision of the Holy See announced today regarding Theodore McCarrick.

Cardinal DiNardo’s Full Statement Follows:

“The Holy See’s announcement regarding Theodore McCarrick is a clear signal that abuse will not be tolerated. No bishop, no matter how influential, is above the law of the Church.  For all those McCarrick abused, I pray this judgement will be one small step, among many, toward healing. For us bishops, it strengthens our resolve to hold ourselves accountable to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am grateful to Pope Francis for the determined way he has led the Church’s response.

If you have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of someone within the Catholic Church, I urge you to contact local law enforcement and your local diocese or eparchy.  Victims Assistance Coordinators are available to help.  We are committed to healing and reconciliation.”

February 15, 2019
PRESIDENT OF BISHOPS AND CHAIR OF COMMITTEE ON MIGRATION RESPOND TO PRESIDENT’ TRUMP'S FUNDING FOR BORDER WALL

WASHINGTON — Today President Trump announced that he will issue an order stating his intention to make use of funds previously appropriated for other purposes to fund the construction of a border wall at the U.S./Mexico border that Congress has refused to fund.  Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, issued the following joint statement:

We are deeply concerned about the President’s action to fund the construction of a wall along the U.S./Mexico border, which circumvents the clear intent of Congress to limit funding of a wall.  We oppose the use of these funds to further the construction of the wall. The wall first and foremost is a symbol of division and animosity between two friendly countries. We remain steadfast and resolute in the vision articulated by Pope Francis that at this time we need to be building bridges and not walls.”

February 8, 2019
U.S. BISHOPS’ CHAIRS CONDEMN DECISION PREVENTING MUSLIM MAN FROM RECEIVING APPROPRIATE SPIRITUAL CARE AT EXECUTION

WASHINGTON – On February 7, 2019, the State of Alabama executed Domineque Ray, a Muslim man whose request to have an imam present at his execution was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court by a vote of 5-4.  Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Chairman of the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, have issued a statement, which reads:

“The execution of Domineque Ray deeply troubles us.  The death penalty itself is an affront to human dignity, and the Church has long called for its abolition in the United States and around the world.  Mr. Ray bore the further indignity of being refused spiritual care in his last moments of life, in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Alabama law.  This unjust treatment is disturbing to people of all faiths, whether Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or otherwise.  People deserve to be accompanied in death by someone who shares their faith.  It is especially important that we respect this right for religious minorities.  As Pope Francis said during his recent trip to the United Arab Emirates, ‘What we are called to do as believers is to commit ourselves to the equal dignity of all.’ Let us make this commitment today.”

February 8, 2019
PRO-LIFE COMMITTEE CHAIR FOR U.S. BISHOPS RESPONDS TO SCOTUS RULING

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily blocked Louisiana from implementing a law requiring doctors at abortion facilities to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals had previously ruled in favor of the Louisiana law.

While the petition on the merits of the law has yet to be filed and ruled upon by the Supreme Court, it ruled 5-4 on an application for a stay in the case of June Medical Services, LLC v. Gee.  

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement in response:

“The fact that abortionists and their facilities cannot or will not meet basic health standards exposes the lie of their clever slogan that abortion is health care.  The abortion industry’s objection to such a reasonable law, and this Court’s decision to temporarily prevent it from going into effect, is further evidence of how abortion extremism actively works against the welfare of women.

“Regardless of this disappointing ruling, the pro-life movement will continue to work and pray for the day when every legislature and court recognizes the brutal injustice of abortion—to women and their children alike—and our society sees abortion as unthinkable.”

February 8, 2019
STATEMENT OF CHAIRS OF NATIONAL CATHOLIC-MUSLIM DIALOGUE AND BISHOPS’ COMMITTEE ON ECUMENICAL AND INTERRELIGIOUS AFFAIRS 

WASHINGTON — His Excellency Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, and Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, issued the following statement:

“In our increasingly hostile world in which violence too often predominates between Christians and Muslims—violence that has led to tragic consequences for the most vulnerable humans—we welcome with great joy this historic joint statement on human fraternity by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb.  The statement, which represents the culmination of the first papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula and marks the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the encounter between St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil in Egypt, is a clarion call for robust dialogue that leads to peace.  We commend it to all people of good will, especially leaders of nations and religious groups, in the hope that it might serve as a resource to overcome division through a renewed commitment to dialogue and the establishment of goodwill.”

February 7, 2019
CHAIR OF BISHOPS’ COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE AND PEACE EXPRESSES SOLIDARITY WITH VENEZUELAN BISHOPS

WASHINGTON — Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services USA and Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace has issued the following statement expressing solidarity with the Bishops’ of Venezuela.

The Archbishop’s full statement follows:

“On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I express our solidarity with the Bishops of Venezuela, and with all those working for a peaceful and just resolution to the crisis there. The humanitarian situation is dire. Severe malnutrition and death from treatable illnesses afflict a growing number of Venezuelans.

I am grateful for the United States Government’s pledge to provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance to Venezuelans. I urge the administration to help facilitate the provisioning of humanitarian assistance, and, where necessary, help coordinate safe migration options, in order to avoid more suffering. The Church in Venezuela, as its bishops stated on February 4th, acts ‘according to principles of independence, impartiality, and humanity,’ and stands ready to help distribute assistance justly and equitably.

May Our Lady of Coromoto, Patroness of Venezuela, watch over all Venezuelans as they strive for peace and prosperity in their country.”

February 7, 2019
NATIONAL MARRIAGE WEEK USA AND WORLD MARRIAGE DAY HIGHLIGHTS THE MEANING OF MARRIAGE

WASHINGTON—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 10.

National Marriage Week USA and World Marriage Day are opportunities for “building a culture of life and love that begins with promoting and defending 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.

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 preaching resource, poster, and prayer intentions, can be found on the USCCB website.

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: Made for a Reason.” A rosary for 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 8 at 3:00 pm EST. A conversation about marriage will be livestreamed on the USCCB Facebook page Wednesday, February 13 at 2:00pm 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.

For the Spanish version of this release, please click here

February 6, 2019
BISHOPS’ PRO-LIFE CHAIR URGES SENATE VOTE AND PASSAGE OF BORN -ALIVE ABORTION SURVIVORS PROTECTION ACT

WASHINGTON – Last night, the Senate failed to adopt by unanimous consent the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act—legislation that would ensure that a child born alive following an abortion would 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.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement in response:

“Last night, the United States Senate had an opportunity to unanimously declare to the nation that infanticide is objectively wrong. That they failed to do so is unconscionable. No newborn should be left to suffer or die without medical care. It is barbaric and merciless to leave these vulnerable infants without any care or rights. Congress must take up and pass this bill and ensure that the legacy of Roe v. Wade does not extend itself from killing unborn children to killing newborn babies.”

The Archbishop also sent a letter to the U.S. Senate today urging the body to bring the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act to the floor for a vote and to pass it this week. In his letter, Archbishop Naumann asked the Senate to support the “common-sense legislation” that would protect infants who survived abortion attempts.

February 5, 2019
CHAIR OF BISHOPS’ INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE STATEMENT ON INS TREATY WITHDRAWAL

WASHINGTON — Most Reverend Timothy Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on International Justice and Peace issued the following statement:

“I regret to learn of the U.S. government’s intention to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty that has served for over thirty years to reduce nuclear arsenals between the U.S. and Russia significantly. Coupled with the news of the Russian reaction to this decision I am concerned for the potential of a new arms race created by these decisions. I ask all Catholics and people of good will to join in prayer for renewed, earnest dialogue among world leaders. May efforts on the part of all of us foster hope and encourage the aspiration of all peoples to live in peace and security.”

February 4, 2019
BISHOPS’ RELIGIOUS LIBERTY CHAIRMAN ASKS SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE TO END RELIGIOUS TESTS ON NOMINEES

WASHINGTON – Today, ahead of the U.S. Senate’s consideration of nominees for the federal judiciary in the coming weeks, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, chairman of the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty, sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee asking senators not to impose a religious test for public office.  The letter states, in part, as follows:

“In recent months, multiple nominees to the federal judiciary have been interrogated about their membership in the Knights of Columbus, with the implication that participation in the largest Catholic fraternal organization in the country – a respected organization that has accomplished so much good for over a century – could be disqualifying. Not only are religious tests unconstitutional and unjust, they are an attack on all people of faith and those with no faith at all.  Religious tests tell not only Catholics, but all Americans, that they cannot both serve their country and live out their convictions.”

Archbishop Kurtz concluded, “I implore you: end these discriminatory questions and refrain from further imposing religious tests on judicial nominees.”

The full letter can be found here.

“THIS LEGISLATION IS EVIL, PURE AND SIMPLE,” SAYS CHAIRM OF BISHOPS’ PRO-LIFE ACTIVITIES COMMITTEE

WASHINGTON — Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, KS and Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities has issued the following statement in response to several states moving forward with legislation that would permit a baby to be aborted at nine months.  

Archbishop Naumann’s full statement follows: 

“Abortion has always been built on a lie. Today, the lie is switching from 'abortion is a choice' to 'abortion is healthcare.'  A law recently passed in New York not only legalizes abortion essentially for any reason through all nine months of pregnancy but removes any protection for children born alive after abortion. A similar bill was proposed in Virginia along with several other states, all in the name of women’s health.  

This legislation is evil, pure and simple. And it shocks the conscience to see such evil legislation greeted with raucous cheers and standing ovations. Most grieving to our Lord of Life is that those who advocate for abortion put their eternal souls in jeopardy. 

It is sickeningly dishonest to claim that women’s lives or health depend on intentionally killing their children. This is especially true for late-term abortion, which always involves the purposeful destruction of a child which could have been born alive, with much less risk to the mother, had they both received real healthcare.  

Now is the time for all Catholics—bishops, priests, and laity—to fight for the unborn with renewed vigor. We must educate family, friends, legislators, and fellow citizens about how it is never necessary to intentionally kill unborn children in order to save their mothers. Local action is especially important. Though ending Roe v. Wade is a central goal of the pro-life movement, if the decision were overturned, only eleven states would immediately ban abortion; the other thirty-nine states would still allow it.   

I urge Catholics, and thoughtful Americans of all religions or none at all to advocate for local change. Sign up for your State Catholic Conference or diocesan pro-life advocacy network, which can help you communicate to elected officials. Or seek out state and local pro-life groups, including parish respect life groups, that are making a difference at the state level.  

Though we live in very dark days, we know that the Lord has already triumphed over death. But we must use this time on earth to be His hands and feet. This means each of us rededicating ourselves to prayer, and fighting for the most vulnerable among us, especially unborn children and their mothers.”  

February 1, 2019
USCCB CHAIR RENEW SUPPORT FOR INCLUSION ACT TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF FAITH-BASED FOSTER CARE AND ADOPTION PROVIDERS

WASHINGTON — Three chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) are offering their strong support for the bipartisan Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2019. The Act would prevent the federal government, and any state receiving federal funds for child welfare services, from taking adverse action against a provider that declines to conduct its services in a manner that would violate its religious or moral principles.

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

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

Stressing that the Inclusion Act respects the importance of a birth mother’s choice, the chairmen remarked, "Women and men who want to place their children for adoption ought to be able to choose from a diversity of adoption agencies, including those that share the parents' religious beliefs and moral convictions."

The letters of support are available online at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/upload/CWPIA-Endorsement-Letter-2019-to-Rep-Kelly.pdf and http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/upload/CWPIA-Endorsement-Letter-2019-to-Sen-Enzi.pdf

A backgrounder on the Inclusion Act is available.

February 1, 2019
U.S. BISHOPS’ CHAIR ON PRO-LIFE ACTIVITIES CALLS ALL PEOPLE OF GOOD WILL TO STAND UP AND PROTECT UNBORN AND BORN INFANTS

WASHINGTON — Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, KS and Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities has issued the following statement in response to the introduction of a bill in the Virginia legislature that would allow a baby to be aborted at nine months.  Although the bill was defeated there, a similar bill was passed by the New York legislature and signed into law by its Governor.

Archbishop Naumann’s full statement follows:

“A Virginia lawmaker has introduced a bill which would allow a baby to be aborted at nine months, even if the mother is just about to give birth. This legislation shocks the conscience and is made more egregious by the Governor of Virginia suggesting the permissibility of denying care to infants born alive during the abortion. This senseless disrespect for new human life is horrifying. We join the bishops of Virginia in urging all people of good will to stand up to protect unborn and born infants from legislation that would permit their gruesome deaths.”