(USCCB News Archives can be accessed at www.usccb.org/news/)
January 19, 2023
Pro-Life Chairman Commends Catholic Witness at National Prayer Vigil for Life
WASHINGTON — At the National Prayer Vigil for Life, thousands gathered to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, while looking with hope to the future since its reversal last year with Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
“Today we have so much to celebrate. For the first time in the 49-year-history of the March for Life, we can say that Roe vs. Wade, a blight on our nation, our system of justice, and our culture, is no more,” said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities, as he addressed the crowd in his homily. “But even as we celebrate, we must remember: this is the beginning, not the end….as we plan for the future, our efforts to defend life must be as tireless as ever.”
On the occasion of the National Prayer Vigil for Life, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, read the letter from Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, who conveyed greetings on behalf of Pope Francis. In the letter, the Holy Father expressed his deep gratitude “for the faithful witness shown publicly over the years by all who promote and defend the right to life of the most innocent and vulnerable members of our human family.”
Bishop Burbidge’s homily may be read here
Cardinal Parolin’s letter to Vigil for Life and March for Life attendees may be read here
January 19, 2023U.S. Church Marks 20 Years Since Release of ’Strangers No Longer'
WASHINGTON — On January 22, the Catholic Church in the United States celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the pastoral letter Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope
. This landmark document, issued jointly by the bishops of the United States and Mexico, addressed the need to manage migration between the two countries more humanely and emphasized the importance of providing pastoral care to newcomers. The letter also underscored a part of the Church’s identity that is frequently affirmed by Pope Francis: we are a Church that transcends borders, in which nobody is seen as disposable and all are welcome.
Twenty years after its publication, the need for a systemic reform of the U.S. immigration system has only become more apparent. The Church continues to recognize that migration between our two countries is necessary and beneficial, but “some aspects of the migrant experience are far from the vision of the Kingdom of God that Jesus proclaimed: many persons who seek to migrate are suffering, and, in some cases, tragically dying; human rights are abused; families are kept apart; and racist and xenophobic attitudes remain.”
Reflecting on the significance of Strangers No Longer, Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, stated:
“For two decades, Strangers No Longer has provided an important moral framework that has informed the Church’s engagement on the migration issue. More than that, it points to the solidarity that exists across national borders and the importance of working together to address complex issues. While much about our social and political landscape has changed during the past twenty years, the Church is unwavering in its commitment to walk with newcomers, especially the most vulnerable. We see this in the work of Catholic organizations along our border with Mexico and throughout the country—visible signs of Christ’s love, expressed through the virtue of hospitality.”
For the anniversary, the USCCB is encouraging Catholics and all people of good will to read and reflect on Strangers No Longer
throughout the year. A summary of the pastoral letter and its primary themes is available in both English
January 19, 2023
2023 Holy Land Coordination Communiqué
WASHINGTON — Representatives of bishops’ conferences from several countries, including the United States met for the annual Holy Land Coordination (HLC), January 14-19, 2023. Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace represented the U.S. bishops.
The full communiqué from the meeting may be read here
January 18, 2023
Nationwide Prayer Vigil for Life to Take Place January 19-20
WASHINGTON – Catholics across the country are encouraged to observe a nationwide prayer vigil from Thursday, January 19 to Friday, January 20, 2023, to pray for an end to abortion and a greater respect for all human life in post-RoeAmerica. The National Prayer Vigil for Life will once again be held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., on the eve of the March for Life.
Sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Pro-Life Secretariat, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and The Catholic University of America Office of Campus Ministry, the National Prayer Vigil for Life will begin with an Opening Mass at 5 PM ET in the Basilica’s Great Upper Church. The principal celebrant and homilist for the Opening Mass will be Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
Immediately following the Opening Mass, a National Holy Hour for Life will take place with a Eucharistic Procession, Eucharistic Adoration, Recitation of the Rosary, and Benediction. The Opening Mass and Holy Hour of the National Prayer Vigil for Life will be broadcast on various Catholic networks and will be livestreamed on the Basilica’s website at www.nationalshrine.org/mass
. Following, Holy Hours led by bishops from various dioceses around the country will be shared on the USCCB’s website.
The National Prayer Vigil for Life will conclude at 7:00 AM CT on Friday, January 20, with the Closing Mass celebrated by Bishop Joseph L. Coffey of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA.
The full schedule of the 2023 National Prayer Vigil for Life is listed below. (All times are in
Thursday, January 19:
3:45 PM Chaplet of Divine Mercy
4:00 PM Opening Mass with Bishop Burbidge
6:00 PM Holy Hour for Life
7:00 PM Live-stream of bishop-led holy hours throughout the night
Friday, January 20:
7:00 AM Closing Mass with Bishop Coffey
Live-streaming information for the overnight bishop-led holy hours from various dioceses will
be provided on the USCCB’s website
January 13, 2023
Statement in Observance of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2023
WASHINGTON — In observance of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese of the Military Services, USA, and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has issued a statement:
“People keep saying, ‘Where’s the next Martin Luther King?’ We’re all called, I think. We’re called by our citizenship, by our membership in the human race. We’re all called to free ourselves and to free one another.” - Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA
Today, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have celebrated his 94th birthday, we reflect on his legacy of a non-violent struggle against racial injustice. In the 60 years since Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, we recognize the progress made towards a just society that leaves no one on the margins, without failing to acknowledge that much work remains.
Beyond remembering and quoting Dr. King today, we must act to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system, access to affordable housing and healthcare, and economic opportunities. The USCCB continues to support policy changes in these areas of society. On our website, you may read more about our policy work, the USCCB’s efforts to overcome racism, and ministry resources in working with and for Catholics of African descent.
Remembering that Dr. King was guided first by his faith also challenges us to personal conversion. Unjust structures exist because personal sin persists. As the late Pope Benedict XVI expressed, “To renew the church in every age, God raises up saints, who themselves have been renewed by God and are in constant contact with God.” For models of lives transformed, we can always turn to the saints. To this end, the USCCB has advanced beatification and canonization causes
of six inspirational African American men and women: Venerable Pierre Toussaint, Servant of God Mother Mary Lange, Venerable Henriette Delille, Venerable Augustus Tolton, Servant of God Julia Greeley, and Sister Thea Bowman.
May their holy examples convert our hearts and our society, that we may achieve Dr. King’s dream of building a society where every person is recognized as a beloved son or daughter of God and treated with the justice and dignity that they deserve.
January 12, 2023
Religious Freedom Day 2023
WASHINGTON — On January 16, the United States celebrates Religious Freedom Day. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, has issued a statement:
“Catholic Christians engage political life in various ways and at different levels. Lay Catholics vote, advocate, and serve in public office. Bishops and clergy seek primarily to form consciences, both of lay voters and officials.
“What informs this engagement? Are we motivated by a desire for power—to control the levers of government? Are we a political party, working to protect our own interests?
“Much of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, whose legacy especially comes to mind in these recent weeks, was dedicated to these questions. He sought to show how the Church’s mission in political life is to bear witness to the truth, particularly the truth about human nature and the dignity of all persons.
“As he put it
, ‘Fidelity to man requires fidelity to the truth, which alone is the guarantee of freedom and of the possibility of integral human development. For this reason the Church searches for truth, proclaims it tirelessly and recognizes it wherever it is manifested. This mission of truth is something that the Church can never renounce.’
“Prioritizing reason and truth in politics is a challenge. As Pope Francis observes
, ‘What is now happening, and drawing us into a perverse and barren way of thinking, is the reduction of ethics and politics to physics. Good and evil no longer exist in themselves; there is only a calculus of benefits and burdens. As a result of the displacement of moral reasoning, the law is no longer seen as reflecting a fundamental notion of justice but as mirroring notions currently in vogue. Breakdown ensues: everything is ‘leveled down’ by a superficial bartered consensus. In the end, the law of the strongest prevails.’
“We do well to remember the priority of truth and the right exercise of reason in political life when we celebrate religious freedom. The purpose of religious freedom is to allow individuals and communities space to seek the truth and to bear witness to the truth. When we advocate for religious freedom, we must never forsake that mission.
“Truths about human nature—about conjugal marriage, the right to life, the equal dignity of every individual—can be known by reason without the aid of faith. When these truths come under attack, religious freedom is not an escape route, as if we could watch the common good be harmed so long as we obtain religious exemptions. Indeed, if we abandon the priority of truth, natural law, human nature, and the common good, then we abandon freedom itself
“On this Religious Freedom Day, may all Catholics dedicate ourselves to the cultivation of virtue to which freedom calls us
, particularly the virtue of fortitude, that we may patiently and courageously bear witness to the truth in our public life. In this way, we will promote true freedom and bless our great country.”
January 11, 2023
Pro-Life Chairman Commends House for Passing “Born Alive” Bill
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives voted 220 to 210 today to pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (H.R. 26). “We commend the House of Representatives for passing legislation to protect
innocent children from infanticide, and urge the Senate to follow suit,” said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities. “Babies who are born alive during the process of an abortion deserve compassionate care and medical attention – just the same as any other newborn baby.”
H.R. 26 would require health care providers to give children born alive after an attempted abortion the same medical care that they would for any child born at that same gestational age and to transport them to a hospital. On Tuesday, Bishop Burbidge sent a letter to members of the House urging them to vote for the bill. His letter and other resources may be found at: https://www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/born-alive-bill.cfm
January 6, 2023
Migration Chairman Dismayed by Reliance on Harmful Policies
WASHINGTON — Yesterday, the Biden Administration announced the expanded use of the pandemic-era policy known as “Title 42,” which circumvents normal immigration procedures along the U.S.-Mexico border and prevents vulnerable migrants from seeking asylum in the United States. This is coupled with the expansion of a process originally created for Venezuelans in October 2022, which provides those with a U.S.-based financial sponsor the opportunity to apply for humanitarian parole to enter and work in the country for up to two years; Cuban, Haitian, and Nicaraguan nationals will now be eligible for that same program.
The Administration also alluded to a forthcoming regulatory proposal to revive a ban on asylum for those who transited through other countries prior to seeking refuge in the United States, a policy that was condemned
in 2019 by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, then-president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and eventually enjoined by federal courts.
Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:
“We welcome the announcement of new legal pathways to the United States, but it is difficult for us to consider this progress when these same pathways are contingent on preventing those forced to flee their native land from availing themselves of the right to seek asylum at our border. Under this approach, many of the most vulnerable will be excluded from relief and subjected to dangerous circumstances, contravening U.S. and international refugee law, as well as Catholic social teaching.
“It simply defies reason and lived realities to require those facing persecution, trafficking, and torture to only pursue protection from within those potentially life-threatening situations. This is a drastic departure from the Administration’s promise to create a ‘fair, orderly, and humane’ immigration system and will only exacerbate challenges on both sides of our border. Even for those who are permitted to enter the United States, we continue to be concerned about their access to housing, work authorization, legal services, and other pressing needs.
“The Catholic bishops of the United States are among those religious leaders referenced by the President who have consistently called for a comprehensive reform of our immigration system, and we share the President’s disappointment regarding a lack of bipartisan cooperation in Congress on this issue. We also wholeheartedly agree that to truly address the irregular movement of people in our hemisphere, we must tackle the root causes of forced migration, promoting integral human development in sending countries so people may flourish there.
“We urge the Administration to reverse its present course in favor of humane solutions that recognize the God-given dignity of migrants and provide equitable access to immigration and humanitarian pathways.”
While marking the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe last month, Bishop Seitz expressed
“that time, resources, and political will are best spent making structural improvements to our broken immigration system,” in addition to standing up critical infrastructure to meet the humanitarian needs of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. The USCCB’s comments in response to the 2019 regulation restricting access to asylum are available here
January 6, 2023
Pro-Life Chairman Denounces FDA Action on Chemical Abortion Pill
WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the loosening of safety requirements to allow retail pharmacies, through a simple certification process, to distribute the chemical abortion drug, mifepristone (previously commonly known as RU-486), by prescription. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement in response:
“The Catholic Church is consistent in its teaching on upholding the dignity of all life, and that must include care for both women and their children. We decry the continuing push for the destruction of innocent human lives and the loosening of vital safety standards for vulnerable women. This week’s action by the FDA not only advances the obvious tragedy of taking the lives of the preborn, but is also harmful to women in need.
“The rate of serious complications after chemical abortion is considerably higher
than after surgical abortion. Overturning the safety protocols around abortion-causing drugs to effectively make them available on demand at pharmacies, requiring no in-person medical supervision, facilitates the isolation of critically vulnerable pregnant women, and invites more risk, pain, and trauma. It may also result in new violations of conscience for pharmacy workers who cannot dispense such drugs. The FDA should protect the life and health of both mothers and children, not loosen safety standards under industry or political pressures. We call on the Administration to correct its policy priorities and stand with mothers in need. They deserve better.”
January 5, 2023
Pope Francis Names New Auxiliary Bishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Rev. Michael J. Izen as auxiliary bishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Bishop-elect Izen is a priest of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis and currently serving as pastor of Church of Saint Michael, and Church of Saint Mary in Stillwater, Minnesota. The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on January 5, 2023, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
The following biographical information for Bishop-elect Izen has been drawn from preliminary materials provided to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:
Father Izen was born January 12, 1967, in Fairmont, Minnesota. He attended St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota (1985-1989), and studied at the University of St. Thomas and St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota (1989-2005) where he earned a Master of Divinity. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 28, 2005.
Bishop-elect Izen’s assignments after ordination include: assistant priest at Divine Mercy parish in Faribault (2005-2007); assistant for Hispanic ministry at Saint Patrick’s parish in Shieldsville (2006-2007); pastor at the Church of Saint Timothy in Maple Lake (2007-2012); chaplain for post abortion outreach in St. Paul (2010-2012); and pastor at Church of Saint Raphael in Stillwater (2012-2015). Since 2015, he has served as pastor of Church of Saint Michael, and Church of Saint Mary, as well as canonical administrator at Saint Croix Catholic School in Stillwater. Additionally, since 2020, Bishop-elect Izen has served as parochial administrator of Saint Charles parish in Bayport.
The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis is comprised of 6,187 square miles in the State of Minnesota and has a total population of 3,504,415, of which 750,000 are Catholic.
December 31, 2022
Reflection of USCCB President on Death of Pope Benedict XVI
WASHINGTON — Retired Pope Benedict XVI passed away December 31. Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a reflection on the pope emeritus.
Archbishop Broglio’s full reflection follows:
“The passing from this life of Pope emeritus, Benedict XVI, sounds contrasting notes of sorrow and gratitude in my heart.
“The Church gives thanks for the treasured ministry of Pope Benedict XVI. A superb theologian who lent his talents as a peritus at the Second Vatican Council, he continued throughout his long life to be an effective teacher of the faith. As a priest, university professor and theologian, archbishop, and cardinal, his voice in deepening an authentic understanding led all of us to a more profound love of truth and the mystery of God. It will take many years for us to delve more deeply into the wealth of learning that he has left us.
“Personally, I remember many meetings with him while I served in the Secretariat of State, and I will never forget his greeting to me at the first General Audience I attended some weeks after his election to the Chair of Peter. “Ci conosciamo” (we know each other) were his warm words of welcome as he took my hand between his.
“We all remember how he shocked the world in 2013 by announcing his plan to resign from his responsibilities as the Bishop of Rome, and in doing so, he continued his teaching about courage, humility, and love for the Church. He recognized the great demands made of him as the chief shepherd of the Universal Church of a billion Catholics worldwide, and his physical limitations for such a monumental task. Even in retirement, retreating to live out a life in quiet prayer and study, he continued to teach us how to be a true disciple of Christ, while still contributing to his legacy.
“Generations will continue to be enriched by his books, discourses, and homilies. They all reveal a depth of learning and reflection that is essential both in our time and in the future.
“While we grieve that he is no longer with us here, I join Catholics everywhere in offering my profound gratitude to the Lord for the gift of Pope Benedict XVI and his ministry. Together we beg our Lord to grant him eternal rest.”
December 30, 2022
Proposed Revision on Conscience Rule Raises Concern
WASHINGTON — On December 29, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued proposed revisions to a regulation that interprets various laws that protect the exercise of religious beliefs and moral convictions in healthcare, commonly called the “Conscience Rule.” In response, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, issued the following statement:
“While the proposed revision to the Conscience Rule will need time to digest, I am troubled by its implications that desire for abortion and other procedures can override rights of conscience. Pope Francis has called
conscientious objection ‘the ultimate responsibility of healthcare professionals,’ one that ‘should never be negotiated.’ Strong majorities of Americans agree – in a USCCB study
this year, 60% of registered voters said that a doctor should not be pressured or penalized by the government to perform abortions or gender transition procedures that go against his or her conscience.
“It is crucial that the federal government broadly interpret and robustly enforce our nation’s laws protecting this fundamental right of conscience and of health workers to do no harm. We will continue to review the proposed rule and file thorough comments at the appropriate time.”
More information on the Conscience Rule, the USCCB’s previous comments on this rule, and other regulations impacting religious freedom is available at usccb.org/do-no-harm
December 19, 2022
Pope Francis Names New Auxiliary Bishops of Washington
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Msgr. Juan R. Esposito-Garcia and Rev. Evelio Menjivar-Ayala as auxiliary bishops of Washington. The appointments were publicized in Washington, D.C. on December 19, 2022, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop-elect Esposito is a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington and currently serving as an official in the Dicastery for Bishops in Vatican City. Father Esposito was born January 10, 1974, in San Louis, Argentina. He attended St. Michael Seminary in Argentina (1998-2000) and Catholic University in Cuyo, Argentina (2003). He earned a Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Moral Theology (2008) from Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland. He also earned a Licentiate in Canon Law (2011) and a Doctorate in Canon Law (2016) from The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 14, 2008. In 2021, Monsignor Esposito was named Prelate of His Holiness, with the title of Monsignor.
Bishop-elect Esposito’s assignments in the Archdiocese of Washington include: parochial vicar at Shrine of St. Jude in Rockville, Maryland (2008-2010); parochial vicar at St. Mark the Evangelist in Hyattsville, Maryland (2010-2012); parochial vicar at the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, Maryland (2013); and administrator at Ascension Catholic Church in Bowie, Maryland (2013-2014). He was also adjunct professor of canon law and adjunct spiritual director at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland (2014-2017). From 2012-2018, he served in the Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Washington as a judge (2012-2018) and then as adjunct judicial vicar and judicial vicar (2014-2017). Bishop-elect Esposito has also served as a member of the Seminary Admission Committee (2012-2017); as an instructor for the Archdiocesan Marriage Preparation Program (2010-2015); and as a member of the Committee for the Archdiocesan Synod (2013-2014). Since 2018, he has served as an official in the Dicastery for Bishops in Vatican City. Bishop-elect Esposito speaks English, Spanish, and Italian.
Bishop-elect Menjivar is a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington and currently serving as pastor of St. Mary’s parish in Landover Hills, Maryland. Father Menjivar was born August 14, 1970, in Chalatenango, El Salvador. He came to the United States with his brother as a teenager, because of violence and unrest in his home country, while his family remained in El Salvador. He is now a U.S. citizen. He attended St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami, Florida (1995-1999) and the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy (2003). He was ordained to the priesthood on May 29, 2004.
Bishop-elect Menjivar’s assignments in the Archdiocese of Washington include: parochial vicar at Mother Seton parish in Germantown, Maryland (2004-2008); parochial vicar at St. Bartholomew parish in Bethesda, Maryland (2008); parochial vicar at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C. (2013-2014); and administrator at Our Lady Queen of the Americas parish in Washington, D.C. (2014-2017). Since 2017, he has served as pastor of St. Mary’s parish in Landover Hills, Maryland. Bishop-elect Menjivar speaks English, Spanish, and Italian.
The Archdiocese of Washington is comprised of 2,104 square miles in the District of Columbia and the State of Maryland and has a total population of 3,091,984, of which 680,236 are Catholic.
December 16, 2022
USCCB chairman denounces injustice against Bishop Alvarez
WASHINGTON — In yet another move denounced by human rights campaigners worldwide, the Nicaraguan Government on December 13 officially charged Bishop Rolando Alvarez of Matagalpa and Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Estelí with serious though spurious crimes. Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued the following statement denouncing this injustice against Bishop Alvarez, and called for immediate de-escalation:
“It is with dismay that we witness the continued deterioration of religious freedom and human rights in Nicaragua. On December 13, Bishop Rolando Alvarez – who had been kidnapped by the regime and isolated under house arrest without due process since August for denouncing the regime’s human rights abuses and the breakdown of the democratic order in Nicaragua – was charged with ‘undermining national integrity and the propagation of false news.’ He is scheduled to appear before a regime tribunal on January 10, 2023. Bishop Álvarez is being held under the strictest isolation, and his deteriorated physical appearance is a testament to the particularly difficult conditions of his house arrest.
“Since the bloody crackdown on peaceful protestors in 2018 – when my predecessor Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio traveled to Nicaragua to express our solidarity with our brother bishops and the people of Nicaragua – the regime and its allies have been implementing a policy of severe, systematic physical, rhetorical, and institutional aggression and intimidation against the Catholic Church in Nicaragua. This has included unjust detentions, violence, prohibition of priests from returning to Nicaragua, desecrations of sacred images, and even profanations of the Blessed Sacrament.
“I call on the U.S. Government and the international community to pursue the immediate release of Bishop Álvarez, the restoration of religious freedom and human rights guarantees, and initiate a process of restoring the democratic order and the rule of law in Nicaragua.”
December 15, 2022
Pope Francis accepts resignation of Bishop Kettler
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Donald J. Kettler, 78, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Saint Cloud, and has appointed Reverend Patrick Neary, C.S.C, as Bishop-elect of Saint Cloud. Bishop-elect Neary is a member of the religious order, the Congregation of Holy Cross, United States Province of Priests and Brothers, and currently serves as pastor of Holy Redeemer Parish in Portland, Oregon. The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington, D.C. on December 15, 2022, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Father Neary was born March 6, 1963, in LaPorte, Indiana. He attended the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana (1985); and he earned a Master of Divinity in theology from Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California (1990). He professed his final vows for the Congregation of Holy Cross on September 1, 1990 and was ordained to the priesthood on April 6, 1991.
Bishop-elect Neary’s assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar at St. John Vianney parish in Goodyear, Arizona (1990-1994); campus minister at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana (1994-2000); residence hall assistant rector at the University of Notre Dame (1994-1995); vice rector (2001-2003) and rector (2004-2010) at Moreau Seminary at the University of Notre Dame; and a member of the Provincial Council of the Indiana Province of Priests (2003-2010). He also served as director of the McCauley House of Formation in Nairobi, Kenya (2010-2011); and district superior of East Africa for the Congregation of Holy Cross (2011-2018). Since 2018, he has served as pastor of Holy Redeemer parish in Portland, Oregon. Father Neary speaks English and Spanish.
The Diocese of Saint Cloud is comprised of 12,251 square miles in the State of Minnesota and has a total population of 586,422, of which 115,158 are Catholic.
December 12, 2022
Migration chairman reaffirms Church’s solidarity with immigrants
WASHINGTON — Today marks the Catholic Church’s annual celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a title ascribed to the Virgin Mary after she appeared to Saint Juan Diego multiple times in 1531. The feast day of December 12 was first established by Pope Benedict XIV in 1754, and Pope John Paul II declared Our Lady of Guadalupe as “Patroness of the Americas” and “Star of the New Evangelization” in 1999. Catholic communities across the United States, Mexico, and elsewhere maintain a strong devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is venerated as a symbol of unity in diversity and maternal concern.
Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:
“When we speak about the issue of immigration, we are fundamentally addressing the movement of people — human persons created in the image and likeness of God, each one of them a brother or sister to us all. Unfortunately, this truth is often obscured by political rhetoric, fearmongering, and hyperbole. Our Lady of Guadalupe points us toward a better way, one that ultimately leads to reconciliation.
“The bishops of the United States continue to affirm the natural right to migrate, balanced with the sovereign right of countries to uphold their borders, as well as their obligations to provide humane processes for newcomers.
“We maintain that time, resources, and political will are best spent making structural improvements to our broken immigration system. At a moment when we are witnessing the arrival of greater numbers of families and individuals at our border with Mexico, we call on federal authorities to stand up critical infrastructure to meet their humanitarian needs. Especially during this Advent season, these newcomers are visible signs of Christ among us. Let us meet this moment not with policies of exclusion and indifference but with a spirit of compassion and generosity. We pledge our support and cooperation in meeting these challenges.
“Today, I invite Catholics and all people of faith to pray that through the intersession of Our Lady of Guadalupe we may give comfort to those forced to leave their homes, and may Our Lady be a guide to all those entrusted with the responsibility of leadership.”
December 1, 2022
Chairman addresses Senate vote on Respect for Marriage Act
WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 8404). The bill, which first passed the U.S. House of Representatives in July, will codify the nationwide redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples in federal statute for the first time. The bill will also heighten the threats to religious liberty that have persisted after the Supreme Court’s Obergefelldecision of 2015. Bishop Robert E. Barron of Winona-Rochester, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, issued the following statement in response:
“We are gravely disappointed that the misnamed Respect for Marriage Act passed the Senate and continue to call for its rejection.
“Pope Francis wrote in 2016 that ‘we can hardly stop advocating marriage simply to avoid countering contemporary sensibilities…. We would be depriving the world of values that we can and must offer.’ Indeed marriage, which is a lifelong and exclusive union, a complete and mutual gift of the husband and wife to each other for their good and for the procreation and education of children, is essential to the common good.
“However, decades of social and legal developments have torn sexuality, childbearing, and marriage from each other in the public consciousness. Much of society has lost sight of the purpose of marriage and now equates it with adults’ companionship.
“This bill fails to include clear, comprehensive, and affirmative conscience protections for religious organizations and individuals who uphold the sanctity of traditional marriage that are needed.
“We affirm our respect for the dignity of all engaged in this debate, and acknowledge differing perspectives in our civil society, but the impact of this bill will only contribute to the diminishment of the sacredness and integrity of marriage in our society.”
Archbishop Cordileone, the prior chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, had also written to Congress in opposition the Act, in a joint letter
to the House of Representatives on July 19, 2022, and a separate letter to
the Senate on July 22.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty, wrote about the religious freedom harms of the bill in a recent article
. Last week, Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Barron implored
Congress to reverse course, offering a detailed analysis of how the bill tips the scales against religious freedom.
November 28, 2022Committee emphasizes recommitment to relationship with Jewish Community
WASHINGTON — In 1965, Pope Paul VI issued the Vatican Council’s declaration about other world religions, Nostra Aetate
(“In our time”), marking a key milestone in the relationship between the Catholic Church and Judaism. As the 60th anniversary of this prophetic document approaches, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs has issued a statement urging all believers in Christ once again to decry all “hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.” (Nostra Aetate
The full Committee’s statement follows:
“More than ever, members of the Body of Christ must now become aware of their spiritual ties to the Jewish people chosen first to hear the Word of God. In his letter to the Romans, Saint Paul spoke of the Church as wild shoots grafted onto an olive tree, that is, the Jews. He cautioned: “you do not support the root, the root supports you.” (Rom 11:17-24) As a result, the Church must take care to protect that same root from which she continues to draw sustenance as all await in varied ways the coming of the Messiah. (cf. Nostra Aetate, 4). The rising trend of antisemitic incidents has become even more painful in light of the Church’s relationship to the Jewish tradition and our connections to the Jewish people in dialogue and friendship.
“Beginning with the leadership of St. Paul VI, who guided the drafting and approval of Nostra Aetate through the Second Vatican Council and continuing without interruption to the present day with Pope Francis, the Catholic Church has continually fostered and recommended ‘that mutual understanding and respect which is the fruit, above all, of biblical and theological studies as well as of fraternal dialogues.’ (cf. Nostra Aetate, 4)
“Over the last six decades, the USCCB’s Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs has been proud to build partnerships with the National Council of Synagogues, the Orthodox Union, and the newly established Modern Orthodox Group, promoting those positive relations so encouraged by the Council. In each of these exchanges, leaders in the Catholic and Jewish faithshave learned to encounter each other in a spirit of good will and a sincere desire to encourage our respective faithful to live together in a society increasingly diverse in its racial, ethnic, religious, and political makeup.
“Today, however, these same lessons are being challenged by the re-emergence of antisemitism in new forms. Outraged by the deeply hurtful proliferations of antisemitic rhetoric, both online and in-person, and the violent attacks on Jewish individuals, homes, and institutions, we wish to convey our sincere support to the Jewish people. As Pope Francis has stated, ‘A true Christian cannot be an antisemite.’ (Address to Members of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations
, June 24, 2013).
“We must remain ever vigilant of the various ways in which these dangers arise. In unequivocal terms, we condemn any and all violence directed at the Jewish people, whether motivated by religious, racial, or political grievances. We furthermore denounce any rhetoric which seeks to demonize or dehumanize the Jewish people or Judaism as a religious tradition. We continue to remind ourselves of the shared spiritual patrimony that remains the foundation of our relationship with the Jewish people. We affirm that the Jewish people cannot be held responsible for the death of Christ or be depicted as rejected or accursed in theological discourse. It must always be remembered that Jesus, Mary, and his apostles were all Jewish. Finally, we remain firm in our dedication to a just political solution - a secure and recognized Israel living in peace alongside a viable and independent Palestine.
“As partners and neighbors, we seek to foster bonds of friendship between members of the Body of Christ and the Jewish people. With this in mind, and in light of the upcoming 60th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, we recommit ourselves to broadening the implementation of the teaching found within that prophetic document. In the nearly six decades since the promulgation of Nostra Aetate, the relationship between the Church and the Jewish people has continued to grow and strengthen with mutual respect and admiration. May God continue to bless us with a renewed friendship and a mutual understanding that one day will allow us to address the Lord and stand as brothers and sisters to serve him ‘shoulder to shoulder.’ (Soph. 3.19).”
November 23, 2022
Bishop chairmen implore Congress to reverse course on "Respect for Marriage Act"
WASHINGTON — In advance of Monday’s Senate vote on H.R. 8404, the “Respect for Marriage Act” (RMA), Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Robert Barron of Winona-Rochester, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth, issued a joint letter and analysis urging Congress to oppose the measure.
“Our opposition to RMA by no means condones any hostility toward anyone who experiences same-sex attraction. Catholic teaching on marriage is inseparable from Catholic teaching on the inherent dignity and worth of every human being. To attack one is to attack the other. Congress must have the courage to defend both.
“The Respect for Marriage Act’s rejection of timeless truths about marriage is evident on its face and in its purpose. It would also betray our country’s commitment to the fundamental right of religious liberty…
“Unfortunately, a number of religious groups and senators are asserting that the amended text of RMA sufficiently protects religious freedom. From the perspective of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, whose bishops’ ministries comprise the largest non-governmental provider of social services in the United States, the provisions of the Act that relate to religious liberty are insufficient. If passed, the amended Act will put the ministries of the Catholic Church, people of faith, and other Americans who uphold a traditional meaning of marriage at greater risk of government discrimination.
“This bill is needless and harmful and must be voted down. At the same time, Congress, and our nation as a whole, must resolve to foster a culture where every individual, as a child of God, is treated with respect and compassion.”
The letter to Congress is accompanied by a detailed explanation of the religious liberty problems in the Act and its potential consequences.
The complete letter and analysis are available here
Previous USCCB statements and resources on the Act may be found at the following links:
Cardinal Dolan’s November 15 article
, “The ’Respect for Marriage Act’ Stacks the Deck against Religious Freedom”
Archbishop Cordileone’s letter
to the House of Representatives and letter
to the Senate.