News and Press

Information and Announcements About The Diocese

LAKE CHARLES – The 40th annual fundraising effort conducted in the Diocese of Lake Charles – the Bishop’s Services Appeal – begins in the parishes of the diocese on Sunday, Nov. 29, the First Sunday of Advent, with this year’s theme being ‘Now you are Christ’s body, and individually part of it,’ coming from I Corinthians 12:27.

November 21, 2020
Immaculate Conception Cathedral School Repairs
Submission Deadline: December 2, 2020, 12:00pm
Optional Onsite Evaluation: November 30, 2020, 10:00am
Complete Bid Package at “DOLC Recovery Projects” Tab

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

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

November 19, 2020
Father Fuller named new Associate General Secretary of USCCB
WASHINGTON — Rev. Michael J.K. Fuller was appointed Associate General Secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on November 19. Father Fuller, a priest of the Diocese of Rockford, has served as executive director of the USCCB’s Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs since August 2016 and will continue to lead the secretariat while also serving as administrator of the USCCB’s pastoral offices and a member of the executive staff. The appointment takes effect immediately.

“I have had the privilege of working with Father Fuller for the last four years,” said USCCB General Secretary Msgr. Jeffrey D. Burrill, who made the appointment. “He has extensive experience working with Conference committees and staff as well as with several of our key collaborating organizations. Father Fuller has gained the trust and respect of many including me. We have a common vision, and we are eager to carry out the priorities of the bishops under the leadership of Archbishop Gomez.”

“I am very grateful for this new opportunity to serve the bishops and the Church, and I thank Monsignor Burrill and Archbishop Gomez for the confidence they have placed in me,” said Father Fuller. “I also am grateful to Bishop Malloy who has generously allowed me to continue at the USCCB in this new role.”

Prior to his service at the USCCB, Father Fuller was associate professor and chair of the Department of Spiritual Theology at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary from 2011 to 2016. He was also editor of the Chicago Studies Theological Journal (2012-2016), and from 2002 to 2016, he served as spiritual director and instructor for the Diaconate Formation Program of the Diocese of Rockford, and as instructor for the Diaconate Formation Program of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Father Fuller also served as instructor, assistant professor, and chair of the Department of Christian Life (2002-2011), at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary. He taught at the Institute for Priestly Formation at Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska (2004-2008); and was instructor in Health Care Ethics at Saint Anthony School of Nursing, Rockford, Illinois (1998-2000). He also served as associate pastor of St. Bridget parish, Loves Park, Illinois (1997-2000).

Father Fuller holds a doctorate in sacred theology. He also holds a master of divinity, a licentiate of sacred theology and a bachelor of sacred theology from the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Rockford, in 1997. Prior to entering seminary formation, Father Fuller spent two years in Swaziland, Africa, as a Peace Corps volunteer. Father Fuller has written extensively in numerous scholarly publications and is the author of two books: Daily Prayer 2008 and The Virgin Martyrs: A Hagiographical and Mystagogical Interpretation.

November 18, 2020
U.S. Bishop chairmen renew call to stop executions
WASHINGTON — In the wake of more federal executions scheduled in coming weeks, two bishop chairmen have issued a statement calling on the Administration to act as a witness to the dignity of all human life. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement:

“Sadly, we must call on the Administration yet again to stop an execution, this time scheduled on November 19.  Two more are scheduled in December.  We are now on pace for ten federal executions in 2020, more than double the previous record of four in 1938.    

“The death penalty is not necessary to protect society.  It is not necessary to hold people accountable for grave crimes.  The decision not to execute someone, even someone who has done something terrible, is not ‘soft on crime’; rather, it is strong on the dignity of life.  As Pope Francis writes in his recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti:

‘. . . not even a murderer loses his personal dignity, and God himself pledges to guarantee this.’  The firm rejection of the death penalty shows to what extent it is possible to recognize the inalienable dignity of every human being and accept that he or she has a place in the universe.  If I do not deny that dignity to the worst of criminals, I will not deny it to anyone (no. 269).

“We ask President Trump and Attorney General Barr, as an act of witness to the dignity of all human life: stop these executions.”

For additional USCCB statements and resources on the death penalty and the recent resumption of federal executions:

  • In July of 2019, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, then-chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called on the administration to abandon plans to resume federal executions. 
  • In October 2019, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, and Bishop Frank J. Dewane participated in a roundtable discussion for the World Day Against the Death Penalty.
  • Archbishop Coakley, Archbishop Gregory, and Bishop Dewane co-authored an op-ed in America Magazine in December 2019. 
  • The USCCB restated its opposition to the death penalty in an amicus curiae brief in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court in January 2020.  
  • Archbishop Coakley called on Attorney General Barr and President Trump to reverse course on the executions after the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeals of the death row inmates in June 2020.
  • Archbishop Coakley and Archbishop Naumann issued a statement in August 2020 urging the administration to stop the executions. 
  • Archbishop Coakley and Archbishop Naumann issued a statement in September 2020 asking the administration to forgo the executions. 
  • A USCCB action alert continues to allow Catholics to raise their voices in opposition to the death penalty. 

November 17, 2020
U.S. Bishops elect Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill as General Secretary
WASHINGTON — The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) met November 16-17 for their Fall General Assembly, which convened in a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. bishops elected Monsignor Jeffrey D. Burill, S.T.L., as General Secretary of the USCCB.

Monsignor Burrill has served as Associate General Secretary of USCCB since February 2016. In that position, he has served as administrator of the USCCB's pastoral offices and as a member of the executive staff.

“I am honored the bishops have elected me to this important position,” said Monsignor Burrill. “I am grateful to Monsignor Bransfield for his leadership, and I look forward to carrying out the priorities of the Conference on behalf of the bishops.”

Monsignor Burrill is a priest of the Diocese of La Crosse. Prior to his service at the USCCB, he served as pastor of St. Bronislava Church from 2013-2016 and at the Pontifical North American College in Rome from 2009-2013, first as director of apostolic formation and then as the Carl J. Peter chair of homiletics, formation advisor, and director of media relations. He was pastor of the tri-parishes of St. Mary's, Durand, Holy Rosary, Lima, and Sacred Heart of Jesus in Mondovi, Wisconsin, from 2001 through 2009. He taught and served as chaplain at Regis High School and Middle School in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, from 1999 to 2001.

Monsignor Burrill earned a bachelor of arts degree from Saint Mary's College Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona, Minnesota, in 1994; a bachelor of sacred theology from the Gregorian University in Rome in 1997; and a licentiate in ecumenical theology from the Angelicum University, also in Rome, in 1999. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1998 in the Diocese of La Crosse. He served in several leadership positions for the diocese, including six years as a regional vicar and two terms on the Diocesan Presbyteral Council. Monsignor Burrill also served as the ecumenical officer and as a member of the seminary admissions board.

Elected to a five-year term, the general secretary coordinates all administrative matters of the Conference and is responsible for the coordination of the work of the Conference Committees and staff. He likewise directs and coordinates the planning and operational activities of the various secretariats and offices in support of the work of the Conference.

Monsignor Burrill succeeds Monsignor Brian Bransfield who served as General Secretary since 2015.

November 17, 2020
U.S. Bishops approve three action items during 2020 General Assembly
WASHINGTON — The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved today three action items at their 2020 Fall General Assembly that met November 16-17 in a virtual format.

The full body of bishops approved the Revised Strategic Priorities for the 2021-24 USCCB Strategic Plan, “Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope” by a vote of 193 - 3 with two abstentions.

The bishops also voted to approve the renewal of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism that focuses on addressing the sin of racism. The committee was established in August 2017, upon the unanimous recommendation of the USCCB’s Executive Committee and in consultation with members of the USCCB's Committee on Priorities and Plans. The vote to renew the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism was 194 - 3 with one abstention.

The bishops also accepted the recommendations of the Committee on Budget and Finance for approval of the 2021 Proposed Budgets by a vote of 193 - 1 with four abstentions.

News updates, vote totals, texts of addresses and presentations, and other materials of the General Assembly can be found at www.usccb.org/meetings.  

November 17, 2020
U.S. Bishops announce General Assembly election results
WASHINGTON — As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) convenes their November General Assembly in a virtual format in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they have chosen eight new chairmen for standing committees, a new board member for Catholic Relief Services, and a new general secretary to lead the Conference.

Earlier this year, the bishop-members voted to suspend the bylaws of the Conference to allow for paper, mail-in ballots for the election of the committee chairmen and new general secretary before the November meeting. Yesterday, the results of the election were announced. The bishops voted for a chairman for the Committee on Religious Liberty, and chairmen-elect of seven standing committees. The chairmen-elect will serve for one year as chairmen-elect before beginning a three-year term at the conclusion of the bishops’ 2021 Fall General Assembly.

Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA as chairman-elect of the Committee on Priorities and Plans in a 157-83 vote over Bishop Daniel E. Thomas of Toledo.

Bishop Thomas A. Daly of Spokane, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Catholic Education in a 139-103 vote over Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv. of Atlanta.

Bishop Robert Reed of Boston, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Communications in a 144-97 vote over Bishop Christopher J. Coyne of Burlington.

Bishop Arturo Cepeda of Detroit, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church in a 155-78 vote over Bishop Jorge Rodríguez-Novelo of Denver.

Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Doctrine in a 146-91 vote over Bishop Brendan J. Cahill of Victoria.

Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup, as chairman-elect of the Committee on National Collections in a 136-104 vote over Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City.

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Pro-life Activities in a 139-102 vote over Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, as chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty in a 134-106 vote over Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami.

Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill, STL was elected as General Secretary of the USCCB in a vote over Reverend Michael Fuller, STD. The general secretary’s term is five years.

Additionally, seven members of the Board of Directors for Catholic Relief Services were elected from a slate of eleven candidates. They are (alphabetical order): Bishop Brendan J. Cahill of Victoria, Bishop Octavio Cisneros of Brooklyn, Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, Bishop Daniel E. Garcia of Austin, Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, and Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, CSsR of Newark, and Bishop Luis R. Zarama of Raleigh.

November 17, 2020
Pope Francis names Father David Bonnar as Bishop of Youngstown
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Rev. David Bonnar, a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, as the Bishop of Youngstown.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on November 17, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. The Diocese of Youngstown has been a vacant see since June 2020 following the death of Bishop George V. Murry, SJ.

Bishop-elect Bonnar was born on February 5, 1962 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and ordained to the priesthood on July 23, 1988 for the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Father Bonnar attended St. Gabriel Elementary School and Seton-LaSalle High School. He received a bachelor’s degree from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and studied at the Pontifical North American College in Rome where he received a Bachelor’s in Sacred Theology (STB) in 1987 from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

After ordination, Father Bonnar was assigned to St. Vitus parish in New Castle as parochial vicar where he served until 1992 when he was assigned as parochial vicar at St. Rosalia parish in Pittsburgh. From 1992-1996, while assigned to St. Rosalia parish, he also served as the chaplain for Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh. From 1996-1997, Father Bonnar was parochial vicar at St. Thomas More parish in Pittsburgh.

In 1997, he was named director of vocations, director of the pre-ordination program, director of the diaconate office, and rector at St. Paul Seminary in Pittsburgh where he served until 2002. From 2002-2007 he served as pastor of St. Bartholomew’s parish in Pittsburgh. In 2007, Father Bonnar was named secretary for parish life and ministerial leadership for the Diocese of Pittsburgh. During that time, he also served as Delegate for Clergy (2007) and Episcopal Vicar for Clergy (2007-2009). In 2009, Fr. Bonnar was named pastor of St. Bernard parish in Pittsburgh and from 2018 to 2020, he also served as administrator of Our Lady of Grace parish in Pittsburgh. In 2020, he was named pastor of St. Aidan parish in Wexford where he currently serves.

Bishop-elect Bonnar’s ministry also includes service on the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s Post Ordination Board (1996-1999), Clergy Personnel Board (1997-2000 and 2003-2005), Seminary Admissions Board (2002-2009), chair of the Permanent Diaconate Admissions Board (1997-2002), chair of the Priestly Formation Board (1997-2002), chair of the Priesthood Candidate Admission Board (1997-2002), and executive secretary for the St. Paul Seminary Advisory Board (1997-2002), chaplain of the Serra Club (2004-2005), member of the Diocesan Pastoral Council (2004-2006), and dean of the East Suburban Deanery (2005-2007). From 2014 to present, Father Bonnar has been priest editor of The Priest Magazine. Since 2020, he has been a member of the National Advisory Board for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Bishop-elect Bonnar is fluent in Italian.

The Diocese of Youngstown is comprised of 3,404 square miles in the State of Ohio and has a total population of 1,182,309 of which 151,826 are Catholic.

November 10, 2020
Statement on Holy See’s Report on Theodore McCarrick

Most Reverend José H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
 
I welcome the report of the Holy See’s investigation into its knowledge and decision-making regarding Theodore McCarrick during his long career as a priest, bishop, and cardinal. We are studying these findings, and we are grateful to our Holy Father Pope Francis for his pastoral concern for the family of God in the United States and his leadership in calling the Church to greater accountability and transparency in addressing issues of abuse and the mishandling of abuse claims at every level.
 
This is another tragic chapter in the Church’s long struggle to confront the crimes of sexual abuse by clergy. To McCarrick’s victims and their families, and to every victim-survivor of sexual abuse by the clergy, I express my profound sorrow and deepest apologies. Please know that my brother bishops and I are committed to doing whatever is in our power to help you move forward and to ensure that no one suffers what you have been forced to suffer.
 
To all those who have suffered abuse by a priest, bishop, or someone in the Church, I urge you to report this abuse to law enforcement and to Church authorities. You can find detailed information on how and where to report abuse at www.usccb.org/committees/protection-children-young-people/how-report-abuse.
 
This report underscores the need for us to repent and grow in our commitment to serve the people of God. Let us all continue to pray and strive for the conversion of our hearts, and that we might follow Jesus Christ with integrity and humility.
 

November 4, 2020
U.S. Bishops’ virtual assembly Nov. 16-17 will be live-streamed and live-tweeted
WASHINGTON — The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will gather virtually for the 2020 Fall General Assembly on November 16-17. In August, after consultation with the Holy See, the bishop-members of the USCCB voted to approve the convocation of this year’s November meeting in a virtual format in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The assembly will begin with an address by the Papal Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre. The bishops will also hear from Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles as he gives his first address as USCCB president.

Additionally, the bishops will hear a report from the National Review Board which advises the Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People onmatters of child and youth protection, specifically on policies and practices. The meeting agenda is expected to include dialogue by the bishops on a pastoral response to the COVID-19 pandemic and a pastoral response to racism. They will discuss and vote on the revised strategic priorities of the USCCB’s 2021-2024 Strategic Plan, the renewal of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, and the USCCB’s budget for 2021.

When the bishops voted this summer to convene the meeting in a virtual format, they also voted to suspend the bylaws of the Conference to allow for paper, mail-in ballots before the November meeting for the election of new committee chairmen for eight standing committees, the new general secretary for the USCCB, and new members for the board of Catholic Relief Services (CRS). Those results will be announced during the plenary. At the conclusion of this year’s assembly, the bishop elected to the Committee for Religious Liberty will assume the role of chairman, and the bishops elected for the remaining seven committees will serve for one year as chairmen-elect before beginning a three-year term at the conclusion of the 2021 Fall General Assembly.

Public sessions of general assembly discussions and votes will be available via livestream at http://www.usccb.org/live. News updates, vote totals, texts of addresses and presentations, and other materials will be posted to www.usccb.org/meetings as soon as possible.

Those wishing to follow the meeting on social media are invited to use the hashtag #USCCB20 and follow on Twitter (@USCCB) as well as on Facebook (www.facebook.com/usccb) and Instagram (https://instagram.com/usccb).

The livestream will run Monday, November 16 (1:00-5:00 PM EST), and on Tuesday, November 17 (1:00 PM to approximately 3:00 PM EST). There will also be a press conference livestreamed on Monday, November 16, commencing approximately 15 minutes after the conclusion of the general session.

November 4, 2020
Bishop chairmen urge Supreme Court to preserve right of Catholic foster care agencies to serve
WASHINGTON — Three bishop chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have issued a statement on the oral arguments held today before the Supreme Court of the United States in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop David A. Konderla of Tulsa, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage have issued the following statement:

“Catholics have been called to care for children who have been orphaned, or whose parents face unique difficulties in providing care, since the earliest days of our faith. We serve all children in need, without regard to race, religion, sex, or any other characteristic. We have done this for centuries, long before any government, because we believe every single person – especially the marginalized and powerless – deserves to experience the love of Jesus and be part of a family. The same core beliefs about human dignity and the wisdom of God’s design that motivate Catholics to serve the vulnerable also shape our convictions about sex, marriage, and the right of children to a mother and a father. These commitments are inseparable.

“Today the Supreme Court heard arguments in a challenge to government exclusion of Catholics from providing foster care because we engage in this ministry as Catholics – that is, consistent with Church teaching on marriage and family. We pray the Court’s ruling will fulfill the First Amendment’s promise that religious believers may bring the full vitality of their faith to the public square, and will reject a hollowed-out pluralism that permits people of faith only to preach but not to practice.”

On June 3, 2020, the USCCB filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Sharonell Fulton, Toni Lynn Simms-Busch, and Catholic Social Services, which may be found at: https://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/2020-06%20Ful_v_CoPA_SupCrt_AmicusBrf_FINAL.pdf.

October 30, 2020
Pope Francis accepts resignation of Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Most Reverend Octavio Cisneros from the Office of Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn. 

The resignation was publicized in Washington, D.C. on October 30, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

October 29, 2020
U.S. Bishop chairmen commend administration for Geneva Consensus Declaration
WASHINGTON – Three bishop chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) commended the Trump Administration for its leadership in coalescing 33 United Nations member states to sign on to the Geneva Consensus Declaration last week. The Declaration further strengthens an ongoing coalition to achieve better health for women, preserve human life, strengthen family as the foundational unit of society, and protect every nation’s sovereignty in global politics. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Bishop David A. Konderla of Tulsa, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage issued the following statement:

“We are grateful to the administration for its leadership on this historic declaration that proclaims many critical truths about the sanctity of human life and the family, including that every human being has the inherent right to life,and that the family is foundational to a healthy society.  Equally important, the Declaration makes clear that every country has a sovereign right to determine its own laws with regard to abortion, free of coercion. It is our hope that this Declaration will serve as a catalyst for these 33 nations, and many more, to persistently stand united against powerful international forces that promote abortion and undermine the family throughout the world.”

October 25, 2020

Statement of U.S. Bishops President Upon Naming of Archbishop Wilton Gregory to College of Cardinals

WASHINGTON—Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a statement following the naming of Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Washington to the College of Cardinals by Pope Francis today.

Archbishop Gomez’s full statement follows:

“By naming Archbishop Wilton Gregory as a Cardinal, Pope Francis is sending a powerful message of hope and inclusion to the Church in the United States. As a former president of our national bishops’ conference, Archbishop Gregory displayed generous and principled leadership. The naming of the first African American cardinal from the United States gives us an opportunity to pause and offer thanks for the many gifts African American Catholics have given the Church. Please join me in praying for the continued ministry of Archbishop Gregory.”

October 25, 2020
Archbishop Wilton Gregory named first African American cardinal
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Pope Francis this morning named Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory a cardinal, along with 12 other new cardinals worldwide. He will be elevated to the College of Cardinals at a November 28 consistory at the Vatican.

Cardinal-elect Wilton Gregory released the following statement on the news from the Vatican this morning: “With a very grateful and humble heart, I thank Pope Francis for this appointment which will allow me to work more closely with him in caring for Christ’s Church.”

 Archbishop Gregory, installed as Washington’s archbishop in May 2019, will become the first African American to be elevated to the College of Cardinals. A native of Chicago, the cardinal-elect turns 73 on December 7.

 Ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1973, he served as a parish priest in Chicago, and was ordained an auxiliary bishop of Chicago in 1983. In 1994, Bishop Gregory was installed as the bishop of Belleville, Illinois, where he served for 11 years, and then as archbishop of Atlanta in 2005, before his appointment as archbishop of Washington in 2019.

October 21, 2020

USCCB chairman applauds actions to ensure access to spiritual care
WASHINGTON — Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Religious Liberty, applauded yesterday’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (HHS OCR) that, in response to two complaints received, it has taken action to ensure that hospital patients have access to spiritual care during the COVID-19 pandemic. In each case, the hospital in question, citing safety protocols it instituted to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, had denied a request for a priest to visit a patient in order to administer a sacrament — in one case, baptism, and in the other, anointing of the sick. Relying on guidance from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services intended to ensure that patients retain access to spiritual care, HHS OCR worked expeditiously with the hospitals to find a safe way for patients to receive the sacraments.

Archbishop Wenski’s full statement follows:

“Jesus Christ, physician of our souls and bodies, gave us the sacraments to convey God’s grace and healing. As Pope Francis has noted, the sacraments are ‘Jesus Christ’s presence in us.’ Without them, we are distanced from God, the source of our being and meaning. So it is of paramount importance that our government, public health authorities, and health care providers strive to respect the liberty of the faithful to receive the sacraments.

“COVID-19 requires us to limit or modify our physical interactions to some degree, in order to reduce risks to physical health. Medical experts play a natural role in this effort but must avoid treating physical interactions in religious exercise as unnecessary or unacceptable risks because they are religious. A true understanding of human wellbeing accounts, as Jesus did, for the health of both body and soul.”

October 20, 2020
Pope names Bishop Burnette as Apostolic Administrator in Canada
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Most Reverend Kurt R. Burnette of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic as the Apostolic Administrator sede vacante of the Slovakian Eparchy of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Toronto, Canada. He will continue to serve as the Bishop of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic.
 
The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on October 20, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
 
October 14, 2020
Pope names Father William Byrne as Bishop of Springfield in Massachusetts
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Rev. William Draper Byrne, a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, as the Bishop of Springfield in Massachusetts.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on October 14, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. The Diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts has been a vacant see since June 2020.

Bishop-elect Byrne was born on September 26, 1964 in Washington, D.C., and ordained to the priesthood on June 25, 1994 for the Archdiocese of Washington. Father Byrne attended Georgetown Preparatory School in Rockville, Maryland and received a bachelor’s degree in English from College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. He studied at the Pontifical North American College in Rome and received a Bachelor’s in Sacred Theology (STB) in 1992 and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL) in 1994, both from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.

After ordination, Father Byrne was assigned to the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, Maryland as parochial vicar where he served until 1995 when he was assigned as parochial vicar at the Shrine of Saint Jude in Rockville, Maryland. From 1999 until 2007, he served as the chaplain for the University of Maryland’s Catholic Student Center in College Park, Maryland. He was named pastor of St. Peter’s parish in Washington, D.C. in 2007 where he served until 2015. From 2009 until 2015, while serving as pastor of St. Peter’s, Father Byrne was also Secretary for Pastoral Ministry and Social Concerns for the Archdiocese of Washington. In 2015, Father Byrne was named pastor of Our Lady of Mercy parish in Potomac, Maryland where he currently serves.

Bishop-elect Byrne’s ministry also includes service on the Archdiocese of Washington’s Vocations Team (1998), Formation Board (2002-present), Priest Council (2003-2006), Priest Personnel Board (2006-2009), and Archdiocesan Administrative Board (2009-2015), as well as membership on the board of directors of St. Ann’s Infant and Maternity Home, Catholic Youth Organization, and Redemptoris Mater Seminary, as well as the advisory board of the Lay Leadership Institute.

 The Diocese of Springfield is comprised of 2,822 square miles in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and has a total population of 828,667 of which 199,289 are Catholic.

October 10, 2020
USCCB committee chairman shares Pope’s call for cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict
WASHINGTON — 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 in the wake of conflict and violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh region within Azerbaijan:
 
“In late September, fighting escalated in the Caucasus region over the long-disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, a region within Azerbaijan that is populated primarily by ethnic Armenians. Hundreds of people, including civilians, have reportedly been killed and thousands displaced by the violence in recent weeks. Concerns are rising that involvement by other countries may further expand the conflict.
 
“My prayers are for a cessation of the violence and for a return to negotiations to resolve this conflict. In his Angelus devotion of September 27, Pope Francis called for ‘the parties in conflict to perform concrete acts of good will and brotherhood that may lead to resolve the problems, not with the use of force and arms but through dialogue and negotiation.’ The Caucasus is a far off and little-known region to most Americans. But those who suffer are always close to Our Lord and to those who follow Him. Let us be challenged and take heart in the words of the Holy Father’s new encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, that calls us to that love ‘that transcends the barriers of geography and distance.’ I invite all Catholics and people of good will to join together in prayers for peace in the Caucasus.” 
 
October 9, 2020
USCCB president prays for life and safety as Hurricane Delta reaches Gulf Coast
WASHINGTON — Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued the following statement praying for the lives and safety of all those in the path of Hurricane Delta as it makes landfall in the Gulf Coast:
 
“We pray to God today to keep secure and safe all those in the path of Hurricane Delta and to preserve and protect the invaluable gift of life. We pray especially for those in Louisiana and Texas who, tragically once again, will be most affected by this storm. We beseech the Good Lord for the safety of all families and their homes threatened by this hurricane. We pray especially for all the first responders who courageously risk their own lives to assist those in need. In keeping with the beautiful instruction expressed by Pope Francis in his recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, I earnestly request all the faithful and all people of good will to stand in fraternity and solidary with those who are affected by this storm, in whatever way may be possible in the circumstances at hand.   
 
“We celebrated earlier this week the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and we pray especially for the intercession of our spiritual mother, for safety from the storm, for consolation in the face of the great suffering it will cause, and for continued courage in the resurrection of our Lord, who promises to guide us unceasingly to eternal life.”

October 7, 2020
U.S. Bishop chairman calls for reconsideration of end of COVID-relief talks
WASHINGTON — Following reports that President Trump has directed Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to cease negotiations on a COVID-relief package, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, urged reconsideration of the decision in light of the acute needs of millions of Americans for immediate assistance.

“Tens of millions of Americans urgently need help today.  They need help in getting enough food, paying the rent or mortgage, finding work, affording health care, and accessing good schools.  We have been imploring lawmakers since April to address these needs.

“Pope Francis, reflecting in his new encyclical Fratelli Tutti on the parable of the Good Samaritan, writes:

Now there are only two kinds of people: those who care for someone who is hurting and those who pass by; those who bend down to help and those who look the other way and hurry off. Here, all our distinctions, labels and masks fall away: it is the moment of truth. Will we bend down to touch and heal the wounds of others? Will we bend down and help another to get up? This is today’s challenge, and we should not be afraid to face it. In moments of crisis, decisions become urgent.[1]

“In this moment of crisis, let us build a society that bends down to help those in need. I ask the President to reverse his decision, and for all parties to return to negotiations as soon as possible.”

October 5, 2020
U.S. Bishops to Vote for Chairman of Eight Standing Committees
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will be voting for chairmen of eight standing committees before the 2020 General Assembly convenes virtually November 16-17.

In August, after consultation with the Holy See, the bishop-members of the USCCB voted to approve the convocation of this year’s November meeting in a virtual format in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bishop-members voted to suspend the bylaws of the Conference to allow for paper, mail-in ballots for the election of the committee chairmen before the November meeting, with the results of the election to be announced during the meeting.

Since June, the Committee for Religious Liberty has had an acting chairman following the death of Bishop George V. Murry, SJ of Youngstown who had been serving as chairman. At the conclusion of the bishops’ 2020 Fall General Assembly, the bishop elected to the Committee for Religious Liberty will assume the post of chairman, and the bishops elected for the remaining seven committees will serve for one year as chairmen-elect of the respective committees before beginning a three-year term as chairmen at the conclusion of the Fall General Assembly in 2021.

Nominees for chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, and the chairman-elect of the Committees on Priorities and Plans, Catholic Education, Communications, Cultural Diversity in the Church, Doctrine, National Collections, and Pro-Life Activities are as follows (in alphabetical order):

For Chairman:

       • COMMITTEE FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
          Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York
          Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami

For Chairman-elect:

  • COMMITTEE ON PRIORITIES AND PLANS
    Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA
    Bishop Daniel E. Thomas of Toledo
     
  • COMMITTEE ON CATHOLIC EDUCATION
    Bishop Thomas A. Daly of Spokane
    Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv. of Atlanta
     
  • COMMITTEE ON COMMUNICATIONS
    Bishop Christopher J. Coyne of Burlington
    Bishop Robert Reed of Boston
     
  • COMMITTEE ON CULTURAL DIVERSITY IN THE CHURCH
    Bishop Arturo Cepeda of Detroit
    Bishop Jorge Rodriguez-Novelo of Denver
     
  • COMMITTEE ON DOCTRINE
    Bishop Brendan J. Cahill of Victoria
    Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville
     
  • COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL COLLECTIONS
    Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City
    Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup
     
  • COMMITTEE ON PRO-LIFE ACTIVITIES
    Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver
    Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore
 
October 4, 2020
USCCB president offers Prayers for the Health of the President and First Lady
WASHINGTON — Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a statement today offering prayers for the health of President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump.
 
Archbishop Gomez’s statement follows:
 
“I am praying for President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump. May God grant them full healing and may He keep their family safe and healthy. Let us keep praying for all who are suffering because of the novel coronavirus, especially the sick and dying and their families, and all those who have lost loved ones. May God give them hope and comfort, and may He bring an end to this pandemic.”
 
October 4, 2020
U.S. Bishop’s president welcomes Pope Francis’ Encyclical on Human Fraternity
WASHINGTON — Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a statement today welcoming Pope Francis’ new encyclical, Fratelli Tutti: On Fraternity and Social Friendship.
 
Archbishop Gomez’s full statement follows:
 
“On behalf of the Catholic Church in the United States, I welcome the Holy Father’s new encyclical letter on human fraternity. Like Laudato Si’ before it, Fratelli Tutti is an important contribution to the Church’s rich tradition of social doctrine.
 
“Pope Francis’ teaching here is profound and beautiful: God our Father has created every human being with equal sanctity and dignity, equal rights and duties, and our Creator calls us to form a single human family in which we live as brothers and sisters. 
 
“God’s plan for humanity, the Pope reminds us, has implications for every aspect of our lives — from how we treat one another in our personal relationships, to how we organize and operate our societies and economies.
 
“In analyzing conditions in the world today, the Holy Father provides us with a powerful and urgent vision for the moral renewal of politics and political and economic institutions from the local level to the global level, calling us to build a common future that truly serves the good of the human person.
 
“For the Church, the Pope is challenging us to overcome the individualism in our culture and to serve our neighbors in love, seeing Jesus Christ in every person, and seeking a society of justice and mercy, compassion and mutual concern.
 
“I pray that Catholics and all people of good will reflect on our Holy Father’s words here and enter into a new commitment to seek the unity of the human family.”

October 1, 2020
USCCB education chairman decries exclusion in revised HEROES Act
WASHINGTON — As soon as today, the U.S. House of Representatives will consider House Democrats’ new COVID-19 aid package, the revised Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. The bill includes $225 billion for education, including $182 billion for K-12 schools. However, the bill provides no equitable services for students in non-public schools and maintains language that prohibits any funds from being used to provide financial assistance to non-public school children. This has the effect of excluding virtually any aid to students, families, and teachers in non-public schools.

Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ of Oakland, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Catholic Education, made the following statement:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all Americans, including those whose children are enrolled in Catholic and non-public schools. It is unconscionable that this latest aid proposal would exclude these American children and the schools they attend from emergency aid that would ease the financial burdens they have borne as a result of the pandemic. The pandemic’s economic devastation has already led to the closure of at least 150 Catholic schools, many in low-income areas that serve children of color. Congress and the White House must come together to support emergency aid that prioritizes the health and safety of all students, including non-public school children and the nearly two million students enrolled in Catholic schools.”

The USCCB supports robust education aid for all students and has asked the Congress to include the bipartisan School Choice Now proposal in any COVID aid package. School Choice Now would provide emergency tuition scholarships to hard-hit families. The USCCB has also advocated for equitable services for Catholic and other non-public schools. Non-public schools have had access to equitable services since 1965 and have been included in all recent federal emergency aid bills until now.

September 30, 2020
Virtual Rosary intends to unite Catholics in moment of prayer for America
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will host a virtual rosary event on October 7, the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary. Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the USCCB has called for this moment of prayer with the intention of uniting Catholics across the country at this time when there is much unrest and uncertainty.

Archbishop Gomez has invited several bishops, representing the various geographical regions of the United States, to pray a part of the rosary and it will premiere on the USCCB’s YouTube channel and Facebook page on Wednesday, October 7, at 2:00 p.m. CT.

The faithful are encouraged to join in this prayerful moment of unity for our country, to seek healing and to ask Our Lady, on her feast, to pray for us and help lead us to Jesus, and encouraged to share where they are praying from, to post a photo of their rosary, and to leave a prayer intention for our country. The USCCB will be using the hashtag #RosaryForAmerica on its social media.

Social media graphics in both English and Spanish may be found on the USCCB’s web page: https://www.usccb.org/rosary-america.

September 28, 2020
Catholic leaders call on president, Congress to support additional COVID-19 relief
WASHINGTON — In light of the current needs affecting our nation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), signed a joint letter along with leaders of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, Catholic Charities USA, the National Catholic Educational Association, Catholic Relief Services, the United States Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities urging immediate action to provide relief for those in need.

Their letter to President Trump and congressional leaders emphasized the great hardships caused by COVID-19. Our nation is suffering a profound crisis, the leaders say, with over 200,000 lives  lost and millions of Americans facing uncertainly about how to provide for their basic needs which include food, housing, healthcare, and education. The letter calls lawmakers to action, “For those in need here and abroad, as well as for the common good, our nation’s leaders must do more.”

Catholic ministries remain committed to providing aid, healthcare, education, and spiritual care, but the letter recognizes that “all this is not enough.” A new COVID-19 stimulus bill is needed to alleviate people’s suffering. Underscoring the urgency of their request, the letter implores our nation’s leaders to “put aside partisan politics and prioritize human life and the common good by expediting negotiations to ensure not another day is lost in providing security and hope to people in need at home and abroad.”

September 26, 2020
USCCB chair applauds president for ensuring legal protection for babies
WASHINGTON — Last night, President Trump released an executive order to ensure that federally-funded hospitals are aware of, and compliant with, current legal protections intended to ensure that babies born prematurely or with disabilities receive a medical assessment and appropriate care. The executive order also calls for more funding for research to improve outcomes for babies born prematurely or with disabilities.
 
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement:
 
“We applaud this action by President Trump to ensure that babies born prematurely or with disabilities receive a basic medical assessment and appropriate care as required by our federal laws.  In addition to our laws, basic human rights demand that no baby born alive should be abandoned and left to die due to being disabled or premature.  Every human life, regardless of its stage of development or condition, is precious and irreplaceable and deserves a shot at life.”