(USCCB News Archives can be accessed at www.usccb.org/news/)
December 8, 2023
Pope Francis Names New Auxiliary Bishops of Philadelphia
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Rev. Keith J. Chylinski, Rev. Christopher R. Cooke, and Rev. Efren V. Esmilla, as auxiliary bishops of Philadelphia. Bishop-elect Chylinski is a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and currently rector of Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. Bishop-elect Cooke is a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and currently dean of men for the theology seminary at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. Bishop-elect Esmilla is a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, currently serving pastor of Saint James the Great parish in Elkins Park, and Saint Martin of Tours in Philadelphia. The appointments were publicized in Washington, D.C. on December 8, 2023, by Cardinal Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
The following biographical information for the three bishops-elect were drawn from preliminary materials provided to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:
Bishop-elect Keith J. Chylinski
Father Chylinski was born July 23, 1971, in Schenectady, New York. He received a bachelor’s degree in music from Temple University in Philadelphia in 2000. He received master’s degrees from Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary and earned a master’s degree from the Institute for the Psychological Sciences in Arlington, Virginia (now Divine Mercy University in Sterling, Virginia) in 2014. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 19, 2007.
Bishop-elect Chylinski’s assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar at Saint Anselm parish in Philadelphia (2007-2011) and Mary, Mother of the Redeemer parish in North Wales (2011-2012); student priest at the Institute for Psychological Sciences in Arlington, Virgina (2012-2014); weekend ministry at Saint Joseph parish in Downingtown (2014-2017); member of the seminary’s faculty and the director of counseling services at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary (2014-2022). Other assignments include serving as a member of the archdiocesan council of priests (2009-2011), spiritual director of the Padre Pio Prayer Group in Collegeville (2018-2021), and as a member of the archdiocesan commission on racial healing (2021-2023). He has been a member of the Catholic Psychotherapy Association since 2013 and served as their national chaplain from 2018 to 2022. He has served as rector of Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary since 2022
Bishop-elect Christopher R. Cooke
Father Cooke was born November 8, 1973, in Meadowbrook, Pennsylvania. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware in 1996. He began his priestly formation at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary and earned master’s degrees in 2005 and 2006. Father Cook was ordained to the priesthood on May 20, 2006.
Bishop-elect Cooke’s assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar at Saint Eleanor parish in Collegeville (2006-2008), Saint Martin of Tours parish in Philadelphia (2008-2012); parochial administrator at Saint Francis of Assisi parish in Norristown (2012-2013); and director of the spiritual year at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary (2013-2021). He has served on the archdiocesan council of priests (2009-2011; and present). Since 2021, he has served as dean of men for the theology seminary at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary. Bishop-elect Cooke speaks English and Spanish.
Bishop-elect Efren V. Esmilla
Father Esmilla was born June 18, 1962, in Nagcarlan, Laguna in the Philippines. He has a bachelor’s degree from San Beda College in San Miguel, Manila, Philippines (1984) and a master of divinity from Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary (1992). Father Esmilla was ordained to the priesthood on May 15, 1993.
Bishop-elect Esmilla’s assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar at Saint John Chrysostom parish in Wallingford (1993-2001), Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish in Philadelphia (2001-2003), Saint Martha parish in Philadelphia (2005-2006); pastor of Our Lady of Hope parish in Philadelphia (2006-2020); assistant director for pastoral formation (2003-2004) and director of the spirituality year (2004-2005) at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary. Other diocesan assignments include serving as chaplain for the Filipino diocesan apostolate (2005 to present); spiritual director of the Legion of Mary (2001 to present); and membership in the archdiocesan continuing formation committee for priests (2001-2004, and 2005-2008), council of priests (2005-2008, and 2017-2020), college of consultors (2006-2011), priest personnel board (2017-2022), and president of the presbyteral council (2021). Since 2020, he has served as pastor of Saint Martin of Tours parish in Philadelphia, while also serving since 2021 as pastor of Saint James parish in Elkins Park. Bishop-elect Esmilla speaks English, Spanish, Tagalog/Filipino, Latin, and Portuguese.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is comprised of 2,202 square miles in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and has a total population of 4,195,425 of which 1,546,350 are Catholic.
December 4, 2023
National Collections Exceed $10M Through Parishioner Generosity
WASHINGTON — During their recently-concluded committee and subcommittee meetings in Baltimore, programs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) awarded over $10 million given by supporters to its national collections to support pastoral and social ministries in the United States and in three regions overseas where the Church is desperately poor, persecuted or too small to support its own work.
“The generous contributions that Catholics put into the basket for these collections change lives and bring people closer to Jesus,” said Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on National Collections. “On behalf of each person and parish community that will benefit from these grants, I thank the Catholics of the United States for their generosity. Millions of people here in the United States as well as in Latin America, Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe will experience God’s love through these gifts.”
Grants were made in these program areas:
Catholic Home Missions: The Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions awarded a total of 15 grants in the amount of over $1.2 million. Among the diocesan grants, more than $100,000 from will help to build a strong vocations outreach in the Diocese of Las Cruces, one of the poorest in the nation, which has just 54 active priests for its 86 parishes and missions. Additionally, special grants totaling $995,825 will help mission dioceses participate in national efforts such as the U.S. bishops’ Eucharistic Revival and National Eucharistic Congress, the Synodal journey, as well as support their ministries to migrants and ethnic minorities, such as Asian and Pacific Islanders. These special grants also include $126,000 in sponsorships for professional development programs for church staff such as financial managers, diocesan vocations and pro-life directors, and leaders in safe environment and disaster preparedness. These grants supplement the $7.2 million in funding to 72 dioceses that were awarded by the subcommittee at its annual allocations meeting, which took place in October in New Ulm, Minnesota.
Church in Africa: The Subcommittee on the Church in Africa voted to approve 32 grants totaling $916,400 to 18 different episcopal conferences and regional associations of episcopal conferences across the continent. Among them, the Episcopal Conference of Malawi will receive $30,000 for a national project across all eight of its dioceses to educate and train young people to recognize the dignity of the elderly and to end the increasingly common problem of elder abuse.
Church in Central and Eastern Europe: Among the 133 grants totaling nearly $3.6 million awarded by the Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe was one to the Diocese of Timisoara in Romania for $35,520 to send youth choir members on retreats that will help them grow in faith, to offer Catholic summer camps for children and young teens, and to provide pastoral care for families. Faced with the ongoing need of war victims in Ukraine, the Subcommittee granted $35,000 to Caritas Ukraine to provide psychological and spiritual support to its employees, who are themselves suffering trauma and distress as they work to serve and comfort their neighbors.
Church in Latin America and the Caribbean: The Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America awarded 125 grants totaling nearly $3.2 million to support ministries throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean islands, including a $50,000 grant to help the Archdiocese of Quito with next year’s International Eucharistic Congress, at which 1 million people are expected to participate in a Mass that Pope Francis will celebrate in honor of the 150th anniversary of Ecuador’s consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Emergency Disaster Relief: The Committee on National Collections granted more than $1 million from the Bishops Emergency Disaster Fund – with an additional $453,000 from the Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions – to help churches in Puerto Rico with continuing recovery from hurricanes and earthquakes. The disaster fund provides pastoral support for people affected by regional calamities and will also support hundreds of churches for the costs of repair and rebuilding that are not covered by federal programs.
November 16, 2023
Recap of U.S. Bishops’ Fall Plenary in Baltimore
BALTIMORE — The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) gathered November 13-16 for their Fall Plenary Assembly in Baltimore.
The bishops began their plenary with a Mass for Peace
at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with an afternoon of regional meetings. On Tuesday, the public sessions of the assembly began with the bishops sending prayers and a message to the Holy Father
, as well as an address by Cardinal Christophe Pierre
, papal nuncio to the United States. Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA addressed the body
as USCCB president.
The bishops discussed several action items and voted on the following:
200 in favor, 21 against, and 17 abstentions to approve the reassignment of the Archdiocese of Las Vegas and the Diocese of Reno from Region XI to Region XII, prompted by the creation
of a new ecclesiastical province by the Holy Father this past May;
228 in favor, 7 against, and 5 abstentions to replace the current USCCB Strategic Plan cycle with a newly-proposed Mission Planning Process;
230 in favor, 11 against, and 1 abstention to affirm the reauthorization of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism;
231 in favor, 2 against, and 5 abstentions to approve the USCCB’s 2024 proposed budget, presented by the Committee on Budget and Finance.
There were six action items pertaining to liturgical texts from the Committee on Divine Worship, and the Latin Church members of the USCCB voted on the following:
The U.S. adaptations for the Liturgy of the Hours passed with 214 votes in favor, 3 votes against, and 2 abstentions. The approval of this requires a two-thirds vote of the Latin Church bishops, with subsequent confirmatioand recognitio from the Vatican’s Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
The bishops voted 222 votes in favor, 4 votes against, and 3 abstentions to authorize an amended process for the approval of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) Gray Book of Supplementary Texts for the Liturgy of the Hours.
The bishops voted 225 votes in favor, 2 votes against, and 0 abstentions to approve the ICEL Gray Book of The Order of Blessing of an Abbot or Abbess. The approval of this requires a two-thirds vote of the Latin Church bishops, with subsequent confirmatio and recognitio from the Vatican’s Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
The bishops voted 224 votes in favor, 2 votes against, and 2 abstentions to approve the ICEL Gray Book of The Order of Consecration of Virgins. The approval of this requires a two-thirds vote of the Latin Church bishops, with subsequent confirmatio and recognitio from the Vatican’s Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
The bishops voted 221 votes in favor, 3 votes against, and 2 abstentions to approve the ICEL Gray Book of The Order of Religious Profession. The approval of this requires a two-thirds vote of the Latin Church bishops, with subsequent confirmatio from the Vatican’s Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
The bishops also voted 227 votes in favor, 3 votes against, and 0 abstentions to approve the request to inscribe Saint Teresa of Calcutta on the General Roman Calendar as an Optional Memorial on September 5.
During the assembly, the bishops voted
for a Conference secretary, as well as chairmen-elect of six Conference committees. The bishops elected will serve for one year as chairman-elect before beginning a three-year term at the conclusion of the 2024 Fall Plenary Assembly. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City was elected in November 2023 as USCCB secretary to complete the term left vacant when Archbishop Broglio was elected as Conference president. Archbishop Coakley’s current term concludes in November 2024, and with his re-election during this plenary as USCCB secretary and the chairman of the Committee on Priorities and Plans, he will begin his new three-year term at the conclusion of the November 2024 plenary.
News updates, texts of addresses and presentations, and other materials from the 2023 plenary are posted to: www.usccb.org/meetings
November 11, 2023
Pope Francis Relieves Bishop Strickland from Pastoral Governance of the Diocese of Tyler
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has relieved the Most Reverend Joseph E. Strickland from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Tyler. At the same time, the Holy Father has appointed the Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, as the Apostolic Administrator sede vacante of the Diocese of Tyler.
These provisions were publicized in Washington, D.C. on November 11, 2023, by Cardinal Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
The Diocese of Tyler is comprised of 23,443 square miles in the State of Texas and has a total population of 1,436,247, of which 119,168, are Catholic.
November 9, 2023
Statement on Pregnancy Help Appreciation Week
WASHINGTON — Across the United States, approximately 2,750 pregnancy help centers offer life-affirming support to pregnant and parenting women in need. Some of these centers have been the targets of violence, vandalism, and an orchestrated campaign to malign their good names. In recognition of their contribution to the common good, and in observance of Pregnancy Help Appreciation Week (November 6-10), Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement:
“Pregnant and parenting moms in need are among the most vulnerable people in our communities. When women in challenging circumstances do not know where else to turn, the loving staff and volunteers at pregnancy help centers embrace them with empathy and service. Pregnancy help centers across the United States provide a spectrum of care, resources, and material goods to support new mothers — from diapers and layettes, to babysitting and career services, to referrals for housing and food assistance, and personal mentorship and support. Many also provide certain medical services, including ultrasounds, prenatal and postnatal care. Often, there is nowhere else a mother in need can go for this kind of comprehensive assistance. The practical, loving service that pregnancy help centers offer extends far beyond the birth of the child, with relationships between mothers and help centers continuing for years.
“The U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee has consistently called for ‘radical solidarity’
with mothers in need. We commend pregnancy help centers for living this call of radical solidarity with selfless persistence and we encourage prayers for this lifesaving ministry.”
November 6, 2023
National Retirement Collection Continues Vital Support for Religious Orders
WASHINGTON — On the weekend of December 9-10, participating dioceses will take up the annual collection that benefits approximately 24,000 elderly religious sisters, brothers, and religious order priests across the United States. Coordinated by the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO), the collection provides qualified religious institutes with financial aid to address retirement necessities.
Traditionally, Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests have dedicated their lives to Church ministries such as parishes, schools and health-care institutions, usually with little to no compensation. Consequently, a significant number currently have insufficient retirement funds, combined with escalating health-care costs. Numerous religious communities in the United States are experiencing challenges with providing for their elderly members and are confronting a sizable disparity between available funds and the costs of care.
In 1988, the bishops of the United States established the Retirement Fund for Religious collection to address this serious retirement funding need among U.S. religious orders. In 2022, the NRRO’s annual collection raised $27.6 million.
“Addressing the needs of our aging religious demands substantial financial commitment. We are profoundly touched and blessed by the enduring generosity of the Catholic faithful. Their contributions to this fund are fundamental in aiding our elderly religious,” remarked Mr. John Knutsen, the NRRO’s director. “Through this national collection, we have the privilege to respond to the lifetime dedication of these individuals by ensuring their well-being in retirement,” he further commented.
Per the 2023 statistics collected by the NRRO, a mere 6% of religious communities that shared data with the NRRO reported having sufficient retirement funding. Since the fund’s inception, U.S. Catholics have graciously contributed more than $975 million, with almost $842 million has been distributed to support the day-to-day care of thousands of elderly sisters, brothers, and religious order priests. From 2009 onwards, the annual expenses of supporting senior women and men religious surpassed $1 billion.
For more about the initiatives of the National Religious Retirement Office and opportunities to support retired sisters, brothers and religious order priests, please visit retiredreligious.org
October 30, 2023
National Vocation Awareness Week kicks off November 5
WASHINGTON — The Catholic Church in the United States will commemorate National Vocation Awareness Week, November 5-11. Each year, national Catholic organizations, dioceses, schools, and local parish communities sponsor events and provide different resources to raise awareness for vocations, and help those who are discerning a vocation, particularly one to ordained ministry or consecrated life.
In his message
for the 60th anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Francis stated, “Our common vocation to give ourselves in love develops and finds concrete expression in the life of lay men and women, devoted to raising a family as a small domestic church
and working as the leaven of the Gospel to renew the different sectors of society; in the testimony of consecrated women and men who are completely committed to God for the sake of their brothers and sisters as a prophetic sign of the kingdom of God; in ordained ministers – deacons, priests, and bishops – placed at the service of preaching, prayer and fostering the communion of the holy People of God.”
Bishop Earl A. Boyea of Lansing, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV), expressed his gratitude for holy families, ordained ministers, and consecrated men and women, saying “During this week, the Church gives thanks to God for the faithful example of husbands and wives, and joyful witness of ordained ministers and consecrated persons. We pray that many more men and women will be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit in their hearts as they discern the mission God has for them.”
Bishop Austin A. Vetter of Helena, a member of the CCLV committee, and episcopal liaison to the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors, National Religious Vocation Conference, and Serra International, emphasized
that National Vocation Awareness Week offers us a special opportunity to “redouble our efforts of prayer that young people would be able to hear the voice — the quiet, gentle voice many times — of Jesus inviting them into a vocation as a priest or religious.”
Beginning in 1976, the U.S. bishops designated the 28th Sunday of the year as an opportunity for the Catholic Church in the United States to renew its prayerful support for those discerning an ecclesial vocation. In 2014, the CCLV committee elected to move the week to the first week of November to better engage Catholic educational institutions in the efforts to raise awareness for vocations.
October 17, 2023
U.S. Bishops to Meet Nov. 13-16 in Baltimore
WASHINGTON — The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will gather for the 2023 Fall Plenary Assembly in Baltimore, November 13-16. Throughout the meeting, the bishops will spend time in prayer and fraternal dialogue with one another. Public sessions of the assembly on November 14 and 15 will be livestreamed.
The plenary will begin with an address by the Papal Nuncio to the United States, Cardinal Christophe Pierre. The bishops will hear from Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, president of the USCCB.
While the meeting agenda has not been finalized and therefore is subject to change
, the bishops are anticipating a full schedule that includes a number of items: updates on the 2021-2024 Synod of Bishops
, the U.S. bishops’ Eucharistic revival initiative
and national congress, the Institute on the Catechism
, and the recently-launched mental health campaign
; a consultation of the bishops on the cause of beatification and canonization of Servant of God Isaac Thomas Hecker, priest and founder of the Missionary Society of Saint Paul the Apostle (the Paulist Fathers); and a consultation of the bishops to support the request of the bishops’ conference of England and Wales asking the Holy Father to name Saint John Henry Newman a Doctor of the Church; a vote on the USCCB’s 2024 budget; and a discussion and consideration of the reauthorization of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism.
The bishops are expected to discuss and vote on several action items including: a new introductory note and materials supporting Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship
, the bishops’ teaching document on the political responsibility of Catholics; the approval of a framework for indigenous ministry; a number of action items pertaining to liturgical texts from the Committee on Divine Worship; and replacing the current USCCB Strategic Plan cycle with a newly-proposed Mission Planning process.
During the assembly, the bishops will vote
for the new Conference secretary, as well as chairmen-elect of six Conference committees. The terms for the bishops elected for committee chairmen will serve for one year as chairman-elect before beginning a three-year term at the conclusion of the 2024 Fall Plenary Assembly.
Public sessions of the assembly on November 14 and 15 will be livestreamed at: www.usccb.org/meetings
— news updates, vote totals, texts of addresses and presentations, and other materials will be posted to this page. Those wishing to follow the meeting on social media are invited to use the hashtag #USCCB23 and follow on X, formerly known as Twitter (@USCCB
), as well as on Facebook (www.facebook.com/usccb
) and Instagram (https://instagram.com/usccb
October 10, 2023
National Catholic Mental Health Campaign Launched on Oct. 10
WASHINGTON — There is a significant mental health crisis across the United States which has been especially amplified in recent years with the impact of the global pandemic. In an effort to raise awareness on this important issue, remove the stigma of mental illness and mental health challenges, and advocate that those who struggle receive help, Archbishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Robert Barron of Winona-Rochester, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth, are launching the National Catholic Mental Health Campaign. The campaign aims to inspire a national conversation around the topic of mental health and to mobilize the Catholic Church to respond compassionately and effectively to the mental health crisis.
The campaign will begin on World Mental Health Day, October 10, and seeks to raise awareness of the many facets of mental health, combat stigma, and advance wise and effective public policy. A Novena, a traditional nine-day Catholic prayer, marks the launch of the campaign, along with a statement introducing the initiative from Archbishop Gudziak and Bishop Barron. The campaign will be enhanced with additional resources and efforts in the coming months. The USCCB collaborated with several national Catholic organizations in creating the Novena, which will run October 10-18, and people of all faiths are invited to join in their prayers.
All are invited to listen to Archbishop Gudziak’s reflection on the campaign and his expression of concern for those facing mental health challenges, their loved ones, caregivers, and all those impacted by the mental health crisis: [Watch Archbishop Gudziak's message here.]. All materials for the campaign may be found here, and all are invited to sign up for the daily Novena emails here.
October 8, 2023
USCCB Statement Amidst Violence in the Holy Land
WASHINGTON — In response to the continued tensions and violence that erupted into warfare between Gaza and Israel on October 7, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace, calls for prayers for peace in the Holy Land:
“On October 7, the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary, the world watched the operation launched from Gaza and the rapid call to arms from Israel that ensued. Almost 50 years to the day of the launch of the 1973 Arab–Israeli War, once again war is spilling out in the Holy Land. With it brings the mounting casualties and hostilities unfolding on all sides, and increased threats to the Status Quo of the Holy Places among Jews, Muslims, and Christians further dimming any hope for peace.
“The world is once again shocked and horrified by the outbreak of ferocious violence in the Holy Land. Reports have surfaced indicating large numbers of wounded and dead, including many civilians.
“I join with Pope Francis in his call for peace and his condemnation of this widespread outbreak of violence. As he stated in his Sunday audience, ‘May the attacks and weaponry cease. Please! And let it be understood that terrorism and war do not lead to any resolutions, but only to the death and suffering of so many innocent people.’
“May all who love the Holy Land seek to bring about among all the parties engaged in the fighting a cessation of violence, respect for civilian populations and the release of hostages.
“As we pray urgently for peace, we recall especially all the families and individuals suffering from these events. We call on the faithful, and all people of good will to not grow weary and to continue to pray for peace in the land Our Lord, the Prince of Peace, called home.”
March 23, 2023
Statement on Proper Disposition of Bodily Remains
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Doctrine has issued a statement providing principles for evaluating some newer methods and technologies for disposition of the bodies of the deceased. The USCCB’s Administrative Committee approved the issuance of the statement on March 15.
In their statement, the doctrine committee affirms that every human being has been created in the image of God and has an inherent dignity and worth. Furthermore, since “every man and woman is a unity of body and soul, respect for the person necessarily includes respect for the body.” The Church considers burial to be “the most appropriate way of manifesting reverence for the body of the deceased,” as it “clearly expresses our faith and hope in the resurrection of the body.” While the Church permits cremation unless it is chosen for reasons contrary to the Catholic faith, the preferred method is burial.
Applying the basic principles found in the Instruction regarding Burial of the Deceased and the Conservation of the Ashes in the Case of Cremation (Ad resurgendum cum Christo)
issued by the then-Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2016, the committee evaluates the two most prominent newer methods for disposition of bodily remains that are proposed as alternatives to burial and cremation — alkaline hydrolysis and human composting — and concludes that they fail to satisfy the Church’s requirements for proper respect for the bodies of the dead. After the alkaline hydrolysis process, there are about 100 gallons of liquid into which the greater part of the body has been dissolved and this liquid is treated as wastewater. At the end of the human composting process, the body has completely decomposed along with accompanying plant matter to yield a single mass of compost, with nothing distinguishably left of the body to be laid to rest in a sacred place.
The doctrine committee concludes their statement by recalling that the Catholic faith teaches us that our ultimate destiny as human beings includes our bodiliness: “We are therefore obliged to respect our bodily existence throughout our lives and to respect the bodies of the deceased when their earthly lives have come to an end. The way that we treat the bodies of our beloved dead must always bear witness to our faith in and our hope for what God has promised us.”