News and Press

Information and Announcements About The Diocese

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

May 13, 2024
U.S. Bishops to Meet June 12-14; Assembly to Be Live Streamed
WASHINGTON — The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will gather for the 2024 Spring Plenary Assembly in Louisville, Kentucky, June 12-14. The public sessions on June 13 and 14 will be livestreamed on the USCCB website.
 
The public portion of the assembly will begin with addresses by Cardinal Christophe Pierre, the papal nuncio to the United States, and Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, who serves as president of the Conference.
 
During the plenary, the bishops will receive updates on various issues and initiatives. The meeting agenda is not yet finalized and therefore, subject to change. However, it is expected to include updates on: the Committee on Migration; the bishops’ national mental health campaign; the Synod on Synodality; the Task Force for a National Directory for Instituted Ministries; and the National Eucharistic Revival and the National Eucharistic Congress. The bishops will also hold a consultation on opening the cause for beatification and canonization of Adele Brise.
 
Votes are expected on a number of action items including:
  • Three action items on liturgical texts pertaining to the Liturgy of the Hours, presented by the USCCB’s Committee on Divine Worship.
  • Listen, Teach, Send: A National Pastoral Framework for Ministries with Youth and Young Adults, by the USCCB’s Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth.
  • Keeping Christ’s Promise: A Pastoral Framework for Indigenous Ministry, a pastoral plan for Native American and Indigenous Ministry by the USCCB’s Subcommittee on Native American Affairs.
Prior to the public sessions, the bishops will spend time in prayer and fraternal dialogue with one another. They will also be reflecting on positioning the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) for the future. For a half-century, grants made possible through the annual CCHD collection have gone to help community organizations working to empower people striving to overcome poverty. Now, the bishops have begun the process of discerning the next 50 years.
 
Over the past several years, including during the pandemic, the CCHD maintained its level of support for those in need, despite a decline in donations. Last year, the CCHD started a review to explore ways to renew the mandate and mission of CCHD. The bishops will spend time prayerfully discussing the best way to adapt to the post-pandemic needs and resources, while at the same time continuing a steadfast commitment to helping the poor and disenfranchised emerge from the cycle of poverty.
 
Public sessions of the assembly will be held on the afternoon of June 13 and the morning of June 14, and 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 can use the hashtag #USCCB24 follow on Facebook (www.facebook.com/usccb), as well as Instagram (https://instagram.com/usccb), Threads (www.threads.net/@usccb), and X, formerly known as Twitter (@USCCB).
 
May 7, 2024
Pope Francis Appoints Father Beckman as Bishop of Knoxville
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Reverend James Mark Beckman, as Bishop of Knoxville. Bishop-elect Beckman is a priest of the Diocese of Nashville, and currently serves as pastor of Saint Henry parish in Nashville, Tennessee. The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on May 7, 2024, by Cardinal Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
 
The following biographical information for Bishop-elect Beckman was drawn from preliminary materials provided to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:
 
Father Beckman was born on October 19, 1962, in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. He graduated from Saint Ambrose College Seminary in Davenport, Iowa, with a bachelor’s degree in history (1984). He attended The Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium where he earned a master’s degree in religious studies (1984-1989). He was ordained to the priesthood on July 13, 1990, for the Diocese of Nashville. 
 
Bishop-elect Beckman’s assignments after ordination include: associate pastor at Holy Rosary parish in Nashville (1990-1991); teacher, (1990-1996), and then associate principal for pastoral affairs at Father Ryan High School in Nashville (1991-1996); pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Springfield (1996-2002); administrator at Saint Michael Mission parish in Cedar Hill (1996-2002); and pastor at Saint Matthew parish in Franklin (2002-2015). Since 2015, Bishop-elect Beckman has served as pastor of Saint Henry parish in Nashville.
 
Bishop-elect Beckman’s additional service for the Diocese of Nashville has included: member of the presbyteral council (1993-2003; 2008-2013); member of the diocesan clergy personnel board (1995-2000); director of the diocesan youth office (1996-2002); priests’ vocation advisory council (1998-2000); member of the college of consultors (1993-2003, 2008-2013); dean of the northwest deanery (2001-2002) and central deanery (2008-2013); chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, Council #11925 (2003-2011); state chaplain for the Knights of Columbus (2004-2005); chair of the priest personnel board (2018-present).
 
The Diocese of Knoxville is comprised of 14,242 square miles in the state of Tennessee and has a total population of 2,538,487, of which 71,274 are Catholic.
 
May 6, 2024
Pope Francis Appoints Monsignor McDermott as Bishop of Burlington
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Monsignor John J. McDermott, as Bishop of Burlington. Bishop-elect McDermott is a priest of the Diocese of Burlington, and currently serves as the Diocesan Administrator. The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on May 6, 2024, by Cardinal Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
 
The following biographical information for Bishop-elect McDermott was drawn from preliminary materials provided to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:
 
Monsignor McDermott was born March 19, 1963, in New Jersey. He attended Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, North Carolina. Bishop-elect McDermott earned a master’s in divinity and a master’s degree in theology and scripture from Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, as well as a licentiate in canon law from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. (2004). Monsignor McDermott was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Burlington on June 3, 1989.
 
Bishop-elect McDermott’s assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar at Saint Augustine parish in Montpelier (1989-1992); parochial vicar at Saint Mark parish in Burlington, and chaplain at Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington (1992-1996); pastor at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish, and chaplain at Middlebury College in Middlebury (1996-2001); and the Catholic Center at the University of Vermont-Burlington (2001-2015). Since 2015, Bishop-elect McDermott has served as the administrator of Christ the King-Saint Anthony parish in Burlington.
 
Bishop-elect McDermott’s priestly ministry has included service on a number of committees and boards, including the diocesan finance council, the diocesan administrative board, and the board of trustees for St. Michael’s College in Colchester. He has also served the Diocese of Burlington as vice chancellor (2004-2005); chancellor (2005-2006); vicar general and moderator of the curia (2006-present); apostolic administrator during sede vacante (2014); and diocesan administrator during sede vacante (2023).
 
The Diocese of Burlington is comprised of 9,135 square miles in the state of Vermont and has a total population of 645,570 of which 100,000 are Catholic.
 
May 1, 2024
National Maritime Day Will Remember Those Impacted by Baltimore Tragedy
WASHINGTON — Each year, National Maritime Day (May 22) recognizes the men and women who work or travel on the high seas. It is on this day the Catholic Church observes the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Mariners and People of the Sea and highlights the ministry of Stella Maris (Star of the Sea), the apostolate of the Catholic Church for the people of the sea. Bishop Brendan J. Cahill of Victoria in Texas, the bishop-promoter of Stella Maris in the United States, invites the faithful to support, remember, and pray for the many men and women who earn their livelihood through work on the seas, including merchant mariners, seafarers, fishermen, port personnel, and those in the maritime industry.
 
This year, Bishop Cahill is calling for special prayers of remembrance for those affected by the March 26 tragedy of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore. A Mass for the Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Mariners and People of the Sea will be offered on Saturday, May 18 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. at 12:10 p.m. In the immediate wake of the cargo ship accident and bridge collapse, the Stella Maris network of port chaplains and partners mobilized to provide pastoral care and support for the crew members of the cargo ship Dali that made impact with the bridge and for crew members of other vessels in the Port of Baltimore.
 
“Each year, we pray for those who work on the high seas and the ports. In a special way this year, we remember those who have been impacted by the collapse of the Key Bridge, particularly the six construction workers who perished in the bridge collapse, and for their families as they mourn the loss of their loved ones,” said Bishop Cahill. “And we also pray for the captain and crew of the cargo ship, and the countless people who have been working in the aftermath of the tragedy, including the U.S. Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, dive teams, first responders, construction workers, law enforcement, and government officials. Still impacted are also the thousands of dockworkers and those who rely for work in the Port of Baltimore. Worldwide, there are countless men and women who labor on the high seas for their livelihood — let us seek the intercession of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, that she protect and guide us,” he continued.
 
For more information on the annual Mass, please visit: https://www.nationalshrine.org/event/annual-maritime-day-mass-2024 and for more information on the ministry of Stella Maris, please visit: http://www.usccb.org/stellamaris.
 
May 1, 2024
Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Archbishop Blair of Hartford
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Leonard P. Blair, 75, from the Office of Archbishop of Hartford. Archbishop Christopher J. Coyne, up until now coadjutor archbishop of the same diocese, will succeed him as archbishop of Hartford.
 
The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington, D.C. on May 1, 2024, by Cardinal Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
 
Archbishop Coyne’s biography may be found here. The Archdiocese of Hartford is comprised of 2,288 square miles in the State of Connecticut and has a total population of 1,949,519 of which 543,341, are Catholic.
 
April 30, 2024
Bishop Rhoades: Health Care that Truly Heals Must be Grounded in Truth
WASHINGTON — “Health care that truly heals must be grounded in truth,” said Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, responding to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) issuance of final regulations implementing the nondiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act, known as Section 1557. By including “sexual orientation and gender identity” in the definition of “sex,” the final regulations generally require health care workers to perform “gender transition” procedures in the name of nondiscrimination. At the same time, the regulations make modest improvements to the proposed regulations’ protections for the exercise of conscience, religious belief, and clinical judgment.
 
Speaking as chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), he added:
 
“The human right to health care flows from the sanctity of human life and the dignity that belongs to all human persons, who are made in the image of God. The same core beliefs about human dignity and the wisdom of God’s design that motivate Catholics to care for the sick also shape our convictions about care for preborn children and the immutable nature of the human person. These commitments are inseparable.
 
“We appreciate that the final rule does not attempt to impose a mandate with regard to abortion. These regulations, however, advance an ideological view of sex that, as the Holy See has noted, denies the most beautiful and most powerful difference that exists between living beings: sexual difference. I pray that health care workers will embrace the truth about the human person, a truth reflected in Catholic teaching, and that HHS will not substitute its judgment for their own.”
 
The USSCB submitted comments on the proposed regulations issued by HHS in 2022, and the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty highlighted the regulations as a major threat to religious liberty in its annual report issued in January.
 
April 29, 2024
Catholic Communication Campaign Supports National and Local Media
WASHINGTON — On May 11-12, Catholics across the United States will have an opportunity to support the communications ministry of the Catholic Church, both locally and globally through the Catholic Communication Campaign.
 
“Saint Peter himself could not have imagined today’s communication ministries when he told the first Christians to have a ready answer for anyone who questioned their faith. He would have been awed with what can be achieved through social media, video, podcasts and apps,” said Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., of Atlanta, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Catholic Communication Campaign.
 
“The many means of communications today allow the Catholic Church to use these tools with love, for good and to the glory of God by inviting people to engage more fully in the faith and using them as a means for evangelization. The Catholic Communication Campaign helps to make this a reality.”
 
Most dioceses take this annual collection in their parishes on the weekend of May 11-12, though some use other dates. Half of the gifts to the diocesan collection stay in the participating diocese where they support the local diocese’s communications programs. The other half supports communication activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and some projects across the United States and abroad.
 
The Catholic Communication Campaign provides vital funding for the collective communication efforts of the U.S. bishops. More than $3.6 million in campaign funds supported both national and international Catholic media outreach in 2022, as shown in the campaign’s most recent annual report. About 35% of those funds supported evangelization through media, such as podcasts, videos and documentaries. A nearly equal amount underwrote Catholic News Service in Rome, which has provided the Catholic Church in the United States with accurate, in-depth coverage of the Vatican and the Holy Father since 1950.
 
Smaller amounts subsidized a wide range of projects, such as equipping Church-related social ministries with the digital tools to promote concerns such as ecology, human life and dignity, social justice, and immigration reform. The campaign sponsors Catholic Current, a weekly news show on YouTube and some Catholic television and radio stations that explores the activities of the U.S. bishops. The collection also supports the USCCB’s popular video reflections on the daily Mass readings, which feature lay and religious leaders of diverse cultural backgrounds and pastoral experiences.
 
April 20, 2024
Pope Francis Names New Auxiliary Bishop of Sacramento
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Rev. Reynaldo Bersabal as auxiliary bishop of Sacramento. Bishop-elect Bersabal is a priest of the Diocese of Sacramento and currently serves as pastor of Saint Francis of Assisi parish in Sacramento, California. The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on April 20, 2024, by Cardinal Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
 
The following biographical information for Bishop-elect Bersabal has been drawn from preliminary materials provided to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:
 
Father Bersabal was born October 15, 1964, in the Philippines. He was ordained to the priesthood on April 29, 1991.
 
Bishop-elect Bersabal’s assignments in the Philippines after ordination include: parochial vicar at Our Lady of Snows parish (1991); parish administrator at Our Lady of Guadalupe parish (1992); and parish priest at St. Francis Xavier parish (1995). Father Bersabal was incardinated into the Diocese of Sacramento on April 7, 2004. His assignments in the diocese include: parochial vicar at St. James parish in Davis (1999-2001); parochial vicar at St. Anthony parish in Sacramento (2002-2003); pastor at St. Paul parish in Sacramento (2003-2008); pastor at St. John the Baptist parish in Folsom (2008-2016); and pastor at St. James parish in Davis (2016-2022). Since 2022, he has served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Sacramento.
 
Bishop-elect Bersabal’s priestly ministry in the Philippines has included: assessor of marriage cases for the metropolitan tribunal of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro City (1996); chancellor of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro City (1998); and archdiocesan director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the Philippines (1998). Since his incardination into the Diocese of Sacramento, Bishop-elect Bersabal’s ministry has included: interim director of the Newman Catholic Center in Davis (2000); assistant diocesan vocation director (2000-2002); dean of the southern suburbs/city deanery (2004-2008); member and treasurer of the diocesan presbyteral council  (2007-2010); dean of the Gold Country deanery (2011-2014); dean of the Yolo Deanery (2020-2022); member of the diocesan priests personnel board (2023-present); liaison for the Filipino presbyterate (2012-present); member of the diocesan liturgical commission (2023-present); and a member of the diocese’s independent review board (2023- present). He speaks English, Spanish, and Tagalog.
 
The Diocese of Sacramento is comprised of 46,597 square miles in the State of California and has a total population of 3,786,209 of which 1,056,698 are Catholic.
 
April 19, 2024
Bishop Rhoades: No Employer Should be Forced to Participate in Abortion
WASHINGTON — “No employer should be forced to participate in an employee’s decision to end the life of their child,” Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty said today, in response to newly released regulations by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The regulations implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which itself provides helpful accommodations to pregnant women in the workplace. The EEOC, however, has defied Congress’s intent and added a mandate for employers, including religious employers, to provide accommodations, such as leave time, for abortion.
 
Said Bishop Rhoades, “The bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, as written, is a pro-life law that protects the security and physical health of pregnant mothers and their preborn children. It is indefensible for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to twist the law in a way that violates the consciences of pro-life employers by making them facilitate abortions. No employer should be forced to participate in an employee’s decision to end the life of their child.”

The USCCB submitted formal comments to the EEOC in September 2023 (available here) when the federal agency proposed these regulations.
 
April 15, 2024
Survey: Parents’ Influence Significant to Children’s Vocational Discernment
WASHINGTON – A newly-released study from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, surveyed men who will be ordained to the priesthood in 2024. The data shows that families continue to be the seedbed of religious vocations: of the 392 respondents, 95% were raised by their biological parents, and 88% were raised by a married couple who lived together.
 
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV) released The Class of 2024: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood in anticipation of the 61st World Day of Prayer for Vocations on April 21. This annual commemoration occurs on the Fourth Sunday of Easter. Pope Francis has expressed his gratitude for “mothers and fathers who do not think first of themselves or follow fleeting fads of the moment, but shape their lives through relationships marked by love and graciousness, openness to the gift of life and commitment to their children and their growth in maturity.”
 
Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing, chairman of the CCLV committee, echoed Pope Francis stating, “Mothers and fathers, united in marriage, are the first witnesses to love for their children. It is within the family that children are taught the faith, learn the meaning of love, and grow in virtue. This year’s study of ordinands underscores the fundamental role that families, in particularly, parents, play in building up the kingdom of God. It is through the love and support of the family that children develop into the men and women God calls them to be.”
 
Of the 475 men scheduled to be ordained this year, 392 completed the survey for an overall response rate of 83%. These ordinands represent 128 dioceses and eparchies and 29 distinct religious institutes in the United States. Some of the major findings of the report are:
  • On average, respondents first considered a priestly vocation when they were 16 years old. The youngest age reported was three years old and the oldest was 53 years old.
  • The average age at ordination was 34 years old. Since 1999, the average age was 35 and ranged between 33 and 37.
  • Most respondents are White/Caucasian (67%), followed by Hispanic/Latino (18%), Asian/Pacific Islander (11%) and Black/African American (2%).
  • Of those who are foreign-born (23%), the most common countries of origin are Mexico (5%), Vietnam (4%), Colombia (3%), and the Philippines (2%).
  • Of those who worked full-time before entering seminary (70%), the most common fields of employment were education (21%), business (16%), and Church ministry (13%).
The full CARA report and profiles of the Ordination Class of 2024 may be accessed here: https://www.usccb.org/committees/clergy-consecrated-life-vocations/ordination-classes.
 
March 15, 2024
Bishop Zaidan Prays for, Expresses Solidarity with People of Haiti
WASHINGTON — Expressing his steadfast solidarity with the people of Haiti suffering amid an intensification of violence and social disorder, Bishop A. Elias Zaidan of the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon called for immediate and long-term solutions. As the chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the bishop called for the U.S. government and the international community to address the challenges faced by Haiti:
 
“As the social, political, and security situation in Haiti continues dangerously to deteriorate, I would like to express my steadfast solidarity with my brother bishops and the people of Haiti. I would like to commend especially the heroic efforts of Haitian and international aid workers, including our own Catholic Relief Services, who are working tirelessly to provide vitally necessary assistance to the people of Haiti.
 
“Since the tragic 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, Haiti has been experiencing an acute intensification of violence—including rampant murders and kidnappings—social disorder, and an unclear path towards the restoration of the rule-of-law. This is an unlivable situation for the people of Haiti, where families are unable to provide basic necessities for their loved ones.
 
“I commend the United States Government for its recently stated commitment to provide $300 million in support for an emerging plan to address the rampant instability in the country. Beyond the immediate and pressing objectives, I urge our government and the international community actively to continue to seek ways to address the long-term challenges the country is facing.
 
“As chairman of the Committee, I heartily join our Holy Father Pope Francis in his expression of concern and support for the people of Haiti and who recentlyinvited us to pray for the people of this land through the intercession of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Patroness of Haiti that violence cease, and peace and reconciliation in the country be realized with the support of the international community.”
 

March 8, 2024
Bishop Burbidge speaks out on IVF issues
WASHINGTON — Each person’s life is a unique gift and has immeasurable value from the moment of conception, said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, and it is for that precise reason that the Catholic Church cannot condone procedures such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) that result in a loss of life at a massive scale. In response to the growing attention to assisted reproductive technologies, Bishop Burbidge, as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, spoke about the gift of life.

Recognizing the desire to have children is good and given the challenges many couples face, Bishop Burbidge called for greater focus on ethical treatments addressing the root causes of infertility. Additionally, other approaches that may be sought by some couples seeking to expand their families, such as foster care and adoption, should be offered more support. The chairman’s full statement follows: 

“The national conversation in the news about laws related to in vitro fertilization and other technologies creates an opportunity and a necessity to speak about protecting the gift of life itself. Each of our lives has immeasurable value from the moment of conception. In this way, we know that the deeply-rooted desire to bring about new life by having children is good. As priests and bishops, we grieve with and accompany in hope and love the increasing number of families suffering with an experience of infertility. We also encourage restorative, often-overlooked, treatments that can help to address the root causes of infertility.

“It is precisely because each person’s life is a unique gift that we cannot condone procedures that violate the right to life or the integrity of the family. Certain practices like IVF do both, and they are often not effective even for their own purposes.

“Children have a right to be born to their married mother and father, through a personal act of self-giving love. IVF, however well-intended, breaches this bond and these rights and, instead, treats human beings like products or property. This is all the more true in situations involving anonymous donors or surrogacy. This of course does not mean that our brothers and sisters who were conceived by IVF are somehow ‘less than’ anyone else. Every person has immeasurable value regardless of how he or she was conceived – and that applies, absolutely, to all children created through IVF, the majority of whom have not been and may never be born.

“The fact is that, in the IVF industry, many embryos are never transferred to a mother’s womb, but are destroyed or indefinitely frozen, and, of those who are transferred, only a fraction survive to be eventually born. All told, there are millions of human beings who have been killed or potentially permanently frozen by this industry. This cannot be the answer to the very real cross of fertility challenges. In efforts to bring about new life, we cannot turn our face from the many more lives that are cut short and extinguished in the process.”

Bishop Burbidge was joined by three other bishop chairmen in a letter to the U.S. Senate on February 28, opposing the Access to Family Building Act and similar legislation that would greatly widen the use of various problematic assisted reproductive technologies nationwide. For more on infertility, including ethical restorative reproductive medicine and research, see https://www.usccb.org/topics/natural-family-planning/infertility.

February 28, 2024
Bishops Gather to Pray and Discuss Their Shared Ministry
TAMPA, Fla. — Concluding a three-day summit, officers and members of the Episcopal Conferences of the Americas met from February 26 – 28 at a retreat center to pray and discuss their shared ministry as pastors. The twelve bishops attending included bishops from El Consejo Episcopal Latinoamericano y Caribeño (CELAM), the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
 
The bishops issued the following joint statement:
 
“Following a tradition of meeting that began in 1959, we came to spend time together in prayer, fraternity, listening, and sharing. We talked about our mutual concerns and approaches to pastoral ministry and moral issues including euthanasia, migration, ecological threats to our common home, and the Synod.
 
“Pope Saint John Paul II said there was one American continent. In our time together, we see the wisdom in that statement. We share much in common and have similar pastoral and social concerns. Our time together has strengthened our bonds of fraternity in Christ and has allowed us to discern ways we can promote a more synodal and missionary Church and work together even more effectively in the vineyard of the Lord.”
 

February 26, 2024
Freedom to Meet Migrants’ Basic Human Needs Must be Preserved
WASHINGTON — Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, expressed solidarity with faith-driven ministries to migrants and noted the special need to protect religious liberty. His remarks commended the February 23 statement issued by the Catholic bishops of the State of Texas.

“It is hard to imagine what our country would look like without the good works that people of faith carry out in the public square. For this, we can thank our strong tradition of religious liberty, which allows us to live out our faith in full.
 
“As the tragic situation along our border with Mexico increasingly poses challenges for American communities and vulnerable persons alike, we must especially preserve the freedom of Catholics and other people of faith to assist their communities and meet migrants’ basic human needs. I join my brother bishops in the State of Texas in expressing solidarity with those seeking simply to fulfill the fundamental biblical call: ‘whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ ”
 
February 23, 2024
War-Torn Ukraine Marks Two Years Since Russian Invasion
WASHINGTON — As Russia’s war against Ukraine enters its third year, the need for humanitarian assistance has greatly increased to help the millions of Ukrainians impacted by violence and destruction. People are struggling to survive in the cold winter with little food, heat, or shelter, said Bishop A. Elias Zaidan of the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon. As chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, he urged the U.S. government to provide more aid immediately to alleviate the suffering of Ukrainians. Bishop Zaidan also expressed concern at Russia’s targeting of religious communities in Ukraine, destroying churches, arresting religious leaders, some of whom have been tortured and killed.
 
“The magnitude of the suffering in the Ukrainian conflict continues to sear the conscience of the faithful. According to a UN report, the number of civilians killed and injured since February 2022 exceeds 30,000. Schools, hospitals, apartments, and basic infrastructure supplying power have been hit by missiles. In the face of such destruction and death, people are repeatedly displaced, insecure as to where to find safety.
 
“The Catholic Church, including many Catholic welfare organizations are trying to meet these enormous needs both within Ukraine and in other countries impacted by this war which has raged on for two full years. The USCCB’s national collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe has been critical in providing much-needed aid to the region. Additionally, Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative has greatly heightened global food security concerns, increasing food prices, and jeopardizing the health and lives of poor and vulnerable people dependent on food assistance for survival. I urge the U.S. government to do all that it can to provide much needed humanitarian assistance quickly.
 
“At the same time, there are reports of religious communities, particularly the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, being attacked by Russian forces in territories they have seized. Over 600 religious structures have been damaged, some occupied by Russian forces and turned into military bases. Clergy have been harassed, persecuted, kidnapped, and even killed.
 
“On January 8, Pope Francis spoke about Ukraine saying we cannot allow the persistence of a conflict that continues to metastasize to the detriment of millions of persons. He also underscored that it is necessary to put an end to the present tragedy through negotiations, in respect for international law. I join with our Holy Father in calling for an end to the violence in Ukraine and call on all the faithful and people of good will to join with the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, in setting aside February 24 as a solemn day of prayer, fasting for the end of the war and for peace to come to this war-torn land.”
 
February 21, 2024
New Initiative Strives to Explain: “What is Love?”
WASHINGTON — “Conversations about love, marriage, sexuality, family, and the human person can be confusing and polarizing”, said Bishop Robert Barron of Winona-Rochester. “This is why I am pleased to announce the launch of Love Means More to help bring clarity and compassion to those questions.”
 
As the month of February brings cultural attention to Valentine’s Day and with it, conflicting notions of love, Bishop Barron noted that “cultural narratives tell us love is mostly about feeling good. True love is deeper than that, calling us to follow Christ’s example of sacrificial love so we can live in union with Him forever.”
 
The Love Means More initiative is an ongoing campaign, based around a new website that takes a deep dive into the meanings of love. It is a versatile resource for Catholic catechists, as well as “seekers” from any religious background, but also welcomes those who profess no religious background at all. Bishop Barron is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, which is spearheading the initiative.
 
Love Means More renews the effort begun by Marriage: Unique for a Reason to promote and defend what Christ has revealed about marriage and family, but also addresses a broader range of topics in the area of human sexuality, organized around the central question, “What is love?” This approach enables learners to see how some difficult discussions can actually be the result of hidden assumptions about more basic questions, such as:
 
Is love only how someone makes you feel?
Does love mean ‘to will the good’ of the other?
Is unity necessarily the goal of all love?
 
The Love Means More initiative is the result of wide consultation with bishops, pastors, educators, medical and mental health professionals, and lay Catholic leaders involved with family life ministry. The initiative has also heard, and seeks to address, questions and concerns received from people who are uncomfortable with some Church teachings. These include those who uphold the possibility of divorce and remarriage, LGBT-identifying individuals, and those who defend pornography. As content continues to be added post-launch, this initiative will be a valuable resource for engaging in cultural conversation about love.
 
The website for Love Means More may be accessed at: https://lovemeansmore.org/