(USCCB News Archives can be accessed at www.usccb.org/news/)
May 17, 2022
Pope Francis appoints Apostolic Administrator of Ordinariate for Armenian Catholics of Eastern Europe
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Reverend Mikael Bassale as Apostolic Administrator for the Ordinariate for Armenian Catholics of Eastern Europe. The appointment was publicized in Washington on May 17, 2022, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
May 16, 2022
Statement on shootings in Buffalo and Laguna Woods
WASHINGTON — In response to the shootings in Buffalo, NY and Laguna Woods, CA over the weekend, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) offered the following statement from its spokesperson, Chieko Noguchi, director of public affairs.
“The U.S. bishops join with others throughout the country in offering prayers for the support and healing of the families, friends, and communities of those impacted by these violent incidents. We pray especially for those who were injured and particularly for those who lost their lives. We pray also for those on the front lines who risk their lives in responding to the calls for help, and to those in the medical fields who minister to those who have been harmed.
“The bishops again call for an honest dialogue
rooted in Christ in addressing the persistent evil of racism in our country. The Catholic Church has been a consistent voice for rational yet effective forms of regulation of dangerous weapons, and the USCCB continues to advocate for an end to violence, and for the respect and dignity of all lives.
“We pray for and support the healing of the communities impacted and for all the victims of violence and that Christ’s peace be upon all affected.”
May 13, 2022
Pope Francis accepts resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Edward Deliman
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Most Reverend Edward M. Deliman, 75, from the Office of Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia. The resignation was publicized in Washington on May 13, 2022, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
May 12, 2022
USCCB issues statement on arrest of Cardinal Joseph Zen
WASHINGTON – Upon the news of the arrest of Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong on May 11, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace called for prayer and the pursuit of justice.
Bishop Malloy’s full statement follows:
“The alarming news of the May 11 arrest in Hong Kong of Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun due to his past role in administering a humanitarian fund for protestors indicates the downward trend in respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights in Hong Kong. This steadfast pastor and strong supporter of democracy and justice was arrested along with other trustees of a fund that paid for legal and medical expenses of pro-democracy protestors, a fund that was disbanded in the fall of 2021. Because of Cardinal Zen’s support for these protestors, he is being accused of ‘collusion with foreign forces.’ Under the national security law imposed in June 2020, ‘secession, subversion and collusion with foreign forces’ is a crime punishable with sentences of up to life imprisonment. Thus, although Cardinal Zen has been released on bail, his situation remains precarious.
“The Vatican’s press office said Wednesday, ‘The Holy See has learned with concern the news of Cardinal Zen’s arrest and is following the evolution of the situation with extreme attention.’ I join with the Holy See in expressing concern for the fate of Cardinal Zen and others who share his current predicament. I invite all those of good will to pray for their safety and that justice may prevail.”
May 11, 2022
Senate fails to advance extreme Abortion on Demand Bill
WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Senate failed to advance the Women’s Health Protection Act, S. 4132. This bill would have imposed abortion on demand nationwide at any stage of pregnancy through federal statute and would have eliminated pro-life laws at every level of government — including parental notification for minor girls, informed consent, and health or safety protections specific to abortion facilities. S. 4132 also would have compelled all Americans to support abortions here and abroad with their tax dollars and would have also likely forced health care providers and professionals to perform, assist in, and/or refer for abortion against their deeply-held beliefs, as well as forced employers and insurers to cover or pay for abortion.
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, issued the following statement:
“The ‘Women’s Health Protection Act’ (S. 4132) is an utterly unjust and extreme measure that would impose abortion on demand nationwide at any stage of pregnancy through federal statute. We are relieved that the Senate vote to advance this bill failed for the second time in less than three months. This bill insists that elective abortion, including late-term elective abortion, is a ‘human right’ and ‘women’s health care’ — something that should be promoted, funded, and celebrated. S. 4132 is far more extreme than Roe v. Wade. It would invalidate widely supported laws that protect women and unborn children from an unscrupulous abortion industry, would force all Americans to support abortion here and abroad with their tax dollars, and seeks to force religious hospitals and health care professionals to perform abortions against their beliefs.
“More than 60 million unborn children have already lost their lives to abortion, and countless women suffer from the physical and emotional trauma of abortion. This radical bill would add millions more to that tragic toll. As a nation built on the recognition that every human being is endowed by its Creator with the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we implore Congress to stop pushing abortion as a solution to the needs of women and young girls, and instead embrace public policy that fully respects and facilitates these rights and the needs of both mother and child.”
May 10, 2022
USCCB encourages Day of Fast and Prayer amid abortion tensions
WASHINGTON — In response to the leak of a draft opinion in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, some abortion advocates are calling for nationwide demonstrations, disruptions of church services, and the personal intimidation of specific Supreme Court justices. Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities invited the faithful to unite in fasting and prayer:
In the midst of current tensions, we invite Catholics around the country to join us in fasting and praying the Rosary on Friday, May 13, the Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima. Let us offer our prayers and fasting for these intentions:
- For our nation, for the integrity of our judicial system, and that all branches of government be dedicated to seeking the common good and protecting the dignity and rights of the human person, from conception to natural death.
- For the overturning of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey in the Supreme Court’s final decision in Dobbs v. Jackson.
- For the conversion of the hearts and minds of those who advocate for abortion.
- For a new commitment to building an America where children are welcomed, cherished, and cared for; where mothers and fathers are encouraged and strengthened; and where marriage and the family are recognized and supported as the true foundations of a healthy and flourishing society.
- For Our Blessed Mother’s intercession and guidance as the Church continues to walk with mothers and families in need, and continues to promote alternatives to abortion, and seeks to create a culture of life.
As Catholics, let us witness to the beautiful gift of life with civility and love, and with our peaceful prayers and our compassionate service to all those in need.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.
May 9, 2022
Pope Francis Names New Auxiliary Bishop of Cleveland
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed the Rev. Michael G. Woost as auxiliary bishop of Cleveland. Bishop-elect Woost is a priest of the Diocese of Cleveland and currently serves as assistant professor of sacramental and liturgical theology at Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology in Wickliffe, Ohio, and as interim director of the diocese’s Office of Worship. The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on May 9, 2022, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Father Woost was born September 17, 1958. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from Borromeo Seminary in Wickliffe (1980). He studied at Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology in Wickliffe where he earned a Master of Divinity (1984) and Master of Arts in systematic theology (1986). He earned a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. (2000). He was ordained to the priesthood on June 9, 1984.
Bishop-elect Woost’s assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar at Immaculate Conception parish in Madison (1984-1989); he served as director of vocations for the Diocese of Cleveland from 1989-1995, while in residence at the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist in Cleveland. From 1995-2000, Father Woost pursued advanced studies in liturgy at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and earned his licentiate in sacred theology. Since his return to the Diocese of Cleveland in 2000, he has been a faculty member and assistant professor of sacramental and liturgical theology at Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology in Wickliffe. Additionally, since 2022, he has been serving as interim director of the diocese’s Office of Worship.
The Diocese of Cleveland is comprised of 3,414 square miles in the State of Ohio and has a total population of 2,758,656, of which 633,492 are Catholic.
May 5, 2022
National Maritime Day to be celebrated on May 22
WASHINGTON — Bishop Brendan J. Cahill of Victoria, bishop promoter of Stella Maris, the apostolate of the Catholic Church for the people of the sea, is inviting dioceses in the United States to mark the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Mariners and People of the Sea on May 22.
To mark National Maritime Day, Bishop Cahill will celebrate Mass on Saturday, May 21, at 12:10 p.m. at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (Crypt Church) in Washington. The maritime industry is a vital part of the world’s economy and notably, many of the United States ports are the gateway for international trade and cruise vacations. The annual National Maritime Day celebration is an opportunity to applaud the important work of seafarers and helps to create awareness for their around the clock work, that often goes unrecognized. Bishop Cahill is encouraging dioceses to remember seafarers in their homilies, special petitions during Mass, and other maritime events. When Mass is celebrated on May 22, the text for the Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of the Sea, is also encouraged.
In the face of the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Stella Maris National Office continues to support and celebrate the men and women of the sea. The impact of the pandemic and the stress it has caused on seafarers calls for action, especially to ensure the health and wellbeing of mariners and their families. “The world may have come to a standstill during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the ships have never stopped sailing from port to port, delivering critical medical equipment and medicines to support the fight against the spread of the virus. Some 90% of world trade is carried by ships or, more accurately, by the 1.7 million seafarers who work on the ships,” said Cardinal Peter Turkson during the Sea Sunday celebration
, on July 11, 2021. Serving at that time as prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Turkson stressed the importance of celebrating and acknowledging the remarkable work of seafarers and the sacrifices of their families.
National Maritime Day is an opportunity to recognize the hardworking men and women of the U.S. Merchant Marine, seafarers, fishers, port personnel and all who work or travel on the high seas for the vital services they provide in support of our nation’s economic well-being and national security. Seafarers are a large migrant population in the world today, many of whom are Catholic Christians and unseen by the world. Stella Maris chaplains welcome, reach out to and celebrate seafarers and their families, and all who work or travel on the seas. Through the celebration of the Eucharist and the proclamation of the Word of God, as well as providing other vital services and necessities, Catholic chaplaincy teams fulfill the mission of the Church and help seafarers discover the loving presence of God in an often-challenging world.
May 4, 2022
Pro-Life chairman urges faithful to pray in response to leaked draft opinion
WASHINGTON — In response to the leak of a draft opinion in the Supreme Court case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities issued the following call to prayer:
“The leak related to the U.S. Supreme Court case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization reminds us of the urgent need for prayer and action at this pivotal moment in our country.
“As Catholics, we care about every unborn child and every mother. Our Church has consistently witnessed in word and deed that life begins at the moment of conception
. As the bishops shared in our statement Standing with Moms in Need
: we pledge ‘to redouble our efforts to accompany women and couples who are facing unexpected or difficult pregnancies, and during the early years of parenthood, offering them loving and compassionate care through initiatives such as Walking with Moms in Need
and countless others.’
“At the same time, as we await the Court’s decision, we urge everyone to intensify their prayer and fasting that the final decision of the Court will bring about the reversal of Roe and Casey.
“We hope and pray for a change in our laws and stand ready to help all pregnant women in need in each of our communities.
“Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us and guide us.”
May 2, 2022
Annual study on ordination class released
WASHINGTON — The 59th annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations will be celebrated by the Catholic Church on May 8. The Fourth Sunday of Easter is commonly referred to as “Good Shepherd Sunday” for the Gospel reading about the shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep, just as Jesus did for us. While upholding all vocations, the Church places a special emphasis each year on this day to pray for vocations to the ordained ministry and consecrated life, and support for those currently living out one of these vocations.
Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV) stated, “The Church is grateful to God for continuing to call men and women to serve his people as priests, deacons, religious, and consecrated persons. As the Church in the United States begins its three-year revival of devotion to the Holy Eucharist, I encourage the faithful to pray to Our Eucharistic Lord to send out more ‘laborers into his harvest’ (Mt. 9:38, Lk. 10:12) and to keep those set apart for His service, faithful to their calling.”
In conjunction with the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, the CCLV committee released the Ordination Class of 2022 Study, conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University. A few of the major findings of the report are:
- On average, responding ordinands first considered priesthood when they were 16 years old. Responding ordinands were scheduled for ordination on average 18 years later (at the age of 33).
- Three in five responding ordinands (60%) are Caucasian. One in five (22%) are Hispanic/Latino. One in ten (11%) are Asian/Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian. Relatively few (4%) are African/African American/black
- A quarter (26%) are foreign-born. The most common countries of birth are Mexico, Vietnam, Colombia, Brazil, and India.
- One in ten (9%) report being homeschooled. Between 39-42% of respondents attended a Catholic school on the K-12 and/or college level.
- Before entering seminary, 74% regularly participated in Eucharistic Adoration and 72% prayed the rosary.
- Half of responding ordinands (50%) participated in parish youth group, three in ten (28%) participated in Catholic Campus Ministry/Newman Center and 25% were involved in Boy Scouts.
- Seven in ten (74%) served as altar servers before entering the seminary. Other commonly cited parish ministries include lector (51%), extraordinary minister of Holy Communion (37%) and catechists (37%).
- Nine in ten (90%) were encouraged to consider the priesthood by someone in their life (most frequently, the parish priest, friend, or another parishioner).
- Sadly, half of responding ordinands (48%) were discouraged from considering the priesthood by one or more persons. Most often, this person was a family member (other than parents) or a friend/classmate.
The full CARA report and profiles of the Ordination Class of 2022 can be accessed here: https://www.usccb.org/committees/clergy-consecrated-life-vocations/ordination-classes
April 22, 2022
“United for Ukraine” initiative raises concerns by migration chairman
WASHINGTON — On April 21, the Biden Administration announced the creation of “Uniting for Ukraine,” a streamlined process for displaced Ukrainians seeking to enter the United States. The program relies heavily on humanitarian parole, a mechanism in U.S. immigration law that grants individuals authorization to enter the United States for a temporary period of time. While parole provides eligibility for work authorization, it does not authorize recipients to receive the same services and benefits provided to refugees resettled through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, nor does parole provide a pathway to permanent legal status in the United States. Parole has also been used to relocate Afghans to the United States in recent months, though Congress has authorized members of that population to receive the same services and benefits as formal refugees.
To be eligible for this special parole program, Ukrainians must have been residing in Ukraine as of February 11, 2022, have a U.S.-based financial sponsor (either an individual or entity), have received certain vaccinations and met other public health requirements, and pass a series of background checks and security screenings. The Administration’s announcement further specified that, beginning April 25, Ukrainians seeking to enter at U.S. ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border will be denied entry without a valid visa or pre-authorization to travel to the United States.
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:
“We commend the Biden Administration’s desire to welcome Ukrainians fleeing violence and destruction in their homeland. Many European countries have shown great concern for Ukrainians, welcoming them with open arms, and we should do the same. We are particularly concerned with the most vulnerable and hope that support will be given to separated families, the elderly, and those with urgent medical needs. This sort of initiative requires that the federal government provide an array of services for arriving families, in addition to those supplied by individuals and private institutions, such as churches.
“However, this new program does not include authorization for basic services or access to permanent legal status and could unnecessarily strain communities eager to welcome. This is why we and others have requested a more robust use of the resettlement program, both for Ukrainians and other displaced persons, which affords refugees the ability to integrate within American communities, temporarily or as aspiring Americans.
“We are also concerned by the implication that Ukrainians seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border will be turned away after April 25. All persons seeking asylum at our borders must consistently be offered the same opportunities for protection set out in U.S. and international law, in accordance with their God-given dignity.
“We call on the Administration and Congress to work together to ensure Ukrainians seeking refuge in the United States are truly welcomed and receive all of the support that entails. And we ask that this same welcome be extended to those of other nationalities who have fled persecution, violence, and disaster, including passage of legislation that would provide our new Afghan neighbors with a pathway to permanent legal status.
“As a national refugee resettlement agency, the USCCB is eager to support displaced Ukrainians in the United States, together with Catholic organizations, parishes, and people of good will across the country. We are especially grateful to our brother bishop, Archbishop Borys Gudziak, for his tireless efforts—and those of the entire Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the United States—to mobilize support for our brothers and sisters in need.
“We continue to echo the calls of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, for the fighting in Ukraine to cease and for a lasting peace to prevail. May Our Lady, Queen of Peace, intercede for us!”
As part of their ongoing efforts to aid those impacted by the war in Ukraine, the USCCB and the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia have partnered with Welcome.US on its Uniting for Ukraine initiative.
April 19, 2022
Pope Francis names Father Fleming as Coadjutor Bishop of Great Falls-Billings
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Father Jeffrey M. Fleming, a priest of the Diocese of Helena, who currently serves as chancellor, moderator of the curia, and adjutant judicial vicar of the Diocese of Helena, as the Coadjutor Bishop of Great Falls-Billings. The appointment was publicized in Washington on April 19, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. Bishop Michael Warfel is the current bishop of Great Falls-Billings, and the appointment as coadjutor bishop confers on Bishop-elect Fleming the right of succession for the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings.
Father Fleming was born on February 10, 1966, in Billings, Montana. He attended Carroll College in Helena, Montana (1984-1988) where he earned a bachelor’s degree in theology and religious education. Father Fleming attended Mount Angel Seminary in Saint Benedict, Oregon (1988-1992) and earned a master’s degree in theology and a master of divinity. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 19, 1992, for the Diocese of Helena.
Bishop-elect Fleming’s assignments after ordination include: associate pastor of Anaconda Catholic Community (1992); and associate pastor of the Cathedral of Saint Helena (1996). Father Fleming pursued canon law studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and earned his licentiate in canon law in 1998. He returned to the Diocese of Helena where he served as chaplain at Carroll College (1998); pastor of Saint Rose of Lima parish in Dillon (2003); pastor of Christ the King parish in Missoula (2006); pastor of Saint John the Baptist parish in Frenchtown (2013); pastor of Saint Michael parish in Drummond, and Saint Philip parish in Philipsburg (2016); and administrator of Saint Thomas the Apostle parish in Helmville, and Saint Jude parish in Lincoln (2019). He was named director of chancery services, vice chancellor, and adjutant judicial vicar for the Diocese of Helena in 2019. Since 2020, he has served as moderator of the curia, chancellor, and adjutant judicial vicar for the diocese. Bishop-elect Fleming has also served as a member of the presbyteral council, the college of consultors, the diocesan personnel board, and as defender of the bond, for the Diocese of Helena.
The Diocese of Great Falls-Billings is comprised of 94,158 square miles in the State of Montana and has a total population of 427,358 of which 31,813 are Catholic.
April 11, 2022
Catholic Home Missions Appeal weekend of April 23-24
WASHINGTON — On the weekend of April 23-24, the Catholic faithful across the United States will “strengthen the Church at home” by giving to the Catholic Home Missions Appeal. The annual collection through the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) supports dioceses and eparchies in the United States and its territories that are unable to sustain basic ministries without outside financial help.
“Through the Catholic Home Missions Appeal, parishioners share their blessings with fellow Catholics in places with small Catholic populations dispersed over wide and remote areas or in areas with many Catholics but few financial resources.” said Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on the Catholic Home Missions. “I want every Catholic to know the great good that is done through their gifts. Your generosity allows people to see that Jesus continues to bring love, hope and healing through the Church that he founded.”
In 2021, nearly $9.3 million from this appeal was distributed to 76 dioceses, eparchies and mission prefectures in the United States and its territories. The appeal supports initiatives for evangelization and faith formation, human life and dignity, strengthening marriage and family, priestly and religious vocations, ministries to Hispanic and Native American and Alaskan Indigenous populations, and assistance to dioceses and parishes with administrative needs such as communications and pastoral planning.
A few of the grants included support for:
- Ministry to sailors and fishermen in the Marshall Islands, providing social, pastoral, and sacramental outreach to seafarers who may not see their families for years.
- A three-week faith formation summer camp at a parish in the Diocese of Gallup that is too remote for parents to bring children to weekly religious education. The camp was so successful that the young people are now bringing their parents back to church.
- The Melkite Eparchy of Newton in Massachusetts, which covers the entire United States, for spiritual and practical assistance to refugees from the war in Syria.
- Support for the purchase of multi-media religious education materials for the De La Salle Blackfeet School in the Diocese of Helena to strengthen evangelization activities in Montana.
“The gifts to the Catholic Home Missions Appeal strengthen the Catholic faith among people in our country who have limited means to support essential ministries,” Bishop McKnight said.
Parishioners can give through their offertory collection or their parish’s e-offertory platform. Additionally, #iGiveCatholicTogether also accepts funds for the collection. To learn more about the appeal and those who benefit from it, visit www.usccb.org/home-missions.
April 8, 2022
Relic of Blessed Carlo Acutis to accompany Eucharistic Revival initiative
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) has been presented with a relic of Blessed Carlo Acutis by Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino of the Diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino in Italy.
Blessed Carlo Acutis was an Italian teenager who used technology to spread devotion to the Eucharist before his death at age fifteen from leukemia in 2006. He offered his sufferings for the Church and for the Holy Father, and Pope Francis has called him a role model for young people. He was beatified in 2020 and is one of the intercessors for the national Eucharistic Revival, a multi-year initiative by the bishops of the United States to reinvigorate devotion in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
Yesterday, Archbishop Sorrentino presented Blessed Carlo’s pericardium, a first-class relic, to the bishops’ conference for the Eucharistic Revival. Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York, and Bishop Joseph A. Espaillat, auxiliary bishop of New York, were joined by Archbishop Sorrentino for Mass and adoration of the blessed sacrament at St. Rita of Cascia – St. Pius V’s Church in the Bronx.
During the Mass, Cardinal Dolan received the relic on behalf of the USCCB who will be the guardian of the relic for the multi-year Revival initiative. Opportunities for the faithful throughout the United States to venerate Blessed Carlo’s relic as a part of the Revival will be made available, and information as it is finalized will be available at: https://eucharisticrevival.org. The full Mass can be seen on the Facebook page.
April 5, 2022
U.S. Bishops’ Migration Chairman Addresses Termination of Title 42
WASHINGTON — On April 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order terminating the use of Title 42 of the U.S. Code to prohibit certain noncitizens from entering the United States, effective May 23, 2022. Originally begun in a purported effort to reduce COVID-19 transmission, this policy has led to the expulsion of more than one million migrants by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since 2020, including many asylum-seeking children and families. In implementing this policy, DHS has overridden normal immigration proceedings and skirted due process protections, forcibly returning vulnerable individuals to places where their lives are in danger. Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:
“We welcome the end of this harmful policy. In its place, my brother bishops from along the U.S.-Mexico border and I have long urged
policies that are supported by sound scientific rationales, respect migrants’ intrinsic dignity, preserve human life, and provide for safe, orderly, and humane immigration, all while acknowledging the right of nations to maintain their borders.
“Let us be clear: any perceived or actual increase in vulnerable migrants seeking refuge at our border in the coming months will not be a direct result of this change. Many are already at our door, having been forced to languish in Mexico for an indefinite period of time, unable to avail themselves of the opportunity to seek protection in accordance with U.S. and international law. Persecution, violence, natural disasters, and other root causes of migration will continue to force people to seek protection until more robust efforts are undertaken to address them.
“We urge the Biden Administration to implement a comprehensive plan for the border that ensures the humane treatment of all persons and respects their God-given dignity, while safeguarding due process. This can only be achieved successfully through government-led preparations made in close coordination with border communities and civil society across the country, especially organizations providing humanitarian support.
“In less than two weeks, we will celebrate the Solemnity of Easter. In preparing our hearts to encounter Christ’s ultimate sacrifice, let us ponder his unwavering love for us and allow it to move us toward that same outpouring of charity when faced with the challenges of our time.”
April 2, 2022
Pope Francis Names Father Fernandes as Bishop of Columbus
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Father Earl K. Fernandes, a priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, as the Bishop of Columbus. The appointment was publicized in Washington on April 2, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Father Fernandes was born on September 21, 1972, in Toledo, Ohio. He attended St. Francis de Sales High School in Toledo, and then the University of Toledo where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology. Father Fernandes attended Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary of the West in Cincinnati and holds a licentiate and doctoral degree in moral theology from the Alphonsian Academy in Rome, Italy (2004-2008). He was ordained to the priesthood on May 18, 2002, for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
Bishop-elect Fernandes’ assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar of Holy Angels parish, and religion teacher at Lehman Catholic High School in Sidney (2002-2004); dean and assistant professor of moral theology at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary of the West in Cincinnati (2008-2016); and administrator of Sacred Heart parish in Cincinnati (2014-2016). From 2012-2016, he served as a member of the executive committee for the National Association of Catholic Theological Schools. During the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy from 2015-2016, Father Fernandes was named a missionary of mercy. From 2016 to 2019, Father Fernandes served as a secretary at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C. Since 2019, he has been pastor of Saint Ignatius of Loyola parish in Cincinnati, and since 2020, he has served as a member of the board of trustees at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus.
In addition to English, Bishop-elect Fernandes is fluent in Italian, Spanish, and French, and has reading knowledge of Latin.
The Diocese of Columbus is comprised of 11,310 square miles in the State of Ohio and has a total population of 2,828,514 of which 207,041 are Catholic.
March 30, 2022
Pope Francis accepts resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Sanchez
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Most Reverend Paul R. Sanchez, 75, from the Office of Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn. The resignation was publicized in Washington on March 30, 2022, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
March 30, 2022
U.S. Bishop chairmen on ruling in favor of death row inmate
WASHINGTON — On March 23, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 8-1 in favor of John Ramirez, a death row inmate, in his challenge to the State of Texas’s denial of his request that his pastor audibly pray and lay hands on him as the state executes him. Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued the following statement:
“As fallen creatures, we are all in need of God’s grace and forgiveness. For John Ramirez’s actions, the state sentenced him to death. He has asked the state to allow him what he sincerely believes he needs to prepare for the end of this life. The Supreme Court has rightly ruled that the state did not meet the appropriately high bar the law sets to deny the condemned the accompaniment that their religion prescribes.
“Permitting Mr. Ramirez’s pastor to provide the spiritual assistance that Mr. Ramirez has requested would not render his execution a just act. The practice of state-sanctioned executions of human beings – the irrevocable termination of God’s gift of human life – is a grave violation of human dignity. An execution represents a judgment by fallible human beings that a person is beyond redemption – a judgment the Catholic Church rejects. The state should act with justice and mercy by sparing Mr. Ramirez’s life. The Supreme Court has done the right thing in its ruling to honor Mr. Ramirez’s right to seek the mercy of God at the moment of his death.”
The USCCB submitted an amicus brief in support of John Ramirez’s claim jointly with the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, which also issued a statement in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling.
March 17, 2022
USCCB committee issues statement on migrants and refugees
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Administrative Committee has issued the following statement on migrants and refugees. The Administrative Committee is led by the president of the Conference and is comprised of the USCCB’s officers, chairmen of the Conference’s standing committees, as well as a representative from each episcopal region of the United States. The committee operates as the board of directors of the Conference.
The committee’s full statement follows:
The issues of refugees, migration, and forced displacement of people are not new ones, and there are many countries facing these challenges. Across the globe, families have been forced to flee their homes in search of safety and security. War, violence, racial strife, corruption and political instability, natural disasters, and poverty: these all still remain major factors in the lives of so many, which is why the numbers of people on the move, refugees, and people being displaced are at historically high levels.
As Christians, the words of Jesus must always shape how we think and how we act. The Apostle Paul emphasizes this when writing to the Philippians: Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus (2:5).
Some may question why and how the Church supports refugees and migrants, regardless of race, creed, or color, but the simple truth is that Christ identifies with those in need: For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me (Mt 25:35).
This means that when people are hungry and knock at our door, we feed them. When they come to our door cold, we clothe them. And when someone who is a stranger comes, we welcome him or her. The Church does this everywhere she exists. We do this because this is what Christ calls us to do. In the United States, much of the Church’s care for and ministry to refugees and migrants can be seen in the longstanding dedication and hard work of our Catholic Charities agencies.
The Conference has spoken time and again about the call to welcome and protect the newcomer. What is clearly true, and what the Church and many others have called for, is the urgent need for a comprehensive reform of our country’s immigration system. The U.S. immigration system is overly complex and unjust, often keeping family members apart; it must be fixed. The Church does teach that a country has the right to regulate its borders. At the same time, people have the fundamental right to migrate in order to preserve their lives and families.
What must always be in the forefront of our thoughts and actions is the fact that each and every person, including the newcomer, is a brother or sister to us all and a blessing to welcoming communities when given the opportunity to integrate. We must acknowledge not only the inherent dignity of immigrants but also embrace their contributions and potential.
Sisters and brothers in Christ, let us embrace the ministry given to us by Jesus and reject the contemporary forces of division that tempt us with a false choice between our security and our humanity. Our great nation is capable of safeguarding both our humanity and our security.
March 16, 2022
USCCB Administrative Committee releases statement on Ukraine
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Administrative Committee has issued the following statement today on Ukraine. The Administrative Committee is led by the president of the Conference and is comprised of the USCCB’s officers, chairmen of the Conference’s standing committees, as well as a representative from each episcopal region of the United States. The committee operates as the board of directors of the Conference.
The committee’s full statement follows:
In union with the Holy See, we call for the immediate cessation of Russia’s armed aggression and unprovoked war on Ukraine that has already exacted a staggering toll — thousands dead and an exodus of three million refugees — with no end in sight. We join our plea with that of the Holy Father on March 13 when he said, “In the name of God, listen to the cry of those who suffer, and put an end to the bombings and the attacks!” Similar appeals have been raised throughout the Orthodox Christian world and indeed by many Russians themselves.
We are witnessing an unprecedented threat to world peace. This possibility of global warfare is compounded by the unthinkable consequences that would result from the potential use of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.
We call on Catholics of the United States and all people of good will to pray for an end to this war in Ukraine and for peace based on justice and respect for international law. We remember always that prayer is never a feeble gesture of last resort! It is a weapon of hope.
We continue to call on the U.S. government to aid humanitarian access and to support and provide assistance to those who remain in Ukraine and those fleeing the country. We call on all Americans to contribute generously and sacrificially to Catholic and other humanitarian agencies supporting these efforts.
At this dark time, we are united with the suffering people of Ukraine. May Our Lady of Fatima and the patron saint of Kyiv, St. Michael the Archangel, guide all peoples in the pursuit of peace and watch over all those in the path of war.