(USCCB News Archives can be accessed at www.usccb.org/news/)
May 24, 2023
Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Fitzgerald
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Most Reverend Michael J. Fitzgerald, 75, from the Office of Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia.
The resignation was publicized in Washington on May 24, 2023, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
May 23, 2023
Pope Accepts Resignation of Bishop Bradley of Diocese of Kalamazoo
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Paul J. Bradley, 77, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Kalamazoo, and has appointed Reverend Monsignor Edward M. Lohse, as Bishop-elect of Kalamazoo. Bishop-elect Lohse is a priest of the Diocese of Erie, and currently serves as vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Diocese of Erie, and as pastor of Saint Julia parish in Erie, Pennsylvania.
The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington, D.C. on May 23, 2023, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Monsignor Lohse was born November 23, 1961, in Erie, Pennsylvania. He received a Bachelor’s degree in history (1984) from Gannon University in Erie, as well as a Master of Divinity (1988) and a Doctor of Divinity (2010) from Saint Vincent Seminary in Latrobe. He received a License in Canon Law (2002) and a Doctorate in Canon Law (2015) from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He was ordained to the priesthood on April 21, 1989. He was named a Chaplain to His Holiness with the title of Monsignor in 2015.
Bishop-elect Lohse’s assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar at Saint Thomas the Apostle parish in Corry (1989-1990); a member of the faculty and campus ministry at Central Catholic Junior-Senior High School (now Dubois Central Catholic School) in DuBois (1990-1995); and a member of the adjunct faculty (1993 and 1996) and acting university chaplain (1997-1999) at Gannon University in Erie. He has also served the Diocese of Erie in a number of roles, including director of the diocesan vocations office (1995-2000), vice chancellor (2001-2007), and chancellor (2007-2010).
From 2010-2015, he served as an official in the Dicastery for the Clergy at the Vatican, and as an adjunct faculty member at the Pontifical North American College (2011-2015) in Rome. Upon his return to the Diocese of Erie in 2016, he served as episcopal vicar for canonical services until 2017 when he was named vicar general and moderator of the curia, and as the director for the diocesan Office for the Protection of Children and Youth, which are roles he currently holds.
Bishop-elect Lohse has been a member of the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors (1995-2000 and 2002-2010); the Canon Law Society of America (2002 to present); a member of the Board of Regents at Saint Vincent Seminary (2003-2010); a member of the Cathedral Preparatory School’s Academic Excellence Foundation (2003-2009); and a member of the Board of Trustees at Gannon University (2016 to present). He speaks Italian and German.
The Diocese of Kalamazoo is comprised of 5,337 square miles in the State of Michigan and has a total population of 966,198, of which 77,819 are Catholic.
May 15, 2023
FDA Pushes to Make Birth Control Drug Available Over-the-Counter
WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, May 10, a panel of advisors to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted unanimously to make the birth-control drug, Opill, available to consumers over-the-counter in the United States. The FDA is reportedly poised to make a final decision this summer. In response to the FDA panel’s recommendation, Bishop Robert E. Barron of Winona-Rochester, and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, urged the government agency to reject this advice as “not good medicine” and continue their efforts to protect women’s health.
“It is concerning that the FDA has a recommendation before it to approve over-the-counter hormonal contraception when there is strong evidence of the many harmful risks to women’s health. In fact, in May 2022, the FDA changed their safety prescribing protocols because of a Citizens’ Petition from healthcare professionals and educators that raised scientific evidence of the increased risk of breast cancer with the use of hormonal contraception.
“Fertility is a gift, not a disease. Contraceptives exist to suppress the healthy functions of human reproduction. The mounting evidence of the many harmful side effects of hormonal contraceptives demonstrates that they are not good medicine. And yet, now the FDA is faced with the decision on whether to allow access to hormonal contraception without medical supervision. Allowing this to go forward is antithetical to the Hippocratic Oath that guides physicians to first ‘do no harm,’ and I urge the FDA reject this recommendation.”
In May 2022, the FDA acknowledged the risks of breast cancer with hormonal contraceptive use by changing its safety prescribing protocols in partial response to a Citizens’ Petition
submitted by a group of concerned healthcare professionals and educators that formed the Contraceptive Study Group (CSG). The Citizens’ Petition analyzed research about the risks of hormonal contraceptives demonstrating numerous harmful side effects and the CSG requested the FDA to inform the public of those risks through reasonable labeling (“black box” warnings).
The FDA posted a partial reply
offering modest acknowledgment of the risks of breast cancer with hormonal contraceptive use, and quietly changed the safety protocols for prescribing, as well as information that should be in the inserts when the prescription is dispensed to patients.
Last November, the USCCB joined with the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC), Catholic Medical Association (CMA), and the National Association of Catholic Nurses (NACN) to oppose the non-prescription availability
of Opill without the supervision of a healthcare professional, citing the potential for numerous negative side effects including organ failure, cardiovascular disease, or neurological issues among others.
May 12, 2023
Statement from Bishops of U.S. Communities Along U.S.-Mexico Border
WASHINGTON — The bishops of communities in the United States along the southwest border have issued a statement in response to the developing situation of the large number of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The bishops’ full statement follows:
“Daily, we witness the human consequences of migration, both its blessings and its challenges. As pastors of border communities, we minister to migrants and native-born persons alike. Our congregations include asylum seekers, enforcement officers, landowners, and elected officials, who come together, not as strangers or adversaries but as sisters and brothers, equal in dignity and worth before the Lord.
“Since our nation’s founding, Catholics across this country have been at the forefront of efforts to welcome newcomers of all faiths and nationalities. As Christians, we are called to see the face of Christ in those who suffer, those who lack the basic necessities of life, and we judge ourselves as a community of faith by the way we treat the most vulnerable among us. We are each bound by a universal call to serve one another and to protect the sanctity of human life in all its forms.
“Therefore, we remain committed to supporting the efforts ongoing within our dioceses and beyond to promote the God-given dignity of every person, including those who have recently arrived in our communities. Further, as a Church committed to the common good, we always cooperate in the administration of humanitarian aid with local, state, and federal officials, frequently in partnership with faith communities and like-minded secular organizations.
“Finally, we join together in prayer, entrusting these works of mercy to Our Lady of Guadalupe as a source of unity throughout the Americas. May each of us be blessed with a humanitarian heart that beats with fraternal compassion for those in need.”
The bishops endorsing this statement as the pastors of U.S. communities along the southwest border include:
- Cardinal Robert W. McElroy of San Diego
- Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller of San Antonio
- Bishop Peter Baldacchino of Las Cruces
- Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville*
- Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso*
- Bishop Michael J. Sis of San Angelo
- Bishop James A. Tamayo of Laredo
- Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger of Tucson
*Bishop Flores also currently serves as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Doctrine; Bishop Seitz also currently serves as chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration.
May 10, 2023
Bishop Perry to Serve as Chairman of Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism
WASHINGTON — Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has appointed Bishop Joseph N. Perry, auxiliary bishop of Chicago, to serve as the next chairman of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism. Bishop Perry succeeds Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre of Louisville who has served two terms as chairman.
The Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism was created in 2017
by then-Conference president, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo to address the sin of racism and the urgent need to come together to find solutions. The committee was formed upon the unanimous recommendation of the USCCB’s Executive Committee, and in consultation with members of the USCCB’s Committee on Priorities and Plans. The Ad Hoc Committee chairman is appointed by the president of the Conference in consultation with the USCCB’s Executive Committee.
Cardinal DiNadro appointed Bishop George V. Murry, SJ as the committee’s first chairman, and Archbishop Fabre was appointed chairman in 2018
when he was bishop of Houma-Thibodaux. He was named Archbishop of Louisville in March 2022 and recently requested that a new chair be named. Read more about the work of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism here
May 8, 2023
Migration Chairman Urges Representatives to Oppose Immigration Bill
WASHINGTON — As the U.S. House of Representatives prepares to vote on H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act of 2023, Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, sent a letter urging members of Congress to oppose the bill and “to support the drafting of bipartisan legislation that is more in keeping with our nation’s rich tradition of welcome.”
Bishop Seitz expressed concern that the bill would fundamentally weaken the decades-long commitment to humanitarian protection that the United States has demonstrated. He cited provisions that “would endanger unaccompanied children and inflict harm on other vulnerable persons, decimate access to asylum, mandate damaging detention and removal practices, restrict access to legal employment, limit—and potentially eliminate—federal partnerships with faith-based and other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), undermine the rule of law, and more.”
“We do not question the good intentions of lawmakers who seek to enact legislation that would secure our nation’s borders. Indeed, we join in the call to enact effective and humane border management as part of a framework of comprehensive immigration reforms,” he wrote before adding, moreover, that the bishops “do not discount the challenges at our border with Mexico, nor the right of nations to maintain their borders.”
“However,” Bishop Seitz continued, quoting Pope John Paul II, “our faith also compels us to be ‘vigilant advocate[s], defending against any unjust restriction [on] the natural right of individual persons to move freely within their own nation and from one nation to another’ and to call attention ‘to the rights of migrants and their families and to respect for their human dignity, even in cases of non-legal immigration.’”
While acknowledging that there may be several provisions within H.R. 2 that members support, Bishop Seitz stated that “passage, on the whole, is beyond justification” because of the harmful measures it contains.
The letter describes many of those provisions in detail and may be read in its entirety here
May 2, 2023
National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Mariners and People of the Sea
WASHINGTON — The National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Mariners and People of the Sea will be observed on May 22. 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 day with prayer for seafarers.
To commemorate National Maritime Day, Bishop Cahill will celebrate the 12:10 p.m. Mass on Saturday, May 20, in the crypt church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. 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 priests to remember seafarers in their homilies, special petitions during Mass, and highlighting other maritime events. For Masses being celebrated on May 22, Bishop Cahill is encouraging the use of the text for the Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of the Sea.
In a message on World Fisheries Day in 2022, Cardinal Michael Czerny, S.J., prefect of the Holy See’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development stated: “The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that everything is connected and that we are in the same boat. It is necessary to join our efforts to create a new social conscience and innovative form of solidarity in which no one is left behind. Pope Francis invites us to ‘bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. […] All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements, and talents [...].’”
Each day, chaplains and volunteers support and care for all the people of the Sea, as well as their families. Bishop Cahill had the opportunity to visit and tour the Stella Maris Seafarer Center in Baltimore, as well as the Port of Baltimore in November 2022 in support of the chaplains, the port director, volunteers, and the seafarer’s spiritual needs. He reflected on his pastoral visit saying, “Our port ministers inspire all of us with their dedication and love for our seafarers and families. This especially was strong for me as I heard the care and love that our chaplains showed for some seafarers who were stranded at sea, or those who recently died.”
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 1, 2023
Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, 75, from the Office of Bishop of Providence. Bishop Richard G. Henning, up until now coadjutor bishop of the same diocese, will succeed him as bishop of Providence.
The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington, D.C. on May 1, 2023, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop Henning’s biography may be found here
The Diocese of Providence is comprised of 1,085 square miles in the State of Rhode Island and has a total population of 1,097,379 of which 603,558 are Catholic.
April 28, 2023
Pro-Life Chairman Responds to Vote on Equal Rights Amendment
WASHINGTON — On Thursday, the U.S. Senate declined to advance a resolution asserting that the “Equal Rights Amendment” has been ratified as a new amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
“The Catholic faith teaches that women and men are created with equal dignity, and we support that being reflected in law,” explained Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities. “The proposed ‘Equal Rights Amendment,’ however, would likely create a sweeping new nationwide right to abortion at any stage, at taxpayer expense, and eliminate even modest protections for women’s health and the lives of preborn children. It could also pose grave problems for women’s privacy and athletic and other opportunities, and negatively impact religious freedom. I am grateful that the Senate did not advance this proposal that in fact expired decades ago, and I hope that Congress will focus on meaningful support for women and families in need.”
Bishop Burbidge was joined by other chairmen of USCCB committees in a letter to Congress this past February where they voiced their opposition to the resolution: Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, Archbishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Robert E. Barron of Winona-Rochester, chairman of the Committee for Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth. The letter and backgrounder sent to Congress may be read here
April 25, 2023
Annual Study on Ordination Class Released
WASHINGTON — On April 30, the Catholic Church will mark the 60th annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Celebrated on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, the World Day of Prayer for Vocations is often referred to as “Good Shepherd Sunday” in reference to the Gospel reading
that teaches that Jesus is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep.
Bishop Earl A. Boyea of Lansing, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV) stated, “Surveys of recently professed men and women religious and men ordained to the priesthood show that families and encouragement from the parish priests alongside Catholic schools provide optimal environments for a vocational call to grow. On this day, let us thank God for continuing to call men and women to serve him and his Church as priests, religious, and consecrated persons. We pray that all families, teachers, and priests will continue their essential work of instilling the faith and love of Jesus in our children.”
In conjunction with the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, the CCLV committee released the Ordination Class of 2023 Study
conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University. Out of the 458 men scheduled to be ordained this year, 334 completed the survey for an overall response rate of 73%. These ordinands represent 116 U.S. dioceses and eparchies and 24 distinct religious institutes.
A few of the major findings of the report are:
Most of the ordinands received formation at a seminary in the South and the Midwest (31% for both) followed by the Northeast (17%), West (13%), and abroad (7%).
Responding ordinands indicate they first considered priesthood during elementary school (32%), followed by high school (26%). Religious ordinands are more likely than diocesan ordinands to first consider a vocation in college (23%) and graduate school (20%).
Hispanics/Latinos constituted 16% of the responding ordinands. Between 2006 and 2023, the share of Hispanics/Latinos averaged 15% and ranged between 11% and 22%.
Ordinands who attended Catholic elementary school constituted 43% of all respondents, and 34% attended a Catholic high school.
Most respondents (93%) were baptized Catholic as an infant and raised primarily by their biological parents (96%) and a married couple living together (92%).
Over half of respondents (63%) cited their parish priest as an encouraging influence on their vocation.
April 25, 2023
Pope Accepts Resignation of Bishop Gainer of Diocese of Harrisburg
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Ronald W. Gainer, 75, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Harrisburg, and has appointed Bishop Timothy C. Senior, auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia, as his successor.
The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington, D.C. on April 25, 2023, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
The Diocese of Harrisburg is comprised of 7,660 square miles in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and has a total population of 2,334,337, of which 206,072 are Catholic.
April 22, 2023
Pro-Life Chairman Addresses Supreme Court Ruling on Abortion Drug
WASHINGTON — On Friday, the Supreme Court of the United States temporarily blocked lower court rulings that would have suspended the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) loosening of health and safety standards for the abortion drug mifepristone. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement in response:
“The interim order by the Supreme Court is a tremendous disappointment, both for the loss of innocent preborn life from chemical abortion, and for the danger that chemical abortion poses to women. It is wrong to allow the FDA’s greatly diminished health and safety standards for mifepristone to remain in place. The FDA acted unlawfully when it first approved, and later relaxed safety requirements for prescribing and dispensing the drug. It is our hope and prayer that the Court will eventually overturn the FDA's improper actions.
“Abortion is never the answer for a difficult or unintended pregnancy, as it always ends one life and risks another. Meaningful compassion for both mothers and children is needed. We will continue to advocate for policies that put women and families first, serve women in need, and pray for the day when ending the lives of preborn children will become unthinkable.”
April 20, 2023
Statement on Ongoing Religious Persecution in Nicaragua
WASHINGTON — In another series of actions that have been denounced by the international community, the Nicaraguan Government has continued to target the Catholic Church in Nicaragua with abusive and obstructive surveillance, bans of public expressions of faith, and even expulsions from the country. Some of these actions were reported to have taken place during Holy Week and the beginning of Easter. Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued the following statement regarding the ongoing violations of religious freedom in Nicaragua:
“As we continue to celebrate the joy of Christ’s resurrection during this Easter season, I reaffirm our unwavering solidarity with the bishops, priests, faithful, and all men and women of good will in Nicaragua, who are suffering an intensification of the Nicaraguan Government’s religious persecution. In addition to a ban on traditional Holy Week outdoor celebrations and processions, the faithful have endured consistent police harassment in churches throughout Nicaragua, confiscation of property, as well as the expulsion from the country of two women religious and a priest, the latter for calling for the release of Bishop Rolando Alvarez, who languishes in prison after being unjustly sentenced to twenty-six years in prison and stripped of his citizenship in February.
“Despite these extreme hardships, the Nicaraguan faithful, in union with their bishops and priests, have resiliently borne witness to the power of Christ’s resurrection, as they attended Easter celebrations in record numbers. I call on the United States Government and the entire international community to continue to work for the release of Bishop Alvarez, and for a restoration of peace and the rule of law in Nicaragua. May our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of the United States and Nicaragua, embrace her children during this difficult time, and illumine them with the light of the risen Christ.”
April 20, 2023
Response to Senate Vote on Veterans Affairs Abortion Rule
WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate voted 51 to 48 to reject a Congressional Review Act resolution that would overturn an interim final rule from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) which added abortion to veterans’ and dependents’ health benefits packages. In response, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following joint statement:
“It is a gross failure that the Senate did not pass this lifesaving resolution. Our heroes and their dependents deserve quality health care services, instead of policies to end the lives of their own children. Many veterans face tremendous life challenges, especially as the active duty experience too often involves significant mental health traumas and can be followed by a difficult readjustment to civilian life. It is inhumane to provide fully taxpayer-funded abortion (which itself can increase mental health risks) as a so-called solution to pregnancy, instead of resources needed to welcome a child and flourish as a family. We continue to urge Congress
to prevent implementation of this harmful policy, and to provide instead real support for our military veterans and their loved ones.”
The USCCB, together with the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, submitted a joint regulatory comment letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs when the rule was announced in September, which can be read here
A joint letter to Congress from Archbishop Broglio and Bishop Burbidge on the Department of Defense’s and the VA’s abortion policies can be read here
April 14, 2023
Pro-Life Chairman on Chemical Abortion Drug Ruling by Circuit Court
WASHINGTON — On Wednesday night, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit partially upheld a recent district court ruling to reverse preliminarily the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s loosening of access and safety standards for the abortion drug, mifepristone. The circuit court overturned, however, part of the lower court’s ruling, which would have suspended the approval of mifepristone to be on the market while the case continues to proceed in the courts. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, provided the following statement in response:
“The 5th Circuit was right to recognize the dangers of unrestricted chemical abortion to women’s health and safety. We are grateful for the restoration of protections, and any limitation on the use of these lethal drugs. We hope that the final ruling will result in removal of chemical abortion from the market altogether. Abortion is never the right choice for a difficult or unexpected pregnancy, as it always ends one life and risks another. We pray ardently that our nation will authentically support and accompany women, so that ending the lives of their children alone in their own homes will be unthinkable.”
April 12, 2023
Bishops Release document on 2021-2024 Synod
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) have issued the North American Final Document for the Continental Stage of the 2021-2024 Synod: For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.
Begun in late 2022, the Continental Stage of the Synod was the second stage of the three-year process initiated by Pope Francis in October 2021. For the North American Continental Stage, the United States and Canada held twelve virtual assemblies: seven in English, three in Spanish, and two in French between December 2022 and January 2023. In total, 931 delegates and 146 bishops from Canada and the United States were appointed to participate in one of these twelve assemblies to share their reflections and responses to the Document for the Continental Stage (DCS)
issued by the Holy See’s General Secretariat of the Synod in October 2022. Those reflections were brought together by the North American Writing Team to create the Final Document
Bishop Raymond Poisson of Saint-Jérôme-Mont-Laurier, president of the CCCB welcomed the release of the Final Document and expressed gratitude at the conclusion of the Continental Stage, “We wish to extend our most profound gratitude to all those who participated in the North American Continental Stage. In a special way, we would like to thank all those throughout the continent who kept the process and those involved in prayer over these last five months. The Holy Spirit is truly at work in the Church in North America and we hope this Final Document will serve to strengthen our communion as sisters and brothers in Christ.”
The Final Document from North America, along with the contributions of the six other Continental Assemblies, will form the basis of the Instrumentum Laboris to be released by the General Secretariat of the Synod in June 2023.
Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine, who has been shepherding the synodal process in the United States, commented on the significance of the Final Document, “This document is an important step in our commitment to become a more synodal Church. While we await the next steps of the formal process to be carried out in Rome, we have an opportunity to make synodality truly present among us here in North America. We invite you to discern prayerfully the joys, laments, and tensions raised in this Final Document and discern together how you can make present the first fruits of synodality in your local community.”
Begun in October 2021, the “Synod on Synodality” was recently extended by Pope Francis through October 2024, to allow for more time for reflection and discernment from both the local and universal Church. The Universal Phase of the Synod will be held in two parts, the first in October 2023 and the second a year later in October 2024.
The North American Final Document for the Continental Stage
is available in English
, and French
. More information about the North American Continental Stage of the 2021-2024 Synod – For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission
, as well as additional resources can be found at usccb.org/synod
April 4, 2023
Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Archbishop Michael Jackels of Dubuque
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Michael O. Jackels from the Office of Archbishop of Dubuque for health reasons and has appointed Most Reverend Richard E. Pates, bishop emeritus of Des Moines, as the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Dubuque.
The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington, D.C. on April 4, 2023 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
The Archdiocese of Dubuque is comprised of 17,403 square miles in the State of Iowa and has a total population of 1,017,175 of which 185,260 are Catholic.
March 29, 2023
USCCB President Asks Faithful to Pray for Pope Francis’ Recovery
WASHINGTON — On Wednesday afternoon March 29, Pope Francis was taken to Gemelli Hospital in Rome. Reports followed that Pope Francis has a respiratory infection and will remain in the hospital for several days. Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement regarding the Holy Father:
“As Pope Francis recovers in the hospital from a respiratory infection, we pray intensely for our Holy Father. On behalf of my brother bishops, I invite all the faithful to pause, if possible before the Blessed Sacrament, and pray for his speedy recovery. May our dear shepherd and all those in need of healing experience the comfort of Christ.”
March 30, 2023USCCB Statement on “Doctrine of Discovery”
WASHINGTON — The Dicasteries for Culture and Education and for Promoting Integral Human Development released today a Joint Statement
on the “Doctrine of Discovery.” The matter at issue involves documents (papal bulls) issued in the fifteenth century with regard to European exploration of land beyond continental Europe. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City and secretary for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has issued a statement in response to today’s Joint Statement by the dicasteries:
We are grateful to the Dicasteries for Culture and Education and for Promoting Integral Human Development for their Joint Statement on the “Doctrine of Discovery.” The Joint Statement is yet another step in expressing concern and pastoral solicitude for Native and Indigenous peoples who have experienced tremendous suffering because of the legacy of a colonizing mentality. We welcome the statement’s renewed repudiation and condemnation of the violence and injustices committed against Native and Indigenous peoples, as well as the Church’s ongoing support for their dignity and human rights. In the centuries that followed the papal bulls at issue, many popes boldly proclaimed the God-given rights owed to all peoples, but we must also confront those moments when individual Christians lacked such boldness or clarity.
As the Joint Statement points out, there were times when Christians, including ecclesiastical authorities, failed to fully oppose destructive and immoral actions of the competing colonial powers. In this regard, we too express deep sorrow and regret. In recent years here in the United States, dialogues
among Catholic bishops and Tribal leaders have illuminated more aspects of this painful history, and, with humility, we wish to offer our continuing solidarity and support, as well as a further willingness to listen and learn. We will continue to support policies that protect the poor and vulnerable, and that will offer relief to Native and Indigenous families who are struggling. Through Catholic charitable, health, and educational initiatives, we will continue to offer service to all people, with particular concern for those Native and Indigenous communities where the Church has been present. We support the ongoing efforts of various Catholic communities to make archival and historical records more easily accessible.
Finally, as the Joint Statement indicates, the centuries of history at issue are complex, and the term “doctrine of discovery” has taken on various legal and political interpretations that merit further historical study and understanding. The experiences and histories of different countries and different Native and Indigenous peoples are distinct, and deserve further inquiry, although there are also opportunities for meaningful common understandings as well. As a Church, it is important for us to fully understand how our words have been used and misused to justify acts that would be abhorrent to Jesus Christ. We hope for more dialogue among Indigenous and Catholic scholars to promote greater and wider understanding of this difficult history. To that end, the USCCB and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops are exploring how they may support an academic symposium. This initiative has also received encouragement from the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and the Dicastery for Education and Culture.
May God bless with healing all those who continue to suffer the legacy of colonialism, and may we all offer true aid and support. By God’s grace, may we never return to the way of colonization, but rather walk together in the way of peace.
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.”