US Bishops Communications

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Monsignor Alfred A. Schlert as Bishop of Allentown, Pennsylvania. Monsignor Schlert is currently the diocesan administrator of the diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, June 27, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop-elect Schlert was born in Easton, Pennsylvania July 24, 1961. He prepared for the priesthood at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary near Philadelphia and the Pontifical Roman Seminary and St. John Lateran University in Rome. He received a Licentiate in Canon Law from the Pontifical Lateran University in 1992.  He was ordained a priest on September 19, 1987. 

Assignments after ordination included: assistant pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Allentown; professor at his alma mater Notre Dame High School; and Catholic chaplain at Lehigh University. He was named Vice Chancellor and Secretary to the bishop in 1997; and was named vicar general of the diocese of Allentown in 1998. 

Pope St. John Paul II named him Chaplain to His Holiness with the title of Monsignor in 1999. Pope Benedict named him a Prelate of Honor, the second highest rank of Monsignor, in 2005.

While still serving as Vicar General, he was still pastor of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Church in Hellertown, 2008-2010, when he resumed full time service as vicar general. 

In addition, Bishop-elect Schlert is Vice President of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and a member of its Administrative Board.  He also served on the diocesan Council of Priests, the diocesan Financial Council, and the diocesan College of Consultors. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees for DeSales University.  

The Diocese of Allentown has been a vacant see since December, 2016 when it was announced Pope Francis had transferred Allentown Bishop John O. Barres to serve as Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Center in Long Island, New York.

The Diocese comprises 2,773 square miles and it has total population of approximately 1,161,932 people of which 272,300, or 23 percent, are Catholic.

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Keywords: bishop appointment, Pope Francis, Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Monsignor Alfred A. Schlert , Diocese of Allentown, Bishop John O. Barres, vacant see.

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Posted: June 27, 2017, 6:05 am

WASHINGTON—Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the Administration's Executive Order 13870 announcing an emergency stay partially overturning preliminary injunctions that were put in place by federal courts in Maryland and Hawaii and upheld by the Fourth Circuit and the Ninth Circuit.The Supreme Court decision narrows refugee resettlement and travel from six Muslim-majority countries to individuals who can prove a "bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States," until the Supreme Court can rule on the legality of the ban. 

Bishop Vasquez, Bishop of Austin and Chair of the of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration issued the following statement:"

Today's decision will have human consequences. While my brother bishops and I appreciate the Court's ruling to allow individuals who have a 'bona fide relationship' with a person or entity in the United States to continue arriving,we are deeply concerned about the welfare of the many other vulnerable populations who will now not be allowed to arrive and seek protection during the proscribed pause, most notably certain individuals fleeing religious persecution and unaccompanied refugee children.

Going forward, as the Administration begins its review of the refugee program, we urge a transparent, efficient and timely review. We ask that such review include civil society and refugee service providers as well as national security and immigration experts. We believe it is vital to utilize the full expertise of the existing resettlement program when conducting such an important evaluation."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Vasquez, U.S. Supreme Court, federal court, emergency stay, refugees, family separation, values, vulnerable populations.

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Posted: June 26, 2017, 6:34 pm

WASHINGTON—The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) today has released its score on the Senate health care bill. The score could impact how the Senate votes on the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. As he is analyzing the full report, Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Domestic Justice and Humane Development Committee, has issued the following initial statement:"

Today, the Congressional Budget Office released a report on the 'discussion draft' of the Senate health care proposal, indicating that millions of people could lose their health insurance over time.This moment cannot pass without comment.As the USCCB has consistently said, the loss of affordable access for millions of people is simply unacceptable.These are real families who need and deserve health care.We pray that the Senate will work in an open and unified way to keep the good aspects of current health care proposals, to add missing elements where needed, and to not place our sisters and brothers who struggle every day into so great a peril on so basic a right."

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MEDIA CONTACT
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Posted: June 26, 2017, 6:25 pm

WASHINGTON– Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in the case of Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, in which the Court held that the exclusion of churches from an otherwise available public benefit violates the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Trinity Lutheran's preschool sought to participate in the State of Missouri's scrap tire program, which would have allowed it to repave its playground with recycled tire pieces in order to provide a softer and safer playground surface for children.

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, offered the following statement in response:

"Today's decision is a landmark victory for religious freedom. The Supreme Court rightly recognized that people of faith should not be discriminated against when it comes to government programs that should be made available to all. The decision also marks a step in the right direction toward limiting the effects of the pernicious Blaine Amendments that are in place in many states around the country. Blaine Amendments to state constitutions, most of which date back to the nineteenth century, stem from a time of intense anti-Catholic bigotry in many parts of the country. We are glad to see the Supreme Court move toward limiting these harmful provisions, which have restricted the freedom of faith-based organizations and people of faith to serve their communities."

The amicus curiae brief that USCCB submitted in this case: Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, U.S. Supreme Court, Archbishop William E. Lori, religious freedom, religious liberty, Trinity Lutheran, Blaine Amendments.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200
Posted: June 26, 2017, 4:03 pm

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Auxiliary Bishop, Milan Lach, SJ, currently Auxiliary Bishop of Prešov, Slovakia, as Apostolic Administrator of the sede vacante (vacant see) of the Epharcy of Parma for the Ruthenians. The Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma is the Catholic eparchy governing most Ruthenian Catholics in the mid-western United States. It is headquartered in Parma, Ohio.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, June 24, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Pope Francis relieved His Excellency William Skurla, Archbishop of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Pittsburgh, from the pastoral governance of the Eparchy of Parma.

Bishop Lach, 43, was born in Kežmarok, Slovakia in 1973. In 1992, he was admitted to the Greek-catholic seminary in Prešov and in 1995 entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in Trnava, Slovakia. He continued his studies at Trnava University and also studied at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, where he obtained a master's degree from the Eastern Church Sciences and later, a doctorate degree. In 2009, he began working at the Center of Spirituality East – West of Michal Lacko in Košice, Slovakia.

He was ordained a deacon of the Society of Jesus on November 11, 2000 and was ordained a priest on July 1, 2001. He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Prešov and titular bishop of Ostracine on April 19, 2013. He was ordained as auxiliary bishop of Prešov and titular bishop of Ostracine, June 1, 2013.

The Eparchy of Parma for the Ruthenians was erected February 21, 1969. Currently, the Eparchy of Parma encompasses the geographical area of Ohio (except the eastern border counties), Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. Byzantine Catholics living in those states are members of the local Church of Parma.

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Keywords: bishop appointment, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Auxiliary Bishop Milan Lach, SJ, Eparchy of Parma for the Ruthenians, Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma, Ruthenian Catholics, auxiliary, Slovakia, Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh.


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MEDIA CONTACT:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Posted: June 24, 2017, 11:50 am

WASHINGTON—After the U.S. Senate introduced a "discussion draft" of its health care bill, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, highlighted certain positive elements in the bill, but reiterated the need for Senators to remove unacceptable flaws in the legislation that harm those most in need.

The full statement follows:

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is examining very closely the new Senate "discussion draft" introduced today and will provide more detailed comments soon.

It must be made clear now, however, that this proposal retains many of the fundamental defects of the House of Representatives-passed health care legislation, and even further compounds them. It is precisely the detrimental impact on the poor and vulnerable that makes the Senate draft unacceptable as written.

An acceptable health care system provides access to all, regardless of their means, and at all stages of life. Such a health care system must protect conscience rights, as well as extend to immigrant families.

The Bishops value language in the legislation recognizing that abortion is not health care by attempting to prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortion or plans that cover it. While questions remain about the provisions and whether they will remain in the final bill, if retained and effective this would correct a flaw in the Affordable Care Act by fully applying the longstanding and widely-supported Hyde amendment protections. Full Hyde protections are essential and must be included in the final bill. 

However, the discussion draft introduced today retains a "per-capita cap" on Medicaid funding, and then connects yearly increases to formulas that would provide even less to those in need than the House bill. These changes will wreak havoc on low-income families and struggling communities, and must not be supported.

Efforts by the Senate to provide stronger support for those living at and above the poverty line are a positive step forward. However, as is, the discussion draft stands to cause disturbing damage to the human beings served by the social safety net.

The USCCB has also stressed the need to improve real access for immigrants in health care policy, and this bill does not move the nation toward this goal. It fails, as well, to put in place conscience protections for all those involved in the health care system, protections which are needed more than ever in our country's health policy. The Senate should now act to make changes to the draft that will protect those persons on the peripheries of our health care system. We look forward to the process to improve this discussion draft that surely must take place in the days ahead.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, American Health Care Act (AHCA), respect for life, human dignity, health care, affordability, abortion, poverty, immigration, conscience.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Posted: June 22, 2017, 8:57 pm

WASHINGTON—The President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston as well as the Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, have sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, John F. Kelly, urging him to defer deportation of those persons to Iraq, particularly Christians and Chaldean Catholics, who pose no threat to U.S. public safety.

The letter has been sent to specifically address the pending deportation of dozens of Christian and Chaldean Catholics in Michigan and Tennessee.

While the bishops recognize that some of the individuals may have orders of deportation because they have committed criminal offenses in the past, they are gravely concerned that they would then be sent back to a country where religious persecution and persecution against ethnic minorities remains an ongoing threat. The letter states that "the fact that they have a significant risk in experiencing persecution, and even possible bodily harm because of their faith is, from our moral perspective, an important factor to be weighted in the calculation to deport." 

The full letter to Secretary Kelly can be found here:  https://justiceforimmigrants.org/uncategorized/1287/

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Secretary John F. Kelly, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez , Bishop Oscar Cantú, Committee on Migration, Committee on International Peace and Justice, Christians, Chaldean Catholics, deportation, legal refuge, refugees, religious persecution, ethnic minorities.

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Media Contact
202-541-3200
Posted: June 20, 2017, 4:19 pm

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, Bishop of Springfield, Massachusetts and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs have issued a joint statement in response to Sunday's attack on worshipers outside a mosque in London.

The attack occurred after a van plowed into a crowd existing a mosque after Ramadan prayers near Finsbury Park located in north London.

The full joint statement follows:

"We would like to express our deepest condolences to the people of London who once again woke to the news of a terrorist attack.  Our prayers extend especially to the community of Muslims from Finsbury Park Mosque in North London whom it appears were the intended victims of the attacker. 

Once again, in this now sad reality of regular acts of terror that are meant to destroy life and to crush hope, we remember that light has overcome darkness once and for all. Let us be united in hope and with one voice reject utterly all forms of terror and violence that seek to dissuade us from the pursuit of a culture of life and solidarity. 

The Bishops of the United States unequivocally reject such acts of violence and plead with all people to cease from committing or plotting to commit further acts.  

In this dark hour for the people of London, especially the Muslim community, please know that we stand in solidarity with you, mourning for the loss of life and praying for the victims, their families, and the entire nation." 

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, mosque attack, Muslim community, Finsbury Park, London, terror attack, culture of life, solidarity, violent extremism, peace.

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Media Contact:
202-541-3200
Posted: June 20, 2017, 1:03 pm

WASHINGTON—President Donald J. Trump recently announced modifications to existing U.S. policy towards Cuba that will impact travel by U.S. citizens to the island, as well as U.S. commercial relations with Cuban government-controlled entities.

In the following statement, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, expressed regret at the scaling-back of U.S. engagement with Cuba, while also appreciating the President´s concern for the human rights situation on the island.

Full statement follows:

"On the eve of my pastoral visit to Cuba at the invitation of the Cuban bishops, I was saddened to learn that President Trump scaled-back our country's bilateral engagement with the island nation. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in solidarity with the bishops of Cuba and the Holy See, has long held that human rights and religious freedom will be strengthened through more engagement between the Cuban and American people, not less. For decades, we have called for the U.S. travel ban and embargo against Cuba to be lifted.

In my capacity as international chairman, I urge that as the implementing regulations are drafted the President consider the ramifications for many ordinary Cubans who have taken advantage of new opportunities to support their families. The President is correct; serious human rights concerns persist. The Cuban government must be urged to respect religious freedoms and to extend greater social, political and economic rights to all Cubans. The fruits of investment in Cuba should benefit individuals and families, and not the security forces.

Pope Francis helped our nations to come together in dialogue. It is important to continue to promote dialogue and encounter between our neighboring nations and peoples."

For more information about the Committee on International Justice and Peace regarding Cuba, please visit the following page on the USCCB website: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/latin-america-caribbean/cuba/

Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, President Donald Trump, Bishop Oscar Cantú, Cuba policy, bilateral engagement, Pope Francis, Holy See, religious freedom, human rights, economic rights, investment, security, dialogue, encounter.

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Judy Keane
202-541-3200
Posted: June 19, 2017, 2:14 pm

WASHINGTON—World Refugee Day 2017 will take place June 20th with celebrations noting the contributions of refugees occurring locally, nationally and globally. The international day provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the global refugee situation and the success of resettled refugees.  The world is experiencing the largest forced migration crisis since World War II with more than 65 million people forcibly displaced from their homes, including 21 million refugees worldwide.

"World Refugee Day is a day where we highlight the achievements of refugees.  Refugees are like all people, unique children of God," said Bill Canny, Executive Director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Migration and Refugee Services. "We hope to see this year's celebration of World Refugee Day create greater awareness and appreciation on both the community and national level."

As part of the 2017 World Refugee Day celebration, the USCCB will be hosting a World Refugee Day Kick – Off event at the National Press Club on Monday, June 19th, featuring Bishop Mario Dorsonville of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC and Admiral Garry Hall Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for International Organizations and Alliances, ‎National Security Council. Additionally there will be two panels, one which focuses on the domestic aspects of refugee resettlement and the other which highlights the international protection needs of refugees.

This year will be the 17th year that the United Nations has officially recognized June 20th as World Refugee Day.  Many nations around the globe celebrated World Refugee Day prior to 2001, with one of the most widespread events being Africa Refugee Day, which had been celebrated on June 20.

Educational materials and other resources for World Refugee Day are available for download at https://justiceforimmigrants.org/take-action/world-refugee-day/. For more information on events in your area or to submit an event, email USCCB/MRS Communications Manager Mark Priceman (mpriceman@usccb.org).

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe Vazquez, Committee on Migration, refugees, migrants, immigrants, human trafficking, National Migration Week

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MEDIA CONTACT:
O: 202-541-3200
Posted: June 19, 2017, 12:11 pm

INDIANAPOLIS—Recognizing the continued urgency for comprehensive immigration reform, a humane refugee policy and a safe border, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has extended the bishops Working Group on Immigration.

Cardinal DiNardo made the announcement on the second day of the 2017 Spring General Assembly in Indianapolis.

The working group is chaired by Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles. Other members of the working group include the chairmen of the following USCCB committees: Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the Committee on Migration; Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Social Development; Auxiliary Bishop Nelson J. Pérez of Rockville Centre, New York, chairman of the Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs; Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Washington, chairman of the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants; and Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace.

Activities carried out by member-chairmen of the working group included statements responding to executive orders on interior enforcement, sanctuary cities, and refugee resettlement; and on legislation including the BRIDGE Act, which would provide temporary relief from deportation to youth previously protected through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The group also facilitates diocesan resources such as policy reports, prayers, educational materials, action alerts and pastoral accompaniment, and has held frequent communications among the members to discuss concerns and priorities. They also share episcopal guidance with outside partners such as Catholic Relief Services; Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.; Center for Migration Studies; and Catholic Charities USA.

Archbishop Gomez and Bishop Vásquez presented an oral report to the full body of bishops on the activities of the working group on June 14.

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, June meeting, Spring General Assembly, Indianapolis, Committee on Migration, U.S. Bishops' Working Group on Migration, migration, migrants, refugees, Strangers No Longer, asylum, protection, human dignity, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Norma Montenegro Flynn
media-relations@usccb.org

Posted: June 15, 2017, 2:59 pm

INDIANAPOLIS—"Persecution has a face," said Bishop Oscar Cantú, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, as he presented an oral report to the full body of bishops on the situation of religious discrimination and persecution in Asia and the Middle East.

The oral report is based on his participation last year at the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conference Plenary Assembly in Sri Lanka, where he represented the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). During the year, Bishop Cantu also took part in other solidarity visits to India, Iraq and the Holy Land, where he met with bishops, refugees and persecuted people.

"Tragically, religious persecution and harassment is not limited to one or two regions in our world," said Bishop Cantú. Citing statistics from the Pew Research Center, Cantu noted that "Christians are harassed in the largest number of countries, 128, followed closely by Muslims in 125 countries. This is partly due to the fact that Christians and Muslims are the largest religious groups in the world."

Harassment consists of both social hostilities and government restrictions. It can include physical assaults, arrests and detentions, desecration of holy sites, and discrimination in housing, employment and educational opportunities.  In Asia, Bishop Cantú learned about concerns in countries like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Malaysia.

"At times, it rises to persecution and genocide," Bishop Cantú said. Regarding the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, particularly in Syria and Iraq, he called it "a crisis within a crisis" and argued that "to focus attention on the plight of Christians is not to ignore the suffering of others." A focus on Christians and other minorities strengthens "the entire fabric of society to protect the rights of all" and is "inclusive" of a concern for "both minorities and majorities, both Christians and Muslims."

Bishop Cantú highlighted the efforts of the local Church in Iraq to reach out to all in need in partnership with Caritas Iraq and Catholic Relief Services (CRS). He also pointed to the importance for the U.S. Church in following the lead of the local Churches enduring persecution in expressing solidarity, particularly in Syria and Iraq.

Even in the midst of persecution there are moments of joy. He contrasted the image of "a tent camp for Christians" covering "the Church grounds across the street from our hotel" in Erbil with attending "the ordination of three deacons in Erbil" where "the Cathedral erupted [in joy] when a displaced man from Mosul was ordained."

In his report, Bishop Cantú also highlighted the following recommendations for the U.S. government that include:

  •  Providing assistance to refugees and displaced persons, including through faith-based organizations like CRS:
  • Assisting in the resettlement of refugees, including victims of genocidal actions and other vulnerable families.
  • Encouraging central and regional governments in Iraq and Syria to strengthen the rule of law based on citizenship, to insure the protection of vulnerable minorities, and to improve policing, judiciary and local governance with the help of U.S. assistance.

He also invited the Church and Catholics in the United States, who wish to help, to:  

  • Pray for those suffering from persecution.
  • Become aware of the Christian presence in the Middle East and of an accurate understanding of Islam with openness to dialogue with Muslim neighbors. Resources are available at: www.usccb.org/middle-east-christians.
  • Donate to non-profit Catholic organizations such as CRS, Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), Aid to the Church in Need and the Knights of Columbus.
  • Advocate with the U.S. government for assistance and the dignity of refugees.

Bishop Cantú also shared with the bishops the research study In Response to Persecution, conducted by the University of Notre Dame's Center for Ethics and Culture, the Religious Freedom Institute, and Georgetown University's Religious Freedom Research Project. The study is available at: http://ucs.nd.edu/assets/233538/ucs_report_2017_web.pdf.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Oscar Cantú, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Christians, religious persecution, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Malaysia, Syria, Iraq, Caritas Iraq, Catholic Relief Services, CRS, CNEWA, Aid to the Church in Need, Knights of Columbus, genocide, Muslims, resettlement, U.S. government

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Norma Montenegro Flynn
media-relations@usccb.org

Posted: June 15, 2017, 11:35 am

INDIANAPOLIS—The U.S. bishops voted on and approved a number of items including, establishing a permanent Committee for Religious Liberty and the revised Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities, during their Spring General Assembly in Indianapolis, June 14.

The bishops voted to approve establishing a permanent Committee for Religious Liberty. The proposal received a vote of 132 votes in favor, 53 votes against and 5 abstaining. The USCCB's Committee for Religious Liberty seeks to strengthen and sustain religious freedom by assisting the U.S. bishops, individually and collectively, to teach about religious freedom to the faithful and the broader public, and to promote and defend religious freedom in law and policy.

The revised Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities were approved by a 180-1-0 vote. The document is a revision of an earlier version, last updated in 1995. These new Guidelines take into account medical and technological innovations of recent years, and emphasize the importance of the inclusion of all members of parishes. While not legislative in nature, they will be a helpful resource for dioceses and parishes. This vote required support of the majority of the Latin Church members of the USCCB.

The bishops also voted 178-3-0 in favor of a new translation of the Order of Blessing the Oil of Catechumens and of the Sick and of Consecrating the Chrism. This brief ritual is used each year at the Chrism Mass, which is celebrated during Holy Week in most dioceses. This vote also requires a two-thirds vote of the Latin Church members of the USCCB with subsequent confirmation by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

The Bendicional: Sexta Parte, a collection of blessings in Spanish for use in the United States, which will complement English texts already included in the Book of Blessings. The proposal received 171 votes in favor, 2 votes against and 2 abstaining, falling short of the required two-thirds vote of the Latin Church members of the USCCB. Therefore, the voting will be completed by mail ballot with the Latin Rite bishops who are not present. After passing, it also requires subsequent recognitio by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

The U.S. bishops' Spring General Assembly is livestreamed and available at: www.usccb.org/about/leadership/usccb-general-assembly/index.cfm.

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, June meeting, Spring General Assembly, Indianapolis, Ad-Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, Sacraments, persons with disabilities, Oil, Chrism, Bendicional

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MEDIA CONTACT
Norma Montenegro Flynn
media-relations@usccb.org

Posted: June 15, 2017, 11:29 am

INDIANAPOLIS—The chairmen of the U.S. Bishops' Working Group on Immigration, and the Committee on Migration, presented an oral report to the full body of bishops on the work done to advance collaboration in developing spiritual, pastoral and policy advocacy support for refugees and immigrants. The presentation took place at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Spring General Assembly in Indianapolis, June 14.

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, respectively, spoke about the origins, activities and continued collaboration of the working group, which was established following the November 2016 General Assembly.

"There was a desire to express solidarity with and pastoral concern for those at risk, but also a desire to avoid encouraging exaggerated fears," Archbishop Gomez said.

Other group members include: Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Social Development; Auxiliary Bishop Nelson J. Perez of Rockville Centre, New York, chairman of the Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs; Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Washington, chairman of the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants; and Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace.

Activities carried out by member-chairmen of the working group included statements responding to executive orders on interior enforcement, sanctuary cities, and refugee resettlement; and on pieces of legislation including the BRIDGE Act, which would provide temporary relief from deportation to youth previously protected through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The group has also facilitated diocesan resources such as policy reports, prayers, educational materials, action alerts and pastoral accompaniment, and has held frequent communications among the members to discuss concerns and priorities. They have also shared episcopal guidance with outside partners such as Catholic Relief Services; Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.; Center for Migration Studies; and Catholic Charities USA.

Although this oral report concludes the formal work of the Working Group on Immigration, the coalition of USCCB committees will continue collaborating as needed under the leadership of the Committee on Migration.

"In short, it is to convey a comprehensive vision for immigration reform, to paint a fuller picture of what justice means, and what mercy means, with respect to migrants and refugees in our country today," said Bishop Vásquez. "Our purpose will be to move beyond simple reaction to the various negative proposals we have seen lately—and expect to see for some time to come, albeit at a slower pace—and to proactively raise and advance the issues that we would prioritize."

Bishop Vasquez also highlighted the importance to seek initiatives based on the five principles of the 2003 pastoral letter Strangers No Longer, which states:

  • People have the right to find opportunities in their homeland
  • People have the right to migrate to support themselves and their families
  • Sovereign nations have the right to control their borders
  • Refugees and asylum seekers should be afforded protection
  • The human dignity and human rights of undocumented migrants should be respected

More information on the work of the USCCB's Committee on Migration, recent statements and other resources are available at: www.justiceforimmigrants.org.

The U.S. bishops' Spring General Assembly is livestreamed and available at: www.usccb.org/about/leadership/usccb-general-assembly/index.cfm.

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, June meeting, Spring General Assembly, Indianapolis, Committee on Migration, U.S. Bishops' Working Group on Migration, migration, migrants, refugees, Strangers No Longer, asylum, protection, human dignity

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Norma Montenegro Flynn
317-860-6534

Posted: June 14, 2017, 3:59 pm

INDIANAPOLIS — Four new members have been appointed to serve on the National Review Board (NRB) by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The NRB advises the bishops' committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, and the Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection at the USCCB.  The NRB was established by the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People, which the bishops adopted in 2002.

As Cardinal DiNardo said in a letter sent to all newly appointed members, "The National Review Board plays a vital role as a consultative body assisting me and the bishops in ensuring the complete implementation and accountability of the Charter… The whole Church, especially the laity, at both the diocesan and national levels, needs to be engaged in maintaining safe environments in the Church for children and young people."

The four new NRB members include those with expertise in communications, psychology and victim outreach, and the medical field and they are as follows:

Ms. Amanda Callanan, Director of Communications for the Claremont Institute, has occupied several positions in the communications field—including digital and broadcast development for The Heritage Foundation, public relations for Fortune 500 clients at Hill+Knowlton Strategies, corporate branding and strategy with a boutique agency in Baltimore, and direct-response marketing for the National Association of Corporate Directors' educational events and programs. She attended Loyola University in Maryland, is married and resides within the Archdiocese of Washington.

Ms. Suzanne Healy was the Victims Assistance Coordinator for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles from 2007 through 2016. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with experience in private practice and as a high school counselor. Healy also has 18 years of business management and strategic planning experience with AT&T Pacific Bell. Healy has a BS in Psychology and an MS in Counseling, M.F.C.C. option, with a Pupil Personnel Services Credential with Advanced Specializations in School Counseling and Child Welfare and Attendance Services, both from California State University at Los Angeles. Healy was an Executive Board Member of the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health Faith Based Advocacy Council, and a Committee Member for Los Angeles City Attorney Office Cyber Crime Prevention Symposium in Los Angeles from 2008 – 2016.  In 2016, Healy received the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Department of Health Affairs Excellence Award. She is married with two adult children and currently volunteers as a counselor.

Dr. Christopher McManus is the owner and President of CP & RP McManus, MD, Ltd where McManus practices Internal Medicine in the Diocese of Arlington, VA. He is active in the Northern Virginia Guild of the Catholic Medical Association and is a charter member and current leader for Privia Medical Group.  McManus was a professor for Georgetown University Medical School from 1998-2006 and has served as a Physician Advisor for Quality Resource Management. McManus served his residency training at the University of Vermont and received his degree from the University of Virginia School of Medicine.  He currently serves on the Arlington County Executive Board and has previously served as President of the Arlington Medical Society. Other volunteer activities for McManus include serving at the Arlington Free Clinic, volunteering in the Medical Reserve Corps for the Arlington County Health Department, and local service to his home parish. He has been married for over thirty years, has four adult children, and enjoys spending time outdoors with his family.

Ms. Eileen Puglisi held the position of Director of the Office for the Protection of Children and Young People in the Diocese of Rockville Centre where from 2003-2014.  Her prior work history involves director level work at various Psychiatric Centers in New York, including Deputy Director of the Queens Children's Psychiatric Center. Puglisi received a Professional Degree in School Psychology from St. John's University in New York and an M.S. in Guidance and Counseling from Hunter College in New York. She has direct experience as a psychologist and is an avid golfer.

Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D., president of Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, will continue to chair the NRB until his term expires in 2020.

Details regarding the National Review Board, its functions and other members can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/about/child-and-youth-protection/the-national-review-board.cfm

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, National Review Board (NRB), Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, sexual abuse, child and youth protection, Charter for Protection of Children and Young People.

Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Posted: June 14, 2017, 11:03 am

INDIANAPOLIS—On June 12, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit largely affirmed a nationwide preliminary injunction against implementation of sections of the Administration's executive order that attempted to suspend and limit the U.S. refugee resettlement program and also attempted to ban the entry of people from six Muslim-majority countries.

A statement from Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chair of the Committee on Migration regarding the Ninth Circuit ruling follows:

"I am heartened by the decision of the 9th Circuit to maintain the temporary halt implementing certain provisions of the March 6th Executive Order. Upholding the injunction will allow us to continue welcoming and serving refugees fleeing persecution. Together with my brother bishops, we believe it is possible to simultaneously provide for the security of our country and have a humane refugee policy that upholds our national heritage and moral responsibility. We remain dedicated to accompanying and supporting our brothers and sisters who for various reasons have been forced to leave their homeland. We follow the example of Pope Francis and pledge to them "a duty of justice, civility and solidarity."

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, executive order, refugees, resettlement, injunction, court, Muslim, countries

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MEDIA CONTACT
Norma Montenegro Flynn
Media-relations@usccb.org

Posted: June 13, 2017, 12:40 pm

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Bishop Charles Thompson, of Evansville, Indiana, as Archbishop of Indianapolis.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, June 13, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Archbishop-designate Thompson, was born April 11, 1961, in Louisville. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in accounting from Bellarmine College, a master of divinity degree from St. Meinrad School of Theology, and a licentiate in Canon Law from St. Paul University in Ottawa. He was ordained a priest for the Louisville Archdiocese in 1987 and was ordained and installed as Bishop of Evansville on June 29, 2011.

As a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he is currently a member of the Administrative Committee, the Committee on Priorities and Plans, and the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis has been a vacant see since November 7, 2016. The Archdiocese comprises 13,758 square miles and it has total population of 2,621,455 people of which 223,815 or nine percent, are Catholic.

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Keywords: bishop appointment, Pope Francis, Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Bishop Charles Thompson, Archbishop of Indianapolis, Diocese of Evansville

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Norma Montenegro Flynn
O: 202-541-3200

Posted: June 13, 2017, 6:01 am

WASHINGTON—Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, has urged the Senate to pass the "Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act" (H.R. 390). The proposed legislation calls for much needed assistance for survivors of genocide, especially in Iraq and Syria, and would allow faith-based organizations (such as Catholic Relief Services) that are already providing humanitarian assistance to these populations, to access U.S. government funding in their work, increasing aid to those desperately in need.

In a letter to U.S. Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Benjamin Cardin, Ranking Member, Bishop Cantú wrote, "I commend you for your efforts to support those suffering persecution in Iraq and Syria and trust that swift Senate consideration and passage of H.R. 390 will contribute to a longer-term solution to the crisis in the region."

A link to Bishop Cantú's full letter  can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/letter-to-senate-on-iraq-syria-genocide-emergency-relief-act-2017-06-09.cfm

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Bishop Oscar Cantú, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act (H.R. 390), Genocide Resolution (H.Con.Res. 75), Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Syria, Iraq, Christians, ethnic minorities, religious minorities, Middle East, genocide, persecution, Catholic Relief Services, humanitarian assistance, U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress, Catholic Church.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Posted: June 9, 2017, 8:59 pm

Washington—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People has released their 2016 Annual Report – Findings and Recommendations on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The 2016 report for audit year July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016, states that 1,232 adults that came forward with 1,318 allegations. This increase is focused within six dioceses: two dioceses with bankruptcy proceedings and four where the state extended the statute of limitations. These six dioceses received an additional 351 allegations compared to the 2015 audit year. Also, it notes that 1,510 victim/survivors received ongoing support.

Also noted in the report is the ongoing work of the Church in continuing to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults.  In 2016, over 2.4 million background checks were conducted on our clerics, employees, and volunteers. Over 2.3 million adults and 4.2 million children have also been trained on how to identify the warning signs of abuse and how to report those signs.

All dioceses and eparchies that received an allegation of sexual abuse during the 2016 audit year reported them to the appropriate civil authorities.

Twenty-five new allegations came from minors. As of June 30, 2016, two were substantiated, eight were still under investigation, and eleven were unsubstantiated or unable to be proven. Of the remaining four, two were referred to a religious order, one was referred to another diocese, and one investigation was postponed due to an order of confidentiality from the bankruptcy court.

Regarding Charter Compliance, the reported noted the following:

·         Two eparchies did not participate in the audit this year, but have expressed their intention to participate in next year's audit.

·         191 dioceses and eparchies were found compliant with the Charter.

·         All dioceses/eparchies participating in the 129 data collection audits were found compliant with the process.

·         Of the sixty-five dioceses/eparchies participating in the on-site audits, all were found compliant except for two dioceses and one eparchy.

·         One diocese was found non-compliant with respect to Article 2 and one diocese with respect to Article 3. One eparchy was found non-compliant with respect to Articles 2 and 12.

The Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People continues to emphasize that the audit and maintaining zero-tolerance policies are two important tools in the Church's broader program of creating a culture of protection and healing that exceeds the requirements of the Charter.

This is the fourteenth such report since 2002 when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People making a promise to protect and a pledge to heal. 

The full Annual Report can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/upload/2016-Annual-Report.pdf

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, 2016 Annual Report – Findings and Recommendations, children, young people, vulnerable adults, dioceses/eparchies, sexual abuse, religious orders, Charter compliance, Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, safety, protection, healing. 

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

17-098
Sec,DD,DP,DioNews,CathPress, HispMedia
Posted: June 9, 2017, 3:59 pm

WASHINGTON—Sister Tracey Horan has been named as the winner of the 2017 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award, sponsored by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). CCHD is the anti-poverty program of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).  Sister Horan will be honored at a reception Wednesday, June 14, during the bishops' annual Spring General Assembly in Indianapolis.

Sr. Horan is a mission novice with the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She currently serves as a community organizer for the Indianapolis Congregation Action Network (ICAN) and the Justice for Immigrants Campaign of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. In these roles, she has worked to promote the common good alongside immigrants, returning citizens and people living in poverty. A graduate of the University of Dayton, Sr. Horan is a former intern at White Violet Center for Eco-Justice, a ministry of the Sisters of Providence, and has taught middle school children at St. Pius X Catholic School in El Paso, Texas while living with Sisters of Charity at Casa de Caridad in New Mexico.

"We are pleased to honor Sr. Tracey Horan's commitment to solidarity with the people living in poverty and those who are most vulnerable. Her work and her witness embody the mission of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development – to end the cycle of poverty by developing the capacity of the most vulnerable to act on their behalf," said Bishop David P. Talley, chairman of the bishops' CCHD subcommittee.

Each year, the Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award honors a Catholic between the age of 18 and 40 who demonstrates leadership in fighting poverty and injustice in the United States through community-based solutions. It is named for the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, who served as archbishop of Chicago from 1982 till his death in 1996. He served as the first general secretary of the U.S. bishops from 1968-1972 and as third president of the U.S. bishops from 1974-1977. More information about the award is available online: www.usccb.org/about/catholic-campaign-for-human-development/cardinal-bernardin-new-leadership-award.cfm.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award, Catholic Campaign for Human Development, CCHD, Bishop David P. Talley, General Assembly, Baltimore, Pope Francis, the Sisters of Providence, Sr. Tracey Horan

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Norma Montenegro Flynn
O: 202-541-3200

Posted: June 7, 2017, 9:09 am

WASHINGTON—As they begin the Spring General Assembly, Bishops from across the U.S. will gather at Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis for a Mass of Prayer and Penance for survivors of sexual abuse within the Church. The Mass is being held in response to a call from Pope Francis for all episcopal conferences across the world to have a Day of Prayer and Penance for victims of sexual abuse within the Church and will be held June 14, 2017 at 5:00 pm at Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

The bishops will gather together in solidarity to pray for victims and to acknowledge the pain caused by the failures of the Church in the past.  The Mass will mark the opening for the June Plenary Assembly of bishops taking place June 14-15 in Indianapolis. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will be the principal celebrant. Archbishop Wilton D.  Gregory, of Atlanta, and former President of the USCCB, will be the homilist.

In an act of penance and humility, the bishops will also kneel and recite a commemorative prayer that has been written for survivors of abuse in their healing. Intercessory Prayers of the Faithful will also be offered for those who have suffered due to clergy sex abuse. All dioceses and eparchies have been provided the suggested intercessory Prayers of the Faithful for use at any time of their choosing after June 14. 

In addition to this specific Day of Prayer and Penance, many dioceses and eparchies will also schedule their own Masses or other events to promote healing within their diocese/eparchy throughout the year.

The Mass is scheduled to be livestreamed.  The livestream link will be available on the USCCB website.  

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, National Day of Prayer and Penance, Pope Francis, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop Wilton Gregory, June Plenary Assembly, Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral, Indianapolis, clergy sex abuse, Mass, episcopal conferences, diocese/eparchies, prayers of the faithful.

Media Contact:
202-541-3200
Posted: June 5, 2017, 12:12 pm

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following statement following last night's terror attack which has left seven people dead and at least 48 injured. This is the third terrorist attack on British soil in as many months.  

Cardinal DiNardo's full statement follows:

"The Vigil of Pentecost had barely begun when the world was burdened yet again, this time by the sinister attacks on innocent men and women in the heart of London.  In such tragic hours we implore the Holy Spirit to pour out His gift of comfort on those who grieve the loss of loved ones and on the dozens who were so tragically injured in this horrible attack. At the same time, we see in the courage of the first responders the true and courageous spirit of our brothers and sisters, the people of Great Britain.  May God grant strength, wisdom and protection to the men and women who safeguard our families and may He convert the hearts of all who follow the path of evil extremism.  Our solidarity in Christian hope and commitment to peace is a bond that cannot be broken. 

Together with my brother bishops and with Catholics throughout the United States, we join the prayerful intercession made already by Pope Francis: 'May the Holy Spirit grant peace to the whole world. May He heal the wounds of war and of terrorism, which even this [Saturday] night, in London, struck innocent civilians: let us pray for the victims and their families.'"

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, terror attack, London, extremism, war, Vigil of Pentecost, Holy Spirit, Pope Francis, Great Britain, United States.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Posted: June 4, 2017, 10:57 am

WASHINGTON—As the U.S. Senate begins to discuss health care reform, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin provided moral principles to help guide policymakers in their deliberations.

In a letter sent on June 1, the Chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stressed the "grave obligations" that Senators have "when it comes to policy that affects health care." While commending the bill passed by the House of Representatives, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), for its protections for unborn children, the Bishops emphasized the "many serious flaws" in the AHCA, including unacceptable changes to Medicaid. 

"The Catholic Church remains committed to ensuring the fundamental right to medical care, a right which is in keeping with the God-given dignity of every person, and the corresponding obligation as a country to provide for this right," the Chairmen wrote. "[T]hose without a strong voice in the process must not bear the brunt of attempts to cut costs."

Cardinal Dolan is chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Lori chairs the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, Bishop Dewane heads the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Vásquez is the chairman of the Committee on Migration.

The Bishops outlined key principles for Senators such as universal access, respect for life, true affordability, the need for high quality and comprehensive medical care, and conscience protections. 

If the Senate takes up the House bill as a starting point, the letter urges that lawmakers "must retain the positive elements of the bill and remedy its grave deficiencies." Specifically, the Chairmen called on the Senate to: reject dramatic changes to Medicaid; retain the AHCA's life protections; increase the level of tax assistance, especially for low-income and older people; retain the existing cap on costs of plans for the elderly; protect immigrants; and add conscience protections, among other things.

The full letter to Congress can be found at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/upload/Senate-Principles-letter-Health-Care-Reform-2017-06-01.pdf

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Cardinal Dolan, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop William Lori, Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, Bishop Joe Vásquez, Committee on Migration, American Health Care Act (AHCA), respect for life, human dignity, health care, affordability, abortion, poverty.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Posted: June 2, 2017, 6:32 am

WASHINGTON—President Donald J. Trump announced today that the United States will not honor the Paris agreement on climate change. The United States and China, the two largest carbon emitters, and 195 other nations, signed the agreement that was ratified in November 2016. The Paris agreement establishes that nations must reduce their carbon dioxide emissions in order to keep global temperatures well below a two-degree Celsius increase in relation to pre-industrial levels.

In the following statement, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, stresses that, although the Paris agreement is not the only possible mechanism for addressing global carbon mitigation, the lack of a current viable alternative is a serious concern.   

Full statement follows:  

"The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), along with Pope Francis and the entire Catholic Church, have consistently upheld the Paris agreement as an important international mechanism to promote environmental stewardship and encourage climate change mitigation. The President's decision not to honor the U.S. commitment to the Paris agreement is deeply troubling.

The Scriptures affirm the value of caring for creation and caring for each other in solidarity. The Paris agreement is an international accord that promotes these values. President Trump's decision will harm the people of the United States and the world, especially the poorest, most vulnerable communities. The impacts of climate change are already being experienced in sea level rise, glacial melts, intensified storms, and more frequent droughts. I can only hope that the President will propose concrete ways to address global climate change and promote environmental stewardship."

The USCCB has voiced support for prudent action and dialogue on climate change since its 2001 statement: "Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good". In a letter to Congress in 2015, the U.S. Bishops, along with the presidents of Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services, encouraged the United States to sign the Paris agreement. They have since reiterated their support on several occasions. Pope Francis and the Holy See have also consistently voiced support for the Paris agreement. 

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Paris Climate Agreement, President Donald J. Trump, Bishop Oscar Cantú, carbon dioxide emissions, stewardship, Pope Francis, Holy See, Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services. 

Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Posted: June 1, 2017, 4:20 pm

WASHINGTON– Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, has issued an initial response to the apparent draft interim final regulations that were recently leaked, pertaining to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring health insurance coverage of sterilization, contraception, and drugs and devices that may cause abortions:

"While they have yet to be formally issued and will require close study upon publication, the leaked regulations provide encouraging news. If issued, these regulations would appropriately broaden the existing exemption to a wider range of stakeholders with religious or moral objections to the mandated coverage—not just houses of worship. This not only would eliminate an unwarranted governmental division of our religious community 'between our houses of worship and our great ministries of service to our neighbors,' but would also lift the government-imposed burden on our ministries 'to violate their own teachings within their very own institutions.' United for Religious Freedom (2012).

Relief like this is years overdue and would be most welcomed. Regulations like these reflect common sense, and what had been the consistent practice of the federal government for decades to provide strong conscience protection in the area of health care. We look forward to the final version of the regulations with hope that they will remain strong. At that time, we will analyze those regulations more carefully and comment on them more formally. Throughout, our goal will remain to protect both the conscience of individuals and our mission of sharing the Gospel and serving the poor and vulnerable through our ministries."

This HHS mandate was first announced in 2011, triggering dozens of lawsuits, including by the Little Sisters of the Poor.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop William E. Lori, religious freedom, religious liberty, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, HHS mandate, religious exemption, federal government, executive branch.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Posted: June 1, 2017, 3:39 pm
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