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Browsing News Entries

President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Statement on California Fires

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, offered the following statement of solidarity with the people of California.

Full statement follows:

"On this holy day of the Immaculate Conception, we commit ourselves to the loving protection of Mary the Mother of God and patroness of America. Let us remember, especially, her sons and daughters in danger from the terrible wildfires in California, both those whose homes are in the fire's path and those courageous first responders and firefighters who are putting their lives at risk. Please find a moment today, whether after Mass or while gathered as a family around the Advent wreath, to pray a Rosary in gratitude for Mary's gifts to humanity and entrusting to her protection our sisters and brothers in the fire's path. I am sure all the faithful join me in saying: we stand ready to help in the recovery."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, California, Mary, Mother of God, Immaculate Conception, Advent wreath, Rosary, humanity, protection, first responders, firefighters, recovery. 

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas and the Unborn, will be Celebrated Around the Country December 12, as Day of Solidarity with Immigrants

WASHINGTON— On Tuesday, December 12, the Catholic Church will celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas and the Unborn. Celebrations in dioceses across the nation will be held throughout the month of December to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe. These events seek to honor the accomplishments, hopes, fears, and needs of all families who have come to the U.S. seeking a better life.

"As we enter the Advent season and Christmas approaches, we are reminded of the unique role and importance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a unifier and peacebuilder for communities. We honor her role as protectress of families, including those families separated and far from home," stated Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, Texas, and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration.

Over 55 prayer services, Masses, processions and other events will be held in dioceses across the country as the Catholic Church continues to accompany migrants and refugees seeking opportunity to provide for their families. On December 12, 2017, a Mass honoring our Lady of Guadalupe will be celebrated by the Most Reverend Mario Dorsonville, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington, at St. Peter's Church in Washington, DC at 12:10 PM. All are welcome to attend.

For more information, please visit the Justice for Immigrants (JFI) website at https://justiceforimmigrants.org/lady-guadalupe-resource-page/ which has background material and scriptural information on Our Lady of Guadalupe in English and Spanish, a nationwide map of events, and community celebration ideas.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Day of Prayer, Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Auxiliary Bishop Mario Dorsonville, Committee on Migration, unborn, pro-life, migrant and refugee services, Advent, mercy, unity, solidarity.    

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Advance Final Tax Reform Bill Only if it Meets Key Moral Concerns, Says USCCB Chairman

WASHINGTON— As Congress prepares to reconcile the House of Representatives and Senate tax reform bills, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, insisted that "Congress should advance a final tax reform bill only if it meets the key moral concerns . . ."

"According to Congress' own nonpartisan analysis, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act bills recently passed by the House and the Senate raise taxes on the poor and cut taxes on the rich, violating basic principles of justice," wrote Bishop Dewane. "Congress has proposed a web of wide-ranging and complex changes to the tax code, yet is approaching the process at a pace that makes it difficult even for experts in the impacted areas to analyze effects."

According to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, the Senate and House bills eventually increase taxes on taxpayers in the lowest brackets, while at the same time maintaining tax cuts for higher earners, including the very wealthy. Bishop Dewane expressed support for positive proposals contained in both the House and Senate bill, such as doubling the Standard Deduction, expansion of 529 savings plans, increases for deductions for educator expenses, and the idea of expanding the child tax credit, though he urged a robust expansion that includes the refundable portions of the credit.

However, the Bishop highlighted serious problems that remain in one or both of the proposed bills:  elimination of personal exemptions, repeal of the Affordable Care Act's individual insurance mandate apart from broader health care reform, and failure to include changes that will protect against a steep drop in charitable giving, among others.

"Policy that is good for workers, families who welcome life, families who are struggling to reach (or stay in) the middle class, and the very poor, has by design been a part of our tax code for years," noted Bishop Dewane. "Any modifications to these important priorities of our nation should only be made with a clear understanding and concern for the people who may least be able to bear the negative consequences of new policy."

The full letter can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Tax-Conference-Letter-Congress-2017-12-06.pdf

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, tax reform bill, U.S. Congress, Joint Committee on Taxation, tax cuts, Standard Deduction, child tax credit, Affordable Care Act (ACA), charitable giving, tax payers, health care reform, families, poor

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

USCCB Chairmen Comment on Supreme Court’s Oral Arguments on Religious Freedom of Creative Professionals

WASHINGTON—Today, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case involves a Christian baker named Jack Phillips who declined in 2012 to create a custom wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony. State officials seek to compel Phillips to create such cakes under Colorado's public accommodations law.  Phillips argues that the state's action against him and his bakery violates the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Commenting on the oral arguments before the Court, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., of Philadelphia, Chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, Chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued the following joint statement:

"Today's oral arguments address whether our Constitution's guarantees of free speech and freedom of religion will be protected by the Supreme Court. Americans of every creed depend on these guarantees of freedom from unnecessary government coercion.  America has the ability to serve every person while making room for valid conscientious objection. We pray that the Court will continue to preserve the ability of people to live out their faith in daily life, regardless of their occupation. Artists in particular deserve to have the freedom to express ideas—or to decline to create certain messages—in accordance with their deeply held beliefs. Justice Anthony Kennedy acknowledged in the Obergefell decision in 2015 that people who oppose same-sex marriage 'reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises.' Creative professionals should be allowed to use their artistic talents in line with these decent and honorable convictions."

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling by the end of June.

The USCCB filed an amicus curiae brief supporting Masterpiece Cakeshop, which can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/16-111-tsac-USCCB.pdf.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Archbishop Charles Chaput, Bishop James Conley, Supreme Court, religious freedom, religious liberty, freedom of conscience, marriage

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops’ Chairmen Express Disappointment with U.S. Government Withdrawal from UN’s Process to Develop a Global Compact on Migration

WASHINGTON—Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, expressed disappointment after the Trump Administration announced on Saturday, December 2, 2017, that the U.S. government is withdrawing from the process of the United Nations (UN) to develop a Global Compact on Migration. That process was begun when the UN General Assembly ratified the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants on September 19, 2016.

"Catholic social teaching on migration recognizes and respects the sovereignty of each nation, indeed each nation's right and responsibility, to ultimately decide how it will regulate migration into its territory," explained Bishop Vásquez. "The Church has long articulated that it is the obligation of nations to assure human rights for all migrants and special protections for vulnerable migrants, such as refugees, forced migrants, victims of human trafficking, and women and children at risk. Pope Francis has described such obligations as part of building 'global solidarity' on behalf of migrants and refugees. In fact, the Bishops continue to promote the international campaign initiated by Pope Francis, Share the Journey, as a sign of solidarity with our immigrant brothers and sisters."

"With a growing global concern about protracted forced migration situations, the UN process provides an opportunity for the United States to help build international cooperation that respects such rights and protections on behalf of those seeking safety and security for their families. Participation in that process allows the US to draw on our experience and influence the compact," said Archbishop Broglio. "Therefore, the USCCB encourages the Administration to reconsider its decision to withdraw from this process."  

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Committee on Migration, United Nations, New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, human rights, human trafficking, women, children, Pope Francis, migrants, refugees, safety, security.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Pope Francis Names Auxiliary Bishop of Washington as New Bishop of Richmond

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Auxiliary Bishop Barry C. Knestout of the Archdiocese of Washington as the new bishop of Richmond, Virginia.  

The appointment was publicized in Washington on December 5, 2017 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Knestout was born in Cheverly, Maryland, on June 11, 1962. He attended Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where he earned a Master of Divinity degree in 1988 and a Master of Arts degree in 1989.

He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Washington on June 24, 1989. 

Assignments after ordination included: associate pastor, St. Bartholomew's Parish, Bethesda, MD (1989-1993); associate pastor, St. Peter's Parish, Waldorf (1993-1994); priest secretary to Cardinal James Hickey (1994-2004); executive director, Archdiocesan Office of Youth Ministry, (2001-2003); priest secretary to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick (2003-2004); pastor, St. John the Evangelist Parish, Silver Spring (2004-2006); and the Archdiocesan Secretary for Pastoral Life and Social Concerns (2006-2008).

Named Monsignor by Pope John Paul II in 1999, he was then named moderator of the curia in April 2007 and assisted Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl in overseeing administrative affairs.  

On November 18, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI named Msgr. Knestout Auxiliary Bishop of Washington and titular bishop of Leavenworth. He was ordained a bishop by then-Archbishop Donald Wuerl on December 29, 2008.

He has been a member of the Administrative Board of the Maryland Catholic Conference and the Episcopal Moderator of the American Catholic Correctional Chaplains Association. He serves as the Regional IV representative on the USCCB Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People as well as the Episcopal Liaison to the Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference.

As of today's appointment, Bishop Knestout will be the 13th Bishop of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, succeeding the late Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo who passed away on August 17, 2017.

The Diocese of Richmond comprises 36,711 square miles. It has a total population of 5,118,519 people of which 222,283, or 4 percent, are Catholic.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Auxiliary Bishop Barry Knestout, Archdiocese of Washington, Diocese of Richmond, Cardinal Donald W Wuerl, Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops’ Subcommittee Awards Grants for 187 Projects in Latin America, Including Help for Migrants and Victims of Natural Disasters

WASHINGTON—With the goal of strengthening and supporting the pastoral work of the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America awarded nearly $3.2 million in grants for 183 pastoral projects in the region for 2018. These most recent grants were made at the Subcommittee's meeting in November and bring the total awarded for pastoral grants 2018 to almost $7.2 million. Four other projects were awarded in response to natural disasters.

"Each year the generosity of Catholics in the United States is transformed into programs that nourish the faith of our brothers and sisters in Latin America and the Caribbean," said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America. "This generosity sustains the faith for many marginalized and vulnerable people, like migrants and victims of natural disasters."

Instability in some areas of Latin America has resulted in an increased number of migrants within the region from countries like Venezuela, Colombia, and Haiti. Projects in support of the pastoral care of migrants that received funding from the Subcommittee include support to the Hermanas Misioneras de San Carlos Borromeo in Ecuador and the Archdiocese of Santiago in Chile. The religious congregation received a grant to support and integrate migrant families into Ecuadorian society. Migrant families will receive spiritual support through conferences, retreats, and catechetical formation. This project is anticipated to reach over 1,500 beneficiaries. The Archdiocese of Santiago's Department of Migration received funds to provide formation to 250 pastoral ministers, many expected to be migrants themselves, to learn about their rights and how to defend them and work on evangelization of other immigrants. The project will also create booklets as supporting material for the ministers as they work in parishes.

Additionally, three grants were awarded to projects in Haiti to support rebuilding efforts of the Church in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. Hurricane Matthew swept through Haiti in 2016, and the country continues to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake. A grant to the Diocese of Jérémie will be used for repairs and reconstruction of three church buildings and a grant to the Diocese of Anse-à-Veau et Miragoâne will be used for the reconstruction of two church buildings. These funds were awarded from the Hurricane Matthew emergency collection that was taken in most dioceses last year. In addition to grants to help with the reconstruction efforts after Hurricane Matthew, the Subcommittee also funded a project to rebuild a church destroyed during the 2010 earthquake. The funds for this rebuilding came from the Special Collection for Haiti which took place in the aftermath of the earthquake.

Other areas of funding for the Subcommittee's pastoral grants include seminarian and consecrated religious formation, prison ministry, youth ministry, and lay leadership training. The issues covered by these ministries are pro-life, environmental justice, ministry to indigenous and African-Americans as well as urban ministries, among others. "As it proclaims the Gospel of joy, the Church is called to develop ministries to all those in need, whether materially or spiritually, and thus the Subcommittee supports all the ministries available to the faithful," said Bishop Elizondo.

Grants are funded by the annual Collection for the Church in Latin America, taken in many dioceses across the U.S. on the fourth Sunday in January. The Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America oversees the collection and an annual grant program as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. It allocates revenue received from the Collection for the Church in Latin America as grants across Latin America and the Caribbean. More information about the Collection for the Church in Latin America, the many projects it funds, and resources to promote it, can be found at www.usccb.org/latin-america.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, Committee on National Collections, grants, migrants, Latin America, evangelization, Collection for the Church in Latin America, Haiti reconstruction, Venezuela, Colombia, Caribbean, Florida, Archdiocese of Santiago, Diocese of Anse-à-Veau et Miragoâne, Diocese of Jérémie, natural disasters, Hurricane Matthew, earthquake, pro-life, environmental justice

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


Pope Francis Names Fr. Mario Alberto Avilés as Auxiliary Bishop of Brownsville

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Fr. Mario Alberto Avilés, C.O., up until now the Procurator General of the Congregation of the Oratory, as Auxiliary Bishop of Brownsville, Texas.

The announcement was publicized in Washington on December 4 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.  

Father Aviles was born in Mexico on September 16, 1969. He joined the Congregation of the Oratory in Mexico City in 1986 and in 1988 he moved to the Pharr Oratory in Texas. He attended the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in Philosophy in 1998. 

He was ordained a priest on July 21, 1998. He then earned a master of divinity degree from Holy Apostles in Cromwell, CT in 2000. Additional education includes a master's degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Phoenix. 

Assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar, Jude Thaddeus parish in Pharr, Texas, 1998-2002; pastor, Sacred Heart parish in Hidalgo, Texas, 2002-present. 

Other responsibilities include: deputy, Confederation of the Oratory, permanent deputation, 2000-2012; director of the Oratory Academy and Oratory Athenaeum, 2005-2012; member of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, 2011-present; procurator general of the Confederation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, 2012-present. 

The Diocese of Brownsville comprises 4, 296 square miles. It has a total population of 1,350,158 people of which 1,147,634 or 85 percent, are Catholic. The current bishop of Brownsville is Bishop Daniel E. Flores.

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Keywords: Pope Francis, Father Mario Alberto Aviles, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Diocese of Brownsville, Congregation of the Oratory, Mexico City, bishop appointment.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Congress Must Change Fundamentally Flawed Tax Policies in Final Bill, Says U.S. Bishops Chairman

WASHINGTON— As the U.S. Senate passed its tax reform bill, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called for Congress to fix fundamentally flawed tax policies as the House of Representatives and Senate attempt to reach agreement on a final bill. 

The full statement follows:

"Today, the U.S. Senate passed its tax reform legislation, and it will now be reconciled with the House of Representatives' passed bill in an effort to reach agreement on the details of a final piece of legislation. Congress must act now to fix the fundamental flaws found in both bills, and choose the policy approaches that help individuals and families struggling within our society.

We are reviewing the final Senate bill and will soon provide analysis about key improvements that are necessary before a final agreement should be reached and moved forward. For the sake of all people—but especially those we ought, in justice, to prioritize—Congress should advance a final tax reform bill only if it meets the key moral considerations outlined in our previous letters."

The November 9 USCCB letter analyzing the House of Representatives tax reform bill can be found at:  http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Tax-Cuts-and-Jobs-Act-Letter-11-9-2017.pdf

The November 22 USCCB letter analyzing the Senate tax reform bill can be found at:  http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Senate-Tax-Cuts-and-Jobs-Act-Letter-2017-11-22.pdf

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, U.S. House of Representatives, tax reform proposal, comprehensive revision, tax code, moral principles, tax policy

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Chairman of International Justice and Peace and President of Catholic Relief Services Urge Continued Funding of U.S and Global HIV/AIDS Programs

WASHINGTON—On World AIDS Day, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, Chair of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, along with Sean Callahan, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, urge full funding of U.S. and global HIV and AIDS programs in the FY 2019 budget request. Their position was outlined in a letter sent to the Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

The letter to Director Mick Mulvaney coincides with World AIDS Day, December 1, 2017. While acknowledging that great strides have been made regarding the AIDS epidemic, the letter emphasizes that any reduction in the funding of programs could have catastrophic life-threatening implications.

In 2000, only 685,000 people had access to HIV treatment. Today, roughly 21 million people have access to anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) and according to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the past six years has seen a reduction of 56 % in new infections in children in Eastern and Southern Africa and a 47 % reduction worldwide.

Archbishop Broglio said, "At a moment when we are finally witnessing great success in turning back a disease that shocked the world only a generation ago, any cuts in funding would directly result in a reduction in the number of people living with HIV who are added to treatment each year, and could trigger a resurgence in the global epidemic."

"Despite enormous gains, millions of lives still hang in the balance", says Sean Callahan. "This also extends to 16 million children who have lost one or both parents due to AIDS related illnesses, and millions more children who are vulnerable because the disease has contributed to malnutrition, cognitive delays, stunting, lack of education or poor physical or mental health."

Their letter argues that it is critical the U.S. government continue to fund the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to at least 2017 levels. "Although we have principled concerns about those PEPFAR and Global Fund prevention activities we find inconsistent with Catholic teaching and do not implement or advocate for these activities, we support the lifesaving missions of PEPFAR and the Global Fund and urge robust funding for both programs."

The full text of the letter can be found here:  http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/usccb-crs-letter-to-omb-director-mulvaney-re-hiv-aids-programs-2017-12-01.cfm.

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Keywords: Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Archdiocese for the U.S. Military Services. Committee on International Justice and Peace, Sean Callahan, Catholic Relief Services, Director Mick Mulvaney, U.S. Office of Management and Budget, U.S. global HIV/AIDS programs, Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs), Eastern and Southern Africa, U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Global Fund.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200