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Browsing News Entries

President of U.S. Bishops Conference Announces Emergency Collection for 2018 Natural Disasters

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has requested that dioceses across the country take up an emergency collection on behalf of those devastated by Hurricane Florence, as well as any forthcoming natural disasters this year.

In a letter sent to bishops last week, Cardinal DiNardo wrote, in part:

"The traditional storm season has only just begun and already we have witnessed the devastating impact of Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas. Five days after land-fall, torrential rain was still falling, and catastrophic flooding is predicted. Already, thousands of homes, businesses, and churches have been severely damaged or destroyed."

"We offer our prayers to families who have lost loved ones or are among those injured. As is often the case, the poor are the hardest hit by these conditions, but many will have immense unmet needs. Staff of our Office for National Collections has been in touch with several bishops to learn about their situations and to offer our prayers and our desire to be of assistance in this time of need.

"Given the patterns of recent years, it is reasonable to expect much more unpredictable weather and an increasing number of natural disasters. Therefore, I suggest we take up a special collection for the humanitarian, long-term recovery, and Church needs arising from these storms. In anticipation of more disasters awaiting us this year, I ask that we make a special appeal for the ongoing disasters of 2018 and that we each take up the collection as soon as possible so that those most in need can receive assistance quickly."

Funds will be used in response to Hurricane Florence and any other natural disasters that occur this year. Initially, funds will be used to support the efforts of Catholic Charities USA as they reach out to provide humanitarian aid in the form of water, food, shelter, and medical care, as well as to their long-term efforts to restore communities after widespread destruction. Also, funds will go to support the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' efforts to assist with pastoral and reconstruction aid to the Church. Humanitarian funds for any future disasters impacting communities outside the US may be shared with Catholic Relief Services for their response efforts.

More information about the Office of National Collections and its support of emergency relief efforts can be found at http://www.usccb.org/about/national-collections/index.cfm.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, National Collections, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, charity, Hurricane Florence, national collection humanitarian aid, emergency relief

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

V Encuentro Delegates Charged with Building a Culture of Encounter that Rekindles Hope

WASHINGTON—Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, Archbishop of San Antonio and chairman of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement today following the close of the V National Encuentro that took place September 20-23 in Grapevine, Texas.

Archbishop García-Siller's full statement follows:

Brothers and Sisters,

What a wonderful Fifth National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry we had in Grapevine, Texas, September 20-23! For us bishops it was both humbling and awe-inspiring to witness and participate in this grace-filled event that culminated a process of several years. Four days of prayer, sharing, listening, and learning revealed a people of God alive in the love of Jesus. The process now continues with the charge to take back to our communities and dioceses what we experienced at the National V Encuentro. 

Build "a culture of encounter that rekindles hope." With this call, Pope Francis welcomed the nearly 3,200 people from more than 160 dioceses and over 200 Catholic organizations from around the country to the V Encuentro. Following the Holy Father's video message, his Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, invited us to go forth out of our comfort zone and become leaven of communion. We, the delegates to the V Encuentro, bishops and people together, gratefully take this charge back to our communities filled with a missionary spirit.

The V Encuentro process, and specially the national gathering, will go down in history as a special moment of grace for the Church in the United States in these turbulent and difficult times. As Cardenal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops aptly put it in his welcoming remarks: "Amidst this darkness, the Encuentro is a light that shines and illuminates the way forward. The enthusiasm, the passion, the love, and the joy of the Encuentro process is a means of grace, a gift to us as we rebuild the Church."

A special highlight of the National V Encuentro was the participation of hundreds of young adults who brought us hope with their enthusiasm and courage, witness of faith and commitment to the Church. As the process of Encuentro continues, may we welcome their energy, their gifts and talents for the service of the entire Church.

This mountaintop experience of God's Providence, of the love of Christ for his Church, impels us and we are now readier to be the Church Christ wants us to be. Thousands of faithful have returned home to share their experience with those whose voices they represented and with everyone unable to attend. In this way, the Holy Spirit will multiply the graces of renewal and conversion.

I am grateful to all who made this V Encuentro possible, from the pastors and parish coordinators to the diocesan and regional teams. I am grateful for all the national organizations and sponsors that accompanied and supported us thus far. And I am grateful to my brother bishops who have accompanied their people in this process locally and at the National V Encuentro. I ask for your continued support and prayers as the process of the V Encuentro enters now a new phase of implementation.

Coming together across cultures and geographic regions, the Body of Christ draws strength from the diverse gifts of its individual members. In fidelity to Christ and in communion with the successor of Peter, open to the impulses of the Spirit and under the merciful gaze of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, let us use that strength to share the hope of the Gospel with all who are in need of God's love and mercy.

Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, V Encuentro, Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

National Vocation Awareness Week Encourages Young People to Encounter Christ’s Call

WASHINGTON—The Catholic Church in the United States will celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week, November 4-10. This annual event is a special time for parishes in the U.S. to foster a culture of vocations for the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life.

Pope Francis, in his message for the 2018 World Day of Vocations, emphasized that it is at the loving initiative of God, and by His personal encounter with each of us, that one is called. “Even amid these troubled times, the mystery of the Incarnation reminds us that God continually comes to encounter us. He is God-with-us, who walks along the often dusty paths of our lives. He knows our anxious longing for love and he calls us to joy. In the diversity and the uniqueness of each and every vocation, personal and ecclesial, there is a need to listen, discern and live this word that calls to us from on high and, while enabling us to develop our talents, makes us instruments of salvation in the world and guides us to full happiness.”

National Vocation Awareness Week, sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, is designed to help promote vocation awareness and to encourage young people to ask the question: "To what vocation in life is God calling me?" Parish and school communities across the nation are encouraged to include, during the first week in November, special activities that focus on vocation awareness and provide opportunities for prayerful discernment.

Contemporary society is all too often saturated by constant activity and noise, so it is important this week to encourage young discerners to take time for silent, contemplative prayer. Results of studies conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), notes that 72% of those ordained to the Priesthood or solemnly professed within the last year cited participation in Eucharistic Adoration as a prayer experience that proved influential in their discernment. Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations echoes this finding, stating: “Quiet reflection and prayer are essential elements for vocational discernment. It is in the interior depths of our heart where we hear the voice of Christ, where he speaks to us, and where he reveals his will for our lives.”

Observance of Vocation Awareness Week began in 1976 when the U.S. bishops designated the 28th Sunday of the year for the celebration. It was later moved to the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in January. The USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations moved the observance of National Vocation Awareness Week to November to engage Catholic schools and colleges more effectively in this effort.

More information and resources for National Vocation Awareness Week, including a prayer card, suggested prayers of the faithful and bulletin-ready quotes are available online at: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/national-vocation-awareness-week.cfm


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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, Pope Francis, vocations, National Vocation Awareness Week, priesthood, religious life, consecrated life, religious, vocation, Catholic education, ministry, prayer, Synod 2018, World Day of Vocations

Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

 

Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Conference Committee on Pro-Life Activities Applauds Cancellation of FDA Fetal Tissue Contract, Urges Additional HHS Action

WASHINGTON— Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, Archbishop of New York and Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued a statement today applauding initial steps taken by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to terminate a Food and Drug Administration contract to purchase aborted baby parts for research, but urging quick action to cease all funding for research using body parts from aborted babies.

Cardinal Dolan's full statement follows:

We applaud Secretary Azar and the Administration for cutting off ties to a company whose business is to procure aborted baby parts for research. Not only has this company been referred for criminal investigation by the House and Senate but using federal tax dollars for such purposes is unethical and unacceptable.

While we are grateful for this first step, it remains incumbent on the Administration to act quickly to cease all funding for research involving body parts from aborted babies. The question is not exclusively what is permitted by law, but what is right and just. For the federal government to create a demand for abortion and use these children's body parts for research is wrong. We look forward to receiving answers to the questions we and other pro-life organizations asked of Secretary Azar in our September 11, 2018 letter regarding the funding and use of fetal tissue from aborted babies. Under a pro-life Administration, there is simply no room for callously using aborted children to further a research goal. This must stop immediately. Our government should only use taxpayer dollars for ethical research. ----

Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archdiocese of New York, pro-life, HHS, abortion

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

Statement in Response to Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Immigrants and Public Benefits

WASHINGTON--On September 22, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that dramatically alters certain longstanding government policies related to legal immigrants' access to essential safety net programs.  

Bishop Joe Vasquez, Chair of the Committee on Migration and Bishop of Austin, Texas, together with Bishop Frank Dewane, Chair of Committee on Domestic and Social Development and Bishop of Venice, Florida stated:  

"Yesterday's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking undercuts decades of administrative policies and guidelines on how immigrants are treated by the United States government. This further compounds strict eligibility guidelines already in place preventing many immigrants from receiving federal aid. While just beginning to review the Proposed Rule, upon initial analysis, it appears that this will be very harmful to families, raising fear among immigrant families already struggling to fulfill the American Dream. Further, it is likely to prevent families from accessing important medical and social services vital to public health and welfare." 

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Keywords: Department of Homeland Security, Bishop Joe Vasquez, Migration, Diocese of Austin, domestic and social development, Bishop Frank Dewane, Diocese of Venice 

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Media Contact: 

Judy Keane 

202-541-3200

Domestic Justice Chairman Encourages Congressional Efforts to Address the Opioid Crisis

WASHINGTON—As Congress considers a bipartisan bill that addresses several aspects of the opioid crisis, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, applauded Congressional efforts to address the crisis and encouraged lawmakers not to allow politics to delay their work.

Bishop Dewane's full statement follows:

"The opioid crisis has affected all corners of our country. Preliminary estimates by the Centers for Disease Control indicate that more than 72,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2017, which is about one death every eight minutes. In the face of the staggering challenges in confronting this tragedy, it is encouraging that lawmakers in Congress appear to be making progress in bipartisan legislation that would address many issues related to the crisis."

"As Pope Francis has said, '[e]very drug addict has a unique personal story and must be listened to, understood, loved, and, insofar as possible, healed and purified. We cannot stoop to the injustice of categorizing drug addicts as if they were mere objects or broken machines; each person must be valued and appreciated in his or her dignity in order to enable them to be healed.' Congress should press on in its work for precisely these purposes.

"The Senate passed bill is but a first step in addressing several aspects of the opioid crisis, including support for increases in research, treatment, education, and security and law enforcement. As the midterm elections and the end of the year approach, it can be difficult to complete complex legislation during the remaining time. The opioid crisis, however, cannot wait until next year. Congress is to be applauded for the bipartisan efforts that have already occurred and should swiftly work through remaining obstacles to find effective solutions that can become law."

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Keywords: opioid crisis, Bishop Dewane, Pope Francis, legislation, justice, peace, human development, Diocese of Venice

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Administrative Committee Statement on Sex Abuse Scandals; Committee Releases Actions to be Taken Within Its Authority

WASHINGTON--The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Administrative Committee has issued the following statement today in response to the recent sex abuse scandals. In the statement, the bishops say they pledge to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us."

Turning to the Lord

"When each of us was ordained as a bishop, we were told:

'Keep watch over the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit has appointed you to shepherd the Church of God.'

We, the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, assembled last week in Washington at this time of shame and sorrow. Some bishops, by their actions or their failures to act, have caused great harm to both individuals and the Church as a whole. They have used their authority and power to manipulate and sexually abuse others. They have allowed the fear of scandal to replace genuine concern and care for those who have been victimized by abusers. For this, we again ask forgiveness from both the Lord and those who have been harmed. Turning to the Lord for strength, we must and will do better.

The Administrative Committee took the following actions within its authority:

1. Approved the establishment of a third-party reporting system that will receive confidentially, by phone and online, complaints of sexual abuse of minors by a bishop and sexual harassment of or sexual misconduct with adults by a bishop and will direct those complaints to the appropriate ecclesiastical authority and, as required by applicable law, to civil authorities.

2. Instructed the USCCB Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance to develop proposals for policies addressing restrictions on bishops who were removed or resigned because of allegations of sexual abuse of minors or sexual harassment of or misconduct with adults, including seminarians and priests.

3. Initiated the process of developing a Code of Conduct for bishops regarding the sexual abuse of a minor; sexual harassment of or sexual misconduct with an adult; or negligence in the exercise of his office related to such cases.

4. Supported a full investigation into the situation surrounding Archbishop McCarrick, including his alleged assaults on minors, priests, and seminarians, as well any responses made to those allegations. Such an investigation should rely upon lay experts in relevant fields, such as law enforcement and social services.

This is only a beginning. Consultation with a broad range of concerned parents, experts, and other laity along with clergy and religious will yield additional, specific measures to be taken to repair the scandal and restore justice. We humbly welcome and are grateful for the assistance of the whole people of God in holding us accountable.  

As these initiatives get underway, the Administrative Committee invites each of our brother bishops to join us in acts of prayer and penance. This is a time of deep examination of conscience for each bishop. We cannot content ourselves that our response to sexual assault within the Church has been sufficient. Scripture must be our guide forward, "be doers of the word and not hearers only" (James 1:22).

In all of this, we do not want anyone – ourselves included – to lose sight of those who have suffered from those who have acted or failed to act as the Gospel demanded. For survivors of sexual abuse, these days may re-open deep wounds. Support is available from the Church and within the community. Victims Assistance Coordinators are available in every diocese to help you find resources. We are grateful to hundreds of dedicated people who, since the adoption of the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, have been working with the Church to support survivors and prevent future abuse.

To anyone who has been abused, never hesitate to also contact local law enforcement. If you don't feel comfortable for any reason with the Church providing help, your diocese can connect you with appropriate community services. With compassion and without judgement, the bishops of the United States pledge to heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us.

Acting in communion with the Holy Father, with whom we once again renew our love, obedience, and loyalty, we make our own the prayer of Pope Francis in his August 20 letter to the people of God, "May the Holy Spirit grant us the grace of conversion and the interior anointing needed to express before these crimes of abuse our compunction and our resolve courageously to combat them."

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Administrative Committee, Catholic Bishops, sexual abuse, abuse of minor, sexual harassment, civil authorities, third-party reporting, Canonical Affairs, Church Governance, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Code of Conduct, Victim Assistance Coordinators, Holy Father, Pope Francis, Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3206

Bishop Vásquez, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Migration Releases Statement on the Setting of the U.S. Refugee Limit for the Year 2019 (English & Spanish)

WASHINGTON—The United States Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, announced yesterday that the Administration will set the Presidential Determination, the level of refugees allowed into the United States, at 30,000 refugees for 2019. This is the lowest number set in the history of the U.S. refugee admissions program which was formally created in 1980.

Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, Texas, Chair of the of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

"The announcement of the Presidential Determination is deeply disturbing and leaves many human lives in danger. To cut off protection for many who are fleeing persecution, at a time of unprecedented global humanitarian need, contradicts who we are as a nation. Offering refuge to those fleeing violence, torture, or religious persecution is a cornerstone of our history. We as a country are blessed with vast resources making us capable of securely welcoming those fleeing harm. Closing our doors on those seeking such safety is not who we are as a people. In the coming days, we pray that Congress will have the opportunity to engage in the formal consultation process with the Administration that is required by law. During this mandatory consultation process, Congress should strongly urge the Administration to return to a refugee admission level that reflects local community response and support of refugees, global refugee protection needs, and our long history of compassionately welcoming refugees."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Committee on Migration, Presidential Determination, Administration, Congress, global refugee protection, Diocese of Austin, refugees, migration, humanitarian need, community response
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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200 

WASHINGTON— El Secretario de Estado de Estados Unidos, Michael Pompeo, anunció ayer que la Administración va a fijar la Determinación Presidencial, el número de refugiados permitidos en Estados Unidos, en 30.000 para el 2019. Éste es el número más bajo en la historia del programa de admisiones de refugiados, que fue formalmente creado en 1980.

El Reverendísimo Joe S. Vásquez, Obispo de Austin, Texas, y Presidente del Comité de Migración de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de Estados Unidos emitió el siguiente comunicado:

"El anuncio de la Determinación Presidencial es profundamente inquietante y deja muchas vidas humanas en peligro. Cortar la protección para muchos que huyen de la persecución, en un momento sin precedentes de necesidad humanitaria mundial, contradice lo que somos nosotros como nación. Ofrecer refugio a aquellos que huyen de la violencia, la tortura y la persecución religiosa es una piedra angular de nuestra historia. Como país hemos sido bendecidos con abundantes recursos, lo que nos ha hecho capaces de dar la bienvenida a aquellos que huyen. Cerrar nuestras puertas a quienes buscan tal seguridad no es lo que somos como pueblo. En los próximos días, oramos para que el Congreso tenga la oportunidad de participar en el proceso de consulta formal con la Administración que exige la ley. Durante este proceso obligatorio de consulta, el Congreso debería urgir firmemente a la Administración a retornar al nivel de admisiones de refugiados que es consistente con la respuesta y respaldo de la comunidad local a los refugiados, las necesidades de protección global de refugiados y una larga historia de recibir compasivamente a los refugiados".

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Palabras clave: Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de Estados Unidos, USCCB, Obispo J. Vásquez, Comité de Migración, Determinación Presidencial, Administración, Congreso, protección global a los refugiados, Diócesis de Austin, refugiados, migración, necesidad humanitaria, respuesta comunitaria.

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Contactos de prensa:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

Miguel Guilarte

202-541-3202

Pope Francis Names Rev. Juan Miguel Betancourt, S.E.M.V., as Auxiliary Bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has appointed Rev. Juan Miguel Betancourt, S.E.M.V. as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Hartford. Father Betancourt is a member of the Institute of the Servants of the Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary (Esclavos de la Eucaristia y de Maria Virgen).

Father Betancourt entered the Institute Servants of the Eucharist and the Virgin Mary as a canonical postulant on January 1, 1992. He professed vows as a religious on October 7, 1994. He received his bachelor's in theological studies in May 2000 from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico and earned a Master of Divinity in 2002. He also holds a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute (2005). He was ordained on April 21, 2001.

His assignments include: professor of sacred scripture at the Pontifical University of Puerto Rico (2005-2006), professor of sacred scripture at Regina Cleri Major Seminary in Puerto Rico (2005-2006), assistant professor of sacred scripture at the Seminary of Saint Paul (2006-present), adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas (2006-present), local superior at the Casa de San Jose in Saint Paul, MN, (2006-present) and pastor of the churches of Saint James and Saint Francis de Sales in Saint Paul, MN (2006-present).

Father Betancourt is also a Board Member of the National Conference for Seminarians in Hispanic Ministry (2009-present) and a liaison for Foreign Seminarians at St. Paul Seminary (2008-present).

The Archdiocese of Hartford comprises 2,288 square miles. It has a total population of 1,938,914 people of which 538, 983, or 27 percent, are Catholic. Archbishop Leonard P. Blair is the current Archbishop of Hartford. 

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Rev. Juan Miguel Betancourt, Archdiocese of Hartford, Archbishop Leonard Blair

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

AMENDED RELEASE: Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Bishop Michael Bransfield; Archbishop Lori Instructed to Conduct Investigation into Allegations of Sexual Harassment

The following press release has been amended. Our initial release issued at 6am this morning was based on the entire notification we received from the Nunciature that did not include the additional information provided by the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael Bransfield from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia. Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop William E. Lori as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. He will remain Archbishop of Baltimore. The Holy Father has additionally instructed Archbishop Lori to conduct an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment of adults against Bishop Bransfield.

The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington, September 13, 2018, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Bransfield was born September 8, 1943, in Philadelphia, PA. He graduated from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in 1971, where he earned a master's in Divinity. He also earned his Master's in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America.

He was ordained to the priesthood on May 15, 1971 by Cardinal John Krol for service in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Assignments after ordination included: teacher, chaplain, and Chairman of the Religion Department at Lansdale Catholic High School. In 1980, Bishop Bransfield went on to serve as Assistant Director and Director of Liturgy, Director of Finance, and then Rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (1990).

On December 9, 2004, Pope Saint John Paul II appointed Bishop Bransfield the eighth Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia.  He was ordained a bishop on February 22, 2005.

Bishop Bransfield served as a member of the Communications Committee, the National Collections Committee, and Treasurer of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is comprised of 24,282 square miles in the state of West Virginia and has a total population of 1,844,128 of which 77,874 or 4 percent, are Catholic.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Bishop Michael Bransfield, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Archbishop William E. Lori, Baltimore.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200