Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

U.S. Bishops Conference Offers Audio Recordings of Scripture, Daily Reflections, Downloadable Calendar to Help Catholics Observe Lent

WASHINGTON—A variety of resources to help Catholics observe Lent, which this year begins on Ash Wednesday, February 14, are being provided by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). 

With the theme "Raise Up, Sacrifice, Offer," resources include a new set of daily suggestions for reading, reflection, prayer and action, in addition to the traditional downloadable reflection calendar available in years past. The downloadable Lent calendar with quotes from Pope Francis, Scripture, and Church fathers, is available in both English and Spanish. The daily suggestions and downloadable calendar offer teachings and suggestions for taking an active approach to the three traditional pillars of Lenten observance: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

The website www.usccb.org/lent, also includes facts about saints whose feast days or memorials fall within Lent, a reflection on fasting, information on rediscovering the Sacrament of Penance, and a section on Holy Week observances. The USCCB has also created an accompanying video reflecting on Lent for sharing on social media.  

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday on February 14, and concludes at sunset on Holy Thursday, March 29. At that time, the Paschal Triduum begins. The three days of the Triduum last from sunset on Holy Thursday to sunset on Easter Sunday, which will be celebrated on April 1.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Lent, Ash Wednesday, Daily Reflections, Scripture, Pope Francis, Church fathers, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, Sacrament of Penance, Holy Week, Holy Thursday, Paschal Triduum, Easter Sunday.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

International Day of Prayer for Victims of Human Trafficking to be Observed February 8th

WASHINGTON—The International Day of Prayer for Victims of Human Trafficking will be observed on February 8th. Designated by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the International Union of Superiors General as a time of remembrance for victims and survivors of forced labor and commercial sex trafficking, the day coincides with the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita.

With an estimated over 25 million women, children, and men trapped in modern-day slavery, February 8th offers an opportunity to educate communities of faith about the prevalence of trafficking and to pray for its victims, who are often "hidden in plain sight". Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Migration, notes "through prayer we grow in solidarity with those that have suffered this affront to human dignity. We demonstrate to survivors that they are not alone."

In honor of this important day, the USCCB's Migration and Refugee Services, the Archdiocese of Washington, the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, and Trinity Washington University will host an Inter-Religious Prayer Service to remember victims and survivors of human trafficking, and to reflect on how we can unite against modern-day slavery. The service will take place on February 8th at 6:30 PM at the Chapel of Trinity University (125 Michigan Ave NE, Washington, DC). To rsvp  for an evening of prayer with representatives from the world's major religions, see Inter-Religious Service.

For help in hosting an awareness event or prayer service locally, visit Become a Shepherd for downloadable resources.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe Vásquez, Committee on Migration, St. Josephine Bakhita, human trafficking, anti-trafficking, forced labor, modern-day slavery

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Collection for Church in Central and Eastern Europe Takes Place on Ash Wednesday, February 14; More Than $9.1 Million Awarded in 2017 Will Fund 318 Projects

WASHINGTON—The annual collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe will be held in most parishes on Ash Wednesday, February 14.

The collection supports pastoral, evangelization, and construction projects, as well as educational scholarships in Central and Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. Other areas of funding include lay and religious formation, poverty outreach, and communications.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe awarded over $9.1 million in grants last year for 318 projects in support of the Church in formerly communist countries of the region.

"For decades, our brothers and sisters in Central and Eastern Europe faced a test of faith as they suffered religious and political persecution under oppressive regimes," said Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago and chairman of the Subcommittee. "We rely on US Catholics' generosity to this collection to support these communities as they rebuild their faith and continue to be modern witnesses of the Gospel message."

The Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe oversees the collection and an annual grant program as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. More information about the collection and what it supports can be found at www.usccb.org/ccee. Shareable resources to promote it can be found at www.usccb.org/ccee/collection.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Blase Cupich, Subcommittee on the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, religious persecution, political persecution, solidarity, faith communities, Gospel message, evangelization, education, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, poverty, outreach, reconstruction, national collection

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Media Contact
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


Pope Francis Names New Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has appointed Father Joel Konzen, S.M, as a new auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Georgia. Father Konzen is a member of the Society of Mary (Marists) and currently serves as the principal of Marist School in Atlanta.  

The appointment was publicized in Washington on February 5, 2018, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Joel Konzen was born on November 6, 1950, in Oak Harbor, Ohio, in the Diocese of Toledo. He attended St Meinrad College, Indiana, from 1968-1972, earning a bachelor's degree in English. At Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans he earned a master's degree in Divinity (1972-1974), and at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., he earned a master's degree in Systematic Theology in 1978 and a master's degree in Educational Administration in 1991.

In 1974, at Notre Dame, he entered the Society of Mary novitiate (Washington, DC) and took first vows as a Marist in 1975. He was ordained a priest in 1979 in New Orleans.

Assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar, St. Edmond Parish, Lafayette, LA, 1979-1980; director of Admissions & Financial Aid, Marist School, Atlanta, GA, 1980-1982; principal, Marist School, Atlanta, GA, 1982-1988; president, Marist School, Atlanta, GA, 1988-1989; Vicar Provincial, Marist Center, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992; president/principal, St. Michael's Academy, Austin, TX, 1992-1997; vicar provincial, Marist Center, Washington, D.C., 1997-1999; principal, Marist School, Atlanta, GA, 1999-present. Fr. Konzen received the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) Catholic Secondary Schools Department Educational Excellence Award in 2015.

The Archdiocese of Atlanta, GA, comprises 21,445 square miles. It has a total population of 7,256,925 people of which 1,050,000, or 14 percent, are Catholic. 

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Reverend Joel Konzen, Archdiocese of Atlanta

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Bishop Francis J. Christian of Manchester

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Francis Joseph Christian, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Manchester, for reasons of age. He has reached the retirement age for bishops of 75.

Bishop Christian's retirement was publicized in Washington, February 1, 2018, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. 

Francis J. Christian was born October 8, 1942 in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He attended St. Anselm College, Manchester, St. Paul Seminary, Ottawa, and the American College in Louvain, Belgium, earning his bachelor's degree in Philosophy in 1964, his master's degree in Theology in 1968, and a doctoral degree in Religious Studies with a specialization in Moral Theology in 1975.

He was ordained a priest by Bishop Ernest J. Primeau, the sixth bishop of Manchester, for the Diocese of Manchester on June 29, 1968, at St. Patrick Church, Jaffrey, NH. 

Assignments after ordination include: assistant pastor, Our Lady of Mercy, Merrimack, 1968-1971; assistant pastor, St. Joseph Cathedral, Manchester, 1971-1972; post graduate student, Louvain, Ph.D. in Moral Theology, 1972-1975; Vice Chancellor, Diocese of Manchester, 1975-1977; Chancellor, Diocese of Manchester, 1977-1986; Secretary for Administrative/Canonical Affairs, 1986-1996. In 1986, Pope John Paul II named Bishop Christian a prelate of honor, which includes the title "Monsignor."

On April 2, 1996, Pope John Paul II appointed then-Monsignor Francis Christian as Auxiliary Bishop of Manchester and Titular Bishop of Quincy. He was ordained a bishop on May 14, 1996 at St. Joseph Cathedral by Bishop Leo E. O'Neil. 

The Diocese of Manchester comprises 9,305 square miles. It has a total population of 1,334,795 people of which 254,594, or 19 percent, are Catholic.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Auxiliary Bishop Francis J. Christian, Diocese of Manchester, Bishop 

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

New Poverty USA and PobrezaUSA Websites Help Catholics Encounter, Learn and Act to Address Poverty

WASHINGTON—Catholics can encounter, learn and act to address poverty in the United States through two new websites from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). PovertyUSA.org and its Spanish mirror site, PobrezaUSA.org, were launched today, the last day of Poverty Awareness Month (January). The mobile-friendly sites offer tools and resources to help Catholics put faith in action by working to address poverty. Resources include an interactive map with state and county level poverty statistics, learning activities about poverty, prayer materials, and multimedia. The sites also feature stories of hope about how communities are working to address poverty locally, and an interactive map to find community organizations funded by the U.S. bishops' Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

"As disciples of Christ, we are invited to encounter those in our communities who experience poverty," said Bishop David P. Talley of Alexandria, chair of the CCHD Subcommittee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. "Poverty in the United States is a reality. We must work together to put faith in action to work towards policies in our local communities, and nationally, that can help address it."

Nearly 41 million people live in poverty in the United States, including 15 million children. The poverty threshold is $24,600 for a family of four and $12,200 for a single person.

Catholics can join the conversation about poverty in our communities on social media at www.facebook.com/povertyusa and twitter.com/endpovertyusa.

PovertyUSA.org and PobrezaUSA.org are an initiative of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the domestic anti-poverty program of the USCCB that works to break the cycle of poverty by helping low-income people participate in decisions that affect their lives, families and communities, and by helping Catholics encounter, learn and act to address the causes of poverty.

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Keywords: Poverty USA, PobrezaUSA, website, Facebook, Twitter, poverty, statistics, map, resources, stories, Catholic Campaign for Human Development, CCHD

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

National Marriage Week USA, World Marriage Day Promote Gift of Marriage as School of Life and Love

WASHINGTON—National Marriage Week USA and World Marriage Day are opportunities "to focus on building a culture of life and love that begins with supporting and promoting marriage and the family," wrote Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in a letter to his brother bishops.

February 7-14 marks the annual celebration of National Marriage Week USA. World Marriage Day is celebrated annually on the second Sunday of February. This year, World Marriage Day is Sunday, February 11, coinciding with the World Day of the Sick.

The USCCB offers resources to the faithful for the promotion and defense of marriage as a lifelong union of one man and one woman through its dedicated websites ForYourMarriage.org, PorTuMatrimonio.org, and MarriageUniqueForAReason.org. Additional resources specifically for the celebration of National Marriage Week, including a homily resource, bulletin insert, poster, and prayer intentions, can be found on the USCCB website: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/national-marriage-week.cfm.

Starting February 7, a daily virtual marriage retreat for couples will be made available on the ForYourMarriage.org website and via the For Your Marriage social media channels on Facebook and Twitter. The seven-day retreat will focus on the theme "Marriage: School of Life and Love." A rosary for engaged and married couples and for families in need of healing will be live-streamed from the chapel at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, DC via the USCCB Facebook page and Twitter feed on Friday, February 9 at 3:00 pm EST.

A wide array of prayer cards, books and pamphlets on marriage and family can be ordered online through the USCCB store.

National Marriage Week USA, launched in 2010, is part of an international event seeking to mobilize individuals, organizations, and businesses in a common purpose to strengthen marriage in communities and influence the culture. For information and resources, visit: NationalMarriageWeekUSA.org. World Marriage Day was started in 1983 by Worldwide Marriage Encounter.

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Keywords: Archbishop Charles Chaput, National Marriage Week USA, World Marriage Sunday, marriage, family, USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, For Your Marriage, Por Tu Matrimonio, Marriage Unique for a Reason

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Bishops’ Pilgrimage to the Holy Land Seeks “Bridges, Not Walls”

WASHINGTON—Ten bishops made a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land on January 18 - 27, 2018. In reflections issued at the conclusion of the Pilgrimage, they noted the "many walls and some bridges" they encountered as they "sought out those on the peripheries." The visit, had as its theme, "Bridges, Not Walls," to help connect the bishops' domestic experiences of walls on the U.S. southern border to the reality of walls in the Holy Land. 

They offer a number of reflections regarding their visit, including:

In Sderot, the city that has suffered the most from rocket attacks by Hamas, the bishops noted "they encountered the real fears of Israelis who grieve for the loss of lives," and also expressed great concern for their children who are "regularly required to practice air raid drills."

In addition to visiting Jerusalem, Nazareth, and many holy sites, where they celebrated daily Eucharist, the bishops traveled to Gaza and Jiffna in the Palestinian Territories to celebrate the Sunday Eucharist with "small, vibrant Christian communities."

They traveled extensively in the West Bank, including to Hebron, Susya and Bethlehem, witnessing firsthand the "stark reminders of the Israeli occupation—check-points that inhibit movement, confiscations of Palestinian lands, expansion of Israeli settlements, and a security barrier whose route cuts deep into the West Bank, which together with Israeli-only bypass roads, strangles natural urban growth and divides the Palestinian Territories into non-contiguous cantons."

The bishops also urge the U.S. government not to cut badly needed humanitarian and development assistance. They had met with families in Gaza and the West Bank who depend on aid for basic necessities, health care and education.

The bishops also express a particular concern for the dramatic decline of the Christian presence throughout the Holy Land, but also noted there are reasons for hope. In particular, they pointed to schools sponsored by the Church where persons of different religions study together, health ministries that serve the most vulnerable, and relief and development agencies doing heroic work.

The Pilgrimage for Peace was originally proposed by Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, when he was Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, with the support of Bishop Nelson Jesus Perez of Cleveland, Chairman of the Sub-committee on Hispanic Affairs. Catholic Relief Services and the Holy Land Incoming Tour Operators Association partnered with the USCCB Office of International Justice and Peace in planning the Pilgrimage.

Calling for an end to violence and the occupation, the bishops are asking "Catholics to pray for the peoples of the Holy Land, to come on Pilgrimage to both the Holy Sites and the local Christian community, and to urge our nation's leaders to support policies that promote justice and peace."

The other bishops who participated were Bishop José Arturo Cepeda of Detroit, Bishop Octavio Cisneros of Brooklyn, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, MSpS, of Seattle, Bishop Felipe de Jesús Estévez of St. Augustine, Bishop Armando Xavier Ochoa of Fresno, Bishop Rutilio del Riego of San Bernardino, Bishop Alberto Rojas of Chicago, and Bishop Plácido Rodriguez of Lubbock.

The full text of the statement can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/israel-palestine/bridges-not-wall-reflections-bishops-pilgrimage-holy-land-01-18-27-2018.cfm.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pilgrimage, Holy Land, reflections, bridges, walls, peripheries, southern border West Bank, Israel, Palestine, Gaza, holy sites, Hebron, Susya, Bethlehem, Sderot, humanitarian assistance, rocket attacks, Jerusalem, Nazareth, Jiffna, Palestinian Territories, justice, peace.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Migration Praises Path to Citizenship for Dreamers; Remains Deeply Troubled About Proposal’s Impact on Family Unity

WASHINGTON—In response to the White House framework on immigration released on January 26th, Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, stated the following:

"We welcome the Administration's proposal to include a path to citizenship for Dreamers. However, the proposed cuts to family immigration and elimination of protections to unaccompanied children are deeply troubling. Family immigration is part of the bedrock of our country and of our Church. Pope Francis states: 'the family is the foundation of co-existence and a remedy against social fragmentation.' Upholding and protecting the family unit, regardless of its national origins, is vital to our faith. Additionally, in searching for a solution for Dreamers, we must not turn our backs on the vulnerable. We should not, for example, barter the well-being of unaccompanied children for the well-being of the Dreamers. We know them all to be children of God who need our compassion and mercy.

We urge a bipartisan solution forward that is narrowly-tailored. Time is of the essence. Every day we experience the human consequences of delayed action in the form of young people losing their livelihood and their hope. As pastors and leaders of the Church, we see this fear and sadness in our parishes and as such, continue to call for immediate action. Elected officials must show leadership to quickly enact legislation that provides for our security and is humane, proportionate and just."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, USCCB Committee on Migration, White House, Dreamers, family immigration, Pope Francis, unaccompanied minors, family unit, vulnerable, bipartisan solution, family unity

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


Catholic Bishops’ Pro-Life Chairman Calls Senate Failure to Pass Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act “Appalling”

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities called the Senate's failure to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act "appalling". The bill proposes to ban abortions starting at 20 weeks after fertilization.

"The U.S. Senate's failure to adopt the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, prohibiting abortions at 20 weeks post-fertilization, is appalling. Abortions performed in the second half of pregnancy usually involve brutally dismembering a defenseless unborn child, while also posing serious dangers to his or her mother. The Senate's rejection of this common-sense legislation is radically out of step with most Americans. Opinion polls consistently show that a strong majority of the public opposes late-term abortions—including those who self-identify as 'pro-choice'. Furthermore, the United States is currently one of only seven countries that allows abortions beyond 20-weeks. The other six are North Korea, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada and the Netherlands. The Senate must rethink its extreme stance on late-term abortions. I call upon the public to tell the Senate that this vote is absolutely unacceptable."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36), U.S. House of Representatives, Congress, abortion, late-term abortion, viability, Roe v. Wade, fetal organ harvesting, civil rights, pro-life, 20-week abortion ban

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200