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Browsing News Entries

U.S. Catholic Church Stands in Solidarity with Immigrants and Refugees Observation of National Migration Week: January 5-11, 2020

WASHINGTON—Globally, there are more than 70 million people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes due to political instability, violence, and economic hardship. Pope Francis has challenged people to move from a culture of “indifference” to a culture of solidarity, which will help them to embrace the poor and marginalized, and those struggling to find a better life.

For nearly a half-century, National Migration Week has been observed in the United States to highlight the situation of immigrants and refugees and unite in prayer to accompany them. The theme for this year’s observance (January 5-11) is “Promoting a Church and a World for All,” and reflects the Church as a welcoming place for all God’s children.

“As a founding principle of our country, we have always welcomed immigrant and refugee populations, and through the social services and good works of the Church, we have accompanied our brothers and sisters in integrating to daily American life,” said Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration. “National Migration Week is an opportunity for the Church to prayerfully unite and live out the Holy Father’s vision to welcome immigrants and refugees into our communities and to provide opportunities that will help them and all people of good will to thrive.”

Educational materials and other resources for National Migration Week are available on the Justice for Immigrants website.

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Keywords: USCCB, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Pope Francis, Bishop Mario Dorsonville, Archdiocese of Washington, Committee on Migration, National Migration Week, Justice for Immigrants.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
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Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Richard Higgins of the Military Services

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Most Reverend Richard Higgins as Auxiliary Bishop for the Military Services.
 
The resignation was publicized in Washington on January 2, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Bishop Richard Higgins, auxiliary bishop, Archdiocese for the Military Services.

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U.S. Bishops' Conference President Reflects on the World Day of Peace

WASHINGTON — The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, has issued the following statement marking the 53rd World Day of Peace on January 1, 2020.

Archbishop Gomez’s full statement follows:

In this holy season, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the living God who comes among us as the Prince of Peace, to bring peace to our hearts and peace on earth.

Yet we are aware always that our world and our lives are far from peaceful. So many of our brothers and sisters are living in countries torn by war and injustice, terrorism and persecution; many suffer violence because of race, religion, ideology or nationality. Many of our brothers and sisters, even children, are being bought and sold and living in slavery; millions in our world have no place to call home because of poverty and instability.

In our neighborhoods and communities, violence and cruelty are a sad and ordinary reality of daily life. Still children in our country are killed each day in the womb, and many of our neighbors do not have what they need to lead a dignified life. Our politics and cultural discourse are often marked by anger and a merciless and unforgiving contempt for others.

This season we note with particular sadness the violent attacks on people of faith. To name just a few incidents: worshippers in a church in Texas are assaulted by a gunman; in New York, a man goes on a stabbing rampage during a Hanukkah celebration in a rabbi’s home. Christians in Nigeria are beheaded and their killers share video of the atrocity worldwide.

It needs to be said that violence in the name of God is blasphemy. The rise of antisemitic violence in this country and around the world must be condemned along with the ongoing persecution of Christians. Protecting religious freedom and freedom of conscience should be among the highest priorities of every government.

Jesus Christ came as a child on Christmas to show us that every person is a child of God, made in his image. He came to show us that all humanity is one family, that we are all brothers and sisters no matter where we are born, the color of our skin or the language that we speak. Jesus suffered and died to show us how precious each one of us is in the eyes of God, and he calls us to love one another as he loves us, with no exceptions.

So, on this World Day of Peace, the Catholic Church in the United States joins our Holy Father Pope Francis and the Church worldwide in praying for peace. We pray for peace in our hearts and peace in our world. We pray for the conversion of every heart that hates and we pray for the courage to overcome evil with good and respond to hatred with love.

We know that peace is God’s gift, and peace begins when we recognize his presence in every person, when we love him and serve him in the poor and defenseless, in those who are ill, in the refugee, the immigrant, and the prisoner, in every person that our society or economy cannot find a place for.

As we begin a new year and a new decade, we entrust ourselves and our nation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. We ask her to intercede for us and to help us to walk on the path of peace.
 
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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop José H. Gomez, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, World Day of Peace, Pope Francis.
 
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Richard Coll Named Executive Director of the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

WASHINGTON - Mr. Richard Coll has been appointed as Executive Director of the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), based in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Coll began his tenure with the USCCB in 2011, first as a Foreign Policy Advisor for the Office of International Justice and Peace, then as the Director for the Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions. Earlier this year, he was appointed as the Director of the Office of Domestic Social Development where he has led the work of the U.S. bishops on issues of human dignity, development, and poverty.

In announcing the appointment, Monsignor J. Brian Bransfield, USCCB General Secretary said, “Richard’s experience within the various departments of the Conference, along with his prior experience as an attorney in the areas of international trade, finance, and development, position him uniquely to lead the efforts of Conference staff in service to the poor and to those who suffer violence and persecution, both here and abroad. I am very grateful to Richard for his continued service to the bishops and to the Conference in this new capacity.”

A graduate of Harvard College and Law School, Mr. Coll came to the Conference after a distinguished career in law in both Washington, D.C. and New York, where he worked in banking and international economic policy. He is fluent in Spanish and French and brings an expertise in various policy areas. Mr. Coll is a parishioner at Holy Trinity Church in Washington and is a former member of the parish pastoral council.

The Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development provides staff support to the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, the Committee on International Justice and Peace, and the Committee on Religious Liberty, as well as the Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Justice Peace and Human Development, International Justice and Peace, Catholic Home Missions, Office of Domestic Social Development, Richard Coll.
 
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Media Contacts:
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Pro-Life Chairman Commends Final Rule Separating Abortion Payments from Health Care Coverage

WASHINGTON–On Friday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the Exchange Program Integrity Final Rule. Among other provisions, the rule ensures that when Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange plans include elective abortion coverage— for which public funding is prohibited by federal law—customers receive separate bills for abortion coverage from their health insurance. The fact sheet additionally noted that “if the policy holder fails to pay the separate bill in a separate transaction as instructed by the issuer, the issuer may not terminate the policy holder’s coverage on this basis, provided the amount due is otherwise paid.”

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), shared the following statement:

“Consumers have a right to know if they are paying for elective abortion. While the Affordable Care Act still allows government-subsidized plans to cover abortion, at least with this rule, Americans can now see and try to avoid complicity by choosing plans consistent with their consciences. I commend the Administration for enforcing the law, for its efforts to ensure transparency in healthcare, and for attempting to respect unborn human life.”

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Keywords: Murry, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, CMS, Affordable Care Act, ACA, Exchange Program Integrity Final Rule.

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Media Contacts:
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Bishop Chairmen Applaud Repeal of “Parking Lot Tax” on Houses of Worship and Nonprofits

WASHINGTON–A recently-passed provision to repeal a section in the U.S. tax code has the support of chairmen of two committees for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The provision repeals Section 512(a)(7), commonly called the “parking lot tax” because it taxes nonprofit organizations, including houses of worship, for the cost of parking and transit benefits they provide to their employees.

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop George V. Murry, S.J. of Youngstown, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, issued a statement in support of the repeal:

“Houses of worship and charitable organizations provide invaluable spiritual care, social services, and support in every community in our country. Especially during this time of year, we remember the ongoing good work happening through these organizations. To impose a new tax on these entities was wrong in the first place. We applaud Congress for amending the Internal Revenue Code to eliminate this burdensome tax. By requiring nonprofits and houses of worship to pay taxes on parking and transit benefits provided for their employees, Section 512(a)(7) entangles the IRS with houses of worship and drains the charitable sector of vital resources. We welcome its repeal.”

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Keywords: Archbishop Paul Coakley, Bishop George Murry, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Committee on Justice and Human Development, Committee on Religious Liberty, Congress, House, Senate, parking lot tax, religious liberty, religious freedom.

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U.S. Bishops’ Catholic Education Chair Applauds Reauthorization of Scholarship Program Benefiting Low-Income Students

WASHINGTON - Yesterday, the United States Congress passed a four year reauthorization of the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act, which includes the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), a federal education voucher that serves nearly 2,000 students who live in Washington, D.C.

Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ of Oakland, chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, expressed his appreciation for the reauthorization:

“The Catholic Church has consistently taught that children have the universal right to an education, and that parents have the right and responsibility to serve as the primary educators of their children. The Church also teaches that the state has a fundamental obligation to support parents in fulfilling such a right. I am grateful to the United States Congress for reauthorizing the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which reinforces this teaching that upholds the role of parents. This popular scholarship that serves residents in our nation’s capital empowers parents to make the best educational choice for their child’s future and I applaud the reauthorization of this program.”

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program was originally signed into law in 2003 as a three-sector initiative to provide new federal funding to public schools and charter schools in Washington, D.C. and provide scholarships to students for families wishing to send their children to a private school.

Over the last fifteen years, close to 25,000 students have applied to the program, and almost 10,000 have been recipients of a scholarship. The average income for families with children enrolled in the program is $24,000 per year, and 91 percent of the children are minorities. The high school graduation rate of participating students is 98 percent, and 86 percent of those enroll in a two- or four-year college or university, reinforcing the positive impact that this program has in empowering families to choose a school that best fits the needs of their child.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, Committee on Catholic Education, D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, OSP, Scholarships for Opportunity and Results, SOAR Act, Catholic education, school choice, scholarships.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
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Pro-Life and Domestic Justice Chairmen Urge Congress to Stand Against Assisted Suicide

WASHINGTON –This week, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, and chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, urged the House of Representatives to support H. Con. Res. 79, a resolution introduced this week describing assisted suicide as a “deadly, discriminatory and non-compassionate practice.”

The bishops shared the following statement:

“Assisted suicide fractures the human family by targeting its most vulnerable members, including the elderly and persons with disabilities, suggesting that their lives are not worth living. We must do what we can to uphold the dignity of life, cherish the lives of all human beings, and work to prevent all suicides. We urge the U.S. Congress to do all it can to protect Americans from this cruel practice, and to ensure those who are ill, disabled, or facing the end of life receive comprehensive medical and palliative care instead of a facilitated suicide.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Congress, House of Representatives, assisted suicide.

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Media Contacts:
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U.S. Bishops Approve $4.2 Million in Grants to Support the Church in Latin America, Including Indigenous Ministries and Youth Outreach Programs

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America (CLA) awarded a $17,000 grant to support the formation of more than 400 indigenous lay leaders in Colombia. Because of remote locations, poor infrastructure, and a shortage of priests, indigenous communities in the region seek the integral formation of lay leaders. Under the guidance of local pastors, this grant will help train and support leaders from 90 indigenous communities to expand ministries such as catechesis, Liturgy of the Word, and distribution of Holy Communion in the region.

The grant to expand indigenous ministries in Colombia is one of hundreds of projects approved for funding recently by the Subcommittee. At its meeting on November 9 in Baltimore, MD, the Subcommittee reviewed 194 grant requests totaling $6.2 million to support the pastoral work of the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean and approved $4.2 million in funding for all 194 requests. Grants were awarded from proceeds of the annual Collection for the Church in Latin America and the special emergency fund set up after the 2017 earthquakes in Mexico.

“The Church in Latin America is vibrant and full of people longing to grow closer to Christ. Thanks to the Collection for the Church in Latin America, we can support communities in need in the region and share our faith,” said Bishop Octavio Cisneros, auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn, and chairman of the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America.

Projects that received funding for pastoral activities include the following:

●  A Caritas-led youth formation project for more than 150 pastoral leaders from all the dioceses of Argentina.

●  Formation of approximately 100 women religious members of the indigenous congregation of the Little Sisters of Sainte Therese in Haiti.

●  Financial support for repairs of a church that was damaged by an earthquake in 2017, located in an impoverished indigenous area of Oaxaca, Mexico.

“Collectively, the support of these projects by US Catholics through the CLA collection gives the faithful an opportunity to put their faith into action,” said Bishop Cisneros. “The US bishops are committed to aiding our brothers and sisters in Latin America.”

Other areas of funding include catechesis, seminarian and religious formation, and youth and family ministries. The annual collection that funds Subcommittee grants is taken up in many dioceses across the US 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. It also makes grants to dioceses and parishes to rebuild from natural disasters out of the Caribbean Church share of several USCCB emergency collections. More information about the annual CLA Collection, and the many grants it funds may be found at www.usccb.org/latin-america. Videos on the Collection may also be viewed in English and Spanish.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Octavio Cisneros, Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America, Caribbean, Haiti, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
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Statement of U.S. Bishops Chairman on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs on Antisemitism

WASHINGTON— Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, and chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, issued the following statement:

“The recent attack on a Kosher Market in Jersey City, alongside many other recent hateful and at times violent actions, have highlighted the importance of, once again, publicly condemning any and all forms of antisemitism whether in thought, word or action. The past has taught us silence and passivity can result in the advancement of the worst crimes humanity can commit.

“The Catholic Church has an irrevocable commitment to the Jewish community. This commitment is clear and straightforward: antisemitism is anti-Christian and should not be tolerated in any form. At the Second Vatican Council, in Nostra Aetate, the Catholic Church articulated, ‘Mindful of the inheritance she shares with the Jews, the Church decries hatreds, persecutions, and manifestations of antisemitism directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.’

“We offer our prayerful support for all victims of antisemitic violence and their families. It is our hope that through continued respectful collaboration and dialogue with our Jewish brothers and sisters Catholics will help build a culture that completely rejects antisemitism.”

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Keywords: USCCB, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Kosher Market, antisemitism, Catholic Church, Nostra Aetate, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, Diocese of Scranton, Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200