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Thursday, 20 November 2014 11:32

(USCCB News Archives can be accessed at www.usccb.org/news/)
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USCCB SECRETARIAT ON CULTURAL DIVERSITY IN THE CHURCH TO ASSESS
THE PASTORAL NEEDS OF ASIAN AND PACIFIC ISLAND CATHOLICS IN THE U.S.


WASHINGTON — In the coming months, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Island Affairs and the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church will conduct a nationwide assessment of the pastoral needs of Asian and Pacific Island Catholics. Findings from this project will be used to formulate a broader National Pastoral Plan.
 
“Building upon the USCCB’s mission of evangelization, and desiring to minister in the best possible way to all Catholics, the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church has determined the need for a National Pastoral Plan for Asian and Pacific Island Catholics,” said Bishop Randolph Calvo of Reno, Nevada, chairman of the Subcommittee for Asian and Pacific Islands Affairs. “This plan aims to identify current conditions and needs, revealing how faith is lived and expressed in culturally-specific contexts.”
 
The assessment will be conducted by a team of social scientists, led by Tricia Bruce, Ph.D. of Maryville College in Tennessee and the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), and will include the participation of pastoral leaders such as bishops and diocesan directors, pastors and pastoral teams,volunteers and parishioners. The survey (http://bit.ly/NSAPICUS) will include questions related to liturgy, formation, leadership, identity, integration, as well as family and community among Asian and Pacific Island Catholics.
 
The study will also convene focus groups at large gatherings, such as the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress and the Mid-Atlantic Congress in Baltimore, and will conduct extensive interviews with influential leaders who minister to these communities.
 
Participation in these efforts is essential to help the Catholic Church develop a better understanding of the contributions and needs of such a diverse community, Bishop Calvo said.
 
“Today, the Church continues to be enriched by the presence and growth of people of Asian and Pacific Island descent who now constitute six percent of the overall United States population. They represent a wide diversity of groups and cultures,” Bishop Calvo said. “Some are new immigrants, others are well-established, and an increasing number are U.S. born. Some come from distant lands and others, such as Hawaiians or Guamanians, are native to the U.S.”
 
The project’s findings will be summarized in a report and will inform the development of a National Pastoral Plan for Asian and Pacific Island Catholics.
 
More information on the USCCB Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Island Affairs can be found online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/cultural-diversity/asian-pacific-islander/index.cfm

November 19, 2014
USCCB CHAIRMEN WELCOME FCC CHAIRMAN'S PROPOSAL TO
PERMANENTLY RAISE FUNDING FOR PROGRAM ASSISTING
CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WITH BROADBAND INTERNET ACCESS


WASHINGTON — Two U.S. bishops applauded a proposal by the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission that would help provide sustainable broadband capacity to Catholic schools. In a November 18 letter, Archbishop George J. Lucas of Omaha and Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City expressed their appreciation and support for the proposal of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to permanently increase the funding level of the E-Rate program. The proposal is subject to a vote of the full Commission, December 11.
 
“The E-rate program is a vital resource to the Catholic schools in the United States and an important means for ensuring all children have access to the internet,” wrote Archbishop Lucas and Bishop Wester. “Last year, Catholic schools educated 1,974,578 students in 6,594 Catholic schools, 3,200 of which participated in the E-Rate program.”
 
Archbishop Lucas and Bishop Wester chair, respectively, the Committees on Catholic Education and Communications of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
 
The bishops said the E-Rate program, while successful in helping schools gain access to telecommunications services, the Internet and other technology funds, has been “consistently and severely underfunded.” They said the proposal to fund the E-Rate program at $3.9 billion annually will allow public and private schools previously unable to participate in the program “to provide 21st century education and learning with the additional funding connecting students and their teachers to high-speed broadband.”
 
They noted the difference the proposed funding would make in the lives of Catholic school students: “It will improve Catholic student outcomes by allowing our teachers to take full advantage of the online and digital resources and tools needed to transform teaching and learning. Finally, the additional funding will ensure adequate access to connectivity, including a focus on our schools in disadvantaged communities so that everyone, everywhere – rural, urban and suburban – has access to sufficient capacity. Catholic schools have a rich tradition of educating the disadvantaged and the underserved children in this country and doing it well.”
 
Full text of the letter is available online: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/catholic-education/public-policy/upload/E-Rate_Letter_to_Chairman_Wheeler-Nov__18-Final-2.pdf

November 18, 2014
CARDINAL O'MALLEY, ARCHBISHOP LORI URGE CONGRESS TO INCLUDE
ABORTION NON-DISCRIMINATION ACT IN FUNDING LEGSILATION

 
WASHINGTON — Congress should incorporate the protections of the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA) into must-pass funding legislation, said the chairmen of two committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in a November 17 letter to Congress. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore cited the California Department of Managed Health Care’s recent move to mandate elective abortions in all health plans under its jurisdiction, with no religious or moral exemption, as one urgent reason for Congress to improve federal laws protecting conscience rights on abortion.
 
“The crisis in California requires Congress to reaffirm a principle that has long enjoyed broad bipartisan support: Government should not force hospitals, doctors, nurses and other providers to stop offering or covering much-needed legitimate health care because they cannot in conscience participate in destroying a developing human life,” wrote Cardinal O’Malley and Archbishop Lori. They chair the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, respectively.
 
Cardinal O’Malley and Archbishop Lori noted that such rules proposed in California and other states violate the longstanding Weldon amendment, which forbids governmental bodies receiving federal funds from discriminating against those who object to taking part in abortion or abortion coverage. However, that law lacks an effective means of enforcement and has been subject to legal challenges. The bishops support ANDA as an assurance of greater legal protection. Its protections were included in the U.S. House of Representatives’ draft version of the Labor/HHS appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2013, but that act was ultimately not passed by Congress.
 
“We strongly urge you to incorporate ANDA into must-pass funding legislation at your earliest possible opportunity,” the bishops concluded.
 
Full text of the letter is available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/upload/Abortion-Non-Discrimination-Act-O-Malley-Lori-Letter-to-Congress-11-17-2014.pdf
 
More information on the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act is available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/upload/the-need-for-the-abortion-non-discrimination-act.pdf

November 18, 2014
ARCHBISHOP WENSKI, BISHOP CANTU URGE CONGRESS TO
PROTECT PROGRAMS THAT HELP THE POOR AND VULNERABLE


WASHINGTON — The U.S. bishops stand ready to work with Congress “to protect poor and vulnerable people, promote human life and dignity, and advance the common good,” said the bishops who chair two committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in a November 17 letter to Congress. Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami and Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, urged Congressional leaders to draw a “circle of protection” around programs serving the poor and vulnerable as they weigh spending and tax legislation.
 
“As pastors, we see every day the human consequences of budget choices. Our Catholic community defends the unborn, feeds the hungry, shelters the homeless, educates the young, and cares for the sick, both at home and abroad. These voices are too often missing from public policy debates, but they have the most compelling moral claim on our consciences and our common resources,” wrote Archbishop Wenski and Bishop Cantú.
 
Archbishop Wenski and Bishop Cantú chair the USCCB committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development and International Justice and Peace, respectively.
 
They highlighted nutrition for women, infants and children; affordable housing; community health centers; and mental health services and workforce development as programs that should not be cut. They also expressed support for extending the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as well as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.
 
Archbishop Wenski and Bishop Cantú also noted the importance of poverty-focused international assistance, humanitarian and disaster assistance, long-term development programs and international food and agriculture programs.
 
Full text of the letter is available online: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/wenski-cantu-to-congress-federal-spending-2014-11-17.pdf

November 17, 2014
HOLY FATHER TO VISIT 2015 WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES
 
WASHINGTON—The visit of Pope Francis to Philadelphia in September 2015 for the World Meeting of Families will be a “joyful moment,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Pope Francis made his intention to travel to the United States public, November 17, in an address to the Colloquium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman at the Vatican.

“The presence of Pope Francis at the World Meeting of Families in our country will be a joyful moment for millions of Catholics and people of good will.  Our great hope has been that the Holy Father would visit us next year to inspire our families in their mission of love. It is a blessing to hear the pope himself announce the much anticipated news,” said Archbishop Kurtz.
 
The World Meeting of Families, sponsored by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family, is the world’s largest Catholic gathering of families and is held every three years.World Meeting of Families 2015 will be September 22-25, 2015, hosted by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and will focus on the theme “Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive,” emphasizing the impact of the love and life of families on society.
 
More information about the meeting, including open registration, is available online: www.worldmeeting2015.org/
 
The Vatican has not announced additional dates or cities for the 2015 papal visit at this time.

November 14, 2014
USCCB SUBCOMMITTEE APPROVES OVER $9.2 MILLION IN
GRANTS TO CHURCH IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN


WASHINGTON — At their meeting on November 8, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America approved funding for 197 projects, totaling over $3.2 million. The funds will be disbursed as grants to aid the pastoral work of the Church in the Caribbean and Latin American region.
 
“This collection gives help to Catholic communities in the Latin America and Caribbean countries that are struggling with poverty, sometimes violence and a lack of resources,” said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the subcommittee. “All the members of the subcommittee travel to visit our funded projects and speak with the people and local bishops. We see first-hand what a difference these grants make, and how the Church is built up by the solidarity of Catholics here in the United States,” the bishop stated. “We also are supporting capacity development for stewardship and fundraising throughout the region,” he continued, referring to a grant to help fund stewardship development and a deeper understanding of Catholic giving among Church leaders in the region.  
 
At this meeting, the subcommittee funded projects that focus on the formation of lay leaders, catechists, seminarians, and men and women religious. The subcommittee also funded several projects that carry out the call to the new evangelization and that strengthen and catechize families. Of special note are grants that were awarded to support attendance at the World Meeting of Families to take place in Philadelphia next year.
 
In Brazil, a grant of $30,000 will support the network of Women’s Help Centers (Centro de Apoyo a la Mujer). These centers reach out by phone and online to offer women facing an unexpected pregnancy support and information. To date, the center claims 177,000 lives saved through their outreach.
 
In many areas of Latin America, rural communities may become isolated from the life of society and the Church. In Chile, a grant for $25,000 will train 90 young people as missionaries. These young people will attend workshops and receive training to go out to 30 parishes across seven dioceses to build community and include rural youth in the life of the Church.
 
In addition to 21 pastoral projects for the Church in Haiti funded by the regular parish Collection for the Church in Latin America, the subcommittee also approved 6 projects for the reconstruction of churches in that country, totaling nearly $6 million. Funding for these projects comes from the Special Collection for the Church in Haiti taken in 2010. One such project is the reconstruction of the parish of St. Louis Roi de France, located in Port-au-Prince, which was completely destroyed in the 2010 earthquake. A grant of $1,761,935 will complete funds provided by others to cover the church reconstruction portion of a $2.6 million project that includes new basement facilities.
 
All USCCB aid for reconstruction work in Haiti goes through the Partnership for Reconstruction of the Church in Haiti (PROCHE), an entity of the Haitian Bishops’ Conference. Since the Special Collection for Haiti was taken in dioceses across the United States, a total of nearly $22.65 million has been awarded to reconstruction projects.
 
The Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America oversees the Collection for the Church in Latin America as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. More information on this collection and a complete list of approved projects can be found online www.usccb.org/catholic-giving/opportunities-for-giving/latin-america.

November 12, 2014
UNITED STATES CATHOLIC CATECHISM FOR ADULTS NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE
 
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis has released an online version of the “United States Catholic Catechism for Adults” (USCCA).  The free, online resource is available in English and Spanish.
 
“As more people are turning to the Internet for information, we must be able to provide faithful information about the Catholic faith. The online USCCA provides an opportunity for all people to access Church teaching online, use this resource for research and share with others,” said Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin, chairman of the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, at the announcement of the USCCA publication.
 
“The USCCA is an especially wonderful resource because it contextualizes our faith within our American culture, and also includes stories of American saints and holy men and women, prayers, reflections and study questions,” Bishop Ricken said.
 
The USCCA is based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Following the outline of the Catechism, the USCCA walks the reader through the Creed, the sacraments, moral life in Christ and the prayers of the Church. Each chapter contains a story about a saint, blessed, or holy man or woman, a brief overview of the topic, reflection questions and a prayer.  Also, included in the appendices are a glossary of Catholic terms and traditional Catholic prayers.
 
The USCCA online is searchable, printable, and shareable. The table of contents provides easy access to each chapter, and the glossary is included as well as the appendices. The USCCA is available in English at www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/us-catholic-catechism-for-adults/index.cfm  and in Spanish at http://ccc.usccb.org/flipbooks/uscca-spanish/index.html .

A printed version can be ordered through USCCB Customer Relations by visiting www.usccbpublishing.org/ .

Novemer 12, 2014
2015 CATHOLIC SOCIAL MINISTRY GATHERING IS FEBRUARY 7-10;
THEME ECHOES POPE FRANCIS' CALL 'TO GO FORTH'

 
WASHINGTON — Drawing on the teachings of Pope Francis, the theme of the 2015 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, February 7-10 in Washington, will be “To Go Forth: Encountering Christ in the Heart of the World.” The gathering brings together hundreds of Catholics from across the country who work in ministries at parishes, dioceses and college and university campuses. The theme is meant to echo Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, and observe the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes.
 
The gathering is sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and 16 other national organizations, including Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Catholic Charities USA, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Rural Life and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. The gathering seeks to equip leaders and rising leaders in the Church to bring the voice of faith into the public square.
 
“The Catholic Social Ministry Gathering is a unique opportunity to connect with others committed in faith to the common good, learn more about the critical perspective of Catholic social teaching, pray together with other leaders, and advocate in Congress to end poverty and injustice,” said Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. Archbishop Wenski will celebrate the opening Mass of the gathering on Saturday, February 7.
 
Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, incoming chairman of the bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, will celebrate Mass on Monday, February 9. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, will celebrate the closing Mass, February 10.
 
Father Daniel Groody, director of the Immigration Initiative at the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame, will give the keynote address, “A God of Life, a Civilization of Love,” February 7. Richard Wood, founding director of the Southwest Institute on Religion and Civil Society, will speak on faith-based community development, February 8, and Martina Liebsch of Caritas Internationalis and Sylvester Brown Jr. of the Sweet Potato Project will explore civic engagement for the common good from international and domestic perspectives, respectively.
 
David Brooks and Mark Shields of the PBS NewsHour will discuss the political landscape in Washington with Jonathan Reyes, executive director of USCCB Justice, Peace and Human Development, at a luncheon, February 8.
 
Early registration ends November 14. More information is available online: www.catholicsocialministrygathering.org/

Updates on Twitter are at http://twitter.com/togoforth with the hashtag #csmg15.


November 11, 2014
BISHOPS APPROVE ITEMS ON LITURGY, ETHICAL AND RELIGIOUS
DIRECTIVES, CAUSE FOR CANONIZATION AT GENERAL ASSEMBLY

 
BALTIMORE — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved several liturgical items, including revisions to the liturgy of the hours and a revision of guidelines for the celebration of the sacraments with persons with disabilities during their annual Fall General Assembly in Baltimore, November 11. The bishops also approved to pursue a revision of the section of the “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health care Services” on collaboration with non-Catholic health entities, and advanced a cause for canonization.
 
The bishops voted on the following five liturgical items presented by the Committee on Divine Worship:

  • A revised English translation of the ritual book, “Order of the Dedication of a Church and an Altar” was approved with 168 votes in favor, 6 against and 2 abstaining.
  • The first official English translation of the ritual book, “Exorcisms and Related Supplications” was approved in a 179-5-2 vote.
  • The bishops also voted 167-34-2 to approve modifications to the “Revised Grail Psalter” including improving the translation to facilitate easier proclamation and singing.
  • An English translation of the “Supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours” that includes prayers used for the feast days of saints who have been added to the General Calendar since 1984, was approved in a 210-2-0 vote.
  • These items, passed by two thirds of the Latin-rite bishops, will be sent to Rome for approval.
  • The bishops also approved by a 207-1-1 vote, to begin the work on updates and revisions to the 1995 document “Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities.”

The bishops also voted 213-2-1 in favor of pursuing a revision of Part Six of the “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health care Services” to incorporate guidance the USCCB received from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith last February. This action item was presented by the USCCB Committee on Doctrine.
 
By a voice vote, the bishops also approved the cause for sainthood of Fr. Paul Wattson. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, sought this episcopal consultation, which is a step in the Catholic Church’s canonization process.

November 11, 2014
U.S. BISHOPS TO DISCUSS LAY ECCLESIAL MINISTRY AT 2015 SUMMIT

BALTIMORE — Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, invited the U.S. bishops to a 2015 Lay Ecclesial Ministry Summit. He made the invitation during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Fall General Assembly, November 11, in Baltimore. The gathering will take place June 7, 2015, to mark the tenth anniversary of the bishops’ statement “Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord” (2005), just prior to the USCCB Spring General Assembly in St. Louis.
 
“Lay ecclesial ministry is a great gift to the Church, arising from the distinct vocation and mission of the laity,” said Bishop Malone in his address to the General Assembly. “The tenth anniversary of ‘Co-Workers [in the Vineyard of the Lord]’ is a wonderful opportunity for us to take stock of the fruits of the last ten years and to devote special attention to this area of the Church’s life, including developments and questions that continue to merit reflection.”
 
The Summit will be an opportunity for bishops, in consultation with pastoral leaders, to reexamine the current ministerial landscape and explore the realities, challenges, and opportunities facing those in lay ecclesial ministry. With an emphasis on the co-responsibility of all the faithful for the Church’s mission of evangelization, the summit will consider issues including the relationship between the lay apostolate and lay ecclesial ministry, emerging pathways for culturally and generationally diverse populations, formation and authorization of lay ministers, the state of parish workplaces, and the co-responsibility of lay and ordained leaders in the Church.
 
The summit is sponsored by USCCB’s Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, and the Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service, with the support of the Committee on Doctrine.
 
“The urgency of the New Evangelization and the call to be missionary disciples resonates in our hearts and the hearts of all the faithful,” Bishop Malone concluded. “Lay ecclesial ministers respond to this call in a unique way, serving the Church and being a witness of hope and encouragement to all. We are grateful for all those who serve as lay ecclesial ministers and for their ‘yes’ to the Lord’s call.” 

November 11, 2014
BISHOP BURBIDGE PRESENTS GUIDELINES FOR THE
RECEPTION OF MINISTERS IN THE UNITED STATES

 
BALTIMORE — Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, North Carolina, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations announced at the annual Fall General Assembly, November 11, the release of “Guidelines for Receiving Pastoral Ministers in the United States, Third Edition.” The resource will provide information for dioceses, eparchies and religious communities to prepare international pastoral ministers for their service and the communities that receive them.
 
“This updated resource provides a reliable treatment of the basic principles that every bishop or religious superior should keep in mind when developing their own policies and protocols to insure the successful ministry of international priests, sisters, brothers and seminarians,” said Bishop Burbidge. “Each region of the Conference, and every diocese or religious community, has its own particular challenges that might impede the ministry of international priests, religious and seminarians, which we so desperately need and appreciate here in the United States.”
 
The purpose of the guidelines is to provide information for dioceses, eparchies, seminaries and institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life as they work to formulate their own policies and procedures concerning international pastoral ministers.
 
“In many places throughout the United States presbyterates are changing rapidly, in part reflecting the increasing number of new cultural groups and the pastoral demand placed on a decreasing number of priests,” said Bishop Burbidge. “There is no uniform practice regarding the steps taken to assess, receive and orient properly the international priests called into service to meet these pastoral challenges within the United States.”
 
The guidelines are an update from the 1999 original document, revised in 2003, and address concerns about immigration documentation, proper screening, evaluations, credible background checks, requirements for youth protection, adequate orientation and continuing formation of the receiving community and the international ministers. The Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV) worked on the updates in collaboration with the USCCB Committees on Cultural Diversity in the Church, Protection of Children and Young People, and Canonical Affairs and Church Governance. An extensive consultative process included the USCCB offices of National Collections, Migration and Refugee Services, the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development; the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC); and the three national organizations of religious superiors.
 
To assist and guide those working with international pastoral ministers, the CCLV has also organized four regional workshops to take place in 2015, in Los Angeles; Irving, Texas; Chicago and Baltimore.
 
The guidelines are available to the public in three formats: print, a pdf downloadable from the myUSCCB web service; and viewable on the CCLV website. More information on how to obtain a copy and on the upcoming workshops can be found at: www.usccb.org/cclv
 
A pre-workshop, live interactive session outlining the basic components of the document and what to expect during the regional workshops will be offered through myUSCCB at: https://usccb.force.com/MN4__PublicEventRegistration?id=a11C0000008TWhhIAG

November 11, 2014
BISHOPS VOTE FOR NEW CONFERENCE SECRETARY, USCCB
COMMITTEE CHAIRMEN, CRS, CLINIC BOARD MEMBRS, 2015 BUDGET


BALTIMORE — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) chose a new secretary-elect of the Conference and the chairmen-elect of five committees and new members of the board of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), during the bishops’ annual fall General Assembly, November 11-14, in Baltimore.
 
The bishops elected:

  • Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans USCCB secretary-elect in a 100-94 vote over Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for Military Services
  • Bishop Christopher Coyne, auxiliary bishop of Indianapolis, chairman-elect of the Committee on Communications in a 114-102 vote over Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas
  • Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, M.Sp.S. of San Antonio chairman-elect of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church in a 160-60 vote over Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Washington
  • Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit chairman-elect of the Committee on Doctrine in a 149-66 vote over Bishop Robert J. McManus of Worcester, Massachusetts
  • Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile, Alabama, chairman-elect of the Committee on National Collectionsin a 134-71 vote over Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, California
  • Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman-elect of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities in a 127-102 vote over Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles

Each bishop elected will serve for one year as secretary-elect or chairman-elect before beginning a three-year term.
 
Bishops elected to the CRS board were Bishop Edward J. Burns of Juneau, Alaska; Bishop Felipe Estévez, of St. Augustine; Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha, Nebraska; Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend; and Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami.
 
Bishops elected to the CLINIC board were Bishop Martin Holley, auxiliary bishop of Washington, and Bishop Edgar da Cunha, SDV, of Fall River, Massachusetts.
 
The bishops approved their 2015 budget in a 192-9-7 vote. They also voted on a three percent increase in the diocesan assessment for 2016. The USCCB by-laws require a two-thirds majority of all 197 eligible members to approve a three percent increase in the assessment. In the initial vote, 128 eligible bishops approved the assessment. The absent eligible members will be canvassed to determine the final vote.

November 10, 2014
ARCHBISHOP LUCAS, BISHOP FLORES HIGHLIGHT GOSPEL MISSION OF CATHOLIC
SCHOOLS, WARN AGAINST UNDERSERVING LATINOS, OTHER MINORITIES


BALTIMORE — Catholic schools provide “lasting faith formation, vocations to the religious life and priesthood, high educational attainments, and communities of the New Evangelization,” and should reach out to Latino communities and other underserved populations as part of the Church’s mission to preach the Gospel, said two U.S. bishops in a presentation to the Fall General Assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), November 10. Archbishop George J. Lucas of Omaha, Nebraska, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Catholic Education, and Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, chairman of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, gave the presentation.
 
 “The New Evangelization calls us to open up an inviting space where God’s grace can take hold and bear fruit, to welcome the Spirit in ways that support conversion, touch the heart, and inspire,” said Archbishop Lucas. He added that Catholic schools operate as communities rather than bureaucracies and that the results are higher levels of student engagement and achievement. He noted that 99 percent of students who attend Catholic high school graduate, that 87 percent of Catholic high school graduates go on to attend a four-year college and that, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Latino and African American students attending a Catholic school are more likely to graduate from high school and college.
 
“Welcoming more children from  diverse populations in our Catholic Schools, and particularly making an effort to reach out to underserved communities, is important for the future of Catholic schools and of our Church,” said Bishop Flores. He said reaching out to families in diverse communities is in keeping with the call of Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium.
 
Bishop Flores noted there is no parish school system in Latin America and that Catholic schools “are usually private, and often unaffordable” to most families. “Parents do not know how to access the system, think they cost a lot of money and, without much further consideration, discard even the thought of inquiring,” he said. He encouraged bilingual staff and other cultural training to bridge the gap and build relationships with Latino communities.
 
Bishop Flores cited a 2014 Boston College study, which found that the larger the number of Latino parishioners, the less likely that community had a responsibility for a school. It also found that Catholic schools are less available in areas where the Catholic population has grown the most, mostly thanks to Latinos, in the South and the West. Major initiatives by bishops, superintendents, pastors and principals to provide consistent cultural competency training and financial investments have produced positive results. The percentage of Latino children enrolled in Catholic schools in the United States has grown from 12.8 percent to 15 percent over the last four years. “The needle is moving in the right direction, even if slowly,” Bishop Flores said.

November 8, 2014
POPE NAMES GAYLORD, MICHIGAN PRIEST AS BISHOP OF FAIRBANKS, ALASKA
 
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Father Chad Zielinski, a priest of the Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan, as the bishop of Fairbanks, Alaska. Bishop-elect Zielinski is currently serving in the Archdiocese for the Military Services at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. He succeeds Bishop Donald J. Kettler, who was appointed bishop of St. Cloud, Minnesota, on September 20, 2013.
 
The appointment was publicized in Washington, November 8, by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
 
Chad Zielinski was born in Detroit on September 8, 1964. He grew up in Alpena, Michigan, in the Diocese of Gaylord. He entered the Air Force in 1982, after high school, and while stationed in Idaho, applied for admission to seminary in the Diocese of Boise City. He completed his studies at Mt. Angel Seminary in St. Benedict, Oregon, in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.
 
In 1994, he returned to the Diocese of Gaylord and completed his master of divinity degree at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. He was ordained a priest of Gaylord on June 8, 1996. He served as associate pastor for Immaculate Conception Parish in Traverse City, Michigan, and in 1998 became pastor of St. Phlip Neri Parish in Empire, Michigan, and St. Rita-St. Joseph in Maple City, Michigan. He was elected to serve on the presbyteral council in 1999 and became pastor for administrative affairs of the diocesan mission to Hispanics in 2000.
 
In 2002, Father Zielinski received permission to serve as an Air Force chaplain and has been on active duty since that time. His deployments have included serving troops in war zones in the Middle East, the corps of cadets at the Air Force Military Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and as vocation recruiter for the Archdiocese for the Military Services.
 
The Diocese of Fairbanks is the geographically largest diocese in the United States, covering 409,849 square miles in northern Alaska. It has a total population of 164,355, of which 11,008, or 7 percent, are Catholic.

November 7, 2014
BISHOP PATES, CAROLYN WOO TO CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS:
SUPPORT PROVEN EFFORTS AND RESPONSES IN FIGHT AGAINST EBOLA

 
WASHINGTON — Congressional leaders should speak out in support of the on-the-ground response to the Ebola virus and tamp down reactions based on unfounded fears, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace and the president of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in a November 6 letter to Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
 
Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, and Carolyn Woo shared how CRS has rapidly expanded is programs in countries affected by Ebola, allowing them to train health workers, ensure safe and dignified burials, development and implement campaigns for prevention awareness, maintain local Catholic health institutions and provide food to those in need.
 
They highlighted how Congress can support these efforts:
 
“Morally and practically, we cannot completely wall ourselves off from this disease,” they wrote. “Only by caring for and treating those infected by the disease where it is now running rampant, can we be safer here at home. With prudent measures to protect U.S. public health, it is important to make it possible for badly needed health and other workers to go to West Africa in order stop the crisis at its source and ultimately to protect our own people.”
 
The full text of the letter is available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/africa/upload/CRS-USCCB-Letter-to-Congressional-Leaders-on-Ebola-2014-11-06.pdf

November 7, 2014
USCCB CHAIRMAN PRAISES SIXTH CIRCUIT DECISION UPHOLDING MARRIAGE
 
WASHINGTON — Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, praised the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upholding the rights of states to legally recognize and protect the meaning of marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman.
 
“The Sixth Circuit has upheld the rights of the citizens of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee to protect and defend marriage as the unique relationship of a man and a woman,” Archbishop Cordileone said. “We are particularly heartened by the Court’s acknowledgment of the reasonable arguments for preserving the true definition of marriage and by the Court’s respect for the self-determination of states on this issue.”
 
The Court’s opinion included an argument grounding marriage in the complementarity of man and woman, saying: “It is not society’s laws or for that matter any one religion’s laws, but nature’s laws (that men and women complement each other biologically), that created the policy imperative.”
 
The Court’s opinion also argued for the rationality of the states’ protecting marriage’s unique meaning: “By creating a status (marriage) and by subsidizing it (e.g., with tax-filing privileges and deductions), the States created an incentive for two people who procreate together to stay together for purposes of rearing offspring. That does not convict the States of irrationality, only of awareness of the biological reality that couples of the same sex do not have children in the same way as couples of opposite sexes and that couples of the same sex do not run the risk of unintended offspring. That explanation, still relevant today, suffices to allow the States to retain authority over an issue they have regulated from the beginning.”
 
Archbishop Cordileone said, “The Church continues to support efforts to promote, protect and defend marriage in the law. We pray in solidarity with all people that the authentic meaning of marriage will be protected and honored in this country, for the good of all.”
 
Those challenging the marriage laws in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee are expected to petition the Supreme Court to review the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

November 5, 2014
CATHOLIC CAMPAIGN FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AWARDS OVER $12 MILLION IN GRANTS
 
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) annual collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) will be taken up in parishes nationwide on November 22-23, the weekend before Thanksgiving. Echoing the teaching of Pope Francis, the collection focuses on the theme: “CCHD: Working on the Margins.”
 
“In the United States, many Americans continue to face the effects of a stagnant economy, debilitating unemployment, a dehumanizing cycle of poverty, and growing civic disenfranchisement,” said Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. “Families are choosing between food and rent and are worried about job security and low paychecks. Poverty affects us all. Following the mandate of Jesus, CCHD creates opportunities for communion and solidarity that help us all, especially the most vulnerable. Through CCHD we foster the common good and work to build a society where no one is left behind.”
 
This national collection is the primary source of funding for CCHD, the anti-poverty program of the bishops of the United States. CCHD’s grants empower communities to build pathways out of poverty and isolation. For over 40 years, community organizations supported by CCHD have brought the joy and hope of the gospel to those lost on the margins of society.
 
Last year, CCHD provided 209 grants, totaling just over $12 million. CCHD-supported projects help people and communities in a number of ways:

  • Boston’s Haley House began offering bakery training at the request of a few regular guests at the soup kitchen. Haley House was able to expand the training into a six-month course to include customer relations and basic business principles. Seventy trainees have completed the program and are now employed in the Boston area. Haley House also offers cooking classes for at-risk teens and holistic support to men and women reentering the community after incarceration.
  • In the Roanoke Valley, Va., Faith Works is building community through respectful dialogue. After listening to residents and members of parishes and congregations in the city’s Southeast area, the group worked to get the area recognized as “medically underserved,” thereby secured $6 million for a new health clinic. This change will make a dramatic difference in the lives of residents, 80 percent of whom are uninsured.

As part of CCHD’s new Strategic National Grants Program, five new grantees were awarded just over $2 million to work regionally on issues related to comprehensive immigration reform, affordable housing, poverty along the Mexico-US border, support for farmworkers in the Northwest, and access to Catholic education for Latino and Hispanic students.

November 4, 2014
POPE NAMES SUPERIOR, WISCONSIN BISHOP
PETER CHRISTENSEN AS BISHOP OF BOISE, IDAHO


WASHINGTON -- Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Peter F. Christensen, 61, of Superior, Wisconsin, as bishop of Boise, Idaho, and accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael P. Driscoll, 75, from pastoral governance of that diocese.
 
The appointment was publicized in Washington, November 4, by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
 
Peter F. Christensen was born December 24, 1952, in Pasadena, California. He studied at the College of the Redwoods in Eureka, California, at the University of Montana in Missoula, at St. John Vianney Seminary at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, and at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul. He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis on May 25, 1985.
 
He served as associate pastor of St. Olaf Parish, Minneapolis (1985-1989), spiritual director/counselor of St. John Vianney Seminary (1989-1992), rector of St. John Vianney Seminary (1992-1999) and pastor of Nativity of Our Lord Parish, St. Paul (1999-2007). Pope Benedict XVI appointed him bishop of Superior, Wisconsin, on June 28, 2007. He was ordained a bishop on September 14 of that year.
 
Michael P. Driscoll was born August 8, 1939, in Long Beach, California. He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles on May 1, 1965, and ordained an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Orange, California, on March 6, 1990. Pope John Paul II appointed him bishop of Boise City on January 19, 1999.
 
The Diocese of Boise comprises the entire state of Idaho and has a total population of 1,595,728 people, of which 175,530, or 11 percent, are Catholic. The Diocese of Superior comprises 15,715 miles in the state of Wisconsin and has a total population of 437,299 people, of which 72,809, or 17 percent, are Catholic.

November 3, 2014
BISHOPS' FALL GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO BE LIVE STREAMED, LIVE TWEETED, CARRIED BY SATELLITE
 
WASHINGTON — The 2014 Fall General Assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Baltimore will be live streamed on the Internet, November 10-11, and will also be available via satellite feed for broadcasters wishing to air it. The feed will run Monday, November 10, from 9:30 a.m.-4:15 p.m. Eastern, and Tuesday, November 11, from 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Eastern, covering both the open sessions of the meeting and media conferences.
 
The live stream will be available at www.usccb.org/about/leadership/usccb-general-assembly/index.cfm. News updates, vote totals, addresses and other materials will be posted to this page. Those wishing to follow the meeting on social media can do so at http://twitter.com/USCCBLive with the hashtag #usccb14. Updates will also be posted to www.facebook.com/usccb.
 
The meeting will include the first presidential address of Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of USCCB, and an address by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States. The bishops will vote for the secretary-elect of the Conference and the chairmen-elect of five USCCB committees, as well as members of the boards of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC). They will also vote on liturgical action items and whether to proceed with a possible revision to the “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.”
 
The bishops will hear a presentation on Catholic schools and underserved populations, as well as updates on USCCB’s religious liberty and defense of marriage efforts. The bishops will also conduct the canonical consultation on the sainthood cause of Father Paul Wattson. On the afternoon of Monday, November 10, they will celebrate Mass in honor of the 225th anniversary of the Archdiocese of Baltimore at Baltimore’s Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

November 3, 2014
CATHOLIC HOME MISSIONS ALLOCATES $9 MILLION TO U.S. DIOCESES AND EPARCHIES IN NEED


WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions met in Duluth, Minnesota, October 13-16 to consider grant applications for 2015 funding. These grants will support “home mission” dioceses and eparchies in the U.S. and its territories, which face great challenges such as difficult geography, limited resources and impoverished populations. The grants are financed primarily through parishioner donations to an annual national collection known as the Catholic Home Missions Appeal.

“The support we give these mission dioceses often allows parishes to stay open,” said Bishop Peter F. Christensen of Superior, Wisconsin, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions. “A bishop in a home mission diocese struggles to meet the basic spiritual and pastoral needs of his flock. We help by providing grants that cover the cost of essential services – from educating seminarians to providing religious education materials to needy parishes.”

The Subcommittee approved requests for financial assistance from 83 (arch)dioceses and (arch)eparchies. Proceeds from the annual Catholic Home Missions Appeal and other donations allowed the Subcommittee to approve $9,027,500 in grants for 2015. This amount includes a $35,000 gift to the apostolic nuncio to help alleviate the cost of his travel to visit home mission dioceses.
 
One grant to the Diocese of Crookston, Minnesota, will help ministry to continue in this small diocese where farming is the primary occupation. There are only 36 active priests and 15 permanent deacons serving a Catholic population of about 35,000 people. Currently, only 28 of the diocese’s 66 parishes have a resident pastor. A grant of $150,000 will cover expenses related to its Office of New Evangelization, which oversees faith formation, evangelization, youth ministry and marriage and family ministry.
 
For the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, a $150,000 grant from Catholic Home Missions means being able to offer basic pastoral services, including: youth ministry, parish aid, seminary formation and vocation promotion, religious education and diocesan communications. The diocese has a large Hispanic population and a shortage of priests. There are currently six seminarians in formation, but only 24 active diocesan priests and 18 religious and international priests. Since most of the seminarians come from humble families, the diocese provides full support for their formation, which includes room and board, books, tuition and health insurance.
 
The national date for the Catholic Home Missions Appeal is the fourth Sunday in April. The next collection will be taken on April 26, 2015. However, some dioceses take up the Appeal at other times during the year. More information on Catholic Home Missions and the projects it funds can be found online: http://www.usccb.org/catholic-giving/opportunities-for-giving/catholic-home-missions-appeal/index.cfm

October 30, 2014
BISHOP PATES TO ENERGY SECRETARY; PLAN TO UPGRADE
NUCLEAR FORCES UNDERMINES QUEST FOR DISARMAMENT

WASHINGTON—The United States should pursue non-proliferation and diplomacy to promote U.S. and global security, not allocate funds to modernize its nuclear forces, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace in an October 30 letter to Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. In the letter, Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, noted that the Congressional Budget Office estimates $355 billion in spending on nuclear forces over the next decade, much of that toward modernizing those forces.
 
“The current U.S. plan to maintain and upgrade its nuclear arsenal undermines the quest for nuclear disarmament,” wrote Bishop Pates. “The seeming indefinite reliance of the United States on a policy of nuclear deterrence, especially one that includes significant new investments in nuclear weapons, undermines President Obama’s stated goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. Excessive spending on nuclear weapons also undermines long-term initiatives to promote human security.”
 
Bishop Pates contrasted the projected annual expenditure of $35.5 billion per year for nuclear weapons with President Obama’s proposed $20 billion for poverty-focused international assistance for 2015. He also noted that the Catholic Church has called for a global ban on nuclear weapons since 1963, a goal reiterated by Pope Francis this year.
 
“We believe this critical goal can be achieved by responsibly replacing nuclear deterrence with concrete measures of disarmament based on dialogue and multilateral negotiations. Such a shift will create a world that is truly free from the nuclear threat,” Bishop Pates wrote.
 

Full text of the letter is available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/war-and-peace/nuclear-weapons/upload/Letter-to-Secretary-of-Energy-from-Bishop-Pates-on-Nuclear-Spending-2014-10-30.pdf

October 23, 2014
BISHOP PATES URGES ENVOY TO CONTINUE RELIEF, PUSH FOR PEACE IN SOUTH SUDAN

WASHINGTON — The bishops of South Sudan appreciate the support of the international community and call for greater emergency assistance as well as pressure for dialogue to keep their country from descending into increased poverty and conflict, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace in an October 22 letter to Ambassador Donald Booth, special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan.
 
Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, relayed a message of hope from the Catholic Bishops Conference of South Sudan, in which the bishops condemned all parties engaging in war in their country. They expressed gratitude for the international community and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a grouping of nations in East Africa sponsoring peace negotiations, in providing aid to their country. They also called on political leaders to engage in dialogue, not war. Bishop Pates thanked Ambassador Booth for his efforts and noted that religious leaders across South Sudan look to the Catholic Church in that country for leadership in bringing an end to civil war.
 
“I urge you to continue your work with IGAD to intensify your combined pressure on the South Sudan government and opposition leaders to halt the fighting,” wrote Bishop Pates. “We also urge you to engage and assist faith leaders in envisioning a new future for the country and mobilizing their people to realize that new vision. We are grateful for your collaboration in these efforts with Catholic Relief Services, one of the Church’s trusted partners, and hope will you continue this partnership.”
 
The full text of the letter is available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/africa/sudan/upload/Letter-to-Ambassador-Booth-from-Bishop-Pates-on-SSCB-Message-2014-10-22.pdf

October 20, 2014
BISHOPS' ASSEMBLY TO VOTE ON LITURGICAL ITEMS AT NOVEMBER MEETING
 

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Divine Worship will present five liturgical items for vote, including revisions to the liturgy of the hours and a revision of guidelines for the celebration of the sacraments with persons with disabilities, at the annual Fall General Assembly, November 10-13, in Baltimore.
 
The bishops' voting may include amendments to the following items:

  • A revised translation of the ritual book, “Dedication of a Church and Altar.” Promulgated in Latin in 1977 and first translated in 1989, the Latin edition of this book was slightly modified in 1983 with the publication of the Code of Canon Law. This rite is used whenever a new church is built or when a new altar is made. The ritual mirrors the rite of baptism, washing and anointing the building and altar, rendering them fit for worship in the same way that the Christian is washed and anointed in baptism, thereby becoming fit for sacramental worship, too. The revised English translation incorporates the modifications from the Code of Canon Law as well as bringing the translation into conformity with the Roman Missal, Third Edition.
  • A first ever official English translation of the ritual book, “Exorcisms and Related Supplications.” Revised after the Second Vatican Council, this ritual was promulgated in Latin in 1999 with an amended version in 2004. The main part of this book is the rite of major exorcism and includes an introduction outlining criteria for its use, which is always the decision of the bishop alone. While this text affirms the reality of evil in the world, it even more so affirms the sovereignty of Christ to overcome any and all evil.
  • Supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours. An English translation of the prayers used for the feast days of saints who have been added to the General Calendar since 1984.
  • Modifications to the Revised Grail Psalms, originally approved by Rome in 2010. Since it is anticipated that the Psalms will be widely used with a future edition of the liturgy of the hours, the committee recommended improving the translation and its “sprung rhythm” to facilitate easier proclamation and singing.
  • The last two action items are part of an ongoing revision of the liturgy of the hours that was begun in 2012. If these four items are passed by two thirds of the Latin-rite bishops, then they will be sent to Rome for approval.
  • The fifth item is in relation to a document first published by the U.S. Bishops in 1995, “Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities.”  The Committee is seeking permission to revise these Guidelines in light of medical developments and increased awareness of some of the challenges faced by Catholics today.  One example of such a challenge is the greater awareness today of those with gluten intolerance (Celiac disease) and the need to continue to provide for their sacramental and spiritual needs. If the bishops approve proceeding with revisions, then the Committee on Divine Worship, working closely with the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance as well as the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, will begin the work of revision immediately for future approval by the bishops at a general meeting.October 20, 2014.

October 17, 2014
BISHOP PATES TO AMBASSADOR FEINGOLD: U.S. BISHOPS REMAIN COMMITTED TO HELPING
GOVERNMENT PROMOTE PEACE, PROSPERITY IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO


WASHINGTON — The U.S. bishops renew their commitment “to work with the United States Government to promote the peace and prosperity of all the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” said the chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in an October 16 letter to Ambassador Russ Feingold, special envoy to the African Great Lakes Region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, shared a letter from the bishops of the DRC, in which they called the possible removal of a term limit on their country’s president “a step backward on the road to building our democracy and would seriously undermine the harmonious future of the nation.” Bishop Pates noted to Ambassador Feingold that constitutions have been changed in other nations “as a means to monopolize political power and a nation’s natural wealth.” He added, “This political maneuver excludes political opposition and destroys the peaceful democratic process.”
 
Bishop Pates urged Ambassador Feingold to take the DRC bishops’ words and actions into consideration in future U.S. policy dealing with that country.
 
Full text of both letters is available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/africa/democratic-republic-of-the-congo/upload/Letter-and-Documents-to-Amb-Feingold-from-Bishop-Pates-on-DRC-2014-10-16.pdf

October 8, 2014
U.S. BISHOPS TO VOTE FOR CONFERENCE SECRETARY-ELECT,
CHAIRMEN-ELECT OF FIVE USCCB COMMITTEES

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will vote for the secretary-elect of the Conference and the chairmen-elect of five committees during the bishops’ annual fall General Assembly, November 11-14, in Baltimore. Each bishop elected will serve for one year as secretary-elect or chairman-elect before beginning a three-year term.
 
The following bishops were nominated:
 
Conference Secretary
  • Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans
  • Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for Military Services
Committee on Communications
  • Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York
  • Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas
Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church
  • Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, M.Sp.S. of San Antonio
  • Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Washington
Committee on Doctrine
  • Bishop Robert J. McManus of Worcester, Massachusetts
  • Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit
Committee on National Collections
  • Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile, Alabama
  • Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, California
Committee on Pro-Life Activities
  • Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York
  • Arcbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles
More information on the meeting agenda is available online: www.usccb.org/news/2014/14-162.cfm

October 8, 2014
USCCB CHAIRMAN RESPONDS TO U.S. COURT OF APPEALS DECISION

WASHINGTON­­ — Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, said that the decision on October 7 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit striking down marriage laws in Nevada and Idaho was “astonishingly dismissive” of the rights of children and detrimental to the democratic process.
 
Archbishop Cordileone said, “In the words of Pope Francis – ‘we must reaffirm the right of children to grow up in a family with a father and a mother.’ When striking down the marriage laws of Nevada and Idaho that were approved by the direct vote of large majorities, the Court of Appeals undercut democracy and was astonishingly dismissive of the rights of children as merely being a ‘justification for discrimination.’” The Archbishop continued, “Authentic marriage as the union of one man and one woman is the only institution that unites a man and a woman with each other and with any child who comes from their union. It is rather remarkable that the Court of Appeals was so contemptuous of this fundamental and obvious truth.”
 
Archbishop Cordileone concluded, “The Church will never cease proclaiming the truth about the human person, created male and female, and the gift of marriage. We will continue to profess these truths with humility but without apology, and we call on the faithful to continue their efforts in this regard.”

Ocotber 8, 2014
USCCB GENERAL COUNSEL SUBMITS COMMENTS ON LATESTS VERSION OF HHS CONTRACEPTIVE MANDATE
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) submitted comments October 8 to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and two other federal agencies on the Obama administration’s latest version of “Rules on Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act,” commonly known as the HHS contraceptive mandate. The comments were submitted by Anthony Picarello, USCCB general counsel, and Michael Moses, associate general counsel.

The Administration issued these proposals and invited public comment in late August in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, which found that the existing mandate violates the religious freedom of some closely-held for-profit companies such as family-owned businesses under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The new proposals consist of “interim final rules” slightly modifying the government’s “accommodation” for nonprofit religious organizations not exempted from the mandate, and “proposed rules” on extending this accommodation to closely-held for-profit companies. The USCCB commented on both proposals.

Regarding the interim final rules, Picarello and Moses wrote that “the mandate continues to substantially burden the religious liberty of stakeholders with religious objections to the mandated coverage.  Because it does not further a compelling government interest by the means least restrictive of religious exercise, the mandate continues to violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

They noted that the interim final rules do not change the mandate itself, or its extremely narrow exemption, offered chiefly to churches but not to social service and other religious organizations. “Religious organizations that fall on the non-exempt side of the religious gerrymander include those which contribute most visibly to the common good through the provision of health, educational, and social services,” they noted. They added that the rules do not provide an exemption or even “accommodation” for “the vast majority of individual and institutional stakeholders with religious or moral objections to contraceptive coverage.”

They also noted that the interim final rules’ new alternative way for non-exempt religious groups to comply with the “accommodation” still forces employers to facilitate contraceptive coverage, by directly supplying the government with “all it needs” to authorize and require the employer’s insurer or third-party administrator to provide or arrange for the very payments to which the employer objects. This comment letter is available online: www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/rulemaking/upload/2014-hhs-comments-on-interim-final-rules-10-8.pdf

In their comment on the proposed rules regarding for-profit companies, Picarello and Moses said the proposal actually “makes the current situation worse for closely-held for-profit organizations with religious objections to contraceptive coverage,” as such organizations are currently exempt under RFRA, as the U.S. Supreme Court recently held. They noted that the rule still does nothing for other organizations or individuals with objections to such coverage.

October 6, 2014
USCCB CHAIRMEN EXPRESS GRAVE DISAPPOINTMENT TOWARD SUPREME COURT'S ACTION

WASHINGTON­­—The chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, and the chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, expressed serious disappointment at the October 6 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court not to consider current cases that strike down laws upholding marriage as between one man and one woman.

“Millions of Americans had looked to the Court with hope that these unjust judicial decisions might be reversed,” Bishop Malone and Archbishop Cordileone said. “The Supreme Court’s action fails to resolve immediately the injustice of marriage redefinition, and therefore should be of grave concern to our entire nation.”
 
Bishop Malone and Archbishop Cordileone’s full statement follows:
 
Upholding the inviolable dignity of every human person is a duty for all, and this duty entails the defense of the unique meaning of marriage as between one man and one woman.  The Supreme Court’s decision not to take up any of the cases striking down state laws reflecting the authentic meaning of marriage in five states is extremely disappointing and surprising. All of these state laws were democratically enacted, including most by the direct vote of large majorities within just the last decade. Millions of Americans had looked to the Court with hope that these unjust judicial decisions might be reversed. Instead, as a result of the Supreme Court’s action today, those decisions are allowed to take effect. Furthermore, marriage laws in six other states are now in jeopardy.  
 
Marriage is and can only be between a man and a woman—a unique relationship in which the state has a vested interest. It is the only institution that unites a wife and a husband together for life and unites them to any children that come from their union. This truth presumes and supports the equal dignity of all people, especially of children whose right to a mother and a father deserves the utmost legal protection. The Supreme Court’s action fails to resolve immediately the injustice of marriage redefinition, and therefore should be of grave concern to our entire nation.
 
Globally, we are at a time of recognizing the decisive importance of marriage and the family when it comes to addressing challenges of poverty and serving the good of all. This is a time when marriage needs to be strengthened, not redefined. Our young people need encouragement to embrace the gift and responsibility of marriage as it truly is—a permanent, faithful, and fruitful gift of self between a man and a woman. May all of us continue to work to strengthen and protect marriage and stand for justice for all, especially children, who are the most vulnerable.

October 6, 2014
U.S. BISHOPS TO MEET NOVEMBER 10-13 IN BALTIMORE

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will meet in Baltimore, November 10-13, for its annual Fall General Assembly. The bishops will hear the first presidential address of Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of USCCB, who was elected to a three-year term in November 2013. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States, will also address the bishops.
 
The afternoon of Monday, November 10, the bishops will concelebrate Mass at the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in honor of the 225th anniversary of the establishment of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Baltimore is the “premier see” or first diocese founded in the United States.
 
Archbishop George J. Lucas of Omaha, chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education, and Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, chairman of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, will present to the bishops on underserved communities and Catholic schools. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, North Carolina, chairman of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, will present on plans for the observance of the Year of Consecrated Life and on the “Guidelines for the Reception of Ministers in the United States, Third Edition” and its plans for implementation.
 
The bishops will vote for the USCCB secretary-elect, the chairmen-elect of five USCCB committees and board members of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC). They will also vote on the 2015 Conference budget, the 2016 diocesan assessment, liturgical action items including a proposal to revise “Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities,” and a proposal to proceed on a revision to the “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.”
 
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the CRS board, will present with Carolyn Woo, president of CRS, on CRS’ work on capacity building. Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, will present on the recent pilgrimage of prayer for peace in the Holy Land. Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, will present on USCCB engagement with the Church in Africa. Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, will invite the bishops to the Lay Ecclesial Ministry Summit. The bishops will also conduct the canonical consultation on the sainthood cause of Father Paul Wattson.
 
Other presentations at the meeting will include Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, secretary of USCCB, on the status of the 2013-2016 Conference Strategic Plan, “The New Evangelization: Faith, Worship, Witness,” Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco on the work of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore on the work of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty and an update by the working group on the life and dignity of the human person.

October 1, 2014
USCCB CHAIRMAN ANNOUNCES “DAYS WITH RELIGIOUS"
FOR 2015 YEAR OF CONSECRATED LIFE”

WASHINGTON—As the Catholic Church prepares to celebrate the Year of Consecrated Life, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations is promoting “Days with Religious” initiatives and resources to help families learn about the consecrated life of religious men and women. Activities will focus on sharing experiences of prayer, service and community life with those living a consecrated life.
 
“Our brothers and sisters in Christ living consecrated lives make great contributions to our society through a vast number of ministries,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of USCCB. “They teach in our schools, take care of the poor and the sick and bring compassion and the love of Christ to those shunned by society; others lead lives of prayer in contemplation for the world.”
 
Pope Francis proclaimed 2015 a Year of Consecrated Life, starting on the First Sunday of Advent, the weekend of November 29, 2014, and ending on February 2, 2016, the World Day of Consecrated life. The year also marks the 50th anniversary of Perfectae Caritatis, a decree on religious life, and Lumen Gentium, the Second Vatican Council’s constitution on the Church. Its purpose, as stated by the Vatican is to “make a grateful remembrance of the recent past” while embracing “the future with hope.”
 
“The ‘Days with Religious’ activities will represent great opportunities for families and adults to look at the many ways men and women serve Christ and the Church while answering the call to live in consecrated life,” said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, North Carolina, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.
 
Catholics are invited to join activities that will be promoted in collaboration with the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, (CMSWR), the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM).
 
The events planned are as follows:
  • February 8, 2015: Religious Open House. Events will be coordinated to also celebrate the World Meeting of Families to take place in Philadelphia and will include tours, open houses, receptions, family activities, and presentations on the history of religious communities at convents, abbeys, monasteries and religious houses.
  • Summer 2015: Day of Mission and Service with Religious. Events will include joining religious in their apostolates or special service projects, such as assisting the elderly, ministering to the poor and homeless, and caring for the less fortunate.
  • September 13, 2015: Day of Prayer with Religious. Events will include vespers, rosary or holy hours in convents, monasteries, religious houses, parishes and churches.
Prayers intentions, prayer cards, a video on consecrated life and other resources are available at: www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/consecrated-life/year-of-consecrated-life/index.cfm


September 22, 2014
U.S. BISHOPS AFFIRM POWER OF PRAYER FOR ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN
PEACE FOLLOWING PILGRIMAGE TO HOLY LAND

JERUSALEM — U .S. bishops affirmed that prayer is powerful, peace is possible and that support for a two-state solution is an essential dimension of pursuing Israeli-Palestinian peace in a September 22 communique, following a Prayer Pilgrimage for Peace in the Holy Land. Eighteen U.S. bishops made the September 11-18 journey to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
 
“There is no military solution to the conflict, but tragically violence on both sides undermines the trust needed to achieve peace. Violence always sows seeds of further violence and fear,” the bishops wrote in their communiqué.
 
Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, led the delegation.
 
The bishops celebrated Mass at Holy Sites and with Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem and local Christian communities in Jiffna, Nablus and Gaza. They met with religious and government leaders. Religious leaders included representatives of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian traditions, including Orthodox, Armenian, and Protestant leaders. Government leaders included former President Shimon Peres of Israel, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah of Palestine, and Hanan Ashrawi of the Palestinian National Council.
 
The bishops expressed concerns about the rights of religious minorities, especially the dwindling Christian population of the region, as well as the challenges to the peace process posed by factors like the barrier wall, expanding settlements and other legal and socioeconomic restrictions.
 
Full text of the communiqué follows:
 Bishops’ Prayer Pilgrimage for Peace in the Holy Land
 
We went to the Holy Land as men of faith on a Prayer Pilgrimage for Peace.  Motivated by the love of Christ and deep concern for both Israelis and Palestinians, we went to pray for peace, and to work for a two-state solution and an open and shared Jerusalem.  Arriving in the wake of the recent Gaza war, though, we encountered pain, intransigence and cynicism.  Even the young people are discouraged. But we also saw signs of inspiration and hope.
 
Prayer was the central element of our pilgrimage. Through daily liturgies at holy sites and local parishes, we experienced our communion in Christ with local Christian communities. We are grateful to those at home who supported our pilgrimage with prayers and interest. We also prayed alongside Jews, Muslims and other Christians. Prayer is powerful. We know peace is possible because God is our hope.
 
We met with people of goodwill, Palestinian and Israeli alike, who yearn for peace. We were inspired by the commitment of the staff and partners of Catholic Relief Services, The Pontifical Mission, and the local Christian community, who are providing relief to the people of Gaza; by the efforts of Christians, Muslims, and Jews who are building bridges of understanding; and by the mission of the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre. We were moved profoundly by our visit to Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, and were encouraged by Bethlehem University, a Catholic institution that is building bridges between Christians and Muslims as they study together to create the future of Palestine, and by the Church’s schools that are open to all.
 
We are compelled by the Gospel of Peace to share the fruits of our prayers and encounters with Israelis and Palestinians. Two peoples and three faiths have ancient ties to this Land. Sadly, Jerusalem, the City of Peace, is a sign of contradiction. We were told more than once that the city could erupt in violence as it has on far too many occasions.
 
The towering wall that divides Israelis and Palestinians is another sign of contradiction. For Israelis, it is a sign of security; for Palestinians, a sign of occupation and exclusion. The contrast between Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories is also a sign of contradiction. In crossing the border one moves from freedom and prosperity to the intimidation of military checkpoints, humiliation, and deeper poverty.
 
The situation of Christian Palestinians is an added sign of contradiction.  The Christian community is emigrating at alarming rates.  As we learned from Patriarch Fouad Twal, the unresolved conflict and occupation undermine human dignity and the ability of Christians to raise their families. Israeli policies in East Jerusalem prohibit Christians who marry someone from outside the City to remain there with their spouse, and security policies restrict movement and confiscate lands, undermining the ability of many Christian families to survive economically. The harsh realities of occupation force them to leave. Muslims also suffer similarly, but have fewer opportunities to emigrate.
 
As U.S. bishops, we humbly acknowledge that we do not understand all the complexities of the situation, but in faith we do understand some things clearly. We reaffirm the longstanding position of the U.S. bishops and the Holy See and support a two-state solution: a secure and recognized Israel living in peace with a viable and independent Palestinian state. The broad outlines of this solution are well known; but there has not been, nor does there appear to be, the determined political will to achieve it.
 
There is no military solution to the conflict, but tragically violence on both sides undermines the trust needed to achieve peace. Violence always sows seeds of further violence and fear.  We witnessed the horrific devastation of whole neighborhoods in Gaza and heard about tragic deaths on both sides, especially a disproportionate number of Palestinian noncombatants, women, and children. The local Christian community in Gaza described the nightly terror they suffered during the war. Israelis in Sderot and elsewhere described their dread of Hamas rocket fire.
 
The route of the barrier wall, the confiscation of Palestinian lands in the West Bank, especially now in the Bethlehem area and the Cremisan Valley, and any expansion of settlements threaten to undermine the two-state solution. Many reported that the window of opportunity for peace was narrowing dangerously. If it closes, the futures of both Palestinians and Israelis will be harmed.
 
Many persons with whom we met joined us in commending the recent initiative of Secretary of State John Kerry, but said renewed U.S. leadership is required for peace. For the sake of both Israelis and Palestinians, the United States must mobilize the international community to support both parties by adopting parameters for a lasting solution, including borders, an open and shared Jerusalem, and a timeline.
 
Pope Francis, in word and gesture, inspired hope on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in May. After another Gaza war, hope is now in short supply. One person on our journey told us that the Holy Land is the land of miracles. The miracle we need is the transformation of human hearts so each side is less deaf to the concerns of the other.  In solidarity with our brother bishops and all people in the region, we urge alternatives to the cycle of hatred and violence. Peace is possible.

Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Chairman, Committee on International Justice and Peace
Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, Chair-Elect, Committee on International Justice and Peace
Bishop Richard J. Malone, Diocese of Buffalo, Board of Catholic Relief Services
Bishop John O. Barres, Diocese of Allentown
Archbishop Eusebius J. Beltran, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City
Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, Diocese of Stockton

Bishop J. Kevin Boland, Diocese of Savannah
Bishop Paul J. Bradley, Diocese of Kalamazoo
Bishop Tod D. Brown, Diocese of Orange
Bishop Robert J. Coyle, Archdiocese for the Military Services
Bishop Bernard J. Harrington, Diocese of Winona
Bishop Richard Higgins, Archdiocese for the Military Services
Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, Diocese of Albany
Bishop William F. Medley, Diocese of Owensboro
Bishop Dale J. Melczek, Diocese of Gary
Bishop William F. Murphy, Diocese of Rockville Centre
Bishop Michael D. Pfeifer, Diocese of San Angelo
Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger, Diocese of Salina

September 20, 2014
POPE NAMES BISHOP BLASE CUPICH AS ARCHBISHOP OF CHICAGO

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Bishop Blase Joseph Cupich of the Spokane Diocese as archbishop of Chicago, succeeding Cardinal Francis Eugene George, OMI.
 
The appointment was publicized in Washington, September 20, by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
 
Archbishop-designate Cupich, who has been bishop of Spokane, Washington, since 2010, was born March 19, 1949 in Omaha. He is the grandson of Croatian immigrants and one of nine children. He holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minnesota and did further studies at the Gregorian University in Rome. He holds a doctorate in sacred theology from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Omaha in 1975 and ordained as a bishop in 1998, appointed then to the Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota.
 
As a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), he chairs the Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe and is a former chair of the Committee on Protection of Children and Young People.
 
Cardinal George is the first native Chicagoan to serve the Archbishop of Chicago. Born in 1937, he attended Catholic schools in Illinois before entering the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate on August 14, 1957. He served as bishop of Yakima from 1990 to 1996; and as archbishop of Portland in Oregon for less than a year before being named by Pope John Paul II as archbishop of Chicago in 1997. He was elevated to the Sacred College of Cardinals on Jan. 18, 1998. He served as president of the USCCB from 2007 to 2010.
 
There are an estimated 2.3 million Catholics living in the Archdiocese of Chicago, which comprises the two counties of Cook and Lake in Illinois.

September 19, 2014
USCCB PRESIDENT ENCOURAGES DAY OF PRAYER FOR SYNOD
 
WASHINGTON—Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has joined Pope Francis and the office for the Synod of Bishops in encouraging a universal Day of Prayer on September 28, for the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops addressing The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization (October 5-19).
 
“The Extraordinary Synod on the Family is an important moment for the Church and for families,” Archbishop Kurtz said. “I welcome whole-heartedly this day of prayer for the Synod fathers and for all who will participate. As the Church turns with special attention to the family, may God’s plan for marriage and the family be a source of hope and healing for all.”
 
For the universal Day of Prayer on Sunday, September 28, dioceses, parishes, religious communities, families and all the Catholic faithful are invited to pray for the Synod. Suggested prayers include a prayer to the Holy Family composed by Pope Francis and intercessory prayers which may be used during the Prayers of the Faithful at Mass, other liturgical settings, and in family or personal prayer, available at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/upload/September-28-2014-Day-of-Prayer-for-Synod.pdf . In addition, families and all Catholics are being encouraged to pray the Rosary during each day of the Synod. 
 
Archbishop Kurtz is attending the Extraordinary Synod as part of a U.S. delegation of bishops including Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, and Archbishop William C. Skurla, Byzantine Metropolitan of Pittsburgh. More information about the Synod is available at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/2014-2015-synods-of-bishops-on-the-family.cfm.

September 18, 2014
NATIONAL VOCATION AWARENESS WEEK, NOVEMBER 2-8, CALLS CATHOLICS
TO GREATER PRAYER, AWARNESS IN HOW THEY SUPPORT VOCATIONS
 
WASHINGTON—The Catholic Church in the United States will celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week, November 2-8. This observance, sponsored by the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, 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 November 2013 apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, underlined the continued need to build a culture of vocations.  “The fraternal life and fervor of the community can awaken in the young a desire to consecrate themselves completely to God and to preaching of the Gospel. This is particularly true if such a living community prays insistently for vocations and courageously proposes to its young people the path of special consecration,” Pope Francis wrote.
 
“A culture of vocations is one that provides the necessary support for others to hear and respond to God’s call in their lives,” said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, North Carolina, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. “With God’s grace, we help build that culture through fervent prayer, the witness of our lives and the encouragement we extend to those discerning a vocation to priesthood or consecrated life.”
 
A 2012 study, “Consideration of Priesthood and Religious Life Among Never-Married U.S. Catholics,” conducted by the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), highlighted the role community encouragement plays in the discernment process. (Full study: www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/survey-of-youth-and-young-adults-on-vocations.cfm)
 
“The number three seems to be critical in making a difference in the life of someone contemplating a vocation,” said Father Shawn McKnight, USCCB’s executive director of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. “When three or more people encourage someone to consider a religious vocation, he or she is far more likely to take serious steps toward answering that call.”
 
Father John Guthrie, associate director of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, adds that National Vocation Awareness Week should also focus on communities that are underrepresented among religious vocations today, especially Hispanics.
 
“While numbers of U.S. Hispanics pursuing religious vocations are picking up, they still lag behind the overall demographic trends,” said Father Guthrie. “Fifty-four percent of U.S. Catholics under the age of 25 are Hispanic, yet only 15 percent of students in major seminaries are Hispanic, and many of these were born in other countries. To reach this untapped potential, the Church must do far more to engage and support young people in these communities.”
 
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 Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in January.  Last year, after extensive consultation, the 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.  This will be the first year it will be held in November.

September17, 2014
CARDINAL O'MALLEY LAUNCHES 2014-2015 PROGRAM WITH RESPECT LIFE MONTH STATEMENT

WASHINGTON — In a statement to mark Respect Life Month, October 2014, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., of Boston called for “community and solidarity” as an antidote to threats against life. Cardinal O’Malley chairs the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
 
The Cardinal’s statement launches this year’s Respect Life Program, with the theme, “Each of Us is a Masterpiece of God’s Creation.” This year’s theme echoes Pope Francis’ message during his 2013 Day for Life greeting. “Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect,” Pope Francis said.
 
“We want to be part of a society that makes affirmation and protection of human rights its primary objective and its boast,” Cardinal O’Malley said in his statement. “Yet to women faced with an unexpected pregnancy, abortion is often presented as their only ‘choice.’ A large percentage of children pre-diagnosed as having Down syndrome are never given the chance to live outside their mothers’ wombs. Elderly members of our families fear they will become burdensome and seek physician-assisted suicide. We see these and many more of our brothers and sisters pushed to the periphery.”
 
Cardinal O’Malley called for “community and solidarity” as an antidote to the individualism behind these and other such threats. “We must ask the Lord for the grace to see ourselves and others as he sees us—as masterpieces of his creation,” he said.
 
Begun in 1972, the Respect Life Program stresses the value and dignity of human life. It is observed in Catholic dioceses throughout the United States. In addition to new prayers and other resources, the 2014-15 Respect Life Program features six articles highlighting the respect due to each person as a “masterpiece of God’s creation.” A variety of topics is treated: adoption, miscarriage, healing within marriage after an abortion, advance medical directives, the treatment of children as commodities, and the connection between poverty and abortion.

September 16, 2014
CARDINAL O'MALLEY: GOVERNMENT REPORT CONFIRMS
BISHOPS' CONCERN ON ABORTION COVERAGE

WASHINGTON—A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) “confirms the U.S. bishops’ longstanding concern about abortion coverage” in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), said Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The report, “Health Insurance Exchanges: Coverage of Non-excepted Abortion Services by Qualified Health Plans,” was issued by the GAO, an independent reviewing agency of the U.S. government, on September 15. 

Despite repeated claims by President Obama and other supporters that the ACA would not promote abortion, the report identified over a thousand health plans eligible for federal premium subsidies that cover elective abortions. On five state exchanges, every plan covers such abortions in 2014; in another three large states, 95 to 98 percent of the plans do so. The Act’s alleged requirements regulating abortion coverage do not exist or are widely ignored. Many health plans do not inform enrollees about their inclusion of abortion coverage; they do not tell them how much they are being charged for such coverage; and they do not charge a “separate payment” for abortions that is distinct from the premium payment eligible for federal tax subsidies. While state insurance departments are supposedly tasked by the federal government with ensuring that these health plans maintain segregated accounts for abortion funds to keep them separate from federal funds, the report indicates that this is not taking place.

“This report confirms the U.S. bishops’ longstanding concern about abortion coverage that we raised both before and after enactment of the Affordable Care Act by Congress,” said Cardinal O’Malley. “Surveys have shown that most Americans do not want elective abortion in their health coverage, and do not want their tax dollars to fund abortions.  Their wishes are not being followed, and it can be difficult or impossible for them to find out whether those wishes are respected even in their own health plan.”

Cardinal O’Malley added: “The only adequate solution to this problem is the one the Catholic bishops advocated from the beginning of the health care reform debate in Congress: Bring the Affordable Care Act into compliance with the Hyde amendment and every other federal law on abortion funding, by excluding elective abortions from health plans subsidized with federal funds. At a minimum, Congress should not delay in enacting a law to require full disclosure of abortion coverage and abortion premiums to Americans purchasing health plans.”

Past USCCB materials on this issue, including Cardinal O’Malley’s letters to Congress endorsing the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” (H.R. 7) and the “Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act” (H.R. 3279), are at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/abortion/index.cfm.  For an analysis of how the Affordable Care Act treats abortion coverage see www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/upload/Backgrounder-The-New-Federal-Regulation-on-Coerced-Abortion-Payments.pdf.

September 15, 2014
USCCB CHAIRMEN AND NCEA PRESIDENT WELCOME BIPARTISAN,
BICAMERAL AGREEMENT REACHED TO REFORM CHILD
CARE AND DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT PROGRAM
 
WASHINGTON — The chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Catholic Education, Archbishop George J. Lucas of Omaha, Nebraska; the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami; and the President of the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA), Brother Robert Bimonte, welcome the legislative agreement reached by a bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders on Friday to improve and reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act.  
 
The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act (CCDBG) provides funds to states to assist low-income income families or those receiving assistance, in obtaining child care while parents work or participate in educational job training. A vast majority of recipients who receive CCDBG support do so through certificates which allow parents to choose the child care provider and program of their choice. The program has not been reauthorized since 1996.
 
“This is wonderful news and a testament to what can be achieved when we put the needs of parents and children first,” Archbishop Lucas said. “This legislative agreement also appropriately reaffirms the importance and pre-eminence of the child care certificates as the bedrock parental choice component of the program and acknowledges the critical role that Catholic and other faith-based providers play in this program.”
 
“The members of Congress, in this agreement, strengthen a program that has worked well over the last two decades and continues to provide low-income working families with the child care assistance they need, from the provider they choose. Child care is increasingly important for family stability, as well as finding and keeping decent work,” said Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.
 
“The success of the CCDBG program and the flexibility it provides to low-income families to choose the child-care program which best fits their needs is a reminder that empowering parents not only supports them in their role as primary educators of their children but also provides them with the assistance necessary to find employment and support their families,” said Brother Robert Bimonte, President of the National Catholic Education Association.
 
The U.S. Congress is expected to consider the measure in the coming days. According to the joint press release by Representatives John Kline (R-MN), George Miller (D-CA), Todd Rokita (R-IN) and David Loebsack (D-IA) and Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Richard Burr (R-NC), the bill enhances parental choice in child care options, strengthens health and safety standards and improves the quality of care in child care programs.

September 9, 2014
USCCB PRESIDENT HIGHLIGHTS ACHIEVEMENTS
OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT; CALLS FOR UNITY
AND RESPECT OF HUMAN DIGNITY
 
WASHINGTON — Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act has called for unity and perseverance to continue the vital work begun in the Act for the respect for human dignity. The statement was issued September 9, the first day of the bishops’ September 9-10 Administrative Committee meeting at the USCCB headquarters in Washington, and the memorial of St. Peter Claver.
 
“Fifty years ago, the Civil Rights Act offered an olive branch of hope for equal treatment and opportunities for education, employment, and fuller participation in society,” Archbishop Kurtz said in his statement. “The Civil Rights Act was a monumental step forward and since then, we have made even more progress in this vital work of transforming hearts and minds, but there is still much work to do. The Act itself did not eradicate the legacy of slavery, racial discrimination and injustice.” 
 
Archbishop Kurtz highlighted the work of the Catholic Church, including bishops, in the quest for integration and justice. “Propelled by their values and beliefs, members of different faiths and denominations, including Catholics, insisted that racial justice in the United States was an imperative, no longer to be ignored,” Archbishop Kurtz said.
 
The full statement follows:
 
Statement on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz
Archbishop of Louisville, Kentucky
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Issued on September 9, 2014
Memorial of St. Peter Claver
 
“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.  This is the commandment we have from him:  whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:20-21).
 
As America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 this year, I join together with my brother bishops in recalling the heroic history of that achievement.  We honor the many civic, business, and religious leaders, students, laborers, educators and all others of good will who courageously stood up for racial justice against bigotry, violence, ignorance, and fear. We remember with deep gratitude the countless personal sacrifices they made, sacrifices that all too often included hardship, violence, and even death. We honor the victory they won after such a long and sustained civil and legislative struggle.
 
We are especially grateful for the vital contributions of the faith community during this period.  Propelled by their values and beliefs, members of different faiths and denominations, including Catholics, insisted that racial justice in the United States was an imperative, no longer to be ignored.  Inspired by Holy Scripture, fortified by prayer and spiritual music, and sustained by a love for Christ, a number of Christians worked with and for the poor and marginalized, notably in the segregated South. 
 
We also join our voice to those Catholic bishops who repeatedly spoke against racism as evidenced by statements from the USCCB’s predecessor organization in 1943, 1958 and again in 1963. In the 1963 statement On Racial Harmony, the bishops condemned the injustices of segregation saying that it “implies that people of one race are not fit to associate with another…We cannot reconcile such a judgment with the Christian view of man’s nature and rights.”  They further insisted that “discrimination based on the accidental fact of race or color…cannot be reconciled with the truth that God has created all men with equal rights and equal dignity.”  A number of bishops—including Archbishop Ritter (St. Louis, 1946), Archbishop O’Boyle (Washington, D.C., 1940s and 50s), Archbishop Rummel (New Orleans, 1950s and 60s), and Cardinal Sheehan (Baltimore, 1963)—worked to desegregate Catholic schools, hospitals, and other institutions, clearly signaling by their words and actions that racial discrimination has no place in the Church or in society.
 
In a later pastoral statement, the bishops even more directly named racism for what it is: “Racism is a sin: a sin that divides the human family, blots out the image of God among specific members of that family, and violates the fundamental human dignity of those called to be children of the same Father.” (Brothers and Sisters to Us: U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Pastoral Letter on Racism, 1979) The Church remains a prophetic voice and must continue to insist on the dignity of all persons and the very real opportunity available to each of us, to have a personal encounter with Christ and to be instruments of His healing, love, and truth.  As my brother bishop, Bishop Joseph Perry has said, “The Church remains the principal source of healing and hope for people... We continue to need from the Church prophets and agents of reconciliation, individuals and groups, laity and clergy who make it their responsibility to bring people together despite stubborn differences and the conflicts that would guarantee walls of separation in our society.” (1998) 
 
Fifty years ago, the Civil Rights Act offered an olive branch of hope for equal treatment and opportunities for education, employment, and fuller participation in society.  The legislation promised a better quality of life for millions of Americans who had been excluded from the privileges of citizenship based on race, color, national origin, and other grounds.  It championed human dignity and provided legal protections that began to transform communities around the country.
 
The Civil Rights Act was a monumental step forward and since then, we have made even more progress in this vital work of transforming hearts and minds, but there is still much work to do. The Act itself did not eradicate the legacy of slavery, racial discrimination and injustice.  In fact, there are reminders across our nation today that the embers of racial discrimination still smolder.  This evil infects institutions, laws, and systems, and it harms our brothers and sisters.  We must therefore continue to work against the destructive influence of racism on families, religious and civil communities, employment, the prison system, housing, hunger, educational achievement, and mental health.
 
While reflecting on the work that has been accomplished and that which remains to be done, I wish to mention the special and untiring contributions of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Last Spring, I had the privilege to join a delegation of Christian leaders at an ecumenical symposium in Alabama where we reflected on Dr. King’s renowned Letter from Birmingham Jail in the presence of his daughter, the Rev. Bernice King.  In his letter, Dr. King advocated for strong, timely action to lift us “from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.”  I hope we will all continue to strive for that “solid rock of human dignity” today and to honor with gratitude the sacrificial labors of Dr. King’s writings and actions.
 
In conclusion, the Gospel requires ongoing personal and social transformation. Respecting the dignity of each person is paramount as we seek to spread the beauty of God’s truth throughout our world.  We cannot give in to discouragement. As Pope Francis reminds us, “Bringing the Gospel is bringing God’s power to pluck up and break down evil and violence, to destroy and overthrow the barriers of selfishness, intolerance and hatred, so as to build a new world.”
 
As we commemorate the notable achievements that resulted in the Civil Rights Act and other significant movements toward justice for all God’s children, let us continue to take up the banner and press forward to love one another as our Lord loved us (Jn 13:34).  And, as we do so, we recall the words of Dr. King written from his jail cell, “Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”

September 5, 2014
MARY MENCARINI CAMPBELL NAMED EXECUTIVE
DIRECTOR OF USCCB NATIONAL COLLECTIONS
 
WASHINGTON — Mary Mencarini Campbell has been named executive director of the Office of National Collections of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). She has served as interim director of that office since November 2013 and as director of Catholic Home Missions since 2011. She succeeds Patrick Markey, who stepped down in 2013. The USCCB Office of National Collections manages special collections held in U.S. parishes throughout the year.
 
“Mary Mencarini Campbell has served the bishops with extraordinary dedication for almost a quarter century in various responsibilities. The energy she continues to bring to the essential work of the National Collections, her love of the Church’s mission, and her commitment to the countless people served by those collections, are a true gift that demonstrate her generous service to the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Msgr. Ronny Jenkins, general secretary of USCCB, who made the appointment.
 
Mencarini Campbell has worked at the USCCB since April 1990. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland. She is a lifelong parishioner of the Archdiocese of Washington and has served as a parish catechist and as a member of the alumnae board at Elizabeth Seton High School. She is a contributing author to “Living Justice, Proclaiming Peace,” published by the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry, and speaks and presents on topics related to Church fundraising, the home missions, domestic poverty and Catholic social teaching.
 
U.S. dioceses participate in 14 national collections approved by the USCCB for specific needs of the Church. These collections are taken up in parishes often as an additional collection after the Sunday offertory. Eight of the collections are the responsibility of the Office of National Collections: the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the Catholic Home Missions Appeal, the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, the Catholic Communication Campaign, the Church in Latin America, Peter’s Pence, the Catholic Relief Services Collection, and the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa.

September 5, 2014
USCCB CHAIRMAN APPLAUDS FEDERAL COURT DECISION UPHOLDING MARRIAGE
WASHINGTON – The chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, applauded the decision on September 3, by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana upholding Louisiana’s marriage amendment.
 
“The federal court rightly declared that Louisiana’s marriage laws ‘serve a central state interest  of linking children to an intact family formed by their biological parents,’” Archbishop Cordileone said.  He continued, “The federal court affirmed that the voters of Louisiana who overwhelmingly chose to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman in their state constitution made a rational decision by embracing the definition of marriage ‘that has endured in history for thousands of years, and prevails in a majority of states today.’”
 
Archbishop Cordileone added, “Those who are arguing to redefine marriage based upon the desires and interests of adults were presented by this court with obvious questions raised by the logical consequences of their arguments to which they were unable to give an answer, including: ‘Must marriage be limited to only two people?’ Indeed, all who work to promote and defend marriage should be encouraged by this federal court decision.”
 
Yesterday’s ruling upholding Louisiana’s marriage amendment comes after numerous federal court decisions striking down state marriage laws. Those challenging the Louisiana marriage amendment are expected to appeal yesterday’s decision.
 

 

 
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