Browsing News Entries
Posted on 11/14/2018 07:48 AM (USCCB News Releases)
BALTIMORE— At their annual fall Plenary Assembly in Baltimore, MD, the U.S Bishops participated in a consultation on the cause for sainthood of the Servant of God Sr. Thea Bowman, F.S.P.A.
Bishop Robert P. Deeley, Chairman of the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, and Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, Bishop of Jackson, Mississippi, the petitioner of the cause, facilitated the discussion. By a voice vote, the bishops indicated unanimous support for the advancement of the cause on the diocesan level.
A self-proclaimed, “old folks’ child,” Bowman, was the only child born to middle-aged parents, Dr. Theon Bowman, a physician and Mary Esther Bowman, a teacher. At birth she was given the name Bertha Elizabeth Bowman. She was born in 1937 and reared in Canton, Mississippi. As a child she converted to Catholicism through the inspiration of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity who were her teachers and pastors at Holy Child Jesus Church and School in Canton.
At an early age, Thea was exposed to the richness of her African-American culture and spirituality, most especially the history, stories, songs, prayers, customs and traditions. At the age of fifteen, she told her parents and friends she wanted to join the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and left the familiar Mississippi terrain to venture to the unfamiliar town of LaCrosse, Wisconsin where she would be the only African-American member of her religious community. At her religious profession, she was given the name, “Sister Mary Thea” in honor of the Blessed Mother and her father, Theon. Her name in religious life, Thea, literally means “God.” She was trained to become a teacher. She taught at all grade levels, eventually earning her doctorate and becoming a college professor of English and linguistics.
In 1984, Sister Thea faced devastating challenges: both her parents died, and she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Sister Thea vowed to “live until I die” and continued her rigorous schedule of speaking engagements. Even when it became increasingly painful and difficult to travel as the cancer metastasized to her bones, she was undeterred from witnessing and sharing her boundless love for God and the joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Donned in her customary African garb, Sister Thea would arrive in a wheel chair with no hair (due to the chemotherapy treatments) but always with her a joyful disposition and pleasant smile. She did not let the deterioration of her body keep her from one unprecedented event, an opportunity to address the U.S. Bishops at their annual June meeting held in 1989 at Seton Hall University in East Orange, NJ. Sister Thea spoke to the bishops as a sister having a “heart to heart” conversation with her brothers.
She explained what it meant to be African-American and Catholic. She enlightened the bishops on African-American history and spirituality. Sister Thea urged the bishops to continue to evangelize the African-American community, to promote inclusivity and full participation of African-Americans within Church leadership, and to understand the necessity and value of Catholic schools in the African- American community. At the end of her address, she invited the bishops to move together, cross arms and sing with her, “We Shall Overcome.” She seemingly touched the hearts of the bishops as evidenced by their thunderous applause and tears flowing from their eyes.
During her short lifetime (52 years), many people considered her a religious Sister undeniably close to God and who lovingly invited others to encounter the presence of God in their lives. She is acclaimed a “holy woman” in the hearts of those who knew and loved her and continue to seek her intercession for guidance and healing.
Today across the United States there are schools; an education foundation to assist needy students to attend Catholic universities; housing units for the poor and elderly, and a health clinic for the marginalized named in her honor. Books, articles, catechetical resources, visual media productions, a stage play, have been written documenting her exemplary life. Prayer cards, works of art, statues, and stained-glass windows bearing her image all attest to Sister Thea’s profound spiritual impact and example of holiness for the faithful.
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Sr. Thea Bowman, Bishop Robert P. Deeley, Committee on Canonical Affairs, Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, Diocese of Jackson, canonical consultation, canonization, Cause for Canonization.
U. S. Bishops Vote for Conference Treasurer-Elect, Chairmen of Two Committees, and Chairmen-Elect of Five Committees at Fall General Assembly in Baltimore
Posted on 11/14/2018 07:44 AM (USCCB News Releases)
BALTIMORE—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) gathering in Baltimore for today's 2018 General Assembly have elected a new conference treasurer-elect along with a new chairman of the Committee for Catholic Education and Committee on National Collections, and chairmen-elect of five additional standing committees.
Bishop Gregory L. Parkes, Diocese of St. Petersburg has been elected as treasurer-elect for the USCCB on the ballot with 157 votes over Archbishop Charles C. Thompson, Archdiocese of Indianapolis, who received 87 votes.
Additionally, Bishop Michael C. Barber S.J. Diocese of Oakland, has been elected as chairman of the Committee for Catholic Education in a 142 to 103 vote over Bishop David J. Malloy, Diocese of Rockford.
Also, Archbishop Paul D. Etienne, Archdiocese of Anchorage, was also voted chairman of the Committee on National Collections in a 137 to 111 vote over Bishop Thomas A. Daly, Diocese of Spokane.
The five chairmen-elect are:
Bishop James F. Checchio, Diocese of Metuchen, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations in a 168 to 77 vote over Bishop Michael F. Olson, Diocese of Fort Worth.
Archbishop Leonard P. Blair, Archdiocese of Hartford, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Divine Worship in a 132 to 113 vote over Bishop David L. Ricken, Diocese of Green Bay.
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City as chairman-elect of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development in a 140 to 105 vote over Archbishop John C. Wester, Archdiocese of Santa Fe.
Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco was elected chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth after a tie vote of 125 votes with nominee Bishop John F. Doerfler of Marquette. Archbishop Cordileone was named chairman, per voting protocol, due to having been ordained a bishop longer.
Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville-Rodriguez, Archdiocese of Washington as chairman-elect of the Committee on Migration in a 158 to 88 vote over Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv., Diocese of Lexington.
The treasurer-elect and the five committee chairmen-elect will serve one year before beginning three-year terms at the conclusion of the bishops' 2019 Fall General Assembly.
Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Archdiocese of the Military Services, Bishop James V. Johnston Jr., Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Bishop Oscar A. Solis, Diocese of Salt Lake City, were also elected to the board of Catholic Relief Services.
The 2019 USCCB budget was also voted on by the U.S. Bishops and passed with 223 to 12 votes.
Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, November meeting, fall General Assembly, Baltimore, committees, elections, conference secretary, chairmen-elect
Posted on 11/14/2018 06:33 AM (USCCB News Releases)
Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, Presidents of Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Legal Immigration Network Issued Statement Regarding Their Deep Concern About Restricting Access to Asylum
WASHINGTON— Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, Sister Donna Markham, OP, Phd, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, Jeanne Atkinson, Executive Director of Catholic Legal Immigration Network, and Sean Callahan, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services issued an statement reiterating that it is not a crime to seek asylum and urging the Administration to seek other solutions that will strengthen the integrity of the existing immigration system.
On November 9, 2018, President Trump issued a proclamation (https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/presidential-proclamation-addressing-mass-migration-southern-border-united-states/?utm_source=link) barring people arriving to the U.S./Mexico border from receiving U.S. asylum unless they request it at a U.S. port of entry, a direct contradiction of existing U.S. asylum law (see https://www.uscis.gov/ilink/docView/SLB/HTML/SLB/0-0-0-1/0-0-0-29/0-0-0-1687.html#0-0-0-192)
The full statement follows:
“While our teaching acknowledges the right of each nation to regulate its borders, we find this action deeply concerning. It will restrict and slow access to protection for hundreds of children and families fleeing violence in Central America, potentially leaving them in unsafe conditions in Mexico or in indefinite detention situations at the U.S./Mexico border. We reiterate that it is not a crime to seek asylum and this right to seek refuge is codified in our laws and in our values. We urge the Administration to seek other solutions that will strengthen the integrity of the existing immigration system, while assuring access to protection for vulnerable children and families. The Catholic Church will continue to serve, accompany and assist all those who flee persecution, regardless of where they seek such protection and where they are from.”
Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez, Committee on Migration, Sean Callahan, Catholic Relief Services, Sister Donna Markham, Catholic Charities USA, Jeanne Atkinson, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, migrants, asylum, immigration.
Posted on 11/13/2018 16:33 PM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON— Today, leaders of diverse faiths and religious nonprofits asked Congress to repeal a recent change to the Internal Revenue Code in Section 512(a)(7) that threatens to tax nonprofit organizations—including houses of worship—for the cost of parking and transit benefits provided to their employees. Many have referred to this provision as the “parking lot tax”.
Leaders representing a broad range of institutions, including houses of worship, primary and secondary education, higher education, and faith-based nonprofit organizations sent a letter to House and Senate chairmen and ranking members.
The letter states: “We write with serious concerns about how a little-noticed provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would tax parking and transit benefits provided by nonprofit organizations and churches. Unless repealed, this provision will require tens of thousands of houses of worship to file tax returns for the first time in our nation’s history and will impose a new tax burden on houses of worship and nonprofit organizations.”
The letter continues: “Perhaps worst of all, this provision will hopelessly entangle the IRS with houses of worship, simply because these houses of worship allow their clergy to park in their parking lots. For good reasons grounded in the First Amendment, houses of worship are not required to file tax returns each year. This policy allows houses of worship to operate independently from the government and shields houses of worship from government interference and intrusive public inspection into their internal, constitutionally protected operations, as nonprofit tax returns are available to the public.”
Signatories from the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, The Jewish Federations of North America, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Agudath Israel of America, Islamic Relief USA, Indian American Muslim Council, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Church of Scientology National Affairs Office, The Episcopal Church, National Association of Evangelicals, Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty, Catholic Charities USA, and many other organizations concerned about this new tax joined Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Chairman of the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Frank R. Dewane of Venice, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, in signing the letter.
A link to the letter can be found here: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/upload/Letter-on-Parking-Lot-Tax-November-13-2018.pdf
Keywords: Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Bishop Frank Dewane, USCCB, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, parking lot tax, Section 512(a)(7), First Amendment
National Review Board Urges Need to Broaden the Scope of the Charter to Include Bishops; Lay Panel Urges Reform to Improve Transparency and Enhance Accountability
Posted on 11/13/2018 05:47 AM (USCCB News Releases)
BALTIMORE—On Tuesday, November 13, the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' independent lay advisory panel on the protection of children and young people delivered a special report to the body of U.S. bishops regarding the abuse crisis in the Church. In an address to the bishops who have gathered in Baltimore for the annual fall general assembly, National Review Board Chairman Francesco Cesareo, Ph.D., outlined key reforms and urged action. The report calls for broadening the scope of the Charter on the Protection of Children and Young People to include bishops; the publication of complete lists of credibly accused clergy in all dioceses; improving the audit process; and enhancing accountability for bishops regarding cases of abuse.
You can find the full report here: www.usccb.org/about/child-and-youth-protection/upload/National-Review-Board-Special-Report-to-the-Body-of-Bishops-November-2018.pdf
Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, National Review Board, Francesco Cesareo, Ph.D., National Review Board, lay advisory panel, Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, General Assembly, reform, action, accountability.
President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Delivers Opening Address at Start of 2018 General Assembly in Baltimore, Nov. 12-14
Posted on 11/12/2018 05:37 AM (USCCB News Releases)
Baltimore—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops addressed the body of bishops at the opening sessions today in Baltimore for the General Assembly taking place in Baltimore.
Cardinal DiNardo’s full address follows:
“Saint Augustine wrote, ‘In order that weakness might become strong, strength became weak.’ My dear brothers, in light of this morning’s news, the nature of my address changes. We remain committed to the specific program of greater episcopal accountability that we will discuss these days. Consultations will take place. Votes will not this week. But we will prepare ourselves to move forward.
Allow me to now address the survivors of abuse directly.
Where I have not been watchful or alert to your needs, wherever I have failed, I am deeply sorry. The command of our Lord and Savior was clear. ‘What I say to you, I say to all: watch!’ In our weakness, we fell asleep. Now, we must humbly beg God’s strength for the vigil ahead.
St Augustine also warned that there are two extremes we all can fall into – despair or presumption.
We, and the faithful, can fall into despair – believing that there is no hope for the Church or good change in the Church. We can also believe there no hope for healing of these sins. But we must always remember there is a thing called trusting faith and it leads us on our current journey. This trusting faith provides us roots for a living memory. Our people need this living memory of hope.
We must also remember the other extreme: presumption. We can be lulled into inactivity by presuming that this will blow over, that things simply return to normal on their own. Some would say this is entirely a crisis of the past. It is not. We must never victimize survivors over again by demanding they heal on our timeline. It is true to say the vast majority of abuse cases occurred decades ago. But the pain is daily.
The number of new allegations today are a small fraction of what they were. But Jesus poses a question, ‘what man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the 99 in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?’ In justice, we must search for every child of God whose innocence is lost to a horrific predator at any time, decades ago or this very day.
Healing can come, if there is forgiveness. ‘How many there are who know that they have sinned against their brother or sister and yet are unwilling to say: forgive me.’ Let us not only be willing but also ready and eager to ask for forgiveness. To the survivors I have let down by what I have failed to do, please forgive me. To those who have lost faith in the Church, please forgive us for our failures.
Combatting the evil of sexual assault within the Church will require all our spiritual and physical resources. We must draw near to Christ in all sorrow, humility and contrition, to better hear his voice and discern his will. It is only after listening we can carry out the changes needed. The changes that the People of God rightly demand.
Our work must honor the ongoing work of so many across the country to protect children and others from the fear of violation. Tens of thousands of people – including clergy, religious, and laity -- working or volunteering at Catholic ministries submit themselves to extensive safe environment training and background checks. Hundreds of parents, social workers, law enforcement and other professionals serve on review boards to ensure an impartial review of all allegations. Victim’s assistance coordinators stand ready in every diocese to assist survivors of abuse. And since 2002, our priests and others serving the Church work under a policy of zero tolerance after an allegation of abusing a child is admitted to or proven.
Brother bishops, to exempt ourselves from these high standards of accountability is unacceptable and cannot stand. In fact, we, as successors to the apostles, must hold ourselves to the highest possible standard. Doing anything less insults those working to protect and heal from the scourge of abuse.
As, however, the events of this year have so clearly revealed, we must expand our understanding of protection and vigilance. Sexual misconduct must be more intensely dealt with in our dioceses and in our policies. The sense of justice founded on the people’s genuine instinct of faith will hold us accountable.
The Church founded by Jesus Christ is one of hope and life. My dear brother bishops, we must take every precaution that our example not lead a single person away from the Lord. Whether we will be remembered as guardians of the abused or the abuser will be determined by our actions beginning this week. Let us draw near to Christ today, sacrifice to Him our own ambitions, and humbly submit ourselves totally to what He demands of us in love and justice.
The Church has always been and will always be the Body of Christ — His Church. He merely asks us to serve as best we can. And where we fail, let us submit to the Holy Father and to one another in a spirit of fraternal correction.
I quoted St. Augustine at the beginning of this talk. He also writes, ‘for on whatever place one has fallen, on that place he must find support that he may rise again.’ Brothers, we have fallen into a place of great weakness. We need to pray and act right now in this very place to begin rising to a new integrity.
We must always remember that in order for us, who are weak, to become strong, Christ became weak. ‘Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered.’ Through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, may we become strong – not for own consolation, but to better serve our sisters and brothers.
Let us, then, be an example of how the sinner humbles himself before the Lord so that he may receive God’s mercy. In this way, we can begin to clean and heal the lacerations in the Body of Christ. May God bless you.”
Keywords: Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, General Assembly, Baltimore
U.S. Bishops to Vote for Chairman of Committee on National Collections at Fall General Assembly in Baltimore, Nov. 12-14
Posted on 11/11/2018 07:58 AM (USCCB News Releases)
BALTIMORE— The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will be voting for the Chairman of the USCCB Committee on National Collections during the General Assembly taking place Nov. 12-14 in Baltimore, Maryland. The nominees are Archbishop Paul D Etienne of the Archdiocese of Anchorage and Bishop Thomas A. Daly of the Diocese of Spokane.
The U.S. Bishops will also vote for the USCCB’s treasurer-elect, chairman of the catholic education committee, and chairmen-elect of five additional standing committees. The five committee chairmen will serve for one year as chairmen-elect before beginning a three-year term at the conclusion of the bishops' 2019 Fall General Assembly.
Nominees for the Conference Treasurer, Chairman of the Committee for Catholic Education, and Chairman-elect of each committee are as follows:
Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, November meeting, Fall General Assembly, Baltimore, committees, elections
Posted on 11/9/2018 05:01 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON–The final rules announced Wednesday by the federal government regarding the HHS mandate “allow people like the Little Sisters of the Poor, faith-based schools, and others to live out their faith in daily life,” according to leaders of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the USCCB, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty, are applauding the Trump Administration’s decision to finalize regulations providing expanded religious and moral exemptions from the mandate requiring health insurance coverage of sterilization, contraception, and drugs and devices that may cause abortions.
Cardinal DiNardo and Archbishop Kurtz offered the following joint statement in response:
“We are grateful for the Administration’s decision to finalize common-sense regulations that allow those with sincerely held religious or moral convictions opposing abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception to exclude such drugs and devices from their health plans. These final regulations restore free exercise rights in accordance with the First Amendment and long-standing statutory protections for religious freedom. The regulations allow people like the Little Sisters of the Poor, faith-based schools, and others to live out their faith in daily life and to continue to serve others, without fear of punishing fines from the federal government.”
Keywords: Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, HHS mandate, Little Sisters of the Poor, abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, contraception, religious liberty, religious freedom
Posted on 11/8/2018 08:46 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON—Following the tragic shooting early this morning in Thousand Oaks, California, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement calling for the enactment of reasonable measures to end gun violence.
The full statement of Cardinal DiNardo follows:
"Many of us learned at dawn today that at least a dozen people died early this morning in a shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks, CA, outside of Los Angeles. Early reports indicate that the bar was filled with college students, and among the dead are a law enforcement officer as well as the shooter himself.
We must bring this tragedy to the Lord in prayer. This new incident of gun violence strikes just as the funerals are barely complete from the last mass shooting. More innocent lives are lost because of one individual and his ability to procure weapons and commit violence. The bishops continue to ask that public policies be supported that would enact reasonable gun measures to help curb this mad loss of life.
Only love can truly defeat evil. Love begets love, and peace begets peace, but anger, hatred and violence breed more of the same. Today we pray for the victims and their loved ones and all those impacted by this senseless violence. Let us pray that "In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace." Lk. 1:78-79.”
Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president, violence,
# # #
Posted on 11/8/2018 08:38 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON—The Retirement Fund for Religious collection will be held in most U.S. Catholic parishes on December 8-9. Now in its 31st year, the collection is coordinated by the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO). Proceeds are distributed to eligible religious communities to help underwrite retirement and health-care expenses for senior members. Some 31,000 elderly Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests benefit.
Catholic bishops of the United States initiated the national collection in 1988 to help address the significant lack of retirement funding among U.S. religious congregations. Almost 94 percent of donations directly support senior religious and their congregations.
Donations to the 2017 appeal totaled just over $28 million, and the NRRO distributed $25 million to 360 religious communities across the country. Communities utilize these funds to bolster retirement savings and to subsidize necessities such as prescription medications and nursing care. Throughout the year, additional funding is allocated for communities with critical needs and for resources on retirement planning and eldercare.
“Since the collection began, Catholics have donated $844 million to help religious communities care for aging members,” said Presentation Sister Stephanie Still, the NRRO’s executive director. “We are humbled and profoundly grateful for this generosity.”
Despite ongoing support for the national appeal, the need remains profound. For each of the last 10 years, the total cost of care for senior women and men religious has exceeded $1 billion. At the same time, most religious communities lack adequate retirement savings because older members served for little to no pay. Historically low compensation also impacts current income. Based on NRRO data, the average annual Social Security benefit for a religious is just $6,453.45.
In addition to direct financial aid, collection proceeds underwrite efforts to help religious communities prepare for long-term needs. Special programming offers fiscal and one-on-one support to communities with critical funding shortages. Partnerships with various organizations maximize the impact of donations by furnishing tools for enhancing eldercare and stretching retirement dollars. For example, in conjunction with the Avila Institute for Gerontology, the NRRO offers a free webinar series on senior-related topics. In 2017, funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation underwrote the creation of online videos to promote effective property planning.
“Thanks to the annual appeal, we are able to offer an array of resources to help religious communities meet immediate needs, enhance eldercare, and plan for the future,” said Sister Still.
More information is available at www.retiredreligious.org.
Keywords: National Religious Retirement Office, NRRO, retirement, eldercare, U.S. bishops, Sister Stephanie Still, USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Collection