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MEDIA ADVISORY: Agenda for U.S. Bishops’ Meeting June 16-18

WASHINGTON—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will gather virtually for the 2021 Spring General Assembly starting today, Wednesday, June 16 in a virtual format.

The agenda for the meeting may be found here.

The livestream of the general assembly will be available on www.usccb.org/meetings.

  • Wednesday, June 16 from 2:30 - 4:00 PM Eastern Time
  • Thursday, June 17 from 1:00 - 4:00 PM Eastern Time
  • Friday, June 18 from 1:00 - 2:30 PM Eastern Time

There will also be two* press conferences livestreamed on, www.usccb.org/meetings, commencing approximately fifteen minutes after the conclusion of the general session.

  • Wednesday, June 16   (~ approx. 4:15 PM Eastern Time)
  • Thursday, June 17       (~ approx. 4:15 PM Eastern Time)

*Initial media advisory indicated only 6/16 press conference

News updates, vote totals, texts of addresses and presentations, and other materials will be posted to www.usccb.org/meetings as soon as possible.

Those wishing to follow the meeting on social media are invited to use the hashtag #USCCB21 and follow on Twitter (@USCCB) as well as on Facebook (www.facebook.com/usccb) and Instagram (https://instagram.com/usccb).

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte

202-541-3200
 

On Anniversary of DACA, Migration Chairman Reaffirms Need for Congress to Act

WASHINGTON—Today marks nine years since Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was created. DACA allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as children—known as Dreamers—to remain in the country, subject to several requirements. DACA does not provide legal status, nor does it create a pathway to citizenship, but it does make recipients eligible for work authorization and other benefits. There are over 600,000 active DACA recipients currently living in the United States and as many as 3.6 million Dreamers total, about 1.8 million of which are DACA-eligible.

In recognition of DACA’s anniversary, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“Every day, DACA recipients make important contributions to their communities and the life of our nation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, over 200,000 DACA recipients have served as essential workers, and they continue to demonstrate their resolve during this period of recovery. Yet, these young people have far too often faced uncertainty and rejection at the hands of our broken immigration system. 

“The Biden Administration has identified immigration reform as a priority, and we look forward to seeing it realize that commitment through congressional engagement. Meanwhile, the ideal time for Congress to act has long since passed, though the opportunity and imperative still remain. Dreamers—together with Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure holders, migrant agricultural workers, and undocumented essential workers—deserve relief.

“As a Church, we recognize the inherent, God-given dignity of every human person, regardless of immigration status. Therefore, we will continue to call for comprehensive immigration reform that preserves family unity, honors due process, respects the rule of law, recognizes the contributions of foreign-born workers, defends the vulnerable, and addresses the root causes of migration, consistent with the common good.”

Congress currently has multiple opportunities before it to enact immigration reform, including the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 1603), bipartisan bills passed by the House of Representatives in March. Bishop Dorsonville submitted written testimony for a hearing held today by the Senate Judiciary Committee on the American Dream and Promise Act. This follows a statement issued in March by Bishop Dorsonville and Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the USCCB, urging the Senate to act.

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

Rev. Ronald Kunkel Appointed as Executive Director of USCCB's Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs

WASHINGTON – Father Ronald Kunkel, S.T.D., a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, has been named executive director of the Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The appointment was made today by Monsignor Jeffrey D. Burrill, USCCB general secretary, and is effective August 9.

“Father Kunkel brings an extensive background of theological instruction to the Conference,” said Monsignor Burrill. “I am confident that his expertise will fruitfully serve both the bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, as well as the secretariat with the theological and pastoral consultation that is necessary in carrying out the work of the Conference.”

Father Kunkel was ordained to the priesthood in 2000. He served as associate pastor of St. Peter parish in Skokie, Illinois and associate pastor and director of liturgy at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. Since 2005, he has served at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois, as an instructor of systematic theology, assistant professor of dogmatic theology, director of sacred liturgy, and associate professor of dogmatic theology. He obtained his bachelor of business administration from the University of Notre Dame and a bachelor of sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He then received his licentiate of sacred theology at the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm in Rome, and his doctorate of sacred theology from the University of Saint Mary of the Lake.

Father Kunkel is a member of the Catholic Theological Society of America, the American Academy of Religion, the Society for Catholic Liturgy, and the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, and he is a contributor to the theological journal Chicago Studies. He succeeds Father Michael J.K. Fuller, a priest of the Diocese of Rockford, who was named last November as Associate General Secretary for the USCCB.

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

 

U.S. Bishops’ Chairman for International Justice and Peace Welcomes International Religious Freedom Summit

WASHINGTON - Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace welcomed the announcement of the International Religious Freedom Summit to be held July 13-15 in Washington.

“According to a Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 83 percent of the world’s approximately 7 billion people now live in countries with high government or social hostilities involving religion. Every culture, nation, religious or political system must strive to better protect religious freedom, a vital human right,” said Bishop Malloy.

“It is for that reason that I welcome the announcement of an International Religious Freedom (IRF) Summit to be held in our nation’s capital this July. This summit is intended to raise awareness about international religious freedom within the United States and to bring together a broad coalition that will work together for the cause of religious freedom around the world.”

The USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace is a proud sponsor of the IRF Summit and Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty, will be one of the keynote speakers. More than 40 organizations committed to upholding religious freedom have joined as convening partners for the Summit. For more information, please visit: irfsummit.com.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte

202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops to Meet Virtually June 16-18; Assembly to Be Livestreamed and Live-Tweeted

WASHINGTON—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will gather virtually for the 2021 Spring General Assembly on June 16-18. Earlier this year, the bishop-members of the USCCB voted to approve the convocation of this year’s June meeting in a virtual format in light of the challenges posed to meeting in person with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The assembly will begin with an address by the papal nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre. The plenary will also hear from Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles as he addresses the assembly as USCCB president.

The items on the agenda of the meeting include votes on nine action items:

  • Causes for canonization for Servant of God Joseph Verbis Lefleur, and Servant of God Marinus (Leonard) LaRue
  • The approval of three translations by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) for use in the dioceses of the United States
  • A National Pastoral Framework for Marriage and Family Life Ministry in the United States: Called to the Joy of Love
  • The development of a new formal statement and comprehensive vision for Native American / Alaska Native Ministry
  • The approval of the drafting of a formal statement on the meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the Church
  • The approval of the drafting of a national pastoral framework for youth and young adults

During the meeting, the bishops will hear a report from the National Review Board which advises the Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People and the USCCB on matters of child and youth protection, specifically on policies and practices. Also, on the agenda: an update from the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis on the Eucharistic Revival initiative; an update from the Subcommittee for Pastoral Care for Immigrants, Refugees and Travelers on a study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA); and an update on the work of the Subcommittee on the Catechism.

The livestream of the public sessions of the general assembly, the votes (and tallies) of the action items, news updates, texts of addresses and presentations, and other materials will be available at www.usccb.org/meetings.

Those wishing to follow the meeting on social media are invited to use the hashtag #USCCB21 and follow on Twitter (@USCCB) as well as on Facebook (www.facebook.com/usccb) and Instagram (https://instagram.com/usccb).

The livestream of the bishops’ meeting will be broadcast on the USCCB website:

  • Wednesday, June 16 (2:30-4:00 PM EDT)
  • Thursday, June 17 (1:00-4:00 PM EDT)
  • Friday, June 18 (1:00-2:30 PM EDT).

Broadcast media, please note, there will be no satellite feed available. There will also be a press conference livestreamed on the USCCB website on June 16 commencing approximately fifteen minutes after the conclusion of the general session (approximately 4:15 PM).

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte

202-541-3200
 

U.S. and European Bishops Issue a Joint Declaration for Renewed Transatlantic Partnership as EU-US Summit in Brussels Approaches

WASHINGTON – As the EU-U.S. Summit in Brussels approaches this month, the heads of the episcopal conferences for the European Union and the United States have issued a joint declaration affirming their shared commitment to the promotion of global peace, justice, and human development.

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, SJ, archbishop of Luxembourg, and president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the EU (COMECE), and Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) articulated the shared values and principles that have been the foundation of the relations between the European Union and the United States and offered prayers for the participants be “guided by wisdom and mutual trust to lay the basis for a renewed transatlantic partnership for greater peace, justice and sustainable human development across our continents and in the world.”

The full declaration may be read here.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte

202-541-3200
 

World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests Emboldens Priests to Embrace the Cross for the Sake of the Gospel

WASHINGTON – The World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests will be marked by the universal Church on June 11. This celebration was established by Pope John Paul II in 2002 and occurs annually on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On this day, the Church encourages priests to reflect upon the gift of priesthood they have received from Christ; and the faithful are encouraged to pray for their priests that they may be strengthened in their ministry and remain steadfast in their commitment to the Lord.

In his homily for the Holy Chrism Mass on April 1, Pope Francis reminded priests that the proclamation of the Gospel is always intrinsically linked to persecution. The Holy Father remarked that the weight of the cross was present throughout Our Lord’s life from beginning to end; just as he embraced its sufferings at every moment of his earthly life, so too must his priests: “If mere circumstances conditioned the saving power of the cross, the Lord would not have embraced everything,” he said. “But when his hour came, he embraced the cross fully. For on the cross there can be no ambiguity! The cross is non-negotiable.”

Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations echoed Pope Francis’ message: “Preaching the Gospel often results in rejection and isolation. Priests confront this harsh reality too. Yet, the power of the cross prevails. I urge all priests, especially those suffering in a particular way, to remember that they do not bear their crosses alone; it is through and by the cross of Christ that we are given all of the strength we need for the challenges ahead.”

Resources for supporting the life and ministry of priests are available for use on the USCCB website.

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

Rev. Jorge Torres Appointed to serve in Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

WASHINGTON – Father Jorge Torres, a priest of the Diocese of Orlando, has been appointed to serve as a Specialist for the Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), based in Washington, D.C. He begins work on July 12.

Father Torres holds an undergraduate degree in philosophy from St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami and a Master’s in Divinity from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida. He was ordained to the priesthood in 2005 and has served as parochial vicar of St. Ann Catholic Church in Haines City, and Most Precious Blood Catholic Church in Oviedo, and as pastor of Holy Redeemer in Kissimmee. Father Torres’ priestly ministry includes service as chaplain for campus ministry at the University of Central Florida, vocation director of the Diocese of Orlando, and secretary of the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors. He is currently serving as pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Melbourne, Florida.

In announcing the appointment to the bishops, Monsignor Jeffrey D. Burrill, USCCB general secretary, expressed his gratitude to Bishop John G. Noonan of Orlando for releasing Father Torres for this service to the bishops’ conference.

Father Torres joins the Conference as the Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis begins the promotion of a national Eucharistic Revival to renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. The staff of the Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis provides support to the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, which assists the bishops in fulfilling their role as both teachers and evangelizers. The Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis will be leading this multi-committee Eucharistic initiative as part of the Conference’s 2021-2024 strategic plan, Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope.

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

Media Advisory: USCCB to Celebrate Religious Freedom Week, June 22-29

WASHINGTON– Each year, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) observes Religious Freedom Week. Beginning with the feast day of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher, and including the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, the week-long commemoration ends with the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. 

Religious Freedom Week will be observed this year from June 22 to June 29 and the theme chosen is Solidarity in Freedom. “Solidarity means much more than engaging in sporadic acts of generosity. It means thinking and acting in terms of community” (Fratelli tutti, 116). Religious freedom allows the Church, and all religious communities, to live out their faith in public and to serve the good of all.

The USCCB has prepared resources to “Pray – Reflect – Act” which may be found at: www.usccb.org/ReligiousFreedomWeek. Each day focuses on different religious liberty topics of concern for the bishops. These materials were prepared to help people understand religious liberty from a Catholic perspective, pray about particular issues, and act on what they learn by advocating for policies that promote religious freedom.

The USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty collaborated with the Office of International Justice and Peace to raise awareness and show solidarity with people throughout the world who suffer for their faith, from the persecution of Christians in Nicaragua to highlighting Pope Francis’s trip to Iraq this year. Domestically, a major area of concern continues to be freedom for Catholic institutions, such as schools, hospitals, and child welfare service providers, to carry out their missions with integrity.

Through prayer, education, and public action during Religious Freedom Week, the USCCB hopes to promote the essential right of religious freedom for Catholics and for those of all faiths.

Connect with the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty.  Text FREEDOM to 84576 and sign up for First Freedom News, the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty’s monthly newsletter. 

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

Annual Survey of Permanent Diaconate Highlights the Importance and Need for Their Ministry in Life of the Church

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations has shared the results of the study A Portrait of the Permanent Diaconate: A Study for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 2020-2021. This annual survey, conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, provides an illustration of the state of the permanent diaconate in the United States, including the number of those ordained and retired in the past year, percentages of those involved in various Church ministries, and other demographic information.

Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, chairman of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, emphasized the importance of the permanent deacons’ witness in the Church today. “As our world continues to grapple with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, permanent deacons provide an encouraging witness to the love and mercy of Christ. They bring the light and presence of Jesus into many different areas of society – preaching the Gospel in their jobs, within their families, to the poor, and among their broader communities. As this new study is released, I encourage my brother bishops and all the faithful to say a prayer of thanksgiving for the good ministry of our permanent deacons in the United States.”

With contact information provided by the National Association of Diaconate Directors and CARA’s Catholic Ministry Formation database, CARA contacted the 187 dioceses and eparchies in the United States who belong to the USCCB and have an active Office of the Permanent Diaconate. Of this total, 145 responded to the survey for an overall response rate of 77%. Some of the major findings of the report are:

  • Responding dioceses with the largest number of permanent deacons include Chicago (852), Los Angeles (426), and Galveston-Houston (367). Adjusting for Catholic population size, Latin Rite dioceses with the lowest ratio of Catholic per permanent deacon include Lexington (508 Catholics to every deacon), Rapid City (640 Catholics to every deacon), Bismarck (676 Catholics to every deacon), and Jefferson City (703 Catholics to every deacon).
  • The 144 Latin Rite dioceses that responded to the survey report a total of 15,873 permanent deacons (both active and non-active). The single eparchy that responded reported a total of 11 permanent deacons. Extrapolating to include dioceses and eparchies that did not respond to the survey, it can be estimated that there are as many as 19,008 permanent deacons in the United States today.
  • Latin Rite dioceses report having 12,292 permanent deacons active in ministry; the single eparchy reported 11 active permanent deacons. Extrapolating to include dioceses and eparchies that did not respond to the survey, it can be estimated that there are 14,722 deacons active in ministry in the United States today, or about 78% of all permanent deacons.
  • During the 2020 calendar year, 587 new permanent deacons were ordained in responding dioceses. At the same time, 410 deacons retired from active ministry and another 378 died. As is the case with priests in the United States, there are not enough new permanent deacons being ordained to make up for the numbers who are retiring from active ministry and dying each year.
  • Nine in ten (93%) active permanent deacons are currently married. Four percent are widowers and 2% have never been married.
  • Ninety-five percent of active permanent deacons are at least 50 years old. About a fifth (21%) are in their 50s, two-fifths (40%) are in their 60s, and two-fifths (35%) are 70 or older.
  • Seven in ten active permanent deacons (72%) are non-Hispanic whites. One in five (215) are Hispanic/Latino, 4% are Asian/Pacific Islander, and 3% are African American.
  • Among permanent deacons who are financially compensated for ministry, 26% are serving in a “parish ministerial position” other than pastoral care of parish(es) (Canon 517.2), so they are serving in ministerial positions such as Director of Religious Education or Youth Minister. Additionally, one in six (16%) works in parish non-ministerial positions (e.g., administration, business, finance) and fewer than one in ten (8%) are entrusted with the pastoral care of one or more parishes.

The entire CARA report can be accessed at: https://www.usccb.org/resources/diaconate%20post-ordination%20report.pdf

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