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U.S. Bishops’ Migration Chairman Welcomes Refugee Admissions Target of 125,000

WASHINGTON - On October 8, the Biden Administration announced a Fiscal Year 2022 Presidential Determination (PD) of 125,000 refugees for resettlement through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). This is the highest PD since 1993 and follows four consecutive years of historic lows. During the previous fiscal year, which ended on September 30, the U.S. resettled only 11,411 refugees out of a possible 62,500, the lowest number in the program’s history.

The USRAP was created in 1980, and it has received strong bipartisan support ever since. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is one of nine national resettlement agencies that partners with the U.S. government in this effort. The Catholic Church’s involvement in refugee resettlement stems from the Church’s social teaching on the common good and is consistent with its longstanding role in welcoming newcomers and supporting integration.

Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“The last few years have had a devastating impact on refugee resettlement, all while we witness the greatest forced migration crises in decades. We commend the Administration for seeking to reassert American leadership in this area, and we look forward to continued action in support of this goal. We also urge Congress to provide the resources necessary to not only rebuild the Refugee Admissions Program but sustain it for the next four decades and beyond.

“Whether fleeing war, natural disaster, or persecution, the positive contributions of refugees to our society have been well documented. First and foremost, however, we recognize them as vulnerable members of the same human family to which we ourselves belong.

“In a special way, we as Catholics are called to this ministry of welcome and encounter, through which we express the fullness of the Church’s universality. The bishops of the United States pledge our continued commitment to this work, and we praise the many Catholic organizations, communities, and persons dedicated to what Pope Francis has referred to as ‘a new “frontier” for mission, a privileged opportunity to proclaim Jesus Christ and the Gospel message at home, and to bear concrete witness to the Christian faith in a spirit of charity.’”

In May, Bishop Dorsonville called 125,000 refugee admissions “a figure more consistent with our values and capabilities as a nation.” For more information about refugees, the USRAP, and the Church’s work on this issue, please visit the Justice for Immigrants website.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi 
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops Invite Young People to Join Celebration for World Youth Day 2023

WASHINGTON - Lisbon, Portugal will be the host of the next international World Youth Day (WYD), from August 1 to 6, 2023. Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Bishop Edward J. Burns of Dallas, the USCCB’s episcopal liaison to World Youth Day, released a statement expressing solidarity with Pope Francis and the universal Church as anticipation builds for the major international event.

“We are overjoyed to now have the dates we can look forward to when millions of people will come together and join the Holy Father for World Youth Day in Lisbon in August 2023.

“We hope that many from the U.S. will participate, and we invite all youth and young adults – in fact, every person age 16 to 35 in the United States – to join us. Whether you plan to travel to Lisbon, participate through digital media, or join your peers at one of many local celebrations taking place in dioceses across the country, we want you to be part of this moment in the life of the Church.

“It is providential that the WYD Mass with the Holy Father will take place on the feast of the Transfiguration, August 6, 2023. The experience of Peter, James, and John at the Transfiguration was a pivotal moment of transformation for them.  We hope that WYD will have a similar impact on young people today, no matter where or how they make this pilgrimage to celebrate this special international festival of faith.”

Since 1985, the international World Youth Day has been held every two to three years in a different country and is intended to draw together youth and young adults, ages 16 to 35, from every continent for a worldwide pilgrimage and festival of faith along with the Holy Father. The Lisbon WYD gathering was originally scheduled to take place in the summer of 2022; however, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis extended the preparatory period to August 2023.

The USCCB will be developing materials and supporting local communities in the coming months before WYD 2023. More details can be found online at: https://www.usccb.org/topics/world-youth-day.

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

U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Chairman on Rescinding of “Protect Life Rule”

WASHINGTON – The Biden Administration has published a new rule rescinding the “Protect Life Rule” governing the Title X family planning program. That rule had the commendable effect of ensuring compliance with federal law by stipulating that Title X projects may not share office space or financing with abortion facilities and are not required to refer for abortion. The rescission becomes effective on November 8. 

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

The Catholic bishops have grave concerns about government promotion of contraceptives. At the same time, we have long supported efforts to ensure that abortion is kept physically and financially separate from family planning under Title X.

“Title X was intended and authorized to be a program entirely separate from abortion and it plainly states that ‘the funds authorized under this legislation [shall] be used only to support preventive family planning services, population research, infertility services, and other related medical, informational, and educational activities’ (emphasis added). 

“Abortion is not family planning. Abortion takes the life of an already-conceived and growing child. The violence of abortion wounds countless women physically, spiritually, and emotionally. The Administration is wrong to allow taxpayer dollars to fund abortion providers who participate in a pre-pregnancy program specifically designed to exclude abortion.”

In January, Archbishop Naumann issued a statement reacting to the White House’s decision to rescind the Title X Rule: U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Chairman on White House Action to Rescind Title X Rule | USCCB.

The USCCB filed comments to the proposed rule: 2021.title-X-comments-final (usccb.org).

 

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

U.S. Bishops to Vote for Treasurer-elect and for Chairmen-elect of Five Standing Committees at Fall General Assembly in Baltimore, Nov. 15-18, 2021

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will be voting for the conference’s treasurer-elect as well as chairmen-elect for five standing committees during the 2021 General Assembly taking place November 15-18 in Baltimore.

Each bishop elected will serve for one year as the treasurer-elect or as chairman-elect of the respective committee before beginning a three-year term at the conclusion of the bishops’ 2022 Fall General Assembly.

The following bishops were nominated:

USCCB TREASURER-ELECT, COMMITTEE ON BUDGET AND FINANCE

  • Bishop James F. Checchio
  • Archbishop Paul D. Etienne

CHAIRMAN-ELECT, COMMITTEE ON CLERGY, CONSECRATED LIFE, AND VOCATIONS

  • Bishop Earl A. Boyea
  • Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila

CHAIRMAN-ELECT, COMMITTEE ON DIVINE WORSHIP

  • Bishop Steven J. Lopes
  • Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski

CHAIRMAN-ELECT, COMMITTEE ON DOMESTIC JUSTICE AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

  • Archbishop Borys Gudziak
  • Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki

CHAIRMAN-ELECT, COMMITTEE ON LAITY, MARRIAGE, FAMILY LIFE, AND YOUTH

  • Bishop Robert Barron
  • Bishop Edward J. Burns

CHAIRMAN-ELECT, COMMITTEE ON MIGRATION

  • Bishop Mark J. Seitz
  • Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski
     

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

Statement of U.S. Bishops’ Chairman for Child and Youth Protection on Report of Clergy Sexual Abuse in France

WASHINGTON – Following the news this week of a report commissioned by the French bishops on sexual abuse in the Church in France, Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. of Kansas City-St. Joseph, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People issued the following statement.

“I am deeply saddened by the news reports coming out of France of sexual abuse by clergy there, and I echo our Holy Father, Pope Francis who has expressed his sorrow at the news. In renewed solidarity with victim-survivors who have courageously come forward, we join the Church of France in praying for forgiveness, healing, and protection.

This report underscores the need for us to repent and grow in our commitment to serve the people of God. The Holy Father, in his pastoral concern for the Universal Church has called us all to greater accountability and transparency in addressing the sins of abuse and the mishandling of abuse claims at every level.

“Here in the United States, the Catholic Church has established a comprehensive set of child protection standards that the dioceses and eparchies have committed to following, but the painful experience of survivors always calls us to continual vigilance and improvement. This report opens painful wounds for those who have suffered abuse by a priest, bishop, or someone in the Church, and to those who have experienced this, I urge you to report this to law enforcement and to Church authorities. Let us all continue to pray for healing and reconciliation.”

For more information on how and where to report abuse, please visit www.usccb.org/committees/protection-children-young-people/how-report-abuse.

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

Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Diocese of Brooklyn; Appoints Bishop Robert Brennan as Successor

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, 77, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Brooklyn and has appointed Bishop Robert J. Brennan of Columbus, as Bishop of Brooklyn. The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on September 29, 2021, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Brennan’s biography may be found here.

The Diocese of Brooklyn is comprised of 179 square miles in the State of New York and has a total population of 4,813,761 of which 1,316,791 are Catholic.

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

 

2021 Respect for Life Month Statement

Statement of Respect for Life Month from Most Reverend Joseph F. Naumann, Chairman U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities

The month of October brings with it our annual observance of Respect Life Month. As part of the Year of St. Joseph declared by Pope Francis, this year’s celebration highlights the example of that great saint.

As the faithful protector of both Jesus and Mary, we find in St. Joseph a profound reminder of our own call to welcome, safeguard, and defend God’s precious gift of human life.

Despite the mysterious circumstances surrounding Mary’s pregnancy, St. Joseph took her into his home at the word of the angel. He guided their journey to Bethlehem, found shelter, and welcomed the infant Jesus as his son. When Herod threatened the life of the Christ Child, St. Joseph left his homeland behind and fled with Jesus and Mary to Egypt.

Like St. Joseph, we are also called to care for those God has entrusted to us–especially vulnerable mothers and children. We can follow in the footsteps of St. Joseph as protector by advocating against taxpayer-funded abortion, which targets the lives of millions of poor children and their mothers here in the United States. We can imitate his care and provision by helping to start Walking with Moms in Need at our parishes, "walking in the shoes" of mothers experiencing a difficult pregnancy, especially low-income mothers in our communities.

At times, we may feel uncertain of our ability to answer the Lord’s call. But He invites us to faithfully respond, despite our own fears or weaknesses: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9).

May we imitate St. Joseph’s faithful trust and courage as we work to uphold the dignity of every human life. St. Joseph, defender of life, pray for us!

To learn more about preventing taxpayer-funded abortion, visit www.notaxpayerabortion.com . To walk with moms in need through your local parish, go to www.walkingwithmoms.com.To join in prayer for the intercession of St. Joseph, defender of life, visit www.respectlife.org/prayer-to-st-joseph .

 

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

U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Chairman Responds to House Vote on Bill that Imposes Radical “Abortion on Demand Until Birth”

WASHINGTON - Today, the House of Representatives voted to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, H.R. 3755. This bill would impose abortion on demand nationwide at any stage of pregnancy through federal statute and would eliminate pro-life laws at every level of government -- including parental notification for minor girls, informed consent, and health or safety protections specific to abortion facilities. H.R. 3755 also would compel all Americans to support abortions here and abroad with their tax dollars and would also likely force health care providers and professionals to perform, assist in, and/or refer for abortion against their deeply-held beliefs, as well as force employers and insurers to cover or pay for abortion. 

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities issued the following statement: 

“This deceptively-named bill is the most extreme pro-abortion bill our nation has ever seen. H.R. 3755 is not about the health of women, but only about eliminating any and all protections for unborn children - including baby girls. It would lead to the deliberate destruction of millions of unborn lives, leaving countless women with physical, emotional, and spiritual scars.   

“This bill assumes that abortion can be the only, or best, solution to a crisis pregnancy. H.R. 3755 is built on a false and despairing narrative that utterly fails women. In treating abortion as the moral equivalent to the removal of an appendix, this proposal is radically out of step with the American public. As a nation built on the recognition that every human being is endowed by its Creator with the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, this bill is a complete injustice. Congress should embrace public policy that respects the rights of mothers, their children, and the consciences of all Americans, not advance a radical ‘abortion on demand until birth’ policy that is completely out of step with our country’s principles.

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

USCCB Subcommittee Approves Updated Certification Competencies for Catholic Chaplains

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service has had a lengthy collaboration over the years with the National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC). The most recent fruit of their work has been the update of certification competencies for use by Catholic chaplains. The subcommittee met on September 15 and approved the recently-updated certification competencies developed by NACC for chaplains ministering in health care settings and veteran affairs, as well as new certification competencies for prisons chaplains. The subcommittee granted its approval of the competencies for a period of seven years.

“Catholic chaplains and pastoral care ministers have been essential providers of spiritual and sacramental care in hospitals and other health care facilities for decades,” said Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, bishop emeritus of Tucson, chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service. He especially noted their ministry to the critically ill over the past two years: “In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and also in response to the spiritual pandemics of racism and social trauma which have accompanied it, ordained, lay and religious chaplains have been ‘spiritual first-responders,’ assuming the same risks of illness as the medical professionals with whom they collaborate. When physically isolated from loved ones suffering and dying alone, chaplains have been there to assist families with virtual visits and agonizing decisions about medical care.”

Bishop Kicanas further highlighted that these ministers have convened families to process the loss of loved ones and to provide innovative forms of common prayer when funeral liturgies could not be celebrated. “When medical staff have been fatigued and demoralized, our pastoral care providers - priests, deacons, sisters and lay women and men – have offered listening hearts and gentle guidance. NACC’s board-certified chaplains and pastoral care ministers remain a vital gift of the Church’s care for the most vulnerable among us,” he said.

Bishop Donald J. Hying of Madison, the USCCB’s episcopal liaison to the NACC, indicated how the approval of the updated certification competencies enhances and affirms the formation which board-certified Catholic chaplains receive. “The bishops of the United States can take great pride and have a strong confidence in the mission and performance of the NACC. The organization prepares and certifies chaplains and pastoral care ministers who provide to Catholics, other Christians and even those of other faiths, the Church’s compassionate care and support.”

The USCCB subcommittee approved updated and new competencies submitted by the organization which will be used to certify the following ministerial roles:

  • Board-Certified Catholic Chaplain
  • Board-Certified Catholic Chaplain for Veterans Affairs
  • Certified Associate Catholic Chaplain 
  • Catholic Correctional Chaplain, in association with the Catholic Prison Ministries Coalition

The USCCB subcommittee also approved Diocesan Pastoral Care Competencies for the Sick, the Homebound and Older Adults (available here in English and Spanish), the NACC Code of Professional Ethics, and Ethics Procedure Manual. Additionally, the subcommittee reviewed and noted the value of the Palliative Care and Hospice Advanced Certification for qualified Board-Certified Catholic Chaplains.

The approved formation materials and certification competencies are based upon the four dimensions of comprehensive formation for lay ecclesial ministers presented in the 2005 USCCB resource, Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord, and they include specialized competencies unique to pastoral care in health care, veteran and prison ministries.

The approval of NACC’s certification competencies builds upon a half-century relationship between the USCCB and the NACC. The association has long been considered a model for other Catholic Church associations and organizations which have looked for guidance in the development of ministry education and training programs, the writing of standards and certification processes, and a model of collaboration with other organizations. Originally formed in 1965 from the USCCB-predecessor body, the National Catholic Welfare Conference, NACC also has long-standing collaborative relationships with a broad range of ecumenical and interfaith chaplaincy and spiritual care partners: ACPE: The Standard for Spiritual Care & Education, the Association of Professional Chaplains, Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains, the Canadian Association of Spiritual Care, the American Correctional Chaplains Association, the National Association of Veterans Affairs Chaplains and the National Conference of Veterans Affairs Catholic Chaplains. For additional information about NACC, visit https://nacc.org.

The USCCB’s Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service assists the bishops in reviewing and approving certification standards and procedures to be used on a voluntary basis by arch/dioceses and national organizations in the certification of specialized ecclesial ministers. It also offers consultative services aimed at improving the quality of lay ministry formation programs that are sponsored by arch/dioceses and by academic institutions. For more information visit https://www.usccb.org/certification.

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

USCCB Subcommittee Approves Certification Competencies for Catholic Correctional Chaplains

WASHINGTON - During its September meeting, the Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved new comprehensive certification standards and procedures for Catholic prison ministry. The formation and certification competencies that were approved capped a five-year process of collaborative and synodal engagement among multiple bishops, USCCB offices, seasoned Catholic prison chaplains, theologians, experts in pastoral care, and stakeholders across the country. 

The competencies, submitted and jointly administered by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC) and the Catholic Prison Ministries Coalition (CPMC), will assist bishops, diocesan ministry formation leaders, national organizations and groups as they train lay ecclesial ministers, ordained deacons, and priests serving pastoral care roles throughout the criminal justice system, including the role of Certified Catholic Correctional Chaplain.

“Throughout his papacy, Pope Francis has emphasized the need for the Church to care for those on the margins of our society,” said Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, bishop emeritus of Tucson, and chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service. “Those who are incarcerated or in detention facilities - as well as their families - deserve access to well-prepared Catholic laity and clergy who can provide for their spiritual needs, and, where appropriate, assist with their rehabilitation and re-entry into society,” he said. “An important aspect of this ministry is also the ability to provide pastoral care to victims and their families, correctional officers and staff. It must also include advocacy for a more just criminal justice system. These approved competencies offer a more comprehensive approach to all aspects of Catholic prison ministries,” he added. 

The competencies establish a first-of-their-kind developmental model in Catholic prison ministries. They have been crafted to support integral formation for Catholics who wish to minister and journey with incarcerated persons or groups, as well as those affected by incarceration in any way. They are based upon the four dimensions of comprehensive formation for lay ecclesial ministers presented in the 2005 USCCB statement, Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord, and include specialized competencies that are unique to pastoral care in jails, prisons, and immigration detention facilities. The practices outlined in the competencies are also guided by the USCCB statement issued in 2000, Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice, in which the bishops identified several important facets of these ministries, including:

  • Dedicated pastoral care for incarcerated persons and their families, as well as for victims of crime and their families, and for those who have been affected by immigrant detention
  • Meaningful efforts to assist those in prison with a myriad of personal and social issues confronting them - including addiction, mental illness, and navigating the system of re-entry into society after serving their sentence.
  • Innovative efforts aimed at making the current prison system more just and restorative, especially through building awareness of the whole community's benefit when these systems operate on the basis of care for the person and for the common good

The competencies have been approved for use over the next seven years. This milestone marks the end of a period of dedicated effort on the part of multiple stakeholders. Initially spurred in 2016 by requests from the Holy See’s Congregation for Clergy and the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, the subcommittee sponsored a survey of diocesan Catholic prison ministries. The results of the survey demonstrated a nationwide need for formation, resources, support, and networking around prison ministries. This led to a national gathering sponsored by the USCCB and multiple Catholic organizations and prison chaplains, which forged a group which became the CPMC. To date those who have participated in CPMC events, online forums, and webinars have included Catholic prison ministers from 116 (arch)dioceses covering 42 states, along with 3 Canadian dioceses.  

CPMC’s work was further enhanced in 2020, when it gained fiscal sponsorship by the NACC. Together they offer dioceses, parishes and other organizations a cohort-based adaptive model of formation including three pathways: a foundational formation for Catholic prison ministries volunteers with little or no prior background, an intensive formation in a specific area of prison ministries, and a professional certification as a Certified Catholic Correctional Chaplain.

To introduce and update bishops and diocesan leaders about the new competencies and how they may be applied at the local and regional levels, the USCCB’s subcommittee, CPMC and NACC will host virtual workshops this fall. Additionally, CPMC continues to offer many resources via its website - catholicprisonministries.org. For more information visit https://www.usccb.org/certification.

The USCCB’s Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service assists the bishops in reviewing and approving certification standards and procedures to be used on a voluntary basis by arch/dioceses and national organizations in the certification of specialized ecclesial ministers. It also offers consultative services aimed at improving the quality of lay ministry formation programs that are sponsored by arch/dioceses and by academic institutions.

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