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Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M., Cap. of Philadelphia; Names Bishop Nelson J. Pérez of Cleveland as Successor

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M., Cap., from the pastoral governance of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and has named Bishop Nelson J. Pérez of Cleveland to succeed him.

The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington on January 23, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is comprised of 2,202 square miles in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and has a total population of 4,119,268 of which 1,292,704 are Catholic.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM, Cap., Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Bishop Nelson Pérez, Diocese of Cleveland.

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

 

Supreme Court’s Blaine Amendment Case An Opportunity to End a Shameful Legacy Says U.S. Bishops’ Religious Liberty and Catholic Education Chairmen

WASHINGTON – Today, the Supreme Court of the United States hears oral argument in the case of Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. The case challenges a decision by the Montana Supreme Court to invalidate a tax credit scholarship program because families benefiting include those who choose to send their children to religiously-affiliated schools, a violation of the Montana state constitution’s “Blaine Amendment” of 1889 against aid to religious schools.  

Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., of Youngstown, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Michael C. Barber, S.J., of Oakland, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Catholic Education, have issued a statement:

“The case before the Supreme Court today concerns whether the Constitution offers states a license to discriminate against religion. Our country’s tradition of non-establishment of religion does not mean that governments can deny otherwise available benefits on the basis of religious status. Indeed, religious persons and organizations should, like everyone else, be allowed to participate in government programs that are open to all. This is an issue of justice for people of all faith communities.

“But this case is not only about constitutional law. It is about whether our nation will continue to tolerate this strain of anti-Catholic bigotry. Blaine Amendments, which are in 37 states’ constitutions, were the product of nativism. They were never meant to ensure government neutrality towards religion, but were expressions of hostility toward the Catholic Church. We hope that the Supreme Court will take this opportunity to bring an end to this shameful legacy.”

The USCCB filed an amicus curiae brief supporting the petitioners, which can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/Laycock-Berg-CLS-Amicus-Brief.pdf.

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Keywords: Bishop George Murry, Bishop Michael Barber, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, religious liberty, religious freedom, Catholic education, Blaine Amendments, Supreme Court, Espinoza.

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

 

Pro-Life Committee Chairman’s Roe v. Wade Anniversary Statement Asks Faithful to Serve Moms in Need

WASHINGTON – January 22 is the National Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children, when the Catholic Church remembers the 47th anniversary of Roe v. Wade—the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in all 50 states. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued the following statement:

“January 22 marks the sorrowful anniversary of the tragic Supreme Court decisions of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, which legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. The Church will never abandon her efforts to reverse these terrible decisions that have led to the deaths of millions of innocent children and the traumatization of countless women and families.

“As the Church and growing numbers of pro-life Americans continue to advocate for women and children in courthouses and legislatures, the Church’s pastoral response is focused on the needs of women facing pregnancies in challenging circumstances. While this has long been the case, the pastoral response will soon intensify.

“The Committee on Pro-Life Activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is asking bishops to invite parishes in their dioceses to join a nationwide effort from March 25, 2020 through March 25, 2021 entitled, ‘Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Service.’

“Recognizing that women in need can be most effectively reached at the local level, the ‘Year of Service’ invites parishes to assess, communicate, and expand resources to expectant mothers within their own communities. The U.S. Bishops will be providing resources, outreach tools, and models to assist parishes in this important effort.

“We pray that ‘Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Service’ will help us reach every pregnant mother in need, that she may know she can turn to her local Catholic community for help and authentic friendship.”

More information about Walking with Moms in Need can be found at www.walkingwithmoms.com.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, National Day of Prayer, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Walking with Moms in Need, Roe v. Wade.

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

 

U.S. Bishops’ Conference and Loyola Press Release Children’s Book on Overcoming Racism

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism and Loyola Press have published a new book for children ages 5-12, to help young readers engage in conversations about racism.

Inspired by the bishops’ 2018 pastoral letter “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love, A Pastoral Letter Against Racism,” the children’s book Everyone Belongs allows young readers to reflect on the impact of racism in our society. The book helps readers see racism through the lens of history and faith, and teaches them how to engage in respect, understanding, and friendship.

In this fully illustrated book, Ray Ikanga is a boy whose family flees violence in their home country to come to the United States as refugees. The family moves into a new neighborhood but Ray’s excitement is interrupted when someone spray paints “Go home!” on their garage door.

Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, and chairman of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, who oversaw the production of the book, said, “Everyone Belongs is a book about recognizing the image of God in all people, valuing our differences, righting wrongs, and forgiveness. It is my hope that Everyone Belongs will help families, schools, and parishes engage in conversation and reflection about the dignity of every person made in God’s image.”

Everyone Belongs may be purchased online at LoyolaPress.com/EveryoneBelongs. Additional education and prayer resources to accompany the bishops’ pastoral letter on racism may be found at usccb.org/racism.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, Loyola Press, Everyone Belongs, children’s book, racism, Open Wide Our Hearts, Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism.

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

 

U.S. Bishops’ Collection for the Church in Latin America Scheduled for January 25-26 Annual collection is a sign of solidarity between Catholics in the U.S. with Latin America and the Caribbean

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Church in Latin America has announced January 25-26 as the weekend for the annual Collection for the Church in Latin America. Dioceses may elect a different date to take up the collection to avoid conflict with local activities. For more than 50 years, the collection has been a sign of solidarity between Catholics of the United States and those in Latin America and the Caribbean by funding pastoral programs, seminarian and religious formation, and youth and family ministries.

For example, Caritas Argentina is a nonprofit that empowers more than 150 young Catholics to live out their faith in the service of those who are poor and excluded from society by training them in pastoral ministry to evangelize their local communities and share their faith throughout Argentina. The Church in Latin America collection also provided invaluable assistance to 235 youth from Haiti to attend World Youth Day 2019 in Panama and hear the Holy Father’s words of hope and mercy.

“The love of Christ compels us to share our faith and support all people who long to grow closer to Jesus. The Collection for the Church in Latin America expresses our solidarity with and love for the people of Latin America,” said Bishop Octavio Cisneros, auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn and chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America. “On behalf of the subcommittee, I wish to express my abiding gratitude to the people of the United States who generously support the collection each year and, through it, our brothers and sisters throughout the region.”

In November 2019, the Subcommittee for the Church in Latin America awarded nearly $4.2 million in grants to support the Church in Latin America and Caribbean, including areas ravaged by natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes. Information about the Collection for the Church in Latin America, including the 2018 annual report, may be found at www. usccb.org/latin-america. Access to promotional resources in English and Spanish for use in parishes to promote the national collection are located at www.usccb.org/latin-america2020.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Collection for the Church in Latin America, Bishop Octavio Cisneros, Subcommittee for the Church in Latin America, annual collection.


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

 

Bishop Chairmen Applaud Administration Measures to Strengthen Religious Liberty, Embrace Contributions of Faith-based Organizations

WASHINGTON - On Religious Freedom Day, when the Constitutional protection of conscience and the freedom to exercise one’s religious faith is celebrated nationwide, the Administration announced measures that would strengthen the protection of religious liberty for individuals and for faith-based organizations. Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., of Youngstown, chairman of the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Michael C. Barber, S.J., of Oakland, CA, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Catholic Education, have issued the following joint statement:

“We wish to express our gratitude for these steps to ensure that the Constitutional right of individual students and teachers to pray voluntarily in public schools is protected. This fundamental right ensures that persons may freely worship without sacrificing full participation in schools and in society.

“We are also heartened by the Administration’s action to ensure federal agencies are fully compliant with the Supreme Court’s decision in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer. That decision properly concluded that it is unconstitutional for government to exclude faith-based organizations from public benefits simply because of their religious status. Today’s action and the Court decision it echoes both honor the American tradition of embracing the contributions of faith-based organizations and enrich the work of social justice by harnessing the efforts of these vital institutions of civil society. Lastly, we are grateful for the proposal to lift certain regulatory burdens from faith-based organizations. This will help ensure a level playing field for religious and secular social service providers.”

Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Religious Freedom Day

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

 

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops File Amicus Brief with U.S. Supreme Court Urging New Trial of Death Row Inmate Based on Evidence of Actual Innocence

WASHINGTON— On January 17, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCCB) filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court of the United States in support of James M. Dailey, an inmate on Florida’s death row, urging a new trial in his case due to persuasive evidence of actual innocence. The amicus brief explains the Catholic Church’s longstanding opposition to the death penalty. The Church teaches that capital punishment violates respect for life and human dignity. The injustice is especially acute in the instance of an innocent person sentenced to death. The amicus brief also argues that the execution of an innocent person violates the Constitution of the United States.  

The amicus brief reviews the facts of Mr. Dailey’s case and concludes that the evidence of his actual innocence is persuasive, but that he was not able to present it at a new trial for procedural reasons. The brief declares that there is no legal or procedural reason that could morally justify the execution of an innocent person.  

Both the USCCB and FCCB uphold the Church’s teaching on the dignity of life and on capital punishment in the amicus brief by stating, “The radical injustice of punishing an innocent man is particularly grievous in the case of a sentence of death, which is by its nature final and irreversible.” The brief recalls that “Pope Francis has also identified the convictions of innocent men and women as striking at the core of the death penalty’s claim to justice: ‘[t]he death penalty loses all legitimacy due to the defective selectivity of the criminal justice system and in the face of the possibility of judicial error. Human justice is imperfect, and the failure to recognize its fallibility can transform it into a source of injustice.’”  

The full text of the amicus brief is available here.  
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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, amicus curiae, U.S. Supreme Court, Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, FCCB, James M. Dailey, death penalty, capital punishment, human justice, Pope Francis.

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

 

U.S. Bishops’ Migration Committee Chair Welcomes Court Injunction that Halts Implementation of Executive Order on Refugee Resettlement

WASHINGTON—A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction in HIAS Inc., et al v. Trump, halting implementation of Executive Order 13888 which had given state and local officials the power to veto initial resettlement of refugees into their jurisdictions. Unless it is overturned by the judge or a higher court, this injunction lasts until the end of the case. The injunction orders that the resettlement program’s operational rules be returned to how they were before the Executive Order was issued on September 26, 2019. In other words, while the federal immigration officials will diligently engage with state and local officials, as always, to assure local concerns are taken into account, the program will return to federal officials having the final responsibility of deciding where refugees will be resettled.

Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“Jesus Christ, who was part of a refugee family, calls us to welcome the stranger, and our pro-life commitment requires us to protect refugees. Today’s ruling is a welcome step in our ongoing ministry to provide refugees, who are fleeing religious persecution, war, and other dangers, with safe haven here in the United States. We had previously expressed deep concerns about this Executive Order permitting state and county officials to turn away refugees from their communities. We feared the negative consequences for refugees and their families as this Executive Order would have created a confusing patchwork across America of some jurisdictions where refugees are welcomed, and others where they are not. Today’s injunction helps to maintain a uniform national policy of welcome to refugees and serves to maintain reunification of refugee families as a primary factor for initial resettlement.

“During the initial implementation of this Executive Order, I was moved to hear that it received robust bipartisan support from 42 governors and a myriad of local officials who consented to initial resettlement. Once more, we see the intention to act united as a nation in the effort to provide solidarity to those who need it most and are encouraged by the compassion that this nation has towards refugees. The Church looks forward to continue working with communities across America to welcome refugees as we uphold the dignity of all human life.”

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, Committee on Migration, refugees, President Trump.

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

 

National Prayer Vigil for Life In Nation’s Capital, January 23-24

WASHINGTON—The National Prayer Vigil for Life will be held from Thursday, January 23 to Friday, January 24, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Over 20,000 pilgrims from around the nation are expected to gather there and pray for an end to abortion before the annual March for Life on the National Mall. The Vigil marks the 47th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions legalizing abortion through nine months of pregnancy. Since those decisions, over 60 million abortions have been performed legally in the United States.

The principal celebrant and homilist at the opening Mass for the National Prayer Vigil for Life on January 23 will be Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, who is chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Many of the nation’s bishops and priests will concelebrate the Mass with Archbishop Naumann in the basilica’s Great Upper Church. The principal celebrant and homilist for the closing Mass for the National Prayer Vigil for Life on January 24 will be Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D. of the Military Services, USA, who is secretary for the USCCB. After the conclusion of the Mass on Friday, the participants make their way down to the national mall for the annual March for Life.

The schedule for the National Prayer Vigil for Life:

Thursday, January 23:
•  5:30 PM  Opening Mass in the Great Upper Church
•  8:00 PM  National Rosary for Life
•  9:30 PM  Byzantine Rite Night Prayer
•  11:00 PM ~  Holy Hours led by seminarians (through the night)

Friday, January 24:
•  ~ 6:00 AM  Eucharistic Adoration in the Crypt Church
•  6:30 AM  Morning Prayer and Benediction
•  7:30 AM  Closing Mass in the Great Upper Church

For those seeking the Sacrament of Reconciliation, confessions will be heard in the Our Lady of Hostyn Chapel of the Crypt Church over the course of nine hours before and after the opening Mass. See www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/january-roe-events/national-prayer-vigil-for-life-schedule.cfm for additional details.

“Even if you aren’t able to physically be present with us in DC, we invite everyone to join in our witness and pray for an end to abortion,” said Kat Talalas, assistant director for pro-life communications at the USCCB. “Thousands of Catholics across the country have already signed up for 9 Days for Life, the pro-life novena taking place January 21-29. We ask all of the faithful to unite in prayer to protect the rights of unborn children, to end the violence of abortion, and for greater respect for human life.”

The National Prayer Vigil for Life is co-sponsored by the USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and The Catholic University of America.

Media are invited to attend the opening Mass and interview pilgrims who have traveled to Washington from around the country for the fourteen-hour vigil. Advance registration is requested via the media request form on the basilica’s website. Video footage from the Mass may also be obtained by satellite feed, courtesy of the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). For coordinates, please contact Jacquelyn Hayes, director of communications for the basilica, at 202-281-0615 or [email protected].

For more details on the overnight National Prayer Vigil for Life and other pro-life events in the Washington area, please visit www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/january-roe-events. To join -- and help spread the word about -- 9 Days for Life, visit www.9daysforlife.com.

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Keywords: National Prayer Vigil for Life, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, abortion, Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, U.S. Supreme Court, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, The Catholic University of America, cardinals, bishops, seminarians, Byzantine rite, rosary, adoration, benediction, 9 Days for Life, prayer, #VigilforLife, #9daysforlife, March for Life, #whywemarch, #marchforlife2020, #LifeEmpowers, #WalkingWithMoms, #WalkWithMoms, Project Rachel, post-abortion healing, hopeafterabortion.com.

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

 

MEDIA ADVISORY: 9 Days for Life Unites Catholics Nationwide in Prayer for the Protection of Life

WASHINGTON—Catholics nationwide are preparing to pray 9 Days for Life, the annual pro-life novena beginning this year on January 21.

In the Catholic Church, a ‘novena’ consists of prayers or actions over nine successive days. The pro-life novena is an opportunity for recollection and reparation in observation of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade—the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal throughout the United States.

The overarching intention of the novena is the end to abortion. Each daily intention highlights a related topic and is accompanied by a reflection, educational information, and suggested daily actions. The novena encompasses the annual Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children on January 22.

All are invited to sign up at www.9daysforlife.com. Participants can choose to receive the novena via email, text message, a printable version, or through a free "9 Days for Life" mobile app (with customizable reminders) in English or Spanish. Participants can share their pro-life witness and invite their social networks to pray on social media with the hashtag #9DaysforLife. A leader’s kit is available, and features the daily prayer intentions and reflections, among other resources.

Sponsored by the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, 9 Days for Life began in 2013 in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

For additional information and updates throughout the novena, please follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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Keywords: USCCB, Catholic, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Roe v. Wade, abortion, anniversary, Pro-Life, Archbishop Joseph Naumann, 9 Days for Life, People of Life, #9daysforlife, prayer, novena.

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