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Pope Francis Encourages Discerners to Follow in the Footsteps of Saint Joseph in Celebration of Annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations

WASHINGTON - The 58th annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations will be celebrated by the Catholic Church on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, commonly referred to as Good Shepherd Sunday. The World Day of Prayer for Vocations unites the faithful in praying for those currently discerning and living out vocations to ordained ministry and consecrated life.

Last December, Pope Francis marked the 150th anniversary of the Church’s declaration of Saint Joseph as Patron of the universal Church and proclaimed the Year of Saint Joseph (December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021). In his message for the 2021 World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Francis again turns to Saint Joseph, as a guide for fathers and mothers, both biological and spiritual, who seek to foster the gift of vocation in the hearts of those entrusted to them, saying:

The Lord desires to shape the hearts of fathers and mothers: hearts that are open, capable of great initiatives, generous in self-giving, compassionate in comforting anxieties, and steadfast in strengthening hopes. The priesthood and the consecrated life greatly need these qualities nowadays, in times marked by fragility but also by the sufferings due to the pandemic, which has spawned uncertainties and fears about the future and the very meaning of life. Saint Joseph comes to meet us in his gentle way, as one of “the saints next door”. At the same time, his strong witness can guide us on the journey.”

Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV) stated that Saint Joseph teaches us the value of holy perseverance and patience. “We are living in very challenging times full of uncertainty and fear,” he said. “Yet, Saint Joseph teaches us, especially our young people, that consistent, quiet fidelity to God is what opens our hearts to receive Christ’s grace and peace. In imitation of Saint Joseph, may we entrust our hearts and desires completely to Our Risen Lord.”

In conjunction with the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, the CCLV Committee released the Ordination Class of 2021 Study, conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University. A few of the major findings of the report are:

  • On average, responding ordinands first considered priesthood when they were 17 years old.
  • Two-thirds of responding ordinands (65%) are Caucasian. One in six (16%) are Latino/Hispanic. One in ten (10%) are Asian/Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian. And one in twenty (6%) are African/African American/black.
  • The four most common countries of origin among foreign-born ordinands are Mexico, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Poland.
  • Three in five (60%) completed an undergraduate or graduate degree before entering seminary.
  • In regard to participation in various activities before entering the seminary, half of all responding ordinands (46%) participated in a parish youth group. A quarter (25%) participated in Catholic campus ministry/Newman Center.
  • Nine in ten responding ordinands (93%) report being encouraged to consider the priesthood by someone in their life (most frequently, the parish priest, a friend, or another parishioner).
  • Half of responding ordinands (47%) indicate that they were discouraged from considering the priesthood by one or more persons. Most often, this person was a family member (other than parents) or a friend/classmate.

The full CARA report and profiles of the Ordination Class of 2021 can be accessed here: https://www.usccb.org/committees/clergy-consecrated-life-vocations/ordination-classes

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

Statement of U.S. Bishop Chairmen on Verdict in Trial of Derek Chauvin

WASHINGTON – Following the verdict in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, Minnesota today, Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development issued a statement.

The bishops’ full statement follows:

“Today, a jury found Derek Chauvin guilty of the murder of George Floyd. As we receive this result, we recall that God is the source of all justice, love, and mercy. The death of George Floyd highlighted and amplified the deep need to see the sacredness in all people, but especially those who have been historically oppressed. Whatever the stage of human life, it not only matters, it is sacred.

“The events following George Floyd's death also highlighted the urgent need for racial healing and reconciliation. As we have seen so plainly this past year, social injustices still exist in our country, and the nation remains deeply divided on how to right those wrongs. We join our voices and prayers in support of Archbishop Bernard Hebda of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, and the entire Minnesota Catholic Conference which said today:

As a diverse community, the Catholic Church is committed to changing hearts and minds and to moving the conversation about race in this country beyond accusations and recriminations toward practical, nonviolent solutions to the everyday problems that are encountered in these communities.’

“Let us pray that through the revelation of so much pain and sadness, that God strengthens us to cleanse our land of the evil of racism which also manifests in ways that are hardly ever spoken, ways that never reach the headlines. Let us then join in the hard work of peacefully rebuilding what hatred and frustration have torn down. This is the true call of a disciple and the real work of restorative justice. Let us not lose the opportunity to pray that the Holy Spirit falls like a flood on our land again, as at Pentecost, providing us with spiritual, emotional, and physical healing, as well as new ways to teach, preach, and model the Gospel message in how we treat each other.”

The USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism has prepared resources for prayer which may be found here; earlier this week, Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda and priests across the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis offered special Masses “For the Preservation of Peace and Justice.” Last summer, several bishop chairmen of USCCB committees and the president of the Conference issued statements regarding George Floyd’s death in addition to the individual statements by bishops from around the United States.

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U.S. Bishops’ Pro Life Committee Chairman Denounces Reversal of Limits on Human Fetal Tissue Research

WASHINGTON - The National Institutes of Health announced last Friday that it is reversing limits on human fetal tissue research that were put in place by the Trump Administration. 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 in response:

“The bodies of children killed by abortion deserve the same respect as that of any other person. Our government has no right to treat innocent abortion victims as a commodity that can be scavenged for body parts to be used in research. It is unethical to promote and subsidize research that can lead to legitimizing the violence of abortion. Researchers have demonstrated that we can do effective scientific research and develop efficacious clinical treatments without harvesting tissue from aborted babies. It is also deeply offensive to millions of Americans for our tax dollars to be used for research that collaborates with an industry built on the taking of innocent lives.  I call on the Biden Administration to instead fund research that does not rely upon body parts taken from innocent children killed through abortion.”

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Media Contacts:
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U.S. Bishops’ Migration Committee Chairman Expresses Disappointment that Low Refugee Admissions Goal Remains

WASHINGTON— The Biden Administration announced Friday afternoon that it will not increase the historically low number of refugees who can be resettled in the United States for the current fiscal year. However, it will restore the long-time practice of allocating refugees from every region of the world, thus opening resettlement to some who were not included in the more restricted categories of the previous Administration. Later in the day, the Administration stated that it expects to increase the refugee cap in mid-May for the remaining fiscal year. In response to the announcements, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington, and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, expressed disappointment that the refugee admissions number for the fiscal year will continue to be at a historic low but appreciation that a number of persecuted refugee families who could not previously travel will finally be permitted resettlement in the United States.

Bishop Dorsonville’s statement follows:

“The number of refugees who will be welcomed this year is far short of what we can do as a country and is not an adequate response to the immense resettlement need. We will work with the Administration, state and local officials and communities, and our colleagues to ensure that every one of the 15,000 refugees re-affirmed as this year’s ceiling are resettled safely and as quickly as possible. We expect the Administration to recalibrate and raise this ceiling, as it stated it would do Friday evening. We further encourage the Administration to build back the program to more normal and just levels by getting to an admission goal of 125,000.

“Given the unprecedented number of refugee families seeking new homes after being persecuted for religious, political, and other reasons, we appreciate that the U.S. refugee admissions program will now offer previously left out refugees an opportunity to resettle in our country. At the same time, we were hopeful that the Biden Administration would increase the ceiling for refugee admissions in this fiscal year, and we are disappointed that it has not yet done so. The dire circumstances confronting refugees and asylees has been of particular concern for the Catholic Church. The work of the U.S. Catholic bishops in assisting and advocating on behalf of immigrants and refugees is rooted in the recognition that every person is created in God’s image and must be valued, protected, and respected for the inherent dignity that he or she possesses.”

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Media Contacts:
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Statement of U.S. Bishops’ Chairman for International Justice and Peace on Armenian Genocide

WASHINGTON - In commemoration of Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day on April 24, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace highlighted the tragic loss of so many Armenians in what has been called the first genocide of the 20th century.

Bishop Malloy’s full statement follows:

“April 24 is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, marking the 1915 start of a campaign that resulted in the death of as many as 1.2 million Armenian Christians -- victims of mass shootings, death marches to distant camps, torture, assaults, starvation, and disease. Thousands of Armenian children were torn from their families and forcibly converted. This horrific tragedy was intended to eliminate the Armenian people and their culture in what has been called the ‘first genocide of the 20th century.’

“But Armenia and the Armenian people survived and endured despite their suffering and persecution. I echo the prayers of our Holy Father, Pope Francis when he offered his prayers for justice and peace following a trip to Armenia in 2016: ‘A people that suffered so much throughout its history, and faith alone, faith has kept this people on its feet. The fact that [Armenia] was the first Christian nation is not enough; it was the first Christian nation because the Lord blessed it, because it had its saints, it had its holy bishops and martyrs…’

“As we rejoice in the Resurrection during this Easter season, may all people of good will join together on this solemn day of recollection to pray and work for justice and peace and remember anew that eternal life in Christ reigns supreme and forever.”

Bishop Malloy’s statement echoes the concern and solidarity the Catholic Church has long held with the Armenian Church. In a November 2000 joint statement, Pope John Paul II and His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, affirmed their common faith and mutual respect for one another.

The U.S. bishops have provided support for pastoral renewal projects and through Caritas Armenia for social services to assist children and the vulnerable as well as to encourage parish social ministry programs. In 2003, Cardinal William Keeler led a delegation of U.S. bishops and staff to Armenia at the invitation of the Catholicos. The delegation came away deeply impressed and inspired by the resilience of the Christian faith of the Armenian people in the face of adversity. 

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
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U.S. Bishop Chairman Calls for Easter Response to Mass Shooting in Indianapolis

WASHINGTON — Following the mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development issued the following statement:

“Tragically, we awoke to learn of another mass shooting today, this time in Indianapolis, that has reportedly left eight dead and several wounded. As we heard at Mass yesterday, ‘The Lord is close to the brokenhearted’ (Ps. 34:19). We again need prayer and concrete acts of charity for the families, and for all victims of violent crime. 

“Again and again, we react in horror to these violent acts, but many cannot agree on how to stop them. The bishops continue to support a number of policy measures to try to reduce homicides and suicides.[1] In this Easter season, when we are reminded that there is always hope, even when we seem to be at a dead end, I would ask our political leaders, and all people of good will, once more to examine this issue and propose prudential solutions. It is good that President Biden and some leaders in Congress are drawing renewed attention to this. For a comprehensive and long-lasting path to peace, it will take bipartisan cooperation. In the spirit of Easter, let us pray for renewed reverence for the gift of life, and faith that by the grace of God, we can always begin again and work towards peace.”  

 

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[1] See, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, “Responses to the Plague of Gun Violence,” Address to the General Assembly of Bishops in Baltimore (Nov. 11, 2019).  https://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/violence/upload/Remarks-Bishop-Dewane-Responses-to-the-Plague-of-Gun-Violence-11-11-2019.pdf

 

Statement of the U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Committee Chairman on Biden Administration’s proposed rule on the Title X program

WASHINGTON – On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published a proposed rule to reverse “The Protect Life Rule,” a regulation issued by the Trump Administration in 2019 to clearly separate abortion from family planning in the federal Title X family planning program. 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 expressing profound disappointment over this action:

“This policy change will allow the Title X program to become an indirect funding avenue for abortion providers. In spite of explicit prohibitions in Federal law and clear congressional intent that abortion may not be a part of this program, it has repeatedly been coopted by abortion supporters as a funding stream for organizations, programs, and facilities that directly promote and provide abortions.

“While the USCCB has always had strong objections to government promotion and funding of contraceptives, we have also long supported clear financial and physical separation between Title X-funded projects and programs and facilities where abortion is a method of family planning. This proposed rule is terrible policy; it would reintegrate abortion into what is supposed to be a pre-pregnancy family planning program. I strongly urge the Biden Administration to suspend this proposed rule and leave the Title X program as it was intended and authorized to be – a program entirely separate from abortion.”

 

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
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U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Committee Chairman on Chemical Abortion Pill Policy Change

WASHINGTON – The Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday that they will no longer be enforcing the “in-person dispensing requirement” for the chemical abortion pills during the remainder of the COVID-19 public health emergency. This requirement was put in place by public health officials over twenty years ago, under President Bill Clinton, as a necessary precondition to ensure that pregnant women do not have contraindications that would make the abortion pills even more unsafe and possibly deadly for the woman. 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:

“It is difficult to see the FDA’s decision to not enforce important safety protocols as anything other than callous capitulation to the requests of abortion activists without regard for the health and safety of the women involved. An in-person evaluation by a medical professional is necessary to accurately determine the age of the baby (abortion pills are only approved for use in the first 70 days), whether the pregnancy is ectopic (which the woman has no way of knowing on her own), and to test and treat for Rh-incompatibility between mother and baby. Without this information and proper treatment, a woman’s health, future fertility, and life are placed in serious jeopardy. With this decision, not only are women being sold the lie that abortion will solve their problems, but also that chemical abortion is a safe and easy way to go about it. By pushing women away from medical oversight, abortion advocates are luring women into isolated, unsafe, and medically unwise decisions. The inalienable dignity of women and their unborn children deserves so much more.”

 

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

Catholics Can Now Support National Pastoral and Charitable Programs with #iGiveCatholic

WASHINGTON - Catholics can now support eight programs administered by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) through the online giving platform #iGiveCatholic Together.

The programs being supported provide material aid to people of all faiths and support Catholic ministries in regions where the Church cannot sustain itself. Annual national collections have been the primary source of funding for these vital programs since their inception. People can learn more about each of the eight programs at https://www.usccb.org/committees/national-collections.

“These programs help those living on the margins of society and those who are spiritually isolated, said Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Seattle, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on National Collections. “The need is great because gifts to some of these programs plummeted by more than half in 2020 with the COVID pandemic. These programs rely on the modest gifts that make a tremendous impact in the lives of people who are hungry, persecuted, or in spiritual need.”

“#iGiveCatholic makes it simple to do what our Lord has told us to do: to love God and our neighbors,” Archbishop Etienne said. “Gifts to these USCCB programs are a tangible testimony of the love and mercy of Catholic people across the United States. Together, we are one Church with one mission.”

#iGiveCatholic is the nonprofit parent organization of #iGiveCatholic on #GivingTuesday, the U.S. Catholic Church’s Giving Day. The newly established #iGiveCatholic Together is a year-round platform to connect the generosity of faithful donors with ministries that impact our communities locally, nationally, and around the world.

#iGiveCatholic Together expands opportunities to give, supplementing the online and e-giving platforms of dioceses and parishes. “As a gesture of solidarity and support of the U.S. bishops’ efforts, #iGiveCatholic covered the costs associated with the development of program giving pages on the platform,” Archbishop Etienne shared. “The Committee on National Collections is tremendously grateful for this generosity and for #iGiveCatholic’s ongoing support of our efforts to engage Catholics in the outreach efforts of our Church.”

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
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Monsignor Kieran Harrington of Diocese of Brooklyn Named National Director of the National Pontifical Mission Societies

WASHINGTON – Monsignor Kieran E. Harrington of the Diocese of Brooklyn, has been named the new national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies. The appointment was made by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Monsignor Harrington succeeds Father Andrew Small, OMI, who is completing his second five-year term.

Monsignor Harrington has served as vicar for communications for the Diocese of Brooklyn since being appointed to the role in 2006 by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio. In this role, Monsignor Harrington has been responsible for overseeing the diocesan public information office, government affairs and public policy office, NET, the cable station of the Diocese of Brooklyn, and The Tablet newspaper of the Diocese of Brooklyn. Monsignor Harrington is the rector of the Co-Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Brooklyn and graduated with honors from St. John’s University with a degree in philosophy. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception and a Master of Business Administration from New York University’s Stern School of Business.

“I am humbled by the trust placed in me to serve the Church in this most important area of missionary evangelization,” said Monsignor Harrington. “I look forward to working with the bishops and dioceses to support the pastoral work of the pontifical missions.”

Father Small warmly welcomed the news of Monsignor Harrington’s appointment, adding, “Having gotten to know Monsignor Kieran over the last ten years, I am delighted that someone of such ability and passion has been chosen as the next National Director of the Holy Father’s mission societies.”

The Pontifical Mission Societies are organizations that are under the direction of the Holy Father. Their purpose is the promotion of a universal missionary spirit among all baptized Catholics. There are four societies: the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Holy Childhood Association, the Society of St. Peter Apostle, and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious. These four societies each received the title “pontifical” in 1922 to indicate their status as official instruments of the pope and of the universal Catholic Church. The national director heads the four societies in the United States and oversees the World Missions Sunday Collection, which is taken up on the third Sunday of October each year. For more information, please visit www.onefamilyinmission.org.

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