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U.S. Bishop Chairmen Voice Opposition to Proclamation That Further Restricts Immigration and Family Reunification

WASHINGTON — The President issued a proclamation Friday restricting the issuance of immigrant visas to people from Burma (Myanmar), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan and Nigeria. People from Sudan and Tanzania will no longer be eligible for certain visas to come to the United States, commonly called “Diversity Visas.”

Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, and Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento and chairman of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., along with Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, and Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA issued the following statement strongly disagreeing with the administration’s latest action:

“The proclamation restricting immigration further undermines family reunification efforts and will make ensuring support for forced migrants in the designated countries more difficult. This proclamation also serves as a painful reminder of the 2017 ban which threatened our country’s founding principle of religious freedom. Over the last three years, waivers to allow visas from current travel ban nations based on undue hardship (such as family illness) were supposed to be available but were almost never authorized. We note with particular sadness and have witnessed firsthand the trauma of family separation that occurs with travel bans, which will only increase with this new proclamation.

“We respect that there are challenges in assuring traveler documentation and information exchange between countries as a means to ensure the safety of citizens. However, we also believe that ill-conceived nation-based bans such as this injure innocent families. As the bishops’ conference president Archbishop José Gomez has stated, ‘Welcoming families has allowed our country to integrate successive immigrant generations into the fabric of American life, allowing them to contribute their faith, values and talents to make this country great.’

“We urge the administration to reverse this action and consider the human and strategic costs of these harmful bans.”

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop José Gomez, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, Committee on Migration, Bishop Joesph C. Bambera, Comittee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Sean Callahan,  Catholic Relief Services, Sister Donna Markham,  Catholic Charities USA, diversity visas.             

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

 

 

 

Suzanne Healy Named Chair of U.S. Bishops’ National Review Board

WASHINGTON – Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has appointed Mrs. Suzanne Healy, the former Victims Assistance Coordinator for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles as the next chair of the National Review Board (NRB). Mrs. Healy succeeds Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D., who concludes his term as chair after the bishops’ June 2020 meeting.

The National Review Board advises the bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People and works closely with the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection in accordance with the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People, which the bishops adopted in 2002.

Archbishop Gomez thanked Mrs. Healy, who joined the NRB in 2017, for accepting this leadership position. “I wish to acknowledge the excellent and collaborative manner of the NRB and the Committee on Child and Youth Protection and to the bishops as a whole as we carry out the Apostolic responsibilities that have been entrusted to us. The last several years have witnessed great strides and challenges in the continued and ongoing efforts of the Catholic Church in the United States to strengthen and renew our efforts for the protection of young people and healing for survivors. I thank Dr. Cesareo for his longtime service to the Church on this most important issue, and I look forward to continuing that process in the future, especially under the new leadership of Mrs. Healy.”

Mrs. Healy holds a BS in Psychology and a MS in Counseling, M.F.C.C. option, with a Pupil Personnel Services Credential with Advanced Specializations in School Counseling and Child Welfare and Attendance Services, both from California State University in Los Angeles. She is also a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with experience in private practice and as a school counselor and has eighteen years of business management and strategic planning experience with AT&T and Pacific Bell. From 2008-2016, Mrs. Healy served on the Executive Board of the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health Faith Based Advocacy Council, and as a Committee Member for the Los Angeles City Attorney Office Cyber Crime Prevention Symposium. In 2016, she received the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Department of Health Affairs Excellence Award. She is currently retired and serves on the board of directors for Valley Family Center in San Fernando, CA.

Details regarding the National Review Board, its functions, and other members can be found: http://www.usccb.org/about/child-and-youth-protection/the-national-review-board.cfm

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop José H. Gomez, Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection, Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, National Review Board, Suzanne Healy.

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

 

U.S. Bishops’ Chairmen Very Concerned About Impact of Recent Supreme Court Decision on Public Charge

WASHINGTON—On January 27, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a decision allowing the Trump Administration to implement its “public charge” rule everywhere in the United States (except Illinois) while litigation challenging the legality of the rule proceeds through the federal courts. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision allowing the Administration to move forward with implementing its new changes to the ‘public charge’ while lawsuits are still pending is very concerning, as it will have an immediate and negative impact upon immigrant and newcomer families. In our experience serving the poor and vulnerable, we know that many immigrant families lawfully access important medical and social services that are vital to public health and welfare. There is already misinformation about the ‘public charge’ rule circulating in immigrant communities, and this decision will further deter families eligible for assistance from coming forward to access the services they need, such as nutrition assistance and housing. The Supreme Court’s decision will have devastating consequences for immigrant communities, as those impacted are cast into the shadows because they fear deportation and family separation for seeking critical support. . . The Church upholds the dignity of all human life, and the Gospel compels us to serve those who are in need, regardless of their circumstances. Preventing anyone from having access to life-saving services is contrary to our belief that all life is sacred from its beginning to its end.

“We note yesterday’s Supreme Court decision focuses solely on the preliminary injunction and, as such, we remain hopeful that the courts will declare the ‘public charge’ rule illegal. The Church will redouble public education efforts to ensure that immigrant families, and our direct services networks which assist them, are educated about this rule and its impacts. We remain steadfast in Pope Francis’s call to welcome, protect, promote and integrate our immigrant brothers and sisters.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, Committee on Migration, public charge rule, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Supreme Court of the Unites States.

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

 

World Day for Consecrated Life Celebrates the Important Witness of Consecrated Persons in the Church

WASHINGTON – Each year, the Catholic Church celebrates the World Day for Consecrated Life. Instituted by Pope John Paul II in 1997, the celebration is in conjunction with the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known as Candlemas Day, commemorating the coming of Christ, the Light of the World, through the symbolic lighting of candles. Similarly, consecrated men and women are called to spread the light and love of Jesus Christ through their unique witness of selfless service, such as caring for the poor, the contemplative work of prayer, or through their professional careers. On February 2, 2020, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome to recognize and pray for the essential role of consecrated persons in the life of the Church and to express gratitude for their service to the Church. Similarly, parishes in the United States will also celebrate consecrated life during the weekend of February 1-2 and recognize the essential role of consecrated persons in the life of the Church. As engaged members of their local communities, consecrated men and women bring the presence of Jesus to all they encounter throughout their day, allowing his Spirit to live and move within them so that the truth of the Gospel can be proclaimed to all.

Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations, reiterated the importance of the witness offered by those in consecrated life: “Consecrated men and women are a special treasure in the Church who allow the love of Jesus to become tangible. By dedicating their entire lives to following Christ, consecrated persons are particularly able to reach out to those on the peripheries of our society and bring the message of the Gospel to all those in need.”

Each year, the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations asks the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) to conduct a survey of those solemnly professed in the United States in the past year. Some of the major findings of this year’s report are:

•  The average age of the profession class of 2019 is 39. Half of the responding religious are age 34 or younger. The youngest is 24 and the oldest is 71.
•  Two-thirds of the responding religious (69 percent) report their primary race or ethnicity as white. One in ten (10 percent) identifies as Hispanic, and one in ten (9 percent) identify as Asian.
•  Three in four of responding religious (74 percent) were born in the United States. Of those born outside the United States, the most common country of origin is the Philippines.  
•  Twenty-five percent of responding religious earned a graduate degree before entering their religious institute. Three-fourths (74 percent) entered their religious institute with at least a bachelor’s degree (77 percent for women and 69 percent for men).
•  Around nine in ten responding religious (89 percent) served in one or more church ministries before entering their religious institute, most commonly as a lector (51 percent), altar server (44 percent), or Extraordinary Minister of Communion (42 percent).
•  On average, responding religious report that they were 19 years old when they first considered a vocation to religious life, but half were 18 or younger when they first did so.  
• Nine in ten responding religious (91 percent) regularly participated in some type of private prayer activity before they entered their religious institute. Three-fifths or more participated in Eucharistic Adoration or prayed the rosary before entering. Nearly six in ten participated in spiritual direction or retreats before entering.

The full survey from CARA, as well as resources for use by parishes are available at: http://cms.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/consecrated-life/world-day-for-consecrated-life.cfm  
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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, World Day for Consecrated Life, Bishop James F. Checchio, Diocese of Metuchen, Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, Presentation of the Lord, Candlemas Day, Charism, Consecrated Life, Vocations, Women Religious, Men Religious, Profession Class of 2019, Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, CARA, Pope John Paul II, Pope Francis, Vatican, Eucharistic Adoration, rosary, spiritual direction, retreats.

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

 

Bishop Chairmen Strongly Commend Administration for Action to Enforce Federal Conscience Law

WASHINGTON—On January 24th, on the occasion of the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., the Trump Administration announced that it is taking steps to enforce the Weldon Amendment, a federal law that prohibits discrimination by states against health insurance plans that do not cover abortion. In 2014, the California Department of Managed Health Care began forcing all employers—even churches—to fund and facilitate elective abortions in their health plans in direct violation of the Weldon amendment. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop George V. Murry, S.J. of Youngstown, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, issued the following statement in response to this enforcement action:

“Today’s announcement is extraordinarily good news for the right to life, conscientious objection, religious freedom and the rule of law. For nearly six years, employers in California—including churches—have been forced to fund and facilitate abortions in their health insurance plans in direct violation of a federal conscience protection law known as the Weldon amendment. This coercive California policy is abhorrent, unjust and illegal. We strongly commend the Trump Administration for taking this critical action to enforce federal law and correct this supreme injustice to the people and employers of California. Sadly, violations of federal conscience laws are on the rise. We hope that this enforcement action, and subsequent actions by the Administration, will stop further unlawful discrimination against people who reject abortion as a violation of the most basic human and civil rights.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Bishop George V. Murry, S.J, Committee for Religious Liberty, Weldon Amendment, Trump Administration.

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

 

Bishop Chairmen Express Sorrow on the Loss of American Firefighting Crew in Australia

WASHINGTON—Today, bishops from two committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), expressed their profound sorrow at the loss of three American crew members when a firefighting air tanker crashed in the state of New South Wales in Australia. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, offered the following statement:

“As the people of Australia continue to endure terrible fires, let us renew our prayer and generosity. Today, the suffering was brought even closer to home with the loss of three brave American crew members who died in the crash of a tanker airplane used in fighting wildfires in Australia. We join in prayerful solidarity with their families and with all the people of Australia and all those in regions affected by these terrible fires. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those who are suffering from this tragedy and from the disaster these dedicated professionals were fighting. In our prayer, we recall in trust that Jesus is the resurrection and the life, offering Himself to us and calling us to Himself even in our hardest hour.

“We join with Archbishop José Gomez, president of the USCCB, as expressed in his solidarity letter to the president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, in the heartfelt prayers offered by the bishops of Australia in response to the terrible wildfires that have affected that nation and claimed the lives of so many individuals. We call upon the faithful to support, through their petitions and concern, the efforts at extinguishment and recovery taking place throughout in response to these fires. It is in unity with the bishops of Australia that we encourage the faithful and all appropriate parties to be generous in their financial support of these recovery efforts. We pray for the safety and wellbeing of those affected and those fighting the fires, and hope for the eventual restoration of the homes and natural habitats that have been destroyed.”

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop José H. Gomez, Archbishop Paul Coakley, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop David Malloy, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Australia.

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

 

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