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U.S. Catholic Church Calls for Week of Prayer and Action in Solidarity with Migrants and Refugees as Part of the “Share the Journey” Campaign
Posted on 10/6/2017 11:50 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON— Following last week's kick-off of the "Share the Journey" Migration Campaign, launched by Pope Francis on Sept. 27, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in collaboration with Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities USA are calling for a Week of Prayer and Action from October 7-13, 2017. Dioceses across the country are encouraged to participate by hosting different events during this week and throughout the two-year campaign.
"During the week of prayer and action we need to show our support and compassion for those in need," said Bishop Joe Vásquez, Chair of USCCB's Committee on Migration. "It is important that we also highlight the positive contributions that migrants and refugees have made to our society."
"The Holy Father has repeatedly called on us to support migrants and refugees forcibly displaced from their homes," said Joan Rosenhauer, CRS Vice President for US Operations. "We're called by the Gospel to love our neighbor, and amid a global refugee crisis not seen since World War II, we have to do more to welcome and support those whose lives are threatened by violence and poverty. In the U.S. we can do that by admitting the most vulnerable refugees for resettlement and of course assist them and the countries hosting them around the world."
Resources and information about the campaign and week of prayer and action are available on the campaign's website, www.sharejourney.org. Included amongst the information is a toolkit for Catholic leaders that offers ideas on how to show their support and solidarity with migrants and refugees in schools, at mass and in the community.
Sister Donna Markham OP, PhD, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) said, "When we encounter people who have had to flee to the U.S. in order to save their lives, we do not have to guess at how to help. We pray for them and we extend ourselves in compassion to assist in whatever ways we can."
The "Share the Journey" campaign kicked off globally last week by the Caritas network. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) are sponsoring the campaign in the U.S. Both CRS, working in more than 100 countries around the world, and CCUSA, the Catholic Church's domestic agency, are members of Caritas Internationalis, the Church's worldwide charity organization that is the overall sponsor of the campaign.
About Catholic Charities USA
Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), a member of Caritas Internationalis, is the national office for the Catholic Charities ministry nationwide. CCUSA's members provide help and create hope to more than 8 million people a year regardless of religious, social, or economic backgrounds. To learn more, please visit www.catholiccharitiesusa.org and follow CCUSA on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.
About Catholic Relief Services
Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS' relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, visit www.crs.org or www.crsespanol.org and follow Catholic Relief Services on social media: Facebook, Twitter at @CatholicRelief, @CRSnews and @CRSnoticias, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.
About the U.S. Conference of Catholic BishopsThe United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is an assembly of the hierarchy of the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands who jointly exercise certain pastoral functions on behalf of the Christian faithful of the United States. The purpose of the Conference is to promote the greater good which the Church offers humankind, especially through forms and programs of the apostolate fittingly adapted to the circumstances of time and place. This purpose is drawn from the universal law of the Church and applies to the episcopal conferences which are established all over the world for the same purpose. For more information, visit www.usccb.org and www.justiceforimmigrants.org Follow the USCCB on Facebook, Twitter @USCCB, Instagram.
Posted on 10/6/2017 09:31 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON–Today's decision to expand the HHS mandate exemption is a "return to common sense, long-standing federal practice, and peaceful coexistence between church and state," according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the USCCB, and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the USCCB's Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, are hailing the Trump Administration's announcement to provide a broad religious and moral exemption from the mandate requiring health insurance coverage of sterilization, contraception, and drugs and devices that may cause abortions.
Cardinal DiNardo and Archbishop Lori offered the following joint statement in response:
"The Administration's decision to provide a broad religious and moral exemption to the HHS mandate recognizes that the full range of faith-based and mission-driven organizations, as well as the people who run them, have deeply held religious and moral beliefs that the law must respect. Such an exemption is no innovation, but instead a return to common sense, long-standing federal practice, and peaceful coexistence between church and state. It corrects an anomalous failure by federal regulators that should never have occurred and should never be repeated.
"These regulations are good news for the Little Sisters of the Poor and others who are challenging the HHS mandate in court. We urge the government to take the next logical step and promptly resolve the litigation that the Supreme Court has urged the parties to settle.
"The regulations are also good news for all Americans. A government mandate that coerces people to make an impossible choice between obeying their consciences and obeying the call to serve the poor is harmful not only to Catholics but to the common good. Religious freedom is a fundamental right for all, so when it is threatened for some, it is threatened for all. We welcome the news that this particular threat to religious freedom has been lifted, and with the encouragement of Pope Francis, we will remain 'vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.'"
Keywords: Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop William Lori, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, HHS mandate, Little Sisters of the Poor, contraceptives, religious liberty, religious freedom
U.S. Bishops Chairman Calls on U.S. Government to work with Burma, Bangladesh, and the International Community to Address Burma Refugee Crisis for Religious Minority
Posted on 10/6/2017 05:16 AM (USCCB News Releases)
Washington—Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, submitted written testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee for a hearing on October 5, 2017, entitled "The Rohingya Crisis: U.S. Response to the Tragedy in Burma." The hearing addressed the U.S. government response to the plight of a Muslim religious minority from Rakhine State, Burma, known as the Rohingya.
In part of his testimony, Bishop Vásquez states, "We turn now to the grim situation of those forced to flee from Rakhine State, Burma. Forced out by what the Burmese military reportedly has referred to as a 'clearance campaign,' an estimated 501,000 people have fled from Rakhine State, Burma, to Bangladesh since August 25, 2017. Most are women and children, and the most vulnerable are newborns, pregnant women, and the elderly. Many have only makeshift shelters at best, are struggling to find the mere basics of life, and are trying to avoid debilitating and life-threatening waterborne and airborne diseases. They are all in our thoughts and prayers as the Catholic Church joins with others to mobilize in response to the horrific situation."
The most recent violence is part of an historical pattern of persecution against the Muslim minority in Rakhine State, and also continues against other religious and ethnic minorities, such as a Christian ethnic minority group in Kachin State, Burma. While such persecution has lessened in recent years with democratic elections, the Burmese military still maintains substantial political power and economic control. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, human rights icon and the major democratic leader in Burma, has not been very vocal about the plight of those fleeing Rakhine State, but she has played a major role in changing the day-to-day life for her people and continues to lead a major peacebuilding effort with ethnic groups in Burma known as the Panglong Process to build a viable democratic federal system.
"As we shed light on the human rights tragedies in Burma, we urge continued U.S. support to resolve these critical situations and to support the democratically elected government in addressing these situations while also supporting their broader efforts to build a new, democratic, inclusive Burma," notes Bishop Vásquez.
Bishop Vásquez's full testimony can be found at: https://justiceforimmigrants.org/statements/written-testimony-reverend-joe-s-vasquez-bishop-austin-texas-chair-u-s-conference-catholic-bishops-committee-migration-rohingya-crisis-u-s-response/.
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez, Committee on Migration, House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rohingya, Rakhine State, Burma, Bangladesh, refugee crisis, Muslim minority, Kachin State, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Panglong Process, refugee, protection, durable solutions.
Posted on 10/6/2017 04:16 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has appointed Father Thanh Thai Nguyen as a new auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Orange, California. Father Nguyen is a priest of the Diocese of St. Augustine where he currently serves as pastor of St. Joseph Church in Jacksonville, Florida.
The appointment was publicized in Washington on October 6 by Msgr. Walter Erbi, Chargé d'Affaires at the Apostolic Nunciature in the United States.
Father Nguyen was born April 7, 1953 in Nha Trang, Vietnam. In 1979, he escaped Vietnam by boat with his family and spent 10 months in a refugee camp in the Philippines before arriving in the United States in 1980.
He holds a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from Merrimack College, North Andover, Massachusetts and a master of divinity degree from Weston School of Theology, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Father Nguyen entered the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette in 1984 and served as a priest of that congregation for eight years. He was ordained a priest on May 11, 1991. He was incardinated in the Diocese of St. Augustine, June 29,1999.
Assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, Smyrna, Georgia, 1991-1994; parochial vicar, St. Ann Parish, Marietta, Georgia, 1994-1996; parochial vicar, Christ the King Parish, Jacksonville, Florida, 1996-2001; pastor, Christ the King Parish, Jacksonville, 2001-2014; pastor, St. Joseph Parish, Jacksonville, 2014-present.
Diocese of Orange, California comprises 782 square miles. It has a total
population of 3,145,515 people of which 1,346,540, or 42 percent, are
Keywords: Pope Francis, Reverent Thanh Thai Nguyen, Msgr. Walter Erbi, Apostolic Nunciature, Diocese of Orange, Diocese of St. Augustine.
Posted on 10/3/2017 06:21 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON—In a statement to mark Respect Life Month, October 2017, Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York reiterated the need to build a culture of life throughout the year. Cardinal Dolan chairs the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The Cardinal's statement launches the year-long 2017-18 Respect Life Program (www.usccb.org/respectlife), which provides materials exploring the theme, "Be Not Afraid."
"Looking back over the last year, there's been a lot of uncertainty, suffering, and heartache. Between tragedies that occur in the public eye and trials that take place in our personal lives, there's no shortage of reasons we cry out to God," Cardinal Dolan said. "At such times, we may feel alone and unequipped... But we have an anchor of hope to cling to. ...God says to us, 'Do not fear: I am with you' (Isaiah 41:10)."
"There are times we may doubt the value of our own lives or falter at the thought of welcoming and embracing the life of another. But…He makes all things beautiful. He makes all things new. He is the God of redemption," the Cardinal said. "That's powerful. That's something to hold onto."
"As followers of Jesus Christ, …we are called to be missionary disciples…commissioned to reach out to one another, especially to the weak and vulnerable," Cardinal Dolan said.
Begun in 1972, the Respect Life Program highlights the value and dignity of human life throughout the year. Materials are intended for use across the spectrum of Catholic life, work, ministry, and education.
The 2017-18 Respect Life Program features six articles on a range of issues. They address practical steps to build a culture of life, compelling reasons to oppose assisted suicide, principles to consider at the end of life, an overview of the role of conscience, offering genuine support to a friend who's considering abortion, and a Catholic Q & A on the death penalty. Many digital and print resources are offered, including toolkits for priests and deacons, parishes, Catholic education, Respect Life ministry, youth ministry, young adult ministry, faith formation, and communications.
The full text of Cardinal Dolan's statement is available along with many other resources at www.usccb.org/respectlife.
Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, pro-life, Respect Life Month, Respect Life Program, human dignity, women, pregnancy, abortion, conscience, death penalty, capital punishment, elder care, end of life care, advance medical directives, assisted suicide, prayer, social justice, #BeNotAfraid
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Pope Accepts Resignation of Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson; Names Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger as Successor
Posted on 10/3/2017 04:40 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, 76, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Tucson, Arizona. Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger, up until now Bishop of Salina, Kansas, has been named as the new bishop for the diocese.
The appointment was publicized in Washington on October 3 by Msgr. Walter Erbi, Chargé d'Affaires at the Apostolic Nunciature in the United States.
Bishop Weisenburger was born in Alton, Illinois on December 23, 1960. He pursued seminary studies at the American College Seminary at the Catholic University of Louvain in Leuven, Belgium where he earned a bachelor of Sacred Theology degree along with both a masters in Religious Studies in 1986 and Moral and Religious Science in 1987.
Bishop Weisenburger was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City on December 19, 1987. He later earned his pontifical J.C.L. degree from the University of St. Paul in Ottawa, Canada (1992). Upon returning to the archdiocese, he was appointed vice-chancellor and adjutant judicial vicar.
In addition to chancery duties, he worked in parish and prison ministries from 1992-1995 and served as the on-site chaplain for rescue workers following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. In 1996, he was appointed Vicar General of the archdiocese of Oklahoma City. He remained with the Oklahoma City Tribunal for almost 20 years and served in various capacities including Promoter of Justice for the cause of canonization of Stanley Francis Rother, Servant of God. He served as pastor of Holy Trinity parish in Okarche, Oklahoma (1995-2002) and as pastor of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (2002-2012). On February 6, 2012, he was appointed Bishop of Salina by Pope Benedict XVI and was ordained on May 1, 2012.
Bishop Kicanas was born August 18, 1941 in Chicago, Illinois. He was ordained a priest on April 27, 1967 and served in various capacities in the seminary system of the Archdiocese of Chicago for 25 years. In 1984, he was appointed Rector of Mundelein Seminary and held seminary postings that included rector, principal, and dean of formation at the former Quigley Seminary South.
Bishop Kicanas is the former Vice President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and former Secretary of the USCCB. He currently serves on the USCCB Committee on Catholic Education, Committee on Communications, the Subcommittee on the Church in Africa, Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs (consultant), and he is a member of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc, (CLINIC).
He is also the former Chair of the Board of Directors of Catholic Relief Services and has chaired and served on numerous USCCB committees.
Bishop Kicanas was named coadjutor bishop of Tucson on October 30, 2001, and was installed on January 15, 2002. He became the seventh Bishop of Tucson on March 7, 2003.
The diocese of Tucson comprises 42,707 square miles of the southern part of Arizona. It has a population of 1,904,477 people of whom 390,418 or 20 percent are Catholic.
Keywords: Pope Francis, Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger, Salina, Kansas, Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, Diocese of Tucson, Msgr. Walter Erbi, Chargé d'Affaires, Apostolic Nunciature, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB.
Posted on 10/2/2017 05:18 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON—On October 2, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), expressed "deep grief" after a deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas.
The full text of the statement follows:
"We woke this morning and learned of yet another night filled with unspeakable terror, this time in the city of Las Vegas, and by all accounts, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. My heart and my prayers, and those of my brother bishops and all the members of the Church, go out to the victims of this tragedy and to the city of Las Vegas. At this time, we need to pray and to take care of those who are suffering. In the end, the only response is to do good – for no matter what the darkness, it will never overcome the light. May the Lord of all gentleness surround all those who are suffering from this evil, and for those who have been killed we pray, eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them."
Keywords: U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Las Vegas, mass shooting, prayers.
Posted on 09/29/2017 10:36 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON— Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, urged the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36). It is expected to come to the House floor the first week of October. The bill, introduced by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), proposes a ban on abortions starting at 20 weeks after fertilization.
In a September 29 letter to the House, Cardinal Dolan wrote, "All decent and humane people are repulsed by the callous and barbarous treatment of women and children in clinics…that abort children after 20 weeks."
"Planned Parenthood's callous and disturbing practices of harvesting fetal body parts from late-term abortions, partial-birth abortions, and the deplorable actions of late-term abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell…, have shocked our nation and led many Americans to realize that our permissive laws and attitudes have allowed the abortion industry to undertake these procedures," Cardinal Dolan said, calling the 20-week ban a "common-sense reform."
The Cardinal offered reasons why "the proposed ban on abortion at 20 weeks after fertilization is a place to begin uniting Americans who see themselves as 'pro-life' and as 'pro-choice'." The first centers on the expanding range of fetal 'viability'. "The Supreme Court's past insistence that unborn children must be 'viable' to deserve even nominal protection is not meaningful or workable…[M]edical technology is moving the point of viability earlier in the pregnancy putting Roe on a collision course with itself." Second, there are life-threatening dangers to women undergoing abortions beyond 20 weeks. Finally, addressing the proposal to perform late-term abortions in "mainstream" clinics, he notes that those clinics generally refuse to perform the risky procedures. "What does it say about us as a nation, if we will not act against abortions that even full-time abortionists find abhorrent?" Cardinal Dolan asked.
Cardinal Dolan reaffirmed the right to life of humans at every stage of development, and clarified that the Church remains committed to advocating for the full legal protection of all unborn children: "[E]very child, from conception onward, deserves love and the protection of the law…. [T]he real problems that lead women to consider abortion should be addressed with solutions that support both mother and child."
For the full text of Cardinal Dolan's letter to the House of Representatives, visit: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/abortion/upload/CdlDolan-HR36-House-Ltr-09-29-2017.pdf.
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, U.S. House of Representatives, Congress, Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36), Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), abortion, late-term abortion, viability, Roe v. Wade, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, Planned Parenthood, fetal organ harvesting, civil rights, pro-life, 20-week abortion ban
USCCB Migration Chairman “Gravely Concerned” About Presidential Determination for Refugee Admissions
Posted on 09/29/2017 06:26 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON—On September 27, 2017, the Administration, in a consultation with Congress, proposed to only admit up to 45,000 refugees to the United States in fiscal year 2018. This Presidential Determination (PD) for Refugee Admissions is the lowest since the founding of the program in 1980 and marks the second consecutive year that the new Administration has reduced the PD. Currently there are 65 million displaced people and 22 million refugees worldwide.
Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:
"We are disturbed and deeply disappointed by the proposed Presidential Determination number of 45,000 for the upcoming fiscal year. While the Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities, and Catholic communities across the country join in welcoming all of those refugees to American communities with joy and open arms, we are gravely concerned for the tens of thousands of extremely vulnerable refugees left behind by this decision.
"As I have stated before, this decision has very severe human consequences—people with faces, names, children and families are suffering and cannot safely or humanely remain where they are until the war and persecution in their countries of origin gets resolved. These people include at-risk women and children; frightened youth; the elderly; those whose lives are threatened because of their religion, ethnicity or race; and refugees seeking family reunification with loved ones in the United States.
"Each refugee that comes to the United States is admitted through an extensive vetting system. Many of these refugees already have family in the United States, and most begin working immediately to rebuild their lives; in turn contributing to the strength and richness of our society. God has blessed our country with bounty and precious liberty, and so we have great capacity to welcome those in such desperate need, while ensuring our nation's security.
"The same day of the consultation, Pope Francis exhorted us to 'reach out, open your arms to migrants and refugees, share the journey.' We urge the Administration to move past this period of intensified scrutiny and skepticism of the U.S. refugee program, which serves as an international model. This is a moment of opportunity to restore America's historic leadership as a refuge for those fleeing persecution. We urge the Administration to welcome and resettle every one of the refugees eventually authorized for FY2018. Looking ahead, we strongly urge the Administration next year to return to the level of resettling at least 75,000 refugees annually to the United States. We can and must do better."
Keywords: Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, USCCB Committee on Migration, Presidential Determination, refugee admissions, family reunification, refugee resettlement, welcoming the stranger, U.S. security, Pope Francis, Share the Journey.
USCCB Chairmen Urge Congress to Support the Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act of 2017, H.R. 2405 / S. 1823
Posted on 09/28/2017 04:52 AM (USCCB News Releases)
Legislation would eNsure fair treatment for houses of worship damaged in natural disasters
Bill passed U.S. House with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2013
FEMA shouldn't discriminate
WASHINGTON—Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, bishop of Springfield, Massachusetts and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, urged Members of Congress to support passage of the Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act of 2017 (H.R. 2405 / S. 1823). An almost identical bill passed the House in 2013 with overwhelming bipartisan support.
In September 27 letters to the House and Senate, in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, Archbishop Lori and Bishop Rozanski asked Representatives and Senators to support the legislation, which would ensure the fair and equal treatment for houses of worship damaged in natural disasters by enabling them to seek aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The letters noted that the "legislation is consistent with Supreme Court jurisprudence, which recognizes the right of religious institutions to receive public financial aid in the context of a broad program administered on the basis of religion-neutral criteria." The letters note the 2017 Trinity Lutheran Church case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, which provides a firm legal foundation for such assistance.
Archbishop Lori and Bishop Rozanski explained that "houses of worship often play an irreplaceable role in the recovery of a community" after a natural disaster.
"Discrimination that treats houses of worship as ineligible for federal assistance in the wake of a natural disaster, beyond being a legal violation, hurts the very communities most affected by the indiscriminate force of nature," said Archbishop Lori and Bishop Rozanski.
Links to each of the letters can be found here: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/upload/Letter-of-Support-to-House-for-Federal-Disaster-Assistance-Nonprofit-Fairness-Act-of-2017.pdf
---Keywords: Archbishop William Lori, Bishop Mitchell Rozanski, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act of 2017, Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, religious liberty, religious freedom, houses of worship, disaster relief.