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U.S. Catholics Join with Pope Francis in Campaign to “Share the Journey” of Migrants and Refugees

WASHINGTON—Today, several dozen bishops across the United States are joining Pope Francis as he launched the two-year "Share the Journey" campaign, holding events and reaching out to support migrants and refugees in their own dioceses as the campaign aims to raise awareness about their plight worldwide.

Kicked off around the world by the global 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 United States. 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.

"This campaign is both spiritual and practical," says Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who is president of the USCCB. "The Pope is asking us to pray and reflect and to use the awareness we build to take action, both personally and publically. To our Church, this campaign is an embodiment of the Biblical command to love our neighbor."

Pope Francis kicked off "Share the Journey" at the Vatican today with a symbolic gesture of reaching out to those displaced from their homes, who now number some 65 million around the world, the biggest such crisis since World War II. That will be followed by a week of prayer and action for migrants and refugees in Catholic churches and parishes around the world from Oct. 7 to Oct. 14.

"The Holy Father wants us to feel this personally," says Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA. "Each of us must work to encounter the migrants and refugees who are all around us. All too often, they seem invisible to us. We need to hear their stories, literally share their journeys, and see them as our brothers and sisters."

From Seattle to Miami, bishops are holding masses, prayer vigils and events with local migrants and refugees. Two dioceses in Florida, for example, illustrate the support the Catholic Church is lending to the campaign. The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Jacksonville, part of the St. Augustine diocese, is working through its local Catholic Charities to invite refugees and migrants to a special 7 p.m. mass where they will be welcomed to share their stories.

In Venice, the diocese is launching a photo exhibition and slideshow focused on the issue, along with a video about a young woman, the adult child of migrant workers, who is now Program Director for Catholic Charities Guadalupe Social Services in Immokalee, FL. The campaign also calls for governments and international organizations to take responsibility for caring for forced migrants, most of whom are fleeing disasters – war, famine, violence – beyond their control.

"At CRS, we work with both the internally displaced and refugees around the world," CRS President Sean Callahan says. "We know firsthand that these are innocent victims, that they should be treated with respect and dignity, that they are the people the Bible calls us to love. By heeding Pope Francis' call to share their journey, we can all come to understand that."

More information about "Share the Journey" is available on sharejourney.org.

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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, InstagramPinterest and YouTube.

About the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

The 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.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

U.S. Bishops Welcome Bipartisan Bill that Seeks Climate Solutions

WASHINGTON— Bishop Frank J. Dewane and Bishop Oscar Cantú voiced their support for the Climate Solutions Commission Act of 2017, a bill that would establish a bipartisan National Climate Solutions Commission.

"This bill has the potential to inspire positive and concrete solutions towards protecting our common home," said Bishops Dewane and Cantú. They urged legislators to support H.R. 2326, a bill introduced by Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) who is a member of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus.

Bishop Dewane is the Bishop of Venice, Florida and chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Bishop Cantú is the Bishop of Las Cruces, and chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the USCCB.

The chairmen, in a joint letter of support to each of the sponsors, noted that this would be "an important bipartisan step for protecting the environment and mitigating the harmful effects of climate change." There is a need, said the bishops, for "courageous actions and strategies aimed at promoting an integral ecology that considers together the protection of nature, the need for equitable economic development and the promotion of human dignity, especially that of the poor."

The full letter can be found at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/environment/letter-to-congress-on-climate-solutions-commission-act-2017-09-15.cfm.

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Keywords:  Bishop Oscar Cantú, Las Cruces, New Mexico, Bishop Frank Dewane, Venice, Florida, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Pope Francis, USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, climate change, creation, environment, Laudato Si'.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

President of U.S. Bishops Conference Statement on Hurricane Maria

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement on the impact of Hurricane Maria. The storm has devastated Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Dominica. Now downgraded to Category-3 winds, the storm is expected to bring more heavy rain and flash floods as it makes landfall later today in the Turks and Caicos.

Full statement follows:

"Just as we begin to assess the material and emotional damage of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the devastation of yet another storm, Hurricane Maria, has struck the U.S. Virgin Islands and Dominica, and has battered Puerto Rico with catastrophic effects unprecedented in the island's modern history. I exhort the faithful to solidarity in this time of great need for our brothers and sisters in harm's way—many of whom have been hit repeatedly by the successive hurricanes.

"Casting aside any temptation to despair, and full of hope in the loving Providence of God, we pray that our Father may receive unto his loving presence those who have lost their lives, may he comfort the grieving, and may he fortify the courage and resilience of those whose lives have been uprooted by these disasters. May he extend the might of his right hand and bid the sea be 'quiet' and 'still' (Mark 4:39)."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Dominica, Turks and Caicos Islands, solidarity.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Recognize Harm to Poor and Amend “Graham-Cassidy” Bill Say U.S. Bishop Chairmen

WASHINGTON—On September 21, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin called on the U.S. Senate to "think of the harm that will be caused to poor and vulnerable people" by provisions contained in the "Graham-Cassidy" health care legislation. They urged Senators to "amend the legislation while retaining its positive features."

"The Graham-Cassidy bill includes a Medicaid 'per capita cap' that was part of previous bills which have been rejected," said the Bishops. "The Medicaid caps will fundamentally restructure this vital program which supports the medical needs of those most in need. Over time, these modifications will result in deep funding cuts and lost coverage for millions of people," the chairmen cautioned. "Our nation must not attempt to address its fiscal concerns by placing an insufferable health care burden on the backs of the poor."

The Bishop-chairmen called on the Senate to keep protections found in Graham-Cassidy that ensure that no federal funds are used for abortion or go to plans that cover it. "This improvement is praiseworthy, and it is essential that any improved final bill retain these key provisions which would finally address grave moral problems in our current health care system," they said. "We also applaud that Graham-Cassidy redirects funds from organizations that provide abortion."

Cardinal Dolan is chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Lori chairs the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, Bishop Dewane heads the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Vásquez is the USCCB chairman of the Committee on Migration.

The Bishops urged the Senate to work together to address looming health care problems for the good of all. "Decisions about the health of our citizens—a concern fundamental to each of us—should not be made in haste simply because an artificial deadline looms. The far-reaching implications of Congress' actions are too significant for that kind of governance," they said. "Instead, the common good should call you to come together in a bi-partisan way to pass thoughtful legislation that addresses the life, conscience, immigrant access, market stability and affordability problems that now exist."

The full letter can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/upload/Senate-Cassidy-Graham-Letter-multiple-chairman-2017-09-21.pdf



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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Graham-Cassidy, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop William E. Lori, Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez, USCCB Committee on Migration, Affordable Care Act, respect for life, human dignity, health care, affordability, abortion, poverty, immigration, conscience.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Statement from President of U.S. Bishops Conference - Mexico Earthquake

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following statement to the people of Mexico following yesterday's powerful earthquake that struck southeast of Mexico City. The death toll has now surpassed 200. As the desperate search for survivors continues, Cardinal DiNardo calls for prayers for those suffering from the catastrophic earthquake.

Full statement follows: 

"Once again, our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters in Mexico, who yesterday suffered yet another catastrophic earthquake, on the anniversary of the 1985 earthquake that claimed the lives of thousands of people. The states principally affected were Morelos, Tlaxcala, Puebla, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Mexico State, and the capital, Mexico City.  

"Today Pope Francis at his General Audience expressed his solidarity with the Mexican people, and implored 'Almighty God to welcome all those who lost their lives.' The Mexican bishops expressed their condolences to all those affected, and highlighted the generous fraternal affection the nation is witnessing in the response and rescue efforts: 'Once again, we are witnessing the solidarity of the Mexican people, who sees a brother and sister in those who are suffering.'

"We join them in prayer and solidarity, and together invoke the maternal protection of our Lady of Guadalupe, Comforter of the Afflicted and Mother Most Merciful."

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Mexico City, earthquake, Morelos, Tlaxcala, Puebla, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Mexico State, Pope Francis, solidarity, condolences, suffering, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Comforter of the Afflicted, Mother Most Merciful. 

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200