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U.S. Bishops Will Gather for a Mass of Prayer and Penance for Healing of Survivors of Clergy Sex Abuse; Mass Will Mark Opening of June Plenary Assembly

WASHINGTON—As they begin the Spring General Assembly, Bishops from across the U.S. will gather at Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis for a Mass of Prayer and Penance for survivors of sexual abuse within the Church. The Mass is being held in response to a call from Pope Francis for all episcopal conferences across the world to have a Day of Prayer and Penance for victims of sexual abuse within the Church and will be held June 14, 2017 at 5:00 pm at Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

The bishops will gather together in solidarity to pray for victims and to acknowledge the pain caused by the failures of the Church in the past.  The Mass will mark the opening for the June Plenary Assembly of bishops taking place June 14-15 in Indianapolis. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will be the principal celebrant. Archbishop Wilton D.  Gregory, of Atlanta, and former President of the USCCB, will be the homilist.

In an act of penance and humility, the bishops will also kneel and recite a commemorative prayer that has been written for survivors of abuse in their healing. Intercessory Prayers of the Faithful will also be offered for those who have suffered due to clergy sex abuse. All dioceses and eparchies have been provided the suggested intercessory Prayers of the Faithful for use at any time of their choosing after June 14. 

In addition to this specific Day of Prayer and Penance, many dioceses and eparchies will also schedule their own Masses or other events to promote healing within their diocese/eparchy throughout the year.

The Mass is scheduled to be livestreamed.  The livestream link will be available on the USCCB website.  

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, National Day of Prayer and Penance, Pope Francis, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop Wilton Gregory, June Plenary Assembly, Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral, Indianapolis, clergy sex abuse, Mass, episcopal conferences, diocese/eparchies, prayers of the faithful.

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President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholics Across the U.S. Join in Praying for Victims of the Latest Terror Attack in London

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following statement following last night's terror attack which has left seven people dead and at least 48 injured. This is the third terrorist attack on British soil in as many months.  

Cardinal DiNardo's full statement follows:

"The Vigil of Pentecost had barely begun when the world was burdened yet again, this time by the sinister attacks on innocent men and women in the heart of London.  In such tragic hours we implore the Holy Spirit to pour out His gift of comfort on those who grieve the loss of loved ones and on the dozens who were so tragically injured in this horrible attack. At the same time, we see in the courage of the first responders the true and courageous spirit of our brothers and sisters, the people of Great Britain.  May God grant strength, wisdom and protection to the men and women who safeguard our families and may He convert the hearts of all who follow the path of evil extremism.  Our solidarity in Christian hope and commitment to peace is a bond that cannot be broken. 

Together with my brother bishops and with Catholics throughout the United States, we join the prayerful intercession made already by Pope Francis: 'May the Holy Spirit grant peace to the whole world. May He heal the wounds of war and of terrorism, which even this [Saturday] night, in London, struck innocent civilians: let us pray for the victims and their families.'"

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, terror attack, London, extremism, war, Vigil of Pentecost, Holy Spirit, Pope Francis, Great Britain, United States.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishop Chairmen Provide Senate with Moral Principles for Health Care Reform

WASHINGTON—As the U.S. Senate begins to discuss health care reform, 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 provided moral principles to help guide policymakers in their deliberations.

In a letter sent on June 1, the Chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stressed the "grave obligations" that Senators have "when it comes to policy that affects health care." While commending the bill passed by the House of Representatives, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), for its protections for unborn children, the Bishops emphasized the "many serious flaws" in the AHCA, including unacceptable changes to Medicaid. 

"The Catholic Church remains committed to ensuring the fundamental right to medical care, a right which is in keeping with the God-given dignity of every person, and the corresponding obligation as a country to provide for this right," the Chairmen wrote. "[T]hose without a strong voice in the process must not bear the brunt of attempts to cut costs."

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 chairman of the Committee on Migration.

The Bishops outlined key principles for Senators such as universal access, respect for life, true affordability, the need for high quality and comprehensive medical care, and conscience protections. 

If the Senate takes up the House bill as a starting point, the letter urges that lawmakers "must retain the positive elements of the bill and remedy its grave deficiencies." Specifically, the Chairmen called on the Senate to: reject dramatic changes to Medicaid; retain the AHCA's life protections; increase the level of tax assistance, especially for low-income and older people; retain the existing cap on costs of plans for the elderly; protect immigrants; and add conscience protections, among other things.

The full letter to Congress can be found at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/upload/Senate-Principles-letter-Health-Care-Reform-2017-06-01.pdf

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Cardinal Dolan, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop William Lori, Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, Bishop Joe Vásquez, Committee on Migration, American Health Care Act (AHCA), respect for life, human dignity, health care, affordability, abortion, poverty.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops Chairman Regrets the President’s Withdrawal From The Paris Agreement

WASHINGTON—President Donald J. Trump announced today that the United States will not honor the Paris agreement on climate change. The United States and China, the two largest carbon emitters, and 195 other nations, signed the agreement that was ratified in November 2016. The Paris agreement establishes that nations must reduce their carbon dioxide emissions in order to keep global temperatures well below a two-degree Celsius increase in relation to pre-industrial levels.

In the following statement, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, stresses that, although the Paris agreement is not the only possible mechanism for addressing global carbon mitigation, the lack of a current viable alternative is a serious concern.   

Full statement follows:  

"The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), along with Pope Francis and the entire Catholic Church, have consistently upheld the Paris agreement as an important international mechanism to promote environmental stewardship and encourage climate change mitigation. The President's decision not to honor the U.S. commitment to the Paris agreement is deeply troubling.

The Scriptures affirm the value of caring for creation and caring for each other in solidarity. The Paris agreement is an international accord that promotes these values. President Trump's decision will harm the people of the United States and the world, especially the poorest, most vulnerable communities. The impacts of climate change are already being experienced in sea level rise, glacial melts, intensified storms, and more frequent droughts. I can only hope that the President will propose concrete ways to address global climate change and promote environmental stewardship."

The USCCB has voiced support for prudent action and dialogue on climate change since its 2001 statement: "Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good". In a letter to Congress in 2015, the U.S. Bishops, along with the presidents of Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services, encouraged the United States to sign the Paris agreement. They have since reiterated their support on several occasions. Pope Francis and the Holy See have also consistently voiced support for the Paris agreement. 

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Paris Climate Agreement, President Donald J. Trump, Bishop Oscar Cantú, carbon dioxide emissions, stewardship, Pope Francis, Holy See, Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services. 

Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

USCCB Chairman Encourages Broadening of Exemption from HHS Mandate

WASHINGTON– Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, has issued an initial response to the apparent draft interim final regulations that were recently leaked, pertaining to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring health insurance coverage of sterilization, contraception, and drugs and devices that may cause abortions:

"While they have yet to be formally issued and will require close study upon publication, the leaked regulations provide encouraging news. If issued, these regulations would appropriately broaden the existing exemption to a wider range of stakeholders with religious or moral objections to the mandated coverage—not just houses of worship. This not only would eliminate an unwarranted governmental division of our religious community 'between our houses of worship and our great ministries of service to our neighbors,' but would also lift the government-imposed burden on our ministries 'to violate their own teachings within their very own institutions.' United for Religious Freedom (2012).

Relief like this is years overdue and would be most welcomed. Regulations like these reflect common sense, and what had been the consistent practice of the federal government for decades to provide strong conscience protection in the area of health care. We look forward to the final version of the regulations with hope that they will remain strong. At that time, we will analyze those regulations more carefully and comment on them more formally. Throughout, our goal will remain to protect both the conscience of individuals and our mission of sharing the Gospel and serving the poor and vulnerable through our ministries."

This HHS mandate was first announced in 2011, triggering dozens of lawsuits, including by the Little Sisters of the Poor.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop William E. Lori, religious freedom, religious liberty, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, HHS mandate, religious exemption, federal government, executive branch.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200