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Browsing News Entries

Revised Senate Health Care Reform Bill Still “Unacceptable,” Says U.S. Bishops Chairman

WASHINGTON—Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, reacted strongly to the revised Senate health reform bill, the "Better Care Reconciliation Act" (BCRA).

"The USCCB is reviewing carefully the health care bill introduced by Senate leadership earlier today. On an initial read, we do not see enough improvement to change our assessment that the proposal is unacceptable. We recognize the incremental improvement in funding the fight against opioid addiction, for instance, but more is needed to honor our moral obligation to our brothers and sisters living in poverty and to ensure that essential protections for the unborn remain in the bill."

In an earlier letter concerning the draft of the BCRA that was introduced in draft format on June 22, 2017, Bishop Dewane had warned that, "[t]he BCRA's restructuring of Medicaid will adversely impact those already in deep health poverty. At a time when tax cuts that would seem to benefit the wealthy and increases in other areas of federal spending, such as defense, are being contemplated, placing a 'per capita cap' on medical coverage for the poor is unconscionable."

The full letter from June 27 can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/upload/senate-discussion-letter-health-care-reform-2017-06-27.pdf

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Better Care Reconciliation Act, BCRA, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, 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


National Religious Retirement Office Distributes $25 Million to Support Elderly Religious

WASHINGTON—In June, the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) distributed $25 million to 390 religious communities across the United States. The funding is provided by donations to the Retirement Fund for Religious collection. The annual, parish-based appeal is held in most U.S. Catholic parishes each December and benefits more than 32,000 elderly Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests. The most recent collection raised nearly $30.7 million and marked the second year in a row that contributions exceeded $30 million.

"We are overwhelmed by the generous support for senior religious and their communities," said Presentation Sister Stephanie Still, NRRO executive director. "We are equally moved by our donors' ongoing gratitude for the ministry of religious, past and present."

The funding disbursed the week of June 19 is known as Direct Care Assistance and represents the majority of financial assistance distributed by the NRRO. Religious communities combine this assistance with their own income and savings to help meet such day-to-day expenses as prescription medications and nursing care. Additional funding will be allocated through other NRRO programs in the coming months.

Catholic bishops of the U.S. launched the Retirement Fund for Religious in 1988 to address the significant lack of retirement funding among the nation's religious communities. Traditionally, Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests—known collectively as women and men religious—served for small stipends that did not include retirement benefits. Today, many religious communities lack adequate retirement savings.

Despite ongoing generosity to the annual appeal, hundreds of religious communities struggle to provide for older members. Recognizing the ongoing need, U.S. bishops voted to renew the collection, which was previously set to end this year.

The NRRO coordinates the annual Retirement Fund for Religious collection and distributes the proceeds to eligible religious communities. It also offers educational programming, services and resources that enable religious communities to evaluate and prepare for long-term retirement needs. The NRRO is sponsored by the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

More information is available at www.retiredreligious.org.

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Keywords: National Religious Retirement Office, NRRO, retirement, eldercare, U.S. bishops

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Pope Francis Names Auxiliary Bishop Nelson Perez as New Bishop of Cleveland; Pope also Names Father Andrew Bellisario as New Bishop of Juneau

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Bishop Nelson Perez, up until now Auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Centre, as the new bishop of Cleveland. Pope Francis has also named Father Andrew Bellisario as the new bishop of Juneau, Alaska.

The appointments were publicized in Washington, July 11,2017, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Nelson Perez, Auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Centre, was born June 16, 1961, in Miami, Florida, and ordained a priest for the Philadelphia Archdiocese on May 20, 1989.

He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Montclair State University and master of divinity and master of arts degrees from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia.  In 1998, he was named Chaplain to His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, with the title of Monsignor. In 2009, he was named a Prelate of Honor by Pope Benedict XVI.    

Assignments after ordination included parochial vicar, St. Ambrose Parish, Philadelphia, (1989-1993); director of the Archdiocesan (Hispanic) Institute for Evangelization, (1993-2002); pastor, St. William Parish, Philadelphia, (2002-2009); and pastor, St. Agnes Parish, West Chester, Pennsylvania, (2009-2012). He also served as assistant director of the Archdiocesan Office for Hispanic Catholics, (1990-1993), and served on the archdiocesan Council of Priests, (2003-2005).

Bishop Perez is a current member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church and is also Chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs.

On June 8, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI named Msgr. Perez an auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Rockville Centre. He was ordained as bishop on July 25, 2012.

Father Andrew Bellisario was born in Los Angeles on December 19, 1955. Father Bellisario is a member of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentian Fathers and Brothers) founded by Saint Vincent de Paul in 1625.

Bishop-elect Bellisario began Vincentian novitiate studies in Santa Barbara in 1975 at St. Mary's Seminary and professed final vows at St. Mary's Seminary in Perryville, Missouri in 1978. He was ordained a priest in Los Angeles on June 16, 1984.

He earned a bachelor of arts degree from St. Mary's Seminary in Perryville in 1980 and later earned a master of divinity degree from DeAndreis Seminary in Lemont, Illinois in 1984. 

Assignments after ordination included dean of students, St. Vincent's Seminary, Montebello, California (1984-1986); parochial vicar, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Montebello (1986-1989); administrator, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Montebello (1989-1990); pastor, St. Vincent DePaul Church, Huntington Beach (1990-1995); pastor, Sacred Heart Church, Patterson (1995-1998); provincial treasurer/consultor, DePaul Center Resident, Montebello ((1996-2002); Director, DePaul Evangelization Center, Montebello (1998-2002); superior, DePaul Center Residents, Montebello (2001-2002); provincial, Province Leadership, Montebello (2002-2010); director, Daughters of Charity, Los Altos (2003-2015); pastor, Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral, Anchorage (2014-present); superior, International Missions in Alaska (2015-present).

The diocese of Cleveland comprises 3,414 square miles and has a total population of approximately 2,774,113 people of which 682,948 or 24 percent. are Catholic.

The diocese of Juneau comprises 37,566 square miles and has a total population of approximately 75,000 people of which 10,000 or 13 percent, are Catholic.

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Keywords: Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, auxiliary bishop Nelson Perez, diocese of Cleveland, Ohio, Father Andrew Bellisario, diocese of Juneau, Alaska.

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U.S. and European Catholic Bishops Call for Strategy to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons Globally

WASHINGTON—A joint declaration issued today by U.S. and European Catholic bishops calls for all nations to work together to develop a "credible, verifiable and enforceable strategy for the total elimination of nuclear weapons."

Entitled "Nuclear Disarmament: Seeking Human Security," the declaration was issued to coincide with the conclusion of a meeting hosted this week by the United Nations "to negotiate a legally binding treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination." Although the United States and most European nations are not joining these negotiations, the Catholic bishops acknowledge, "[t]he fact that most of the world's nations are participating in this effort testifies to the urgency of their concern, an urgency intensified by the prospect of nuclear terrorism and proliferation, and to the inequality and dissatisfaction of non-nuclear states about the lack of progress in nuclear disarmament efforts."

Recognizing the need for national and international security, the bishops of the United States and Europe implore the leaders of their nations to work with other countries to promote peace through nuclear disarmament. "The indiscriminate and disproportionate nature of nuclear weapons, compel the world to move beyond nuclear deterrence," the declaration reads. "We call upon the United States and European nations to work with other nations to map out a credible, verifiable and enforceable strategy for the total elimination of nuclear weapons."

"The teaching of our Church – from the Catechism to Saint Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis – about the urgent need for nuclear disarmament is clear," said Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace.  "It is time for us to heed this moral imperative and promote human security both within the United States and Europe, and globally."

The declaration is signed by Bishop Cantú and Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich, President of European Justice and Peace Commissions.

The full text of the joint declaration is available at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/war-and-peace/nuclear-weapons/nuclear-disarmament-seeking-human-security-2017-07-06.cfm or www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/war-and-peace/nuclear-weapons/upload/Multilateral-Nuclear-Disarmament-July-6-2017.pdf

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Keywords: nuclear weapons, nuclear disarmament, United Nations, U.S. Catholic bishops, European Catholic bishops, Bishop Oscar Cantú, USCCB, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Catechism, Pope Francis

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Pope Names Bishop Zarama as Bishop of Raleigh

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Bishop Luis Zarama, auxiliary bishop of Atlanta as Bishop of Raleigh, North Carolina.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, July 5, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop-designate Zarama was born November 28, 1958, in Pasto, Colombia. He holds degrees in philosophy and theology from the Marian University in Pasto, and a degree in Canon Law from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 1993. He served as parochial vicar at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Atlanta; he then served as a member of the Vocations Committee. Bishop Zarama was named vicar general of the Archdiocese in April of 2006 and in 2008 he was appointed to serve as the judicial vicar for the Archdiocese's Metropolitan Tribunal. He is also a member of the Archdiocesan Personnel Review Board. He was named auxiliary bishop of Atlanta on July 27, 2009.

As a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), he is currently an alternate member for region XIV of the Administrative Committee.

The Diocese of Raleigh comprises 32,000 square miles and it has total population of 4,874,815 people of which 231,230 are Catholic.

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Keywords: bishop appointment, Pope Francis, Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Bishop Luis Zarama, Archbishop of Atlanta, Diocese of Raleigh

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200