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Bishop Chairman Welcomes Passage of Bipartisan Safer Communities Act

WASHINGTON – Following the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, commended members of Congress for passing the bill.

Archbishop Coakley’s full statement follows:

“I welcome the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which will take meaningful action to prevent gun violence and protect lives. The investments in mental health services and reasonable measures to regulate guns included in this bill are positive initial steps towards confronting a culture of violence. This agreement, born of dialogue and compromise to advance the safety and well-being of all, embodies the work Pope Francis calls us to in his encyclical, Fratelli tutti, ‘Good politics combines love with hope and with confidence in the reserves of goodness present in human hearts.’ I commend members of Congress for their work thus far and encourage them to continue working to confront the plague of gun violence in our nation.”  

The USCCB has consistently supported the sensible regulation, sale, and use of firearms. On June 3, the USCCB sent a letter to all members of Congress urging lawmakers to “unite in their humanity to stop the massacres of human lives” and to advance life-saving legislation to address gun violence. On June 23, the USCCB sent a letter to all members of Congress in support of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

 

USCCB Statement on U.S. Supreme Court Ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson

WASHINGTON - In response to the Supreme Court of the United States issuing its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities issued the following statement:

This is a historic day in the life of our country, one that stirs our thoughts, emotions and prayers. For nearly fifty years, America has enforced an unjust law that has permitted some to decide whether others can live or die; this policy has resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of preborn children, generations that were denied the right to even be born.

America was founded on the truth that all men and women are created equal, with God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This truth was grievously denied by the U.S. Supreme Courts Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized and normalized the taking of innocent human life. We thank God today that the Court has now overturned this decision. We pray that our elected officials will now enact laws and policies that promote and protect the most vulnerable among us.

Our first thoughts are with the little ones whose lives have been taken since 1973. We mourn their loss, and we entrust their souls to God, who loved them from before all ages and who will love them for all eternity. Our hearts are also with every woman and man who has suffered grievously from abortion; we pray for their healing, and we pledge our continued compassion and support. As a Church, we need to serve those who face difficult pregnancies and surround them with love.    

Todays decision is also the fruit of the prayers, sacrifices, and advocacy of countless ordinary Americans from every walk of life. Over these long years, millions of our fellow citizens have worked together peacefully to educate and persuade their neighbors about the injustice of abortion, to offer care and counseling to women, and to work for alternatives to abortion, including adoption, foster care, and public policies that truly support families. We share their joy today and we are grateful to them. Their work for the cause of life reflects all that is good in our democracy, and the pro-life movement deserves to be numbered among the great movements for social change and civil rights in our nations history. 

Now is the time to begin the work of building a post-Roe America. It is a time for healing wounds and repairing social divisions; it is a time for reasoned reflection and civil dialogue, and for coming together to build a society and economy that supports marriages and families, and where every woman has the support and resources she needs to bring her child into this world in love.

As religious leaders, we pledge ourselves to continue our service to Gods great plan of love for the human person, and to work with our fellow citizens to fulfill Americas promise to guarantee the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all people.”

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

Reflecting on World Refugee Day, USCCB’s Migration Chairman Encourages Proactive Response to Forced Displacement

WASHINGTON - World Refugee Day, observed in the United States and around the world on June 20, was established by the United Nations to increase awareness of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. Catholic dioceses, parishes, and organizations across the globe commemorated this annual event, celebrating the positive contributions of refugees and the efforts of communities to welcome them.

Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“Almost seventy years ago, in his apostolic constitution Exsul Familia, Pope Pius XII boldly proclaimed that the ‘Holy Family of Nazareth, fleeing into Egypt, is the archetype of every refugee family.’ In the aftermath of World War II, that image of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph seeking safety had been the lived reality of millions. Today, that number has grown to surpass any other point in history, propelled by the ravages of war, persecution, famine, and other tragedies. This is the persistent nature of forced displacement, and it requires a proactive response.

“As we work now to support those displaced by the war in Ukraine, we continue to urge a more robust use of the Refugee Admissions Program, which is designed to ensure the long-term integration and self-sufficiency of newly arrived refugees. Consistent with those same goals, we renew our appeal for Congress to pass legislation that would provide a pathway to permanent legal status for our new Afghan neighbors. Finally, we reaffirm the importance of asylum as a vital mechanism for humanitarian protection.

“May the Holy Family serve as a source of hope and strength for all those seeking safety, and may we who are called to know, love, and serve God recognize him in those displaced.”

The USCCB, through its Department of Migration and Refugee Services, is one of nine national  resettlement agencies supporting the Refugee Admissions Program. Through this work, the Catholic Church in the United States answers Christ’s call to welcome the stranger and carries out the Church’s commitment to protecting the life and dignity of every human person, from the moment of conception to natural death.

Resources related to World Refugee Day, Ukraine, and other topics can be found on the Justice for Immigrants website.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

Supreme Court Rules That Maine Cannot Discriminate Against Religious Schools Because They Teach Religion

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court of the United States issued its decision in the case of Carson v. Makin, which challenged a decision by the First Circuit to allow the State of Maine to exclude religious schools from a tuition assistance benefit on the basis that those schools include religion as part of their instruction. By vote of 6-3, the Court ruled in favor of the petitioners. 

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Thomas A. Daly of Spokane, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Catholic Education, issued a statement in response to the Court’s ruling:

“The Supreme Court has rightly ruled that the Constitution protects not just the right to be religious but also to act religious. This common-sense result reflects the essence of Catholic education. Moreover, the Court has again affirmed that states cannot exclude religious schools from generally-available public benefits based on their religious affiliation or exercise. In our pluralistic society, it is vital that all people of faith be able to participate in publicly available programs and so to contribute to the common good.

“It is fitting that this decision concerns a program in Maine, the state that James G. Blaine served as Senator in 1875 when he worked for the passage of the Blaine Amendment – a cynically anti-Catholic measure to amend the U.S. Constitution to ensure that no public aid be provided to ‘sectarian’ schools. While his effort was narrowly defeated, Blaine Amendments were ultimately adopted in some form by 37 states. These laws have nothing to do with government neutrality towards religion. Rather, they are expressions of hostility toward Catholics. We are grateful that the Supreme Court continues to rebuke this harmful legacy.”

The USCCB filed an amicus curiae brief supporting the petitioners, which may be found here: https://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/Christian%20Legal%20Society%20et%20al%20amicus%20brief.pdf.

Background on Blaine Amendments may be found here: https://www.usccb.org/committees/religious-liberty/religious-liberty-backgrounder-blaine-amendments.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests is a Special Moment to Pray for Priests and the Gift of their Vocation

WASHINGTON – On June 24, the Catholic Church will celebrate World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests. Established by Saint John Paul II in 2002, this celebration occurs annually on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On this day, the Church encourages priests to prayerfully reflect upon the gift of their vocation. The faithful are also invited to mark this celebration by praying for all priests that they may live lives of holiness and fidelity to Christ and his Church. Priests were not spared from the effects of the pandemic on their lives, so this year is again a good time to pray for our dedicated priests who creatively reached out to care for the faithful during this challenging time.

Pope Francis has emphasized the importance of initial and ongoing formation in the life of the priest: “Precisely for this reason, it [ongoing formation] cannot be a limited task because priests never stop being disciples of Jesus, who follow Him. Sometimes we proceed with celerity, at other times our step is hesitant, we stop and we may even fall, but always staying on the path. Therefore, formation understood as discipleship accompanies the ordained minister his entire life and regards his person as a whole, intellectually, humanly and spiritually. Initial and ongoing formation are distinct because each requires different methods and timing, but they are two halves of one reality, the life of a disciple cleric, in love with his Lord and steadfastly following Him.”

In conjunction with the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests, Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations said, “The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus gives us a special opportunity to continue our prayers for our priests. May and June are traditionally when ordinations to the priesthood are celebrated. With many priests celebrating anniversaries, this annual day of prayer is significant. This year, it also marks the official promulgation of the sixth edition of The Program of Priestly Formation in the United States of America. I am grateful to all of those who assisted in drafting and reviewing the document for their diligent efforts; this new edition will guide diocesan and religious seminary formation programs for years to come. The CCLV committee is also currently developing the second edition of the Basic Plan for the Ongoing Formation of Priests to provide priests with rich spiritual and practical insights to benefit them and their sacred ministry and assist in the ongoing renewal of their commitment to lifelong formation as envisioned by Pope Francis. We pray that this will help foster renewal in all our priests.”

May the Sacred Heart of Jesus, through the intercession of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, imbue all priests with his grace, strengthen their hearts, and renew them in their vocation to image Christ, Head and Shepherd, Servant and Spouse. Amen.

Resources for supporting the life and ministry of priests are available on the USCCB website: https://www.usccb.org/committees/clergy-consecrated-life-vocations/priestly-life-and-ministry

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops’ Migration Chairman Expresses Solidarity with Dreamers on DACA’s Tenth Anniversary, Calls for ‘Long-Awaited Inflection Point’

WASHINGTON - Today marks ten years since the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was created through executive action. DACA allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as children—commonly referred to as “Dreamers”—to remain in the country, subject to several requirements. DACA does not provide legal status, nor does it create a pathway to citizenship, but it does temporarily protect recipients from removal and make them eligible for work authorization, among other benefits. DACA was declared unlawful by a federal district court in July 2021, halting new applications and threatening protection for current beneficiaries of the program.

Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“In the time since DACA was created, its beneficiaries have come to be known for their abundant contributions to our society. But after a decade of temporary relief, most DACA recipients still face uncertainty about their future in this country, to say nothing of their families, including hundreds of thousands of U.S.-citizen children, employers, and the communities that depend on them. For those confronted by this reality, the Church remains committed to walking with you and seeing this injustice remedied, furthering God’s plan, which Pope Francis reminds us ‘is essentially inclusive and gives priority to those living on the existential peripheries.’

“DACA was never a cure for the underlying challenges facing Dreamers, but it was a welcome step toward recognizing their inherent dignity and unrealized potential. Only Congress can ensure the full integration of this population. We therefore urge legislators to make this moment the long-awaited inflection point that leads to a permanent solution for all Dreamers—one of many steps to address an immigration system in desperate need of reform.”

There are currently multiple bills pending before Congress that would provide permanent relief to Dreamers, including the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) and the Dream Act (S. 264), both of which have been endorsed by the USCCB. Last year, Bishop Dorsonville submitted written testimony for a hearing held by the Senate Judiciary Committee on the American Dream and Promise Act, which passed with bipartisan support in the House of Representatives. He also appeared in a recent video discussing DACA’s tenth anniversary, together with a current DACA recipient from the Archdiocese of Washington.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops’ Domestic Policy Chairman Commends Congressional Efforts to Address Gun Violence

WASHINGTON - Over the weekend, twenty senators announced a bipartisan proposal to address gun violence. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued the following statement in response:

“I am deeply grateful that members of Congress have undertaken bipartisan negotiations to address the plague of gun violence in our nation. I commend their recent announcement of a framework to help prevent senseless violence, which includes reasonable gun safety measures. This willingness to engage in dialogue and commitment to the common good is an example of the ‘better kind of politics’ that Pope Francis champions in his encyclical Fratelli tutti, ‘For when the good of others is at stake, good intentions are not enough. Concrete efforts must be made to bring about whatever they and their nations need for the sake of their development.’ I encourage Congress to continue these important efforts which will help build a culture of life. It is imperative this Congress passes into law new protections for the American people.”

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

 

Bishop Chairmen Plead for Peace as Attacks on Pro-Life Organizations Mount

WASHINGTON – In response to ongoing attacks on Catholic churches and pro-life pregnancy centers, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Religious Liberty and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities issued the following statement:

“The Catholic Church has a long history of service to those who are most vulnerable, including both mother and child, and remains the largest private provider of social services in the United States. From religious communities to pregnancy care centers, from refugee resettlement services to foster care and adoption agencies, and from maternity homes to parish-based ministries, the Church consistently bears witness in word and deed to the beauty and dignity of every human life. 

“For two years now, Catholic churches have been attacked and vandalized at an alarming rate. In July of 2020, we strained to understand this violence. In October of 2021, we called on elected officials to condemn the attacks. This past January, we prayed that all religious communities would be free to worship without fear. Only rarely have the motives been clear; when they were, it was often opposition to the Church’s teachings on life in the womb.

“Since the leak of the draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, charities that support pregnant mothers in need have been firebombed, and pro-life organizations have been attacked almost daily and terrorized, and even the lives of Supreme Court justices have been directly threatened. In light of this, we urge our elected officials to take a strong stand against this violence, and our law enforcement authorities to increase their vigilance in protecting those who are in increased danger.  We thank those who have already done so, and we encourage them to continue.

“Above all, each of us must choose the path of peace and open our hearts to the love that God has for his children. O Sacred Heart of Jesus, touch our hearts and make them like your own.”

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

USCCB Continues to Offer Child Protection and Safe Environment Resources to Assist Dioceses and Eparchies

WASHINGTON – This June marks twenty years since the U.S. bishops gathered in Dallas, Texas to address the sin of clergy sexual abuse. At their 2002 meeting, the bishops drafted and passed the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr., of Kansas City-St. Joseph, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People issued the following statement in acknowledgement of the Church’s continued commitment to vigilance in protecting children and the vulnerable:

“It was two decades ago that the U.S. bishops gathered in Dallas to draft a comprehensive set of child protection standards that became the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which each diocese and eparchy is now committed to following. Since the implementation of the Charter, the USCCB has been a resource for the creation and implementation of child protection policies and safe environment programs that are enforced at the local level.

“Dioceses and eparchies have faced evolutionary shifts and changes during these past twenty years since the passage of the Charter, and we are grateful to the Holy See for the multiple measures they have taken to address the issue of sexual abuse and bishop accountability for the global Catholic Church. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis has tried to set an example by pushing for greater accountability, transparency, and honesty on handling clergy sexual abuse.

“The USCCB’s Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People along with the National Review Board have provided vital guidance and insight for the dioceses and eparchies through educational opportunities, resource libraries, and policy consultation. I am most grateful for the engagement of survivors who have shared their painful experiences with us and have allowed us to walk with them in their journey towards healing as we strive to create a culture of protection and healing, and continuous improvement.

“I invite you to pray for survivors of clergy sexual abuse, their families, and all those who accompany survivors in the path towards healing, that they experience Christ’s profound love for them and God’s healing grace.”

The USCCB’s Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection will release several new resources in coming weeks. They include videos, podcasts, and a webinar series in its ongoing commitment to assist the dioceses and eparchies of the United State in safeguarding children and the vulnerable. This year, the Secretariat will continue its High Reliability Organization (HRO) initiative which provides diocesan/eparchial staff with proactive abuse prevention strategies, and the Child Abuse Prevention Empowerment (CAPE) online learning platform available to all Church personnel to learn more about matters of child and youth protection.

These materials and resources may be found on the main page for the Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People and will also be shared on USCCB’s social media.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix; Appoints Bishop John Dolan as Successor

WASHINGTON - Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, 75, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Phoenix, and has appointed Bishop John P. Dolan, auxiliary bishop of San Diego, as his successor.

The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington, D.C. on June 10, 2022, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

The Diocese of Phoenix is comprised of 43,967 square miles in the state of Arizona and has a total population of 5,076,170 of which 1,111,681 are Catholic.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200