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U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Chairman Responds to House Vote on Bill that Imposes Radical “Abortion on Demand Until Birth”
Posted on 09/24/2021 07:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON - Today, the House of Representatives voted to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, H.R. 3755. This bill would impose abortion on demand nationwide at any stage of pregnancy through federal statute and would eliminate pro-life laws at every level of government -- including parental notification for minor girls, informed consent, and health or safety protections specific to abortion facilities. H.R. 3755 also would compel all Americans to support abortions here and abroad with their tax dollars and would also likely force health care providers and professionals to perform, assist in, and/or refer for abortion against their deeply-held beliefs, as well as force employers and insurers to cover or pay for abortion.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities issued the following statement:
“This deceptively-named bill is the most extreme pro-abortion bill our nation has ever seen. H.R. 3755 is not about the health of women, but only about eliminating any and all protections for unborn children - including baby girls. It would lead to the deliberate destruction of millions of unborn lives, leaving countless women with physical, emotional, and spiritual scars.
“This bill assumes that abortion can be the only, or best, solution to a crisis pregnancy. H.R. 3755 is built on a false and despairing narrative that utterly fails women. In treating abortion as the moral equivalent to the removal of an appendix, this proposal is radically out of step with the American public. As a nation built on the recognition that every human being is endowed by its Creator with the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, this bill is a complete injustice. Congress should embrace public policy that respects the rights of mothers, their children, and the consciences of all Americans, not advance a radical ‘abortion on demand until birth’ policy that is completely out of step with our country’s principles.”
Posted on 09/24/2021 07:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service has had a lengthy collaboration over the years with the National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC). The most recent fruit of their work has been the update of certification competencies for use by Catholic chaplains. The subcommittee met on September 15 and approved the recently-updated certification competencies developed by NACC for chaplains ministering in health care settings and veteran affairs, as well as new certification competencies for prisons chaplains. The subcommittee granted its approval of the competencies for a period of seven years.
“Catholic chaplains and pastoral care ministers have been essential providers of spiritual and sacramental care in hospitals and other health care facilities for decades,” said Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, bishop emeritus of Tucson, chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service. He especially noted their ministry to the critically ill over the past two years: “In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and also in response to the spiritual pandemics of racism and social trauma which have accompanied it, ordained, lay and religious chaplains have been ‘spiritual first-responders,’ assuming the same risks of illness as the medical professionals with whom they collaborate. When physically isolated from loved ones suffering and dying alone, chaplains have been there to assist families with virtual visits and agonizing decisions about medical care.”
Bishop Kicanas further highlighted that these ministers have convened families to process the loss of loved ones and to provide innovative forms of common prayer when funeral liturgies could not be celebrated. “When medical staff have been fatigued and demoralized, our pastoral care providers - priests, deacons, sisters and lay women and men – have offered listening hearts and gentle guidance. NACC’s board-certified chaplains and pastoral care ministers remain a vital gift of the Church’s care for the most vulnerable among us,” he said.
Bishop Donald J. Hying of Madison, the USCCB’s episcopal liaison to the NACC, indicated how the approval of the updated certification competencies enhances and affirms the formation which board-certified Catholic chaplains receive. “The bishops of the United States can take great pride and have a strong confidence in the mission and performance of the NACC. The organization prepares and certifies chaplains and pastoral care ministers who provide to Catholics, other Christians and even those of other faiths, the Church’s compassionate care and support.”
The USCCB subcommittee approved updated and new competencies submitted by the organization which will be used to certify the following ministerial roles:
- Board-Certified Catholic Chaplain
- Board-Certified Catholic Chaplain for Veterans Affairs
- Certified Associate Catholic Chaplain
- Catholic Correctional Chaplain, in association with the Catholic Prison Ministries Coalition
The USCCB subcommittee also approved Diocesan Pastoral Care Competencies for the Sick, the Homebound and Older Adults (available in English and Spanish), the NACC Code of Professional Ethics, and Ethics Procedure Manual. Additionally, the subcommittee reviewed and noted the value of the Palliative Care and Hospice Advanced Certification for qualified Board-Certified Catholic Chaplains.
The approved formation materials and certification competencies are based upon the four dimensions of comprehensive formation for lay ecclesial ministers presented in the 2005 USCCB resource, , and they include specialized competencies unique to pastoral care in health care, veteran and prison ministries.
The approval of NACC’s certification competencies builds upon a half-century relationship between the USCCB and the NACC. The association has long been considered a model for other Catholic Church associations and organizations which have looked for guidance in the development of ministry education and training programs, the writing of standards and certification processes, and a model of collaboration with other organizations. Originally formed in 1965 from the USCCB-predecessor body, the National Catholic Welfare Conference, NACC also has long-standing collaborative relationships with a broad range of ecumenical and interfaith chaplaincy and spiritual care partners: ACPE: The Standard for Spiritual Care & Education, the Association of Professional Chaplains, Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains, the Canadian Association of Spiritual Care, the American Correctional Chaplains Association, the National Association of Veterans Affairs Chaplains and the National Conference of Veterans Affairs Catholic Chaplains. For additional information about NACC, visit .
The USCCB’s Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service assists the bishops in reviewing and approving certification standards and procedures to be used on a voluntary basis by arch/dioceses and national organizations in the certification of specialized ecclesial ministers. It also offers consultative services aimed at improving the quality of lay ministry formation programs that are sponsored by arch/dioceses and by academic institutions. For more information visit .
Posted on 09/24/2021 07:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON - During its September meeting, the of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved new comprehensive certification standards and procedures for Catholic prison ministry. The formation and certification competencies that were approved capped a five-year process of collaborative and synodal engagement among multiple bishops, USCCB offices, seasoned Catholic prison chaplains, theologians, experts in pastoral care, and stakeholders across the country.
The competencies, submitted and jointly administered by the (NACC) and the (CPMC), will assist bishops, diocesan ministry formation leaders, national organizations and groups as they train lay ecclesial ministers, ordained deacons, and priests serving pastoral care roles throughout the criminal justice system, including the role of Certified Catholic Correctional Chaplain.
“Throughout his papacy, Pope Francis has emphasized the need for the Church to care for those on the margins of our society,” said Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, bishop emeritus of Tucson, and chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service. “Those who are incarcerated or in detention facilities - as well as their families - deserve access to well-prepared Catholic laity and clergy who can provide for their spiritual needs, and, where appropriate, assist with their rehabilitation and re-entry into society,” he said. “An important aspect of this ministry is also the ability to provide pastoral care to victims and their families, correctional officers and staff. It must also include advocacy for a more just criminal justice system. These approved competencies offer a more comprehensive approach to all aspects of Catholic prison ministries,” he added.
The competencies establish a first-of-their-kind developmental model in Catholic prison ministries. They have been crafted to support integral formation for Catholics who wish to minister and journey with incarcerated persons or groups, as well as those affected by incarceration in any way. They are based upon the four dimensions of comprehensive formation for lay ecclesial ministers presented in the 2005 USCCB statement, , and include specialized competencies that are unique to pastoral care in jails, prisons, and immigration detention facilities. The practices outlined in the competencies are also guided by the USCCB statement issued in 2000, in which the bishops identified several important facets of these ministries, including:
- Dedicated pastoral care for incarcerated persons and their families, as well as for victims of crime and their families, and for those who have been affected by immigrant detention
- Meaningful efforts to assist those in prison with a myriad of personal and social issues confronting them - including addiction, mental illness, and navigating the system of re-entry into society after serving their sentence.
- Innovative efforts aimed at making the current prison system more just and restorative, especially through building awareness of the whole community's benefit when these systems operate on the basis of care for the person and for the common good
The competencies have been approved for use over the next seven years. This milestone marks the end of a period of dedicated effort on the part of multiple stakeholders. Initially spurred in 2016 by requests from the Holy See’s Congregation for Clergy and the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, the subcommittee sponsored a survey of diocesan Catholic prison ministries. The results of the survey demonstrated a nationwide need for formation, resources, support, and networking around prison ministries. This led to a national gathering sponsored by the USCCB and multiple Catholic organizations and prison chaplains, which forged a group which became the CPMC. To date those who have participated in CPMC events, online forums, and webinars have included Catholic prison ministers from 116 (arch)dioceses covering 42 states, along with 3 Canadian dioceses.
CPMC’s work was further enhanced in 2020, when it gained fiscal sponsorship by the NACC. Together they offer dioceses, parishes and other organizations a cohort-based adaptive model of formation including three pathways: a foundational formation for Catholic prison ministries volunteers with little or no prior background, an intensive formation in a specific area of prison ministries, and a professional certification as a Certified Catholic Correctional Chaplain.
To introduce and update bishops and diocesan leaders about the new competencies and how they may be applied at the local and regional levels, the USCCB’s subcommittee, CPMC and NACC will host virtual workshops this fall. Additionally, CPMC continues to offer many resources via its website - . For more information visit https://www.usccb.org/certification.
The USCCB’s Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service assists the bishops in reviewing and approving certification standards and procedures to be used on a voluntary basis by arch/dioceses and national organizations in the certification of specialized ecclesial ministers. It also offers consultative services aimed at improving the quality of lay ministry formation programs that are sponsored by arch/dioceses and by academic institutions.
Posted on 09/23/2021 07:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON - A historic, exploratory, ecumenical dialogue between representatives of the Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America (PCCNA) and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) met September 14-16 in Washington. The meeting was convened because of initial discussions between the Rev. Dr. Harold D. Hunter, International Pentecostal Holiness Church liaison to the Greater Christian Community and member of PCCNA Christian Unity Commission Steering Committee, and Rev. Walter F. Kedjierski, Ph.D., executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs at the USCCB out of a shared desire to explore together a theological understanding of rituals and ordinances/sacraments. This was the first time the scholars representing the two groups met at a national level for a theological dialogue in what is expected to be a three-year exploratory dialogue that could lead to further dialogues exploring areas of convergence in the future.
At the first meeting, the theme of “Initiation” was discussed as scholarly papers were presented for discussion and reflection by those in attendance. Subsequent engagement of the two groups will focus on the themes of “Healing” and “Vocation.”
Presenters of the scholarly works at the meeting were as follows:
- Rev. Dr. Frederick L. Ware, associate dean, Howard University School of Divinity, Initiation (Water Baptism) in North American Pentecostalism
- Dr. Kimberly Belcher, Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, Initiation from the Roman Catholic Perspective
Those in attendance at the meeting facilitated by Dr. Hunter and Rev. Kedjierski were:
- Rev. Dr. Tammy Dunahoo, International Church of the Foursquare Gospel
- Rev. Dr. David Han, dean, Pentecostal School of Theology
- Dr. Martin Mittelstadt, Evangel University
- Rev. Dr. Leonardo Gajardo, St. Paul Catholic Community
- Rev. Andrew V. Menke, executive director, Secretariat for Divine Worship, USCCB
- Dr. Andrew Prevot, Department of Theology, Boston College
- Mr. Nathan Smith, Glenmary Home Missioners (in attendance as a meeting observer)
The first meeting was hosted by the USCCB at the Washington Retreat House. The attendees alternated in leading morning and evening prayers and had the opportunity to visit the , the , and . The next meeting will be hosted by PCCNA at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa and is scheduled for September 14-16, 2022.
The PCCNA represents 40 million Christians through its member denominations and organizations serving in Canada, the United States, and Mexico (). The USCCB is the assembly of the hierarchy of Catholic bishops who jointly exercise pastoral functions on behalf of the Christian faithful of the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands. ( ). The provisional dialogue is sponsored by the PCCNA’s Christian Unity Commission and the USCCB’s Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
(202) 541-3200, @email
Rev. Kay Horner
Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America
(423) 790-0757, @email
U.S. Bishops’ Migration Chairman and President of Catholic Charities USA Urge Humane Treatment of Haitians, Other Migrants
Posted on 09/22/2021 07:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON—Over the last several weeks, there has been a substantial increase in the number of migrants present in the Del Rio Sector of the U.S.-Mexico border, roughly 145 miles west of San Antonio. The majority of these individuals are Haitian nationals, many of whom have been living in or traveling through Latin America for varying periods of time after fleeing widespread violence, political turmoil, natural disasters, and economic stagnation in their native Haiti. Conditions in Central and South America—including the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic—have forced migration northward to the United States. Recent videos and first-hand accounts from southern Mexico have depicted harrowing instances of mistreatment and abuse of migrants, particularly Haitians. Conditions for migrants in Del Rio have been grim, with daily temperatures exceeding 100 degrees and limited access to basic needs, such as food, water, and shelter.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has responded to this situation by increasing personnel in the region, closing the Del Rio Port of Entry, and accelerating the removal of these migrants from the United States. This includes operating multiple deportation flights to Haiti, which remains crippled by the recent assassination of its president, a major earthquake, Tropical Storm Grace, and other challenges. It was these conditions in Haiti that led DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to recently for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), allowing certain Haitians present in the United States since at least July 29, 2021, to remain and work in the United States for a period of eighteen months. Moreover, federal authorities continue to use Title 42 of the U.S. Code and expedited removal to quickly expel migrants, largely avoiding due process.
In response to these events, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, and Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, issued the following joint statement:
“Policies such as Title 42 and expedited removal all too often deny the reality of forced migration, disregard the responsibilities enshrined in domestic and international law, and undermine the vulnerability of those against whom they are applied. These are not hallmarks of a ‘fair, orderly, and humane’ immigration system.
“As a Church at the service of all God’s people, we embrace Christ’s call to welcome the newcomer and accompany them wherever they may be. During this National Migration Week—through which we prepare to join the Universal Church in marking the World Day for Migrants and Refugees—we are especially mindful of that obligation and saddened to see such a disregard for human dignity. After all, it is in the face of each migrant that we see the face of Christ.
“We call on the U.S. government to reassess its treatment of migrants in Del Rio and elsewhere along the U.S.-Mexico border, especially Haitians, who face life-threatening conditions if returned to Haiti and possible discrimination if expelled to third countries. In addition to those services and works provided by many Catholic institutions, we offer our prayers for these migrants and all those seeking safety, security, and the opportunity to flourish in accordance with their God-given dignity.”
Last month, Pope Francis to take a shared interest in the plight of the Haitian people and join in solidarity to alleviate the consequences of recent events. Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the USCCB, released statements following and , conveying the prayers and support of the U.S. bishops for the Church and people of Haiti. Archbishop Gomez also to consider taking up a special collection in their dioceses to assist with immediate emergency needs and long-term rebuilding and recovery efforts in Haiti.
Posted on 09/22/2021 07:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON – Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the following statement on the passing of Bishop Anthony M. Pilla, bishop emeritus of Cleveland.
Archbishop Gomez’s full statement follows:
“His Excellency, Anthony M. Pilla, bishop emeritus of Cleveland, passed away yesterday at the age of 88. He led the bishops’ conference in the 1990s as president, and those who worked with him have expressed that his deep love for the Church was evident through his faithful commitment and desire for unity within the Church which he expressed through his pastoral leadership of the Conference. I offer my prayers and sympathy to Bishop Pilla’s family, friends, and the many people whose lives he touched through his ministry over the years as a priest, and then bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland. May the Lord grant him eternal rest.”
or Miguel Guilarte
Posted on 09/20/2021 07:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON—National Migration Week 2021 starts today and will conclude on September 26 in solidarity with the Holy See’s observation of the World Day for Migrants and Refugees (WDMR) on September 26.
The theme for this year’s WDMR is “Towards an Ever Wider ‘We’,” which Pope Francis drew from his encyclical . He emphasized in his that such a focus calls on us to ensure that “we will think no longer in terms of ‘them’ and ‘those,’ but only ‘us’” (Fratelli tutti, no. 35) and this universal “us” must become a reality first of all within the Church, which is called to cultivate communion in diversity. In general, National Migration Week is meant to emphasize the ways in which the migration question is important for the Catholic Church in the United States.
“The migration story is one of compassion, welcome, and unity,” said Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration. “It is about opening our hearts to others, and at this critical juncture we do not have to look far to see its practical application or find those with a need to migrate. The Holy Father calls us to embrace and express the Church’s catholicity—her universality—‘according to the will and grace of the Lord who promised to be with us always, until the end of the age.’ Let us, the Catholics of the United States, join together to answer his call and be especially mindful of it during this upcoming week.”
In previous years, National Migration Week was observed in January, but it was changed recently by the USCCB to align with the Vatican’s observation of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Educational materials and other resources for National Migration Week are available for download on the .
Posted on 09/17/2021 07:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON - On Wednesday, the House Committee on Ways and Means, and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce advanced portions of the reconciliation bill without removing abortion funding provisions or including the Hyde Amendment to prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued the following statement following markup of the Build Back Better Act by the two House committees.
“Catholic bishops have been strong advocates for proposals at both the federal and state level that ensure all people will have access to affordable healthcare, including Medicaid expansion proposals. We are encouraged by several healthcare provisions in portions of the Build Back Better Act that will improve healthcare coverage for those in need, including enhanced postpartum coverage and other investments to address the high rates of preventable maternal deaths in the United States, expanded access to in-home care for family members, support for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and pre-release Medicaid coverage for returning citizens.
“However, the legislative text advanced by the two House committees also funds abortion, the deliberate destruction of our most vulnerable brothers and sisters - those in the womb. This cannot be included. Congress can, and must, turn back from including taxpayer funding of abortion, in the Build Back Better Act. We urge all members of Congress and the Administration to work in good faith to advance important and life-saving healthcare provisions without forcing Americans to pay for the deliberate destruction of unborn human life.”
On September 7, five USCCB chairmen wrote to Congress outlining their priorities for the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Reconciliation bill. In this letter, the bishops reiterated that if this bill expands taxpayer funding of abortion the USCCB would oppose it.
Below are the letters that USCCB has sent to Congress on Budget Reconciliation:
- Letter to Congress on Federal Budget Reconciliation,
- Letter from Bishop Dorsonville to House Judiciary on Immigration Provisions in the Build Back Better Act,
- Letter from Archbishop Coakley and Archbishop Naumann to House Energy and Commerce Committee on Healthcare Provisions in the Build Back Better Act,
U.S. Bishops’ Migration Chairman Commends Inclusion of Legalization Provisions in House Judiciary Committee Reconciliation Measure
Posted on 09/15/2021 07:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON—On September 13, 2021, the House Committee on the Judiciary approved language to be included in the forthcoming budget reconciliation bill that, if enacted, would provide legalization with a pathway to citizenship for millions of Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) beneficiaries, undocumented agricultural workers, and other undocumented essential workers. The U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate will need to incorporate these provisions into the budget reconciliation bill and both chambers will need to pass the bill before these provisions can become law. This action by the Judiciary Committee follows a sent last week by five committee chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which outlines the USCCB’s broad range of priorities for the full reconciliation bill, as well as a sent earlier this week by Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, in which he endorses the Judiciary Committee provisions.
In response to the Judiciary Committee’s passage of the legalization provisions, Bishop Dorsonville issued the following statement:
“We are pleased that the House Committee on the Judiciary has taken this important step, setting up an opportunity for many undocumented persons to receive legal status and a pathway to citizenship. Undoubtedly, Catholic social teaching will be implicated by many aspects of this budget reconciliation bill, but this is a welcome milestone for many families and the common good.
“For decades, the bishops of the United States have been proponents of such reforms, which promote integration and family unity. We cannot persist in relegating these members of our society to the margins, especially when we simultaneously depend on so many of them for our collective wellbeing.
“As we continue to work toward a more comprehensive reform of our immigration system—one that acknowledges and respects the God-given dignity of every person—we welcome this crucial step. We call on both the House and Senate to include these provisions in the final reconciliation bill and for Congress to pass a bill that helps all those on the margins of our society, strengthens families, protects religious freedom, promotes care for creation, and respects the rights and dignity of every human life, from conception to natural death.”
Posted on 09/10/2021 07:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON – Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued the following statement on the eve of the twentieth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The full text of Archbishop Gomez’s statement follows:
"As we remember the twentieth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, our hearts are with all those who lost loved ones on that day. We pray for the innocent lives that were lost, and we pray for those who grieve, and for the many who still bear the wounds from these attacks, physical, emotional and spiritual.
"It was a dark day of destruction and death, but we remember also the heroes — first-responders, firefighters, police, emergency medical and rescue teams. Many gave their lives in the service of their neighbors. This violence, borne of the worst evil in the human heart, also brought out the best in our humanity. We think today of the courage and generosity of countless ordinary people and the spirit of unity and authentic patriotism we saw in the days after these attacks.
"We honor the dead by the way we live. And today we pray for a new spirit of national pride and unity. May God inspire in all of us to seek fellowship, reconciliation, and common purpose.
"We ask God to bring comfort to those who mourn and peace to every heart that is consumed by hatred, and may he bring peace to our troubled world.
"We entrust our prayers and our nation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God and the mother of each one of us."