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President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Statement on California Fires

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, offered the following statement of solidarity with the people of California.

Full statement follows:

"On this holy day of the Immaculate Conception, we commit ourselves to the loving protection of Mary the Mother of God and patroness of America. Let us remember, especially, her sons and daughters in danger from the terrible wildfires in California, both those whose homes are in the fire's path and those courageous first responders and firefighters who are putting their lives at risk. Please find a moment today, whether after Mass or while gathered as a family around the Advent wreath, to pray a Rosary in gratitude for Mary's gifts to humanity and entrusting to her protection our sisters and brothers in the fire's path. I am sure all the faithful join me in saying: we stand ready to help in the recovery."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, California, Mary, Mother of God, Immaculate Conception, Advent wreath, Rosary, humanity, protection, first responders, firefighters, recovery. 

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas and the Unborn, will be Celebrated Around the Country December 12, as Day of Solidarity with Immigrants

WASHINGTON— On Tuesday, December 12, the Catholic Church will celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas and the Unborn. Celebrations in dioceses across the nation will be held throughout the month of December to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe. These events seek to honor the accomplishments, hopes, fears, and needs of all families who have come to the U.S. seeking a better life.

"As we enter the Advent season and Christmas approaches, we are reminded of the unique role and importance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a unifier and peacebuilder for communities. We honor her role as protectress of families, including those families separated and far from home," stated Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, Texas, and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration.

Over 55 prayer services, Masses, processions and other events will be held in dioceses across the country as the Catholic Church continues to accompany migrants and refugees seeking opportunity to provide for their families. On December 12, 2017, a Mass honoring our Lady of Guadalupe will be celebrated by the Most Reverend Mario Dorsonville, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington, at St. Peter's Church in Washington, DC at 12:10 PM. All are welcome to attend.

For more information, please visit the Justice for Immigrants (JFI) website at https://justiceforimmigrants.org/lady-guadalupe-resource-page/ which has background material and scriptural information on Our Lady of Guadalupe in English and Spanish, a nationwide map of events, and community celebration ideas.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Day of Prayer, Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Auxiliary Bishop Mario Dorsonville, Committee on Migration, unborn, pro-life, migrant and refugee services, Advent, mercy, unity, solidarity.    

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


Advance Final Tax Reform Bill Only if it Meets Key Moral Concerns, Says USCCB Chairman

WASHINGTON— As Congress prepares to reconcile the House of Representatives and Senate tax reform bills, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, insisted that "Congress should advance a final tax reform bill only if it meets the key moral concerns . . ."

"According to Congress' own nonpartisan analysis, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act bills recently passed by the House and the Senate raise taxes on the poor and cut taxes on the rich, violating basic principles of justice," wrote Bishop Dewane. "Congress has proposed a web of wide-ranging and complex changes to the tax code, yet is approaching the process at a pace that makes it difficult even for experts in the impacted areas to analyze effects."

According to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, the Senate and House bills eventually increase taxes on taxpayers in the lowest brackets, while at the same time maintaining tax cuts for higher earners, including the very wealthy. Bishop Dewane expressed support for positive proposals contained in both the House and Senate bill, such as doubling the Standard Deduction, expansion of 529 savings plans, increases for deductions for educator expenses, and the idea of expanding the child tax credit, though he urged a robust expansion that includes the refundable portions of the credit.

However, the Bishop highlighted serious problems that remain in one or both of the proposed bills:  elimination of personal exemptions, repeal of the Affordable Care Act's individual insurance mandate apart from broader health care reform, and failure to include changes that will protect against a steep drop in charitable giving, among others.

"Policy that is good for workers, families who welcome life, families who are struggling to reach (or stay in) the middle class, and the very poor, has by design been a part of our tax code for years," noted Bishop Dewane. "Any modifications to these important priorities of our nation should only be made with a clear understanding and concern for the people who may least be able to bear the negative consequences of new policy."

The full letter can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Tax-Conference-Letter-Congress-2017-12-06.pdf

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, tax reform bill, U.S. Congress, Joint Committee on Taxation, tax cuts, Standard Deduction, child tax credit, Affordable Care Act (ACA), charitable giving, tax payers, health care reform, families, poor

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


USCCB Chairmen Comment on Supreme Court’s Oral Arguments on Religious Freedom of Creative Professionals

WASHINGTON—Today, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case involves a Christian baker named Jack Phillips who declined in 2012 to create a custom wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony. State officials seek to compel Phillips to create such cakes under Colorado's public accommodations law.  Phillips argues that the state's action against him and his bakery violates the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Commenting on the oral arguments before the Court, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., of Philadelphia, Chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, Chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued the following joint statement:

"Today's oral arguments address whether our Constitution's guarantees of free speech and freedom of religion will be protected by the Supreme Court. Americans of every creed depend on these guarantees of freedom from unnecessary government coercion.  America has the ability to serve every person while making room for valid conscientious objection. We pray that the Court will continue to preserve the ability of people to live out their faith in daily life, regardless of their occupation. Artists in particular deserve to have the freedom to express ideas—or to decline to create certain messages—in accordance with their deeply held beliefs. Justice Anthony Kennedy acknowledged in the Obergefell decision in 2015 that people who oppose same-sex marriage 'reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises.' Creative professionals should be allowed to use their artistic talents in line with these decent and honorable convictions."

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling by the end of June.

The USCCB filed an amicus curiae brief supporting Masterpiece Cakeshop, which can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/16-111-tsac-USCCB.pdf.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Archbishop Charles Chaput, Bishop James Conley, Supreme Court, religious freedom, religious liberty, freedom of conscience, marriage

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


U.S. Bishops’ Chairmen Express Disappointment with U.S. Government Withdrawal from UN’s Process to Develop a Global Compact on Migration

WASHINGTON—Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, expressed disappointment after the Trump Administration announced on Saturday, December 2, 2017, that the U.S. government is withdrawing from the process of the United Nations (UN) to develop a Global Compact on Migration. That process was begun when the UN General Assembly ratified the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants on September 19, 2016.

"Catholic social teaching on migration recognizes and respects the sovereignty of each nation, indeed each nation's right and responsibility, to ultimately decide how it will regulate migration into its territory," explained Bishop Vásquez. "The Church has long articulated that it is the obligation of nations to assure human rights for all migrants and special protections for vulnerable migrants, such as refugees, forced migrants, victims of human trafficking, and women and children at risk. Pope Francis has described such obligations as part of building 'global solidarity' on behalf of migrants and refugees. In fact, the Bishops continue to promote the international campaign initiated by Pope Francis, Share the Journey, as a sign of solidarity with our immigrant brothers and sisters."

"With a growing global concern about protracted forced migration situations, the UN process provides an opportunity for the United States to help build international cooperation that respects such rights and protections on behalf of those seeking safety and security for their families. Participation in that process allows the US to draw on our experience and influence the compact," said Archbishop Broglio. "Therefore, the USCCB encourages the Administration to reconsider its decision to withdraw from this process."  

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Committee on Migration, United Nations, New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, human rights, human trafficking, women, children, Pope Francis, migrants, refugees, safety, security.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


Pope Francis Names Auxiliary Bishop of Washington as New Bishop of Richmond

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Auxiliary Bishop Barry C. Knestout of the Archdiocese of Washington as the new bishop of Richmond, Virginia.  

The appointment was publicized in Washington on December 5, 2017 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Knestout was born in Cheverly, Maryland, on June 11, 1962. He attended Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where he earned a Master of Divinity degree in 1988 and a Master of Arts degree in 1989.

He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Washington on June 24, 1989. 

Assignments after ordination included: associate pastor, St. Bartholomew's Parish, Bethesda, MD (1989-1993); associate pastor, St. Peter's Parish, Waldorf (1993-1994); priest secretary to Cardinal James Hickey (1994-2004); executive director, Archdiocesan Office of Youth Ministry, (2001-2003); priest secretary to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick (2003-2004); pastor, St. John the Evangelist Parish, Silver Spring (2004-2006); and the Archdiocesan Secretary for Pastoral Life and Social Concerns (2006-2008).

Named Monsignor by Pope John Paul II in 1999, he was then named moderator of the curia in April 2007 and assisted Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl in overseeing administrative affairs.  

On November 18, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI named Msgr. Knestout Auxiliary Bishop of Washington and titular bishop of Leavenworth. He was ordained a bishop by then-Archbishop Donald Wuerl on December 29, 2008.

He has been a member of the Administrative Board of the Maryland Catholic Conference and the Episcopal Moderator of the American Catholic Correctional Chaplains Association. He serves as the Regional IV representative on the USCCB Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People as well as the Episcopal Liaison to the Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference.

As of today's appointment, Bishop Knestout will be the 13th Bishop of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, succeeding the late Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo who passed away on August 17, 2017.

The Diocese of Richmond comprises 36,711 square miles. It has a total population of 5,118,519 people of which 222,283, or 4 percent, are Catholic.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Auxiliary Bishop Barry Knestout, Archdiocese of Washington, Diocese of Richmond, Cardinal Donald W Wuerl, Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


U.S. Bishops’ Subcommittee Awards Grants for 187 Projects in Latin America, Including Help for Migrants and Victims of Natural Disasters

WASHINGTON—With the goal of strengthening and supporting the pastoral work of the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America awarded nearly $3.2 million in grants for 183 pastoral projects in the region for 2018. These most recent grants were made at the Subcommittee's meeting in November and bring the total awarded for pastoral grants 2018 to almost $7.2 million. Four other projects were awarded in response to natural disasters.

"Each year the generosity of Catholics in the United States is transformed into programs that nourish the faith of our brothers and sisters in Latin America and the Caribbean," said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America. "This generosity sustains the faith for many marginalized and vulnerable people, like migrants and victims of natural disasters."

Instability in some areas of Latin America has resulted in an increased number of migrants within the region from countries like Venezuela, Colombia, and Haiti. Projects in support of the pastoral care of migrants that received funding from the Subcommittee include support to the Hermanas Misioneras de San Carlos Borromeo in Ecuador and the Archdiocese of Santiago in Chile. The religious congregation received a grant to support and integrate migrant families into Ecuadorian society. Migrant families will receive spiritual support through conferences, retreats, and catechetical formation. This project is anticipated to reach over 1,500 beneficiaries. The Archdiocese of Santiago's Department of Migration received funds to provide formation to 250 pastoral ministers, many expected to be migrants themselves, to learn about their rights and how to defend them and work on evangelization of other immigrants. The project will also create booklets as supporting material for the ministers as they work in parishes.

Additionally, three grants were awarded to projects in Haiti to support rebuilding efforts of the Church in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. Hurricane Matthew swept through Haiti in 2016, and the country continues to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake. A grant to the Diocese of Jérémie will be used for repairs and reconstruction of three church buildings and a grant to the Diocese of Anse-à-Veau et Miragoâne will be used for the reconstruction of two church buildings. These funds were awarded from the Hurricane Matthew emergency collection that was taken in most dioceses last year. In addition to grants to help with the reconstruction efforts after Hurricane Matthew, the Subcommittee also funded a project to rebuild a church destroyed during the 2010 earthquake. The funds for this rebuilding came from the Special Collection for Haiti which took place in the aftermath of the earthquake.

Other areas of funding for the Subcommittee's pastoral grants include seminarian and consecrated religious formation, prison ministry, youth ministry, and lay leadership training. The issues covered by these ministries are pro-life, environmental justice, ministry to indigenous and African-Americans as well as urban ministries, among others. "As it proclaims the Gospel of joy, the Church is called to develop ministries to all those in need, whether materially or spiritually, and thus the Subcommittee supports all the ministries available to the faithful," said Bishop Elizondo.

Grants are funded by the annual Collection for the Church in Latin America, taken in many dioceses across the U.S. on the fourth Sunday in January. The Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America oversees the collection and an annual grant program as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. It allocates revenue received from the Collection for the Church in Latin America as grants across Latin America and the Caribbean. More information about the Collection for the Church in Latin America, the many projects it funds, and resources to promote it, can be found at www.usccb.org/latin-america.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, Committee on National Collections, grants, migrants, Latin America, evangelization, Collection for the Church in Latin America, Haiti reconstruction, Venezuela, Colombia, Caribbean, Florida, Archdiocese of Santiago, Diocese of Anse-à-Veau et Miragoâne, Diocese of Jérémie, natural disasters, Hurricane Matthew, earthquake, pro-life, environmental justice

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200



Pope Francis Names Fr. Mario Alberto Avilés as Auxiliary Bishop of Brownsville

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Fr. Mario Alberto Avilés, C.O., up until now the Procurator General of the Congregation of the Oratory, as Auxiliary Bishop of Brownsville, Texas.

The announcement was publicized in Washington on December 4 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.  

Father Aviles was born in Mexico on September 16, 1969. He joined the Congregation of the Oratory in Mexico City in 1986 and in 1988 he moved to the Pharr Oratory in Texas. He attended the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in Philosophy in 1998. 

He was ordained a priest on July 21, 1998. He then earned a master of divinity degree from Holy Apostles in Cromwell, CT in 2000. Additional education includes a master's degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Phoenix. 

Assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar, Jude Thaddeus parish in Pharr, Texas, 1998-2002; pastor, Sacred Heart parish in Hidalgo, Texas, 2002-present. 

Other responsibilities include: deputy, Confederation of the Oratory, permanent deputation, 2000-2012; director of the Oratory Academy and Oratory Athenaeum, 2005-2012; member of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, 2011-present; procurator general of the Confederation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, 2012-present. 

The Diocese of Brownsville comprises 4, 296 square miles. It has a total population of 1,350,158 people of which 1,147,634 or 85 percent, are Catholic. The current bishop of Brownsville is Bishop Daniel E. Flores.

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Keywords: Pope Francis, Father Mario Alberto Aviles, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Diocese of Brownsville, Congregation of the Oratory, Mexico City, bishop appointment.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


Congress Must Change Fundamentally Flawed Tax Policies in Final Bill, Says U.S. Bishops Chairman

WASHINGTON— As the U.S. Senate passed its tax reform bill, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called for Congress to fix fundamentally flawed tax policies as the House of Representatives and Senate attempt to reach agreement on a final bill. 

The full statement follows:

"Today, the U.S. Senate passed its tax reform legislation, and it will now be reconciled with the House of Representatives' passed bill in an effort to reach agreement on the details of a final piece of legislation. Congress must act now to fix the fundamental flaws found in both bills, and choose the policy approaches that help individuals and families struggling within our society.

We are reviewing the final Senate bill and will soon provide analysis about key improvements that are necessary before a final agreement should be reached and moved forward. For the sake of all people—but especially those we ought, in justice, to prioritize—Congress should advance a final tax reform bill only if it meets the key moral considerations outlined in our previous letters."

The November 9 USCCB letter analyzing the House of Representatives tax reform bill can be found at:  http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Tax-Cuts-and-Jobs-Act-Letter-11-9-2017.pdf

The November 22 USCCB letter analyzing the Senate tax reform bill can be found at:  http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Senate-Tax-Cuts-and-Jobs-Act-Letter-2017-11-22.pdf

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, U.S. House of Representatives, tax reform proposal, comprehensive revision, tax code, moral principles, tax policy

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Chairman of International Justice and Peace and President of Catholic Relief Services Urge Continued Funding of U.S and Global HIV/AIDS Programs

WASHINGTON—On World AIDS Day, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, Chair of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, along with Sean Callahan, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, urge full funding of U.S. and global HIV and AIDS programs in the FY 2019 budget request. Their position was outlined in a letter sent to the Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

The letter to Director Mick Mulvaney coincides with World AIDS Day, December 1, 2017. While acknowledging that great strides have been made regarding the AIDS epidemic, the letter emphasizes that any reduction in the funding of programs could have catastrophic life-threatening implications.

In 2000, only 685,000 people had access to HIV treatment. Today, roughly 21 million people have access to anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) and according to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the past six years has seen a reduction of 56 % in new infections in children in Eastern and Southern Africa and a 47 % reduction worldwide.

Archbishop Broglio said, "At a moment when we are finally witnessing great success in turning back a disease that shocked the world only a generation ago, any cuts in funding would directly result in a reduction in the number of people living with HIV who are added to treatment each year, and could trigger a resurgence in the global epidemic."

"Despite enormous gains, millions of lives still hang in the balance", says Sean Callahan. "This also extends to 16 million children who have lost one or both parents due to AIDS related illnesses, and millions more children who are vulnerable because the disease has contributed to malnutrition, cognitive delays, stunting, lack of education or poor physical or mental health."

Their letter argues that it is critical the U.S. government continue to fund the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to at least 2017 levels. "Although we have principled concerns about those PEPFAR and Global Fund prevention activities we find inconsistent with Catholic teaching and do not implement or advocate for these activities, we support the lifesaving missions of PEPFAR and the Global Fund and urge robust funding for both programs."

The full text of the letter can be found here:  http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/usccb-crs-letter-to-omb-director-mulvaney-re-hiv-aids-programs-2017-12-01.cfm.

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Keywords: Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Archdiocese for the U.S. Military Services. Committee on International Justice and Peace, Sean Callahan, Catholic Relief Services, Director Mick Mulvaney, U.S. Office of Management and Budget, U.S. global HIV/AIDS programs, Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs), Eastern and Southern Africa, U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Global Fund.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking Advocate for Slave-Free Seafood Label

WASHINGTON—To commemorate the United Nations International Day for the Abolition of Slavery on December 2, 2017, the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking (CCOAHT) is asking seafood producers, distributors and seafood retailers to make public, through packaged product labeling, their efforts to fight human trafficking in their product supply chains. According to CCOAHT, consumers are not receiving enough information needed to make moral purchasing decisions.

CCOAHT, which is facilitated by Migration and Refugee Services of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, consists of over 30 national and international Catholic agencies working to eliminate the plight of trafficked victims. Its pursuit of ethical consumerism seeks to echo the Vatican's commitment to "proof" its own supply chains from slave labor.

To support the request for slave-free seafood labels, CCOAHT distributed a survey to its networks, asking consumers if slave-free labeling would affect purchases. Over 2,200 people responded and the results showed that 99% of consumers want companies to take steps to engage in ethical business practices, 98% want their packaged seafood to be labeled, and 97% said labels would influence their purchasing decisions. 

"Catholics are becoming increasingly aware of the collective power they possess as consumers to press for positive change in the lives of those who catch our fish. As my CCOAHT colleagues have remarked, 'we are asking the seafood industry to do better. The companies that do will be supported by consumers'", said Hilary Chester, Director of Anti-Trafficking at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The consumer survey built upon a 2016 Lenten postcard campaign organized by CCOAHT.  Members' networks mailed 15,000 postcards to U.S. seafood retailers urging them to examine their supply chains and commit to a product free of slave labor. CCOAHT members will highlight survey data in upcoming dialogue with seafood supply chain shareholders.

For additional details about Labeling for Lent, refer to: Consumers Want the Choice to Buy Slave-Free Seafood.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Coalition of Catholic organizations Against Human Trafficking (CCOAHT), Migration and Refugee Services, Vatican,United Nations International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, seafood producers, distributors, retailers, human trafficking, product supply chains, slave labor, seafood labels, ethical business practices, Catholic consumers, Hilary Chester, Lenten Postcard Campaign, survey data.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


USCCB Offers Advent and Christmas Online Resources for Prayerful Preparation

WASHINGTON—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is offering online resources for prayerful preparation for Advent and Christmas. The daily suggestions for reading, reflection, and prayer during the Advent and Christmas seasons are now available online. In addition to a clickable online Advent calendar, with each click opening "doors" to a page of suggested reading, the online page also offers daily reflections, prayers, suggested activities and bilingual calendars that can be printed.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) provides the online Advent and Christmas resources at http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/advent/index.cfm and http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/christmas/index.cfm.

This year, in addition to the traditional bilingual calendar for Advent that can be printed out, the USCCB is also offering a second bilingual Advent calendar specifically for families, with daily suggestions for prayers and activities to do as a family in preparation for Christmas. Suggestions include creating a Jesse Tree, blessing the family Nativity, and taking time to learn about Advent traditions around the world.

Other Advent resources on the website include liturgical notes on the season, a commentary on the proper prayers of the Advent season from the Roman Missal, and prayers and blessings from the USCCB publication Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers. Also included are lectio divinas for the four Sundays of Advent.

For Christmas, in addition to the clickable calendar and the bilingual calendar that can be printed, there are lectio divinas for four feast days during the Christmas season—the Solemnity of Christmas; the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph; the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God; and the Solemnity of the Epiphany. The lectio divinas are also available in English and Spanish.

Advent begins on December 3 and continues until the evening of December 24 when the Christmas season begins. The Christmas season will conclude with the Baptism of the Lord on Jan. 8, 2018.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, website, resources, Advent, Christmas, prayer, lectio divina, Roman Missal, reflection, families 

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


Jonathan Reyes, Ph.D., Named as Assistant General Secretary for Integral Human Development for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

WASHINGTON—Jonathan J. Reyes, Ph.D., has been appointed as Assistant General Secretary for Integral Human Development for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), based in Washington D.C. In the newly established position, Dr. Reyes will become executive administrator of the Office of Government Relations while also continuing to oversee the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development (JPHD), which supports the Committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development and International Justice and Peace, the Subcommittee for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Committee on Religious Liberty, and Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism. 

Jonathan Reyes joined the Conference as Executive Director of JPHD in 2012. He will begin the new position effective January 1, 2018.

Msgr. Brian Bransfield, USCCB General Secretary, made the appointment.

"Jonathan is a proven administrator having worked successfully in the service of the bishops and the Conference in overseeing a broad area and numerous projects, including the 2017 Convocation of Catholic Leaders, the Task Force on Peace in Our Communities, the Immigration Working Group, Biblia in America, and Forming Consciences of Faithful Citizenship," said Msgr. Bransfield. "I feel confident that his extensive knowledge, experience and commitment to the Church's social mission and teachings will prove invaluable in advancing the issues impacting our most vulnerable sisters and brothers."

Prior to joining the Conference, Dr. Reyes served as President and CEO of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Denver from 2009-2012. During that time, he also served as Director of Social Ministry for the Archdiocese. His previous work in Denver included co-founding the Augustine Institute, where he was president from 2005-2008. The Institute is a Catholic graduate school that combines education in theology, Scripture and history with practical formation in pedagogy and leadership. From 2004-2005, he was vice president for campus ministry and leadership formation of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) in Denver. FOCUS is a team-based evangelization program aimed toward students on college campuses. 

Among his other contributions to the social mission of the Church, Reyes oversaw the creation of Regina Caeli Catholic Counseling Services and Lighthouse Women's Care Center and completed the Guadalupe Community Assistance Center in Greeley, Colorado. 

From 1998-2004, Reyes served on the staff of Christendom College, where he held senior administrative and teaching positions. 

Jonathan received a doctorate in European History from the University of Notre Dame in 2000. He received a bachelor of arts degree in history from the University of Michigan in 1990. He is married and has seven children.  

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Jonathan Reyes, Ph.D., Msgr. Brian Bransfield, General Secretary, Assistant General Secretary, Integral Human Development, Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development (JPHD), Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Subcommittee for Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Conference Committee on Communications Voices Strong Support for Net Neutrality Protections

WASHINGTON—Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Communications, is urging the retention of an open internet in the wake of a Federal Communications Commission proposal unveiled last week that would repeal protections intended to keep the internet open and fair. The concept of an open internet has long been called "net neutrality," in which internet service providers neither favor nor discriminate against internet users or websites. Bishop Coyne continues to voice strong support for net neutrality protections in a statement in response to last week's proposed FCC action.

Bishop Coyne's full statement follows:

"Strong net neutrality protections are critical to the faith community to function and connect with our members, essential to protect and enhance the ability of vulnerable communities to use advanced technology, and necessary for any organization that seeks to organize, advocate for justice or bear witness in the crowded and over-commercialized media environment.

Robust internet protections are vital to enable our Archdioceses, Dioceses, and Eparchies, our parishes, schools and other institutions to communicate with each other and our members, to share religious and spiritual teachings, to promote activities online, and to engage people – particularly younger persons – in our ministries. Without open internet principles which prohibit paid prioritization, we might be forced to pay fees to ensure that our high-bandwidth content receives fair treatment on the internet.  Non-profit communities, both religious and secular, cannot afford to pay to compete with profitable commercialized content."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Christopher Coyne, Committee on Communications, Federal Communications Commission, Internet, net neutrality

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Response to Egypt Mosque Attack

WASHINGTON—— Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement in response to today's bombing at a mosque in Egypt's North Sinai region. The bombing has left at least 200 dead and has injured at least 100 others.  

Cardinal DiNardo's full statement follows: 

"As President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I join with my brother bishops in unequivocally condemning the monstrous terrorist attack on innocent people at prayer in Egypt. Terrorist acts can never be justified in the name of God or any political ideology, and the fact this attack took place at a Mosque, a place of worship, is especially offensive to God. The Catholic Church in the United States mourns with the people of Egypt at this time of tragedy, and assures them of our prayerful solidarity. We join with all those of good will in prayer that these acts of terror and mass killings – these acts of grave evil – will end and will be replaced with genuine and mutual respect for the dignity of each and every person."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Egypt, North Sinai, terrorist attack, grave evil, Mosque, prayerful solidarity.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


U.S. Bishops’ Chairman Calls for Senate to Amend Tax Proposal to Ensure Just Moral Framework

WASHINGTON— Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called for amendments to the Senate tax reform proposal to "ensure a just and moral framework for all."

"The Senate bill doubles the standard deduction, which will provide tax relief to many. However, the 'Chairman's Mark,' as written, will raise income taxes on the working poor while simultaneously providing a large tax cut to the wealthy," wrote Bishop Dewane. "Tax breaks for the financially secure, including millionaires and billionaires, should not be made possible by increased taxes to families struggling to meet their daily needs."

According to the nonpartisan congressional Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), on average, taxpayers making between $10,000 and $30,000 per year will see a tax increase in 2021. Significant tax breaks to the very wealthy—including millionaires and billionaires—are projected for the same year. In 2023 and 2025, average taxes will increase for those making less than $30,000, but they will go down for those making more than $30,000. By 2027, after most individual tax cuts are set to expire, average taxes will increase for taxpayers making less than $75,000, while decreasing for those making more.

Bishop Dewane expressed support for positive aspects of the bill, including the fact that the Senate plan does not repeal the adoption tax credit or the exclusion for employer adoption assistance programs. It also recognizes children in utero by allowing contributions to a 529 savings plan before birth. However, the Bishop highlighted serious problems with the legislation which include the elimination of personal exemptions (which "places a significant burden on larger families"), and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act's individual insurance mandate apart from broader health care reform.

"The Senate proposal repeals one portion of the Affordable Care Act—the individual insurance mandate—apart from a needed comprehensive approach to health care reform, one that would protect against millions of additional people becoming uninsured and fix problems that pertain to affordability, protect unborn life, conscience and immigrant access," noted Bishop Dewane. "Tax reform should not become the vehicle for a partial health care reform that fails to address significant problems in our health care system while exacerbating other difficulties."

Bishop Dewane also highlighted a November 14, 2017 Congressional Budget Office letter that stated that a deficit increase of $1.5 trillion over ten years would require spending cuts as early as 2018, if other legislation is not enacted. "These cuts will almost certainly include deep reductions to programs that help those in need," the USCCB letter said.

The full letter can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Senate-Tax-Cuts-and-Jobs-Act-Letter-2017-11-22.pdf.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Senate tax reform, Joint Committee on Taxation, tax increases, adoption tax credit, adoption assistance programs, Affordable Care Act, tax reform, health care reform, protection of unborn, Congressional Budget Office, spending cuts.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


Migration Chairman Responds to Troubling Termination of Temporary Protected Status for Haiti; Calls on Congress to Find a Solution

WASHINGTON—On November 20, the Department of Homeland Security announced termination of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti. TPS is a temporary, renewable, and statutorily-authorized humanitarian migration program that permits individuals to remain and work lawfully in the U.S. during a period in which it is deemed unsafe for nationals of that country to return home. There are an estimated 50,000 Haitian TPS recipients living in the U.S.

Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration (USCCB/COM), issued the following statement in response:

"Yesterday's decision to terminate TPS for Haiti is deeply troubling. As discussed in our recent delegation trip report, Haiti is not yet in a position where it can safely accept return of the estimated 50,000 Haitian nationals who have received TPS. This decision will devastate many families with TPS members, including those with U.S. citizen children. It will tear individuals from their loved ones, homes, careers, and communities. It will also have direct negative consequences for many in Haiti who rely on remittances for vital support. 

Our nation has a responsibility to provide continued temporary protection until TPS holders' return and reintegration can be safely accomplished. Catholic Social Teaching recognizes a duty to not turn our backs on our neighbors in need. Scripture states: 'If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him?' (1 John 3:17). Our Haitian neighbors, at home and abroad, need our compassion while their country rebuilds and recovers. Yesterday's decision ignores such needs.

The Administration has provided an 18-month period during which TPS recipients from Haiti can legally stay in the United States and prepare for their departure. While this time is appreciated, it will not remedy the protection concerns and family separation that Haitian TPS recipients will face.

Congress needs to find a legislative solution for long-term TPS recipients and enact legislation that keeps these families together.

Our prayers and continued support are with the Haitian people who have deep ties to our communities, parishes, and country. They are businesses owners, successful professionals, home owners, and parents of U.S. citizen children and most importantly, they are children of God."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Committee on Migration, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), Department of Homeland Security, Haiti, migration, families, children, Catholic social teaching. 

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200 


MEDIA ADVISORY: U.S. Bishops Mark Nov. 26 as Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians

WASHINGTON—The USCCB in collaboration with the Knights of Columbus, Catholic Relief Services, the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) and Aid to the Church in Need announce the observance this Sunday, November 26, as A Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians. The Day of Prayer also initiates "Solidarity in Suffering," a Week of Awareness and Education that runs from November 26-December 3. The Day of Prayer on the Solemnity of Christ the King, is a fitting time to reflect on religious freedom and Christians around the world who are being persecuted in unheard of numbers.  

"On the solemnity of Christ the King, I ask that the entire church in the United States come together in a special way for a day of prayer for persecuted Christians to express our solidarity with those who are suffering," says Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, during his annual address to bishops. In a statement to bishops, the cardinal added, "To focus attention on the plight of Christians and other minorities is not to ignore the suffering of others. Rather by focusing on the most vulnerable members of society, we strengthen the entire fabric of society to protect the rights of all."

To support the observance of the Day of Prayer and Week of Awareness, a wide array of resources are available to assist parishes, schools and campus ministries. One of those resources is the Executive Summary of "Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians Oppressed for their Faith 2015-2017". The report was made available to all bishops during the November Plenary Assembly, courtesy of Aid to the Church in Need.  Electronic copies of the report are now available at www.usccb.org/middle-east-Christians.

Additional resources on the site include:

  • Action Alert: Help Persecuted Christians/Religious Minorities in the Middle East
  • Homily Notes
  • Intercessions
  • Recommended Aid Agencies
  • Background on Catholic Churches in the Middle East
  • Background on Christians of the Middle East
  • Education Materials
  • Video: Religious Freedom and Christians in the Middle East
  • Logos for Local use (English and Spanish)

For social media, we are using the hashtag: #SolidarityInSuffering

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Knights of Columbus, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), Aid to the Church in Need, Day of Prayer, persecuted Christians, solemnity Christ the King, Week of Awareness, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, oppression, Christianity, prayer.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


“Trade must benefit people,” say U.S. and Mexican Bishops in Statement on NAFTA Renegotiation

WASHINGTON—The chairmen of the Committee on International Justice and Peace and Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as chairmen of the Conference of the Mexican Episcopate's Pastoral Social Committee, have issued a joint statement on the ongoing renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

NAFTA—a trilateral commercial agreement among the United States, Canada, and Mexico—came into force in 1994, and has brought about many positive outcomes as well as some negative ones, especially for poor and vulnerable persons in the United States and Mexico.

The statement, entitled, "RENEGOTIATING NAFTA: Rebuilding our Economic Relationship in Solidarity, Mutual Trust, and Justice," restates longstanding principles and guidelines of Catholic Social Doctrine regarding international trade. The bishops remind all involved that:

"Trade must, first of all, benefit people, in addition to markets and economies. It is crucial   that these complex and multifaceted agreements arise from a sound legal and moral framework that protects the common good and the most vulnerable."

Noting that trade agreements "have consequences beyond the economic sphere," the bishops of both countries offer in their statement criteria based on experience, as pastors, to help guide the renegotiation process so that it might serve as a "means of achieving the welfare and integral development of all."

The full statement is available in both English and Spanish at: 

www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/trade/upload/NAFTA-STATEMENT-ENGLISH.pdf

www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/trade/upload/NAFTA-STATEMENT-SPANISH.pdf

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Keywords:  U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Mexican Episcopate, Pastoral Social Committee, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), United States, Canada, Mexico, trilateral agreement, renegotiation, solidarity, justice, Catholic social doctrine, international trade, markets, economies, common good, development, vulnerable, moral framework.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


Pope Francis Names New Bishop of the Diocese of Nashville; Pope Francis also Names New Bishop of Jefferson City

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Father J. Mark Spalding of the Archdiocese of Louisville as the new bishop of Nashville. Pope Francis has also named Father Shawn McKnight, a priest of the Diocese of Wichita, as the new bishop of Jefferson City after accepting the resignation of Bishop John R. Gaydos. 

The appointments were publicized in Washington on November 21, 2017 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Father J. Mark Spalding was born January 13, 1965 and was ordained a priest on August 3, 1991. 

He attended St. Meinrad College Seminary in St. Meinrad, Indiana where he studied philosophy. He later attended the American College at Louvain in Belgium (1991) where he earned a degree in theology. He later attended the Catholic University of Louvain, where he earned a Licentiate of Canon Law in 1992.

Assignments after ordination included parochial vicar, St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral, Bardstown (1992-1996); parochial vicar, St. Augustine Parish, Lebanon (1996-1998); parochial vicar, St. Margaret Mary Parish, Louisville (1998-1999); pastor, Immaculate Conception Parish, LaGrange (1999-2011); pastor, Holy Trinity Parish, Louisville (2011-present).   

Father Spalding also served as judicial vicar for the Archdiocese of Louisville from 1998-2011 and is currently vicar general for the Archdiocese, 2011-present.  

Father Shawn McKnight was born June 26, 1968. He was ordained a priest for the diocese of Wichita on May 28, 1994.  

He earned a master of arts degree and a master of divinity degree from the Pontifical College Josephinum (1993-1994) and later earned a Licentiate of Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm in Rome in 1999. In 2001, he earned a Doctor of Sacred Theology also from the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm.

Assignments after ordination include: associate pastor, Blessed Sacrament Parish, Wichita (1994-1997); pastoral administrator, St. Patrick Parish, Chanute (1999); chaplain, Newman University, Wichita (2000-2001); priestly service, St. Mary's Parish, Delaware (2003-2008); pastor, Blessed Sacrament Parish, Wichita (2008-2010); priestly service, parishes in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and Washington (2010-2015); presbyteral council and college of consultors, Wichita (2000-2005); pastor, Church of the Magdalen, Wichita (2015-present).

Father McKnight formerly served as executive director of the Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV) of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) from 2010-2015. He has also held numerous academic, professional and academic society positions among them serving as director of Liturgy and director of Formation at the Pontifical College Josephinum.  

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop John R. Gaydos, who has served as the third bishop of Jefferson City.  

Bishop Gaydos was born August 14, 1943 and will turn 75 this August. On June 25, 1997, Gaydos was appointed bishop of Jefferson City by Pope John Paul II. He was ordained as bishop on August 27, 1997. 

He also served within the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as Chairman of the Committee on Priestly Life and Ministry, now known as the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV). 

The Diocese of Nashville comprises 16,302 square miles. It has a total population of 2,607,152 people of which 83,124 or 3 percent, are Catholic.

The Diocese of Jefferson City comprises 22,127 square miles. It has a total population of 920,234 people of which 81,958 or 11 percent, are Catholic.  

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Bishop John R. Gaydos, Father J. Mark Spalding, Archdiocese of Louisville, Nashville, Father W. Shawn McKnight, Jefferson City

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


USCCB President Makes Thanksgiving Day Appeal for Protection of the Vulnerable, Especially Migrant & Refugee Families

WASHINGTON— Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), offers a Thanksgiving Day message to the nation with special gratitude for the gift of immigrants and refugees.

Full statement follows:

"As we do every year, we will pause this coming Thursday to thank God for the many blessings we enjoy in the United States. My brother bishops and I, gathered last week in Baltimore, were attentive in a special way to those who are often excluded from this great abundance—the poor, the sick, the addicted, the unborn, the unemployed, and especially migrants and refugees.

My brothers expressed a shared and ever-greater sense of alarm—and urgency to act—in the face of policies that seemed unthinkable only a short time ago: the deportation of Dreamers, young hard-working people who should be the lowest priority for deportation; the anxiety and uncertainty of those with Temporary Protected Status from countries like Haiti, El Salvador, and Honduras, which are still recovering from natural disasters and remain ill-equipped to humanely receive and integrate them; and an unprecedented reduction in the number of people we will welcome this year into our country who seek refuge from the ravages of war and religious persecution in their countries of origin.

One common feature of all these developments is their tendency to tear apart the family, the fundamental building block of our, or any, society. These threats to so many vulnerable immigrant and refugee families must end now. My brothers have urged me to speak out on their behalf to urge the immediate passage—and signature—of legislation that would alleviate these immediate threats to these families.

Another common feature of these policies is that they are symptoms of an immigration system that is profoundly broken and requires comprehensive reform. This is a longer-term goal, one that the bishops have advocated for decades to achieve, and one that must never be overlooked. Only by complete reform will we have the hope of achieving the common goals of welcoming the most vulnerable, ensuring due process and humane treatment, protecting national security, and respecting the rule of law. We are committed to such reforms and will continue to call for them.

So this year, I give thanks for the gift and contributions of immigrants and refugees to our great nation. I also pray that next year, families now under threat will not be broken and dispersed, but instead will be united in joy around their tables, giving thanks for all the blessings our nation has to offer.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving all!"

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Thanksgiving Day, America, blessings, migrants, refugees, comprehensive reform, family reunification

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


Catholic Partners Urge 18-month Extension of Temporary Protected Status for Haiti

WASHINGTON—On November 17, 2017, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, was joined by Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), and Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) in sending a letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, urging an 18-month extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti.

TPS is a temporary, renewable, and statutorily authorized immigration status that allows individuals to remain and work lawfully in the U.S. during a period in which it is deemed unsafe for nationals of that country to return home.

While the current designation for Haiti is set to expire in January 2018, the Department of Homeland Security is required to make a decision to terminate or extend TPS for Haiti by November 23, 2017. As noted by the partners: "[I]t would be premature and detrimental to the country's redevelopment to return TPS holders to Haiti." The letter, sharing insights from the recent USCCB/Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) delegation trip to Haiti, explained that the country is still recovering from the 2010 earthquake and subsequent natural disasters and is not currently in a position to adequately handle return of its nationals who have TPS.

As discussed in the USCCB/MRS trip report, Haiti's Ongoing Road to Recovery: The Necessity of an Extension of Temporary Protected Status, an extension of TPS for the nation is crucial for humanitarian, regional security, and economic stability reasons. Consequently, the Catholic partners urged Secretary Duke to extend TPS for Haiti to "allow the country to build upon the progress it has made towards recovery and help ensure individuals' return and reintegration can be safely accomplished."

The letter also reiterated the Church's commitment to standing "ready to support measures to help ensure TPS recipients and their families are provided the protection and support they need while Haiti rebuilds."

Read the full letter here: https://justiceforimmigrants.org/news/catholic-partner-letter-dhs-urging-extension-tps-haiti/.

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Keywords:  U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe Vásquez, Committee on Migration, Migration and Refugee Services, Temporary Protected Status, TPS recipients, TPS beneficiaries, Department of Homeland Security, Haiti, refugees, migration, earthquake, natural disaster, prayers, legislative solution

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200



U.S. Bishops Chairman Greatly Disappointed by House Passage of Tax Bill that Harms Poor, Many Families

WASHINGTON— Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, expressed "great disappointment" over the House of Representatives' passage of the deeply flawed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, calling on the Senate to work toward legislation that fixes the problems with H.R.1. The full statement reads as follows:

"It is greatly disappointing that the U.S. House of Representatives ignored impacts to the poor and families—including those who welcome life through adoption or have more than three children—and passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act without needed changes. According to the nonpartisan congressional Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), this bill raises taxes on the working poor beginning in 2023, and simultaneously gives large tax cuts to millionaires. The November 9 letter of the USCCB detailed the many deficiencies in the House bill, including the elimination of the personal exemption, which will hurt larger families, and the repeal of the out-of-pocket medical expenses deduction, which will harm those with serious and chronic illness. While we are grateful that the House restored the adoption tax credit, it still repeals an important exclusion for families assisted by their employer to adopt children in need, and eliminates incentives for charitable giving. For families working hard for economic security, the bill eliminates the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, and tax relief for persons paying for tuition and student loans, as well as those who retire on disability, among other things.

While H.R. 1 takes an important step toward strengthening parents' ability to choose a school that best suits their child, its repeal of important provisions that aid both teachers and students in non-government elementary and secondary schools should be reversed.

The Senate is currently debating its bill, and the USCCB will release a more detailed analysis shortly. The Senate must act decisively to avoid the deficiencies in the House legislation, and craft a final bill that affirms life, cares for the poor, and ensures national tax policy aimed at the common good. Right now, the Senate bill does not eliminate many of the tax benefits that the House bill does, and this is commendable. However, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) wrote on November 14 that the $1.5 trillion deficit that is created over 10 years will require spending cuts, and much of these will likely come from programs that help the poor. The Senate bill does not include a needed 'above-the-line' charitable deduction, the omission of which will result in up to a $13 billion annual decrease in charitable giving.

Senate legislation has also been scored by the JCT as raising taxes on the working poor while giving large tax cuts to millionaires. In addition, the Senate proposes to cut additional tax benefits that help working families, and these must be fully understood. It is laudable that the Senate tries to incentivize paid family and medical leave, but the provision is designed to sunset at the end of 2019. Although the Senate bill further expands the child tax credit, the elimination of the personal exemption will cause a net loss for larger families.

The Senate must work to ensure a legislative process characterized by integrity, one in which Americans can fully understand the implication of tax proposals which will be voted upon. It must also seek to pass a law that demonstrates that our nation prioritizes care for the most vulnerable among us."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, House bill, Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), working poor, personal exemption, medical deduction, Work Opportunity Tax Credit, tax relief, jobs, Congressional Budget Office (CBO), charitable deduction, adoption incentive, medical leave, child tax credit, poor, vulnerable.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Justice of San Francisco

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop William J. Justice as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Bishop Justice's resignation was accepted upon reaching the retirement age of 75. 

Bishop Justice's retirement was publicized in Washington, November 16, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

William Justice was born May 8, 1942 in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and moved to San Mateo, California in 1946. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Saint Joseph College in Philosophy in 1962 and a Master of Arts degree in Philosophy from Saint Patrick College in 1964. He graduated from St. Patrick Seminary in 1968 with a Master of Divinity Degree.

On May 17, 1968 he was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Joseph T. McGucken.

Assignments after ordination to the priesthood include: parochial vicar, Saint John the Evangelist, San Francisco, 1968-1970; parochial vicar, All Souls Church, San Francisco, 1970-1976; parochial vicar, Saint Paul Church, San Francisco, 1976-1979; parochial vicar, Saint Timothy Church, San Francisco, 1979-1982; director, Permanent Diaconate, Pastoral Center, San Francisco, 1979-1981; secretary, Office of Pastoral Ministry, Pastoral Center, San Francisco, 1981-1982; in residence, Saint Kevin Church, San Francisco, 1982-1985; pastor, Saint Peter Church, 1985-1991; sabbatical, 1989-1990; parochial vicar, All Souls Church, San Francisco, 1991-2003; pastor, Mission Dolores Basilica, San Francisco, 2003-2008; vicar for clergy, Archdiocese of San Francisco, 2006-2008.

On April 10, 2008, he was named an auxiliary bishop by Pope Benedict XVI.  On May 28, 2008, he was ordained a bishop at St. Mary's Cathedral by Archbishop George H. Niederauer.

The Archdiocese of San Francisco comprises 1,016 square miles. It has a total population of 1,776,095 people of which 441,736 or 25 percent, are Catholic. Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone is the current Archbishop of San Francisco.

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Keywords: Pope Francis, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Auxiliary Bishop William Justice, retirement, Diocese of San Francisco, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio, Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop George H. Niederauer, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200



At General Assembly, Bishops Approve 2018 Budget, Diocesan Assessment Increase, Order of Baptism for Children; Elect CRS Board

BALTIMORE—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved today their 2018 budget and a three percent increase in the diocesan assessment for 2019 during their annual Fall General Assembly in Baltimore.

The 2018 budget was approved with 125 votes in favor, 4 against, and 3 abstentions. The vote required a majority of the members present to pass.

The three percent increase in the diocesan assessment for 2019 was approved with 136 votes in favor, 31 against, and 5 abstentions. This vote required approval by two-thirds of diocesan and eparchial bishops.

The bishops also approved the ICEL Gray Book translation of the Order of Baptism of Children for use in the dioceses of the United States of America with 200 voting in favor, 23 against, and 3 abstaining. The vote required affirmation by two-thirds of the Latin Church members and is subject to confirmatio by the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. In other actions, the bishops approved:

  • Development of a formal statement that would offer a renewed pastoral plan for marriage and family life ministry and advocacy in light of Amoris Laetitia under the lead of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth (223-Yes, 12-No, 2-Abstain).

  • The addition of one staff position in service to the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, contingent upon funding through external grants (177-Yes, 22-No, 2-Abstain).

The bishops also elected the following members to the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Board of Directors:

Bishop Edward J. Burns, Diocese of Dallas; Bishop Felipe J. Estévez, Diocese of St. Augustine; Bishop Shelton J.  Fabre, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux; Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda, Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis; Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend; and Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski, Archdiocese of Miami.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, General Assembly, 2018 Budget, Diocesan Assessment, Order of Baptism, Catholic Relief Services, Amoris Laetitia, Ad Hoc Committee against Racism, elections, votes.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


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