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World Day for Consecrated Life Celebrates the Important Witness of Consecrated Persons in the Church
Posted on 01/24/2020 08:50 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON – Each year, the Catholic Church celebrates the World Day for Consecrated Life. Instituted by Pope John Paul II in 1997, the celebration is in conjunction with the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known as Candlemas Day, commemorating the coming of Christ, the Light of the World, through the symbolic lighting of candles. Similarly, consecrated men and women are called to spread the light and love of Jesus Christ through their unique witness of selfless service, such as caring for the poor, the contemplative work of prayer, or through their professional careers. On February 2, 2020, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome to recognize and pray for the essential role of consecrated persons in the life of the Church and to express gratitude for their service to the Church. Similarly, parishes in the United States will also celebrate consecrated life during the weekend of February 1-2 and recognize the essential role of consecrated persons in the life of the Church. As engaged members of their local communities, consecrated men and women bring the presence of Jesus to all they encounter throughout their day, allowing his Spirit to live and move within them so that the truth of the Gospel can be proclaimed to all.
Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations, reiterated the importance of the witness offered by those in consecrated life: “Consecrated men and women are a special treasure in the Church who allow the love of Jesus to become tangible. By dedicating their entire lives to following Christ, consecrated persons are particularly able to reach out to those on the peripheries of our society and bring the message of the Gospel to all those in need.”
Each year, the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations asks the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) to conduct a survey of those solemnly professed in the United States in the past year. Some of the major findings of this year’s report are:
• The average age of the profession class of 2019 is 39. Half of the responding religious are age 34 or younger. The youngest is 24 and the oldest is 71.
• Two-thirds of the responding religious (69 percent) report their primary race or ethnicity as white. One in ten (10 percent) identifies as Hispanic, and one in ten (9 percent) identify as Asian.
• Three in four of responding religious (74 percent) were born in the United States. Of those born outside the United States, the most common country of origin is the Philippines.
• Twenty-five percent of responding religious earned a graduate degree before entering their religious institute. Three-fourths (74 percent) entered their religious institute with at least a bachelor’s degree (77 percent for women and 69 percent for men).
• Around nine in ten responding religious (89 percent) served in one or more church ministries before entering their religious institute, most commonly as a lector (51 percent), altar server (44 percent), or Extraordinary Minister of Communion (42 percent).
• On average, responding religious report that they were 19 years old when they first considered a vocation to religious life, but half were 18 or younger when they first did so.
• Nine in ten responding religious (91 percent) regularly participated in some type of private prayer activity before they entered their religious institute. Three-fifths or more participated in Eucharistic Adoration or prayed the rosary before entering. Nearly six in ten participated in spiritual direction or retreats before entering.
The full survey from CARA, as well as resources for use by parishes are available at: http://cms.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/consecrated-life/world-day-for-consecrated-life.cfm
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, World Day for Consecrated Life, Bishop James F. Checchio, Diocese of Metuchen, Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, Presentation of the Lord, Candlemas Day, Charism, Consecrated Life, Vocations, Women Religious, Men Religious, Profession Class of 2019, Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, CARA, Pope John Paul II, Pope Francis, Vatican, Eucharistic Adoration, rosary, spiritual direction, retreats.
Posted on 01/24/2020 07:35 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON—On January 24th, on the occasion of the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., the Trump Administration announced that it is taking steps to enforce the Weldon Amendment, a federal law that prohibits discrimination by states against health insurance plans that do not cover abortion. In 2014, the California Department of Managed Health Care began forcing all employers—even churches—to fund and facilitate elective abortions in their health plans in direct violation of the Weldon amendment. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop George V. Murry, S.J. of Youngstown, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, issued the following statement in response to this enforcement action:
“Today’s announcement is extraordinarily good news for the right to life, conscientious objection, religious freedom and the rule of law. For nearly six years, employers in California—including churches—have been forced to fund and facilitate abortions in their health insurance plans in direct violation of a federal conscience protection law known as the Weldon amendment. This coercive California policy is abhorrent, unjust and illegal. We strongly commend the Trump Administration for taking this critical action to enforce federal law and correct this supreme injustice to the people and employers of California. Sadly, violations of federal conscience laws are on the rise. We hope that this enforcement action, and subsequent actions by the Administration, will stop further unlawful discrimination against people who reject abortion as a violation of the most basic human and civil rights.”
Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Bishop George V. Murry, S.J, Committee for Religious Liberty, Weldon Amendment, Trump Administration.
Posted on 01/23/2020 10:37 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON—Today, bishops from two committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), expressed their profound sorrow at the loss of three American crew members when a firefighting air tanker crashed in the state of New South Wales in Australia. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, offered the following statement:
“As the people of Australia continue to endure terrible fires, let us renew our prayer and generosity. Today, the suffering was brought even closer to home with the loss of three brave American crew members who died in the crash of a tanker airplane used in fighting wildfires in Australia. We join in prayerful solidarity with their families and with all the people of Australia and all those in regions affected by these terrible fires. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those who are suffering from this tragedy and from the disaster these dedicated professionals were fighting. In our prayer, we recall in trust that Jesus is the resurrection and the life, offering Himself to us and calling us to Himself even in our hardest hour.
“We join with Archbishop José Gomez, president of the USCCB, as expressed in his solidarity letter to the president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, in the heartfelt prayers offered by the bishops of Australia in response to the terrible wildfires that have affected that nation and claimed the lives of so many individuals. We call upon the faithful to support, through their petitions and concern, the efforts at extinguishment and recovery taking place throughout in response to these fires. It is in unity with the bishops of Australia that we encourage the faithful and all appropriate parties to be generous in their financial support of these recovery efforts. We pray for the safety and wellbeing of those affected and those fighting the fires, and hope for the eventual restoration of the homes and natural habitats that have been destroyed.”
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop José H. Gomez, Archbishop Paul Coakley, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop David Malloy, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Australia.
Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M., Cap. of Philadelphia; Names Bishop Nelson J. Pérez of Cleveland as Successor
Posted on 01/22/2020 23:35 PM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M., Cap., from the pastoral governance of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and has named Bishop Nelson J. Pérez of Cleveland to succeed him.
The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington on January 23, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is comprised of 2,202 square miles in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and has a total population of 4,119,268 of which 1,292,704 are Catholic.
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM, Cap., Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Bishop Nelson Pérez, Diocese of Cleveland.
Supreme Court’s Blaine Amendment Case An Opportunity to End a Shameful Legacy Says U.S. Bishops’ Religious Liberty and Catholic Education Chairmen
Posted on 01/22/2020 03:51 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON – Today, the Supreme Court of the United States hears oral argument in the case of Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. The case challenges a decision by the Montana Supreme Court to invalidate a tax credit scholarship program because families benefiting include those who choose to send their children to religiously-affiliated schools, a violation of the Montana state constitution’s “Blaine Amendment” of 1889 against aid to religious schools.
Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., of Youngstown, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Michael C. Barber, S.J., of Oakland, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Catholic Education, have issued a statement:
“The case before the Supreme Court today concerns whether the Constitution offers states a license to discriminate against religion. Our country’s tradition of non-establishment of religion does not mean that governments can deny otherwise available benefits on the basis of religious status. Indeed, religious persons and organizations should, like everyone else, be allowed to participate in government programs that are open to all. This is an issue of justice for people of all faith communities.
“But this case is not only about constitutional law. It is about whether our nation will continue to tolerate this strain of anti-Catholic bigotry. Blaine Amendments, which are in 37 states’ constitutions, were the product of nativism. They were never meant to ensure government neutrality towards religion, but were expressions of hostility toward the Catholic Church. We hope that the Supreme Court will take this opportunity to bring an end to this shameful legacy.”
The USCCB filed an amicus curiae brief supporting the petitioners, which can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/Laycock-Berg-CLS-Amicus-Brief.pdf.
Keywords: Bishop George Murry, Bishop Michael Barber, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, religious liberty, religious freedom, Catholic education, Blaine Amendments, Supreme Court, Espinoza.
Posted on 01/21/2020 10:15 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON – January 22 is the National Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children, when the Catholic Church remembers the 47th anniversary of Roe v. Wade—the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in all 50 states. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued the following statement:
“January 22 marks the sorrowful anniversary of the tragic Supreme Court decisions of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, which legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. The Church will never abandon her efforts to reverse these terrible decisions that have led to the deaths of millions of innocent children and the traumatization of countless women and families.
“As the Church and growing numbers of pro-life Americans continue to advocate for women and children in courthouses and legislatures, the Church’s pastoral response is focused on the needs of women facing pregnancies in challenging circumstances. While this has long been the case, the pastoral response will soon intensify.
“The Committee on Pro-Life Activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is asking bishops to invite parishes in their dioceses to join a nationwide effort from March 25, 2020 through March 25, 2021 entitled, ‘Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Service.’
“Recognizing that women in need can be most effectively reached at the local level, the ‘Year of Service’ invites parishes to assess, communicate, and expand resources to expectant mothers within their own communities. The U.S. Bishops will be providing resources, outreach tools, and models to assist parishes in this important effort.
“We pray that ‘Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Service’ will help us reach every pregnant mother in need, that she may know she can turn to her local Catholic community for help and authentic friendship.”
More information about Walking with Moms in Need can be found at www.walkingwithmoms.com.
Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, National Day of Prayer, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Walking with Moms in Need, Roe v. Wade.
Posted on 01/21/2020 06:03 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism and Loyola Press have published a new book for children ages 5-12, to help young readers engage in conversations about racism.
Inspired by the bishops’ 2018 pastoral letter “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love, A Pastoral Letter Against Racism,” the children’s book Everyone Belongs allows young readers to reflect on the impact of racism in our society. The book helps readers see racism through the lens of history and faith, and teaches them how to engage in respect, understanding, and friendship.
In this fully illustrated book, Ray Ikanga is a boy whose family flees violence in their home country to come to the United States as refugees. The family moves into a new neighborhood but Ray’s excitement is interrupted when someone spray paints “Go home!” on their garage door.
Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, and chairman of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, who oversaw the production of the book, said, “Everyone Belongs is a book about recognizing the image of God in all people, valuing our differences, righting wrongs, and forgiveness. It is my hope that Everyone Belongs will help families, schools, and parishes engage in conversation and reflection about the dignity of every person made in God’s image.”
Everyone Belongs may be purchased online at LoyolaPress.com/EveryoneBelongs. Additional education and prayer resources to accompany the bishops’ pastoral letter on racism may be found at usccb.org/racism.
Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, Loyola Press, Everyone Belongs, children’s book, racism, Open Wide Our Hearts, Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism.
U.S. Bishops’ Collection for the Church in Latin America Scheduled for January 25-26 Annual collection is a sign of solidarity between Catholics in the U.S. with Latin America and the Caribbean
Posted on 01/21/2020 05:29 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Church in Latin America has announced January 25-26 as the weekend for the annual Collection for the Church in Latin America. Dioceses may elect a different date to take up the collection to avoid conflict with local activities. For more than 50 years, the collection has been a sign of solidarity between Catholics of the United States and those in Latin America and the Caribbean by funding pastoral programs, seminarian and religious formation, and youth and family ministries.
For example, Caritas Argentina is a nonprofit that empowers more than 150 young Catholics to live out their faith in the service of those who are poor and excluded from society by training them in pastoral ministry to evangelize their local communities and share their faith throughout Argentina. The Church in Latin America collection also provided invaluable assistance to 235 youth from Haiti to attend World Youth Day 2019 in Panama and hear the Holy Father’s words of hope and mercy.
“The love of Christ compels us to share our faith and support all people who long to grow closer to Jesus. The Collection for the Church in Latin America expresses our solidarity with and love for the people of Latin America,” said Bishop Octavio Cisneros, auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn and chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America. “On behalf of the subcommittee, I wish to express my abiding gratitude to the people of the United States who generously support the collection each year and, through it, our brothers and sisters throughout the region.”
In November 2019, the Subcommittee for the Church in Latin America awarded nearly $4.2 million in grants to support the Church in Latin America and Caribbean, including areas ravaged by natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes. Information about the Collection for the Church in Latin America, including the 2018 annual report, may be found at www. usccb.org/latin-america. Access to promotional resources in English and Spanish for use in parishes to promote the national collection are located at www.usccb.org/latin-america2020.
Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Collection for the Church in Latin America, Bishop Octavio Cisneros, Subcommittee for the Church in Latin America, annual collection.
Bishop Chairmen Applaud Administration Measures to Strengthen Religious Liberty, Embrace Contributions of Faith-based Organizations
Posted on 01/20/2020 09:51 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON - On Religious Freedom Day, when the Constitutional protection of conscience and the freedom to exercise one’s religious faith is celebrated nationwide, the Administration announced measures that would strengthen the protection of religious liberty for individuals and for faith-based organizations. Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., of Youngstown, chairman of the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Michael C. Barber, S.J., of Oakland, CA, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Catholic Education, have issued the following joint statement:
“We wish to express our gratitude for these steps to ensure that the Constitutional right of individual students and teachers to pray voluntarily in public schools is protected. This fundamental right ensures that persons may freely worship without sacrificing full participation in schools and in society.
“We are also heartened by the Administration’s action to ensure federal agencies are fully compliant with the Supreme Court’s decision in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer. That decision properly concluded that it is unconstitutional for government to exclude faith-based organizations from public benefits simply because of their religious status. Today’s action and the Court decision it echoes both honor the American tradition of embracing the contributions of faith-based organizations and enrich the work of social justice by harnessing the efforts of these vital institutions of civil society. Lastly, we are grateful for the proposal to lift certain regulatory burdens from faith-based organizations. This will help ensure a level playing field for religious and secular social service providers.”
Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Religious Freedom Day
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops File Amicus Brief with U.S. Supreme Court Urging New Trial of Death Row Inmate Based on Evidence of Actual Innocence
Posted on 01/17/2020 09:55 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON— On January 17, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCCB) filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court of the United States in support of James M. Dailey, an inmate on Florida’s death row, urging a new trial in his case due to persuasive evidence of actual innocence. The amicus brief explains the Catholic Church’s longstanding opposition to the death penalty. The Church teaches that capital punishment violates respect for life and human dignity. The injustice is especially acute in the instance of an innocent person sentenced to death. The amicus brief also argues that the execution of an innocent person violates the Constitution of the United States.
The amicus brief reviews the facts of Mr. Dailey’s case and concludes that the evidence of his actual innocence is persuasive, but that he was not able to present it at a new trial for procedural reasons. The brief declares that there is no legal or procedural reason that could morally justify the execution of an innocent person.
Both the USCCB and FCCB uphold the Church’s teaching on the dignity of life and on capital punishment in the amicus brief by stating, “The radical injustice of punishing an innocent man is particularly grievous in the case of a sentence of death, which is by its nature final and irreversible.” The brief recalls that “Pope Francis has also identified the convictions of innocent men and women as striking at the core of the death penalty’s claim to justice: ‘[t]he death penalty loses all legitimacy due to the defective selectivity of the criminal justice system and in the face of the possibility of judicial error. Human justice is imperfect, and the failure to recognize its fallibility can transform it into a source of injustice.’”
The full text of the amicus brief is available here.
Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, amicus curiae, U.S. Supreme Court, Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, FCCB, James M. Dailey, death penalty, capital punishment, human justice, Pope Francis.