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Following Court Decision on DACA, U.S. Bishops’ Migration Chairman Renews Plea for Congress to Provide Legislative Solution

WASHINGTON - This week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued its decision in Texas v. United States, affirming a lower court’s ruling that deemed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to be unlawful. The decision comes after the Biden Administration appealed a July 2021 decision that has halted adjudication of all new DACA applications and threatens protection for current beneficiaries. The appellate court’s decision returns the case to the district court to consider the impact of regulations published by the Department of Homeland Security on August 30 to codify the program.

DACA, which was implemented in 2012, allows certain undocumented individuals who were brought to the United States as children—commonly known as “Dreamers”—to remain in the country. The current DACA population includes nearly 600,000 active recipients, with over 80,000 first-time applications sitting unprocessed. DACA does not provide beneficiaries with legal status or create a pathway to citizenship, but it does offer temporary protection from removal and eligibility to apply for work authorization. 

In response to the decision, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, stated:

“In light of this troubling development, we reaffirm our solidarity with the Dreamers of this country whose lives and futures once again hang in the balance. We implore Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, to provide a permanent solution for all Dreamers out of respect for their God-given dignity. Until we have that solution, each new challenge to the DACA program creates further uncertainty and anguish for hundreds of thousands of people and their families. Dreamers are integral members of our communities. For many, the United States is the only home they know. But despite their daily contributions to the welfare of our nation, Dreamers are not afforded the same liberties as their native-born neighbors. This is a grave injustice unbefitting a moral society, and it must be remedied without further delay.”

There are currently multiple bills pending before the U.S. Congress that would provide permanent relief to Dreamers, including the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) and the Dream Act (S. 264), both of which have been endorsed by the USCCB. The need for congressional action on this matter is just one in a series of issues demonstrating the necessity of comprehensive immigration reform, as underscored by the USCCB’s Administrative Committee in March.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Chairman Affirms Church Teaching on Dignity of Human Life

WASHINGTON – Marking 100 days since the Supreme Court of the United States’ decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, called for “radical solidarity” with pregnant women, and reiterated Catholic teaching on life in response to recent public comments from people in public life who distort the Catholic Church’s teaching.

“The Catholic Church recognizes that all people, born and unborn, have been created in the image and likeness of God, and therefore have inherent dignity, and the right to life. When a woman is carrying a child, both mother and child are valued and should be protected, and the life of one should not be set against the life of another. The goal is always to save life, never to intentionally destroy life. The Church seeks the protection of all unborn children, this includes the innocent child conceived in rape or incest.

“Mothers should also be protected and supported, and we all have a responsibility to stand with mothers in need and provide the material and emotional support necessary to allow mothers, children, and families to live in dignity. In the post-Roe world, we must act in radical solidarity with the pregnant woman and her child, as we work and pray for the day when abortion is unthinkable.  

“Whereas the Church always seeks the protection of all unborn children, it is licit to support legislation that falls short of this goal, if it advances protections and limits harm. Evangelium Vitae, Sec. 73: ‘This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.’

“The USCCB supports legislation that seeks to limit the harm of abortion, including some legislation that includes exceptions. We will continue to pray and work for the day when all human life is welcomed in love and protected by law.”

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops to Elect New Leadership for their Episcopal Conference at Fall General Assembly in November

WASHINGTON – When the U.S. bishops gather in November for their Fall General Assembly (November 14-17), they will elect the next president and vice president for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). They will also elect new chairmen for six standing committees of the Conference.

The president and vice president are elected from a slate of 10 candidates who have been nominated by their fellow bishops. They are as follows (in alphabetical order):

  • Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Archdiocese for the Military Services
  • Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Diocese of Arlington
  • Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, Diocese of Bridgeport
  • Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City
  • Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, Archdiocese of San Francisco
  • Archbishop Paul D. Etienne, Archdiocese of Seattle
  • Bishop Daniel E. Flores, Diocese of Brownsville
  • Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, Archdiocese of San Antonio
  • Archbishop William E. Lori, Archdiocese of Baltimore
  • Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend

The president and vice president are elected to three-year terms, which begin at the conclusion of this year’s General Assembly. At that time, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, and Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit, will complete their terms as president and vice president, respectively.

The by-laws of the USCCB provide that the first election is that of the president by simple majority vote of members present and voting. Following the election of the president, the vice-president is elected from the remaining nine candidates. In either election, if a candidate does not receive more than half of the votes cast on the first ballot, a second vote is taken. If a third round of voting is necessary, that ballot is a run-off between the two bishops who received the most votes on the second ballot. 

During the meeting, the bishops will also vote for new chairmen of six USCCB standing committees: Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance; Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs; Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis; Committee on International Justice and Peace; Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People; and the Committee on Religious Liberty. The six committee chairmen elected will serve for one year as chairman-elect before beginning a three-year term at the conclusion of the bishops’ 2023 Fall General Assembly.

The nominees for chairman-elect are as follows (alphabetical order):

COMMITTEE ON CANONICAL AFFAIRS AND CHURCH GOVERNANCE

  • Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, Diocese of Springfield in Illinois
  • Bishop Alfred A. Schlert, Diocese of Allentown

COMMITTEE ON ECUMENICAL AND INTERRELIGIOUS AFFAIRS

  • Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, Diocese of Scranton
  • Bishop Peter L. Smith, auxiliary bishop, Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon

COMMITTEE ON EVANGELIZATION AND CATECHESIS

  • Archbishop Charles C. Thompson, Archdiocese of Indianapolis
  • Bishop William D. Byrne, Diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts

COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE AND PEACE

  • Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez, Archdiocese of Philadelphia
  • Bishop Abdallah Elias Zaidan, MLM, Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon

COMMITTEE ON PROTECTION OF CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE

  • Bishop Barry C. Knestout, Diocese of Richmond
  • Bishop Elias R. Lorenzo, OSB, auxiliary bishop, Archdiocese of Newark

COMMITTEE FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

  • Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, Archdiocese of San Francisco
  • Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend

As elections for president and vice president of the Conference are also taking place at this meeting, should any of the candidates for committee chairmanship be elected to fill to a higher office, the bishops’ Committee on Priorities and Plans will convene to nominate a new candidate for that committee.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops’ President Offers Prayers in Solidarity with Those Impacted by Hurricanes

WASHINGTON - Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has called for prayers for the lives and safety of all those impacted by the recent hurricanes.

Archbishop Gomez stated:

“The recent hurricanes have brought intense wind, rain, storm surges, and flooding that have impacted dioceses in the United States and the Caribbean. I am deeply saddened to see the images of the damage and devastation left in their wake. I call on Catholics and all people of good will to pray for those who have lost their lives, and for the comfort of their grieving families and communities. We also pray for those who have lost their homes and businesses, that they may they find peace and comfort in God’s enduring love for us, even amidst these most trying circumstances. And we pray for the emergency responders and those who have begun the work of providing for the needs of the impacted in these communities in the recovery efforts, that they may be kept from harm as they seek to bring relief, comfort, and healing. We entrust our prayers to our Blessed Mother, and we ask for her continued protection and for her intercession in comforting those who are suffering.”

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions Signed Amid Highest Level of Forced Displacement Ever Recorded

WASHINGTON - Earlier this year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees announced that the total number of forcibly displaced persons in the world has reached 100 million for the first time in history, a number exacerbated by food insecurity, climate change, and ongoing conflicts. On September 27, President Biden signed a Presidential Determination (PD) of 125,000 refugee admissions to the United States for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023. The PD serves as the target for the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). The number authorized by the President for FY 2023 is the same PD set for FY 2022, which ends on September 30. The number of refugees resettled in the United States over the past year will surpass 20,000 for the first time since 2019, even while excluding large numbers of Afghans and Ukrainians who have entered the United States through alternative pathways, such as humanitarian parole.

Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, welcomed the announcement of the new PD, stating, “This is an ambitious and worthwhile goal for our nation, which has benefitted from many blessings throughout its history, including the generations of refugees who have already enriched American communities. My brother bishops and I remain fully committed to our Church’s centuries-old tradition of welcoming newcomers in this country, especially those fleeing the devastations of war, violence, persecution, political instability, and natural disasters. As we embrace this ministry given to us by Jesus, we look to the President and Congress for their continued support of a robust resettlement program, consistent with our national values. Let us truly strive toward this goal of resettling 125,000 refugees.”

The USRAP was established by the Refugee Act of 1980. Since its creation, the USCCB has served as one of nine national resettlement agencies collaborating with the U.S. government to carry out the program. To achieve this, the USCCB partners with a dedicated network of Catholic Charities agencies and other community-based organizations across the country, from Portland, Maine, to Anchorage, Alaska. In its more than 40 years of existence, USRAP has provided lifesaving protection to almost 3.5 million refugees—about one-third of whom have been aided by the USCCB network. Through this work, the Catholic Church in the United States answers Christ’s call to welcome the stranger and carries out the Church’s commitment to protecting the life and dignity of every human person, from the moment of conception to natural death.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

Representatives from Catholic and Pentecostal Churches Meet for Ecumenical Dialogue

WASHINGTON - Delegations representing the Catholic Church and the Pentecostal Charismatic Movement met September 14-16, 2022, for ecumenical dialogue. The meeting, hosted by Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was attended by representatives of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Pentecostal Charismatic Churches of North America (PCCNA), and was a continuation of a theological exchange that began last year between the two faith groups.

The three-day meeting carried the theme of “healing,” which had been developed by the co-chairs for the meeting, Rev. Dr. Harold Hunter of the PCCNA and Fr. Walt Kedjierski of the USCCB with the intent to engage in exploratory dialogue on issues related to ritual, liturgy, and sacraments. The dialogue included the offering of two papers, the first by Dr. Andrew Prevot of the Department of Theology at Boston College on “Varieties of Healing: A Catholic Perspective,” and Rev. Dr. David Han, dean, Pentecostal School of Theology on “Healing in the Pentecostal Tradition.” Both papers explored aspects of Catholic and Pentecostal healing rituals and the call to healing in the lives of individuals and wider communities.

In addition to having an opportunity to gather and pray in the Oral Roberts University chapel, the theme of the meeting was enhanced with visits to Greenwood Rising, a museum of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre that destroyed what was considered the wealthiest African American community in the country and known as “Black Wall Street,” and to the Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park. Participants of the dialogue also had the opportunity to meet with Rev. Dr. Billy Wilson, president of Oral Roberts University over lunch, and with Dr. Hal Reed, head of the Global Environmental Sustainability Program at ORU, who offered further insights Pentecostal engagement for climate justice.

Participants attending the meeting included:

  • Dr. Kimberly Belcher, University of Notre Dame
  • Rev. Dr. Tammy Dunahoo, International Church of the Foursquare Gospel
  • Dr. Martin Mittelstadt, Evangel University
  • Rev. Dr. Leonardo Gajardo, St. Paul Catholic Community (Indiana)
  • Rev. Dr. Andrew Menke, Executive Director of the Secretariat of Divine Worship, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • Rev. Dr. Frederick L. Ware, Associate Dean of the Howard University School of Divinity

Observers at the meeting included:

  • Rev. Mike Donaldson, Ph.D. student at Oral Roberts University
  • Rev. Allison Jones and Mr. Wesley Samuel of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church
  • Mr. Nathan Smith of Glenmary Missioners

The next meeting will be hosted by the USCCB at the University of Notre Dame in September 2023.

The PCCNA represents 40 million Christians through its member denominations and organizations serving in Canada, the United States, and Mexico (www.pccna.org). The USCCB is the assembly of the hierarchy of Catholic bishops who jointly exercise pastoral functions on behalf of the Christian faithful of the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands. (www.usccb.org). The provisional dialogue is sponsored by the PCCNA’s Christian Unity Commission and the USCCB’s Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

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Chieko Noguchi
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
(202) 541-3200, @email 

and 

Barbara Gray, Executive Director
Pentecostal Charismatic Churches of North America
(973) 592-3411, [email protected]    

 

U.S. Bishops’ Chairman for International Justice and Peace Condemns Threats to Use Nuclear Weapons

WASHINGTON - Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace condemned threats made during the current 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly to use nuclear weapons in the Russia-Ukraine war.

“As tensions grow at the UN General Assembly, growing rhetorical gestures threatening the use of nuclear weapons must be condemned. A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. Any threat made to use nuclear weapons reminds us of their heinous nature and disastrous consequences for all of humanity. Let us continue to pray for the leaders of the world – that the hopes and dreams we share in common for our peoples will triumph over the tempers and injustice wrought by this war in Ukraine.”

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

Respect Life Month is Opportunity for Catholics to Join in “Radical Solidarity” with Pregnant Mothers

WASHINGTON - The Catholic Church in the United States observes October as “Respect Life Month.” This year, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities invites Catholics to “practice radical solidarity and unconditional love” for pregnant and parenting mothers.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health this past June returned the responsibility of limiting abortion from the judiciary to the legislature. For those of us who have prayed for this moment to arrive, says Archbishop Lori, “it is the time for a renewal and rededication of our efforts to build a culture of life and civilization of love.” He explains that “justice requires that the basic protections of the law against violence be extended to the preborn child” while explaining that building “a world in which all are welcome requires not only justice, but compassion, healing, and above all, unconditional love.”

Moving from law to culture, Archbishop Lori asks Catholics to “shift the paradigm to what Saint Pope John Paul II described as ‘radical solidarity,’ making the good of others our own good, including especially mothers, babies (born and unborn), and families throughout the entire human lifespan.” He reminds the faithful that “Our Church understands that parents, children, and families need help not just during pregnancy, but throughout the whole of life’s journey because millions of Catholics already accompany their neighbors in such circumstances.”

Read Archbishop Lori’s full statement, “Building a Culture of Life in a Post-Roe World” here.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

Statement of U.S. Bishops’ President on the Death of Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza, Former USCCB President

WASHINGTON – Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the following statement on the passing of Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza, archbishop emeritus of Galveston-Houston, at the age of 91.

Archbishop Gomez’s full statement follows:

“It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of His Excellency, Joseph Fiorenza, the archbishop emeritus of Galveston-Houston. Archbishop Fiorenza led the bishops’ conference from 1998-2001 as president, and those who worked with him have expressed that his leadership embodied his love, dedication, and tireless service to the Church. I offer my prayers and sympathy to Archbishop Fiorenza’s family, friends, and the many people whose lives he touched through his ministry over the years as a priest, and then as bishop. May the Lord grant him eternal rest.”

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops Release National Synthesis Outlining Common Themes Raised in Synod Listening Sessions

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has issued the National Synthesis of the People of God in the United States of America. The synthesis marks the completion of the Diocesan Phase of the 2021-2023 Synod: For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.

Last October, Pope Francis invited the global Catholic Church to reflect on walking together and listening to one another. This “Synod on Synodality” is a two-year process that began with local dioceses and parishes engaging in dialogue through listening sessions. Each diocese then prepared a report of what was heard at these sessions. In turn, those local reports were then sent to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and a national summary was created and sent to the Holy See on August 29, 2022.

Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, chairman of the USCCB’s, Committee on Doctrine, who shepherded the preparation of the synthesis, wrote, “With immense gratitude, I have the distinct honor of sharing the National Synthesis. This pivotal document is the culmination of ten months of intentional listening carried out throughout the Church in the U.S. The synodal consultations, from parishes, dioceses, and national regions express the voices of hundreds of thousands in our local churches.”

The National Synthesis represents the synodal efforts of the 178 Latin dioceses in the United States, including the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter that serves both the United States and Canada. Due to their long history of synodal practice, the Eastern Catholic Churches shared their reports directly with the Holy See.

Catholic associations, organizations, and national ministries in the United States were also invited to participate in the Synod by submitting a summary report from their listening sessions to the USCCB’s Synod Team. In all, one hundred twelve (112) submissions were received from organizations, and combined with the reports from each of the (arch)dioceses, two hundred ninety (290) documents in total were received. These contributions represent over 22,000 reports from individual parishes and other groups. There were over 30,000 opportunities to participate in the Synod through in-person and virtual listening sessions as well as online surveys. An estimated 700,000 people participated in the diocesan phase of the Synod in the United States.

Bishop Flores expressed that “The synthesis is, among other things, an expression of the common joys, hopes, and wounds the bishops have heard and are hearing from the wider body of the Church. The publication of this document is not a concluding moment, it is instead an invitation to continue to dialogue and discern, together, those matters that weigh heavily on the hearts and minds of Catholics in the U.S.”

The National Synthesis is available in both English and Spanish. More information about the diocesan phase of the 2021-2023 Synod – For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission, as well as a brief overview of the next steps in the process can be found at usccb.org/synod.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200