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U.S. Bishops Approve $1.5 Million in Funding for Pastoral Projects to Support the Church in Africa

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Africa approved 56 grants totaling just over $1.5 million in funding to support dioceses and pastoral projects across the African continent at its meeting on June 10 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Projects slated to receive funding through the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa include the following:
●   In Malawi, in response to the challenges facing marriage and family life, the National Pastoral Commission will organize training for national and diocesan leaders of Family Movements and marriage counsellors from all eight dioceses within the country to help engaged couples invest in their relationships for a lasting marriage. The grant will provide a series of five-day workshops in four different regions of Malawi to train approximately 200 leaders who will then train others at the local level to offer marriage preparation courses.
●   National pastoral coordinators and youth leaders from eight countries across Eastern Africa will receive training based on Pope Francis’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation Christus Vivit. In addition to building capacity, the workshops will aim to develop a robust five-year plan to engage young people to act as missionary disciples and agents of evangelization throughout the region.
●   The Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa will convene representatives from its eight member countries for a five-day conference to raise awareness, increase skills and improve coordination on human migration issues. In addition, they will produce and disseminate across the region a popularized version of a booklet containing model legislation and policies related to migrants and refugees using Vatican and other international sources.
●   The Inter-regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) will convene a colloquium to facilitate the study of Laudato Si’ by seminary rectors and professors of Catholic Social Teaching from nine countries across the southern African region. The grant will help fund the development of plans and the publishing of a document to help seminary staff and seminarians gain a greater understanding of Pope Francis’ teaching on care for our common home.

“The Church in Africa is pioneering many innovative programs that, without the support of the Solidarity Fund, the episcopal conferences and local dioceses may not otherwise be able to host. I am grateful for the generous support of the faithful of the United States who support the Solidarity Fund and help the Church in Africa to address the crucial pastoral issues of our day,” said Cardinal Joseph Tobin, CSsR, of Newark, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Church in Africa.
Additional areas of funding include seminarian and religious formation, evangelization, family ministries, and lay leadership training.

The Subcommittee on the Church in Africa oversees the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. It allocates revenue received from the Solidarity Fund, which is a voluntary collection, as pastoral grants to episcopal conferences and their regional associations in Africa. To learn more about the work of the Subcommittee visit www.usccb.org/africa.
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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Africa, grants

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

U.S. Bishops Provide Aid for Pastoral Programs to Aid the Church in Central and Eastern Europe

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe approved $5.2 million in funding for 241 projects in 22 countries in Central and Eastern Europe at the Subcommittee's meeting on June 10 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Pastoral projects approved for funding include:
●   Support for a microenterprise training and resource center for people with disabilities in Bulgaria. This parish-based Caritas Workshop provides employment, job training, and social support to people who otherwise face discrimination in the labor market. This grant will allow the Caritas Workshop to expand its physical space, as well as the number of people it serves.
●   Construction of a church and parish house for the growing Catholic community of the Holy Mother of the Rosary parish in Nura, Kazakhstan. This community has been using an old, crumbling house for worship and catechesis. This grant will provide a suitable space for worship, catechesis, and other pastoral efforts which is large enough to accommodate the growing number of Catholics in the community.
●   Proliferation of My Fertility Matters Project in Lithuania. Begun in 1999, this pioneering fertility awareness program educates young people through puberty and adolescence as well as their parents. This grant will help educate approximately 2,000 young people in Lithuania in 2020.
●   Creation of an art therapy program for impoverished children who have suffered sexual or physical violence, or who have post-traumatic stress disorder. Led by Caritas Georgia, this project will provide dozens of children in villages in West Georgia with art therapy to help cope with stress, work through traumatic experiences, and improve their mental health.

“We are humbled and inspired by the witness and resolve of the faithful of Central and Eastern Europe who, after decades of oppression, are rebuilding their ancient church while confronting modern challenges. On behalf of the Subcommittee, I extend my sincere gratitude to Catholics of the United States for their solidarity and support,” said Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton of Steubenville, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe.

Other projects approved by the Subcommittee include scholarships and formation for church leadership, church and pastoral center construction, Catholic education renewal and development, and evangelization programs. Grants approved by the Subcommittee support the Church in countries previously oppressed by communism.

Grants are funded by the annual Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. The national date for this collection is Ash Wednesday, although dioceses may take it up on different dates. The Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe oversees the collection and an annual grant program as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. More information about the collection and who it supports can be found at www.usccb.org/ccee.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Eastern Europe, grants

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Migration Statement in Response to Imminent Administration Deportation Plans

WASHINGTON—On Monday, June 17, 2019, President Donald J. Trump announced impending immigration enforcement actions by the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Subsequent press reports on Friday, June 21 indicated that ICE has plans for an enforcement operation in major cities to remove thousands of migrant families with deportation orders.  
 
In response to the President’s statement and reports that have followed, the Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin and Chair of the USCCB Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:  

“We recognize the right of nations to control their borders in a just and proportionate manner. However, broad enforcement actions instigate panic in our communities and will not serve as an effective deterrent to irregular migration. Instead, we should focus on the root causes in Central America that have compelled so many to leave their homes in search of safety and reform our immigration system with a view toward justice and the common good. We stand ready to work with the Administration and Congress to achieve those objectives.   

During this unsettling time, we offer our prayers and support to our brothers and sisters, regardless of their immigration status, and recognizing their inherent dignity as children of God.”
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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Committee on Migration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Trump Administration, U.S. Congress, inherent dignity
 
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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

World Refugee Day 2019 to be Celebrated June 20

WASHINGTON—Today is World Refugee Day which is observed in the United States and around the world. World Refugee Day, first celebrated in 2000, is designed to increase awareness of refugees.

Currently, the world is embroiled in the biggest migratory crisis since World War II with more than 25 million refugees around the world.

“We have seen the images of the refugee crisis, and World Refugee Day calls attention to the critical need to assist our refugee brothers and sisters and make them feel a sense of welcome,” said Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration. “It is imperative for us to highlight the contributions refugees make in our communities.”

The Presidential Determination for refugee resettlement was set at an all-time low of 30,000 refugees for the current fiscal year. This comes only one year after half of the 45,000 refugees set forth by the Administration’s determination were resettled in the United States.  

USCCB/MRS, with Catholic Charities USA, will be participating in a Capitol Hill briefing on Thursday for members of Congress and their staff. The briefing will include information about the root causes forcing refugees to flee their home country and the impact of refugee resettlement in the United States. More information on World Refugee Day can be found on the Justice for Immigrants website.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe Vazquez, Committee on Migration, refugees, migrants, immigrants, human trafficking, World Refugee Day

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Mark Priceman
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Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace Calls for De-escalation of Conflict with Iran

WASHINGTON—In a June 18 letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services, USA and Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, noted that escalating tensions between the United States and Iran increase the risk of conflict in the Middle East, a region that is already extremely volatile. Reiterating the Bishops’ Conference’s support for the P5+1 agreement with Iran, Archbishop Broglio stated that the U.S. unilateral withdrawal from that agreement and imposition of added economic sanctions has also “exacerbated tensions with close allies and other world powers.” Archbishop Broglio expressed the hope that “the United States will initiate sustained dialogue with allies, world powers and Iran, in order to deescalate the current situation that is a danger to both the region and the world.”

The full text of the letter follows: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/iran/letter-to-secretary-of-state-pompeo-on-iran-2019-06-18.cfm

Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services, Committee on International Justice and Peace, de-escalation, Iran, conflict, Middle East, economic sanctions

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Catholic Young Adult Leaders to Take Part in Vatican Post-Synod Dialogue

WASHINGTON—The Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life will convene in Rome on June 19-22 for an International Post-Synodal Forum of young adults to discuss the impact of Pope Francis’s recent apostolic exhortation, Christus Vivit.

This International Forum will feature interactive discussions on the synodal process and Christus Vivit, including a brief visit with the Holy Father, Pope Francis. According to the Dicastery, “the Forum will be a space for community discernment [and] maintaining the synodal missionary style promoted by the Synod.”

Brian Rhude from the Archdiocese of Baltimore and Brenda Noriega from the Diocese of San Bernardino are two of the young adult leaders who will be representing the United States. They will join the forum discussions with other young Catholic leaders from around the globe.  

Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap., of Philadelphia and chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, said, “We are grateful to the Holy Father for continuing these conversations begun during the synodal process last year, and we are happy to have Brian and Brenda representing our nation’s young people in Rome for this important dialogue.”

Brian Rhude is a student at The Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, D.C., where he is studying theology, and works as a project coordinator for the Catholic Apostolate Center. He studied at the CUA campus in Rome during the Fall 2018 semester, which coincided with the Synod on “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment,” where he was a media correspondent for the Catholic Apostolate Center. Brian also has a background in music and culinary arts.

Brenda Noriega is the Coordinator of Young Adults Ministry for the Diocese of San Bernardino and serves on the USCCB’s National Advisory Team on Young Adult Ministry. She was the co-leader of the bishop and young adult encounter at the V Encuentro national event in Texas in September 2018. Brenda previously worked in the Diocese of Fresno. In January 2019, she attended World Youth Day in Panama, where she represented North America at a luncheon with Pope Francis.

Mr. Rhude and Ms. Noriega will offer feedback in small and large groups discussions on how the exhortation is being received by young people across the United States. Paul Jarzembowski, Assistant Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries and Lay Ecclesial Ministry for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ will present to Forum participants on Christus Vivit and its impact on pastoral leaders in parishes, dioceses, and national organizations in the U.S.

More information about the Forum can be found at www.laityfamilylife.va.
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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, Christus Vivit, Brian Rhude, Archdiocese of Baltimore. Brenda Noriega, Diocese of San Bernardino, Paul Jarzembowski, USCCB Office of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Migration Expresses Support for Mexican Bishops Concerns Regarding Recent Agreement Between Mexico and the United States

WASHINGTON— Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration has issued a statement in support of Catholic Bishops of Mexico who have expressed concern regarding a recent agreement between Mexico and the United States which will restrict the flow of migrants at the U.S./Mexico Border.

On June 10, the Catholic Bishops of Mexico stated:

"We express our concern for the lack of a truly humanitarian reception for our brother migrants, which reflects our conviction regarding the protection of the rights of all human beings equally," the bishops further stated, "Our brother migrants must not be a bargaining chip. No negotiations should be placed above what the church and civil society have defended for years: not criminalizing migrants nor the defenders of human rights.”

Bishop Joe Vásquez responded with the following statement of support:

“We stand in solidarity with our brother bishops in Mexico. We implore the Administration not to confuse economic issues with the humanitarian issues of forced migration. Families fleeing violence, persecution and extreme poverty must be treated with love and compassion and not be used as a tool for negotiations.

As always, we recognize the right of a nation to secure its borders.  However, the Gospel teaches us to love our neighbor. This is the imperative we must follow in treating our migrant brothers and sisters with compassion and dignity. We should be working with the governments of the Northern Triangle and the Mexican Government to eradicate violence and improve the local economies from which families are being forced to migrate.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Committee on Migration, Catholic Bishops of Mexico, migrants, U.S./Mexico Border, migrants, human rights, Administration

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Media Contacts:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

 

Miguel Guilarte

202-541-3202

 

U.S. Bishops Vote in Favor of Three Additional Bishop Accountability Measures During Baltimore General Assembly

BALTIMORE— Today, U.S. Catholic Bishops have approved three additional measures to address abuse and bishop accountability during their annual Spring General Assembly in Baltimore. The measures expand upon the Pope Francis’s Motu proprio and the U.S. Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The reforms are designed to hold bishops accountable for instances of sexual misconduct against minors and vulnerable adults.

The first vote, Protocol Regarding Available Non-Penal Restrictions on Bishops, passed by 212 to 4 with 1 abstention. This form of accountability provides protocols for imposing limitations on former bishops who were removed from office for grave reasons. It also empowers the USCCB president to restrict bishops removed or resigned for reasons related to sexual abuse or abuse of power.

A second vote, Acknowledging Our Episcopal Commitments passed by 217 to 1 with 2 abstentions. This accountability measure implements a bishop code of conduct, including the affirmation that the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People is expanded to include bishops as well as priests and deacons.

The third vote, Directives for the Implementation of the Provisions of Vos estis lux mundi Concerning Bishops and their Equivalents, presents a plan for optimal implementation of Pope Francis’s recent Motu proprio in the United States, including an outline for lay involvement. It passed by 218 to 1 with 2 abstentions.  

Yesterday, the body of bishops passed another bishop accountability reform, voting for the establishment of a Third-Party Reporting System for receiving confidentially, by phone and online, reports of possible violations by bishops of Vos estis lux mundi. The action item commits to activating the system no later than May 31, 2020.

To view the full action item documents pertaining to bishop accountability voted on yesterday and today, please visit: www.usccb.org/meetings
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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, General Assembly, Motu proprio, Vos estis lux mundi, Protocol, Acknowledging Our Episcopal Commitments, Provisions Concerning Bishops and their Equivalents, Directives, Third-Party Reporting System, abuse crisis, bishop accountability, votes

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

U.S Bishops Approve the Revised Passage on the Death Penalty for the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults

BALTIMORE— The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved the revised passage on the death penalty for the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults.

The full body of bishops approved the revised passage by a vote of 194 to 8 with 3 abstentions at their Spring General Assembly taking place in Baltimore, June 11-14.
 
On August 2, 2018, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released the Holy Father’s revision to the teaching on the death penalty in the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church (no. 2267). In response, the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis of the USCCB prepared a new section on the death penalty for the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults (USCCA).

Following collaboration with the Committee on Doctrine, they placed the revised statement on the death penalty for the USCCA before the body of Bishops for approval by two thirds of the members, with subsequent recognitio from the Holy See.

The revised statement on the death penalty would replace the current text in the USCCA (pp. 394-395).

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, death penalty, Baltimore, Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, Committee on Doctrine, Catechism of the Catholic Church.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200                                                                                                                                                                       

 

U.S. Bishops’ Vote in Favor of Moving Forward on Third-Party System for Reporting Abuse Allegations Against Bishops

BALTIMORE—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have taken three separate votes that will lead to the establishment of a third-party reporting system designed to receive confidentially, by phone or online, reports of possible violations by bishops per Pope Francis’s Vos estis lux mundi.  

The bishops voted overwhelmingly in favor of each of the elements necessary to establish a third-party reporting system yesterday.

By a vote of 205 to 16 with 3 abstentions, the General Assembly voted to authorize the design of a third-party system for receiving confidentially, by phone or online, reports of possible violations by bishops of Vos estis lux mundi.

By a vote of 200 to 21 with 2 abstentions, the bishops voted to authorize the Executive Committee to develop a more detailed proposal for a third-party reporting system, including financial, structural, and other necessary adjustments to account for Vos estis lux mundi, for review and approval by the Conference’s Administrative Committee at its September and November 2019 meetings.  

Additionally, the bishops voted in favor of committing to activate the third-party reporting system by no later than May 31, 2020 by a 220 to 4 vote with 1 abstention.  

Vos estis lux mundi, allows until May 31, 2020 for the development of local systems to receive such reports. Accordingly, May 31, 2020 is the earliest date the body can commit to activation of the system without interfering with the varying schedules of the Metropolitans and senior suffragans in developing local capacity to receive and process complaints from that system.  

It is important to note that anyone who has suffered sexual abuse by clergy should not wait for this national reporting system to be in place before reporting abuse. Individuals who may have been abused should contact local civil authorities to file a report as soon as possible, and may also report to Church authorities by existing means, such as Victims’ Assistance Coordinators. After reporting to civil authorities, individuals can also register a complaint with the metropolitan for issues related to sexual abuse or an abuse of power.

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Keywords: Pope Francis, Moto proprio, Vos estis lux muni, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Third-Party Reporting System, Administrative Committee, Episcopal Conference, spring general assembly

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200