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Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs Issues Invitation to Celebrate Annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

WASHINGTON--Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, invites all to celebrate the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which takes place January 18-25, 2019. This week provides an opportunity to join together and pray as Jesus did “that they may all be one.” (John 17:21) The practice, originally called the Christian Unity Octave, was first observed in 1908 by Fr. Paul Wattson and Sr. Lurana White, co-founders of the Society of Atonement. Today, it is a collaborative project by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches.

This year’s theme is “Justice, Only Justice, You Shall Pursue.” (Deuteronomy 16:20). It was chosen by Christians from Indonesia, highlighting the unique opportunity the call for justice plays in our ecumenical efforts. According to Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute (GEII) who promotes the Week of Prayer in the United States, Christian communities "become newly aware of their unity as they join in a common concern and a common response to an unjust reality. At the same time, confronted by these injustices, we are obliged, as Christians, to examine the ways in which we are complicit. Only by heeding Jesus’s prayer 'that they all may be one' can we witness to living unity in diversity. It is through our unity in Christ that we will be able to combat injustice and serve the needs of its victims."

Further information and other resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity are available at http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-interreligious/events/week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity.cfm
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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Pro-Life Committee Chairman’s Roe v. Wade Anniversary Statement Encourages Faithful to be “Witnesses of Merciful Love”

WASHINGTON—Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City called on the faithful "to pray for an end to the human rights abuse of abortion, and for a culture of life, where through God’s grace all will come to know they are made in His Divine Image.”

His statement on January 18 marks the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in all 50 states. Archbishop Naumann, who gave the opening prayer at the March for Life the same day, chairs the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“Protecting the life of the unborn children is the pre-eminent human rights issue of our time, not only because of the sheer magnitude of the numbers, but because abortion attacks the sanctuary of life, the family,” wrote Archbishop Naumann. “Every abortion not only destroys the life of an innocent child, but it wounds and scars mothers and fathers...in reality, the welfare of parents and their child are always intimately linked.”

Naumann also made it clear that pro-life Catholics “are concerned about the life and dignity of the human person wherever it is threatened or diminished,” and highlighted the sexual abuse crisis within the Church as an example of “grave injustice” to this dignity. “The abuse of children or minors upends the pro-life ethic,” the Archbishop explained, because it is an “egregious offense against the dignity of the human person.”

The Archbishop spoke of a Church “devastated by the scandal of sexual misconduct by clergy and of past instances of the failure of bishops to respond with compassion to victims of abuse and to protect adequately the members of their flock.” He urged the Church and the faithful to “seek justice for all of God’s children.”
“We must do all we can to be God’s witnesses of merciful love in the world,” the Archbishop continued. “We know and give thanks for the great dignity God has given to us from the moment of conception, to be made in his image. We also must pray for the grace to remind others of this inherent dignity, in our words and in our actions.”

The Archbishop encouraged all Catholics to take part in the National Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of the Unborn on January 22: “Let us pray that we can be great and effective witnesses for life, witnesses for love, witnesses for mercy.”

The full text of Archbishop Naumann's message is available online at http://www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/january-roe-events/2019/2019-statement-on-the-anniversary-of-roe-vs-wade.cfm
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Keywords: USCCB, Pro-Life, Abortion, Archbishop Naumann, March for Life, protection of life, human person, mercy, human dignity, National Day of Prayer
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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

President Trump Announces Commitment to Uphold Pro-Life Laws

WASHINGTON— Today, President Trump reiterated his enduring support for pro-life laws or policies. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, chairman of the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities responded with the following statement:

“As Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, I commend President Trump for announcing at today’s March for Life that he will oppose repealing or weakening any existing pro-life laws or policies. These pro-life laws and policies reflect the convictions of millions of Americans, many of whom attended today’s March, that taxpayers should not be forced to fund abortions, or organizations that promote abortion, or participate in any way in the deliberate destruction of unborn human life.

We are deeply grateful for the President’s pro-life commitment, and for all the actions this administration has taken to protect unborn children and their mothers from the violence of abortion. We look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to advance policies that value human life and dignity from conception to natural death.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops USCCB, Pro-Life

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

USCCB President Says Society Needs “Artisans of Peace” by Following Dr. King’s Example

WASHINGTON— The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, has issued the following statement in relation to the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 21.

Cardinal DiNardo's full statement follows:

“Today more than ever, our societies need ‘artisans of peace’ who can be messengers and authentic witnesses of God the Father, who wills the good and the happiness of the human family.”
Pope Francis’ words, given in his 2019 World Day of Peace address, remind us how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was such an artisan of peace. Dr. King was a messenger and true witness to the power of the gospel lived in action through public life. This year, as we again mark the anniversary of his life, and reflect upon the 51st anniversary of his death, we are thankful for the path forged by Dr. King and the countless others who worked tirelessly and suffered greatly in the fight for racial equality and justice.
As a nation and as a society, we face great challenges as well as tremendous opportunities ahead.

This past November, the entire body of Catholic bishops approved Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love— A Pastoral Letter Against Racism. The letter’s goal is to again name and call attention to a great affliction and evil that persists in this nation, and to offer a hope-filled Christian response to this perennial sickness. Racism is a national wound from which we continually struggle to heal. As we wrote in the pastoral letter, “Racism can only end if we contend with the policies and institutional barriers that perpetuate and preserve the inequality—economic and social—that we still see all around us.”

Today, remembering how Dr. King contended with policies and institutional barriers of his time, many which persist today, we renew our pledge to fight for the end of racism in the Church and in the United States. We pledge our commitment to build a culture of life, where all people are valued for their intrinsic dignity as daughters and sons of God. We encourage Catholics and all people of good will to study the pastoral letter, and to study and reflect upon Dr. King’s witness against the destructive effects of racism, poverty and continuous war.  

We call on everyone to embrace our ongoing need for healing in all areas of our lives where we are wounded, but particularly where our hearts are not truly open to the idea and the truth that we are all made in the image and likeness of God. As Dr. King said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."  
USCCB Pastoral Letter on racism and other information about the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/racism/
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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops USCCB, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Racism

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Holy Land 2019 Coordination Communiqué: Christians in Israel – Challenges and Opportunities

WASHINGTON—Representatives of bishops' conferences from several countries, including Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Chairman of the International Justice and Peace Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, met in the Holy Land January 12-17, 2019. Together, they have issued their annual communiqué in which they acknowledge the challenges and opportunities that Christians face in Israel. In the communiqué, the bishops call for prayer, pilgrimage and practical solidarity on behalf of Christians in Israel to help keep hope for the future alive.

Noting that Israel was founded on the principle of equality for all citizens, representatives of bishops’ conferences from several countries, including the United States, acknowledged that Christians in Israel face challenges and opportunities. In the final communiqué of the Holy Land Coordination, the bishops called for prayer, pilgrimage and practical solidarity to help Christians in Israel keep their hope for the future alive.

Nineteen bishops from Europe, the United States, Canada and South Africa made the annual solidarity visit which included time spent in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Haifa, and villages meeting with Christian mayors, villagers, and migrants to hear of their stories of living and working in Israel.
In their communiqué, the bishops note that many Christians, along with Palestinian Arabs and migrants, face systematic discrimination and are marginalized. In particular they noted that Israel’s Nation State Law passed in 2018 creates “a constitutional and legal basis for discrimination” against minorities and supported “all those challenging discrimination.”

After visiting a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) camp and school in Jenin, the bishops also called for their governments to help fund health care, education and other basic services for Palestinian refugees. This was in response to the U.S. government’s decision to withdraw funding for the Palestinians and call for the closing of UNRWA.

The bishops expressed admiration for their sisters and brothers in the Holy Land for not losing hope and committed themselves to help keep that hope alive.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops along with bishops from other nations on this solidarity visit continue to decry violence as a way to resolve conflict but instead strongly support a two-state solution in which the two democratic sovereign states of Israel and Palestine exist in peace.

The Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church in the Holy Land has met every January since 1998 to pray and act in solidarity with the Christian community in the Holy Land.
The bishops’ 2019 communiqué is available at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/israel-palestine/holy-land-coordination-communique-january-2019.cfm
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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Holy Land Coordination, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Holy Land, Israel, Christians, pilgrimage, solidarity, communiqué, United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Palestine, sovereign states

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

USCCB PRO-LIFE SECRETARIAT EXPRESSES DEEP DISAPPOINTMENT AT SENATE FAILURE TO PASS NO TAXPAYER FUNDING FOR ABORTION ACT

WASHINGTON— “Taxpayer dollars should not pay for abortion. The majority of Americans, including many who consider themselves pro-choice, agree on this,” said Kat Talalas, spokeswoman on abortion for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), responding to the Senate’s vote today on the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2019” (S. 109).

The Senate voted (48-47) in favor of the bill, but Talalas expressed deep disappointment that it did not receive the 60 votes needed for passage in the Senate. The Senate held its vote on January 17, the day before the annual March for Life in Washington.

The bill would codify a permanent, government-wide policy against taxpayer subsidies for abortion and abortion coverage. It would also require health plans offered under the Affordable Care Act to disclose the extent of their coverage for abortion and the amount of any surcharge for that coverage to consumers. Archbishop Joseph Naumann, chair of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities at the USCCB, wrote to Congress prior to the vote, urging support for the legislation. Naumann said that “abortion is a false and violent response to an unplanned pregnancy that turns a woman in crisis and her unborn child against each other,” and that the federal government “should not force taxpayers to subsidize this violence.”

“The USCCB urges the House and Senate to work together to pass legislation that reflects the will of the American people, and prevents tax dollars from funding elective abortion,” Talalas said.
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Keywords: USCCB, Catholic, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Roe v. Wade, abortion, anniversary, Pro-Life, Prolife, Archbishop Naumann, 9 Days for Life, People of Life, #9daysforlife, No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2019, H.R. 7, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, Congress, March for Life, funding, Affordable Care Act
 
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MEDIA CONTACT
Judy Keane
O: 202-541-3206

 

“Birdbox” and Spiritual Warfare

The film “Birdbox,” based on a British novel of the same name, started streaming on Netflix around Christmas time. Starring Sandra Bullock and John Malkovich, it is a taut thriller that manages, perhaps despite itself, to shed considerable light on the parlous spiritual condition of contemporary culture.

Over 12,000 U.S. pilgrims and 34 U.S. Bishops Traveling to Panama for World Youth Day; WYD Stateside Events Expected to Also Draw Thousands of Youth and Young Adults

WASHINGTON--The United States will be sending over 12,000 youth and young adults, ages 16 to 35, to Panama for the thirty-fourth annual celebration of World Youth Day (WYD). The global event, taking place January 22-27, 2019, in and around Panama City, is expected to draw over 1 million people from all 6 continents.

“The bishops of the United States and I joyfully walk with the young people and young adults of our country as fellow pilgrims,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport and the WYD liaison for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. In all, 32 bishops from the U.S. are planning to attend the global event.

Bishop Caggiano will be one of 20 bishops who also have been invited by the Vatican to serve as English- and Spanish-language catechists in Panama, giving reflections to groups of pilgrims on the 2019 WYD theme, “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38). Other U.S. catechist bishops include Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, and Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami.

Pope Francis arrives in Panama on Wednesday, January 23, with a special welcome ceremony planned for Thursday, January 24. He will also preside at a Via Crucis prayer service (January 25), a candlelight vigil and adoration (January 26), and the Closing Mass (January 27), where he will announce the location of the next international WYD in 2022.

While the pope and the WYD pilgrims meet in Panama this January, several dioceses and communities across the United States will be hosting “stateside celebrations” concurrent with tWYD events for thousands of young people in the U.S. There will be major gatherings for youth and young adults in California, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington State, and a multi-diocesan flagship event in Washington, D.C., called “Panama in the Capital” with the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Mark Kennedy Shriver of Save the Children Action Network, and many others. Details of these events can be found at http://www.usccb.org/about/world-youth-day/stateside-wyd-celebrations.cfm

“We pray in solidarity with the thousands of young people across the United States who are celebrating this experience digitally and stateside in their local communities,” noted Bishop Caggiano on the connection of the Panama pilgrims and those experiencing WYD at home.

On Wednesday, January 23, the USCCB will collaborate with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) and the Knights of Columbus on a special one-day event called “Fiat Festival,” to be held at the Figali (Amador) Convention Center in Panama from 3:00 to 10:00 pm ET. The event will feature music, keynotes, panels, video, prayer, and a closing Holy Hour with Bishop Robert Barron and Cardinal Sean O’Malley. It will be livestreamed through FOCUS Catholic’s YouTube Channel.

For more information about World Youth Day and the U.S. engagement, go to www.wydusa.org and follow the USCCB’s social media channels throughout WYD.
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Keywords: World Youth Day, Panama, USCCB, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Knights of Columbus, FOCUS

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

National Catholic Schools Week Begins January 27-February 2; With the Theme, “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.”

WASHINGTON—National Catholic Schools Week 2019 (CSW) will be observed in dioceses around the country January 27–February 2. This year’s theme, “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.,” focuses on the important spiritual, academic and societal contributions provided by a Catholic education firmly rooted in the Truth of the Gospel.

As Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, Oakland, newly elected chairman of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Catholic Education said, “Young people today need Catholic education more than ever. In a world where truth, beauty and goodness are considered all but subjective, the Way, Truth and Life offered us in Jesus Christ are our only source of direction, clarity and hope. Furthermore, being rooted in faith does not endanger the academic quality of Catholic schools, but in fact is their very motivation for excellence in all things.”

Nearly 1.8 million students are currently educated in 6,352 Catholic schools in cities, suburbs, small towns and rural communities around the country. Students receive an education that helps them become critical thinkers, strong communicators and active members of society, thus equipping them for higher education, a competitive work environment, and most importantly, living a Christian life of virtue in a challenging society. “Following Christ’s example of loving and serving all people, Catholic schools proudly provide a well-rounded education to disadvantaged families, new arrivals to America and to all who seek a seat in our schools. Since the inception of Catholic schools in our country, we have always sought to welcome families of all backgrounds while maintaining our principles and teaching in a spirit of charity,” Bishop Barber said.

The observance of CSW began in 1974. Schools and parishes around the country will hold activities such as Masses, open houses, and family gatherings to celebrate the communities they represent. The week also highlights the educational and community successes of Catholic schools nationwide. Ninety nine percent of Catholic school students graduate from high school and 86 percent of Catholic school graduates attend college. This percentage has been consistent for over 20 years.

For the second year, the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) will lead the Many Gifts, One Nation: A Day of Giving to Catholic Schools, in partnership with FACTS Management, January 29, 12 PM EST through January 30, 12 PM EST. This 24-hour period is one way to support development programs in Catholic schools throughout the country. Scheduled during National Catholic Schools Week, this Day of Giving is a perfect time for individuals to give to their local Catholic schools. In 2018, more than $850,000 was donated to 539 participating Catholic schools, six dioceses and NCEA. For more information on the Day of Giving, please go to www.NCEA.org/csw/manygifts.
Catholic schools and the many members of Catholic school communities will share their Catholic Schools Week celebrations on social media using #CSW19. The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) and the Secretariat of Catholic Education will also highlight Catholic education’s strengths, successes and stories on their Twitter profiles: @NCEATalk and @USCCBCatholicEd, respectively. More information on the Committee on Catholic Education and other resources are available online: www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/catholic-education/ and www.NCEA.org/csw.

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Keywords: National Catholic Schools Week, Bishops Michael C. Barber, SJ., Committee on Catholic Education, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, schools, education, National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), Day of Giving, Secretariat of Catholic Education, learn, serve, lead, succeed.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Bishops Express Dismay at Court Ruling Enjoining Moral and Religious Exemption to HHS Mandate

WASHINGTON–In response to Monday’s federal court ruling from Pennsylvania granting a nationwide injunction barring the broadened moral and religious exemption to the HHS mandate, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Chairman of the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty, issued the following statement:

“Yesterday’s court ruling freezing these common-sense regulations leaves those with conscientious or religious objections to the HHS mandate out in the cold. In a free country, no one should be forced to facilitate or fund things like contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs and devices, which go against their core beliefs. We pray that this decision will be appealed and that future courts will respect the free exercise arguments of the Little Sisters of the Poor and so many others who simply seek the freedom to serve their neighbors without the threat of massive government fines hanging over their heads.”

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Keywords: Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop Joseph Naumann, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, USCCB, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, HHS mandate, Little Sisters of the Poor, abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, contraception, religious liberty, religious freedom, free exercise, freedom to serve

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200