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U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Administrative Committee Statement on Sex Abuse Scandals; Committee Releases Actions to be Taken Within Its Authority

WASHINGTON--The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Administrative Committee has issued the following statement today in response to the recent sex abuse scandals. In the statement, the bishops say they pledge to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us."

Turning to the Lord

"When each of us was ordained as a bishop, we were told:

'Keep watch over the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit has appointed you to shepherd the Church of God.'

We, the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, assembled last week in Washington at this time of shame and sorrow. Some bishops, by their actions or their failures to act, have caused great harm to both individuals and the Church as a whole. They have used their authority and power to manipulate and sexually abuse others. They have allowed the fear of scandal to replace genuine concern and care for those who have been victimized by abusers. For this, we again ask forgiveness from both the Lord and those who have been harmed. Turning to the Lord for strength, we must and will do better.

The Administrative Committee took the following actions within its authority:

1. Approved the establishment of a third-party reporting system that will receive confidentially, by phone and online, complaints of sexual abuse of minors by a bishop and sexual harassment of or sexual misconduct with adults by a bishop and will direct those complaints to the appropriate ecclesiastical authority and, as required by applicable law, to civil authorities.

2. Instructed the USCCB Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance to develop proposals for policies addressing restrictions on bishops who were removed or resigned because of allegations of sexual abuse of minors or sexual harassment of or misconduct with adults, including seminarians and priests.

3. Initiated the process of developing a Code of Conduct for bishops regarding the sexual abuse of a minor; sexual harassment of or sexual misconduct with an adult; or negligence in the exercise of his office related to such cases.

4. Supported a full investigation into the situation surrounding Archbishop McCarrick, including his alleged assaults on minors, priests, and seminarians, as well any responses made to those allegations. Such an investigation should rely upon lay experts in relevant fields, such as law enforcement and social services.

This is only a beginning. Consultation with a broad range of concerned parents, experts, and other laity along with clergy and religious will yield additional, specific measures to be taken to repair the scandal and restore justice. We humbly welcome and are grateful for the assistance of the whole people of God in holding us accountable.  

As these initiatives get underway, the Administrative Committee invites each of our brother bishops to join us in acts of prayer and penance. This is a time of deep examination of conscience for each bishop. We cannot content ourselves that our response to sexual assault within the Church has been sufficient. Scripture must be our guide forward, "be doers of the word and not hearers only" (James 1:22).

In all of this, we do not want anyone – ourselves included – to lose sight of those who have suffered from those who have acted or failed to act as the Gospel demanded. For survivors of sexual abuse, these days may re-open deep wounds. Support is available from the Church and within the community. Victims Assistance Coordinators are available in every diocese to help you find resources. We are grateful to hundreds of dedicated people who, since the adoption of the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, have been working with the Church to support survivors and prevent future abuse.

To anyone who has been abused, never hesitate to also contact local law enforcement. If you don't feel comfortable for any reason with the Church providing help, your diocese can connect you with appropriate community services. With compassion and without judgement, the bishops of the United States pledge to heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us.

Acting in communion with the Holy Father, with whom we once again renew our love, obedience, and loyalty, we make our own the prayer of Pope Francis in his August 20 letter to the people of God, "May the Holy Spirit grant us the grace of conversion and the interior anointing needed to express before these crimes of abuse our compunction and our resolve courageously to combat them."

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Administrative Committee, Catholic Bishops, sexual abuse, abuse of minor, sexual harassment, civil authorities, third-party reporting, Canonical Affairs, Church Governance, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Code of Conduct, Victim Assistance Coordinators, Holy Father, Pope Francis, Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3206

Bishop Vásquez, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Migration Releases Statement on the Setting of the U.S. Refugee Limit for the Year 2019 (English & Spanish)

WASHINGTON—The United States Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, announced yesterday that the Administration will set the Presidential Determination, the level of refugees allowed into the United States, at 30,000 refugees for 2019. This is the lowest number set in the history of the U.S. refugee admissions program which was formally created in 1980.

Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, Texas, Chair of the of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

"The announcement of the Presidential Determination is deeply disturbing and leaves many human lives in danger. To cut off protection for many who are fleeing persecution, at a time of unprecedented global humanitarian need, contradicts who we are as a nation. Offering refuge to those fleeing violence, torture, or religious persecution is a cornerstone of our history. We as a country are blessed with vast resources making us capable of securely welcoming those fleeing harm. Closing our doors on those seeking such safety is not who we are as a people. In the coming days, we pray that Congress will have the opportunity to engage in the formal consultation process with the Administration that is required by law. During this mandatory consultation process, Congress should strongly urge the Administration to return to a refugee admission level that reflects local community response and support of refugees, global refugee protection needs, and our long history of compassionately welcoming refugees."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Committee on Migration, Presidential Determination, Administration, Congress, global refugee protection, Diocese of Austin, refugees, migration, humanitarian need, community response
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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200 

WASHINGTON— El Secretario de Estado de Estados Unidos, Michael Pompeo, anunció ayer que la Administración va a fijar la Determinación Presidencial, el número de refugiados permitidos en Estados Unidos, en 30.000 para el 2019. Éste es el número más bajo en la historia del programa de admisiones de refugiados, que fue formalmente creado en 1980.

El Reverendísimo Joe S. Vásquez, Obispo de Austin, Texas, y Presidente del Comité de Migración de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de Estados Unidos emitió el siguiente comunicado:

"El anuncio de la Determinación Presidencial es profundamente inquietante y deja muchas vidas humanas en peligro. Cortar la protección para muchos que huyen de la persecución, en un momento sin precedentes de necesidad humanitaria mundial, contradice lo que somos nosotros como nación. Ofrecer refugio a aquellos que huyen de la violencia, la tortura y la persecución religiosa es una piedra angular de nuestra historia. Como país hemos sido bendecidos con abundantes recursos, lo que nos ha hecho capaces de dar la bienvenida a aquellos que huyen. Cerrar nuestras puertas a quienes buscan tal seguridad no es lo que somos como pueblo. En los próximos días, oramos para que el Congreso tenga la oportunidad de participar en el proceso de consulta formal con la Administración que exige la ley. Durante este proceso obligatorio de consulta, el Congreso debería urgir firmemente a la Administración a retornar al nivel de admisiones de refugiados que es consistente con la respuesta y respaldo de la comunidad local a los refugiados, las necesidades de protección global de refugiados y una larga historia de recibir compasivamente a los refugiados".

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Palabras clave: Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de Estados Unidos, USCCB, Obispo J. Vásquez, Comité de Migración, Determinación Presidencial, Administración, Congreso, protección global a los refugiados, Diócesis de Austin, refugiados, migración, necesidad humanitaria, respuesta comunitaria.

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Contactos de prensa:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

Miguel Guilarte

202-541-3202

Pope Francis Names Rev. Juan Miguel Betancourt, S.E.M.V., as Auxiliary Bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has appointed Rev. Juan Miguel Betancourt, S.E.M.V. as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Hartford. Father Betancourt is a member of the Institute of the Servants of the Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary (Esclavos de la Eucaristia y de Maria Virgen).

Father Betancourt entered the Institute Servants of the Eucharist and the Virgin Mary as a canonical postulant on January 1, 1992. He professed vows as a religious on October 7, 1994. He received his bachelor's in theological studies in May 2000 from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico and earned a Master of Divinity in 2002. He also holds a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute (2005). He was ordained on April 21, 2001.

His assignments include: professor of sacred scripture at the Pontifical University of Puerto Rico (2005-2006), professor of sacred scripture at Regina Cleri Major Seminary in Puerto Rico (2005-2006), assistant professor of sacred scripture at the Seminary of Saint Paul (2006-present), adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas (2006-present), local superior at the Casa de San Jose in Saint Paul, MN, (2006-present) and pastor of the churches of Saint James and Saint Francis de Sales in Saint Paul, MN (2006-present).

Father Betancourt is also a Board Member of the National Conference for Seminarians in Hispanic Ministry (2009-present) and a liaison for Foreign Seminarians at St. Paul Seminary (2008-present).

The Archdiocese of Hartford comprises 2,288 square miles. It has a total population of 1,938,914 people of which 538, 983, or 27 percent, are Catholic. Archbishop Leonard P. Blair is the current Archbishop of Hartford. 

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Rev. Juan Miguel Betancourt, Archdiocese of Hartford, Archbishop Leonard Blair

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

AMENDED RELEASE: Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Bishop Michael Bransfield; Archbishop Lori Instructed to Conduct Investigation into Allegations of Sexual Harassment

The following press release has been amended. Our initial release issued at 6am this morning was based on the entire notification we received from the Nunciature that did not include the additional information provided by the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael Bransfield from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia. Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop William E. Lori as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. He will remain Archbishop of Baltimore. The Holy Father has additionally instructed Archbishop Lori to conduct an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment of adults against Bishop Bransfield.

The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington, September 13, 2018, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Bransfield was born September 8, 1943, in Philadelphia, PA. He graduated from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in 1971, where he earned a master's in Divinity. He also earned his Master's in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America.

He was ordained to the priesthood on May 15, 1971 by Cardinal John Krol for service in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Assignments after ordination included: teacher, chaplain, and Chairman of the Religion Department at Lansdale Catholic High School. In 1980, Bishop Bransfield went on to serve as Assistant Director and Director of Liturgy, Director of Finance, and then Rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (1990).

On December 9, 2004, Pope Saint John Paul II appointed Bishop Bransfield the eighth Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia.  He was ordained a bishop on February 22, 2005.

Bishop Bransfield served as a member of the Communications Committee, the National Collections Committee, and Treasurer of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is comprised of 24,282 square miles in the state of West Virginia and has a total population of 1,844,128 of which 77,874 or 4 percent, are Catholic.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Bishop Michael Bransfield, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Archbishop William E. Lori, Baltimore.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Tintoretto and the Reform of the Church

At the close of a long session of walking and musing through the National Gallery of Art, I was drawn by an empty and comfortable-looking couch situated at the end of one of the galleries. Plopping down to rest, I looked up at the picture right in front of me, which was Tintoretto’s depiction of Christ at the Sea of Galilee. The drama at the center of the composition is the Apostles’ boat, buffeted by choppy waves, and St. Peter taking a gingerly, tentative step onto the bounding main at the invitation of the Lord who beckons to him. My seated posture conduced toward contemplation, and I spent a good deal of time with this painting, first admiring the obvious technical skill of the painter, especially in the rendering of the water, but eventually moving to a deeper perception of its spiritual theme, of particular resonance today.

President of U.S. Bishops’ Conference Issues Statement Following Meeting with Pope Francis

VATICAN CITY—Following a private audience with Pope Francis this morning in Vatican City, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following statement regarding the recent moral crisis in the American Catholic Church.

"We are grateful to the Holy Father for receiving us in audience. We shared with Pope Francis our situation in the United States -- how the Body of Christ is lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse. He listened very deeply from the heart. It was a lengthy, fruitful, and good exchange.

As we departed the audience, we prayed the Angelus together for God's mercy and strength as we work to heal the wounds. We look forward to actively continuing our discernment together identifying the most effective next steps."

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Vatican City

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Bishop Michael Bransfield of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael Bransfield from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia and has appointed the Most Revered William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore, as the Apostolic Administrator to serve until the appointment and installation of the new bishop. Bishop Bransfield has reached the retirement age for bishops of 75.

The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington, September 13, 2018, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Bransfield was born September 8, 1943, in Philadelphia, PA. He graduated from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in 1971, where he earned a master's in Divinity. He also earned his Master's in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America.

He was ordained to the priesthood on May 15, 1971 by Cardinal John Krol for service in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Assignments after ordination included: teacher, chaplain, and Chairman of the Religion Department at Lansdale Catholic High School. In 1980, Bishop Bransfield went on to serve as Assistant Director and Director of Liturgy, Director of Finance, and then Rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (1990). 

On December 9, 2004, Pope Saint John Paul II appointed Bishop Bransfield the eighth Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia.  He was ordained a bishop on February 22, 2005.

Bishop Bransfield served as a member of the Communications Committee, the National Collections Committee, and Treasurer of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is comprised of 24,282 square miles in the state of West Virginia and has a total population of 1,844,128 of which 77,874 or 4 percent, are Catholic.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Bishop Michael Bransfield, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Archbishop William E. Lori, Baltimore.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

WASHINGTON— El Papa Francisco aceptó la renuncia del Obispo Michael Bransfield del gobierno pastoral de la Diócesis de Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, y nombró al Reverendísimo William E. Lori, Arzobispo de Baltimore, como el Administrador Apostólico hasta el nombramiento e instalación del nuevo obispo. El obispo Bransfield alcanzó la edad de jubilación para los obispos que es de 75 años.

La renuncia y el nombramiento fueron publicados en Washington, hoy 13 de septiembre de 2018, por el Arzobispo Christophe Pierre, nuncio apostólico en los Estados Unidos.

El Obispo Bransfield nació el 8 de septiembre de 1943 en Filadelfia, Pensilvania. Se graduó del Seminario St. Charles Borromeo en 1971, donde obtuvo una maestría en Divinidad. También obtuvo su Maestría en Filosofía de la Universidad Católica de América.

Fue ordenado sacerdote el 15 de mayo de 1971 por el Cardenal John Krol para servir en la Arquidiócesis de Filadelfia.

Entre sus asignaciones después de la ordenación estuvieron: maestro, capellán y presidente del Departamento de Religión en Lansdale Catholic High School. Desde 1980, el Obispo Bransfield ejerció como Director Asistente, Director de Liturgia, Director de Finanzas y luego Rector de la Basílica del Santuario Nacional de la Inmaculada Concepción (1990).

El 9 de diciembre de 2004, el Papa San Juan Pablo II nombró al Obispo Bransfield como el octavo obispo de Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia. Fue ordenado en ese cargo el 22 de febrero de 2005.

El Obispo Bransfield fue miembro del Comité de Comunicaciones, del Comité Nacional de Colectas Nacionales y Tesorero de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos.

La Diócesis de Wheeling-Charleston está conformada por 24.282 millas cuadradas en el estado de West Virginia y tiene una población total de 1.844.128 personas de las cuales 77.874, lo que equivale al 4 por ciento, son católicas.

U.S. Bishops Conference Names Theresa Ridderhoff as Associate General Secretary Upon Retirement of Linda Hunt

WASHINGTON—Theresa Ridderhoff has been appointed as Associate General Secretary for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Ms. Ridderhoff is currently Executive Director of the USCCB Office of Human Resources. She has been appointed to the new role upon the retirement of Ms. Linda Hunt, who has served the conference for the past 22 years and as the USCCB's Associate General Secretary since 2011. Msgr. Brian Bransfield, USCCB General Secretary, made the appointment which will take effect at the end of the calendar year.

Ms. Ridderhoff will function as chief operations officer for the ongoing management of Conference administration. She will also join the USCCB Executive Leadership team in conducting the regular business of the General Secretariat and in collaboration with USCCB staff.

"I express my gratitude to Theresa for accepting this major responsibility in service to the Conference. Theresa brings many years of experience in both the for profit and not for profit worlds. During her time with the Conference, she also collaborated on major projects including in the General Secretariat and has always been an invaluable and dedicated partner in the significant work of the Conference staff," said Msgr. Bransfield. 

After earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Stonehill College, Theresa went on to receive a Master of Arts in Education (in Instructional Technology) and a Certificate in Human Resource Management, both from George Mason University. She holds the Senior Professional in Human Resources certification from the HR Certification Institute and the SHRM-SCP from the Society for Human Resources Management. Before joining the Conference, Theresa served at Sallie Mae most recently as Senior Director of Human Resources. Additionally, she has worked as a human resource consultant and in retail training and management. Theresa joined the Conference in 2011 and has served successfully since then in the important position of Executive Director of the Office of Human Resources. She is a practicing Catholic, married for 18 years, and is the mother of two sons.  She regularly volunteers at her parish in Petersville, Maryland, and in local community organizations.    

"The successful and effective fulfillment of the mission of the USCCB depends greatly on the high caliber of persons that serve the Church and bishops through their work as Conference staff. I count among them as an esteemed colleague Ms. Linda Hunt, Associate General Secretary, who informed me earlier this year of her intention to retire at the end of this calendar year," said Msgr. Bransfield. "For more than two decades, Linda has devoted countless hours of dedicated service to the work of the USCCB and for this, we are deeply grateful."

Ms. Hunt began her tenure with us the USCCB as Associate Director of the Office of Human Resources followed by her subsequent appointment as Director two years later. In 2010, Linda began service in the General Secretariat as Associate General Secretary. Her love of the Church, her leadership in the area of management and operations, and her professional and friendly interaction with us all, will be sorely missed.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Monsignor Brian Bransfield; Theresa Ridderhoff, Linda Hunt, Associate General Secretary, chief operations officer, Conference administration, USCCB Executive Leadership, General Secretariat.

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

Labor Day Statement Calls for Just Wages for a Flourishing Society

WASHINGTON—In his 2018 Labor Day statement, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, calls for all persons to work together for just wages, which are necessary for families to flourish. A just wage is one that "not only provides for workers' financial well-being, but fosters their social, cultural, and spiritual dimensions as individuals and members of society."

The full statement is available in English is at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/labor-employment/labor-day-statement-2018.cfm

A Spanish translation of the statement is available at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/labor-employment/labor-day-statement-2018-spanish.cfm

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Labor Day, Labor Day statement, solidarity, work, labor, poverty, union, human dignity, Pope Francis, workers,

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

¿Por Qué Seguir Siendo Católico? (A Pesar De Tanto Escándalo)

Amigos, a la luz de los recientes escándalos, sé que muchas personas se preguntan si deberían permanecer en la Iglesia Católica. Y lo entiendo totalmente; la indignación está justificada. Pero en este momento de crisis, te ruego que no huyas, sino que luches—no violentamente, con las armas del mundo, sino con las armas del Espíritu. Te necesitamos.