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Bishop Chairmen Welcome HHS Aligning Health Care Nondiscrimination Regulations with Federal Law

WASHINGTON—Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, Chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, have issued a statement welcoming today’s announcement of proposed modifications to regulations implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act.

 

Their joint statement follows:

 

“We applaud the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for proposing regulations restoring the long-standing position of the federal government that discrimination on the basis of ‘sex’ does not refer to ‘termination of pregnancy’ nor ‘gender identity.’ These modifications follow the legislative intent of the Affordable Care Act to ensure nondiscrimination on the basis of sex in health care. The proposed regulations would help restore the rights of health care providers – as well as insurers and employers – who decline to perform or cover abortions or ‘gender transition’ procedures due to ethical or professional objections. Catholic health care providers serve everyone who comes to them, regardless of characteristics or background. However, there are ethical considerations when it comes to procedures. We are grateful for today’s important step.”

A comment letter expressing concern with the original underlying regulations, in which the USCCB joined in 2015, may be found here: http://www.usccb.org/_cs_upload/about/general-counsel/rulemaking/192062_1.pdf.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Bishop James D. Conley, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Department of Health and Human Services, conscience rights, health care providers, abortion, elective abortion, Trump Administration, civil rights laws, White House, discrimination, convictions, sanctity of human life, gender identity, gender transition

 

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops’ Chairman Expresses Sorrow, Urges Prayers and Support for Recovery, After Deadly Tornadoes Hit Missouri and Storms Damage Other States in the Midwest

WASHINGTON—After tornadoes killed three people in Missouri and storms brought devastation to parts of the Midwest and areas from Texas through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida and Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, expressed grief over the lives lost and damage threatened by the tornadoes and storms, and offered prayers for recovery.

The full statement follows:

“I am profoundly saddened by the loss of life and the damage caused by the tornadoes and storms throughout the Midwest and related regions these past few days. As of this writing, millions of people in at least seven states have been affected by the powerful winds, rainfall and rising water levels caused by these conditions. Seven people have been killed in Missouri, Iowa and Oklahoma. Severe weather continues to be expected in this devastated area through the rest of this week.

A call is made to all for prayers for the victims and their grieving families and communities. Further, now is the time to offer assistance to those facing this great loss. We are grateful that Catholic Charities and other organizations are in place working to provide for emergency needs and to help rebuild."

Learn more about Catholic Charities’ efforts at https://catholiccharitiesusa.org.
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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Severe Weather

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Pope Francis Names Bishop Robert Gruss of Rapid City as New Bishop of Saginaw

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named the Most Reverend Robert D. Gruss, 63, up until now Bishop of Rapid City, as Bishop of Saginaw, Michigan.  

The appointment was publicized in Washington, May 24, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Robert Gruss was born June 25, 1955, in Texarkana, Arkansas. He attended Madison Area Technical College, in Madison, Wisconsin, and Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and was a commercial pilot and flight instructor from 1980-1989 before entering seminary. He pursued seminary studies at St. Ambrose University, in Davenport 1989-1990; at North American College, Rome, 1990-1994; and the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, also known as the Angelicum, in Rome. He additionally earned a Master of Arts degree in Spiritual Theology at the University of St. Thomas Aquinas in 1994. In 1999, he completed studies at the Institute of Priestly Formation (IPF) with an emphasis on Spiritual Direction training.

He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Davenport on July 2, 1994. Pope Benedict named him a monsignor in 2007.

After ordination, Bishop Gruss’s assignments included parochial vicar at St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Davenport (1994-1997); parochial vicar, St. Anthony Parish, Knoxville, Iowa; Sacred Heart Parish, Melcher, Iowa and St. Mary Parish, Pella, Iowa (1997-1999); pastor at St. Mary Parish, Pella (1999-2004); Davenport diocesan vocations director (2004-2007); diocesan chancellor (2005-2007); director of the propagation of the faith (2005-2007); director of victim assistance programs for the Diocese of Davenport (2005-2007); vice-rector, North American College, Rome (2007-2010); and rector and pastor, Sacred Heart Cathedral (2010-2011).

Bishop Gruss was named the bishop of Rapid City by Pope Benedict on May 26, 2011. His episcopal ordination took place on July 28, 2011.

Bishop Walter A. Hurley, Bishop Emeritus of Grand Rapids, has been the Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Saginaw since October 17, 2018.

The Diocese of Saginaw is comprised of 6,955 square miles and includes 708,837 people, of whom 153,260,91.427 or 12.9 percent, are Catholic.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Bishop Robert Gruss, Diocese of Saginaw

 

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops’ Chairman Applauds States Passing of Pro-Life Legislation

WASHINGTON—The chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, has issued a statement regarding states recent passing of pro-life legislation.

The full statement follows:
 
 “Every single human life has value. The trend of states passing pro-life legislation is a very encouraging move toward ensuring that our society cherishes unborn children and their most basic right to life. The pro-life movement has always had two critical goals: increasing support for mothers and children and eliminating the tragedy of abortion. Our march for justice and human rights for unborn children will not be complete until they are recognized and protected as persons by the law. Our ultimate objective, however, is for abortion to be unthinkable. As we celebrate these pro-life legislative victories, we reiterate our commitment to supporting all mothers with the care and resources they need. The Church stands ready to help and welcome them.”
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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Naumann, Pro-life legislation, justice, human right
 
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MEDIA CONTACT:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

U.S. Bishops to Meet June 11-14 in Baltimore; Assembly to be Live Streamed, Carried Via Satellite

WASHINGTON—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will gather for the 2019 Spring General Assembly in Baltimore, June 11-14.  

During the assembly, the bishops will discuss and vote on bishop accountability measures to respond to the abuse crisis and will also hear reports from the National Advisory Council and an annual progress report by the National Review Board. 
 
The bishops will also discuss and vote on the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States (2nd edition); and on the final approval of revisions made to the second typical edition of the ICEL Gray Book of the Ordination of a Bishop, of Priests, and of Deacons.

The assembly will also discuss and vote on the revised passage of the death penalty for the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults and subsequent recognition from Rome. The bishops will also hear a report on the Committee on Priorities and Plans on the Strategic Priorities of the Conference for the development of the 2021-2024 USCCB Strategic Plan. They will also hear reports from Bishop Robert E. Barron, Chairman of the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis as well as a report on the Bishops Working Group on Immigration Issues and an update from the Bishops’ Working Group on Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.

There will also be a voice vote on the cause for canonization of the Servant of God Irving (a.k.a. Francis) C. Houle.

Coverage of the meeting is open to credentialed media on Tuesday, June 11, Wednesday (partial day), June 12, and the morning of Thursday, June 13. Press conferences will follow open sessions of the meeting as time allows. Reporters seeking to cover the meeting can download a credential application form available in English and Spanish. As capacity is limited, we encourage you to submit your application form by May 24 to [email protected] or mail to:

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Office of Public Affairs
June Meeting Credentials
3211 4th St. NE
Washington, DC 20017-1194

There will be no onsite credentialing due to security considerations.

A live stream and satellite feed is expected to run Tuesday, June 11 from 8:30am-6pm Eastern, Wednesday, June 12, 11am-6pm Eastern and Thursday, June 13, 8:45am to 1:15pm. The assembly will be live streamed on the Internet and will be available via satellite for broadcasters wishing to air it. Public sessions of the general assembly discussions and votes will be available via livestream at: http://www.usccb.org/live

News updates, vote totals, texts of addresses and presentations and other materials will be posted to this page: www.usccb.org/meetings as soon as possible during the general assembly.

Those wishing to follow the meeting on social media can use the hashtag #USCCB19 and follow on Twitter (https://twitter.com/usccb) as well as on Facebook (www.facebook.com/usccb) and Instagram (https://instagram.com/usccb).

Media outlets interested in taking the meeting's satellite feed may request coordinates by email.
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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Spring General Assembly, June meeting, Baltimore, #USCCB19

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Help People Connect with Christ Through the Catholic Communication Campaign, June 1-2

WASHINGTON—The annual collection for the Catholic Communication Campaign (CCC) will take place in many dioceses across the United States on the weekend of June 1-2, coinciding with World Communications Day. This annual national appeal supports efforts in the United States and around the world to use the media, internet, and print publications to help people connect with Christ.

“The mission to proclaim the Gospel, entrusted by Jesus to the apostles, has been carried to us today through our baptism. We continue to share the Good News and help one another encounter Christ through all available means - whether it be through the internet, radio, television, or another form of communication,” said Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., chairman of the USCCB Committee on Communications' Subcommittee on the Catholic Communication Campaign. “Thanks to the generosity of the faithful in the United States, the Catholic Communication Campaign helps people around the world connect with Christ.”

Fifty percent of funds collected remain in each diocese to support local communication efforts. The other half is used to support national projects in the United States and in developing countries around the world.

For example, the Catholic Communication Campaign supports the production of daily video scripture reflections featured on the USCCB website that are viewed daily by millions of people and a YouTube channel that has 23,000 subscribers. The USCCB’s website served 17.5 million users last year and is also supported by the CCC.

Also, on the island of Samar in the Philippines, home to nearly two million people about 90% of whom are Catholic, many live in remote villages outside the reach of television and the Internet. Instead, radio is a critical source of information. The Catholic Church provided the people of Samar with spiritual programming through a dedicated radio station for 20 years, until Typhoon Haiyan hit the island in 2013 and destroyed it. The community was unable to fund a new station, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without access to spiritual messages. The Catholic Communication Campaign is helping the local diocese to rebuild the station, so people can once again have access to radio programs that deepen their faith.

The Subcommittee oversees the collection and an annual grants program as part of the USCCB Committee on Communications. Shareable resources for the collection are available online. More information about the Catholic Communication Campaign can be found atwww.usccb.org/ccc.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, National Collections, Catholic Communication Campaign

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

U.S. Bishops’ Chairmen Respond to U.S. House Vote on Equality Act

WASHINGTON—Five chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have responded to the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of the Equality Act (H.R. 5) on May 17, 2019. The Act would add the new terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” as well as “pregnancy […] or a related medical condition,” to the definition of “sex” in federal civil rights laws; expand the types of entities covered under those laws; and exempt itself from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. Upon the bill’s passage by 236 to 173 in the House, the bishops said:

“Our faith calls us to uphold every individual’s dignity and rights against unjust discrimination – including in employment, housing, and services – regardless of characteristics or background. Rather than offering meaningful protections for individuals, the Equality Act would impose sweeping new norms that negatively impact the unborn, health care, charitable services, schools, personal privacy, athletics, free speech, religious liberties, and parental rights. The Act’s unsound definitions of ‘sex’ and ’gender identity’ would erase women’s distinct, hard-won recognition in federal laws. Its sex-based nondiscrimination terms would end women’s shelters and many single-sex schools. It would close faith-based foster care and adoption agencies that honor children’s rights to a mother and father. The bill would even act as an abortion mandate. We must pursue justice and equality for anyone denied it; but this is a regrettable approach. We are gravely disappointed with the Act’s passage in the U.S. House.”

The statement was jointly issued by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Bishop Michael C. Barber of Oakland, chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education; Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty; and Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage; some of whom had sent or cosigned letters to Members of Congress in opposition to the Equality Act in the months leading up to Friday’s vote.
 
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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Michael C. Barber, Committee on Catholic Education, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Committee for Religious Liberty, Bishop James D. Conley, Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, U.S. Congress, U.S. House of Representatives, Equality Act (H.R. 5), LGBT, civil rights laws


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MEDIA CONTACT:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Father Luke Ballman Appointed Executive Director of Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations for U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

WASHINGTON—Father Luke Ballman, a priest of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, has been appointed as Executive Director of the U.S. Bishops’ Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV). Father Ballman has served as Associate Director of CCLV since July 2016.

The new appointment will take effect December 1, 2019. Monsignor Brian Bransfield, USCCB General Secretary, made the appointment.

Prior to his work at the Conference, Fr. Ballman served as Parochial Vicar, Pastor, Vocation Director, and Vicar for Clergy in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. He later served as Director of Apostolic Formation at the Pontifical North American College.

“Father Ballman has supported seminarians in their studies, pastors in their ministry, and formators in their essential work of training priests. His insights and experience have greatly benefitted the Secretariat,” said Msgr. Bransfield. “ I remain grateful to Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory for allowing Fr. Ballman to serve in this capacity.”

Fr. Ralph O’Donnell, a priest of the Archdiocese of Omaha has been Executive Director of CCLV since July 2015. He previously served as Parish Pastor, Vocations Director for the Archdiocese of Omaha, Director of the Permanent Diaconate for the Archdiocese of Omaha, and Vice Rector/Dean of Students for Conception Seminary College. Fr. O’Donnell has now been appointed to serve as pastor of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Omaha.  

“I am grateful to Fr. O’Donnell for his service to the Conference as well as to Most Reverend George J. Lucas, Archbishop of Omaha, for having made Fr. O’Donnell available to assist the work of the Bishops of the United States,” said Msgr. Bransfield.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Fr. Luke Ballman, Monsignor Brian Bransfield, Father Ralph O’Donnell, Archbishop Wilton Gregory, Archbishop George J. Lucas, Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

President of U.S. Bishops and Chairman of Migration Issue Statement on President’s Proposed Immigration Reform Plan

WASHINGTON— Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston, Texas, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, issued the following statement in response to the President’s remarks today on his proposed immigration reform plan. Full statement follows:
 
“While we appreciate that the President is looking to address problems in our immigration system, we oppose proposals that seek to curtail family-based immigration and create a largely “merit-based” immigration system. Families are the foundation of our faith, our society, our history, and our immigration system. As Pope Francis notes: “Family is the place in which we are formed as persons. Each family is a brick that builds society.
 
"We also are deeply troubled that this proposal does not seem to address Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status holders, nor provide them a path to citizenship to ensure their full integration into American life. Lastly, securing our borders and ensuring our safety is of the utmost importance, but this will not be achieved by heightening human misery and restricting access to lawful protection in an attempt to deter vulnerable asylum-seeking families and children. Instead, we must confront the root causes of migration and look to humane and pragmatic solutions, such as improving our immigration courts, expanding alternatives to detention, and eradicating criminal networks. We urge lawmakers to put aside differences and engage in meaningful action on humane and just comprehensive immigration reform.”
 
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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Bishop Joe Vasquez, President Trump, Pope Francis, immigration, reform, merit-based system, immigration reform plan
 
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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Pope Francis Names the Most Reverend Peter Baldacchino as Bishop of Las Cruces

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named the Most Reverend Peter Baldacchino as the new Bishop of Las Cruces. The appointment was publicized in Washington, DC, on May 15, 2019 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Baldacchino, 58, was born on December 5, 1960 in Sliema, Malta. He attended the University of Malta, where he earned a diploma in science and chemistry. He attended Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Kearny, N.J., from 1990-1996 and also earned a bachelor of Arts and a Master of Divinity degree from Seton Hall University.

He was ordained as a priest for the Archdiocese of Newark on May 25, 1996. On Feb. 20, 2014, he was named auxiliary Bishop of Miami, and Titular Bishop of Vatarba, and was ordained to the episcopacy, March 19, 2014.

Up until now, Bishop Gerald Kicanas, Bishop Emeritus of Tucson, had been the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Las Cruces after being appointed by Pope Francis on September 28, 2018.  

The Diocese of Las Cruces is comprised of 44,483 square miles and has a total population of 558,454 of which 139,322 or 25 percent, are Catholic.  

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Bishop Peter Baldacchino, Bishop Gerald Kicanas, Diocese of Las Cruces

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200