- Bishop Hubbard Writes to Secretary of State to Urge Action on Gaza Violence
December 31, 2008
WASHINGTON—Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), called on Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to urge President George W. Bush to "take immediate action to help end the escalation of violence between Hamas and Israel" in a December 30 letter. Bishop Hubbard requested that President Bush "send a high level personal representative to the region immediately to help negotiate a ceasefire and make provision for humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza."
- Survey Shows Most U.S. Adults Support Laws Limiting or Regulating Abortion
December 30, 2008
WASHINGTON—A nationwide survey commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has found that four out of five U.S. adults (82 percent) think abortion should either be illegal under all circumstances (11 percent) or would limit its legality. Thirty-eight (38) percent would limit abortion to the narrow circumstances of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother; and an additional 33 percent would limit abortion to either the first three or first six months. Only 9 percent said abortion should be legal for any reason at any time during pregnancy.
- Migration Committee Chairman Lauds Enactment of Anti-Trafficking Legislation
December 23, 2008
WASHINGTON—Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the Unite States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, today hailed the enactment of H.R. 7311, the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA). Passed by Congress on December 10, the legislation was signed by President Bush on Tuesday, December 23, at the White House.
"Trafficking in human persons is a horrific crime and should be combated with all the legal means and resources available," Bishop Wester said. "The enactment of this legislation is another important step toward eradicating this scourge, both in the United States and globally."
- National Vocation Awareness Week to be Celebrated January 11-17
December 19, 2008
WASHINGTON—The Catholic Church in the United States will celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week, January 11-17.
"This week is a chance for parishes across the country to highlight the gift of vocations in the church through prayer and education," said Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, chairman of the Bishops' Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. "As a church, we recognize the need to safeguard and promote this gift."
- Bishops Welcome HHS Regulation Protecting Conscience Rights in Health Care
December 18, 2008
WASHINGTON—A final regulation protecting health care providers’ conscience rights was issued December 18 by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The U.S. Catholic bishops’ spokesperson on abortion, Deirdre A. McQuade, welcomed the published regulation as a way to protect medical personnel from being coerced to violate their consciences in federally funded programs. The regulation clarifies and implements existing federal statutes enacted by Congress in 1973, 1996 and 2004. (For the text of these laws see www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/abortion/crmay08.pdf.)
"Individuals and institutions committed to healing should not be required to take the very human life that they are dedicated to protecting," McQuade said. "The enforcement of federal laws to protect their freedom of conscience is long overdue."
- National Franciscan Shrine Site for Christmas Eve TV Special
December 17, 2008
WASHINGTON—"Christmas Eve from the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi, San Francisco" will be available to ABC-TV stations nationwide for broadcast at their discretion on Christmas Eve, December 24. The hour-long program was produced by New Group Media for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Office of Digital Media with a grant from the USCCB’s Catholic Communication Campaign.
- Bishops Urge Catholics to Act on Pope's World Day of Peace Message
December 17, 2008
WASHINGTON—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) urges Catholics to follow the call of Pope Benedict XVI in his 2009 World Day of Peace Message, "Fighting Poverty to Build Peace." To promote action and awareness, the bishops have made available the text of the pope’s message, as well as bulletin inserts and other resources on the USCCB Web site at: www.usccb.org/globalpoverty/.
"The bishops want to help people understand the extent of poverty," said Joan Rosenhauer, associate director for education and outreach of Justice, Peace and Human Development at the USCCB. "With 10 percent of families in the U.S. living in poverty and 1.4 billion people worldwide living in extreme poverty, the numbers alone express the urgency of this issue and why Pope Benedict would single it out as an essential part of working for peace."
- Bishops' Liturgical Web Site Offers Resources for Spanish Speakers on Changes in English Tranlation of Roman Missal
December 12, 2008
WASHINGTON—New resources to help Spanish-speakers understand and prepare for the implementation of the revisions to the English translation of the Roman Missal have been added to the Web page of the Secretariat of Divine Worship of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Spanish materials were made accessible December 12, to coincide with the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Although some of these changes will not affect the Spanish translation of the Roman Missal, the Committee on Divine Worship wanted to offer "these materials in Spanish to aid those responsible to present the changes in the English edition of the Roman Missal to Spanish speakers," said Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, New Jersey, chairman of the Committee, in a letter introducing these materials.
- Globalization Works Only When All Can Grow, Says Cardinal George Greeting World Day of Peace Message
December 12, 2008
WASHINGTON—Globalization works only when all can grow, said Cardinal Francis Georgeof Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop, December 12. "The moral dimension of world poverty must be addressed if we are to have world peace."
Cardinal George made his comments in response to Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 World Day of Peace message, released at the Vatican, Dec. 11. The message is titled "Fighting Poverty To Build Peace," and highlights the dangers of massive inequality among peoples of the world. World Day of Peace is January 1.
- President of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Expresses Sadness over Death of Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ
December 12, 2008
WASHINGTON—The death of Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ, "brings home to God a great theologian and a totally dedicated servant of the Church," Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said of the cardinal who died December 12 at Fordham University at the age of 90.
"His wise counsel will be missed; his personal witness to the pursuit of holiness of life as a priest, a Jesuit and a Cardinal of the Church will be remembered and will encourage the Church to remain ever faithful to her Lord and his mission," Cardinal George said.
- Catholics, Jews Compare Perspectives on Religious Significance of Holy Land
December 12, 2008
WASHINGTON—Christians respect the spiritual bond between Jews and the land of Israel. Yet they look to the Biblical land through a different theological lens, said Wilhelmus G.B.M. Valkenber, Ph.D., Visiting Professor of Theology at Loyola College of Maryland, at the fall consultation of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) with the National Council of Synagogues (NCS) of America, December 2, in Baltimore.
"Even though Jews and Christians, along with Muslims, look to Abraham as the common spiritual ancestor, Christians have traditionally identified with the Abraham of faith and not with the Abraham of the land," said Valkenberg, who assists the U.S. bishops in Catholic-Muslim and other interreligious relations.
- Dignitas Personae, Vatican Instruction on Bioethics, Welcomed for Guidance on Issues of Procreation, Medical Research
December 12, 2008
Dignitas Personae (The Dignity of a Person), an Instruction from the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) on ethical issues arising from biomedical research, provides guidance on how to respect human life and human procreation in our heavily scientific age, said Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
- Cultural Diversity Secretariat Hosts Consultation
on Faith Formation among Hispanics to Advance Bishops' Priority
December 5, 2008
BALTIMORE—Experts on faith formation and leadership development among the Hispanic community in the United States met December 2-3 with staff members of the Secretariat for Cultural Diversity in the Church of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to share reflections, core values and recommendations in moving forward.
The Catholic bishops have set forth faith formation with an emphasis on sacramental practice as one of their five priorities for 2008-2011. Attention to cultural diversity with an emphasis on Hispanic ministry is another.
- Safe Environment Programs, Reaching Out Priority Issues for
Bishops' Committee on Protection of Children, Young People
December 8, 2008
WASHINGTON—Catholic bishops must make safe environment programs and reaching out to those hurt by sexual abuse by clergy priority issues, said Bishop Blase Cupich, new chair of the bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People.
Bishop Cupich of Rapid City, South Dakota, highlighted the issues in a December 8 letter to all members of the United Sates Conference of Catholic Bishops.
- Jewish, Christian and Muslim Leaders Write President-Elect Obama:
Leaders See "A Window of Hope for the Peace of Jerusalem"
December 5, 2008
WASHINGTON—Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, described the current situation in the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict as "a window of hope for peace in the Holy Land." He joined with Jewish, Muslim and other Christian religious leaders in calling for "engaged, urgent U.S. leadership for peace by President-elect Obama as soon as he takes office." The complete statement and list of endorsers is attached.
On November 21, a delegation of religious leaders from the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East met with Undersecretary of State William J. Burns, the latest in a series of such meetings initiated by Secretary of State Rice. In a letter to President-elect Obama, the religious leaders said they look forward to an early opportunity to meet with him and to continuing these high level meetings at the State Department with his Administration.
- BACKGROUNDER: Retirement Fund for Religious
December 4, 2008
WASHINGTON—The crisis in unfunded retirement for religious became evident in the early 1970s. Catholic schools, primarily by religious orders, were educating more than 10 percent of the student population in the United States. Catholic hospitals were becoming the largest group of not-for-profit hospitals in the nation. But the salaries and stipends to religious were used primarily for good works, new ministries, and training and education that prepared religious for ministries.
For generations, the care of elderly members had been carried out by those entering religious life. In recent decades, however, elderly religious began to outnumber wage-earning religious.
- Catholic Parishes to Conduct National Appeal for Retirement Fund for Religious December 14
December 4, 2008
WASHINGTON—Catholic parishes throughout the United States will conduct the 21st annual national appeal for the Retirement Fund for Religious December 14.
In 2007, this appeal, which is conducted by the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, distributed $23 million in Basic Grants that benefited 482 of the nation’s Catholic religious institutes of women and men.
- Directory of Communications Personnel Now Available from USCCB Publishing
December 4, 2008
WASHINGTON—The 2009 "Directory of Catholic Communications Personnel" is now available for sale through USCCB Publishing, the publishing arm of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
- Bishop Hubbard, Other Christian Leaders Call on Obama to Work for Israeli-Palestinian Peace
December 2, 2008
WASHINGTON—Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), joined other American Christian leaders in calling on President-elect Barack Obama to make Israeli-Palestinian peace a priority of his first year in office.
In a December 1 letter, the leaders urged the incoming Obama Administration to "provide sustained, high-level diplomatic leadership toward the clear goal of a final status agreement" that will establish a viable Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel.
- Interactive Advent Web Site Offers Prayer, Reflection, Activity Suggestions
December 1, 2008
WASHINGTON—An interactive Web site of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) provides resources for prayer, reflection and action throughout the Advent and Christmas seasons (www.usccb.org/advent).
The focal points of the site are the interactive calendars for the Advent season, which began with the first Sunday of Advent, November 30, and the Christmas season, which ends on January 12, with the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord.