- For Catholic Church, Easter Brings Joy of New Brothers and Sisters in the Risen Lord
March 31, 2009
WASHINGTON—As many as 150,000 new or returning Catholics are expected to join the Catholic Church in 2009 in the United States. Many of them will do so at the Easter Vigil liturgies, April 11, in parishes across the country.
In some cases the numbers show the growth and vitality of the Catholic Church in places where it has traditionally been a small minority. For instance, the Archdiocese of Atlanta estimates that 513 catechumens and 2,195 candidates will join the ranks of the Archdiocese in 2009. About 1,800 of them will do so at Easter. These numbers do not include infant baptisms, which are recorded separately.
- Child Abuse Awareness Month Time for Parishes, Dioceses to Highlight Efforts in Safe Environment
March 31, 2009
WASHINGTON—Parishes and dioceses can use National Child Abuse Awareness Month to educate Catholics on how abuse harms children and what the church is doing to address it, said National Review Board Chair Judge Michael Merz.
Merz heads the lay board of advisers to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on child sexual abuse. He is a federal judge in Dayton, Ohio, and made his comments March 31, just before the April awareness effort was to begin.
- Bishops Hubbard, Murphy Call on Congress to Remember Poor and Vulnerable in Federal Budget Resolution
March 30, 2009
WASHINGTON—Two U.S. Catholic bishops called on lawmakers to remember "the least of these" as they set priorities the federal budget resolution. In a March 26 letter to both houses of Congress, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., and Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y. called the allocation of opportunities and burdens in the federal budget "moral choices" and asked Congress to place "the needs of poor families and the most vulnerable in our nation and around the world first."
The bishops, who chair the U.S. bishops’ committees on international and domestic social justice, respectively, asked Congress to consider the effects of the economic crisis at home, "as families lose their homes; retirement savings disappear; workers lose both their jobs and their health care; and so many people are left without hope or security."
- Bishop Murphy Says Conscience Protection Necessary to Protect Human Rights
March 27, 2009
WASHINGTON—Conscience protection is necessary to protect human rights, said Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., in a March 24 interview with Catholic News Service. Bishop Murphy, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), addressed the Obama Administration's move to rescind a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulation guaranteeing conscience protections for health care workers and institutions.
Taking back the regulations "raises a real issue, because the statutes are intended to protect human rights – rights of conscience and rights of freedom of religion," Bishop Murphy said. "So why should everyone be concerned about this? Because if one person's rights can be compromised, everybody's rights can be compromised."
- Reiki Therapy Unscientific, 'Inappropriate for Catholic Institutions,' Say Bishops' Guidelines
March 26, 2009
WASHINGTON—The U.S. bishops have issued guidelines that call Reiki therapy, an alternative medicine originating in Japan, unscientific and inappropriate for Catholic institutions.
They outlined the position in "Guidelines for Evaluating Reiki as an Alternative Therapy." The guidelines were developed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Doctrine, chaired by Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut. They were approved by the USCCB Administrative Committee, March 24, during its spring meeting in Washington. The Administrative Committee is the authoritative body of the USCCB to approve committee statements.
The document can be found at http://www.usccb.org/dpp/doctrine.htm
- San Diego Auxiliary Bishop Cordileone Named Bishop of Oakland, California
March 23, 2009
WASHINGTON—Pope Benedict XVI has named Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, 52, Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego, as Bishop of Oakland, California.
The appointment was announced in Washington, March 23, by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop Cordileone succeeds Bishop Allen Vigneron, who was named Archbishop of Detroit in January.
- USCCB Calls on Administration to Retain HHS Regulation on Conscience Protection
March 23, 2009
WASHINGTON—The Obama Administration has a constitutional duty to enforce laws protecting religious freedom and the right of conscience, according to comments by Anthony Picarello and Michael Moses of the Office of General Counsel of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
The comments were filed with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) March 23 in response to the proposed rescinding of an HHS regulation protecting the conscience rights of health care professionals.
- USCCB Congratulates New Mexico on Repeal of the Death Penalty
March 20, 2009
WASHINGTON—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) congratulated the bishops of New Mexico and other advocates on their successful efforts to repeal the death penalty in New Mexico.
"The bishops of New Mexico and many others worked tirelessly to see New Mexico become a leader in turning away from the death penalty in our country," said Kathy Saile, director of the Office of Domestic Social Development at the USCCB.
- Father Bransfield Tapped to Coordinate Bishops' Strategic Plan
March 20, 2009
WASHINGTON—Father J. Brian Bransfield, executive director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis, has been named Assistant General Secretary for the USCCB.
The appointment will become effective March 23. Father Bransfield will be responsible for coordinating the implementation of the USCCB’s strategic plan over the next 18 months. The bishops have identified five priorities to guide their pastoral mission to the Catholic Church in the United States through 2011. The priorities are: Strengthening Marriage, Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life, Faith Formation and Sacramental Practice, the Life and Dignity of the Human Person, and the appreciation of Cultural Diversity. After a period of research, assessment and consultation, the bishops have affirmed a series of goals and objectives in each priority area. They are in the process of identifying activities which concretely advance the priorities. The bishops will be asked to approve the entire plan in November 2009. Preparation for the implementation phase of the strategic plan is the next crucial step in the process.
- USCCB President Urges President Obama to Designate Haiti for Temporary Protected Status
March 19, 2009
WASHINGTON—In a letter dated March 19, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), urged President Obama to designate Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for a period of 18 months. A designation of TPS permits nationals of a designated country to reside in the United States legally and qualify for work authorization because of civil conflict or natural disaster in their home country. Eighteen months is the longest period under law that a country can be designated for TPS, although such a designation may be renewed.
In the letter, Cardinal George cited four hurricanes and tropical storms which hit Haiti in 2008 as justification for the TPS designation, stating that these natural disasters have led to food shortages and political unrest.
- USCCB Official Applauds Passage of Anti-Trafficking Legislation, Urges Congress to Ensure Speedy Implementation
March 19, 2009
WASHINGTON—In testimony March 19 before the Subcommittee on Border, Maritime, and Global Terrorism of the House Homeland Security Committee, Anastasia K. Brown, refugee program director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), applauded enactment of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, signed into law by President Bush December 23, 2008. She urged Congress and the executive branch to immediately implement its provisions, particularly as they apply to child trafficking victims.
"Human trafficking is a horrific crime that destroys lives," Ms. Brown testified. "Women and children have been forced into prostitution and child trafficking rings, while men, women, and children have been forced into different types of manual labor, without pay or protection," she added.
- Doctor, Nurse, Medical Students Call for Conscience Protection on USCCB Web Site
March 18, 2009
WASHINGTON—A doctor, a nurse and two medical students gave testimonials on the importance of conscience protection in the medical field in four videos now available on the Web at http://www.usccb.org/conscienceprotection. Their testimonies are part of an effort by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) urging Catholics to tell the Obama Administration to retain Health and Human Services regulations governing conscience protection for health care workers.
Giving her testimonial in English and in Spanish, Sally Sanchez, R.N. of Provena Mercy Medical Center in Aurora, Ill., said of the nursing profession, "As part of our every action, I have to make a decision. Here I draw on my education, my life’s experience and my conscience." She added, "If our government will not respect my right to follow my conscience, I can’t be the kind of professional you want at your bedside."
- Cardinal George Meets with President Barack Obama
March 17, 2009
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Francis George, OMI, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, met at the White House with President Barack Obama during the afternoon of March 17.
The meeting was private. Cardinal George and President Obama discussed the Catholic Church in the United States and its relation to the new Administration. The meeting lasted approximately 30 minutes.
- Cardinal George Urges Catholics to Tell Administration: Keep Conscience Protections for Health Care Workers
March 16, 2009
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Francis George is urging Catholics in the United States to tell the Obama Administration to retain Health and Human Services regulations governing conscience protections for health care workers.
This is vital to keep the government from "moving our country from democracy to despotism," said Cardinal George, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He delivered the message via video available on the Web at http://www.usccb.org/conscienceprotection and on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NoCRwMqVzQ
- U.S. Bishops Urge New Mexico Governor to Sign Repeal of the Death Penalty
March 16, 2009
WASHINGTON—Appealing on behalf of the U.S. bishops, Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y. wrote to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson to urge him to sign HB 285, the repeal of the death penalty recently adopted by the New Mexico legislature.
Bishop Murphy, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), wrote, "Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, have called for the end to the use of the death penalty as a sign of greater respect for all human life," adding that the legislation before the governor "would help to begin building a culture of life in our country."
FULL TEXT of the March 16 letter follows:
- Dioceses Increased Spending on Sex Abuse Prevention in 2008;
Most Dioceses Compliant with Bishops' Child Protection Charter
March 13, 2009
WASHINGTON—Dioceses spent more than $23 million nationwide in 2008 to prevent child sexual abuse, an increase of two million dollars from 2007. The figures are part of the 2008 Annual Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (http://www.usccb.org/ocyp/annual_report2008.shtml).
This sixth annual report also found that virtually all U.S. dioceses and eparchies are compliant with the 17-point Charter, which was adopted by the U.S. bishops in 2002.
Most recent reports of abuse concerned alleged offenses from 1965-74, 35 to 40 years ago and most alleged offenders are dead or out of the ministry.
- Connecticut Bill Unconstitutional, Attacks Catholic Church
March 11, 2009
WASHINGTON—A bill in the Connecticut State Legislature to restructure the Catholic Church is unconstitutional and attacks the Catholic Church and other religious denominations, said Anthony Picarello, General Counsel of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
"This bill is not even close to constitutional," Picarello said. "It violates the First Amendment in at least two different ways."
"It targets the Catholic Church explicitly and exclusively, and it inserts the State into theological controversies regarding how the Church should be structured and governed," he said.
- Advisory for Telecasters: Vatican Will Use Domestic Satellite Distribution for Good Friday and Easter Telecasts
March 10, 2009
WASHINGTON—For the first time, the Vatican will be adding a U.S. domestic satellite distribution capacity for the two seasonal broadcasts of the Way of the Cross at the Colosseum on Good Friday (April 10) and the Easter Sunday Mass (April 12), immediately followed by Pope Benedict’s Message and Blessing "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and to the world).
This new coverage will allow much easier access for television networks and outlets in the United States to the satellite signal, which they can relay to their own audiences. The Pontifical Council for Social Communications will offer this service through Eurovision’s World Feed distribution. The telecasts are free of charge for all broadcasters.
- Executive Order on Embryonic Stem Cells 'A Sad Victory of Politics over Science and Ethics,' Says Cardinal Rigali
March 9, 2009
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, today called President Obama’s executive order on embryonic stem cell research "a sad victory of politics over science and ethics." Under the order, for the first time in U.S. history, federal tax dollars will be used to encourage researchers to destroy live human embryos for stem cell research. Cardinal Rigali also cited a January 16 letter in which Cardinal Francis George, president of the USCCB, urged President-elect Obama not to issue such an order. Cardinal Rigali’s statement follows:
- Child Abuse Prevention Month Set for Parishes, Dioceses in April
March 9, 2009
WASHINGTON—Child Abuse Prevention Month will be marked in parishes and dioceses around the United States in April.
To assist church groups, the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection has developed resources in English and Spanish to facilitate activities to highlight the need for prevention efforts. They include posters, liturgical guides, articles on church efforts to reach out to abuse victims and to protect children, and bulletin announcements. All materials may be downloaded for use locally. The materials are available on the USCCB’s website at http://www.usccb.org/ocyp/april_cap_month_2009.shtml.
- Father Allan Deck to Receive Award for Bringing a Hispanic Perspective to Ongoing Promotion of Vatican II Renewal
March 6, 2009
WASHINGTON—Jesuit Father Allan Figueroa Deck, executive director of the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church (http://www.usccb.org/scdc/) of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, will be honored with the 2009 Aggiornamento Award of the Catholic Library Association (CLA). The ceremony will take place April 14, during the CLA’s annual convention in Anaheim, California.
The Aggiornamento Award has been presented annually since 1980 by the Parish and Community Library Services Section of the CLA to honor an individual or organization that has made an outstanding contribution to the growth and renewal of parish and community librarianship in the spirit of Blessed Pope John XXIII. In the case of Father Allan Deck, the CLA wanted to especially recognize his contributions in articulating what this aggiornamento ("updating") of the Church means from a Hispanic perspective.
- Pro-Life E-Mail Campaign to Congress Expands National Postcard Effort
March 4, 2009
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has launched an e-mail campaign urging Congress to maintain widely-supported pro-life policies and to oppose the federal funding and promotion of abortion. The e-mail campaign augments the massive national postcard campaign launched in dioceses throughout the country in late January. Both efforts are being coordinated through the USCCB’s partner organization, the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment (NCHLA).
Since 1993, NCHLA has coordinated national postcard campaigns equipping citizens to express their pro-life views clearly and respectfully to Congress. The current campaign is unprecedented in scope, exceeding those sponsored by the Catholic bishops in the past.
- Justice For Immigrants Campaign to Hold Regional Convening
in Ohio, March 26-28
March 4, 2009
WASHINGTON—The Justice For Immigrants (JFI) campaign of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will hold a regional convening and training near Cincinnati, Ohio, on March 26-28. The convening, which will take place at the Kings Island Conference Center in Mason, will bring together immigration reform supporters from Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky and Michigan to provide them with coalition building skills, advocacy tools and other materials to strengthen and grow the support base for immigration reform. It will also seek to arm advocates with updated Catholic messages and educational pieces to continue to push for comprehensive immigration reform.
"Comprehensive immigration reform remains a priority for the Catholic church. The convening in Cincinnati will provide the necessary training and educational tools for immigration reform and JFI supporters to continue to grow the grass roots base that seeks humane and compassionate changes to our nation's immigration system," said Johnny Young, executive director of the Migration and Refugee Services of the USCCB.
- Reformed-Catholic Dialogue Presents Papers on Eucharist
March 4, 2009
WASHINGTON—The seventh round of the Reformed-Catholic Dialogue continued its discussion on the Eucharist during its February 10-13 meeting at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Participants presented drafts of a document addressing the following five areas: Action of the Holy Spirit in relation to the Eucharist; Remembrance in the Eucharist; Presence of Christ in the Eucharist; Eucharist as sacrifice and offering; and Discipleship in relation to the Eucharist.
Reformed co-chair, Rev. Richard Mouw of Fuller Theological Seminary, noted that the doctrine of the Church (ecclesiology) "looms large in any discussion of Eucharist" and can help Catholics and Reformed Christians clarify their positions and avoid polemical statements.
- Bishops' Pro-Life Official "Gravely Concerned" Over Threat to HHS Conscience Protection Regulation
March 3, 2009
WASHINGTON—Deirdre McQuade, spokesperson on abortion and related issues at the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops, commented today on reports that the Obama administration is moving to rescind a federal regulation that implements longstanding federal statutes protecting conscience rights in the health care profession.
"We are gravely concerned over today’s news that the Obama administration may rescind the current federal regulation protecting the conscience rights of health care providers," McQuade said. "Efforts to nullify or weaken any conscience protection will undermine our national heritage of diversity and religious freedom, reduce patients’ access to life-affirming health care, and endanger the national consensus required to enact much-needed health care reform."
- New Orleans Auxiliary Bishop Roger Morin Named Bishop Of Biloxi, Mississippi
March 2, 2009
WASHINGTON—Pope Benedict XVI has named Bishop Roger P. Morin, 68, Auxiliary Bishop of New Orleans, as Bishop of Biloxi, Mississippi.
The appointment was announced in Washington, March 2, by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop Morin succeeds Bishop Thomas Rodi, who was named Archbishop of Mobile, Alabama, last April.