The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is an assembly of the hierarchy of the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands who jointly exercise certain pastoral functions on behalf of the Christian faithful of the United States. The purpose of the Conference is to promote the greater good which the Church offers humankind, especially through forms and programs of the apostolate fittingly adapted to the circumstances of time and place. This purpose is drawn from the universal law of the Church and applies to the episcopal conferences which are established all over the world for the same purpose.
The bishops themselves constitute the membership of the Conference and are served by a staff of over 350 lay people, priests, deacons, and religious located at the Conference headquarters in Washington, DC. There is also a small Office of Film and Broadcasting in New York City and a branch office of Migration and Refugee Services in Miami.
The Conference is organized as a corporation in the District of Columbia. Its purposes under civil law are: "To unify, coordinate, encourage, promote and carry on Catholic activities in the United States; to organize and conduct religious, charitable and social welfare work at home and abroad; to aid in education; to care for immigrants; and generally to enter into and promote by education, publication and direction the objects of its being."
Statement of Mission
Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists to evangelize. (Evangelii nuntiandi, no. 14)
The mission of evangelization is entrusted by Christ to his Church to be carried out in all her forms of ministry, witness, and service. By evangelizing, the Church seeks to bring about in all Catholics such an enthusiasm for their faith that, in living their faith in Jesus and strengthened by the sacraments, most especially the celebration of the Eucharist, they freely share that faith with others to transform the world. (Based on Go and Make Disciples, A National Plan and Strategy for Catholic Evangelization in the United States, 1990)
The mission of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (see CIC, c. 447) is to support the ministry of bishops with an emphasis on evangelization, by which the bishops exercise in a communal and collegial manner certain pastoral functions entrusted to them by the Lord Jesus of sanctifying, teaching, and governing (see Lumen gentium, no. 21).
This mission calls the Conference to
- Act collaboratively and consistently on vital issues confronting the Church and society (see Christus Dominus, no. 38.1)
- Foster communion with the Church in other nations, within the Church universal, under the leadership of its supreme pastor, the Roman Pontiff
- Offer appropriate assistance to each bishop in fulfilling his particular ministry in the local Church
(Cf. Apostolos suos, 1998.)
The conference of bishops . . . is a grouping of bishops of a given nation
. . . whereby, according to the norm of law, they jointly exercise certain pastoral functions on behalf of the Christian faithful of their territory in view of promoting that greater good which the Church offers humankind, especially through forms and programs of the apostolate which are fittingly adapted to the circumstances of the time and place. (CIC, c. 447)
In 1917 the bishops of the U.S. formed the National Catholic War Council (NCWC) to enable U.S. Catholics to contribute funds and commit personnel to provide spiritual care and recreation services to servicemen during World War I. In 1919 Pope Benedict XV urged the hierarchy to join him in working for peace and social justice. In response, the bishops organized the National Catholic Welfare Council in 1919 and set up the first Administrative Committee of seven members to handle the Council's business between plenary meetings. At that time the headquarters were established in Washington, DC and a general secretary with some staff was appointed.
The word "Conference" soon replaced "Council" in the organization's title, underlining the fact that it was consultative rather than legislative. At the same time, in 1922 the National Catholic Welfare Conference was created to address such concerns as education, immigration and social action.
This model continued until 1966 when the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) and the United States Catholic Conference (USCC) were established. The NCCB attended to the Church's own affairs in this country, fulfilling the Vatican Council's mandate that bishops "jointly exercise their pastoral office" (Decree on the Bishops' Pastoral Office in the Church, #38). NCCB operated through committees made up exclusively of bishops, many of which had full-time staff organized in secretariats. In USCC the bishops collaborate with other Catholics to address issues that concern the Church as part of the larger society. Its committees included lay people, clergy and religious in addition to the bishops.
On July 1, 2001 the NCCB and the USCC were combined to form the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). USCCB continues all of the work formerly done by the NCCB and the USCC with the same staff. The bishops themselves form approximately 17 committees, each with its own particular responsibility.
The staff work is overseen by the General Secretariat which is led by Reverend Monsignor Ronny E. Jenkins, General Secretary.
President, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York
Vice President, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky
Treasurer, Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia
Secretary, Bishop George V. Murry, SJ, of Youngstown
General Secretary: Msgr. Ronny E. Jenkins, J.C.D.
Associate General Secretaries:
Reverend J. Brian Bransfield, S.T.D.
Bruce E. Egnew, CPA
Linda D. Hunt, M.S.
Nancy Wisdo, J.C.LL
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is located in Washington, D.C.
3211 Fourth Street, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20017
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