Posted on 05/17/2019 12:33 PM (USCCB News Releases)
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.
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
Posted on 05/17/2019 07:56 AM (USCCB News Releases)
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.
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
Posted on 05/17/2019 05:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
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.”
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
Posted on 05/15/2019 01:51 AM (USCCB News Releases)
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.
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Bishop Peter Baldacchino, Bishop Gerald Kicanas, Diocese of Las Cruces
Posted on 05/9/2019 09:21 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON—Four chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have cosigned a coalition letter highlighting key religious freedom concerns with the Equality Act (H.R. 5 / S. 788). The Act would add the new terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the definition of “sex” in federal civil rights laws and have wide-reaching consequences for both employment and delivery of service standards in religiously-affiliated schools, shelters, foster care and adoption agencies, potentially houses of worship, and other facilities and ministries.
“[T]he Equality Act would devastate the core ministries of a wide range of religious groups, especially those ministries that serve the most vulnerable,” the signees cautioned. Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty; Bishop Michael C. Barber of Oakland, chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education; and Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, joined representatives of numerous denominations, schools, and charities of faith in their letter to members of Congress.
Among other concerns, the signers pointed out that “[t]he Equality Act amends Title VI of the Civil Rights Act so that any recipient of any federal funds, even a small amount for a subsidiary service” would be affected and that “[b]y way of example, this includes thousands of Catholic, Jewish and other parochial schools with students who participate in the National School Lunch Program, which helps poor children whose families have selected these specific religious schools.”
They concluded that the Act “regulates a huge new swath of religious activity and facilities as ‘public accommodations’ and transforms the conditions by which hundreds of thousands of faith-based entities partner with the federal government to serve the common good. It accomplishes these goals while bringing the daunting power of the federal government to bear against religious people and groups with non-conforming views about marriage, sexuality, and gender.”
The letter to Congress is available online at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/upload/2019-Coalition-Letter-to-Congress-Equality-Act.pdf.
Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Committee for Religious Liberty, Bishop Michael C. Barber, Committee on Catholic Education, Bishop James D. Conley, Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage; U.S. Congress, Equality Act (H.R. 5 / S. 788), LGBT, civil rights laws, religious liberty
Posted on 05/9/2019 04:38 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement regarding the release of Pope Francis’s Motu Proprio earlier today. The Motu Proprio, Vos estis lux mundi (“You are the light of the world”), is a worldwide order to the Church from the Pope, in response to the evil of sexual abuse. The new law comes after a meeting in Rome that brought together all episcopal conference presidents from across the globe to discuss the Church sex abuse crisis.
Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:
“Today, Pope Francis ordered a worldwide response to the evil of sexual abuse. It calls for the establishment of easily accessible reporting systems, clear standards for the pastoral support of victims and their families, timeliness and thoroughness of investigations, whistleblower protection for those making allegations, and active involvement of the laity. It also leaves latitude for national bishops’ conferences, such as the USCCB, to specify still more to account for their local circumstances. We receive the Motu Proprio Vos estis lux mundi (‘You are the light of the world’) as a blessing that will empower the Church everywhere to bring predators to justice, no matter what rank they hold in the Church. It also permits the Church the time and opportunity to bring spiritual healing.
The Holy Father said a ‘continuous and profound conversion of hearts is needed, attested by concrete and effective actions that involve everyone in the Church.’ Pope Francis was clear that this responsibility ‘falls, above all, on the successors of the Apostles.’ As part of this responsibility, bishops also will be held accountable under the authority of this Motu Proprio, which covers sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable persons, sexual acts compelled through the abuse of authority, and any coverup of such crimes.
In publishing this new law, which is applicable to the Church throughout the world, Pope Francis has made clear that protection and healing must reach all of God’s children. Following on the meeting just two months ago of all episcopal conference presidents, the Motu Proprio shows Pope Francis expects swift and comprehensive progress. For the Church in the United States, the task before us now is to establish whatever is necessary to ensure the effective implementation of the Motu Proprio. Our committees have already begun the work of preparing implementation measures for deliberation at the USCCB Plenary Assembly in June.
I am grateful for the opportunity to build upon the excellent foundation of the USCCB’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons, and the Statement of Episcopal Commitment, all of which date back to 2002. The existing framework in the United States including victim outreach, zero tolerance, reporting allegations to civil authorities, and lay expertise on review boards, among other measures - positions us readily to bring the Holy Father’s instructions to action. By embracing the painful experience of survivors and working on these new protections, let us pray we continue to grow into a stronger Church.”
Keywords: Pope Francis, Motu Proprio, Vos estis lux mundi (You are the light of the world), Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, clergy sex abuse, worldwide response, successors of the Apostles, minors, vulnerable persons, USCCB Plenary Assembly, Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons, Statement of Episcopal Commitment
Questions & Answers Regarding Pope Francis’s Motu Proprio
Vos estis lux mundi
What does the new Motu Proprio do?
The new Motu Proprio Vos estis lux mundi is a significant move forward for the universal Church, one that echoes many of the practices established in the U.S. Bishops’ Essential Norms and the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People that have been in force in the United States since 2002. For example, it affirms the existing:
Commitment to provide for the spiritual and emotional well-being of victims/ survivors and their families;
Duty to comply with all applicable civil laws with respect to the reporting of allegations of sexual abuse of minors to civil authorities;
Right of any person to report such crimes;
Guarantee of a prompt and objective investigation;
Assurance of lay involvement
The Motu Proprio also continues to focus on victims by significantly building upon existing local practices, for example by expanding:
The scope of cases to include:
The sexual abuse of a new classification of “vulnerable persons,”
The use of violence or other abuse of power to perform or submit to sexual acts,
Any cover up of such conduct by other;
Those who are to be reported for such cases, namely, cardinals, bishops, other clerics, religious superiors, and other members of institutes of consecrated life or societies of apostolic life;
Reporting obligations to include mandatory, internal reporting;
Safeguards against retaliation or discrimination by mandating “whistle-blower” protections
When do these norms take effect?
They will take effect on June 1, 2019;
They will be reviewed by the Holy See after three years and adjusted as needed;
Every diocese and eparchy (either individually or collectively) is to have a publicly accessible means for people to report cases covered under the Motu Proprio by June 1, 2020. In the United States, while this has already been accomplished for cases involving the sexual abuse of minors by priests and deacons, reporting mechanisms will have to be modified to serve the broader categories of the Motu Proprio.
What about cases of sexual misconduct that do not fall under this Motu Proprio?
These are generally already covered by existing diocesan or eparchial codes of conduct. With the help of lay and legal experts, bishops are working on ways to ensure that coverage and enhance awareness and reporting mechanisms for such cases.
How are transparency and confidentiality promoted in this new Motu Proprio?
The Motu Proprio increases transparency by establishing clear procedures that must be followed, reaffirming the obligation to report to civil authorities, providing for lay involvement in internal investigations, protecting from possible conflicts of interest, and ensuring that those who report complaints to the Church are also free to report the same information to others and are protected from retaliation. At the same time, because the Motu Proprio involves the investigation of a complaint, it carefully balances the rights of those involved. Confidentiality is needed for the effectiveness of the investigation. It protects victims and witnesses, as well as the presumption of innocence and the seal of the confessional.
Does this new Motu Proprio interfere or hinder civil law, such as mandatory reporting requirements and civil investigations?
In no way. The Motu Proprio establishes the canonical (Church law) procedures that are to be followed. Included in these procedures, however, is the obligation to comply with all applicable civil laws.
Zero tolerance is not mentioned. Is that no longer the policy of the Catholic Church?
In the United States, zero tolerance has been the policy since 2002, which comes from the Charter and the Essential Norms. The Motu Proprio does not undo this policy. Other episcopal conferences around the world have or will be developing policies appropriate to their legal and cultural situations. The good news here is that what was first thought of as an “American problem” or a “Western problem” is now on everyone’s radar.
Why does the Motu Proprio focus on the role of the Metropolitan?
The Motu Proprio uses the Metropolitan because it is a position in the Church that is grounded in tradition and the teaching of Vatican II and is governed by existing canon law.
This also allows investigations to be carried out on the local level, where the Metropolitan will have more direct access to information, documents, and lay experts to help investigate, and can collaborate with civil authorities. The Metropolitan, being local, can also take measures to preserve and secure evidence.
Recent investigations of misconduct by a bishop, such as in West Virginia, have successfully followed this practice.
What does this mean for the proposals the U.S. bishops considered last November?
The work of our committees that has already taken place will be examined and adapted to work within the framework of the new Motu Proprio and will be the basis for deliberation over its implementation at the USCCB Plenary Assembly in June.
Source: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Posted on 05/8/2019 06:45 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON—Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued the following statement in response to yesterday’s tragic shooting at the STEM School Highlands Ranch near Denver, Colorado.
The full statement follows:
“Yesterday, tragically just seven miles from Columbine High School, a shooting took place at the STEM School Highlands Ranch. There are reports of multiple critical injuries including at present, one fatality. This shooting comes just after the community marked the 20th anniversary of the tragic shooting at Columbine. This shooting reminds us yet again that something is fundamentally broken in our society when places of learning can become scenes of violence and disregard for human life. As Americans we must deeply examine why these horrific occurrences of gun violence continue to take place in our communities. Action is needed to attempt to reduce the frequency of these heinous acts. I call on Catholics around the country to pray for the dead, injured and for the loved ones left behind and for healing in the community.
May Jesus who came that we might all have life in abundance, bring consolation and healing at this time of great sadness.”
Keywords: United States Conference of catholic Bishops, USCCB, STEM School Highlands Ranch, Bishop Frank Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Columbine
Posted on 05/8/2019 06:33 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON— Mr. Richard Coll has been appointed as Director of the Office of Domestic Social Development for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), based in Washington, D.C.
The appointment will take effect on June 17, 2019. Monsignor Brian Bransfield, USCCB General Secretary, made the appointment.
Mr. Coll has been employed by the USCCB since 2011, first as a Foreign Policy Advisor for the Office of International Justice and Peace, and most recently as the Director for the Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions. A graduate of Harvard College and Law School, Mr. Coll came to the Conference after a distinguished career in law in both Washington D.C., and New York, where he worked in banking and international economic policy. “Mr. Coll brings the kind of knowledge and managerial acumen necessary for a position of such breadth,” said Msgr. Bransfield. “In addition to his love for the Church and his extensive knowledge of the Church’s teaching, he will play a key role in advancing the Church’s mission in the world."
He is fluent in Spanish and French and brings added expertise in various policy areas, as well as his many years of experience with the Conference. He is a parishioner at Holy Trinity Church in Washington, D.C., and a member of its Parish Pastoral Council.
To lean more about the Office of Domestic Social Development please visit: http://www.usccb.org/about/domestic-social-development/
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Mr. Richard Coll, Office of Domestic Social Development, Msgr. Brian Bransfield
Posted on 05/3/2019 07:03 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON – According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate’s (CARA) survey of the Ordination Class of 2019, encouragement and accompaniment are key to fostering priestly vocations. Of all responding ordinands, 92% reported being encouraged to consider the priesthood by someone in their life, giving credit to an average of four individuals for influencing their vocation. A majority of respondents (69%) stated that their parish priest was a key figure in their discernment process. Support from friends (43%) and fellow parishioners (39%) also had considerable impact. The ordinands also cited parents, other family members, teachers/catechists, school chaplains and campus/youth ministers as having contributed to their discernment of a priestly vocation.
Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, Chairman of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations reiterated the importance of individual accompaniment in vocational discernment. “As Pope Francis stated in his exhortation, Christus Vivit, sensitive and patient listening is key when helping young people discern. Priests, consecrated men and women, and the laity can all echo the voice of Jesus who calls men to serve in the holy priesthood as good and faithful shepherds.”
CARA is retained each year by the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations to conduct a survey of the men scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood in the coming spring. This year, CARA identified and contacted a total of 481 men to be ordained to the priesthood in 2019. Of that number, 379 responded for an overall response rate of 79%. Of those respondents, 284 (75%) were ordinands to the diocesan priesthood and 95 (25%) were ordinands to the religious priesthood. Some of the major findings of the study are:
o The average age of responding ordinands was 33, slightly younger than the previous two ordination classes. By comparison, respondents of the Ordination Class of 2018 were an average of 35 years old and respondents of the Ordination Class of 2017 were an average of 34 years old.
o A majority of responding ordinands (75%) were born in the United States. Of the remaining 25% who were foreign-born, the most common countries of origin were Mexico (5%), Nigeria (3%), and Columbia and Vietnam, each representing 2% of the foreign-born ordinands.
o More than half (55%) of the respondents completed their undergraduate education before entering the seminary and 68% reported having worked full-time, with education being the most common work experience (11%).
o A total of 89% of respondents were baptized Catholic as an infant. Of those who became Catholic later in life, the average age of conversion was 18.
o Eucharistic Adoration (75%) and the Rosary (73%) were the most popular and influential prayer practices that respondents regularly engaged in before entering the seminary.
o Regarding their activity in parish ministry, 78% of respondents served as altar servers, 53% served as lectors, and 44% served as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.
o Vocation programs also demonstrated significant impact upon the respondents’ discernment with 68% having participated in at least one vocation program before entering the seminary. Of these programs, “Come and See” weekends were the most popular (52%) followed by Quo Vadis/Discernment Retreats (15%).
o Among the ordinands who had access to a Spirituality Year, Pastoral Year or other programs outside of the seminary, 80% reported that the Spirituality Year, Pastoral Year Internship, and Thirty Day Retreat contributed to their discernment at least “somewhat.” Notably, 73% of respondents indicated that the Spirituality Year contributed “very much” to their vocational discernment.
The entire CARA survey as well as profiles of the Ordination Class of 2019 can be accessed at:
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, ordination, ordinands, class of 2019, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, priesthood, Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), Pope Francis, vocations, discernment, religious life, diocesan priesthood, Christus Vivit
Posted on 05/2/2019 11:38 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON—Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Chairman of the bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, have issued a statement commending today’s adoption of new regulations that ensure existing laws protecting conscience rights in healthcare are enforced and followed.
Their joint statement follows:
“We strongly commend the Department of Health and Human Services for adopting important new regulations to ensure that existing laws protecting the rights of conscience in health care are known, followed and enforced.
Though these laws were passed on a bipartisan basis and have been policy for years, the previous administration did not fully enforce them, and now they are increasingly being violated. Health care providers like New York nurse Cathy DeCarlo and medical trainees have been coerced into participating in the brutal act of abortion against their core beliefs, while churches and others who oppose abortion are being compelled by states like California to cover elective abortion—including late-term abortion—in their health plans. We are grateful that this Administration is taking seriously its duty to enforce these fundamental civil rights laws, and we look forward to swift action by HHS to remedy current violations in several states.
Conscience protection should not fluctuate as administrations change. It is essential that Congress provide permanent legislative relief through passage of the Conscience Protection Act in order to give victims of discrimination the ability to defend their rights in court. No one should be forced to violate their deeply held convictions about the sanctity of human life.”
Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Committee for Religious Liberty, Department of Health and Human Services, conscience rights, health care providers, Cathy DeCarlo, RN, medical trainees, abortion, California, elective abortion, late-term abortion, Trump Administration, U.S. Congress, civil rights laws, conscience protection, White House, discrimination, convictions, sanctity of human life