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Statement from President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON—Following this morning's bulletin from the Holy See that a Vatican diplomat based in Washington had been recalled to face an investigation for alleged violation of child pornography laws, the President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston has issued the following statement:

"This is a serious issue. We hope the Holy See will be forthcoming with more details. While we don't know all the facts, consistent with our Charter, we reaffirm that when such allegations occur, an immediate, thorough, and transparent investigation should begin in cooperation with law enforcement and immediate steps be taken to protect children. The protection of children and young people is our most sacred responsibility."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Holy See, Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200


U.S. Bishops Conference President Announces Emergency Collection for Those Impacted by Hurricane Irma for Week of September 23-24

WASHINGTON—The President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has invited his brother bishops to take up an emergency collection the weekend of September 23-24 on behalf of those devastated in parts of the Caribbean and southeastern United States by Hurricane Irma. In the letter sent to bishops today, Cardinal DiNardo says the emergency collection is greatly needed to help victims of Hurricane Irma rebuild their lives and also help support reconstruction needs of churches destroyed or severely damaged in the U.S. and Caribbean.  

Cardinal DiNardo's letter to the bishops follows:   

"In the past few days Hurricane Irma devastated significant parts of the Caribbean and the southeastern United States. While emergency outreach was immediate, we know that the road to recovery and the rebuilding of communities will be long and additional support will be needed.

"I write to you today and ask that you take up an emergency collection for those impacted by Hurricane Irma. These funds will be used in the affected areas to support humanitarian aid, assistance with long-term efforts to restore communities after widespread destruction, and for the pastoral and reconstruction needs of the Church in US and the Caribbean.  

"I am aware that this call comes on the heels of the emergency collection for Hurricane Harvey. That storm, which hit Texas and Louisiana and held on for days before moving inland, caused catastrophic damage and compelled us to respond. Likewise, Hurricane Irma has been devastating and our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean, especially the Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, and the southern US need our help.

"The Church is a channel for grace and solidarity in the wake of natural disasters as it offers solace and support in their aftermath. However, as is so often the case, the Church itself in these regions is both a long-standing provider of aid and now is in need of tremendous assistance itself. So many of the Church's structures have been damaged and their resources depleted which makes it even more challenging to provide assistance and pastoral outreach to those in need."

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, emergency collection, Hurricane Irma, Caribbean, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, southwestern U.S., community, reconstruction, humanitarian aid, Texas, grace, solidarity.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops Executive Committee Release Statement on Administration’s DACA Decision; Calls on Catholic Faithful to Urge Congress to Pass DREAM Act

WASHINGTON—The Executive Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a statement asking the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to extend DACA renewal deadlines in hurricane impacted states. The statement also urges Congress to find a durable and permanent solution on behalf of DACA youth and urges the Administration to allow 75,000 refugee admissions into the United States in 2018. The full statement from the USCCB Executive Committee follows:

"The Executive Committee of the USCCB, meeting this week, makes its own the Statement of the USCCB President and others on September 5th, which expressed extreme disappointment with the administration's decision to end DACA with a six month wind-down period, and committed the USCCB to redouble its efforts to help find a permanent legislative solution in Congress.

"In light of many years of failure by Congress, whether controlled by Republicans or Democrats, to address the situation, the Committee urges the Catholic faithful and all people of good will to contact their representatives in Congress to urge the passage of the DREAM Act or similar legislation as a prompt, humane, and durable solution to this problem of greatest urgency. The Executive Committee also notes the tremendous contributions of the DACA youth to date as extraordinary, including the fact that many serve in our military.

"In the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey and the devastation left behind, the Executive Committee requests that the Department of Homeland Security extend the October 5, 2018 deadline for the DACA renewals that fall within the October 5- March 5, 2018 renewal period for those living in hurricane-affected zones. As Texas and Florida have some of the largest populations of DACA youth, we ask that you ensure that these individuals receive fair access to renew and are not unduly punished due to natural disaster. We fear that they cannot adequately do so at this time given the physical damage on the ground.

"The Committee is further troubled and deeply concerned, as the President nears a final decision to reduce the number of refugees welcomed in the United States by 50%, that the administration will unduly restrict our reception of those in search of safety for their families. The USCCB proposes that 75,000 refugees, already a reduction of over 25% from the previous determination, be the goal for welcoming refugee admissions for 2018. Going further down to 50,000 or below, as proposed in previous Executive Orders by the President, is simply inhumane, particularly when our great nation has the resources and ability to do more.

"We implore the administration to show mercy and compassion for those seeking refuge, and to advance the American value of freedom through providing safe harbor to those fleeing tyranny and religious persecution.

"In this moment of moral decision, we look to Pope Francis, who in his address to Congress stated: 'We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you' (Mt 7:12). To this end, we believe that deporting exemplary young people who were brought here as children and who know only the United States as their home – or failing to do all we can to help refugees and their families, who are often driven to exile by war and extreme exploitation – is not in our interests as a moral and generous people. Our country has the right and responsibility to regulate its border. We ask that it be done humanely."

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Executive Committee, Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, United States Congress, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Harvey, Department of Homeland Security, Texas, Florida, refugees, Executive Order, Pope Francis, mercy, compassion.

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

A Statement of Support for the New Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism from the Executive Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

WASHINGTON—The following is a statement released by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Executive Committee in support of the new Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism. The committee focuses on addressing the sin of racism in our society and the urgent need to come together to find solutions. Bishop George V. Murry, SJ of Youngstown, Ohio has been named chairman of the committee by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the USCCB. The committee was formed upon the unanimous recommendation of the U.S. Bishops Conference Executive Committee and in consultation with members of the USCCB's Committee on Priorities and Plans.

Full statement follows:

"Racism has rightly been called America's original sin. It remains a blot on our national life and continues to cause acts and attitudes of hatred, as recent events have made evident. The need to condemn, and combat, the demonic ideologies of white supremacy, neo-Nazism and racism has become especially urgent at this time. Our efforts must be constantly led and accompanied by prayer - but they must also include concrete action.

"The Executive Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops expresses full agreement with His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, USCCB President, in creating the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism. We also pledge our enthusiastic support to the new committee and its chairman, Bishop George Murry, SJ, as he leads the committee in its work. May God give you, Bishop Murry, the members of the committee, and all those who will support you, the grace and courage to combat this manifestation of evil in our time. May He grant success to the work of your hands. And, through your work and that of many others, may He bring healing and peace to our nation."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Executive Committee, Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, Bishop George V. Murry, SJ, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Committee on Priorities and Plans, white supremacy, neo-Nazism, racism, healing, peace.

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200


U.S. Bishops Conference Executive Committee Issues Statement in Wake of Catastrophic Hurricanes; Encourage Faithful to Respond with Prayers and Support

WASHINGTON—In the wake of two devastating hurricanes in just two weeks, the Executive Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released the following statement:

"With lives and livelihoods still at risk in Texas, Florida, the Virgin Islands and throughout the Caribbean, we pray for the safety and care of human life in the wake of two catastrophic hurricanes. The massive scale of the dual disasters and the effect it has on communities, families and individuals cannot be fully comprehended or adequately addressed in the immediate aftermath of the storms.

At this time of initial recovery, we mourn the loss of life, homes and other property, and the harm to the natural environment, and we pray for all those affected and in need of assistance. We also pray for the safety of, and in thanksgiving for, the first responders who are risking their lives at this very moment in care for their neighbors, especially those who are elderly, sick, homeless, or otherwise already in need of special assistance.

We share Pope Francis's trust that the Catholic faithful here in the United States will respond to the needs presented by these disasters with a 'vast outpouring of solidarity and mutual aid in the best traditions of the nation.' We encourage the faithful to respond generously with prayers, financial support, and for those who have the opportunity, the volunteering of time and talents in support of those in need."

For more information on how you can help, please go to: http://www.usccb.org/catholic-giving/opportunities-for-giving/emergency-collections-and-disaster-relief.cfm

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

USCCB President Calls for Prayers, Perseverance as Hurricane Irma Approaches Mainland

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following statement as Hurricane Irma makes its way toward Florida. In his statement, Cardinal DiNardo calls for prayer for all those who are in the path of Irma as well as first responders and those who have been evacuated.   

Full statement from Cardinal DiNardo follows: 

"As the people off the Gulf Coast just begin to sift through the damage brought by Hurricane Harvey, our nation, tragically, must attempt to comprehend the approach of Hurricane Irma. People in the Caribbean and U.S. Virgin Islands have already felt Hurricane Irma's full force. Florida is now in the grips of this approaching devastating storm.

As Irma moves rapidly toward Florida, we lift up in prayer all of those who may be impacted, asking almighty God to guide the steady hands of first responders and to widen the hearts of all who are able to be generous to neighbors facing danger, grief, or displacement of any kind due to the disaster.

St. Paul referred to our journey of faith as a race to be run (1 Cor. 9:24-27). At a time like this, when our endurance is tested, we implore God to direct us to yet unknown reserves of strength and human compassion for those suffering so deeply. May our manifestations of love and solidarity be lasting signs in the midst of this crisis. 

As with Hurricane Harvey, the USCCB will be working closely with affected local dioceses, Catholic relief entities and with other organization to assess the needs on the ground and offer assistance. More information about how best to direct material support will be forthcoming.

Let us join in prayer for those who are in the path of Hurricane Irma and may God bless and protect you."


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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, crisis, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Harvey, Florida, St. Paul, natural disaster.


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MEDIA CONTACT:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

President of U.S. Bishops Conference Offers Condolences and Call for Prayer for Victims and Families Involved in Mexico Earthquake

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following statement and call for prayer for those involved in this morning's devastating earthquake off the southern coast of Mexico and Guatemala.   

Full statement follows:

"Our most heartfelt condolences go out to the victims of this morning's catastrophic earthquake, which hit off the coast of southwestern Mexico and Guatemala. As of now, thirty-two people are reported dead, and many have lost their homes in what could be the most powerful earthquake to hit Mexico in a century.

I call on the faithful of this country to pray for the victims and their families, as well as for emergency personnel and rescuers.

The Mexican and Guatemalan people are resilient in their faith and trust in the loving Providence of God, and we commend them to the loving embrace of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who, amidst the sorrows of life, reminds us today as she did five hundred years ago: 'Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the fountain of life?'"

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, earthquake, southwestern Mexico, Guatemala, Our Lady of Guadalupe.

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

U.S. Catholic Bishops Chairman Statement in Response to Senate Judiciary Committee Line of Questioning of Nominee

WASHINGTON—Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty has issued the following statement in response to the line of questioning directed at a federal judicial nominee earlier this week.    

Archbishop Lori's full statement follows: 

"America has a strong and venerable tradition of pluralism that respects all religious views. In this context, this week's hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is deeply disappointing. Rather than simply consider the professional achievements of a nominee for the federal judiciary, multiple senators challenged her fitness to serve due to her Catholic faith. 

Such questions are not just contrary to our Constitution and our best national traditions, which protect the free exercise of one's faith and reject religious tests for public office, they are offensive to basic human rights. They also, sadly, harken back to a time in our country when anti-Catholic bigotry did distort our laws and civil order. These comments are a reminder that we must remain vigilant against latent bigotries that may still infect our national soul.

Were the comments of the Senators meant as a warning shot to future law students and attorneys, that they should never discuss their faith in a public forum, if they have aspirations to serve in the federal judiciary? In truth, we should be encouraging faithful, ethical attorneys to serve in public office, not discouraging them by subjecting them to inappropriate, unnecessary interrogation based on their religious beliefs.

People of faith—whatever faith they may hold—should not be disqualified because of that faith from serving the public good. Rather than hold people of faith in suspicion, our laws and lawmakers should tolerate, if not celebrate, the role faith has in society and in the lives of individuals. To do otherwise is contrary to the ideals of a healthy, pluralistic society."

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Keywords:  United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop William E. Lori, Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, federal judiciary, public office, anti-Catholic bigotry, faith, ethics, public forum, religious beliefs, public good, pluralistic society.  

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

Response from U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Care for Migrants and Refugees

WASHINGTON—The following statement has been issued by James Rogers, Chief Communications Officer for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), clarifying the USCCB position on advocacy and care for migrants and refugees.

Full statement follows:

"It is preposterous to claim that justice for immigrants isn't central to Catholic teaching. It comes directly from Jesus Himself in Matthew 25, 'For I was hungry and you gave me food…a stranger and you welcomed me.' Immigrants and refugees are precisely the strangers we must welcome. This isn't Catholic partisanship. The Bible is clear: welcoming immigrants is indispensable to our faith.

Caring for and about the 'Dreamers' is nothing more than trying to carry out that seemingly simple, but ultimately incredibly demanding, commandment. It is a commandment found throughout Sacred Scripture, reaching back to the Hebrew scriptures, including Leviticus, 'when an alien resides with you in your land, do not mistreat such a one' (Lv. 19:33). In fact, the Church has been pro-immigration since God called Abram to leave Ur: 'Go forth from your land, your relatives, and from your father's house to a land that I will show you' (Gn. 12:1). To suggest otherwise is absurd.

The witness of the Catholic bishops on issues from pro-life to pro-marriage to pro-health care to pro-immigration reforms is rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ rather than the convenient political trends of the day. We are called not to politics or partisanship, but to love our neighbor. Let's reject the forces of division that insist we make a false choice between our safety and our humanity. It is both possible and morally necessary to secure the border in a manner which provides security and a humane immigration policy.

Our pro-immigration stance is based on fidelity to God's word and honors the American dream. For anyone to suggest that it is out of sordid motives of statistics or financial gain is outrageous and insulting."

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

Joint Letter to Congress: 33 Organizations Urge Passage of Conscience Protection Act of 2017

 WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) joined thirty-two other major pro-life, religious, and health care organizations on September 6 urging the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate to pass the Conscience Protection Act of 2017 (H.R. 644/S. 301). Signatories include numerous medical groups representing tens of thousands of health care professionals who object to abortion and are seeking legal protection to serve their patients in good conscience.

"Federal laws protecting conscientious objection to abortion have been approved for decades by Congresses and Presidents of both parties. Even many 'pro-choice' Americans realize that the logic of their position requires them to respect a choice not to be involved in abortion," they wrote. "Yet, with violations of federal conscience laws occurring in California, New York, Washington, Alaska, Illinois, and most recently Oregon, it is increasingly clear that the current laws offer far less protection in practice than in theory."

The Conscience Protection Act (H.R. 644/S. 301), introduced in the House on January 24 by Reps. Diane Black (R-TN) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), and in the Senate on February 3 by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), addresses several "loopholes" in current federal laws that have allowed violations of conscience rights to continue. The letter cites a 2014 California mandate requiring almost all health plans in the state to pay for elective abortions in direct violation of the Weldon amendment, and the subsequent failure of the HHS Office of Civil Rights to enforce Weldon. It also cites the government's failure to vindicate the rights of New York nurse Cathy DeCarlo after she was pressured to assist at a late-term abortion.

The joint letter highlights the modest nature of the bill, explaining that it "would mean almost no change in the substantive policy of Congress" but "would be an enormous step forward in assuring Americans who serve the sick and needy that they can do so without being forced by government to violate their most deeply held convictions on respect for innocent human life."

The full text of their letter to Senate is posted at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/upload/Senate-Joint-Ltr-Conscience-Protection-Act-2017.pdf; with the concurrent letter to the House of Representatives at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/upload/Joint-Ltr-Conscience-Protection-Act-2017.pdf.

For more on the bishops' promotion of conscience rights, including a video about a nurse who was coerced to take part in a late-term abortion, visit: www.usccb.org/conscience.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, Congress, Conscience Protection Act of 2017 (H.R. 644, S. 301), abortion, civil rights, conscience rights, conscience protection, conscientious objection, medical profession, OB/GYN, pro-life, integrity, Hippocratic oath.

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MEDIA CONTACT:

Judy Keane

O: 202-541-3200