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President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Delivers Opening Address at Start of 2018 General Assembly in Baltimore, Nov. 12-14

Baltimore—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops addressed the body of bishops at the opening sessions today in Baltimore for the General Assembly taking place in Baltimore.

Cardinal DiNardo’s full address follows:

“Saint Augustine wrote, ‘In order that weakness might become strong, strength became weak.’ My dear brothers, in light of this morning’s news, the nature of my address changes. We remain committed to the specific program of greater episcopal accountability that we will discuss these days. Consultations will take place. Votes will not this week. But we will prepare ourselves to move forward.

Allow me to now address the survivors of abuse directly.  

Where I have not been watchful or alert to your needs, wherever I have failed, I am deeply sorry. The command of our Lord and Savior was clear. ‘What I say to you, I say to all: watch!’ In our weakness, we fell asleep. Now, we must humbly beg God’s strength for the vigil ahead.

St Augustine also warned that there are two extremes we all can fall into – despair or presumption.

We, and the faithful, can fall into despair – believing that there is no hope for the Church or good change in the Church. We can also believe there no hope for healing of these sins. But we must always remember there is a thing called trusting faith and it leads us on our current journey. This trusting faith provides us roots for a living memory. Our people need this living memory of hope.
We must also remember the other extreme: presumption. We can be lulled into inactivity by presuming that this will blow over, that things simply return to normal on their own. Some would say this is entirely a crisis of the past. It is not. We must never victimize survivors over again by demanding they heal on our timeline. It is true to say the vast majority of abuse cases occurred decades ago. But the pain is daily.  

The number of new allegations today are a small fraction of what they were. But Jesus poses a question, ‘what man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the 99 in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?’ In justice, we must search for every child of God whose innocence is lost to a horrific predator at any time, decades ago or this very day.

Healing can come, if there is forgiveness. ‘How many there are who know that they have sinned against their brother or sister and yet are unwilling to say: forgive me.’ Let us not only be willing but also ready and eager to ask for forgiveness. To the survivors I have let down by what I have failed to do, please forgive me. To those who have lost faith in the Church, please forgive us for our failures.

Combatting the evil of sexual assault within the Church will require all our spiritual and physical resources. We must draw near to Christ in all sorrow, humility and contrition, to better hear his voice and discern his will. It is only after listening we can carry out the changes needed. The changes that the People of God rightly demand.  

Our work must honor the ongoing work of so many across the country to protect children and others from the fear of violation. Tens of thousands of people – including clergy, religious, and laity -- working or volunteering at Catholic ministries submit themselves to extensive safe environment training and background checks. Hundreds of parents, social workers, law enforcement and other professionals serve on review boards to ensure an impartial review of all allegations. Victim’s assistance coordinators stand ready in every diocese to assist survivors of abuse. And since 2002, our priests and others serving the Church work under a policy of zero tolerance after an allegation of abusing a child is admitted to or proven.  

Brother bishops, to exempt ourselves from these high standards of accountability is unacceptable and cannot stand. In fact, we, as successors to the apostles, must hold ourselves to the highest possible standard. Doing anything less insults those working to protect and heal from the scourge of abuse.  

As, however, the events of this year have so clearly revealed, we must expand our understanding of protection and vigilance. Sexual misconduct must be more intensely dealt with in our dioceses and in our policies. The sense of justice founded on the people’s genuine instinct of faith will hold us accountable.

The Church founded by Jesus Christ is one of hope and life. My dear brother bishops, we must take every precaution that our example not lead a single person away from the Lord. Whether we will be remembered as guardians of the abused or the abuser will be determined by our actions beginning this week. Let us draw near to Christ today, sacrifice to Him our own ambitions, and humbly submit ourselves totally to what He demands of us in love and justice.

The Church has always been and will always be the Body of Christ — His Church. He merely asks us to serve as best we can. And where we fail, let us submit to the Holy Father and to one another in a spirit of fraternal correction.

I quoted St. Augustine at the beginning of this talk. He also writes, ‘for on whatever place one has fallen, on that place he must find support that he may rise again.’ Brothers, we have fallen into a place of great weakness. We need to pray and act right now in this very place to begin rising to a new integrity.

We must always remember that in order for us, who are weak, to become strong, Christ became weak. ‘Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered.’ Through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, may we become strong – not for own consolation, but to better serve our sisters and brothers.

Let us, then, be an example of how the sinner humbles himself before the Lord so that he may receive God’s mercy. In this way, we can begin to clean and heal the lacerations in the Body of Christ. May God bless you.”
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Keywords: Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, General Assembly, Baltimore

Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

U.S. Bishops to Vote for Chairman of Committee on National Collections at Fall General Assembly in Baltimore, Nov. 12-14

BALTIMORE— The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will be voting for the Chairman of the USCCB Committee on National Collections during the General Assembly taking place Nov. 12-14 in Baltimore, Maryland. The nominees are Archbishop Paul D Etienne of the Archdiocese of Anchorage and Bishop Thomas A. Daly of the Diocese of Spokane. 

The U.S. Bishops will also vote for the USCCB’s treasurer-elect, chairman of the catholic education committee, and chairmen-elect of five additional standing committees. The five committee chairmen will serve for one year as chairmen-elect before beginning a three-year term at the conclusion of the bishops' 2019 Fall General Assembly.

Nominees for the Conference Treasurer, Chairman of the Committee for Catholic Education, and Chairman-elect of each committee are as follows:

http://www.usccb.org/news/2018/18-174.cfm

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, November meeting, Fall General Assembly, Baltimore, committees, elections

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200  

 

Bishops Applaud Final Rules Providing Expanded Moral and Religious Exemptions to HHS Mandate

WASHINGTON–The final rules announced Wednesday by the federal government regarding the HHS mandate “allow people like the Little Sisters of the Poor, faith-based schools, and others to live out their faith in daily life,” according to leaders of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the USCCB, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty, are applauding the Trump Administration’s decision to finalize regulations providing expanded religious and moral exemptions from the mandate requiring health insurance coverage of sterilization, contraception, and drugs and devices that may cause abortions.

Cardinal DiNardo and Archbishop Kurtz offered the following joint statement in response:

“We are grateful for the Administration’s decision to finalize common-sense regulations that allow those with sincerely held religious or moral convictions opposing abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception to exclude such drugs and devices from their health plans. These final regulations restore free exercise rights in accordance with the First Amendment and long-standing statutory protections for religious freedom. The regulations allow people like the Little Sisters of the Poor, faith-based schools, and others to live out their faith in daily life and to continue to serve others, without fear of punishing fines from the federal government.”

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Keywords: Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, HHS mandate, Little Sisters of the Poor, abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, contraception, religious liberty, religious freedom

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

 

President of U.S. Bishops’ Conference Issues Statement Following Deadly Shooting in California

WASHINGTON—Following the tragic shooting early this morning in Thousand Oaks, California, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement calling for the enactment of reasonable measures to end gun violence.

The full statement of Cardinal DiNardo follows:

"Many of us learned at dawn today that at least a dozen people died early this morning in a shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks, CA, outside of Los Angeles. Early reports indicate that the bar was filled with college students, and among the dead are a law enforcement officer as well as the shooter himself.

We must bring this tragedy to the Lord in prayer. This new incident of gun violence strikes just as the funerals are barely complete from the last mass shooting. More innocent lives are lost because of one individual and his ability to procure weapons and commit violence. The bishops continue to ask that public policies be supported that would enact reasonable gun measures to help curb this mad loss of life.

Only love can truly defeat evil. Love begets love, and peace begets peace, but anger, hatred and violence breed more of the same. Today we pray for the victims and their loved ones and all those impacted by this senseless violence. Let us pray that "In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace." Lk. 1:78-79.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president, violence,

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Media Contact:  

Judy Keane  

202-541-3200

 

Annual Collection Helps Religious Communities Address Retirement Shortfall

WASHINGTON—The Retirement Fund for Religious collection will be held in most U.S. Catholic parishes on December 8-9. Now in its 31st year, the collection is coordinated by the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO). Proceeds are distributed to eligible religious communities to help underwrite retirement and health-care expenses for senior members. Some 31,000 elderly Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests benefit.

Catholic bishops of the United States initiated the national collection in 1988 to help address the significant lack of retirement funding among U.S. religious congregations. Almost 94 percent of donations directly support senior religious and their congregations.

Donations to the 2017 appeal totaled just over $28 million, and the NRRO distributed $25 million to 360 religious communities across the country. Communities utilize these funds to bolster retirement savings and to subsidize necessities such as prescription medications and nursing care. Throughout the year, additional funding is allocated for communities with critical needs and for resources on retirement planning and eldercare.

“Since the collection began, Catholics have donated $844 million to help religious communities care for aging members,” said Presentation Sister Stephanie Still, the NRRO’s executive director. “We are humbled and profoundly grateful for this generosity.”

Despite ongoing support for the national appeal, the need remains profound. For each of the last 10 years, the total cost of care for senior women and men religious has exceeded $1 billion. At the same time, most religious communities lack adequate retirement savings because older members served for little to no pay. Historically low compensation also impacts current income. Based on NRRO data, the average annual Social Security benefit for a religious is just $6,453.45.

In addition to direct financial aid, collection proceeds underwrite efforts to help religious communities prepare for long-term needs. Special programming offers fiscal and one-on-one support to communities with critical funding shortages. Partnerships with various organizations maximize the impact of donations by furnishing tools for enhancing eldercare and stretching retirement dollars. For example, in conjunction with the Avila Institute for Gerontology, the NRRO offers a free webinar series on senior-related topics. In 2017, funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation underwrote the creation of online videos to promote effective property planning.

“Thanks to the annual appeal, we are able to offer an array of resources to help religious communities meet immediate needs, enhance eldercare, and plan for the future,” said Sister Still.

More information is available at www.retiredreligious.org.

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Keywords: National Religious Retirement Office, NRRO, retirement, eldercare, U.S. bishops, Sister Stephanie Still, USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Collection

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200