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U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Administrative Committee Statement on the Life and Work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Administrative Committee has issued the following statement today marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Administrative Committee serves as the Board of Trustees for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The committee's full statement follows:

"'No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends' (Jn 15:13). April 4th marks 50 years since the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. On this day, as we reflect on his life and work, we need to ask ourselves if we are doing all we can to build the culture of love, respect and peace to which the Gospel calls us.  What are we being asked to do for the sake of our brother or sister who still suffers under the weight of racism? Where could God use our efforts to help change the hearts of those who harbor racist thoughts or engage in racist actions?

This anniversary gives us an important moment to draw inspiration from the way in which Dr. King remained undeterred in his principle of non-violent resistance, even in the face of years of ridicule, threats and violence for the cause of justice. Dr. King came to Memphis to support underpaid and exploited African-American sanitation workers, and arrived on a plane that was under a bomb threat. He felt God had called him to solidarity with his brothers and sisters in need. In his final speech on the night before he died, Dr. King openly referenced the many threats against him, and made clear that he would love a long life. But more important to him, he said, was his desire to simply do the will of God.

Our faith urges us to be courageous, to risk something of ourselves, in defending the dignity of our neighbor who is made in the image of God.  Pope Francis reminds us often that we must never sit on the sidelines in the face of great evil or extreme need, even when danger surrounds us. St. Paul proclaims that: 'We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body' (2 Cor. 47-10). We can best honor Dr. Martin Luther King and preserve his legacy by boldly asking God—today and always—to deepen our own commitment to follow His will wherever it leads in the cause of promoting justice."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Administrative Committee, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., assassination, anniversary, Memphis, African-Americans, racism, brothers, sisters, Jesus, St. Paul, Pope Francis, justice, solidarity.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Pope Francis Names New Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Father Robert F. Christian, OP, as the new auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.  

The appointment was publicized in Washington on March 28, 2018 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Father Christian was born December 2, 1948 in San Francisco. He entered the Order of Preachers at St. Albert Priory in Oakland in 1970 and made his Solemn Profession as a Dominican in 1974.

He was ordained a priest in Oakland on June 4, 1976.

Father Christian has a B.A. in English from the University of Santa Clara (1970) and a B.A. in Philosophy from St. Albert College, Oakland (1973). In 1977, he received a Master of Divinity degree from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Oakland. In 1981, he earned a Licentiate of Sacred Theology (S.T.L) from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome. In 1984, he earned his doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.) also from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum).  

Assignments after ordination included: teacher at Dominican College in San Rafael (1976-1979); conventual lector (parochial ministry) at Blessed Sacrament in Seattle and Director of the Newman Center at the University of Washington (1984-1985); Professor (Sacraments and Ecclesiology) at the Angelicum, Rome (1985-1997); Socius and Vicar, Western Dominican Province, acting administrator during absence of Provincial, and lecturer in theology at the Graduate Theological Union (1997-1999); vice dean and professor at the Angelicum (1999-2014); delegate to provincial chapters (years 1981, 1983, 1994, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2011); Socius to Provincial Chapter (1983, 1999); Sabbatical (2014-2015); Master of Students, Western Dominican Province (2015-present).

Other appointments include: Peritus at the 1990 Synod of Bishops on Priestly Formation; Prior of the 75-member resident community of friars at the Angelicum; member of Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission; Consultor to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (2013-present).

The Archdiocese of San Francisco comprises 1,016 square miles. It has a total population of 1,776,095 people of which 441,736 or 25 percent, are Catholic. Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone is the current Archbishop of San Francisco.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Father Robert Christian, O.P., Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, Archdiocese of San Francisco

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Chairman and Catholic Leaders Deeply Concerned about Historically Low Refugee Resettlement in Time of Global Humanitarian Need

WASHINGTON—Yesterday, Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Migration, sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of State urging dialogue on the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). Halfway through this fiscal year, the U.S. federal government has welcomed approximately 9,600 refugees, fewer than 25% of the refugees allowed for this year by the 2018 Presidential Determination. For Fiscal Year 2018, the Presidential Determination was set at 45,000 refugees, marking the lowest number since the Refugee Act of 1980 was created.

In part of the letter, Bishop Vásquez explained, "The current level of refugee arrivals leaves thousands of vulnerable people in harm's way and searching for protection." He continued, "Most often they are at-risk women and children who are too vulnerable to remain in the region and/or in situations too dangerous for them to wait in the host country until the conflict at home has ended." Bishop Vásquez further stated, "As Christians, our concerns for refugees is integral to our life of faith." He concluded, "In this spirit, we urge the Administration to renew a bipartisan commitment to resettlement for refugees, including religious minorities."

The full letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security can be found here: https://justiceforimmigrants.org/2016site/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Refugee-Letter-to-DHS-Sec-Nielsen.pdf.

Additionally, over 1600 Catholic organizations, women and men religious and lay leaders, also voiced their concern over the state of the USRAP. That letter can be found here: https://justiceforimmigrants.org/2016site/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Letter26March2018inclSigners2.pdf.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe Vásquez, Committee on Migration, refugees, migrants, immigrants, Presidential Determination, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP)

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Chairmen Deeply Disappointed by Congress’s Failure to Enact the Conscience Protection Act

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, chair of the USCCB's Committee for Religious Liberty, reacted with deep disappointment to the news that a very modest but critical piece of legislation—the Conscience Protection Act—was not included in the 2018 appropriations bill just released by Congress.

The full statement follows:

"The failure of Congress to include the Conscience Protection Act in the 2018 omnibus appropriations bill is deeply disappointing. The CPA is an extraordinarily modest bill that proposes almost no change to existing conscience protection laws on abortion—laws that receive wide public and bi-partisan support. The CPA simply proposes to provide victims of discrimination with the ability to defend their rights in court to help ensure that no one is forced to participate in abortion. Those inside and outside of Congress who worked to defeat the CPA have placed themselves squarely into the category of extremists who insist that all Americans must be forced to participate in the violent act of abortion. We call on Congress not to give up until this critical legislation is enacted."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Committee for Religious Liberty, Conscience Protection Act, Congress, abortion, health care, religious liberty

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Committee Issues Statement Supporting Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers as Important Free Speech Case Begins

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement praising the work of pro-life pregnancy centers on the occasion of oral arguments being heard today by the U.S. Supreme Court in NIFLA v. Becerra.

Cardinal Dolan's full statement follows:  

"Pro-life pregnancy care centers embody everything that is right and good in our nation: generosity, compassion and love that is offered to support both mother and child. But rather than applauding and encouraging the selfless and life-affirming work of these centers, some governments want to force them to provide free advertising for the violent act of abortion in direct violation of their pro-life convictions and the First Amendment. The United States Supreme Court cannot let this happen. We pray that the Court will do the right thing and uphold our fundamental right to free speech when it decides this case."

The USCCB and several other groups filed a friend-of-the-court brief before the Supreme Court supporting the pro-life pregnancy centers in this important free speech case. The other groups are the California Catholic Conference, the Catholic Health Association of the United States, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Christian Legal Society and Agudath Israel of America. The full text of the brief is available online: http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/NIFLA-Amicus-2018-01-13F.pdf.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, pro-life pregnancy centers, U.S. Supreme Court, NIFLA v. Becerra, oral arguments, First Amendment, free speech, California Catholic Conference, Catholic Health Association of the United States, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Christian Legal Society, Agudath Israel of America, compassion, love.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200