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U.S. Bishops Receive Letter from Pope Francis As They Gather for Spiritual Retreat; Cardinal Daniel DiNardo Offers Message to Holy Father on Behalf of U.S. Bishops

WASHINGTON— The U.S. Bishops have received a letter from Pope Francis as they gather in northern Illinois at Mundelein Seminary this week. The weeklong retreat is taking place at the invitation of Pope Francis who has asked all bishops in the United States to pause in prayer as the Church seeks to respond to the signs of the times.  

The Preacher to the Papal Household, Capuchin Friar Father Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., is directing the retreat under the theme of “He appointed Twelve, to be with Him and to Send Out to Preach” based on Mark 3:14. The structure of the retreat includes time for quiet reflection, including silent meal times, daily Mass, time for personal and communal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, vespers, and an opportunity for confession. No ordinary business is being conducted during the retreat.

Mundelein Seminary, located on the campus of the University of St. Mary of the Lake, is the principal seminary and school of theology for the formation of priests in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago and educates nearly 200 seminarians from 34 dioceses across the country and around the world.

**As the retreat is one of prayer and silence, there will be no interviews or press conferences and no media access to the Mundelein Seminary campus. **

If you would like to obtain photos or b-roll video from the retreat, please contact USCCB Media Relations at media-relations@usccb.org

Pope Francis’s full letter can be found here in both English and Spanish: www.usccb.org/Francis

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), sent the following message on behalf of the U.S. bishops upon the opening of the retreat.  

The Cardinal’s full message follows:

Most Holy Father:
 
As the bishops of the United States gather today in prayer, we humbly ask Your Holiness to pray for us that we may draw closer to one another and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In this closeness, we seek to find the wisdom and strength necessary to meet the great challenges ahead. We carry with us these days the pain and hope of all who may feel let down by the Church. Yet, we find ourselves grateful for the reminder that the future does not rest with any of us alone, but rather belongs to God. Hope is to be found in Christ. In Him, hope becomes unshakable.

Holy Father, we also draw near to you in our prayer and ministry. Your witness to those suffering around the world strengthens us. May our days together reflect the communion of the Universal Church.

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Keywords: U.S. Bishops, Pope Francis, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., Preacher to Papal Household, Mundelein Seminary, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, spiritual retreat

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Stop Abortion Expansion

Allison McGinn Appointed as Executive Director of the Office of Human Resources for United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

WASHINGTON— Allison McGinn has been appointed as Executive Director of the Office of Human Resources for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).  
 
Monsignor Brian Bransfield, USCCB General Secretary, made the appointment which will take effect January 7, 2019.
 
“Allison has a wealth of experience as a Human Resources professional. I am confident that her skills and abilities will be of tremendous value to the USCCB, and I am grateful to her for accepting this important position in service to the bishops and to the Church,” said Msgr. Bransfield.  
 
McGinn earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Educational Psychology from Mississippi State University. She holds senior-level certifications in Human Resources from both the Society for Human Resources Management and the Human Resources Certification Institute.
 
Most recently, McGinn was self-employed as a Human Resources Consultant, working with firms in the areas of performance management, employee benefits and compensation, recruiting, HR policy and compliance. Prior to her consulting work, McGinn oversaw the HR function for organizations in the government contracting and airline industries, including over 18 years of service with US Airways.  

McGinn lives in Alexandria, VA with her husband and two daughters. They attend the Basilica of St. Mary Church in Old Town. McGinn takes on the leadership of the department after the tenure of Mrs. Theresa Ridderhoff, who had served until recently as Executive Director of Human Resources and was appointed as USCCB Associate General Secretary effective January 1, 2019.  
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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Allison McGinn, Executive Director, Office of Human Resources Msgr. Brian Bransfield, General Secretary, Theresa Ridderhoff, Associate General Secretary
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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

President of The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops expresses support and prayer for those affected by the recent tsunami in Indonesia

WASHINGTON— Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, expresses support and prayer for those affected by the recent tsunami in Indonesia.
Cardinal DiNardo’ statement follows:
 
“Speaking for the bishops and the Catholic faithful of the United States, our prayers and condolences go out to all those who have died or have been injured by the tsunami that struck Indonesia in the area around the Sunda Strait, including Anyerbeach in the west coast area of West Java and Lampung in southern part of Sumatera last evening (Indonesia time).    
 
The people of Indonesia have faced several major natural disasters this year alone, with the earthquake in July and the devastating quake and tidal wave that took so many lives in October.  
 
Not only do our prayers go out to all who have been affected by this most recent natural disaster, which came without warning, but also our pledge of support and aid. Together with our Holy Father Pope Francis, I appeal for the ‘solidarity and the support of the International Community’ for our brothers and sisters. I know that Catholic Relief Services, Caritas Indonesia, and other local partners have teams on the ground responding and they will be providing relief and assistance.
 
As we prepare for the celebration of the birth of Christ, I ask all those in the Church here in the United States, to pray for healing, consolation, and relief to our sisters and brothers suffering in Indonesia”
 
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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, tsunami, Indonesia
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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Bishops’ Conference President, Chairman of USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Catholic Charities USA CEO Welcome Passage of the FIRST STEP Act Through Congress

WASHINGTON—Following the passage of the FIRST STEP Act in Congress, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of Venice , FL, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and Sr. Donna Markham, O.P, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, praised Congress for passing the FIRST STEP Act.  

The full statement is as follows:

The First Step Act is a true first step towards long-term criminal justice system reform. The Act provides meaningful reform to our nation’s mandatory minimum sentences and “three-strike” policies. This reform provides a more just and equitable criminal justice system. In addition, the Act provides valuable incentives for prisoners to participate in vocational and rehabilitative programs helping to prepare them for reintegration into society. The reauthorization of the Second Chance Act provides access to meaningful local and faith-based programs that help returning citizens contribute to their communities and families.

In response to the passage Cardinal DiNardo, President of USCCB, stated:

“We are grateful to the members and staff of the Senate and the House for the truly historic bipartisan collaboration that was necessary to pass this bill before Christmas. We also thank the President and his staff for their support. The First Step Act advances the causes of justice and mercy in our criminal justice system. We stand with victims of crime, and we refuse to give up on those who have committed crimes.”  

Bishop Dewane, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development also stated:

“More reform is needed in the future, but now is a time to celebrate that our sentencing laws will promote greater fairness and justice, and our prisons will be better at rehabilitating prisoners, which benefits the whole community.”  

Sister Donna Markham, CCUSA President and CEO, said:

“This is a true Christmas gift to families who have been impacted by unjust sentencing policies. Catholic Charities agencies continue to minister to our brothers and sisters returning to their families, and today’s bill will make meaningful progress towards improving those efforts. Reauthorizing the Second Chance Act allows us to continue providing effective reentry programming to reduce recidivism and address intergenerational poverty.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Sister Donna Markham, Catholic Charities USA, President Donald Trump, FIRST STEP Act, criminal justice system, reform, Second Chance Act, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives

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Media Contact:  

Judy Keane  

202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops Will Gather for Seven Days of Prayer and Reflection at Invitation of Pope Francis; Papal Preacher to Direct Retreat Taking Place January 2-8

WASHINGTON— Catholic bishops from across the United States will begin the new year taking part in a spiritual retreat for seven days at Mundelein Seminary January 2 to 8, 2019. Preacher to the Papal Household, Capuchin Friar Father Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., will direct the retreat under the theme of “He appointed Twelve, to be with Him and to Send Out to Preach” based on Mark 3:14. The retreat is taking place at the invitation of Pope Francis who has asked all bishops in the United States to pause in prayer as the Church seeks to respond to the signs of the times.  

The structure of the retreat will emphasize quiet reflection, including silent meal times, and will offer daily Mass, time for personal and communal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, vespers, and an opportunity for confession. The next business meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is scheduled for June 2019. No ordinary business will be conducted at the January retreat. 

Cardinal DiNardo expresses his gratitude to Pope Francis for offering the services of his personal preacher for the retreat and offers special thanks to Cardinal Blase Cupich for hosting the retreat in the Archdiocese of Chicago. The Cardinal is also asking the faithful to join in prayer for the U.S. bishops throughout the duration of the retreat.

“I am grateful to the Holy Father for calling the bishops and me to step back and enter into this focused time of listening to God as we respond to the intense matters before us in the weeks and months ahead. I also humbly ask the laity, our priests and religious for your prayers for my brother bishops and me as we join in solidarity to seek wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit. Pray also for the survivors of sexual abuse that their suffering may serve to strengthen us all for the hard task of rooting out a terrible evil from our Church and our society so that such suffering is never multiplied.” 

On February 21-24, 2019, Cardinal DiNardo will join presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences for a Vatican summit on the clerical sex abuse crisis and child protection. The pope had announced in September that he was calling all the presidents of bishop’s conferences, the heads of the Eastern Catholic churches and representatives of the leadership groups of men and women religious orders to the Vatican to address the crisis.

Father Cantalamessa was appointed the Preacher to the Papal Household by Pope John Paul II in 1980. He has remained in this position through the pontificates of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis and is the only person allowed to preach to the Pope. 
Mundelein Seminary, located on the campus of the University of St. Mary of the Lake, is the principal seminary and school of theology for the formation of priests in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago. It is the largest Catholic seminary in the United States and home to 200 seminarians from 34 dioceses across the country and around the world.

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Keywords: Pope Francis, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., Cardinal Blase Cupich, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Mundelein Seminary, silent retreat, University of Saint Mary of the Lake, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, clergy sex abuse crisis

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Media Contact

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

Bishops’ Conference Praises Senate for Passage of the FIRST STEP Act and Encourages Passage in the House

WASHINGTON—Following the passage of the FIRST STEP Act in the U.S. Senate this week, Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of Venice, FL, and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, praised the Senate for passing the bill and encouraged the House to do likewise.    

The full statement is as follows:

“I am grateful to the members and staff in the U.S. Senate, especially Chairman Chuck Grassley and Senators Mike Lee, Dick Durbin, and Cory Booker, for years of hard work and bipartisan collaboration that culminated in the resounding passage of the FIRST STEP Act last night. I am also grateful to President Trump and his staff for their strong support and advocacy for this legislation. 

The FIRST STEP Act contains several much-needed reforms for the federal prison system, including sentencing reform, strongly limiting the practice of shackling pregnant women in prison, establishing a maximum geographical distance between prisoners and their families, enhancing compassionate release for terminally ill and elderly prisoners, assisting returning citizens with obtaining government identification documents, and fixing the time credit system. The bill also reauthorizes the Second Chance Act which will provide important resources for reentering citizens after release from incarceration. I am very grateful to Senator Lankford for resolving a religious liberty concern that arose in a late version of the bill, correcting the issue prior to final passage. The bill contains many more fine provisions which will help foster a more just and merciful criminal justice system.

Today, the House of Representatives has an opportunity to pass this improved version of the bill and send it to the President for his signature. Our nation’s criminal justice system is in need of reform, and this legislation is a worthy 'first step' in the right direction and a model of bipartisan collaboration and good policy making. As we approach the Nativity of our Lord, we are reminded of the need to promote justice and mercy in our society. In this spirit, I call on the House to take up this legislation and pass the FIRST STEP Act."

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, First Step Act, President Trump, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, federal prison system, Second Chance Act, religious liberty, criminal justice system, justice, mercy

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Media Contact:  

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Alexander Salazar of Los Angeles

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Alexander Salazar from the office of Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
 
The resignation was publicized in Washington, December 19, 2018, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
 
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles said in a statement that the announcement comes after Archbishop José H. Gomez requested a full review of all allegations of sexual misconduct involving minors to bring up to date the 2004 Report to the People of God lists of accused priests. More information will be available from the Archdiocese at www.AngelusNews.com

Bishop Alexander Salazar was born on November 28, 1949 in San Jose, Costa Rica and later moved with his family to the United States.  
 
In 1977, Salazar entered St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 16, 1984. After ordination he served as associate pastor at St. Gregory the Great, in Whittier; Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Pasadena, and at the Cathedral of St. Vibiana. From 1995-2004, he was pastor of St. Teresa of Avila Church in Silverlake and served as Dean of Deanery 14. He also served as a member the Council of Priests, College of Consultors, and on the Clergy Pension Board. He additionally served on the Archdiocesan Personnel Board. In 2003, he was named Vice-Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Honorary Chaplain of His Holiness.   
 
On September 7, 2004, he was appointed as Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles and Titular Bishop of Nesqually by Pope John Paul II. He was ordained as auxiliary bishop on November 4, 2004 by Roger Cardinal Mahony who appointed him Episcopal Vicar of the San Pedro Region.     
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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Auxiliary Bishops Alexander Salazar , Archdiocese of Los Angeles
 
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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration and Bishops from Texas Dioceses Issue Statement on the Death of Jakelin Caal Maquin

WASHINGTON--On December 8, seven-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin died in the custody of United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP). She and her father had been apprehended the evening of December 6 in a remote stretch of the U.S./Mexico border in Antelope Wells, New Mexico. Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, along with Most Reverend Mark J. Seitz, Bishop of El Paso and Most Reverend Gerald Kicanas, Administrator of the Diocese of Las Cruces, issued the following statement:

“We are extremely distressed at the news of seven-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin’s death shortly after crossing the U.S./Mexico border with her father and turning themselves into CBP in search of asylum in the United States. Our prayers and heart-felt condolences go out to Jakelin’s family. The death of a child is always a moment of great sadness, a jarring disruption of the natural order of life. From this tragedy, we must remember this profound human consequence of our failed immigration policies, including also that restrictions on the flow of asylum seekers at the border can push more families to seek entrance between ports of entry which place them at greater risk. Jakelin’s death is a tragic reminder of the desperate situation that many fleeing violence, persecution, and poverty face - both in their home countries and now at our border.

We welcome the investigation of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General. We recognize the work and commitment of CBP officers to ensure our safety, but urge CBP leadership to critically review policies regarding the care of vulnerable populations in their custody. We pledge our assistance to help CBP do so.

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas and the birth of Jesus, himself a child whose parents were told “there is no room,” we continue to recognize and affirm that seeking asylum and protection is legal. As a nation, we have the obligation to receive distraught individuals and families with welcome, compassion, and humane treatment. We must heed the words of Christ that “Whatsoever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).
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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Committee on Migration, Bishop Mark J. Seitz, Bishop Gerald Kicanas, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

U.S. Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities Calls NIH’s Dr. Francis Collins Defense of Using Baby Body Parts from Abortions for Research “Deeply Disturbing”

WASHINGTON—Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), recently defended current NIH research that uses the body parts of babies destroyed by elective abortions and said that fetal tissue research “will continue to be the mainstay.”

Greg Schleppenbach, Associate Director of the U.S. Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, responds with the following statement:

“Dr. Collins’ comments are deeply disturbing. Research using fetal tissue from aborted babies is unethical and should not continue under his leadership. The use of fetal remains procured from abortions can be interpreted as legitimizing abortion by saying it is an important source for research. It also requires close collaboration with the abortion industry. Every abortion stops a beating heart, unjustly denying a defenseless human being of her or his life. There is nothing pro-life about further violating these aborted babies by scavenging, even commodifying, their body parts for use in research. The remains of aborted babies are human remains and should be given the full respect they deserve. Millions of pro-life Americans find such research morally offensive and do not want their tax dollars to be used to pay for it.

Researchers have demonstrated the ability to both pursue excellence in research and to avoid violating the rights and dignity of nascent human beings. Dr. Collins can and should lead the NIH in a way that honors both ends, incentivizing research that all Americans can support.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, Greg Schleppenbach, Dr. Francis Collins, National Institutes of Health (NIH), elective abortions, research, fetal tissue, abortion industry, unethical, commodifying, human remains, tax dollars, pro-life, human life, human dignity, pro-life, human beings

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200