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U.S. Bishops’ Chairman on International Justice and Peace Releases "A Renewed Call to Solidarity with Africa"

WASHINGTON – The 19th Plenary Assembly of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) has gathered for their plenary assembly in Accra, Ghana. Upon addressing the assembly today, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace expressed his solidarity with the Church in Africa and announced the release of A Renewed Call to Solidarity with Africa.

“Two decades ago, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a landmark document to declare our bonds of solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Africa in their pursuit of justice and peace in service of helping men along the path of salvation. Today, with joy and hope, we renew those bonds. On behalf of bishops of the United States, I am pleased to issue the statement of our Committee, A Renewed Call to Solidarity with Africa. This Renewed Call highlights our progress of solidarity, articulates today’s ecclesial, economic, and political hopes and challenges as well as puts forth strategies for future collaboration. Our committee recommits itself to stand alongside the Church in Africa, knowing we are mutually enriched and edified as we do so.”

Auxiliary Bishop Peter L. Smith of Portland, chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on the Church of Africa added his praise and support, saying “This Renewed Call, reinvigorates the bishops’ vision for the Subcommittee’s Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa that directly supports the pastoral capacity of the local Church in Africa. I commend the reading and study of this document to the faithful and all those who wish to further our Christian solidarity with the Church across Africa.”

A Renewed Call to Solidarity with Africa, is available in English, French, and Spanish, along with a practical resource for prayer and action.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

 

Gifts to the Solidarity Fund Strengthen Church’s Pastoral Capacity Across Africa

WASHINGTON - In August, many Catholic dioceses in the United States will take up a collection in their parishes for the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa, a program of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) that works in partnership with the Catholic Church in Africa to strengthen pastoral capacity, nurture relationships, and encourage accountability and good stewardship of resources.

Parishioners can give to the annual collection through the offering basket at Mass or parish e-giving platforms. The website #iGiveCatholicTogether also accepts donations for the Solidarity Fund.

“Your gift will change lives,” said Bishop Peter L. Smith, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Portland, and chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on the Church in Africa. “While the Church in Africa is the fastest growing part of the Universal Church, it is also the most economically impoverished part of the family of faith. Despite the poverty and conflict that many African Catholics endure, their hope and faith moves them to pour their energy into serving Jesus.”

“Grants from the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa reflect support for pastoral projects and initiatives that demonstrate a truly Catholic approach to promoting pastoral care, peace, and well-being, as it addresses the interwoven demands of Christian faith and social justice. And it is evident from the way the gifts are received that they truly make a difference in the lives of many.”

Grants funded by the collection for the Solidarity Fund support pastoral projects of episcopal conferences and dioceses in Africa. African Church leadership identify their own needs and priorities, design and implement the projects, and are accountable for the transparent use of all funds. Four of the 85 projects from 2021 show the diversity of the pastoral projects assisted by these grants:

  • In Kenya, Catholic youth ministry leaders nationwide learned new ways to teach and evangelize during the COVID-19 pandemic, participating in workshops on topics such as the use of digital tools, responding to people in emotional distress, and best practices to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
  • In Ethiopia, where civil war rages in part of the country, 95 teachers from 45 Catholic schools will be trained on a newly developed peace education curriculum and new textbooks will be printed and distributed so they can provide peace and moral education for over 31,000 students.
  • In the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, diocesan and parish leaders teach the spirituality of creation care that Pope Francis summarized in his 2015 encyclical, Laudato si’, mobilizing parish projects such as conserving water and reducing the use of plastics.
  • In Burundi, bishops and lay leaders are learning how to prevent child sexual abuse and respond justly and compassionately to reports of the abuse of children and vulnerable adults.

“These examples show how the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa helps Catholics to apply the Gospel to every level of human life: caring for individual souls, caring for communities and caring for humanity’s relationship with God’s creation,” Bishop Smith said.

More information on the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa and how a diocese or parish can get involved: https://www.usccb.org/committees/church-africa.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Chairman on Passage of House Bill Imposing “Abortion on Demand” Nationwide

WASHINGTON - Last Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Women’s Health Protection Act, H.R. 8296, by a vote of 219 to 210. This bill would impose abortion on demand nationwide at any stage of pregnancy and would eliminate pro-life laws at every level of government -- including parental notification for minor girls, informed consent, and health and safety protections specific to abortion facilities. H.R. 8296 also would compel all Americans to support abortions here and abroad with their tax dollars and would likely force health care providers and professionals to perform, assist in, and/or refer for abortion against their deeply-held beliefs, as well as force employers and insurers to cover or pay for abortion.  

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty, issued the following statement: 

“The majority in the House of Representatives voted last Friday to pass the most unjust and extreme abortion on demand bill our nation has ever seen. Answering the needs of women by promoting taxpayer-funded elective abortion, as this bill would do, is a grave evil and a failure to love and serve women. Offering free or low-cost abortions, instead of increasing the resources women need to care for themselves and their children, is not ‘choice’ but coercion and callous abandonment. Simply repeating the mantra that abortion is healthcare doesn’t make it so. Deliberately ending the lives of defenseless and voiceless human beings is the antithesis of healthcare.   

“We implore those who see abortion as a legitimate ‘solution’ to the needs of women to abandon this path of death and despair. Instead, we invite all to join us in pursuing a vision we presented in Standing with Moms in Need, a vision that upholds the truth that every human life is sacred and inviolable—a society in which the legal protection of human life is accompanied by profound care for mothers and their children. We exhort our nation to prioritize the well-being of women, children, and families with both material resources and personal accompaniment so that no woman ever feels forced to choose between her future and the life of her child.”

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops’ Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection Releases Annual Report

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection has released their 2021 Annual Report. The report is based on the audit findings of StoneBridge Business Partners, a specialty consulting firm headquartered in Rochester, New York, which provides forensic, internal, and compliance audit services to leading organizations nationwide. A survey on allegations conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) is also included as a part of the report.

This is the nineteenth such report since 2002 when the U.S. bishops established and adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, a comprehensive set of procedures to address allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and made a promise to protect and a pledge to heal.

The 2021 report for audit year July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021, states that 2,930 victim survivors came forward with 3,103 allegations. The number of allegations is 1,149 less than that reported in 2020. This decrease is due in large part to the resolution of allegations received as a result of lawsuits, compensation programs, and bankruptcies. Of the allegations received, 2,284 (74%) were first brought to the attention of the diocesan/eparchial representative by an attorney.

During this audit year, 30 allegations were made by current minors, six of which were substantiated, nine are still under investigation, nine were unsubstantiated, five were unable to be proven, and one was referred to the provincial of a religious order.

During the audit period, dioceses and eparchies provided outreach and support to 285 victim survivors and their families who reported during the audit period. Continued support was provided to 1,737 victim survivors who had reported in prior audit periods.

The report notes the ongoing work of the Church in continuing the call to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults. In 2021, the church conducted 1,964,656 background checks on clergy, employees, and volunteers. In addition, in 2021, over 2 million adults and over 2.4 million children and youth were trained in how to identify the warning signs of abuse and how to report those signs.

Despite restrictions experienced due to the pandemic, elements included in the Charter audit process conducted by Stonebridge Business Partners, were not altered:

  • 70 dioceses/eparchies were visited either in-person or via remote technology and data collected from 122 others.
  • There were four instances of non-compliance: the Diocese of Corpus Christi, the Diocese of Lafayette in Louisiana, the Diocese of New Ulm, and the Eparchy of Newton were found non-compliant with Article 2 of the Charter due to inactivity of their Review Boards. Subsequent convening of the respective Review Boards brought each into compliance with Article 2 of the Charter.
  • Three eparchies and one diocese did not participate in the audit: the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle, the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon, St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy, and the Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.

The USCCB’s Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People and the National Review Board continue to emphasize that the audit and continued application of zero-tolerance policies are two important tools in the Church’s broader program of creating a culture of protection and healing that exceeds the requirements of the Charter.

The full annual report, and all previously published annual reports, may be found on the secretariat’s website, along with the full text of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, along with additional information and resources on diocesan requirements for the protection of children and young people.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

Pope Francis Appoints Bishop Chad Zielinski as Bishop of New Ulm

WASHINGTON - Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Chad W. Zielinski of Fairbanks, as Bishop of New Ulm. The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on July 12, 2022, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

The biography for Bishop Zielinski may be found here.

The Diocese of New Ulm is comprised of 9,863 square miles in the State of Minnesota and has a total population of 279,681 of which 49,530 are Catholic.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

 

Bishop Chairman Responds to Executive Order on Abortion Access

WASHINGTON - On Friday, July 8, the President of the United States signed an executive order on abortion access in response to the Supreme Court of the United States’ Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following response: 

In response to the Dobbs decision, I called for the healing of wounds and repairing of social divisions, for reasoned reflection and civil dialogue, and for coming together to build a society and economy that supports marriages and families, and where every woman has the support and resources she needs to bring her child into this world in love.

And as religious leaders, we pledged ourselves to continue our service to God’s great plan of love for the human person, and to work with our fellow citizens to fulfill America’s promise to guarantee the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all people. 

It is deeply disturbing and tragic that President Biden is choosing instead to use his power as President of the United States to promote and facilitate abortion in our country, seeking every possible avenue to deny unborn children their most basic human and civil right, the right to life. Rather than using the power of the executive branch to increase support and care to mothers and babies, the president’s executive order seeks only to facilitate the destruction of defenseless, voiceless human beings. 

I implore the president to abandon this path that leads to death and destruction and to choose life. As always, the Catholic Church stands ready to work with this Administration and all elected officials to protect the right to life of every human being and to ensure that pregnant and parenting mothers are fully supported in the care of their children before and after birth.  

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

Statement on Passage of Bill to Enshrining Abortion in State Constitution

Following is a statement from Kristen Curran, director of government relations for the New York State Catholic Conference on the anticipated passage today of legislation to begin the process of amending the state Constitution to include abortion rights: “Unfortunately, this bill solidifies the message that New York has been sending women for some time now: […]

Equality Amendment

Memorandum of Opposition Re: A41002 Seawright/S51002 Stewart-Cousins Equality Amendment  The above-referenced legislation would amend New York State’s Constitution to ban unjust discrimination against persons based on a broad variety of classes and characteristics. This version of the bill rightly applies the same level of protection to religion as it does to the expanded list of […]

Comments on the Draft Scoping Plan by Climate Action Council

The New York State Catholic Conference submits the following comments on the draft Scoping Plan developed by the Climate Action Council, which was created by the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act of 2019 (CLCPA). June 30, 2022 General Position of the Catholic Church The perspective of the Catholic Church with respect to the environment […]

Constitutional Amendment Regarding “Equality”

Memorandum of Opposition Re: S8797-B Krueger In relation to Constitutional Amendment Regarding “Equality”   The above-referenced legislation would amend New York State’s Constitution to ban unjust discrimination against persons based on a broad variety of classes and characteristics. Despite this measure’s well-intentioned and worthy objectives, it fails on a variety of levels to achieve these purposes. […]