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Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz steps down as Chair of Committee for Religious Liberty amidst cancer treatment; Bishop Robert J. McManus of Worcester to serve as Acting Chair of the Committee

WASHINGTON— Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has appointed Bishop Robert J. McManus to serve as Acting Chair of the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty until the November 2019 General Assembly. The appointment was made following the resignation of Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, D.D., of Louisville, previous chair of the committee, after his diagnosis with urothelial carcinoma.

Cardinal DiNardo stated: “We are praying for Archbishop Kurtz, especially as he undergoes an intense treatment plan at Duke Cancer Institute over these next several weeks and months. I very much appreciate Bishop McManus’s agreeing to step into this chairmanship role and lead the important work of the Committee for Religious Liberty.”

Bishop McManus served as Chair of the Subcommittee on Health Care Issues from 2012 to 2018 and served as Chair of the Committee on Catholic Education from 2005 to 2008. He has served as a member of the Committee on Doctrine since 2001 and has previously served as a member of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities and the Committee on Budget and Finance.

Robert J. McManus was born July 5, 1951 in Providence, Rhode Island. He was ordained a priest on May 27, 1978, an Auxiliary Bishop of Providence on February 22, 1999, and was installed as Bishop of Worcester on May 14, 2004. Bishop McManus holds Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in philosophy from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and he holds a Master of Divinity from the Toronto School of Theology. He has also earned licentiate and doctoral degrees in sacred theology from The Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Bishop Robert J. McManus, Committee for Religious Liberty

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Media Contact:
Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

Pope Francis Appoints the Most Reverend Mark Brennan as Bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has appointed the Most Reverend Mark Brennan as Bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. The appointment was publicized in Washington, DC, on July 23, 2019 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Brennan was born on February 6, 1947 in Boston, MA. He holds a bachelor of arts from Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, 1969; and pursued seminary studies at Christ the King Seminary in Albany, New York, 1969-1970. In 1972 he received a licentiate in sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, 1972; he also pursued a graduate degree at the Gregorian, 1974. He was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Washington on May 15, 1976. Pope Francis appointed Bishop Brennan as auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Baltimore in December of 2016, and he was consecrated a bishop on January 19, 2017.

Assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar, Our Lady of Mercy Parish, Potomac, Maryland, 1976-1981, and Saint Pius X Parish, Bowie, Maryland, 1981-1985; parochial vicar, Saint Bartholomew Parish, Bethesda, Maryland, 1986-1988, pastoral care to Hispanic community, 1988-1989; director of vocations and priest programs, 1988-1998; pastor, Saint Thomas the Apostle parish, Washington, DC, 1998-2003, Saint Martin of Tours Parish, Gaithersburg, Maryland, 2003-2016. Other assignments include: member, priest council, 1978-1981, 2009-2015; member, College of Consultors, 1998-2001, 2011-2016; vicar forane, 2002-2005; advocate, Metropolitan Tribunal, 2006.

The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is comprised of 24,282 square miles and has a total population of 1,844,128 of which 77,874 or 4 percent, are Catholic.  

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Bishop Mark Brennan, Archdiocese of Baltimore, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston

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Media Contact:

Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Announces the Publishing of Creating a Culture of Encounter: A Guide for Joyful Missionary Disciples

WASHINGTON— The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) announces the publishing of Creating a Culture of Encounter: A Guide for Joyful Missionary Disciples for use by parishes and communities of faith around the country.

This Spanish/English guide will help Catholics live out the call of Jesus to meet those on the peripheries with the Good News of the Gospel for their lives. It offers an organized five-session parish encounter process to help small groups to dig deeper into the Church’s evangelizing mission.  
In each session, participants take up a new aspect of Jesus’ encounter with the disciples on the road to Emmaus and focus on a different element of the evangelical call to spread the Gospel, inspired by Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. The five-session guide invites participants to See, Judge, Act, Celebrate, and take Missionary Action to follow the pastoral circle process.

This new community resource will deepen missionary discipleship in parishes, lay ecclesial movements, Catholic schools, parish councils, religious groups, and faith formation teams of any cultural or ethnic background. The process of encounter will bear good fruit, as Catholics take up their missionary mandate in families, schools, workplaces, communities, parishes, and wherever they find those in need of God’s love. It is particularly recommended for those seeking to build encounter and unity in culturally diverse environments.

Creating a Culture of Encounter was developed as a resource by the Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs under the direction of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church as an adaptation of the process developed for the V National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry

The USCCB has made the guide available for order online at http://store.usccb.org/creating-a-culture-of-encounter-p/7-629.htm

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Creating a Culture of Encounter, Missionary Disciples, V National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry, Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, Hispanic Affairs, Cultural Diversity in the Church

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Media Contact:
Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

Elimination of U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program “Against the Principles We Have as a Nation” Says Chair of USCCB Committee on Migration

WASHINGTON— Thursday it was reported that the Administration is considering “zeroing out” the refugee resettlement program. This would effectively put an end, at least temporarily, to the United States resettling those fleeing persecution from countries overseas.

Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, Texas, Chair of the of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“This recent report, if true, is disturbing and against the principles we have as a nation and a people, and has the potential to end the refugee resettlement program entirely. The world is in the midst of the greatest humanitarian displacement crisis in almost a century. I strongly oppose any further reductions of the refugee resettlement program. Offering refuge to those fleeing religious and other persecution has been a cornerstone of what has made this country great and a place of welcome. Eliminating the refugee resettlement program leaves refugees in harm’s way and keeps their families separated across continents.

Every refugee resettled in the United States goes through an extensive vetting process that often takes 18 months to two years to complete. It incorporates live interviews and several extensive checks by multiple departments within the government. Many of these refugees have familial ties here and quickly begin working to rebuild their lives and enrich their communities.

As Pope Francis has said we must work for “globalization of solidarity” with refugees, not a globalization of indifference. Rather than ending the program, we should work instead to restore the program to its historic norms of an annual resettlement goal of 95,000.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Refugee Resettlement, Justice for Immigrants, Enforcement, immigration

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Media Contact:
Mark Priceman
202-541-3064

 

Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Bishop Richard Pates, Appoints Rev. William Joensen as Bishop Elect of Diocese of Des Moines

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Most Revered Richard Pates from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Des Moines. The Pope has appointed as Bishop-Elect of the same see the Rev. William Joensen of the Archdiocese of Dubuque. The appointment was publicized in Washington, DC, on July 18, 2019 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.

Father Joensen was born on July 8, 1960 In Waterloo, Iowa. He attended seminary at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio and received a degree in Theology. He was ordained as a priest of the Archdiocese of Dubuque on June 24, 1989. Father Joensen also holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Catholic University of America in 2001.

Past assignments include: Associate Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish (1989-1992), Faculty of Columbus High School (1989-1992), Associate Pastor, Church of the Resurrection (1992-1995), and Chaplain of Clarke College (2003-2010). He currently serves as Dean of Spiritual Life at Loras College and Spiritual Director of St. Pius X Seminary in Dubuque.

Bishop Richard Pates was born on February 12, 1943 in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He studied at the Pontifical North America College, and was ordained to the priesthood on December 20, 1968. On December 22, 2000, Pope John Paul II appointed Bishop Pates as Auxiliary Bishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis. In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI named Bishop Pates the ninth bishop of the Diocese of De Moines. Bishop Pates served as Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace. Bishop Richard Pates submitted his letter of resiganation to Pope Francis in February 2018.

The Diocese of Des Moines is comprised of 12,446 square miles and has a total population of 837,773 of which 103,430 or 12.3 percent, are Catholic.  

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Bishop Richard Pates, Rev. William Joensen, Diocese of Des Moines, Archdiocese of Dubuque, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio.

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Media Contact:

Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

USCCB Purchases Translation of Psalms and Canticles from Conception Abbey

WASHINGTON--On July 1, 2019 the USCCB purchased the copyrights to the Revised Grail Psalter and the Old and New Testament Canticles translated by the monks of Conception Abbey in Missouri. The two texts will now together be titled Abbey Psalms and Canticles and will gradually be incorporated into the Church’s official liturgical books. These sacred texts play an important role in the public prayer of the Church, especially in the Liturgy of the Hours and in the readings for Mass.

For over two decades, the bishops have sought a translation of the psalms and canticles that would be more accurate and more conducive to singing and recitation. Since at least 1998 the monks of Conception Abbey have been working to prepare translations that would meet these goals. The USCCB first approved the monks’ translation of the psalter in 2008, and the Holy See then approved that text in 2010. In June 2015 the USCCB approved Conception Abbey’s translation of the canticles, hymn-like passages from the Bible that are used on certain occasions in the liturgy. The bishops subsequently approved a revised version of the psalter in 2016. In May 2018 the Holy See approved both the psalter and the canticles in what should now be their definitive form.

Abbot Gregory Polan, the Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation, was Abbot of Conception Abbey for nearly twenty years and coordinated the preparation of the Abbey Psalms and Canticles. “It is my sincere hope,” he commented, “that this translation of the Psalms and Biblical Canticles will be a source of spiritual nourishment for the liturgy and the private prayer of all who use them.” The USCCB is grateful for the exceptional service that the monks of Conception Abbey have provided to the Church by their work.

Since 2010 many composers have prepared their own settings of these Psalms for use in the liturgy, and some of the more recently-published liturgical books have already begun incorporating material from the new translations. The Abbey Psalms and Canticles will begin to see a wider dissemination in the coming years, especially when new editions of the Lectionary for Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours are completed.

In purchasing these copyrights, the bishops are following the guidelines of the Holy See’s Instruction Liturgiam authenticam, which requires that a Conference of Bishops possess all the rights necessary to promote and safeguard the accurate and appropriate use of the texts of the Sacred Liturgy.
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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Divine Worship, liturgy, psalms, Conception Abbey, Liturgy of the Hours, Abbot Gregory Polan

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

USCCB President Condemns Threat of Widespread Enforcement Actions and New Rule Drastically Limiting Asylum

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, made the following statement in response to the climate of fear created by the Department of Homeland Security’s announced immigration enforcement actions and the Administration’s new Interim Final Rule to drastically limit asylum, which was published today:

“Enforcement actions like those anticipated this week by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency separate families, cause the unacceptable suffering of thousands of children and their parents, and create widespread panic in our communities. I condemn such an approach, which has created a climate of fear in our parishes and communities across the country. I recently wrote the President asking him to reconsider this action.

A stated intent of these actions is to deter Central Americans fleeing for their lives from seeking refuge in the United States. This is both misguided and untenable. It is contrary to American and Christian values to attempt to prevent people from migrating here when they are fleeing to save their lives and to find safety for their families.

And, in addition to this climate of fear, we have seen the Administration today take further unacceptable action to undermine the ability of individuals and families to seek protection in the United States. The Administration’s new rule on asylum eligibility presents a similar enforcement-only immigration approach. The rule adds further barriers to asylum-seekers’ ability to access life-saving protection, shirks our moral duty, and will prevent the United States from taking its usual leading role in the international community as a provider of asylum protection. Further, while still reviewing the rule, initial analysis raises serious questions about its legality.

I urge the President to reconsider these actions, the new rule, and its enforcement-only approach. I ask that persons fleeing for their lives be permitted to seek refuge in the U.S. and all those facing removal proceedings be afforded due process. All who are at or within our borders should be treated with compassion and dignity. Beyond that, a just solution to this humanitarian crisis should focus on addressing the root causes that compel families to flee and enacting a humane reform of our immigration system.

Pope Francis, in his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2019, reminds us that ‘the presence of migrants and refugees – and of vulnerable people in general – is an invitation to recover some of those essential dimensions of our Christian existence and our humanity that risk being overlooked in a prosperous society.’”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, President Trump, Pope Francis, ICE, DHS, Justice for Immigrants, Enforcement, immigration,

 

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Media Contact:

Mark Priceman

202-541-3064

Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, applauds the convening of the Second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom

WASHINGTON— This week marks the Second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom hosted by the U.S. Department of State with 1,000 religious and civil society leaders and foreign ministers from 115 countries. The Ministerial reaffirms international commitments to promote religious freedom and develop durable, positive ways to combat religious persecution and unjust discrimination.

The Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services, USA and Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued the following statement:

“Our faith reminds us that religious freedom is the cornerstone of a just society which is increasingly under threat. 77% of world’s population, 5.5 billion, live in 83 countries with high or very high restrictions on the practice of religion. We are witnessing entire communities around the world pay with their lives to exercise freedom of conscience and faith. I am pleased to participate in this Ministerial, and support our government’s efforts to promote freedom of conscience and religion for all.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Second Ministerial, Religious Freedom, U.S. Department of State, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Military Services, Committee on International Justice and Peace

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

Miguel Guilarte

202-541-3202

Confraternity of Christian Doctrine Awarded Grants to Promote Catholic Biblical Literacy and Interpretation

WASHINGTON--This spring, the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) awarded grants in the amount of $68,266.50 for five projects that support the goals of the CCD to promote Catholic biblical literacy and Catholic biblical interpretation.

The CCD works with the Catholic Biblical Association (CBA) to offer these grants, accepting applications only from the CBA, including the organization itself, its designees, and its full and associate members. In fidelity to Dei Verbum, the CBA's purpose is to promote scholarly study in Scripture and related fields by meetings of the association, publications, and support to those engaged in such studies.

Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, Bishop of Houma-Thibodaux and Member of the CCD-CBA Liaison Committee, commented, "We are pleased to have received so many strong proposals from the members of the Catholic Biblical Association. These projects will advance biblical scholarship and support biblical literacy in parishes and classrooms."

Funding for these grants comes from the royalties received from the publication of the New American Bible and its derivative works which the CCD develops, publishes, promotes, and distributes.
The five projects sponsored by the CCD are as follows:

•  $20,766.50 to Michael G. Azar for residency in Jerusalem to study the Bible in Eastern Christian-Jewish Relations.
•  $15,000 to Jeffrey L. Cooley, David Vanderhooft, and Michael Simone, SJ, to support a conference on “The Spirit of Scholarship: Biblical and Mesopotamian Studies in the Roman Catholic Academy.”
•  $25,000 to Andrew Glicksman to develop a manuscript on the relationship between Wisdom and Spirit in the biblical and patristic tradition.
•  $5,000 to Christopher Seeman for a series of videos addressing the representation of Jews and Judaism in Catholic exegesis, homiletics, and catechesis.
•  $2,500 to Kelley Coblentz Bautch for participation in the Qumran residency to study the presentation of Salome Alexandra in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, CCD, Catholic Biblical Association, CBA, Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, CCD-CBA Liaison Committee, Dei Verbum, New American Bible, biblical scholarship, pastoral programs, biblical literacy, biblical interpretation, grants

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Media Contact:
Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

Religious Communities Receive $28 Million Toward Retirement Needs

WASHINGTON—In June, the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) distributed $28 million in financial assistance to 360 U.S. religious communities to help underwrite the care of aging members. The funding is made possible by the Retirement Fund for Religious collection, an annual, parish-based appeal benefiting some 30,000 senior religious and their communities.  

The latest appeal was held in most U.S. Catholic parishes in December 2018 and raised $27.7 million.

Known as Direct Care Assistance, the funding disbursed represents the bulk of financial assistance distributed by the NRRO. Religious communities combine these funds with their own income and savings to help meet expenses such as prescription medications and nursing care. Over the years, this support has helped many religious communities to stabilize their retirement outlooks.

However, many others continue to struggle with rising retirement costs and the growing number of elder members needing care. In response, the NRRO’s Management Committee increased the amount disbursed for Direct Care Assistance in 2019 from $25 million to $28 million, with the additional funding realized through investments and careful financial management.

“We are exceedingly grateful to concerned Catholics across the United States,” said Presentation Sister Stephanie Still, the NRRO’s executive director. “Their ongoing generosity to the Retirement Fund for Religious allows us to help communities who need immediate assistance in caring for aging members.”

Catholic bishops of the United States launched the Retirement Fund for Religious in 1988 to address the profound lack of retirement funding among the nation’s religious communities. Traditionally, Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests—known collectively as women and men religious—served for very low wages that did not include retirement benefits. Today, hundreds of religious communities lack adequate retirement savings.

The NRRO coordinates the annual Retirement Fund for Religious collection and distributes the proceeds to eligible religious communities. It also offers educational programming, services and resources that enable religious communities to evaluate and prepare for long-term retirement needs. The NRRO is sponsored by the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, Leadership Conference of Women Religious and United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Visit https://retiredreligious.org/ to learn more.
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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 Contacts:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3202