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The Power of a Blessed Home: Exorcist Reveals Why a Home Blessing Repulses Demons

A possessed woman was away from her room on an errand. Not known to her, I blessed and exorcized it using holy

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USCCB Subcommittee Approves Updated Certification Competencies for Catholic Chaplains

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service has had a lengthy collaboration over the years with the National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC). The most recent fruit of their work has been the update of certification competencies for use by Catholic chaplains. The subcommittee met on September 15 and approved the recently-updated certification competencies developed by NACC for chaplains ministering in health care settings and veteran affairs, as well as new certification competencies for prisons chaplains. The subcommittee granted its approval of the competencies for a period of seven years.

“Catholic chaplains and pastoral care ministers have been essential providers of spiritual and sacramental care in hospitals and other health care facilities for decades,” said Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, bishop emeritus of Tucson, chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service. He especially noted their ministry to the critically ill over the past two years: “In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and also in response to the spiritual pandemics of racism and social trauma which have accompanied it, ordained, lay and religious chaplains have been ‘spiritual first-responders,’ assuming the same risks of illness as the medical professionals with whom they collaborate. When physically isolated from loved ones suffering and dying alone, chaplains have been there to assist families with virtual visits and agonizing decisions about medical care.”

Bishop Kicanas further highlighted that these ministers have convened families to process the loss of loved ones and to provide innovative forms of common prayer when funeral liturgies could not be celebrated. “When medical staff have been fatigued and demoralized, our pastoral care providers - priests, deacons, sisters and lay women and men – have offered listening hearts and gentle guidance. NACC’s board-certified chaplains and pastoral care ministers remain a vital gift of the Church’s care for the most vulnerable among us,” he said.

Bishop Donald J. Hying of Madison, the USCCB’s episcopal liaison to the NACC, indicated how the approval of the updated certification competencies enhances and affirms the formation which board-certified Catholic chaplains receive. “The bishops of the United States can take great pride and have a strong confidence in the mission and performance of the NACC. The organization prepares and certifies chaplains and pastoral care ministers who provide to Catholics, other Christians and even those of other faiths, the Church’s compassionate care and support.”

The USCCB subcommittee approved updated and new competencies submitted by the organization which will be used to certify the following ministerial roles:

  • Board-Certified Catholic Chaplain
  • Board-Certified Catholic Chaplain for Veterans Affairs
  • Certified Associate Catholic Chaplain 
  • Catholic Correctional Chaplain, in association with the Catholic Prison Ministries Coalition

The USCCB subcommittee also approved Diocesan Pastoral Care Competencies for the Sick, the Homebound and Older Adults (available here in English and Spanish), the NACC Code of Professional Ethics, and Ethics Procedure Manual. Additionally, the subcommittee reviewed and noted the value of the Palliative Care and Hospice Advanced Certification for qualified Board-Certified Catholic Chaplains.

The approved formation materials and certification competencies are based upon the four dimensions of comprehensive formation for lay ecclesial ministers presented in the 2005 USCCB resource, Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord, and they include specialized competencies unique to pastoral care in health care, veteran and prison ministries.

The approval of NACC’s certification competencies builds upon a half-century relationship between the USCCB and the NACC. The association has long been considered a model for other Catholic Church associations and organizations which have looked for guidance in the development of ministry education and training programs, the writing of standards and certification processes, and a model of collaboration with other organizations. Originally formed in 1965 from the USCCB-predecessor body, the National Catholic Welfare Conference, NACC also has long-standing collaborative relationships with a broad range of ecumenical and interfaith chaplaincy and spiritual care partners: ACPE: The Standard for Spiritual Care & Education, the Association of Professional Chaplains, Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains, the Canadian Association of Spiritual Care, the American Correctional Chaplains Association, the National Association of Veterans Affairs Chaplains and the National Conference of Veterans Affairs Catholic Chaplains. For additional information about NACC, visit https://nacc.org.

The USCCB’s Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service assists the bishops in reviewing and approving certification standards and procedures to be used on a voluntary basis by arch/dioceses and national organizations in the certification of specialized ecclesial ministers. It also offers consultative services aimed at improving the quality of lay ministry formation programs that are sponsored by arch/dioceses and by academic institutions. For more information visit https://www.usccb.org/certification.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

USCCB Subcommittee Approves Certification Competencies for Catholic Correctional Chaplains

WASHINGTON - During its September meeting, the Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved new comprehensive certification standards and procedures for Catholic prison ministry. The formation and certification competencies that were approved capped a five-year process of collaborative and synodal engagement among multiple bishops, USCCB offices, seasoned Catholic prison chaplains, theologians, experts in pastoral care, and stakeholders across the country. 

The competencies, submitted and jointly administered by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC) and the Catholic Prison Ministries Coalition (CPMC), will assist bishops, diocesan ministry formation leaders, national organizations and groups as they train lay ecclesial ministers, ordained deacons, and priests serving pastoral care roles throughout the criminal justice system, including the role of Certified Catholic Correctional Chaplain.

“Throughout his papacy, Pope Francis has emphasized the need for the Church to care for those on the margins of our society,” said Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, bishop emeritus of Tucson, and chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service. “Those who are incarcerated or in detention facilities - as well as their families - deserve access to well-prepared Catholic laity and clergy who can provide for their spiritual needs, and, where appropriate, assist with their rehabilitation and re-entry into society,” he said. “An important aspect of this ministry is also the ability to provide pastoral care to victims and their families, correctional officers and staff. It must also include advocacy for a more just criminal justice system. These approved competencies offer a more comprehensive approach to all aspects of Catholic prison ministries,” he added. 

The competencies establish a first-of-their-kind developmental model in Catholic prison ministries. They have been crafted to support integral formation for Catholics who wish to minister and journey with incarcerated persons or groups, as well as those affected by incarceration in any way. They are based upon the four dimensions of comprehensive formation for lay ecclesial ministers presented in the 2005 USCCB statement, Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord, and include specialized competencies that are unique to pastoral care in jails, prisons, and immigration detention facilities. The practices outlined in the competencies are also guided by the USCCB statement issued in 2000, Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice, in which the bishops identified several important facets of these ministries, including:

  • Dedicated pastoral care for incarcerated persons and their families, as well as for victims of crime and their families, and for those who have been affected by immigrant detention
  • Meaningful efforts to assist those in prison with a myriad of personal and social issues confronting them - including addiction, mental illness, and navigating the system of re-entry into society after serving their sentence.
  • Innovative efforts aimed at making the current prison system more just and restorative, especially through building awareness of the whole community's benefit when these systems operate on the basis of care for the person and for the common good

The competencies have been approved for use over the next seven years. This milestone marks the end of a period of dedicated effort on the part of multiple stakeholders. Initially spurred in 2016 by requests from the Holy See’s Congregation for Clergy and the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, the subcommittee sponsored a survey of diocesan Catholic prison ministries. The results of the survey demonstrated a nationwide need for formation, resources, support, and networking around prison ministries. This led to a national gathering sponsored by the USCCB and multiple Catholic organizations and prison chaplains, which forged a group which became the CPMC. To date those who have participated in CPMC events, online forums, and webinars have included Catholic prison ministers from 116 (arch)dioceses covering 42 states, along with 3 Canadian dioceses.  

CPMC’s work was further enhanced in 2020, when it gained fiscal sponsorship by the NACC. Together they offer dioceses, parishes and other organizations a cohort-based adaptive model of formation including three pathways: a foundational formation for Catholic prison ministries volunteers with little or no prior background, an intensive formation in a specific area of prison ministries, and a professional certification as a Certified Catholic Correctional Chaplain.

To introduce and update bishops and diocesan leaders about the new competencies and how they may be applied at the local and regional levels, the USCCB’s subcommittee, CPMC and NACC will host virtual workshops this fall. Additionally, CPMC continues to offer many resources via its website - catholicprisonministries.org. For more information visit https://www.usccb.org/certification.

The USCCB’s Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service assists the bishops in reviewing and approving certification standards and procedures to be used on a voluntary basis by arch/dioceses and national organizations in the certification of specialized ecclesial ministers. It also offers consultative services aimed at improving the quality of lay ministry formation programs that are sponsored by arch/dioceses and by academic institutions.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Chairman Responds to House Vote on Bill that Imposes Radical “Abortion on Demand Until Birth”

WASHINGTON - Today, the House of Representatives voted to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, H.R. 3755. This bill would impose abortion on demand nationwide at any stage of pregnancy through federal statute and would eliminate pro-life laws at every level of government -- including parental notification for minor girls, informed consent, and health or safety protections specific to abortion facilities. H.R. 3755 also would compel all Americans to support abortions here and abroad with their tax dollars and would also 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 Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities issued the following statement: 

“This deceptively-named bill is the most extreme pro-abortion bill our nation has ever seen. H.R. 3755 is not about the health of women, but only about eliminating any and all protections for unborn children - including baby girls. It would lead to the deliberate destruction of millions of unborn lives, leaving countless women with physical, emotional, and spiritual scars.   

“This bill assumes that abortion can be the only, or best, solution to a crisis pregnancy. H.R. 3755 is built on a false and despairing narrative that utterly fails women. In treating abortion as the moral equivalent to the removal of an appendix, this proposal is radically out of step with the American public. As a nation built on the recognition that every human being is endowed by its Creator with the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, this bill is a complete injustice. Congress should embrace public policy that respects the rights of mothers, their children, and the consciences of all Americans, not advance a radical ‘abortion on demand until birth’ policy that is completely out of step with our country’s principles.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

Reflect, rebuild, and see, Pope preaches to Europe's bishops (Vatican Press Office)

On September 23, Pope Francis celebrated a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica (video) commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE).

“Jesus does not ask us to make arguments for God, he asks us to show him, in the same way the saints did, not by words but by our lives,” the Pope said at the conclusion of his homily. “He calls us to prayer and poverty, creativity and gratuity. Let us help today’s Europe – faint with a weariness that is Europe’s current malady – to rediscover the ever youthful face of Jesus and his Bride. How can we fail to devote ourselves completely to making all people see this unfading beauty?”

Vatican 'foreign minister,' at UN, decries racism, eugenics, persecution of religious believers (Holy See Mission)

At a UN meeting marking the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration against racism, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States deplored racism and xenophobia, and also decried pre-natal eugenics and religious persecution.

“The Durban Declaration rightly expresses concern about intolerance, hostile acts, and violence against religious groups,” said Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher. “Individuals and entire populations are discriminated against because of their faith while perpetrators often enjoy impunity.”

“Another form of discrimination is the insidious practice of eugenics,” he added. “Today, we could say that a eugenic mentality often lurks behind artificial procreation techniques and the dark sides of pre-natal diagnostics, where the idea that there are human beings of inferior value because of disability, sex, or other traits often leads to the denial of their right to life.”

Canadian archdiocese drops vaccine requirement for Mass (Pillar)

The Archdiocese of Moncton has rolled back a policy, issued earlier this week, that would have required proof of Covid vaccination for anyone attending Mass. Archbishop Valery Vienneau said that he had dropped that requirement after conferring with local public officials.

The archdiocese now will not require proof of vaccination. Instead it will require masks in churches, and limit the size of congregations to 50% of the building’s capacity.

The policy announced on Monday had stunned many Catholics, and gone well beyond the strict regulations issued by the government of the New Brunswick province. Mass-goers would have been required to show proof of vaccination, and ushers would have registered that information, making it available to public officials. That policy also apparently would have applied to confessions, in clear violation of the guaranteed anonymity of the confessional.

With that policy rescinded, the new rules in the Moncton archdiocese match those in other Catholic dioceses of New Brunswick.

Sep. 24 Friday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time; Our Lady of Walsingham (England, Memorial), Weekday

Today is Ember Friday of the Fall or September Ember Days. See Contemporary Observation of Ember Days for more information.

Catholic Punched While Praying the Rosary at Pride Parade in Ireland (Video Inside)

Please pray for this woman! The Catholic advocacy group Irish Society for Christian Civilisation recently held a rosary rally during a pride

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Pentecostal/Charismatic Christians and Roman Catholics Engage in Exploratory Ecumenical Dialogue

WASHINGTON - A historic, exploratory, ecumenical dialogue between representatives of the Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America (PCCNA) and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) met September 14-16 in Washington. The meeting was convened because of initial discussions between the Rev. Dr. Harold D. Hunter, International Pentecostal Holiness Church liaison to the Greater Christian Community and member of PCCNA Christian Unity Commission Steering Committee, and Rev. Walter F. Kedjierski, Ph.D., executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs at the USCCB out of a shared desire to explore together a theological understanding of rituals and ordinances/sacraments. This was the first time the scholars representing the two groups met at a national level for a theological dialogue in what is expected to be a three-year exploratory dialogue that could lead to further dialogues exploring areas of convergence in the future.

At the first meeting, the theme of “Initiation” was discussed as scholarly papers were presented for discussion and reflection by those in attendance. Subsequent engagement of the two groups will focus on the themes of “Healing” and “Vocation.”

Presenters of the scholarly works at the meeting were as follows:

  • Rev. Dr. Frederick L. Ware, associate dean, Howard University School of Divinity, Initiation (Water Baptism) in North American Pentecostalism
  • Dr. Kimberly Belcher, Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, Initiation from the Roman Catholic Perspective

Those in attendance at the meeting facilitated by Dr. Hunter and Rev. Kedjierski were:

  • Rev. Dr. Tammy Dunahoo, International Church of the Foursquare Gospel
  • Rev. Dr. David Han, dean, Pentecostal School of Theology
  • Dr. Martin Mittelstadt, Evangel University
  • Rev. Dr. Leonardo Gajardo, St. Paul Catholic Community
  • Rev. Andrew V. Menke, executive director, Secretariat for Divine Worship, USCCB
  • Dr. Andrew Prevot, Department of Theology, Boston College
  • Mr. Nathan Smith, Glenmary Home Missioners (in attendance as a meeting observer)

The first meeting was hosted by the USCCB at the Washington Retreat House. The attendees alternated in leading morning and evening prayers and had the opportunity to visit the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America, and Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The next meeting will be hosted by PCCNA at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa and is scheduled for September 14-16, 2022.

The PCCNA represents 40 million Christians through its member denominations and organizations serving in Canada, the United States, and Mexico (www.pccna.org). The USCCB is the assembly of the hierarchy of Catholic bishops who jointly exercise pastoral functions on behalf of the Christian faithful of the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands. (www.usccb.org). The provisional dialogue is sponsored by the PCCNA’s Christian Unity Commission and the USCCB’s Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.
 

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Chieko Noguchi
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
(202) 541-3200, @email 

and 

Rev. Kay Horner
Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America
(423) 790-0757, @email