Bulletin Extras
Local stories and or articles that are not available in any of the current printed versions of The Bishop's Bulletin.
USCCB migration and refugee services releases refugee report ahead of U.N. refugee summit  
Monday, September 19, 2016  2:35 PM
Washington, DC -  As the United Nations General Assembly holds its refugee summit in New York, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Migration & Refugee Services has released a report assessing the refugee crisis in Southeast Asia.

While the Syrian and Central American migration situations have recently been in the spotlight, Burma /Myanmar’s decades-long refugee crisis prompted a trip to the region also including Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Australia. The USCCB Migration & Refugee Services delegation met with unaccompanied children, refugees, victims of human trafficking, local governments, Catholic and faith-based non-governmental organizations, and community leaders to better understand the humanitarian crisis and what can be done.

Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, who led the delegation said, “This trip was eye-opening for me. I join my brother bishops in the Burma region and elsewhere to pray for peace and continued reform and rebuilding in the country. I pray for continued protection, humanitarian assistance, and pursuit of durable solutions for all those who are displaced.”

The report comes at an important time for Burma, after six decades of being ruled by a military regime. Burma now has a democratically elected government. Some of the findings throughout the region include:

A special focus is needed on the Rohingya refugees challenge. Most of them suffer the vulnerabilities of being forcibly displaced, being stateless and thus targets of human rights violations and discrimination, and being victims of human smuggling or trafficking. Yet their plight is not addressed by either the national election or by the ethnic negotiations with the government.

There is a disturbing pattern of human trafficking of refugees and migrant workers throughout the region. In the last three years, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 170,000 people –Bangladeshis and Rakhine State Muslims from Bangladesh and Myanmar– have resorted to dangerous sea journeys across the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea at the hands of human smugglers and traffickers.

Those seeking refuge in temporary shelters in Thailand continue to experience a reduction in humanitarian support, including reduced food rations. Urban refugees in Malaysia also have serious humanitarian and protection concerns.

Increased numbers of Pakistani Christians seeking refuge in Thailand and Malaysia, who now constitute some 40 percent of all UNHCR refugees in Bangkok, are also in dire need of protection and durable solutions, as are Montagnard Christians from Vietnam who have fled to Thailand. Syrians, Iraqis, and Iranians who have fled to Malaysia are additionally experiencing difficulty finding protection and building new lives. And Indonesia has become a collection area for refugees who were turned away from seeking refuge in Australia.

The U.N. General Assembly and the U.S. co-sponsored Leaders’ Refugee Summit take place September 19-20. The report and the summits are focusing on the need for shared responsibility by the international community to address this unprecedented crisis and the hope for all refugees to someday return to their homelands.

The group’s findings and recommendations are detailed in Moment of Decision: Seeking Durable Solutions in Southeast Asia, which can be found at: www.usccb.org/about/migration-policy/fact-finding-mission-reports/upload/Moment-of-Decision.pdf.

USCCB committee chairs reaffirm the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage  
Friday, September 16, 2016  3:14 PM
Washington, DC - Two USCCB committee chairmen have issued a joint statement reaffirming the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage “as exclusively the permanent, faithful, and fruitful union of one man and one woman [and] cannot change.”

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Doctrine and Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, New York, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, issued the following statement:

God’s Plan Doesn’t Change

Joint Statement from Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Doctrine and Bishop Richard Malone, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth

As pastors of the Church it is timely to reaffirm the Church’s authoritative teaching about marriage as it comes to us from God as the author of creation and of revelation. The Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage as exclusively the permanent, faithful, and fruitful union of one man and one woman cannot change.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, hearkening back to the timeless words of the Book of Genesis: “‘The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws…. God himself is the author of marriage.’ The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator” (CCC, no. 1603). And despite so many various cultural changes and understandings, this “order of creation persists...” (no. 1608).

This teaching was repeated by the Holy Father in his Encyclical “On the Care for Our Common Home” (Laudato Si’), where Pope Francis encourages all of us to work together on respecting the gift of nature, the gift of God’s creation. In particular, Pope Francis calls attention to “the relationship between human life and the moral law, which is inscribed in our nature…” (LS, no. 155). We cause great harm to ourselves, to each other, and to the world when we ignore the moral law given to us by God and inscribed in our very nature. The goodness and beautiful diversity of God’s creation does not include those things that are consequences of our sins.

The attempt to redefine the essential meaning of marriage is acting against the Creator. It cannot be morally justified, “for he commanded and they were created; and he established them for ever and ever; he fixed their bounds and he set a law which cannot pass away” (Ps 148:5b-6). Therefore, as a community and a nation, we cannot make progress in human development if we “think that the weakening of the family as that natural society founded on marriage will prove beneficial to society as a whole” (Amoris Laetitia, no. 52).

May all of us work together for the common good, which includes the responsibility to protect, preserve, and strengthen marriage.

Worldwide Day of Prayer for sexual abuse survivors is set  
Friday, September 16, 2016  10:47 AM
Washington, DC - Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, welcomed Pope Francis’ call for a World Day of Prayer for Victims of Sexual Abuse and highlighted the efforts in dioceses across the country guided by the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

Full statement follows.

A statement from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville
President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

With a pastor’s heart, Pope Francis renewed the call of the universal Church to pray for, help heal and proactively protect children from the terrible sin of sexual abuse. For whenever we have failed to protect our children from predators, we beg God’s forgiveness. For wherever we have failed to support victims of sexual abuse, we beg their forgiveness. We have learned from the pain of such moments to motivate a rigorous prevention program.

That is why, in the United States, dioceses and parishes across the country have found grace in the very types of reconciliation services proposed by the worldwide day of prayer. Likewise, our painful experience resulted in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. We are grateful to the Holy Father for calling for the day of prayer. This universal expression of healing and sorrow, joined by our brothers and sisters around the world, will be a powerful reminder that no survivor should walk the path toward healing alone.

Earlier this week, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Administrative Committee met to begin preparing our support for the Holy Father’s effort. It is a moment to renew our commitment and ensure we remain vigilant against the scourge of sexual abuse. Let us pray that we may never become complacent in our prayer and protection. If you have been the victim of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, notify law enforcement and please know there is a victim assistance coordinator in every U.S. diocese ready to help. They are trained and ready to receive your call.

USCCB religious liberty chairman responds to statement of chairman of U.S. Commission on Civil Rights  
Tuesday, September 13, 2016  5:01 PM
Washington, DC - Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, responded to a statement issued last week by the chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights upon the issuance of its report on “Peaceful Coexistence.”

Archbishop Lori’s statement follows:

Faith and the Full Promise of America

A Statement from Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty

For the current Chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, religious liberty is reduced to “nothing except hypocrisy,” and religion is being used as a “weapon… by those seeking to deny others equality.” He makes the shocking suggestion that Catholic, evangelical, orthodox Jewish, Mormon, and Muslim communities are comparable to fringe segregationists from the civil rights era. These statements painting those who support religious freedom with the broad brush of bigotry are reckless and reveal a profound disregard for the religious foundations of his own work.

People of faith have often been the ones to carry the full promise of America to the most forgotten peripheries when other segments of society judged it too costly. Men and women of faith were many in number during the most powerful marches of the civil rights era. Can we imagine the civil rights movement without Rev. Martin Luther King, Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel? In places like St. Louis, Catholic schools were integrated seven years before the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Jesus taught us to serve and not to count the cost.

Our record is not perfect. We could have always done more. Nevertheless, we have long taught that the one God, maker of heaven and earth, calls each and every individual into being, loves every individual, and commands believers to love and show mercy to every individual. The idea of equality, which the Chairman treats as a kind of talisman, is incomprehensible apart from the very faith that he seeks to cut off from mainstream society.

Today, Catholic priests, religious and laity can be found walking the neighborhood streets of our most struggling communities in places abandoned by a “throwaway culture” that has too often determined that quick profits matter more than communities. We are there offering education, health care, social services, and hope, working to serve as the “field hospital” Pope Francis has called us to be. We wish we were there in even greater numbers, but we are there to humbly offer the full promise of America to all. Rest assured, if people of faith continue to be marginalized, it is the poor and vulnerable, not the Chairman and his friends, who will suffer.

Catholic social service workers, volunteers and pastors don’t count the cost in financial terms or even in personal safety. But, we must count the cost to our own faith and morality. We do not seek to impose our morality on anyone, but neither can we sacrifice it in our own lives and work. The vast majority of those who speak up for religious liberty are merely asking for the freedom to serve others as our faith asks of us. We ask that the work of our institutions be carried out by
people who believe in our mission and respect a Christian witness. This is no different from a tobacco control organization not wishing to hire an advocate for smoking or a civil rights organization not wanting to hire someone with a history of racism or an animal rights group wishing to hire only vegetarians.

In a pluralistic society, there will be institutions with views at odds with popular opinion. The Chairman’s statement suggests that the USCCR does not see the United States as a pluralistic society. We respect those who disagree with what we teach. Can they respect us? We advocate for the dignity of all persons, a dignity that includes a life free from violence and persecution and that includes fair access to good jobs and safe housing. People of faith are a source of American strength. An inclusive and religiously diverse society should make room for them.

Third African National Eucharistic Congress to be held in Washington, August 5-7.  
Wednesday, July 27, 2016  2:52 PM
Washington, D.C. - The Third African National Eucharistic Congress, which will take place in Washington, August 5-7,will highlight the gifts, contributions, challenges and evangelization opportunities of African immigrant families in the Catholic Church in the United States.

The gathering brings together African Catholic ministry leaders from around the country, and takes place every five years. This year’s theme is “Responding to the New Evangelization: The African Catholic Family, A Gift to the Church in America.”

Highlights of the three-day event include a keynote address by Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on African American Affairs. A special workshop on the Zairean Rite, an African Catholic rite, will be directed by Cardinal Laurent Mosengwo Pasinya of the Archdiocese of Kinshasa, Congo. The workshop will be followed by a practical demonstration of the rite during Saturday’s liturgical celebration presided by Cardinal Mosengwo. The closing Mass will be presided by Bishop Joseph N. Perry, auxiliary bishop of Chicago, and a member of the USCCB Subcommittee on African American Affairs. Sessions will address issues such as youth and young adults, living among different cultures, and an awards ceremony for the best youth essay.

The Third African National Eucharistic Congress will be held at Catholic University of America, Pryzbyla Hall. The event is organized by the USCCB’s Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in collaboration with the National Association of African Catholics in the United States (NAACUS), and the African Conference of Catholic Clergy and Religious in the United States (ACCCRUS).

More information, including registration, schedule and speakers, can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/cultural-diversity/pastoral-care-of-migrants-refugees-and-travelers/ethnic-ministries/african-national-eucharistic-congress.cfm

USCCB president offers prayers, support after church attack, killing of priest in France  
Wednesday, July 27, 2016  2:44 PM
Washington, D.C. - Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) expressed prayers and support after the latest terrorist attack on a Catholic parish in Normandy, France, that left a priest dead and another person seriously injured.

According to reports, the attack took place while Father Jacques Hamel was celebrating Mass, he and five other people were taken hostages inside the church.

Full statement follows.

Attack on Our Catholic Church in Normandy

A Statement from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville
President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Catholic faithful around the world experienced the shock and sadness of this morning’s barbaric attack on Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in France, as if the loss was in our very own parish. We pray for Father Hamel and his parishioners knowing, as St. Paul stated regarding the Body of Christ, “if one suffers, all the parts suffer with it.” (1 Cor 12:26)

The Holy Mass is the most sacred and joyful act we, as Catholics, celebrate. Never are we closer to our Lord Jesus Christ than we are when we receive the Eucharist. No act of desecration – no matter how vile – can obscure the merciful presence of God.

Jesus calls us to be sisters and brothers, to strive to care for one another, and always to reject the evil that seeks to divide us. We give thanks to God for the unforgettable witness of the faithful this morning at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.

USCCB president calls for dialogue, peace in the midst of violence  
Monday, July 18, 2016  2:26 PM
Washington, D.C. - Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued the following statement in relation to the July 17 fatal shooting of police officers in Baton Rouge, Lousiana.

Full statement follows.

“Stop, no more of this!” (LK 22:51)

A Statement from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville
President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

I offer my prayers for the officers and families affected by the horrible shooting in Baton Rouge. We find ourselves amid a prolonged prayer of lament as we join to console the grieving and support the suffering. People are suffering because their uniform is blue, suffering because their skin is black and suffering simply because of their station in life.

The temptation to respond to violence with violence is strong. Even St. Peter himself lashed out upon the arrest of our beloved Savior. Jesus’ response was clear. “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (MT 26:52). As followers of Christ, let us always embrace love and ask ourselves how we can best invite all people of good will to live with us in peace.

The reasons for so much suffering are complex and varied. As a society, we must come together to address the lingering evil of racism, the need to safeguard our citizens from the present danger of extremism and the overall breakdown of civility. As a Church, we will seek out ways to foster this life-saving dialogue. Answers will not come easily nor as quickly as we need. We must continue searching and listening until they do.

As we seek a dialogue that cultivates a true respect for every human being, we should also seek ways, large and small, to be a sign of hope in the everyday routines of life. The next time you are pulled over by a police officer or walk past one on the street, thank him or her for their service. For those in law enforcement, the next time you make a traffic stop, thank the person for their time. The task of building a society upon the strong foundation of love begins with each one of us every day. 

Third-largest U.S. delegation to attend World Youth Day 2016  
Monday, July 18, 2016  9:20 AM
New App, Digital Resources for Virtual Pilgrimage
Nearly 100 bishops expected to attend
Resources for pilgrims, stateside events

Washington, D.C. - More than 40,000 Americans are registered to attend World Youth Day (WYD), July 26-31, in Krakow, Poland. To assist this record breaking number of participants from the United States, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth has lined up a series of resources and a variety of digital platforms to engage youth and young adults at home and abroad.

Through resources like the free mobile app Pilgrimage, followers will have access to content to help them unpack the meaning of the pilgrimage and put works of mercy into action. Digital content include 360-degree video of World Youth Day events, daily readings and prayers. The app has been developed in collaboration with American Bible Society and can be downloaded from Android and Apple app stores.

Also, in collaboration with the Catholic Apostolate Center, content such as interviews with bishops, schedule of events, exclusive videos for digital pilgrims, blogs and other resources will be available at www.wyd2016.us. The latest updates on news, photos and videos will be provided on the USCCB’s Facebook and Twitter, Hashtag: #WYDUSA.

These resources are aimed to facilitate information to those on the journey abroad and to provide access to a virtual pilgrimage for those unable to travel.

“We want to let the world know that no one is excluded from a pilgrimage like this. Everyone is called to be a pilgrim, no matter if they have the means to travel to Poland,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, USCCB episcopal liaison for World Youth Day. “This summer, we want every young adult and young person to know that they are part of this journey, whether that is made physically to Krakow or spiritually at home.”

The 40,000 Americans registered represent the largest delegation of U.S. pilgrims participating in a WYD outside of North America, just behind WYD 1993 in Denver and WYD 2002 in Toronto; most of the participants are young adults, ages 18-30. In addition, 85 U.S. bishops are registered, this is also the largest number of bishops attending a WYD celebration outside of North America.

Thirteen U.S. bishops have been selected as catechists: Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York; Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston; Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver; Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia; Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago; Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky; Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami; Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles; Bishop Edward Burns of Juneau, Alaska; Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport; Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, New York; Bishop Robert McMannus of Worcester, Massachusetts; and Bishop Alberto Rojas, auxiliary bishop of Chicago.

Two major events for U.S. pilgrims will take place in Poland, at Tauron Arena Krakow: the U.S. National Gathering and Prayer Experience, scheduled for Wednesday, July 27, at 5 p.m., and the U.S. National Mass for Pilgrims, on Saturday, July 30, at 9 a.m. Also, an International English Language Center called “Mercy Center,” located at Tauron Arena Krakow and hosted by the Knights of Columbus, will provide a variety of English-language programs and activities for pilgrims.

An USCCB office to give support for bishops, group leaders, and in case of emergencies will be located at the Park Inn by Radisson Hotel in Krakow.

Some dioceses and archdioceses around the country have also organized events to celebrate WYD concurrent with the international gathering. A full list of stateside celebrations is available at www.usccb.org/about/world-youth-day/stateside-wyd-celebrations.cfm.

More information is available through the national WYDUSA office at www.wydusa.org.

The Diocese of Sioux Falls is sending a group of pilgrims to World Youth Day  The group departs July 30 and returns to the diocese on July 29.

USCCB president sends prayers and support to people of France  
Friday, July 15, 2016  11:56 AM
Washington, D.C. - Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, expressed the prayers and support of the Catholic Church in the United States to the people of France following the July 14 attack in Nice.

The full statement follows.

The Hope of Peace and Freedom

A Statement from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville
President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

We draw near in prayer to the suffering and recovering people of Nice, France. The darkness of violence cannot dim the light of humanity’s highest aspirations to live in peace. For the dead, we ask for God’s mercy. For the wounded, we ask for God’s healing. For the affected families, we ask for God’s strength. And for the rest of us, let us ask for God’s wisdom as we seek the best way to help in the days ahead.

These growing storms of hatred may test our ability to see the best in each other, but Jesus has already secured for us the victory of life over death, love over hate. In His confidence, let us move forward without fear, but with an open embrace of all people who share in the hope of peace and freedom being celebrated yesterday. In this way, we isolate the forces of hate, starve its growth and shine the light of love into its darkest corners.

In a particular way, I thank God for the first responders who seek to safeguard the innocent at the risk of their own lives. Let us pray for all public authorities as they tirelessly work for our protection. The more cooperation exists between governments and citizens, the more we will frustrate the forces of evil.

American Greg Burke named director of the Holy See press office  
Wednesday, July 13, 2016  4:11 PM
Washington, D.C. - Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, congratulated Greg Burke, the new director of the Holy See Press Office, and Paloma García Ovejero, the new vice director. He also extended his gratitude to Father Federico Lombardi who is retiring from the post after 10 years of service.

The appointment was publicized July 11.

A Statement from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville
President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

On this the 10th anniversary of Father Federico Lombardi’s appointment as director of the Holy See Press Office, I am filled with gratitude for his loyal and effective service to the Holy Father. Father Lombardi helped spread the Gospel throughout the world across two pontificates. I was especially grateful to have learned not only from his media expertise but also his deep love for the Church during the six days we spent together as Pope Francis visited the United States.

I learned of Greg Burke’s appointment as the next director of the Holy See Press Office with tremendous gratitude. He is long known to us in the United States as a devoted man of the Church and an unparalleled communicator. From the Vatican’s Secretariat of State to the Holy See Press Office, Greg has proven himself in service to the universal Church.

I also congratulate Paloma García Ovejero on her appointment as the new Vice Director, the positon previously held by Greg. She is an accomplished journalist from Madrid and will be the first woman to hold the position of Vice Director.

Please join me in offering prayers for Fr. Lombardi, Greg, Paloma, and their calling to share the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ with all in need of hearing the Good News.

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