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Father Jorge Torres Appointed Executive Director of Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations for U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

WASHINGTON - Father Jorge Torres a priest of the Diocese of Orlando, has been appointed as the next Executive Director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV). Father Torres has served in the Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis in primary support of the Eucharistic Revival initiative since June 2021. Father Michael J.K. Fuller, USCCB general secretary, made the appointment, which takes effect January 1, 2023.

The CCLV office assists bishops on issues concerning the life and ministry of bishops, as well as in promoting, supporting, and educating about the Church’s pastoral needs and concerns for the priesthood, diaconate, and consecrated life.

Father Torres holds an undergraduate degree from St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami and a Master’s in Divinity from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida. Ordained to the priesthood in 2005, he has served as a parochial vicar and a pastor. Father Torres’ priestly ministry includes service as chaplain for campus ministry at the University of Central Florida, vocation director of the Diocese of Orlando, and secretary of the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors.

Father Luke Ballman, a priest of the Archdiocese of Atlanta has been executive director of CCLV since December 2019. Both he, and Father Dan Hanley, the present associate director will be leaving their roles at the end of the year. Father Ballman will be returning to archdiocesan responsibilities, and Father Hanley, a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, will work in the formation leadership program at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD.

“Father Torres understands and supports priestly ministry and religious life, vocations, and cultural diversity in our Church. He also brings to these areas a timely enthusiasm for the bishops’ national Eucharistic Revival,” said Father Fuller. “I am grateful to both Father Ballman and Father Hanley for their tireless service to the bishops over these last several years, and to Father Torres for his continued service to the Conference in his new role. I also want to express my gratitude to Archbishop Hartmayer, Bishop Burbidge, and Bishop Noonan for allowing these three fine priests to serve the greater Church in this way.”

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Chairman Responds to Executive Order Facilitating Abortion

WASHINGTON - On Wednesday, the President of the United States signed an executive order facilitating abortion, the second such action from President Biden in response to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which 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 statement in response: 

“Even preceding the Dobbs decision, my brother bishops and I have implored the nation to stand with moms in need, and work together to protect and support women and children. Continued promotion of abortion takes lives and irreparably harms vulnerable pregnant mothers, their families, and society. It is the wrong direction to take at a moment when we should be working to support women and to build up a culture of life. I continue to call on the President and all our elected officials to increase support and care to mothers and babies, rather than facilitate the destruction of defenseless, voiceless human beings. Blessed Virgin Mary, patroness of our nation, intercede for us as we advocate to protect human life and work toward solutions that will help every mother and child flourish.”

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

After "Dobbs," Congress Must Come Together to Protect Life and Promote the Common Good

WASHINGTON - Since the release of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Congress has been taking up legislative proposals that are harmful to the common good. The U.S. House of Representatives has passed, and the Senate may soon consider, a series of such bills, including the Women’s Health Protection Act, the Respect for Marriage Act, and the Right to Contraception Act, and is advancing appropriations bills that exclude longstanding provisions prohibiting federal taxpayer funding for abortion and protecting the conscience rights of healthcare providers.

Meanwhile, Congress has taken no action since Dobbs on any of the following measures, which the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has previously endorsed and continues to support, and which would help to build up a culture of life: the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act; an expanded child tax credit, including for pregnant moms; the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act; the PFAS Action Act; and a federal paid family leave policy.  On a positive note, it is encouraging that there is meaningful consideration of needed investments in care for our common home in a possible reconciliation framework.

In light of this situation, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life & Youth, and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued the following statement:

“The Dobbs decision presents a historic opportunity to reshape society for the better. The injustice of abortion has loosened its grip on our nation’s Constitution. We call on Congress to seize this hopeful moment by coming together around the dignity of every human person and the common good.

“This begins with the recognition that every human life is an inestimable gift from God with an inalienable right to life deserving of full legal protection. We must also recognize that the family - founded upon the love and mutual self-gift of husband and wife - is the first building block of society, and that raising children is both a great gift and a lifelong responsibility.

“The health, safety, and support of the family should be the focus of all good policymaking. A principled commitment to being pro-life entails a commitment both to protecting all human life, especially the most vulnerable, and to advancing policies that help families to flourish. As we accompany every family with prayer and support, those led by single or adoptive parents are close to our hearts.

“Since Dobbs, too many in Congress have ignored bills that would advance these worthy goals and have focused instead on bills that would attack them. Such legislation places no value on the lives of children until their moment of birth, severs sex and marriage from their meaning, promotes using people as means to ends, and would strip rights of conscientious objection from those who oppose these hallmarks of the throwaway culture. Instead, we ask all our elected officials to take action to reach consensus and pass an expanded child tax credit, a refundable adoption tax credit, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a federal paid family leave policy, further supports for the health and wellbeing of pregnant and parenting women, assistance with nutrition and affordable housing, environmental restrictions on chemicals that cause birth defects, and provisions to assist low-income families. These are building blocks of our vision for Standing with Moms in Need.

“Care for creation is also integral to care for human life, and we encourage continued efforts to advance proposals that will protect our common home and promote the well-being of human life and the environment for years to come. For more on this point, see the USCCB’s letter on the new framework for environmental investment currently before Congress. 

“Families and individuals, civil society, businesses, non-profits, and religious groups, government officials at all levels - and especially members of Congress - should ask themselves how they are supporting families at this moment, particularly around welcoming new life and raising children through adulthood.

“Catholic social teaching shows the way to a better place - a society marked by justice, mutual support, civility, friendship, mercy, and love - than where Congress is now leading. We pray that Congress will rise to meet this generational moment.”

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

Bishop Chairmen Condemn Harmful Regulations Forcing Gender Ideology and Potentially Abortion on Health Care Workers and Religious Hospitals

WASHINGTON – On Monday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued proposed revisions to its regulations implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which would force health care workers to perform gender transition procedures, require health insurance issuers to cover them, and entertain a mandate to perform elective abortions. Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, issued the following statement in response:

“Catholics have been called to care for the sick since the earliest days of our faith. Today, the various agencies and social service ministries of the Catholic Church taken together are equivalent to the largest nonprofit health care provider in the country. We do this work in fulfillment of the direct command of Jesus Christ and in imitation of his divine ministry here on Earth.

“Catholic health care ministries serve everyone, no matter their race, sex, belief system, or any other characteristic. The same excellent care will be provided in a Catholic hospital to all patients, including patients who identify as transgender, whether it be for a broken bone or for cancer, but we cannot do what our faith forbids. We object to harmful procedures, not to patients.

“Sadly, Monday’s proposed regulations threaten our ability to carry out our healing ministries, and others’ to practice medicine. They mandate health care workers to perform life-altering surgeries to remove perfectly healthy body parts. Assurances that HHS will honor religious freedom laws offer little comfort when HHS is actively fighting court rulings that declared HHS violated religious freedom laws the last time they tried to impose such a mandate. This is a violation of religious freedom and bad medicine.

“The proposed regulations announce that HHS is also considering whether to force health care workers to perform abortions against their will or lose their jobs. We call on HHS to explicitly disavow any such intent.

“We will continue to review these proposed regulations and will file more thorough comments at the appropriate time.”

Further information about the USCCB's response to a series of harmful regulations from the current Administration impacting religious charities and individuals can be found at www.usccb.org/do-no-harm.

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Media Contact: 
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200
 

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