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President of U.S. Bishops’ Conference Issues Statement Following Meeting with Pope Francis

VATICAN CITY—Following a private audience with Pope Francis this morning in Vatican City, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following statement regarding the recent moral crisis in the American Catholic Church.

"We are grateful to the Holy Father for receiving us in audience. We shared with Pope Francis our situation in the United States -- how the Body of Christ is lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse. He listened very deeply from the heart. It was a lengthy, fruitful, and good exchange.

As we departed the audience, we prayed the Angelus together for God's mercy and strength as we work to heal the wounds. We look forward to actively continuing our discernment together identifying the most effective next steps."

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Vatican City

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Bishop Michael Bransfield of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael Bransfield from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia and has appointed the Most Revered William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore, as the Apostolic Administrator to serve until the appointment and installation of the new bishop. Bishop Bransfield has reached the retirement age for bishops of 75.

The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington, September 13, 2018, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Bransfield was born September 8, 1943, in Philadelphia, PA. He graduated from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in 1971, where he earned a master's in Divinity. He also earned his Master's in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America.

He was ordained to the priesthood on May 15, 1971 by Cardinal John Krol for service in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Assignments after ordination included: teacher, chaplain, and Chairman of the Religion Department at Lansdale Catholic High School. In 1980, Bishop Bransfield went on to serve as Assistant Director and Director of Liturgy, Director of Finance, and then Rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (1990). 

On December 9, 2004, Pope Saint John Paul II appointed Bishop Bransfield the eighth Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia.  He was ordained a bishop on February 22, 2005.

Bishop Bransfield served as a member of the Communications Committee, the National Collections Committee, and Treasurer of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is comprised of 24,282 square miles in the state of West Virginia 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, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Bishop Michael Bransfield, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Archbishop William E. Lori, Baltimore.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

WASHINGTON— El Papa Francisco aceptó la renuncia del Obispo Michael Bransfield del gobierno pastoral de la Diócesis de Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, y nombró al Reverendísimo William E. Lori, Arzobispo de Baltimore, como el Administrador Apostólico hasta el nombramiento e instalación del nuevo obispo. El obispo Bransfield alcanzó la edad de jubilación para los obispos que es de 75 años.

La renuncia y el nombramiento fueron publicados en Washington, hoy 13 de septiembre de 2018, por el Arzobispo Christophe Pierre, nuncio apostólico en los Estados Unidos.

El Obispo Bransfield nació el 8 de septiembre de 1943 en Filadelfia, Pensilvania. Se graduó del Seminario St. Charles Borromeo en 1971, donde obtuvo una maestría en Divinidad. También obtuvo su Maestría en Filosofía de la Universidad Católica de América.

Fue ordenado sacerdote el 15 de mayo de 1971 por el Cardenal John Krol para servir en la Arquidiócesis de Filadelfia.

Entre sus asignaciones después de la ordenación estuvieron: maestro, capellán y presidente del Departamento de Religión en Lansdale Catholic High School. Desde 1980, el Obispo Bransfield ejerció como Director Asistente, Director de Liturgia, Director de Finanzas y luego Rector de la Basílica del Santuario Nacional de la Inmaculada Concepción (1990).

El 9 de diciembre de 2004, el Papa San Juan Pablo II nombró al Obispo Bransfield como el octavo obispo de Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia. Fue ordenado en ese cargo el 22 de febrero de 2005.

El Obispo Bransfield fue miembro del Comité de Comunicaciones, del Comité Nacional de Colectas Nacionales y Tesorero de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos.

La Diócesis de Wheeling-Charleston está conformada por 24.282 millas cuadradas en el estado de West Virginia y tiene una población total de 1.844.128 personas de las cuales 77.874, lo que equivale al 4 por ciento, son católicas.

U.S. Bishops Conference Names Theresa Ridderhoff as Associate General Secretary Upon Retirement of Linda Hunt

WASHINGTON—Theresa Ridderhoff has been appointed as Associate General Secretary for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Ms. Ridderhoff is currently Executive Director of the USCCB Office of Human Resources. She has been appointed to the new role upon the retirement of Ms. Linda Hunt, who has served the conference for the past 22 years and as the USCCB's Associate General Secretary since 2011. Msgr. Brian Bransfield, USCCB General Secretary, made the appointment which will take effect at the end of the calendar year.

Ms. Ridderhoff will function as chief operations officer for the ongoing management of Conference administration. She will also join the USCCB Executive Leadership team in conducting the regular business of the General Secretariat and in collaboration with USCCB staff.

"I express my gratitude to Theresa for accepting this major responsibility in service to the Conference. Theresa brings many years of experience in both the for profit and not for profit worlds. During her time with the Conference, she also collaborated on major projects including in the General Secretariat and has always been an invaluable and dedicated partner in the significant work of the Conference staff," said Msgr. Bransfield. 

After earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Stonehill College, Theresa went on to receive a Master of Arts in Education (in Instructional Technology) and a Certificate in Human Resource Management, both from George Mason University. She holds the Senior Professional in Human Resources certification from the HR Certification Institute and the SHRM-SCP from the Society for Human Resources Management. Before joining the Conference, Theresa served at Sallie Mae most recently as Senior Director of Human Resources. Additionally, she has worked as a human resource consultant and in retail training and management. Theresa joined the Conference in 2011 and has served successfully since then in the important position of Executive Director of the Office of Human Resources. She is a practicing Catholic, married for 18 years, and is the mother of two sons.  She regularly volunteers at her parish in Petersville, Maryland, and in local community organizations.    

"The successful and effective fulfillment of the mission of the USCCB depends greatly on the high caliber of persons that serve the Church and bishops through their work as Conference staff. I count among them as an esteemed colleague Ms. Linda Hunt, Associate General Secretary, who informed me earlier this year of her intention to retire at the end of this calendar year," said Msgr. Bransfield. "For more than two decades, Linda has devoted countless hours of dedicated service to the work of the USCCB and for this, we are deeply grateful."

Ms. Hunt began her tenure with us the USCCB as Associate Director of the Office of Human Resources followed by her subsequent appointment as Director two years later. In 2010, Linda began service in the General Secretariat as Associate General Secretary. Her love of the Church, her leadership in the area of management and operations, and her professional and friendly interaction with us all, will be sorely missed.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Monsignor Brian Bransfield; Theresa Ridderhoff, Linda Hunt, Associate General Secretary, chief operations officer, Conference administration, USCCB Executive Leadership, General Secretariat.

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

Labor Day Statement Calls for Just Wages for a Flourishing Society

WASHINGTON—In his 2018 Labor Day statement, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, calls for all persons to work together for just wages, which are necessary for families to flourish. A just wage is one that "not only provides for workers' financial well-being, but fosters their social, cultural, and spiritual dimensions as individuals and members of society."

The full statement is available in English is at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/labor-employment/labor-day-statement-2018.cfm

A Spanish translation of the statement is available at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/labor-employment/labor-day-statement-2018-spanish.cfm

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Labor Day, Labor Day statement, solidarity, work, labor, poverty, union, human dignity, Pope Francis, workers,

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

Statement from the National Review Board Calls for Lay Leadership Amid Sexual Abuse Crisis

WASHINGTON—The National Review Board (NRB) has issued the following in response to the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report and recent allegations against Archbishop McCarrick. In the statement, the NRB calls for a lay-lead investigation into all allegations of sexual misconduct within the Church as well as strengthening  the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.  Established in 2002, the purpose of the National Review Board is to work collaboratively with the Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People in preventing the sexual abuse of minors in the United States by persons in the service of the Church.

The full National Review Board statement follows:

"While the policies and procedures that have been implemented by the Church since 2002 to address the sexual abuse of minors by the clergy have resulted in a significant decrease of such abuse, the revelations of horrific incidents of abuse in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, along with the abuse perpetrated by Archbishop McCarrick point to a systemic problem within the Church that can no longer be ignored or tolerated by the episcopacy in the United States.  The National Review Board has for several years expressed its concern that bishops not become complacent in their response to sexual abuse by the clergy. The recent revelations make it clear that the problem is much deeper.  We are saddened, angry, and hurt by what we have learned in the past few weeks. The evil of the crimes that have been perpetrated reaching into the highest levels of the hierarchy will not be stemmed simply by the creation of new committees, policies, or procedures. What needs to happen is a genuine change in the Church's culture, specifically among the bishops themselves. This evil has resulted from a loss of moral leadership and an abuse of power that led to a culture of silence that enabled these incidents to occur. Intimidation, fear, and the misuse of authority created an environment that was taken advantage of by clerics, including bishops, causing harm to minors, seminarians, and those most vulnerable.  The culture of silence enabled the abuse to go on virtually unchecked. Trust was betrayed for the victims/survivors of the abuse; the entire Body of Christ was betrayed in turn by these crimes and the failure to act.

"The National Review Board firmly believes, as has been expressed by several bishops in recent days, that the episcopacy needs to be held accountable for these past actions, and in the future, for being complicit, either directly or indirectly, in the sexual abuse of the vulnerable. Holding bishops accountable will require an independent review into the actions of the bishop when an allegation comes to light. The only way to ensure the independence of such a review is to entrust this to the laity, as recently suggested by Cardinal DiNardo. The NRB, composed exclusively of lay members, would be the logical group to be involved in this task. Establishing an anonymous whistleblower policy, as is found in corporations, higher education and other institutions in both the public and private sector, that would be independent of the hierarchy with participation by the laity, perhaps the NRB, who would report allegations to the local bishop, local law enforcement, the nuncio and Rome, needs to be established immediately. Another problem that needs to be addressed is the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The Charter has been helpful in the Church's response to sexual abuse by the clergy.  However, the Charter should be understood as a living document that is in constant need of revision based on what we have learned and experienced over the years, as well as current new realities. The members of the NRB have on numerous occasions pointed out the weaknesses in the Charter given its deliberate ambiguity and its lack of inclusion of bishops. During the most recent revision process of the Charter, many of the recommendations made by the NRB to strengthen the Charter were not incorporated for a variety of reasons. These recommendations need to be re-considered in light of the current situation, as well as the inclusion of bishops in the Charter. The NRB also believes that the statement of Episcopal Commitment is ineffective and needs to be revised into a meaningful, actionable commitment. In particular, the notion of "fraternal correction" must outline concrete steps that will be taken when a bishop is alleged to have committed sexual abuse or has failed to respond immediately and without hesitation when a cleric is accused of sexual abuse. To ensure that bishops undertake their obligation to act decisively when they have knowledge of incidences of sexual abuse committed by the clergy or their brother bishops, there must be substantive formation of newly appointed bishops on their responsibility as moral leaders within the Church, especially in responding to sexual abuse, something which is currently lacking.

"Since its creation in the Charter, the NRB has sought to provide its advice to the bishops to assist them in addressing the sexual abuse of minors. We will continue to work with the bishops, particularly in responding to Cardinal DiNardo's request for the NRB's assistance in the proposed investigation he has called for regarding recent revelations. In the coming weeks, the NRB will consider what recommendations to make to the bishops in light of that request. We recognize that the overwhelming majority of our current bishops have, and continue to, take the sexual abuse of minors seriously and who act accordingly by adhering to the Charter, some even going beyond these basic requirements. However, every time one bishop fails to act, the entire episcopate is tainted. It is time for the laity to assume courageous leadership to help the Church respond and to heal and for the bishops to listen carefully to our recommendations. We need not only to pray for the Church and most especially for the victims/survivors and their families who have been wounded by this terrible scourge, but we must take concrete action to address the systemic problems underlying the problem of sexual abuse in the Church."    

More information on the National Review Board can be found at: www.usccb.org/about/child-and-youth-protection/the-national-review-board.cfm

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Bishop Timothy L. Doherty, Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection, Pennsylvania, Grand Jury Report, sexual abuse, clergyman, U.S. bishops, Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, prevention, accompaniment, accountability, justice.

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200