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USCCB President Calls for Courage and Commitment on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

WASHINGTON— The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, has issued the following statement in relation to the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Cardinal DiNardo's full statement follows:

"In recent years—including last summer in Charlottesville—we have glimpsed an appalling truth that lurks beneath the surface of our culture. Even with all the progress our country has made on the issue, racism remains a living reality. As our nation celebrates the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we are given an important time to recommit ourselves to the Gospel message he preached, that the sin of racism can be defeated by active love and the light of faith.

Our challenge is to bring Dr. King's message into the present moment in a way that inspires lasting change. In a pivotal 1958 essay, he wrote that: 'Along the way of life, someone must have the sense enough and the morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethics of love to the center of our lives.'

Breaking the chain of hate requires both courage and commitment. Sr. Mary Antona Ebo, a Franciscan Sister of Mary and the first African-American sister to march with Dr. King in Selma, exemplified these qualities. She told those gathered that: 'I'm here because I'm a Negro, a nun, a Catholic, and because I want to bear witness.' Sister Antona passed away on November 11 last year at the age of 93. She remained a bold and dedicated champion of civil rights throughout her lifetime, and her witness should inspire our own.

We pray in confidence that Jesus Christ will remind us all that he is the most powerful means to break the chains of hate that still bind too many hearts, a truth which lies at the center of Dr. King's legacy."

USCCB racism resources and information about the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism can be found at:

Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., observance, Charlottesville, racism, Sr. Mary Antona Ebo, Selma, civil rights 


Media Contact:
Judy Keane

Pope says he will bring message of peace and hope to Chile, Peru

Vatican City, Jan 9, 2018 / 11:25 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Ahead of his visit to Chile and Peru, Pope Francis has said he wants to bring a message of peace and hope to both countries, which he said have been successful in fighting a “culture of waste” through their care for the poor and needy.

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In a Jan. 9 videomessage to both Chile and Peru, Francis told people from each country that “I want to meet with you, to look you in the eyes, to see your faces and be able to experience the closeness of God, his closeness and mercy, which embraces and consoles us.”

Both countries were forged with “determination and commitment,” he said, adding that he thanks God for “the faith and the love for God and for the most needy brothers, especially for the love that you have for those who are discarded by society.”

“The culture of waste increasingly invades us,” he said, explaining that while there, he wants to participate “in your joys and sorrows, your difficulties and your hopes, and tell you that you are not alone, that the Pope is with you, that the entire Church welcomes you, that the Church is looking at you.”

Pope Francis sent his message just days ahead of his departure for Chile and Peru, where he will be Jan. 15-22.

In Chile Pope Francis will visit the capital of Santiago, as well as the cities of Temuco and Iquique. In Peru, he will visit the capital city of Lima, as well as Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo.

The theme of his time in Chile is “I Give You My Peace,” while that of Peru is “United by Hope.”

In his message Francis touched on both themes, saying he wants the countries to experience “the peace that comes from God, and which is so needed; only he can give it to us.”

The Pope said peace is a gift meant for everyone, and is “the foundation of our coexistence and of society.” This peace, he said, “is sustained in justice and allows us to encounter moments of harmony and communion.”

We must constantly ask for this peace, which comes from the Risen Lord, “drives us to be missionaries, reviving the gift of faith which leads us to encounter, to the communion shared by the same faith celebrated and committed.”

This encounter with the Risen Christ also confirms us in hope, Francis said, explaining that “we do not want to be anchored in the things of this world, our gaze goes far off.” Rather, our eyes should be fixed “on his mercy, which heals our miseries.”

“Only he can give us the thrust to get up and follow,” he said, adding that “we are brothers who go out to meet others in order to confirm each other in the same faith and hope.”

The Pope closed the video entrusting his visit to Mary's intercession and, as usual, asked for prayer, adding that he will be praying for the people of Chile and Peru.

Pope Francis is scheduled to land in Santiago just after 8 p.m. Jan. 15, and has no official events apart from the welcoming ceremony, after which he will head directly the apostolic nunciature.

The next day he'll meet with the country's authorities and diplomatic corps, and will have a private audience with Chilean president Michelle Bachelet before saying Mass. He'll then make a brief visit to a women's prison before meeting with Chile's priests, seminarians, religious, and bishops in the afternoon.

His last activity for the day will be a private visit to a shrine dedicated to St. Alberto Hurtado S.J., where he will meet with the country's Jesuit priests.

On Jan. 17 the Pope will head to Temuco, where he will say Mass and have lunch with around 10 people at the mother house for the Sisters of the Holy Cross order. He'll then head back to Santiago for a meeting with youth and a visit to the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.

The next day, his final one in Chile, Francis will go to Iquique in the morning, where he will celebrate Mass and have lunch at the retreat house for the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. He'll then head directly to the Iquique airport, where he'll depart for Lima, Peru.

Francis will land in Lima the evening of Jan. 18, but has no official events scheduled. His first formal appointment will take place Jan. 19, when he travels to Puerto Maldonado to meet with people from the Amazon region.

After this audience, the Pope will meet with the civil population and make a brief visit to the “Little Prince Home,” which houses some 40 at-risk children and youth. He'll then lunch with representatives of Amazon before returning to Lima, where he's scheduled to meet with Peru's authorities and diplomatic corps.

Though he typically meets with the country's authorities and diplomats as his first official engagement during international trips, Pope Francis has on occasion made exceptions.

His decision to meet with people from the Amazon first, then, is a sign of how important the region is to him, both for environmental reasons related to his 2015 encyclical Laudato si', as well as the fact that in 2019 he will be holding a Pan-Amazonian synod to address problems related to the area.

After his meeting with authorities, Pope Francis will hold a private meeting with Peruvian president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who recently survived an impeachment vote over corruption charges, and will meet with the country's Jesuits.

On Jan. 20, the Pope will head to Trujillo, where he will celebrate Mass and ride through the city's “Buenos Aires” neighborhood, one of the poorest areas in town. Francis will then visit the city's cathedral and afterward will meet with the country's priests, religious, and seminarians.

He will then head back to Lima, where he will start his final day in Peru, Jan. 21, praying the Liturgy of the Hours with a contemplative order before venerating the relics of several Peruvian saints in the city's cathedral.

The Pope will then meet with the country's bishops, pray the Angelus, and say Mass before heading back to Rome, where he is expected to arrive around 2:15 p.m. Jan. 22.

Francis, the Church’s first Latin American Pope, has visited several countries in South and Central America, including Brazil in 2013, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Paraguay in 2015, Cuba and Mexico in 2016, and Colombia in 2017.

The last Pope to visit Chile and Peru was St. John Paul II, who made pastoral trips to Peru in 1985 and 1988, and to Chile in 1987.

Vatican releases Pope's liturgical schedule for January, February

Vatican City, Jan 9, 2018 / 06:34 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Earlier this week the Vatican published Pope Francis’ liturgical schedule for the months of January and February, including his lineup of celebrations for the start of Lent, which this year begins Feb. 14.

With his trip to Chile and Peru taking place Jan. 15-22, the Pope’s usual schedule of morning Masses at Santa Marta and his Wednesday general audience Jan. 17 will be suspended.

Following his return to Rome, Francis will celebrate Second Vespers at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls Thursday, Jan. 25. The prayer service will mark the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, as well as the 51st annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The following Sunday, Jan. 28, Pope Francis will celebrate a special Mass at the Basilica of St. Mary Major for the Feast of the transfer of the icon of Salus Populi Romani.

Salus Populi Romani (Protectress of the Roman People) is the title of an ancient Byzantine icon of Mary and the Child Jesus, traditionally held to be painted by St. Luke the Evangelist and to have arrived in Rome in the 6th century.

It was first canonically crowned in 1838 by Pope Gregory XVI and a second time in 1954 by Pope Pius XII. It has a long history of devotion by the Roman people, as well as by popes. It resides in the Pauline, also called Borghese, Chapel in St. Mary Major.

Francis has a special devotion to the image. His first visit as pontiff was to the Basilica of St. Mary Major to pray before the image following his election.

On Feb. 2, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at St. Peter's Basilica for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.

As it will also be the 22nd World Day of Consecrated Life, the Mass will be celebrated with the members of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Vatican department which oversees religious orders and congregations and secular institutes.

As is tradition, on Ash Wednesday, which falls this year on Feb. 14, Pope Francis will pray the Stations of the Cross at St. Anselm Church on Rome’s Aventine Hill, before processing the short way to the Basilica of Santa Sabina for the celebration of Mass, benediction, and the imposition of ashes.

The following Sunday, Feb. 18, he will begin his annual Lenten retreat with members of the Roman Curia. The week of spiritual exercises will take place at the Casa Divin Maestro in Ariccia, a town just 16 miles outside of Rome.

Located on Lake Albano, the retreat house is just a short way from the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. It will be the fifth consecutive year the Pope and members of the Curia have held their Lenten retreat at the house in Ariccia.

While the practice of the Roman Pontiff going on retreat with the heads of Vatican dicasteries each Lent began some 80 years ago under the pontificate of Pius XI, it was customary for them to follow the spiritual exercises on Vatican ground. Beginning in Lent 2014, Pope Francis chose to hold the retreat outside of Rome.

The retreat will conclude Friday, Feb. 23.

Vatican communications see new growth after rebranding

Vatican City, Jan 9, 2018 / 04:51 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After the recent re-branding and consolidation of the Vatican's various media outlets, their social media platforms have now reached a total of more than 4 million followers, who receive their daily papal news with a fresh logo.

According to a Jan. 9 communique from the Secretariat for Communications, Vatican media now has an online community of more than 4 million followers between the Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram platforms.

The numbers, the secretariat said, are the result of the continuing reform of Vatican communications launched in 2014 by Pope Francis and his nine cardinal advisors who make up the Council of Cardinals, which meets every few months to discuss the ongoing reform of the Roman Curia.

In order to map out what a possible reform of Vatican communications would look like, the Pope in 2014 established an international commission headed by British Lord Chris Patten to study the current process and provide suggestions.

Francis then established the Secretariat for Communications in June 2015, naming Italian Msgr. Dario Vigano as its first head, giving him a mandate to reform Vatican communications with a focus on consolidation and increasing their presence in the digital world.

The secretariat oversees all of the Vatican’s communications offices, including Vatican Radio, L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican Television Center, the Holy See Press Office, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Vatican Internet Service, the Vatican Typography office, the Vatican's Photography Service, and the Vatican publishing house.

During the Council of Cardinals' most recent meeting in December, Vigano unveiled the new logo and design for the Vatican News website, which consolidated the Vatican's former news and radio pages into a new multimedia hub, which features audio, text, video and graphics, available in multiple languages.

With the consolidation of its social media pages, the Vatican has seen a sharp increase in followers in recent months. On Facebook, the page “Vatican News” – recognizable by the new insignia, which is a white Vatican logo with a red background – has more than 3 million followers.

The page is available in six languages, including English, Italian, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese.

On Twitter, the six different language editions for Vatican media have all been unified under the same Twitter handle “@vaticannews”, and a new account, “@radiovaticanaitalia”, has been created to promote and provide information on the activities of Vatican Radio and the multilingual Vatican News channel on Instagram.

The Vatican's YouTube channel, which offers viewers live coverage of the Pope's activities, has also been rebranded with the same new logo and given the “Vatican News” title.

Social media for Vatican News is managed by the Secretariat for Communications' Editorial and Theological-Pastoral departments. The secretariat also manages the Pope's social media accounts in collaboration with the Secretariat of State.

Pope Francis has a high number of followers on his various social media accounts, which include his “@Pontifex” account on Twitter, which has more than 44 million followers in 9 languages, and his “@Franciscus” Instagram account, with more than 5 million followers on its one multilingual channel.

According to Msgr. Vigano, the increased presence of Vatican media on social networks “is one of the effects of the great process of reform of the Vatican media currently under completion.”

The positive result, he said, is thanks in large part to the “great commitment” of their journalists and technical staff.

“As communications professionals, according to the logic of a Church that looks outwards, we are all called to be among the people,” he said, explaining that in today's context, “this means being present on social networks and the internet with conviction and responsibility.”

He said the Vatican must “focus on the human person, on relationships, the culture of encounter and, only in the last instance, on technology.”

Migration Chairman Deeply Disappointed by Termination of Temporary Protected Status for El Salvador; Calls for Congress to Find a Legislative Solution

WASHINGTON — On January 8th, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it is terminating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador. TPS is a temporary, renewable, and statutorily authorized humanitarian migration program that permits individuals to remain and work lawfully in the U.S. during a period in which it is deemed unsafe for nationals of that country to return home. The vast majority of TPS recipients in the U.S. are Salvadoran.

Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the Committee on Migration (USCCB/COM), issued the following statement:

"The decision to terminate TPS for El Salvador is heartbreaking. As detailed in our recent delegation trip report to the region, El Salvador is currently not in a position to adequately handle the return of the roughly 200,000 Salvadoran TPS recipients. Today's decision will fragment American families, leaving over 192,000 U.S. citizen children of Salvadoran TPS recipients with uncertain futures. Families will be needlessly separated because of this decision.

We believe that God has called us to care for the foreigner and the marginalized: 'So you too should love the resident alien, for that is what you were in the land of Egypt' (Deut. 10:19). Our nation must not turn its back on TPS recipients and their families; they too are children of God.

DHS has provided an 18-month period (through September 9, 2019) during which TPS recipients from El Salvador can legally stay in the United States and prepare for their departure. While we recognize and appreciate this extra time, it will not remedy the underlying protection and family unity concerns that remain for Salvadoran TPS recipients.

We renew our call to Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to find a legislative solution for long-term TPS recipients, and we stand ready to support such efforts. TPS recipients are an integral part of our communities, churches, and nation. Without action by Congress, however, recipients' lives will be upended and many families will be devastated. As with DACA, we strongly urge Congressional members and leadership to come together and address this issue as soon as possible.

To Salvadoran TPS recipients, we promise to continue to stand in solidarity with you and pray for you and your families, and all those who are displaced or forced to flee from their homes."

Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe Vasquez, Committee on Migration, Migration and Refugee Services, Temporary Protected Status, TPS recipients, TPS beneficiaries, Department of Homeland Security, DHS, Congress, Honduras, El Salvador, refugees, migration, prayers, legislative solution


Media Contact:
Judy Keane


A Message from the President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops During National Migration Week, January 7-13

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), offers a National Migration Week message to the nation with special gratitude for the gift of immigrants and refugees.

Cardinal DiNardo's statement as follows:

"On Sunday, the Catholic Church across the United States will celebrate the beginning of National Migration Week. For nearly 50 years, this week has been a time of prayer and reflection on our history as a migrant Church and nation. In these five decades, the face of the immigrant may have changed – European, Asian, South American, and elsewhere -- but their faces reveal a common desire to secure the great blessings of American opportunity.

Pope Francis, in his statement on the World Day of Peace on January 1, 2018, advises us that if we view the situation of migrants and refugees through the wisdom of our faith 'we discover that they do not arrive empty-handed. They bring their courage, skills, energy and aspirations, as well as the treasures of their own cultures; and in this way, they enrich the lives of the nations that receive them.'

This week, I invite everyone to reflect on the Holy Father's words as well as on your own family's immigration story. Please also join me in prayer for all families, as together, we 'Share the Journey' toward a better life."

Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, National Migration Week, immigrants, refugees, Pope Francis, World Day of Peace, immigration, Share the Journey


Media Contact:
Judy Keane

National Migration Week 2018 to be Celebrated January 7-13th

WASHINGTON—National Migration Week 2018 will take place January 7-13th. This year's theme is "Many Journeys, One Family." The theme coincides with the Caritas Internationalis migration campaign entitled "Share the Journey". National Migration Week provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the contributions of migrants, including refugees, and victims of human trafficking in our communities.

With over 65 million people forcibly displaced from their homes globally, the world is increasingly affected by migration. National Migration Week offers a time to educate Catholic communities about migration and to come together to encounter immigrants and refugees in parishes, dioceses, and communities.

"National Migration Week allows for reflection upon the biblical teaching concerning welcoming the newcomer and allows us to share the journey with our brothers and sisters who have been forced from their homes." said Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Migration.

As part of the 2018 National Migration Week celebration, USCCB/MRS will be participating in an event at The Catholic University of America with the Institute for Human Ecology entitled "On the Margins: At the Intersection of Catholic Thought and Migration" on January 11th. To register for the event in person, visit, to view livestream of the event visit

The US bishops began the observance of National Migration Week nearly 50 years ago to give Catholics an opportunity to honor and learn about the diverse communities of the Church, as well as the work that the Church undertakes to serve immigrants and refugees. The week serves as a time for both prayer and action in support of migrants and refugees.

Educational materials and other resources for National Migration Week are available for download at

Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe Vásquez, Committee on Migration, refugees, migrants, immigrants, human trafficking, National Migration Week. #ShareJourney


Media Contact:
Judy Keane


USCCB President Offers Condolences on the Death of Latter-Day Saints President

Today, President Thomas S. Monson, leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died at his home in Salt Lake City, Utah. President Monson as the church's 16th president presided over a faith community that now numbers 15.8 million members. Known for his hands-on approach and concern for the poor, he also presided over a church confronting challenges and change, within and without.

His Eminence, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued the following statement on receiving the news of President Monson's death:

"The Catholic Church in the United States wishes to extend to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints community our prayers and condolences on the death of President Monson. During his tenure as president, understanding and friendship developed between our two communities on national and local levels. As we engage important questions on family and the dignity of the human person, Catholics and Mormons work together and support each other. Today, Catholics join their Latter-day Saints brothers and sisters in commending his soul to the mercy and love of God."

Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Thomas S. Monson, prayers, condolences


Media Contact:
Judy Keane 

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Chairman Calls for Renewal of Prayers for Coptic Brethren After Latest Attacks in Egypt

WASHINGTON— Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of the Diocese of Scranton and Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs has issued the following statement on this morning's deadly attack on a Coptic Church and nearby bookstore in Egypt.

Bishop Bambera's full statement follows: 

"This morning, at least ten people were killed as armed men attempted to enter Mar Mina Church in Helwan City, south of Cairo and a nearby bookshop. Among the dead are two policemen. The assault took place as a gunman tried to breach the church's security cordon. It is estimated that over 2000 attacks on Coptic Christians by extremists have occurred in the last three years alone.

One week ago, on December 22, hundreds of Muslim demonstrators attacked an unlicensed church south of Cairo wounding three people. Demonstrators chanted anti-Christian slogans and called for the church's demolition. The interior of the church was completely destroyed.

Earlier this year, on May 26, masked militants opened fired on a bus packed with Coptic Christians, including children on their way to the monastery of St. Samule the Confessor in Maghagha, in Minya governorate. In that attack, 28 people were killed and 22 were wounded.

On Palm Sunday, April 9, twin suicide bombings struck churches in the coastal city of Alexandria and the Nile Delta city of Tanta. At least 43 people were killed and many others were injured. One of the bombings narrowly missed a Palm Sunday service which was to be presided over by His Holiness Pope Tawadros II.

These attacks represent only some of the many attacks that have occurred over the past several years, targeting faithful of the Coptic Orthodox Church, who account for almost 10% of Egypt's population. In the course of such rampant attacks, Muslims have also been targeted as well as police, military and members of the news media. On November 24 of this year, terrorists detonated a bomb at a mosque in Bir al-Abd in the northern Sinai Peninsula of Egypt killing over 300 worshipers and spraying gunfire on those escaping. Sadly, attacks such as these represent countless numbers of ongoing acts of violence that continue to burden the Egyptian nation.

I ask Catholics and men and women of faith and good will to pray for peace in Egypt and the Middle East and for all victims of religious and political hatred. I especially ask Catholics to renew their support, love and prayers for our Coptic brethren who are enduring martyrdom for the sake of Christ. May all continue to receive from heaven the grace to witness to what is good and noble in the human spirit, recovery for all those who have been injured, and eternal rest for those who have died."

Keywords:  U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Coptic Christians, Coptic Church, Cairo, Egypt, anti-Christian, Coptic Orthodox Church, terrorists, violence, peace, martyrdom.  


Media Contact:
Judy Keane

Catholic Partners Urge 18-month Extension of Temporary Protected Status for El Salvador

WASHINGTON—On December 20, 2017, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, was joined by Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), and Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN) in sending a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, urging an 18-month extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador.

TPS is a temporary, renewable, and statutorily authorized immigration status that allows individuals to remain and work lawfully in the U.S. during a period in which it is deemed unsafe for nationals of that country to return home.

El Salvador's current TPS designation extends through March 9, 2018, however, the Department of Homeland Security is required to make a decision to terminate or extend TPS for the country by January 8, 2018. In their letter, the Catholic partners urged Secretary Nielsen to extend TPS for El Salvador, noting that "terminating TPS for El Salvador would likely destabilize this key strategic, regional partner, undermining the tremendous investments of the U.S. government."

As discussed in the USCCB/MRS trip report, Temporary Protected Status: A Vital Piece of the Central American Protection and Prosperity Puzzle, El Salvador is currently in no position to safely accommodate the return of the roughly 200,000 Salvadorans who have TPS. Noting the concerning country conditions, the Catholic partners urged Secretary Nielsen to "show compassion and patience as El Salvador continues to improve its citizen security and humanitarian capacity for reception, protection, and integration."

The letter also reiterated the Church's commitment to stand "ready to support measures to protect the well-being and dignity of Salvadoran families here and abroad."

Read the full letter here:

Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe Vásquez, Committee on Migration, Migration and Refugee Services, Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities USA, Center for Migration Studies, Department of Homeland Security, Temporary Protected Status, TPS recipients, TPS beneficiaries, Congress, Honduras, El Salvador, refugees, migration, prayers, families, legislative solution


Media Contact:
Judy Keane