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MEDIA ADVISORY: Catholic Social Ministry Gathering Calls on Catholic Leaders to Witness to Life and Justice in Their Work 2020 Conference to be held in Washington: January 25-28

WASHINGTON –The annual Catholic Social Ministry Gathering (CSMG), organized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and 16 collaborating organizations, attracts more than 500 participants from around the country. The conference seeks to equip current and emerging leaders in Catholic social ministry and advocacy to cultivate God’s justice as they engage in their communities and around the world.

The theme of this year’s gathering is Bearing Witness: Life and Justice for All. Convening immediately after several annual pro-life events, CSMG participants will explore the Catholic Church’s call to unity and a consistent ethic of life on issues impacting life and human dignity across the spectrum. The issues to be discussed include those that impact both families as well as the wider communities: the death penalty, human trafficking, restorative justice, maternal and child health, migration, violence, and poverty. Participants will conclude the final day of the gathering with visits to Capitol Hill where they will visit the offices of their elected officials.

When:  January 25-28, 2020
Where: Omni Shoreham Hotel, 2500 Calvert Street, NW, Washington DC, 20008

Program and Speaker highlights include:
•   Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago will deliver the keynote address, Our Call to Holiness: Life and Justice for All. His Eminence is a consultant for the USCCB’s Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs; co-chair for the National Dialogue Initiative with Muslims; chair for the USCCB’s Subcommittee for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe; and a consultant for the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism.
•   Terri Steinberg, mother of a wrongfully convicted prisoner previously on death row, will share a personal testimony following the keynote address.
•   Kim Daniels, J.D., associate director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown Univesity will moderate a plenary discussion highlighting the Church’s leadership and global witness on peace and disarmament, life-saving international assistance, migration, and advocacy with persons in poverty in the U.S.
•   Gerard Powers, director of Catholic Peacebuilding Studies for the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, and coordinator of the Catholic Peacebuilding Network, which includes two dozen episcopal conferences, universities, development agencies and peace organizations. CPN has focused on the Church’s peacebuilding work in Colombia, the Philippines, and central and East Africa, and on issues of reconciliation, peace processes, mining, and nuclear disarmament.
•   Michael N. Okińczyc-Cruz, executive director for the Coalition for Spiritual and Public Leadership (CSPL) and adjunct professor at the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University of Chicago. A faith-based community organizer, Okińczyc-Cruz has worked to address issues related to criminal justice, mental health, corporate bank accountability, immigration reform, refugee rights, public transportation, workforce development and workforce diversity on a local, statewide and national level.
•   Sr. Anne Victory, HM, RN, MSN, chair of the Board of Directors for U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking, a national network of Catholic sisters who are addressing the issue of human trafficking across the country. She is currently serving as the director of education for the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking.
•   Ronnie Moore, of the Archdiocese of New Orleans will be awarded the 2020 Sr. Marget Cafferty Award. A long-time civil rights advocate, Moore developed the first AmeriCorps program in the country for returning citizens and brought this program, Re-entry 72, to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans and continues to mentor, consult, and advise emerging organizations serving the returning citizen population, as well as returning citizens to advocate for removing barriers for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated persons.

A plenary session from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), “Transforming Communities with Restorative Justice,” featuring representatives from several CCHD-funded community organizations engaged in the work of bringing restorative justice to communities and schools, including Precious Blood Ministries of Reconciliation, in Chicago, IL and Citizens of Louisville Organized and United Together (CLOUT).

Joining the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development in organizing the 2020 Gathering are numerous other USCCB departments and national Catholic organizations, including Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Rural Life, Bread for the World, and others.

Most workshops and presentations at the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering are open to media coverage. Journalists are invited to download a credential application form and submit it for review and approval.

More information is available online: www.catholicsocialministrygathering.org/.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Catholic Social Ministry Gathering; Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Justice, Peace and Human Development, Catholic Relief Services, CRS, Catholic Charities USA, CCUSA, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Rural Life, Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities; building bridges, human trafficking, maternal and child health, immigration, restorative justice, environment, migration policy, poverty, peacebuilding.

 

President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Chairman of Bishops’ International Justice and Peace Committee Urge All Parties to Embrace Peace

WASHINGTON – Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, the chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued the following statement:

“The U.S. bishops’ conference has spoken out regularly to encourage the pursuit of peace in the Middle East. We urge once again that all parties, in these critical days, embrace peace rather than violence. Peace has been all too elusive – in recent memory alone, war has caused hundreds of thousands of lives to be lost, as well as untold suffering and endemic instability. We have particularly witnessed and addressed growing acts of violence in recent weeks, most recently with the attack on the United States Embassy in Iraq, the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani last Friday, and the missile attacks on Iraqi bases yesterday. We have called for necessary diplomacy, courageous dialogue, and tireless efforts toward peace to resolve such global conflicts. We do so now, and we will do so always.

“May the Lord help all parties in this time of growing belligerence to peer through one another’s transgressions and appreciate the legitimate fears that lie behind them. All must discover islands of trust in a sea of distrust, do the hard work of reasoning together, acknowledge the futility of further violence and military action, and humbly pursue the common good together. Let us reflect on Pope Francis’ World Day of Peace message for 2020 and pray ‘to overcome evil with good and respond to hatred with love.’

“We join in the hope expressed today that the people of Iran share in the promise of a great future, and that the United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it. In this spirit, we fervently believe, hope, work for, and indeed anticipate, days of peace ahead. We have just celebrated the birth of our Lord with Christmas. Jesus, as the Prince of Peace, calls us to the renewal of the heavens and earth. Let us bear witness to this truth, beginning with each of us.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop José Gomez, Bishop David Malloy, International Justice and Peace, Pope Francis, World Day of Peace, Iran, peace.

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

 

President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Calls for Peace in Wake of Escalated Tensions with Iran

WASHINGTON—The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, released a statement on the situation in Iran last night which was shared on social media.

Full text of the statement follows:

“In the face of the escalating tensions with Iran, we must pray urgently that our world’s leaders will pursue dialogue and seek peace. Please join me in asking our Blessed Mother Mary, the Queen of Peace, to intercede, that Jesus Christ might strengthen the peacemakers, comfort the suffering, and protect the innocent and all those in harm’s way, especially the men and women in our military and diplomatic service.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop José Gomez, Iran, call for peace.

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

 

President of U.S. Bishops Conference Expresses Sorrow For Earthquake Aftermath In Puerto Rico

WASHINGTON—The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, has issued a statement following the earthquakes in Puerto Rico and the reported aftermath of infrastructure and property damage.

Full text of the statement follows:

“I wish to express my prayerful solidarity on behalf of the bishops of the United States to the people of Puerto Rico and all those in regions effected by the terrible earthquake that took place today. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those who are suffering from this disaster. The Church in the United States stands with you. In our prayer, we recall in trust that Jesus is the resurrection and the life, offering Himself to us and calling us to Himself even in our hardest hour.

“In a particular way, I offer my prayers and condolences to Most Reverend Roberto González Nieves, Archbishop of San Juan, and to all those who serve faith communities. We also recall that Puerto Rico continues to recover from the devastating effects caused by Hurricanes Irma and María, which in September 2017 affected the island and its infrastructure, health services, education, energy and telecommunications networks. In this moment of continued trial, may you know of God's consolation and strength to confront this trial, through the loving intercession of His Mother and ours, Our Lady of Divine Providence, Patroness of Puerto Rico.

“Catholics and all people of good will may assist in the relief work by contacting Catholic Charities USA through this link. I am grateful to all who can support the relief effort for our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico.”

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop José H. Gomez, Most Reverend Roberto González Nieves, Archbishop of San Juan, Catholic Charities USA, Puerto Rico, earthquake, natural disaster.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
[email protected]
202-541-3200

 

U.S. Catholic Church Stands in Solidarity with Immigrants and Refugees Observation of National Migration Week: January 5-11, 2020

WASHINGTON—Globally, there are more than 70 million people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes due to political instability, violence, and economic hardship. Pope Francis has challenged people to move from a culture of “indifference” to a culture of solidarity, which will help them to embrace the poor and marginalized, and those struggling to find a better life.

For nearly a half-century, National Migration Week has been observed in the United States to highlight the situation of immigrants and refugees and unite in prayer to accompany them. The theme for this year’s observance (January 5-11) is “Promoting a Church and a World for All,” and reflects the Church as a welcoming place for all God’s children.

“As a founding principle of our country, we have always welcomed immigrant and refugee populations, and through the social services and good works of the Church, we have accompanied our brothers and sisters in integrating to daily American life,” said Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration. “National Migration Week is an opportunity for the Church to prayerfully unite and live out the Holy Father’s vision to welcome immigrants and refugees into our communities and to provide opportunities that will help them and all people of good will to thrive.”

Educational materials and other resources for National Migration Week are available on the Justice for Immigrants website.

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Keywords: USCCB, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Pope Francis, Bishop Mario Dorsonville, Archdiocese of Washington, Committee on Migration, National Migration Week, Justice for Immigrants.

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

 

Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Richard Higgins of the Military Services

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Most Reverend Richard Higgins as Auxiliary Bishop for the Military Services.
 
The resignation was publicized in Washington on January 2, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Bishop Richard Higgins, auxiliary bishop, Archdiocese for the Military Services.

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

 

U.S. Bishops' Conference President Reflects on the World Day of Peace

WASHINGTON — The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, has issued the following statement marking the 53rd World Day of Peace on January 1, 2020.

Archbishop Gomez’s full statement follows:

In this holy season, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the living God who comes among us as the Prince of Peace, to bring peace to our hearts and peace on earth.

Yet we are aware always that our world and our lives are far from peaceful. So many of our brothers and sisters are living in countries torn by war and injustice, terrorism and persecution; many suffer violence because of race, religion, ideology or nationality. Many of our brothers and sisters, even children, are being bought and sold and living in slavery; millions in our world have no place to call home because of poverty and instability.

In our neighborhoods and communities, violence and cruelty are a sad and ordinary reality of daily life. Still children in our country are killed each day in the womb, and many of our neighbors do not have what they need to lead a dignified life. Our politics and cultural discourse are often marked by anger and a merciless and unforgiving contempt for others.

This season we note with particular sadness the violent attacks on people of faith. To name just a few incidents: worshippers in a church in Texas are assaulted by a gunman; in New York, a man goes on a stabbing rampage during a Hanukkah celebration in a rabbi’s home. Christians in Nigeria are beheaded and their killers share video of the atrocity worldwide.

It needs to be said that violence in the name of God is blasphemy. The rise of antisemitic violence in this country and around the world must be condemned along with the ongoing persecution of Christians. Protecting religious freedom and freedom of conscience should be among the highest priorities of every government.

Jesus Christ came as a child on Christmas to show us that every person is a child of God, made in his image. He came to show us that all humanity is one family, that we are all brothers and sisters no matter where we are born, the color of our skin or the language that we speak. Jesus suffered and died to show us how precious each one of us is in the eyes of God, and he calls us to love one another as he loves us, with no exceptions.

So, on this World Day of Peace, the Catholic Church in the United States joins our Holy Father Pope Francis and the Church worldwide in praying for peace. We pray for peace in our hearts and peace in our world. We pray for the conversion of every heart that hates and we pray for the courage to overcome evil with good and respond to hatred with love.

We know that peace is God’s gift, and peace begins when we recognize his presence in every person, when we love him and serve him in the poor and defenseless, in those who are ill, in the refugee, the immigrant, and the prisoner, in every person that our society or economy cannot find a place for.

As we begin a new year and a new decade, we entrust ourselves and our nation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. We ask her to intercede for us and to help us to walk on the path of peace.
 
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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop José H. Gomez, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, World Day of Peace, Pope Francis.
 
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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
[email protected] , (202) 541-3206

 

Richard Coll Named Executive Director of the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

WASHINGTON - Mr. Richard Coll has been appointed as Executive Director of the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), based in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Coll began his tenure with the USCCB in 2011, first as a Foreign Policy Advisor for the Office of International Justice and Peace, then as the Director for the Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions. Earlier this year, he was appointed as the Director of the Office of Domestic Social Development where he has led the work of the U.S. bishops on issues of human dignity, development, and poverty.

In announcing the appointment, Monsignor J. Brian Bransfield, USCCB General Secretary said, “Richard’s experience within the various departments of the Conference, along with his prior experience as an attorney in the areas of international trade, finance, and development, position him uniquely to lead the efforts of Conference staff in service to the poor and to those who suffer violence and persecution, both here and abroad. I am very grateful to Richard for his continued service to the bishops and to the Conference in this new capacity.”

A graduate of Harvard College and Law School, Mr. Coll came to the Conference after a distinguished career in law in both Washington, D.C. and New York, where he worked in banking and international economic policy. He is fluent in Spanish and French and brings an expertise in various policy areas. Mr. Coll is a parishioner at Holy Trinity Church in Washington and is a former member of the parish pastoral council.

The Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development provides staff support to the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, the Committee on International Justice and Peace, and the Committee on Religious Liberty, as well as the Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Justice Peace and Human Development, International Justice and Peace, Catholic Home Missions, Office of Domestic Social Development, Richard Coll.
 
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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

Pro-Life Chairman Commends Final Rule Separating Abortion Payments from Health Care Coverage

WASHINGTON–On Friday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the Exchange Program Integrity Final Rule. Among other provisions, the rule ensures that when Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange plans include elective abortion coverage— for which public funding is prohibited by federal law—customers receive separate bills for abortion coverage from their health insurance. The fact sheet additionally noted that “if the policy holder fails to pay the separate bill in a separate transaction as instructed by the issuer, the issuer may not terminate the policy holder’s coverage on this basis, provided the amount due is otherwise paid.”

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), shared the following statement:

“Consumers have a right to know if they are paying for elective abortion. While the Affordable Care Act still allows government-subsidized plans to cover abortion, at least with this rule, Americans can now see and try to avoid complicity by choosing plans consistent with their consciences. I commend the Administration for enforcing the law, for its efforts to ensure transparency in healthcare, and for attempting to respect unborn human life.”

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Keywords: Murry, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, CMS, Affordable Care Act, ACA, Exchange Program Integrity Final Rule.

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

 

Bishop Chairmen Applaud Repeal of “Parking Lot Tax” on Houses of Worship and Nonprofits

WASHINGTON–A recently-passed provision to repeal a section in the U.S. tax code has the support of chairmen of two committees for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The provision repeals Section 512(a)(7), commonly called the “parking lot tax” because it taxes nonprofit organizations, including houses of worship, for the cost of parking and transit benefits they provide to their employees.

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop George V. Murry, S.J. of Youngstown, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, issued a statement in support of the repeal:

“Houses of worship and charitable organizations provide invaluable spiritual care, social services, and support in every community in our country. Especially during this time of year, we remember the ongoing good work happening through these organizations. To impose a new tax on these entities was wrong in the first place. We applaud Congress for amending the Internal Revenue Code to eliminate this burdensome tax. By requiring nonprofits and houses of worship to pay taxes on parking and transit benefits provided for their employees, Section 512(a)(7) entangles the IRS with houses of worship and drains the charitable sector of vital resources. We welcome its repeal.”

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Keywords: Archbishop Paul Coakley, Bishop George Murry, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Committee on Justice and Human Development, Committee on Religious Liberty, Congress, House, Senate, parking lot tax, religious liberty, religious freedom.

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