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U.S. Bishops’ Catholic Education Chair Applauds Reauthorization of Scholarship Program Benefiting Low-Income Students

WASHINGTON - Yesterday, the United States Congress passed a four year reauthorization of the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act, which includes the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), a federal education voucher that serves nearly 2,000 students who live in Washington, D.C.

Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ of Oakland, chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, expressed his appreciation for the reauthorization:

“The Catholic Church has consistently taught that children have the universal right to an education, and that parents have the right and responsibility to serve as the primary educators of their children. The Church also teaches that the state has a fundamental obligation to support parents in fulfilling such a right. I am grateful to the United States Congress for reauthorizing the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which reinforces this teaching that upholds the role of parents. This popular scholarship that serves residents in our nation’s capital empowers parents to make the best educational choice for their child’s future and I applaud the reauthorization of this program.”

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program was originally signed into law in 2003 as a three-sector initiative to provide new federal funding to public schools and charter schools in Washington, D.C. and provide scholarships to students for families wishing to send their children to a private school.

Over the last fifteen years, close to 25,000 students have applied to the program, and almost 10,000 have been recipients of a scholarship. The average income for families with children enrolled in the program is $24,000 per year, and 91 percent of the children are minorities. The high school graduation rate of participating students is 98 percent, and 86 percent of those enroll in a two- or four-year college or university, reinforcing the positive impact that this program has in empowering families to choose a school that best fits the needs of their child.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, Committee on Catholic Education, D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, OSP, Scholarships for Opportunity and Results, SOAR Act, Catholic education, school choice, scholarships.

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

 

 

Pro-Life and Domestic Justice Chairmen Urge Congress to Stand Against Assisted Suicide

WASHINGTON –This week, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, and chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, urged the House of Representatives to support H. Con. Res. 79, a resolution introduced this week describing assisted suicide as a “deadly, discriminatory and non-compassionate practice.”

The bishops shared the following statement:

“Assisted suicide fractures the human family by targeting its most vulnerable members, including the elderly and persons with disabilities, suggesting that their lives are not worth living. We must do what we can to uphold the dignity of life, cherish the lives of all human beings, and work to prevent all suicides. We urge the U.S. Congress to do all it can to protect Americans from this cruel practice, and to ensure those who are ill, disabled, or facing the end of life receive comprehensive medical and palliative care instead of a facilitated suicide.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Congress, House of Representatives, assisted suicide.

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

 

U.S. Bishops Approve $4.2 Million in Grants to Support the Church in Latin America, Including Indigenous Ministries and Youth Outreach Programs

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America (CLA) awarded a $17,000 grant to support the formation of more than 400 indigenous lay leaders in Colombia. Because of remote locations, poor infrastructure, and a shortage of priests, indigenous communities in the region seek the integral formation of lay leaders. Under the guidance of local pastors, this grant will help train and support leaders from 90 indigenous communities to expand ministries such as catechesis, Liturgy of the Word, and distribution of Holy Communion in the region.

The grant to expand indigenous ministries in Colombia is one of hundreds of projects approved for funding recently by the Subcommittee. At its meeting on November 9 in Baltimore, MD, the Subcommittee reviewed 194 grant requests totaling $6.2 million to support the pastoral work of the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean and approved $4.2 million in funding for all 194 requests. Grants were awarded from proceeds of the annual Collection for the Church in Latin America and the special emergency fund set up after the 2017 earthquakes in Mexico.

“The Church in Latin America is vibrant and full of people longing to grow closer to Christ. Thanks to the Collection for the Church in Latin America, we can support communities in need in the region and share our faith,” said Bishop Octavio Cisneros, auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn, and chairman of the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America.

Projects that received funding for pastoral activities include the following:

●  A Caritas-led youth formation project for more than 150 pastoral leaders from all the dioceses of Argentina.

●  Formation of approximately 100 women religious members of the indigenous congregation of the Little Sisters of Sainte Therese in Haiti.

●  Financial support for repairs of a church that was damaged by an earthquake in 2017, located in an impoverished indigenous area of Oaxaca, Mexico.

“Collectively, the support of these projects by US Catholics through the CLA collection gives the faithful an opportunity to put their faith into action,” said Bishop Cisneros. “The US bishops are committed to aiding our brothers and sisters in Latin America.”

Other areas of funding include catechesis, seminarian and religious formation, and youth and family ministries. The annual collection that funds Subcommittee grants is taken up in many dioceses across the US on the fourth Sunday in January.

The Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America oversees the collection and an annual grant program as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. It allocates revenue received from the Collection for the Church in Latin America as grants across Latin America and the Caribbean. It also makes grants to dioceses and parishes to rebuild from natural disasters out of the Caribbean Church share of several USCCB emergency collections. More information about the annual CLA Collection, and the many grants it funds may be found at www.usccb.org/latin-america. Videos on the Collection may also be viewed in English and Spanish.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Octavio Cisneros, Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America, Caribbean, Haiti, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico.

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

 

Statement of U.S. Bishops Chairman on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs on Antisemitism

WASHINGTON— Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, and chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, issued the following statement:

“The recent attack on a Kosher Market in Jersey City, alongside many other recent hateful and at times violent actions, have highlighted the importance of, once again, publicly condemning any and all forms of antisemitism whether in thought, word or action. The past has taught us silence and passivity can result in the advancement of the worst crimes humanity can commit.

“The Catholic Church has an irrevocable commitment to the Jewish community. This commitment is clear and straightforward: antisemitism is anti-Christian and should not be tolerated in any form. At the Second Vatican Council, in Nostra Aetate, the Catholic Church articulated, ‘Mindful of the inheritance she shares with the Jews, the Church decries hatreds, persecutions, and manifestations of antisemitism directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.’

“We offer our prayerful support for all victims of antisemitic violence and their families. It is our hope that through continued respectful collaboration and dialogue with our Jewish brothers and sisters Catholics will help build a culture that completely rejects antisemitism.”

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Keywords: USCCB, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Kosher Market, antisemitism, Catholic Church, Nostra Aetate, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, Diocese of Scranton, Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

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

 

U.S. Bishops Applaud Legislation Protecting Immigrant Farmworkers and U.S. Agricultural Industry

WASHINGTON— Two bishops who chair committees for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) applauded the passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019 (H.R. 5038). Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, spoke in support of this legislation, which would improve conditions for immigrant farmworkers and their families, as well as ensure the stability of the U.S. agricultural industry.  

“The Farm Workforce Modernization Act was written in an effort to make a better system for both the farmer and the farmworkers and to create a more effective and humane agriculture industry. The Catholic Church has long recognized the dignity of work of both citizen and immigrant farmworkers and growers alike and welcomes changes in the law to help ensure greater protections,” said Archbishop Coakley.

Bishop Dorsonville noted, “I commend the lawmakers who worked on this important effort in a bipartisan manner and I urge the U.S. Senate to take up this bill which gives earned permanent residency for certain farmworkers.”

In November, the USCCB Committee on Migration and Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development sent a letter of support that can be found on the Justice for Immigrants website.

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Keywords: USCCB, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Rep. Dan Newhouse, Farmworkers, Committee on Migration, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.
 
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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200