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Jewish, Christian and Muslim National Religious Leaders Unite for Israeli-Palestinian Peace

WASHINGTON—In a letter to President Donald J. Trump, thirty-five Jewish, Christian and Muslim national religious leaders agree that Israeli-Palestinian peace is possible. They believe, "based on the legitimate, long-standing aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for national self-determination and security, a two-state solution still represents the most realistic way to meet essential interests of both peoples and to resolve the conflict."

The letter includes the signatures of Bishop Oscar Cantú, of Las Cruses, Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington.

The statement by Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders points to the fact that, "despite deep distrust on both sides, recent polls among Israelis and Palestinians show that the majority still yearn for two states." The leaders believe, "pursing either side's version of a one-state solution would likely lead to more years of violent conflict."

The leaders are encouraged that, building on years of official and informal negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, "the basic parameters of a framework for a two-state solution are widely known." And they say, "combined with a broader regional framework such as the Arab Peace Initiative, the incentives for all sides to make the historic decision for a two-state peace agreement are monumental."

They believe that "achieving a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians would have substantial positive effects for the people of Israel and Palestine, the region, the United States' own interests, and our world." The religious leaders are united in pledging their "support for US efforts to achieve this goal."

The full letter can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/israel-palestine/nili-letter-to-president-on-israel-palestine-2017-07-19.cfm

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Keywords:  U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, President, President Donald J. Trump, religious leaders, Israelis, Palestinians, two-state solution, Bishop Oscar Cantú, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus, Washington, D.C., Arab Peace Initiative, conflict, peace.

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


U.S. Bishops Domestic Justice Chairman Exhorts Senate For More Reasonable Approach on Health Care

WASHINGTON—In light of uncertainty about how the Senate will proceed on health care in the coming days, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called on the Senate to fix problems with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in a more narrow way, rather than repeal it without an adequate replacement.

"Before any legislation had been proposed, the bishops were clear that a repeal of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act ought not be undertaken without the concurrent passage of a replacement plan that ensures access to adequate health care for the millions of people who now rely upon it for their wellbeing," wrote Dewane in the July 20 letter to the full Senate. "To end coverage for those who struggle every day without an adequate alternative in place would be devastating."

The Senate has been discussing various approaches for health care reform, including an ACA repeal approach that does not immediately decide upon a replacement plan. "The American Health Care Act legislation from the U.S. House of Representatives and the Better Care Reconciliation Act from the Senate were seriously flawed, and would have harmed those most in need in unacceptable ways. In the face of difficulties passing these proposals, the appropriate response is not to create greater uncertainty, especially for those who can bear it least, by repealing the ACA without a replacement.

Bishop Dewane urged Congress "to address the ACA's moral deficiencies and challenges with long-term sustainability" by "more narrow reforms, and in a bipartisan way." Included in this would be extending full Hyde Amendment protections to the ACA, enacting laws that protect the conscience rights of all stakeholders in health care, protecting religious freedom, and passing legislation that begins to address barriers to access and affordability for the poor. The full letter can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/letter-to-senate-on-affortable-care-act-2017-07-20.cfm

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Affordable Care Act, ACA, Better Care Reconciliation Act, BCRA., U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, health care reform, Hyde Amendment, conscience rights, religious freedom, affordability.

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


V Encuentro’s Nuestra Alegría Viral Video Contest Winners Announced

WASHINGTON—The V Encuentro announced the winners of the Nuestra Alegría Viral Video Challenge via social media. Twenty-two groups of young Hispanic/Latino Catholics across the nation submitted entries for the viral video challenge representing 11 of the 14 episcopal regions in the United States and spanning 16 states.

Young people across the nation were invited to create their own movements and gestures to the official youth and young adult song, Nuestra Alegría, for the V Encuentro. This challenge was launched as a means to encourage the participation of young Hispanic Catholics.

The V Encuentro process is a priority activity of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Strategic Plan for 2017-2020. The national event will take place in Grapevine, Texas, September 20-23, 2018.

"Young people are at the heart of the V Encuentro process. It is wonderful to see their creativity and love for Christ and the Church in joyful motion," said Bishop Nelson Pérez, Bishop designate of Cleveland and chair of the USCCB Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs. "I look forward to follow along with the movements as we sing Nuestra Alegria in the diocesan and regional encuentros, and at the National Encuentro."

The V Encuentro is a four-year process of missionary activity, consultation, leadership development, and strengthening unity in the spirit of the New Evangelization. Its goal is to discern the ways in which the Church in the United States can better respond to the Hispanic/Latino presence and strengthen the ways in which Hispanics/Latinos respond to the call to the New Evangelization as missionary disciples serving the Church.

The first-place was awarded to St. Francis Borgia Deaf Center Youth Group in Chicago, whose members used sign language to express the lyrics of the song. As first-place winners they receive $1,000 and the honor of having the movements used in diocesan and regional Encuentros and at the national event.

Second place with a prize of $500 was awarded to Apóstoles De Ágape, St. John Neumann Catholic Church, Miami, Florida; and the third-place prize of $250 was given to River Valley Millenials, Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas.

Alejandro Aguilera-Titus, V Encuentro National Coordinator affirmed, "We are very grateful to all the groups that submitted their videos. Their joy, enthusiasm and creativity are the young face of the church today. Congratulation to the winners."

Four other groups received honorable mention:

·         Most Joyful: Escuela de Evangelización San Andrés Jóvenes, St. Francis de Sales, Holland, Michigan.
·         Best Use of Technology: Jóvenes de Coronado- Sacred Heart Church, Coronado, California.
·         Best Concept and Creativity: Cristo Joven- Sacred Heart, Washington, D.C.
·         Best Teamwork: Juventus- Saint Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Voting for the Nuestra Alegría Viral Video Challenge took place from July 1-13, 2017 and a panel of judges from across the nation selected the winners after reviewing the videos on their 18 second submissions and evaluating that the movements and gestures reflected the meaning of the song. Catholics across the country also voted for their favorite groups via Facebook. Video submissions were very creative utilizing flags, drones, and banners. Some of the videos included children highlighting the importance of family to contestants.

All participants of the contest will receive a copy of the pocket book of the Gospels in September. Stories about the winners and other groups that participated in the challenge will be featured on the V Encuentro blog and social media accounts.  All video submissions are available at: https://vencuentro.org/na-videos/.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, ENAVE, V Encuentro, Hispanic Catholics, Latino, Bishop Nelson Pérez, Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs, video, Strategic Plan, New Evangelization, Millennials


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House Budget Resolution Places Poor in Jeopardy Says U.S. Bishops Chairman

WASHINGTON—Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development expressed concern over the proposed U.S. House of Representatives budget resolution, which was voted out of Committee late yesterday. 

“The USCCB is closely monitoring the budget and appropriations process in Congress and is analyzing the proposed House budget resolution in more detail. It is clearly noted at the outset that the proposal assumes the harmful and unacceptable cuts to Medicaid from the American Health Care Act. Additionally, steady increases to military spending in the resolution are made possible by cutting critical resources for those in need over time, including potentially from important programs like SNAP that provide essential nutrition to millions of people. The bipartisan approach to discretionary spending in recent years, while imperfect, reflected a more balanced compromise given competing priorities. 

 A nation’s budget is a moral document. Reducing deficits through cuts for human needs—while simultaneously attempting a tax cut, as this proposal does—will place millions of poor and vulnerable people in real jeopardy. Congress should choose a better path, one that honors those struggling in our country.” Previous letters from the USCCB on the federal budget can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/ 

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, U.S. House of Representatives, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, budget resolution, American Health Care Act, Medicaid, military spending, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), military spending, tax cuts, deficit, poor, vulnerable. 

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


USCCB Chairman Expresses Ongoing Support for DACA; Calls on Administration and Congress to Ensure Permanent Protection for DACA Youth

WASHINGTON— Over 750,000 youth have received protection from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) since its inception by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2012. While DACA provides no legal status, it does provide recipients with a temporary reprieve from deportation and employment authorization for legal work opportunities in the United States.

In response to the recent petition to the U.S. Department of Justice to terminate DACA, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Chair of the Migration Committee and Bishop of Austin, Texas, expressed support for DACA once again, stating:

"The Catholic Bishops have long supported DACA youth and continue to do so. DACA youth are contributors to our economy, veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes. These young people entered the U.S. as children and know America as their only home. The dignity of every human being, particularly that of our children and youth, must be protected.

I urge the Administration to continue administering the DACA program and to publicly ensure that DACA youth are not priorities for deportation.

However, DACA is not a permanent solution; for this reason, I also call on Congress to work in an expeditious and bipartisan manner to find a legislative solution for DACA youth as soon as possible. My brother bishops and I pledge continuing efforts to help find a humane and permanent resolution that protects DACA youth. Additionally, I note the moral urgency for comprehensive immigration reform that is just and compassionate. The bishops will advocate for these reforms as we truly believe they will advance the common good.

Lastly, to DACA youth and their families, please know that the Catholic Church stands in solidarity with you. We recognize your intrinsic value as children of God. We understand the anxiety and fear you face and we appreciate and applaud the daily contributions you make with your families, to local communities and parishes, and to our country. We support you on your journey to reach your God-given potential."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Migration Committee, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Catholic bishops, economy, veterans, academia, human dignity, children, youth, families.  

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


Pope's Message to World Movement of Christian Workers

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a Message to the International Meeting of the World Movement of Christian Workers which has been taking place in Ávila, Spain, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its foundation.

120 delegates representing the Movement, present today in 79 countries are attending the event. The theme of the meeting is, "Land, Home and Work for a Worthy Life". The message, signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, stresses that "the dignity of the person is closely united to these three realities" that remind us that the fundamental experience of the human being "is to feel rooted in the world, in one Family, in a society. "

"Land, home, and work - continues the Message - means fighting because every person lives in a manner consistent with his dignity and nobody is discarded. To this we encourage our faith in God, who sent his Son into the world because, sharing the story of his people, living in a family and working with his hands, he could redeem and save the human person with his Death and resurrection ".

Finally, the Pope urges the Christian Workers Movement "to persevere with renewed impetus in the effort to bring the Gospel into the world of work".

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis renews prayer for Venezuela

(Vatican Radio) The Pope during his Angelus  in St Peter's Square on Sunday once again addressed his thoughts to Venezuela. Greeting the Venezuelan Catholic community in Italy he renewed his prayer for what he called, this "beloved country".  Pope Francis' prayer comes on a crucial day for Venezuela: this Sunday marks the popular referendum promoted by the opposition to say no to the constituent assembly proposed by President Maduro. The country's bishops support the initiative, which is not recognized by the authorities, to counteract - they say - the attempt to establish a Marxist military dictatorship. Meanwhile, as the political crisis deepens, the humanitarian crisis worsens. Italian Caritas has published a report entitled which shows that over 11,000 children died in 2016 for lack of medicines and maternal mortality rose by almost 70%. Faced with the food, health and safety crisis, the Italian Bishops' Conference has also offered to contribute 500,000 euros.

(from Vatican Radio)

Angelus: As the sower Jesus performs a spiritual radiography of our heart

(Vatican Radio) During his Angelus address on Sunday to the pilgrims and tourists who braved the heat in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis recalled the Gospel reading of the day, the famous parable of the sower. 

Listen to our report:

The Pope explained that the sower is Jesus, but the parable itself, the Pope went on to say concerns us, as it speaks of the soil and not the sower.

The Holy Father noted that “Jesus performs, so to speak, a "spiritual radiography" of our heart”, which is the ground upon which the seed of the Word falls. Our heart, he added, "is like the soil, it can be good when the Word bears fruit, but it can also be hard, and waterproof."

Pope Francis also described how in between these forms of soil, there are two types of land.  The first, he said, is a stony ground where the seed cannot put down deep roots. This, the Pope added, “is the superficial heart that welcomes the Lord, wants to pray, love and testify, but does not persevere..."

The Holy Father continued, then “there is the thorny ground, full of rocks that suffocate the good plants." This form of soil, he said, was the world seduced by wealth and greed, adding that the rocks were the vices that inhabit a person’s heart.

With the Lord’s help, underlined Pope Francis, we can reclaim the land in the form of confession and prayer that removes the stones and thorns and purifies our hearts.

During his address the Holy Father remembered the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel, who is celebrated on July 16th.

 

 

(from Vatican Radio)

President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Bishop Chairmen Condemn Today’s Attack in The Old City of Jerusalem

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), along with Bishop Oscar Cantú, of Las Cruces, Chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Bishop Mitchell Rozanski, of Springfield, Chair of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, have issued the following statement on today's attack in the Old City of Jerusalem. The deadly attack took place early this morning by the Lions' Gate in the Old City walls, next to what Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary and Jews call the Temple Mount. 

Full statement follows:

On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, we condemn in the strongest possible terms today's attack in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is a particular desecration to carry out armed attacks in and around sites holy to Muslims and Jews in a city that is sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims. We mourn for the lives lost and deplore the heightened tensions that such an attack can spawn.  It was encouraging that both President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the attack.  The path to peace, for which both Israelis and Palestinians yearn, cannot be paved with violence.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo
Archbishop of Galveston-Houston
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Most Rev. Oscar Cantú
Bishop of Las Cruces
Chairman, Committee on International Justice and Peace

Most Rev. Mitchell T. Rozanski
Bishop of Springfield
Chairman, Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Bishop Oscar Cantú, Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, Old City Jerusalem, Temple Mount, Noble Sanctuary, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Mahmoud Abbas, Israelis, Palestinians, peace.

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


U.S. Bishops Chairman Urges Administration to Raise Cap on Refugee Admissions

WASHINGTON—This week, U.S. refugee admissions reached the historically low cap of 50,000 refugees allowed to be resettled in the United States for Fiscal Year 2017, as set forth by the Administration's March 6th Executive Order 13780. Executive Order 13780 altered the initial Fiscal Year 2017 Presidential Determination which authorized the resettlement of 110,000 refugees into the United States. Currently there are approximately 22.5 million refugees seeking protection globally.

The following is a statement in response to the resettlement cap from Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Austin, Texas, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration:

"I note with sadness that the new U.S. refugee admissions cap of 50,000 individuals has been reached this week. While certain refugees who have 'bona fide relationships' will still be allowed to arrive, I remain deeply concerned about the human consequences of this limitation and its impact on vulnerable refugees such as unaccompanied refugee children, elderly and infirm refugees, and religious minorities. Now, these vulnerable populations will not be able to access needed protection and will continue to face danger and exploitation. Pope Francis reminds us that 'refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity.' We must be mindful that every refugee is more than just a number, they are a child of God.

Looking forward, my brother bishops and I urge the Administration to allow 75,000 refugees to arrive to our country in the next fiscal year. As I stated in March 2017, in relation to this particular Executive Order, 'Resettling only 50,000 refugees a year, down from 110,000, does not reflect the need, our compassion, and our capacity as a nation.' We firmly believe that as a nation the United States has the good will, character, leadership, and resources to help more vulnerable people seek refuge.  Most importantly, the Church will continue to serve and stand in solidarity with refugees, welcoming and accompanying them on their journey to protection and safety."

The full letter from March 17 can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/news/2017/17-048.cfm

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez, Committee on Migration, U.S. refugee admissions, Executive Order, Pope Francis, refugee resettlement, accompaniment. 

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200