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Bishop Conference President Reaction to Shooting at Florida High School

WASHINGTON—Following the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called for prayer and healing. 

The full statement is as follows:

"We are deeply saddened by the shootings in Broward County, Florida, and by the needless and tragic loss of life. May the mercy of God comfort the grieving families and sustain the wounded in their healing. Catholics and many other Christians have begun the journey of Lent today. I encourage us to unite our prayers and sacrifices for the healing and consolation of all those who have been affected by violence in these last weeks and for a conversion of heart, that our communities and nation will be marked by peace. I pray also for unity in seeking to build toward a society with fewer tragedies caused by senseless gun violence. Our hope is in the Lord, as he promised after his resurrection, 'behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age' (Mt. 28:20)."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida, Broward County, Lent, gun violence, prayer, peace

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

President of U.S. Bishops Conference Encourages Catholics to Join Pope Francis in a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace in the Congo, South Sudan, and the World on Feb. 23

WASHINGTON—The President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, is encouraging Catholics across the nation to join with Pope Francis on Friday, February 23, for a special Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace. The day of prayer and fasting will focus on continued conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and other areas of the world.

Reflecting on the suffering caused by violent conflict, Pope Francis said, "Our heavenly Father always listens to His children who cry to Him in sorrow and anguish, who 'heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds' (Psalm 147:3). I make a heartfelt appeal so that we also listen to this cry and, each one of us in his/her own conscience before God, ask ourselves, 'What can I do for peace?'"

Cardinal DiNardo's full statement follows:

"Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has called us to observe a special day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace on Friday, February 23, as Lent begins, with a particular concern for the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

Tragically, violent conflict rages in both nations. South Sudan won its independence in 2011 only to find itself a victim to corruption and a bloody civil war. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the government fails to honor the constitution as the Catholic Church courageously promotes a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the ruling and opposition parties. In both countries, innocent families suffer.

Let us answer the Holy Father's call to pray and fast for peace, especially for the Church and peoples of South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And let us turn our fasting into almsgiving and support the work of Catholic Relief Services in both countries.

May God bless South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and our world with peace."

To learn more about the special Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace and for additional resources on how Catholics can respond, please visit: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/war-and-peace/day-of-prayer-and-fasting-for-peace.cfm

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Holy Father, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Day of Prayer and Fasting, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, violent conflict, peaceful resolution, almsgiving, Catholic Relief Services.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane

202-541-3200

Federal Budget Should Build Toward Common Good, Say U.S. Bishops Chairmen

WASHINGTON— After the Trump Administration released its federal budget proposal, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, and the Most Reverend Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, expressed deep concerns about many of the priorities outlined in the blueprint, and called on Congress to "ensure a budget for our country that honors our obligations to build toward the common good."

The full statement follows:

"The federal budget is a moral document, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has consistently urged our national leaders to consider important principles when deciding how to steward the finite resources entrusted to it by the American people. Budget decisions ought to be guided by moral criteria that safeguard human life and dignity, give central importance to 'the least of these,' and promote the well-being of workers and families who struggle to live in dignity. Our nation must never seek to balance the budget on the backs of the poor at home and abroad. 

Yesterday, President Trump unveiled a budget plan, 'Efficient, Effective, Accountable: An American Budget,' that again calls for deep cuts to vital parts of government, including underfunding programs that serve the poor, diplomacy, and environmental stewardship. At the same time, the plan calls for increases in immigration enforcement spending and further increases in military spending, including on nuclear weapons. Prohibiting certain abortion providers from receiving federal funds and providing increased resources to combat opioid addiction is commendable. However, we urge Congress—and every American—to evaluate the Administration's budget blueprint in light of its impacts on those most in need, and work to ensure a budget for our country that honors our obligations to build toward the common good."

Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Trump Administration, U.S. Congress, budget plan, human life, dignity, military spending, federal funding, abortion, opioid addiction, common good.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops Chairmen Commend Provisions in Budget Act that Ensure Houses of Worship Can Apply for Federal Disaster Assistance

WASHINGTON–This morning, the Bipartisan Budget Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump. The bill includes the Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act, which codifies fair and equal treatment for houses of worship damaged in natural disasters by enabling them to seek assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, chairman of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, praised Congress for including disaster relief fairness provisions in the Act:

"When hurricanes and other natural disasters strike, houses of worship are on the front lines of rebuilding efforts. Churches, synagogues, and mosques are vital to their communities, and they, like other important community institutions, need help recovering from the impacts of natural disasters. We applaud Congress for including provisions in the Budget Act that direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to make disaster relief assistance available to houses of worship on the same terms as other nonprofit entities. These provisions ensure that houses of worship are treated fairly. That's good not only for houses of worship but for the communities that depend on them."

Links to letters of support for the Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act can be found here: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/upload/Letter-of-Support-to-House-for-Federal-Disaster-Assistance-Nonprofit-Fairness-Act-of-2017.pdf

www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/upload/Letter-of-Support-to-Senate-for-Federal-Disaster-Assistance-Nonprofit-Fairness-Act-of-2017.pdf 

A backgrounder is available at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/upload/Federal-Disaster-Assistance-Nonprofit-Fairness-Act-2017-Fact-Sheet.pdf    

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Keywords: Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Bishop Joseph Bambera, USCCB, Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act, Bipartisan Budget Act, Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, religious liberty, religious freedom, houses of worship, disaster relief

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Catholic Bishops’ Pro-Life Chairman Praises Trump Administration for Implementation of Expanded Mexico City Policy

WASHINGTON–Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, thanked and praised the Trump Administration following release of its six-month report showing early signs of successful implementation of an expanded Mexico City Policy aptly renamed Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance.

"As Chairman of the United States Bishops' Committee, I again applaud this Administration for restoring our foreign assistance to its rightful goals of promoting health and human rights. Abortion undermines basic human rights, certainly for the child, and it also can wound the mother emotionally and physically. U.S. tax dollars have no business going to organizations that are unwilling to pursue health outcomes for every person and instead insist on promoting and imposing their abortion ideology on women and children. The six-month report just released by the Trump Administration provides early evidence that the vast majority of NGOs—729 out of 733—are willing and able to comply with this policy and that compliance does not appear to undermine delivery of appropriate health services."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Trump Administration, Mexico City Policy, Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance, foreign aid, child, abortion, health, human rights, U.S. tax dollars, basic human rights. 

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


USCCB Launches New Mobile Responsive ForYourMarriage.org Website  

WASHINGTON—In conjunction with the start of National Marriage Week USA, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is pleased to announce the launch of a new mobile responsive ForYourMarriage.org website on February 7, 2018.

Originally launched in 2007, ForYourMarriage.org is an initiative of the USCCB that began as the communications component of the National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage. It continues to play a key role in advancing the USCCB's priority on marriage and family.

Thanks to a grant received from the Catholic Communication Campaign, the new website, developed in collaboration with Crosby Communications and Marketing, includes updated content, graphics, and a new section dedicated to marriage and family ministry leaders.

"I hope this new platform will reach many more people with the message of God's plan for marriage and be a source of support to husbands and wives at every stage of their vocational journey," said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap, of Philadelphia, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.

ForYourMarriage.org offers numerous resources on the meaning and beauty of marriage in God's plan and provides support to couples at every stage of their journey. There are sections dedicated to dating, marriage preparation, mixed marriages, parenting and family, natural family planning, the stages of marriage, among others. A marriage resource section offers daily marriage tips, marriage help and support links, and solutions to common challenges. Finally, questions specific to planning a Catholic wedding as well as related Church documents and teachings are available on the website.

Along with these resources, the website features couples who write about their real-life experiences as engaged, newlyweds, or seasoned couples with weekly blog posts. Feature articles include book reviews, reports on current events and research related to marriage, and recent teachings about marriage and family life from the Holy Father.

Other websites hosted by the USCCB and dedicated to promoting marriage include PorTuMatrimonio.org and MarriageUniqueForAReason.org.

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Keywords: marriage, family, USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, For Your Marriage, Por Tu Matrimonio, Marriage Unique for a Reason

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


U.S. Bishops Conference Offers Audio Recordings of Scripture, Daily Reflections, Downloadable Calendar to Help Catholics Observe Lent

WASHINGTON—A variety of resources to help Catholics observe Lent, which this year begins on Ash Wednesday, February 14, are being provided by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). 

With the theme "Raise Up, Sacrifice, Offer," resources include a new set of daily suggestions for reading, reflection, prayer and action, in addition to the traditional downloadable reflection calendar available in years past. The downloadable Lent calendar with quotes from Pope Francis, Scripture, and Church fathers, is available in both English and Spanish. The daily suggestions and downloadable calendar offer teachings and suggestions for taking an active approach to the three traditional pillars of Lenten observance: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

The website www.usccb.org/lent, also includes facts about saints whose feast days or memorials fall within Lent, a reflection on fasting, information on rediscovering the Sacrament of Penance, and a section on Holy Week observances. The USCCB has also created an accompanying video reflecting on Lent for sharing on social media.  

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday on February 14, and concludes at sunset on Holy Thursday, March 29. At that time, the Paschal Triduum begins. The three days of the Triduum last from sunset on Holy Thursday to sunset on Easter Sunday, which will be celebrated on April 1.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Lent, Ash Wednesday, Daily Reflections, Scripture, Pope Francis, Church fathers, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, Sacrament of Penance, Holy Week, Holy Thursday, Paschal Triduum, Easter Sunday.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

International Day of Prayer for Victims of Human Trafficking to be Observed February 8th

WASHINGTON—The International Day of Prayer for Victims of Human Trafficking will be observed on February 8th. Designated by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the International Union of Superiors General as a time of remembrance for victims and survivors of forced labor and commercial sex trafficking, the day coincides with the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita.

With an estimated over 25 million women, children, and men trapped in modern-day slavery, February 8th offers an opportunity to educate communities of faith about the prevalence of trafficking and to pray for its victims, who are often "hidden in plain sight". Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Migration, notes "through prayer we grow in solidarity with those that have suffered this affront to human dignity. We demonstrate to survivors that they are not alone."

In honor of this important day, the USCCB's Migration and Refugee Services, the Archdiocese of Washington, the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, and Trinity Washington University will host an Inter-Religious Prayer Service to remember victims and survivors of human trafficking, and to reflect on how we can unite against modern-day slavery. The service will take place on February 8th at 6:30 PM at the Chapel of Trinity University (125 Michigan Ave NE, Washington, DC). To rsvp  for an evening of prayer with representatives from the world's major religions, see Inter-Religious Service.

For help in hosting an awareness event or prayer service locally, visit Become a Shepherd for downloadable resources.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe Vásquez, Committee on Migration, St. Josephine Bakhita, human trafficking, anti-trafficking, forced labor, modern-day slavery

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Collection for Church in Central and Eastern Europe Takes Place on Ash Wednesday, February 14; More Than $9.1 Million Awarded in 2017 Will Fund 318 Projects

WASHINGTON—The annual collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe will be held in most parishes on Ash Wednesday, February 14.

The collection supports pastoral, evangelization, and construction projects, as well as educational scholarships in Central and Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. Other areas of funding include lay and religious formation, poverty outreach, and communications.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe awarded over $9.1 million in grants last year for 318 projects in support of the Church in formerly communist countries of the region.

"For decades, our brothers and sisters in Central and Eastern Europe faced a test of faith as they suffered religious and political persecution under oppressive regimes," said Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago and chairman of the Subcommittee. "We rely on US Catholics' generosity to this collection to support these communities as they rebuild their faith and continue to be modern witnesses of the Gospel message."

The Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe oversees the collection and an annual grant program as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. More information about the collection and what it supports can be found at www.usccb.org/ccee. Shareable resources to promote it can be found at www.usccb.org/ccee/collection.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Blase Cupich, Subcommittee on the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, religious persecution, political persecution, solidarity, faith communities, Gospel message, evangelization, education, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, poverty, outreach, reconstruction, national collection

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Media Contact
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


Pope Francis Names New Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has appointed Father Joel Konzen, S.M, as a new auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Georgia. Father Konzen is a member of the Society of Mary (Marists) and currently serves as the principal of Marist School in Atlanta.  

The appointment was publicized in Washington on February 5, 2018, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Joel Konzen was born on November 6, 1950, in Oak Harbor, Ohio, in the Diocese of Toledo. He attended St Meinrad College, Indiana, from 1968-1972, earning a bachelor's degree in English. At Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans he earned a master's degree in Divinity (1972-1974), and at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., he earned a master's degree in Systematic Theology in 1978 and a master's degree in Educational Administration in 1991.

In 1974, at Notre Dame, he entered the Society of Mary novitiate (Washington, DC) and took first vows as a Marist in 1975. He was ordained a priest in 1979 in New Orleans.

Assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar, St. Edmond Parish, Lafayette, LA, 1979-1980; director of Admissions & Financial Aid, Marist School, Atlanta, GA, 1980-1982; principal, Marist School, Atlanta, GA, 1982-1988; president, Marist School, Atlanta, GA, 1988-1989; Vicar Provincial, Marist Center, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992; president/principal, St. Michael's Academy, Austin, TX, 1992-1997; vicar provincial, Marist Center, Washington, D.C., 1997-1999; principal, Marist School, Atlanta, GA, 1999-present. Fr. Konzen received the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) Catholic Secondary Schools Department Educational Excellence Award in 2015.

The Archdiocese of Atlanta, GA, comprises 21,445 square miles. It has a total population of 7,256,925 people of which 1,050,000, or 14 percent, are Catholic. 

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Reverend Joel Konzen, Archdiocese of Atlanta

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200