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USCCB President Makes Thanksgiving Day Appeal for Protection of the Vulnerable, Especially Migrant & Refugee Families

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

Full statement follows:

"As we do every year, we will pause this coming Thursday to thank God for the many blessings we enjoy in the United States. My brother bishops and I, gathered last week in Baltimore, were attentive in a special way to those who are often excluded from this great abundance—the poor, the sick, the addicted, the unborn, the unemployed, and especially migrants and refugees.

My brothers expressed a shared and ever-greater sense of alarm—and urgency to act—in the face of policies that seemed unthinkable only a short time ago: the deportation of Dreamers, young hard-working people who should be the lowest priority for deportation; the anxiety and uncertainty of those with Temporary Protected Status from countries like Haiti, El Salvador, and Honduras, which are still recovering from natural disasters and remain ill-equipped to humanely receive and integrate them; and an unprecedented reduction in the number of people we will welcome this year into our country who seek refuge from the ravages of war and religious persecution in their countries of origin.

One common feature of all these developments is their tendency to tear apart the family, the fundamental building block of our, or any, society. These threats to so many vulnerable immigrant and refugee families must end now. My brothers have urged me to speak out on their behalf to urge the immediate passage—and signature—of legislation that would alleviate these immediate threats to these families.

Another common feature of these policies is that they are symptoms of an immigration system that is profoundly broken and requires comprehensive reform. This is a longer-term goal, one that the bishops have advocated for decades to achieve, and one that must never be overlooked. Only by complete reform will we have the hope of achieving the common goals of welcoming the most vulnerable, ensuring due process and humane treatment, protecting national security, and respecting the rule of law. We are committed to such reforms and will continue to call for them.

So this year, I give thanks for the gift and contributions of immigrants and refugees to our great nation. I also pray that next year, families now under threat will not be broken and dispersed, but instead will be united in joy around their tables, giving thanks for all the blessings our nation has to offer.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving all!"

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Thanksgiving Day, America, blessings, migrants, refugees, comprehensive reform, family reunification

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

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

WASHINGTON—On November 17, 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), and Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) in sending a letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, urging an 18-month extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti.

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.

While the current designation for Haiti is set to expire in January 2018, the Department of Homeland Security is required to make a decision to terminate or extend TPS for Haiti by November 23, 2017. As noted by the partners: "[I]t would be premature and detrimental to the country's redevelopment to return TPS holders to Haiti." The letter, sharing insights from the recent USCCB/Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) delegation trip to Haiti, explained that the country is still recovering from the 2010 earthquake and subsequent natural disasters and is not currently in a position to adequately handle return of its nationals who have TPS.

As discussed in the USCCB/MRS trip report, Haiti's Ongoing Road to Recovery: The Necessity of an Extension of Temporary Protected Status, an extension of TPS for the nation is crucial for humanitarian, regional security, and economic stability reasons. Consequently, the Catholic partners urged Secretary Duke to extend TPS for Haiti to "allow the country to build upon the progress it has made towards recovery and help ensure individuals' return and reintegration can be safely accomplished."

The letter also reiterated the Church's commitment to standing "ready to support measures to help ensure TPS recipients and their families are provided the protection and support they need while Haiti rebuilds."

Read the full letter here: https://justiceforimmigrants.org/news/catholic-partner-letter-dhs-urging-extension-tps-haiti/.

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Keywords:  U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe Vásquez, Committee on Migration, Migration and Refugee Services, Temporary Protected Status, TPS recipients, TPS beneficiaries, Department of Homeland Security, Haiti, refugees, migration, earthquake, natural disaster, prayers, legislative solution

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


U.S. Bishops Chairman Greatly Disappointed by House Passage of Tax Bill that Harms Poor, Many Families

WASHINGTON— Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, expressed "great disappointment" over the House of Representatives' passage of the deeply flawed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, calling on the Senate to work toward legislation that fixes the problems with H.R.1. The full statement reads as follows:

"It is greatly disappointing that the U.S. House of Representatives ignored impacts to the poor and families—including those who welcome life through adoption or have more than three children—and passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act without needed changes. According to the nonpartisan congressional Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), this bill raises taxes on the working poor beginning in 2023, and simultaneously gives large tax cuts to millionaires. The November 9 letter of the USCCB detailed the many deficiencies in the House bill, including the elimination of the personal exemption, which will hurt larger families, and the repeal of the out-of-pocket medical expenses deduction, which will harm those with serious and chronic illness. While we are grateful that the House restored the adoption tax credit, it still repeals an important exclusion for families assisted by their employer to adopt children in need, and eliminates incentives for charitable giving. For families working hard for economic security, the bill eliminates the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, and tax relief for persons paying for tuition and student loans, as well as those who retire on disability, among other things.

While H.R. 1 takes an important step toward strengthening parents' ability to choose a school that best suits their child, its repeal of important provisions that aid both teachers and students in non-government elementary and secondary schools should be reversed.

The Senate is currently debating its bill, and the USCCB will release a more detailed analysis shortly. The Senate must act decisively to avoid the deficiencies in the House legislation, and craft a final bill that affirms life, cares for the poor, and ensures national tax policy aimed at the common good. Right now, the Senate bill does not eliminate many of the tax benefits that the House bill does, and this is commendable. However, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) wrote on November 14 that the $1.5 trillion deficit that is created over 10 years will require spending cuts, and much of these will likely come from programs that help the poor. The Senate bill does not include a needed 'above-the-line' charitable deduction, the omission of which will result in up to a $13 billion annual decrease in charitable giving.

Senate legislation has also been scored by the JCT as raising taxes on the working poor while giving large tax cuts to millionaires. In addition, the Senate proposes to cut additional tax benefits that help working families, and these must be fully understood. It is laudable that the Senate tries to incentivize paid family and medical leave, but the provision is designed to sunset at the end of 2019. Although the Senate bill further expands the child tax credit, the elimination of the personal exemption will cause a net loss for larger families.

The Senate must work to ensure a legislative process characterized by integrity, one in which Americans can fully understand the implication of tax proposals which will be voted upon. It must also seek to pass a law that demonstrates that our nation prioritizes care for the most vulnerable among us."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, House bill, Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), working poor, personal exemption, medical deduction, Work Opportunity Tax Credit, tax relief, jobs, Congressional Budget Office (CBO), charitable deduction, adoption incentive, medical leave, child tax credit, poor, vulnerable.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Justice of San Francisco

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop William J. Justice as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Bishop Justice's resignation was accepted upon reaching the retirement age of 75. 

Bishop Justice's retirement was publicized in Washington, November 16, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

William Justice was born May 8, 1942 in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and moved to San Mateo, California in 1946. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Saint Joseph College in Philosophy in 1962 and a Master of Arts degree in Philosophy from Saint Patrick College in 1964. He graduated from St. Patrick Seminary in 1968 with a Master of Divinity Degree.

On May 17, 1968 he was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Joseph T. McGucken.

Assignments after ordination to the priesthood include: parochial vicar, Saint John the Evangelist, San Francisco, 1968-1970; parochial vicar, All Souls Church, San Francisco, 1970-1976; parochial vicar, Saint Paul Church, San Francisco, 1976-1979; parochial vicar, Saint Timothy Church, San Francisco, 1979-1982; director, Permanent Diaconate, Pastoral Center, San Francisco, 1979-1981; secretary, Office of Pastoral Ministry, Pastoral Center, San Francisco, 1981-1982; in residence, Saint Kevin Church, San Francisco, 1982-1985; pastor, Saint Peter Church, 1985-1991; sabbatical, 1989-1990; parochial vicar, All Souls Church, San Francisco, 1991-2003; pastor, Mission Dolores Basilica, San Francisco, 2003-2008; vicar for clergy, Archdiocese of San Francisco, 2006-2008.

On April 10, 2008, he was named an auxiliary bishop by Pope Benedict XVI.  On May 28, 2008, he was ordained a bishop at St. Mary's Cathedral by Archbishop George H. Niederauer.

The Archdiocese of San Francisco comprises 1,016 square miles. It has a total population of 1,776,095 people of which 441,736 or 25 percent, are Catholic. Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone is the current Archbishop of San Francisco.

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Keywords: Pope Francis, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Auxiliary Bishop William Justice, retirement, Diocese of San Francisco, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio, Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop George H. Niederauer, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


At General Assembly, Bishops Approve 2018 Budget, Diocesan Assessment Increase, Order of Baptism for Children; Elect CRS Board

BALTIMORE—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved today their 2018 budget and a three percent increase in the diocesan assessment for 2019 during their annual Fall General Assembly in Baltimore.

The 2018 budget was approved with 125 votes in favor, 4 against, and 3 abstentions. The vote required a majority of the members present to pass.

The three percent increase in the diocesan assessment for 2019 was approved with 136 votes in favor, 31 against, and 5 abstentions. This vote required approval by two-thirds of diocesan and eparchial bishops.

The bishops also approved the ICEL Gray Book translation of the Order of Baptism of Children for use in the dioceses of the United States of America with 200 voting in favor, 23 against, and 3 abstaining. The vote required affirmation by two-thirds of the Latin Church members and is subject to confirmatio by the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. In other actions, the bishops approved:

  • Development of a formal statement that would offer a renewed pastoral plan for marriage and family life ministry and advocacy in light of Amoris Laetitia under the lead of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth (223-Yes, 12-No, 2-Abstain).

  • The addition of one staff position in service to the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, contingent upon funding through external grants (177-Yes, 22-No, 2-Abstain).

The bishops also elected the following members to the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Board of Directors:

Bishop Edward J. Burns, Diocese of Dallas; Bishop Felipe J. Estévez, Diocese of St. Augustine; Bishop Shelton J.  Fabre, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux; Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda, Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis; Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend; and Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski, Archdiocese of Miami.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, General Assembly, 2018 Budget, Diocesan Assessment, Order of Baptism, Catholic Relief Services, Amoris Laetitia, Ad Hoc Committee against Racism, elections, votes.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

U. S. Bishops Vote for Conference Secretary, Chairman and Chairmen-Elect of Six Committees at Fall General Assembly in Baltimore

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) gathering in Baltimore for today's 2017 General Assembly have elected a new conference secretary-elect along with a new chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty and chairmen-elect of five additional standing committees.

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, Archdiocese of Detroit has been elected as secretary-elect for the USCCB on the ballot with 96 votes over Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City who received 88 votes.

Additionally, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Archdiocese of Louisville, has been elected as chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty in a 113 to 86 vote over Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

The five chairmen-elect are:

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Diocese of Arlington, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Communications in a 116 to 70 vote over Bishop John O. Barres, Diocese of Rockville Centre. 

Bishop Nelson J. Pérez, Diocese of Cleveland, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church in a 102 to 77 vote over Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux.

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend as chairman-elect of the Committee on Doctrine in a 110 to 95 vote over Bishop Daniel E. Thomas, Diocese of Toledo.

Bishop Joseph R. Cistone, Diocese of Saginaw as chairman-elect of the Committee on National Collections in a 124 to 65 vote over Archbishop Michael O. Jackels, Archdiocese of Dubuque.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities in a 96 to 82 vote over Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archdiocese of Chicago.

The secretary-elect and the five committee chairmen-elect will serve one year before beginning three-year terms at the conclusion of the bishops' 2018 Fall General Assembly.   

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, November meeting, fall General Assembly, Baltimore, committees, elections, conference secretary, chairmen-elect

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


 

Bishops Approve Canonical Step for Sainthood Cause for Lakota Catechist

BALTIMORE—The U.S. Bishops have approved by voice vote the canonical consultation of canonization for a Lakota Catechist at their annual fall General Assembly in Baltimore. Sought by Bishop Robert D. Gruss of Rapid City, South Dakota, the voice vote is in keeping with the Episcopal consultation process as a step in the Catholic Church's process toward declaring a person a saint.

Nicholas W. Black Elk, Sr., was born into the Oglala Lakota Tribe in 1863 in Wyoming. The fourth generation to be named Black Elk, he was third in succeeding his father and grandfather as a prominent medicine man. In 1885, he learned about St. Kateri Tekakwitha and signed the petition supporting the cause of her canonization. In 1904, he met a Jesuit priest who invited him to study Christianity at Holy Rosary Mission near Pine Ridge, SD. On December 6, on the Feast of St. Nicholas, he was baptized Nicolas William. In 1907, the Jesuits appointed him a catechist because of his love for Christ, his enthusiasm and his excellent memory for learning scripture and Church teachings. During the second half of his life, he traveled widely to various reservations, preaching, sharing stories, and teaching the Catholic faith.  He is attributed to having 400 Native American people baptized.

On March 14, 2016, a petition with over 1,600 signatures to begin the cause for canonization was presented to Bishop Gruss by the Nicholas Black Elk family.

More information on the sainthood process is available at: http://www.usccb.org/about/public-affairs/backgrounders/saints-backgrounder.cfm.

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Keywords:  U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Robert D. Gruss, canonical consultation, canonization, Nicolas Black Elk, Sr., Kateri Tekakwitha, Holy Rosary Mission, catechist, Native People, Black Hills, Cause for Canonization. 

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane

202-541-3200

Time Needed to Review Impact of Tax Plans, Says U.S. Bishops Chairman

WASHINGTON— As the U.S. Senate unveiled details of its tax reform proposal, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called for prudence and adequate time for Americans to understand the impacts of the bill. 

The full statement follows:

"Less than one week after the release of the U.S. House of Representatives' 'Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,' the U.S. Senate released a summary of its tax reform proposal. A mark-up of the language is apparently set for Monday, November 13, 2017. The USCCB released its fuller analysis of the House bill Thursday, and will review the Senate proposal carefully to provide a more detailed analysis of that bill as well.

However, Congress and the nation must have adequate time to understand these bills, as the financial wellbeing of every household and our society at large are at stake. Marking up a comprehensive revision to the tax code on the next business day from when initial language is released does not allow time for careful consideration of the effects of the proposals.   

It remains imperative that lawmakers examine the tax bill in light of the moral principles outlined in our letter of two weeks ago (http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Tax-Reform-Principles-Letter-Congress-2017-10-25.pdf):

  • Caring for the poor;

  • Strengthening families;

  • Maintaining progressivity of the tax code;

  • Raising adequate revenue for the common good;

  • Avoiding cuts to poverty programs to finance tax reform; and

  • Incentivizing charitable giving and development.

Knowledge takes time, and running feet miss the mark (cf. Prov. 19:2). Getting tax policy right is imperative for the sake of families, and particularly the poor, of our nation."    

The November 9 USCCB letter analyzing the House of Representatives tax reform bill can be found at:  http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Tax-Cuts-and-Jobs-Act-Letter-11-9-2017.pdf.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, U.S. House of Representatives, tax reform proposal, comprehensive revision, tax code, moral principles, tax policy.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane

202-541-3200

USCCB Chairmen Urge Congress to Provide International Funding for Climate Change

WASHINGTON— In a letter to members of Congress today, Bishop Frank J. Dewane and Bishop Oscar Cantú urge the United States to support international climate assistance during the year-end appropriations process. The bishops request that Congress dedicate $10 million to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the international body that guides climate policy.

The letter appeals to the responsibility to care for the common good and affirms that the "blessings of God's creation and the duty to care for the common good overflow beyond our borders, especially when it comes to the air and climate shared with all peoples and creatures living on the planet."

The UNFCCC facilitates international cooperation on climate change through initiatives such as the annual U.N. Climate Change Conference, which is currently taking place in Bonn, Germany. Two years ago, this conference resulted in the Paris Climate Agreement, from which the United States intends to withdraw. The U.S. bishops have expressed disappointment about the decision to not uphold this agreement that is based on unified global action against climate change.

"Restricting funding to the UNFCCC will only weaken the ability of the United States to dialogue in the international arena using a common language based on the best science available," said Bishops Dewane and Cantú.

"By supporting the UNFCCC, the United States can direct attention and resources towards adaptation measures that help all people, especially the poor, adapt to the effects of climate change globally," continued the bishops. "By doing so, our nation can better pursue the national interest, support credible climate research and promote the common good within and beyond our borders."

Bishop Dewane of Venice, Florida, is chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. Bishop Cantú of Las Cruces is chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the USCCB.

The full text of the letter can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/environment/upload/UNFCCC-letter-2017-11-10.pdf.

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Keywords:  Bishop Oscar Cantú, Las Cruces, New Mexico, Bishop Frank Dewane, Venice, Florida, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Pope Francis, USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, climate change, creation, environment, Environmental Justice Program, Laudato si'.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

USCCB Migration Chair Opposes Termination of Central American Minors (CAM) Program

WASHINGTON—Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, expresses his opposition to the Administration's decision to end refugee processing for individuals in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala who apply to enter the U.S. through the Central American Minors (CAM) program. Bishop Vasquez notes that the elimination of this program puts the lives of vulnerable children at risk for greater harm and represents a step backwards in the prevention of irregular migration.

Bishop Vásquez's full statement follows:

"I am deeply disappointed by the Administration's decision to terminate the entire CAM program. I have previously expressed disappointment when the parole option of the program was cancelled, and now disapprove all the more of the decision to eliminate the whole program. Especially troubling is the short cutoff date for accepting CAM applications, which is barely 24 hours advance notice to service providers. This decision of the Administration unnecessarily casts aside a proven and safe alternative to irregular and dangerous migration for Central American children.

Already, the end of the CAM parole program has caused heartbreaking family separation for families who have learned that their child has no safe means of arriving to the United States. The end of the overall CAM program will sadly perpetuate more of the same family breakdown.

Pope Francis has called on us to protect migrant children, noting that 'among migrants, children constitute the most vulnerable group.' The CAM program, which included both refugee and parole options, should have been maintained precisely because it provided a legal and organized way for children to migrate to the United States and reunify with families. Terminating the entire CAM program will neither promote safety for these children nor help our government regulate migration.

We continue to pray and express our support for parents who endure anxiety and emotional hardship knowing their children will continue to languish in violence; and to the children themselves, who will not be able to reunite and embrace their parents."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Committee on Migration, MRS, Central American Minors program, CAM, violence, persecution, migrants, migrant children, parole program, migration.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200