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Santa Fe archbishop weighs in on papal discussion of Fr. James Martin

Vatican City, Feb 21, 2020 / 04:06 pm (CNA).- Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe has offered his recollections of a meeting between Pope Francis and the American Southwest, especially as regards a discussion during the meeting of Fr. James Martin, SJ.

CNA reported Feb. 20 that Martin was discussed during a Feb. 10 meeting between the pope and bishops of the USCCB’s Region XIII, who were with the pope as part of their ad limina visit.

Martin, an American Jesuit, is well known for his writing and speaking on LGBT issues and the Church. His work has been a subject of controversy; it is criticized by some bishops and praised by others.

Wester confirmed that Martin and his Sept. 30 visit to the pope had been discussed in the meeting, in a Feb. 21 commentary published by the National Catholic Reporter.

The Santa Fe archbishop, who was appointed to his post in 2015, is one of seven U.S. bishops to have endorsed “Building a Bridge,” Martin’s 2017 book on the Church and homosexuality.

“This courageous work is necessary reading for all who wish to build up the Christian community and to give witness to the Gospel message of inclusion,” Wester wrote of Martin’s book.

In his Feb. 21 commentary, the archbishop indicated that a broader discussion of Martin had taken place than was previously reported. Wester said bishops raised to the pope questions about a recent speech Martin delivered to the presidents of Catholic universities, “and his work in general with the LGBT community.”

The pope’s visit with Martin “was only mentioned in passing and was not the main point of the questions” bishops raised to the pope about Martin, Wester wrote.

The archbishop did not indicate what he saw as the “main point” of the bishops’ questions, nor did he indicate the response of Pope Francis to questions raised about the issues he mentioned.

While it would be “difficult for anyone to remember with precision anything that was said” in such a lengthy meeting, Wester said that he did not recall “the pope saying or implying that he was unhappy with Father Martin or his ministry.”

Regarding the pope’s visit with Martin, one bishop told CNA Feb. 20 that Pope Francis “made his displeasure clear” about the way the meeting was interpreted, and framed by some journalists.

Wester’s commentary confirmed that report. The archbishop added that from his viewpoint, “it was not Father Martin the Pope was talking about, but the way others tried to use that encounter, one way or the other.”

The Archbishop of Santa Fe did take issue with a bishop who told CNA that “the Holy Father's disposition was very clear, he was most displeased about the whole subject of Fr. Martin and how their encounter had been used. He was very expressive, both his words and his face -  his anger was very clear, he felt he'd been used."

Speaking of that bishop’s description, Wester said “the language subtlety, yet incorrectly, leads the reader to believe that Father Martin was the issue while in fact, it was how others used their meeting that was in play.” Wester said he did not think the pope had been “angry, upset or annoyed.”

In his commentary, Wester disagreed with reports from other bishops that the pope said Martin had received some correction about the way the Sept. 30 visit was framed.

"Not at all true from my vantage point," Wester said.

Wester conceded that there was some discussion of raising issues with Martin's superiors, though he was not specific about what was said.

“I vaguely remember some mention of people in leadership trying to clarify any misunderstandings about his ministry,” the archbishop wrote. Wester said he thought that reference had to do with an article Martin had written in America Magazine, and not with the pope's meeting with Martin, although he did not indicate what factors led him to that conclusion.

Martin himself, after Wester’s commentary was published, tweeted that he has “never heard anything negative from Jesuit superiors, nor was I ever given a ‘talking to.’”

The archbishop said he could not recall other aspects of reports about the meeting.

“I believe that I have an obligation to offer my perspective on those matters contained in the CNA article about Father James Martin, SJ, since my understanding of the facts differs from what was reported anonymously,” Wester concluded.

The bishops who spoke with CNA reported that Martin’s work in regards to the LGBT community was also discussed with the heads of numerous Vatican congregations, and that some officials expressed concern about aspects of the priest’s work. Wester did not comment on those reports.

 

Parts of Notre-Dame plaza, crypt expected to reopen this spring

Paris, France, Feb 21, 2020 / 04:01 pm (CNA).- French officials are hopeful that parts of the plaza of Notre-Dame de Paris, as well as the church’s crypt, will be re-opened roughly a year after a fire ravaged the roof and much of the interior of the cathedral.

Emmanuel Grégoire, deputy mayor of Paris, said the internationally cherished cathedral’s plaza and crypt should reopen sometime before the summer “if everything goes OK,” the New York Times reported.

Officials told the New York Times that these parts of the cathedral and the surrounding area have thus far remained closed due to lead contamination from the rubble of the burnt roof and spire, which collapsed in the fire.

According to French government information, obtained by the New York Times, lead levels on the cathedral’s plaza following the fire were as high as 1,300 times above French safety guidelines, and on other surrounding areas lead levels were 955 times above safety regulations.

“Obviously this depends on whether the site has been properly cleaned up, but we have been doing regular lead checks,” Karen Taïeb, also a deputy mayor for Paris, told the New York Times. If all goes well, she said the plaza and crypt could be opened as early as the end of March.

On April 15 last year, a fire started in the center of the cathedral’s roof and nearly destroyed the entire building before it was put out.

The church receives more than 12 million visitors each year.

The roof had been undergoing restorative work at the time of the fire, and in the subsequent months, fire officials said they believed either malfunctioning electrical work or an abandoned cigarette butt from a worker caused the fire.

Most of the church’s sacred and artistic treasures, including the Eucharist and a relic of the crown of thorns, were rescued during the fire thanks to a planned rescue strategy that was in place for just such emergencies.

President Emmanuel Macron vowed to restore the cathedral within five years following the fire, and nearly $1 billion has been pledged towards its restoration from private donors.

Last summer the French government passed a bill organizing how the restoration funds would be distributed, though debates about whether the cathedral will be restored as it was are ongoing.

Since the adoption of the 1905 law on separation of church and state, which formalized laïcité (a strict form of public secularism), religious buildings in France have been property of the state.

Fla. bishops laud parental consent for abortion bill as it goes to governor

Tallahassee, Fla., Feb 21, 2020 / 03:21 pm (CNA).- The Florida bishops applauded Thursday the passage through both houses of the state legislature of a bill requiring parental consent for minors seeking to procure abortion. The governor has said he intends to sign the bill.

The Florida House of Representatives passed SB 404 by a 75-43 vote Feb. 20. It had cleared the Senate by a 23-17 vote earlier this month.

“We praise our state’s legislative leaders for advancing this pro-life legislation, especially bill sponsors, Senator Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) and Representative Erin Grall (R-Vero Beach), who took on the difficult task of guiding it through the committee process and onto the floor of the Senate and House,” the Florida bishops' conference said Feb. 20.

“We also commend the Democratic lawmakers who courageously crossed party lines and voted to ensure vital protections for parents and their children.”

The bill would require minors to received notarized approval from a parent or guardian, or to get consent from a judge after a hearing, before procuring an abortion.

Under the bill, minors seeking an abortion will be required to receive notarized approval from at least one parent, guardian, or from a judge. Doctors who perform abortions without the parental consent of a girl under 18 would face up to five years in prison for a third-degree felony.

The permission requirement would not apply in cases of “medical emergencies” when there is not sufficient time to obtain written permission from a parent.

The bishops noted that “Parental consent is required prior to a minor's medical treatment in most every instance, this includes simple medical interventions such as taking an aspirin or getting one’s ears pierced. This legislation is a common-sense measure that holds abortion to the same consent requirements as most every other medical decision involving a child.”

Ingrid Delgado, associate director for social concerns and respect life for the Florida bishops' conference, commented that “standards that relate to children's health care should apply especially in the context of abortion, which critically affects the lives of two children.”

Rep. James Bush, D-Miami, voted for the measure, calling it “a good bill for our children,” the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, a sponsor of the measure, said: “It is indisputable that abortion ends a life, and the decision to end a life is permanent and life-altering not only for the baby, but for the girl, the father and the family.”

Those opposed to the bill said it will create more difficulties for young girls who are already in a desperate situation, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, R-Fort Myers, said that “we don't live in a Utopia where parents always love and advise their children and young girls never get pregnant.”

The Florida legislature first enacted a parental consent law in 1979, but the state Supreme Court struck it down a decade later, saying it violated privacy rights.

Governor Ron DeSantis has said he thinks parental consent “deserves to be reconsidered” at the court, adding that parents “want to be involved with what’s going on with their kids.”

The Florida House passed a similar bill last year, but it failed to make it out of Senate committees for full debate.

Existing Florida law requires a minor seeking to procure abortion to give notice to their parent, or a judge.

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, 1,398 minors, 193 of whom notified a judge rather than her parents, procured abortion in the state in 2018.

Twenty-six states require parental consent for a minor's abortion.

Sri Lankan cardinal calls for full investigation into Easter bombings

Colombo, Sri Lanka, Feb 21, 2020 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka, has called for a full investigation into the bombing attacks on Easter Sunday 2019, and introduced a program to pray for the victims of the attacks. 

“The people of this country have a right to know the truth about the Easter bomb attacks,” said Ranjith on Feb. 18. “We hope that our political leaders will work to fulfill that obligation.” 

The Easter bomb attacks killed 259 people and injured more than 500. Two Catholic churches, one evangelical Christian church, four hotels, and a housing complex were hit by a total of nine suicide bombers. 

The suicide bombers, who were all Sri Lankan citizens, belonged to an Islamist group known as the National Thowheeth Jama’ath. They attacked the three churches in the middle of Easter Sunday services. 

"Anybody who had dealings with these people who set off the bombs, even their bank accounts and their telephone calls, has to be investigated," the cardinal said.  

Ranjith has criticised past inquiries into the attacks. 

“It is difficult for us to say what happened based on the reports of former government commissions. We believe [the commissions] may have worked to cover up what happened,” said Ranjith. 

“We are pleased with the new presidential commission. They are trying to explain every aspect of the issue.” 

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who assumed office in November 2019, has worked with Ranjith on the investigation into the attacks, and asked him to appoint a representative to the commission. Ranjith did not nominate a representative, and instead appeared before the commission himself on December 6 and 7. 

Ranjith said that he wished to represent the concerns of both the victims and the country’s Catholic community. The Archdiocese of Colombo, which he leads, is the only Catholic diocese in the country and also includes the Maldive islands. Christians make up approximately 7% of Sri Lanka’s population, but roughly eight out of 10 Christians in Sri Lanka are Catholic. 

In addition to the request for a further investigation, Ranjith also announced prayer services to mark the anniversary of the attack. 

“It is the responsibility of the Archdiocese of Colombo to never forget all those who lost their lives in this tragic attack on that day,” he said. 

Two of the prayer services will be held at St. Anthony’s Shrine in Kotahena and St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, the locations of the attacks. 

Ranjith has been increasingly critical of the Sri Lankan authorities’ failure to prevent the attacks. It has been reported that Indian intelligence services repeatedly warned Sri Lanka about the possibility of an attack occurring on Easter Sunday, including the morning of the attacks. 

“Nobody took serious note,” said Ranjith in June. “This disaster could have been prevented because if I knew that there was an attack planned I would have closed the churches and told the people to go home.”

Argentine clergy abuse victims in Rome, one year after Vatican summit

Rome, Italy, Feb 21, 2020 / 12:49 pm (CNA).- One year after the Vatican hosted a summit on the abuse crisis, three former students of an Argentine institute which cared for deaf children, and from which two priests were convicted last year of sexual abuse, have traveled to Rome to ask the Vatican for files on accused priests.

Two Catholic priests were sentenced to 40 years in prison after being convicted in November of sexually abusing students at the now-closed Antonio Provolo Institute for Deaf and Hearing Impaired children in Argentina’s Mendoza province.

Three victims, who are former students of the institute, were accompanied by around 18 other victims of clergy sexual abuse, activists, and lawyers at a gathering near the Vatican Feb. 21.

The group was at the United Nations in Geneva earlier in the week, where they gave presentations to the UN committees against torture, on disability rights, and on the rights of the child, according to Denise Buchanan of advocacy group Ending Clergy Abuse.

The Argentina case was presented “so that they can discuss it in the committees and pressure the Vatican to do whatever they need to do to make this stop from that end,” Buchanan told CNA.

One of the young victims from Argentina, Claudia Labeguerie, told CNA they went to the UN to “denounce the pope and the Vatican for cover-up, and then we came here to Rome to tell [about] the report.”

Labeguerie, who is deaf and uses sign language, spoke with CNA through her sister, Erica. Labeguerie said she suffered “abuse and torture by priests and sisters” at the Provolo Institute.

Buchanan, who was in Rome during the 2019 Vatican summit on abuse, said the Argentine victims “want Pope Francis to know that right here, right now is the time for there to be some reparation for them.”

She described reparation as including financial support for the victims, many of whom came from poor families. She also said they are looking for papal acknowledgment and changes to Church law.

The 2019 convictions in Argentina were for crimes which took place from 2004 to 2016. The cases involved 10 students, though around 20 have made abuse accusations.

Noting that some of the abuse occurred as recently as four years ago, Buchanan said they hope “people understand that [abuse is] not a past issue, it’s a present issue.”

Friday’s gathering was held in the square outside the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the department responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes of abuse by clergy or religious according to Church law.

Buchanan and others present said they were outside the CDF because they want the Vatican to hand over to Argentine lawyers the files on priests connected with the Provolo Institute and their photos.

Lawyers for the students, who were also present Friday, want the files to aid in their own prosecutions, according to Buchanan.

The CDF does not share information or the case files on ongoing investigations and legal proceedings. After the conclusion, prosecutors in other countries may request access to case files through the Secretariat of State.

Gemma Hickey is the founder of victim advocacy organizations the Pathways Foundation and ACTS-Canada. The Church “has lost its way,” in handling clergy abuse, Hickey told CNA, calling for “ownership, transparency, accountability.”

Hickey, who is a victim of clerical abuse and now identifies as a transgender man, said, “when someone abuses you and they represent God, that never leaves you.”

“As much as you move on, as much therapy as you do, you still carry that with you every day. It’s very difficult. It compromises your faith and your relationship to God, your relationship with yourself.”

Members of SNAP, the ECA network, and BishopAccountability.org were also present at the gathering.

Patricia Dold, a religious studies professor, said she herself is not a victim of clergy abuse, but she is angry and frustrated “to see this Church fail survivors.”

Their presence in Rome “is just one way to make the statement that we want the Church to live up to its moral code.”

Statement from U.S. Bishops Chairman of International Justice and Peace Committee on Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan’s Pastoral Solidarity Visit to the Church in Cuba

WASHINGTON—Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued the following statement:

“I would like to congratulate His Eminence Cardinal Timothy Dolan on his recently concluded pastoral solidarity visit to the Church in Cuba. His Eminence, who traveled to the island at the invitation of the Cuban bishops, celebrated Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Caridad del Cobre in Santiago--the spiritual heart of Cuba--as well as at the Cathedral of Havana, the Adolfo Rodriguez convalescent home in Camaguey, the Carmelite Convent in Havana, among others.

“The Cardinal reiterated longstanding Holy See and USCCB policy on Cuba: Mutually beneficial trade relations, tourism, and cultural exchange with the United States are key in transforming Cuba and bringing prosperity to the Cuban people.

“Recognizing the Church's role in the development of Cuban civil society, His Eminence visited the Dominican-founded University of Havana and the tomb of Fr. Felix Varela, the great 19th century Cuban priest-patriot. The Cardinal also visited the Latin American School of Medicine and Caritas Cuba.

“In addition to expressing solidarity with our brother bishops in Cuba and meeting with Apostolic Nuncio Giampiero Gloder, His Eminence met with President Miguel Diaz-Canel. The Church in Cuba and the United States believe in the transformative power of dialogue, especially regarding the promotion of life, dignity, integral human development, and prosperity. I echo the Cardinal's expressions of solidarity and urge Cuban and U.S. leaders to work for concord and collaboration between our countries.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop David J. Malloy, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Cuba.

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

 

Catholic Response to Outbreak of Coronavirus

WASHINGTON - Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace; Sean Callahan, president of Catholic Relief Services; and Sr. Mary Haddad, RSM, president of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, issued a statement addressing the Catholic response to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Their joint statement follows:

“As communities and public health officials respond to the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in China and closely monitor its presence and progression in other parts of the world, we join in solidarity and prayer for those impacted or working to treat those infected by the disease. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Relief Services, and the Catholic Health Association of the United States hope that governments will work together in partnership to improve all nations’ capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to this virus.

“The Catholic Church in the United States stands in solidarity with those affected by the coronavirus and their families, health workers who are valiantly trying to diagnose and treat patients, and those under quarantine awaiting results of their screening for the virus. We offer our prayers for healing and support those organizations, both domestic and international, working to provide medical supplies and assistance to address this serious risk to public health.

“In early February, the Holy See sent 700,000 respiratory masks to China to help prevent the spread of the disease. Within the United States, Catholic healthcare providers are at the front line of providing treatment and care to those impacted by the virus.  

“We also commend the U.S. government for transporting more than 17 tons of donated medical supplies to China. This response to the novel coronavirus demonstrates the critical importance of the need to work together and to invest in crucial health care systems here and in other countries, thus preventing and responding to community-wide emergencies. We urge the U.S. Congress to support these efforts by protecting access to domestic health care safety net programs and by providing additional emergency international assistance to areas impacted by the virus.

“We also urge individuals to stay informed as information becomes available by going to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.”  

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop David J. Malloy, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Sean Callahan, Catholic Relief Services, Sr. Mary Haddad, RSM, Catholic Health Association of the United States, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, coronavirus.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
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Statement from U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace Committee on Nuclear Disarmament

WASHINGTON — The Committee on International Justice and Peace for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has released the following statement on nuclear disarmament.

During the recent visit of Pope Francis to Japan, the Holy Father took the opportunity to speak forcefully on the subject of nuclear weapons and the threat that they represent to the world. Speaking at Nagasaki, he emphasized the need for a wide and deep solidarity to bring about security in a world not reliant on atomic weaponry, stating, “A world of peace, free from nuclear weapons, is the aspiration of millions of men and women everywhere. To make this ideal a reality calls for involvement on the part of all: individuals, religious communities and civil society, countries that possess nuclear weapons and those that do not, the military and private sectors, and international organizations.” - Address of the Holy Father on Nuclear Weapons, Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Park (Nagasaki) Sunday, 24 November 2019.

Later that same day, Pope Francis spoke in Hiroshima, the other Japanese city to have known the horror of a nuclear explosion. Addressing the moral implications of nuclear weaponry he stated, “The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral …” - Address of the Holy Father, Meeting for Peace, Peace Memorial (Hiroshima) Sunday, 24 November 2019.

The words of Pope Francis serve as a clarion call and a profound reminder to all that the status quo of international relations, resting on the threat of mutual destruction, must be changed. As Bishops of the United States, we have made similar appeals in the past when we stated, “the moral task is to proceed with deep cuts and ultimately to abolish these weapons entirely.” - The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace (1993).  

So too, has the international community recognized the need to move away from the threat of mutual destruction and toward genuine and universal disarmament, as reflected in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Article VI of that Treaty, which dates back to 1968, states each party of that accord will work in good faith for the end of the nuclear arms race by seeking nuclear disarmament based in “…a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

Pope Francis has used his visit to Japan to remind the faithful and all actors, states or non-states, of the moral obligation to re-commit to the work of ridding the world of nuclear weapons and the threat that they pose. That obligation weighs on the consciences of all to find a means for complete and mutual disarmament based in a shared commitment and trust that needs to be fostered and deepened.

The Committee on International Justice and Peace is grateful to the Holy Father for this renewed effort to bring about a world of peace and justice that is not based upon fear or the threat of nuclear annihilation but justice and human solidarity. As such, we also call upon our own government to be part of and indeed renew its primary responsibility in that effort. The nations which have nuclear weapons must take the lead in mutual reduction of their weapons. The non-nuclear nations too must refrain from pursuing them if Article VI of the NPT is to be the effective instrument to bring about the elimination of all nuclear weapons.

“Come, Lord, for it is late, and where destruction has abounded, may hope also abound today that we can write and achieve a different future.” (Pope Francis, Hiroshima, November 24, 2019.)

Members of the Committee for International Justice and Peace:

 
Most Reverend David J. Malloy, Chairman
Bishop of Rockford

Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera
Bishop of Scranton

Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio
Archbishop for the Military Services

Most Reverend Frank J. Dewane
Bishop of Venice

Most Reverend Michael Mulvey
Bishop of Corpus Christi

Most Reverend William F. Murphy
Bishop Emeritus of Rockville Centre

Most Reverend Alberto Rojas
Coadjutor Bishop of San Bernardino

Most Reverend Abdallah Elias Zaidan
Bishop of Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon

 

 

 
Bishop Consultants to the Committee for International Justice and Peace:

 
Most Reverend Paul S. Coakley
Archbishop of Oklahoma City
Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano
Bishop of Bridgeport
 

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Committee on International Justice and Peace, nuclear disarmament, Japan, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
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President of U.S. Bishops’ Conference Issues Statement on Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Querida Amazonia

WASHINGTON—Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement regarding the release today of Pope Francis’s Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Querida Amazonia. The exhortation follows upon the Special Synod of Bishops held in Rome from October 6-27, 2019 that focused on the Amazon region.

Archbishop Gomez’s statement follows:

“Today our Holy Father Pope Francis offers us a hopeful and challenging vision of the future of the Amazon region, one of the earth’s most sensitive and crucial ecosystems, and home to a rich diversity of cultures and peoples. The Pope reminds us that the Church serves humanity by proclaiming Jesus Christ and his Gospel of love, and he calls for an evangelization that respects the identities and histories of the Amazonian peoples and that is open to the ‘novelty of the Spirit, who is always able to create something new with the inexhaustible riches of Jesus Christ.’
 
“He also calls all of us in the Americas and throughout the West to examine our ‘style of life’ and to reflect on the consequences that our decisions have for the environment and for the poor. Along with my brother bishops here in the United States, I am grateful for the Holy Father’s wisdom and guidance and we pledge our continued commitment to evangelizing and building a world that is more just and fraternal and that respects the integrity of God’s creation.”

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Keywords: Pope Francis, apostolic exhortation, Querida Amazonia, Pan-Amazon, Synod of Bishops, Laudato Si’, encyclical, ecology, environment, Archbishop José H. Gomez, USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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Media Contacts
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U.S. Bishops’ Annual Ash Wednesday Collection Supports the Catholic Church in Central and Eastern Europe

WASHINGTON— The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe has announced February 26 as this year’s date for the special collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. Dioceses may elect a different date to take up the collection to avoid conflicts with local activities. The funds collected support seminaries, youth ministry, social service programs, pastoral centers, church construction and renovation, and Catholic communications projects in 28 countries in the region.

In Baranovichi, Belarus, the parish of Divine Mercy and Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn was established in November 2013 to meet the pastoral needs of the faithful in the region. Through local efforts and funding from the collection, the dream of building a parish home for the growing number of Catholics in Baranovichi is now becoming a reality.

“The Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe provides critical witness to our hope in God and the Risen Christ in places where many people still confront obstacles to practicing their faith freely and fully,” said Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton of Steubenville and chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. “Thanks to the solidarity of Americans through the collection, their ministries are supported through both prayer and financial resources with assurances that they are not alone.”

On November 10, 2019, the Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe awarded $1.6 million in funding for 100 projects in 22 countries in the region. Information about the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, including the 2018 annual report, may be found at www.usccb.org/ccee. Promotional resources in English and Spanish for use in dioceses and parishes can be found at http://www.usccb.org/catholic-giving/opportunities-for-giving/central-and-eastern-europe/index.cfm.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton, National Collections.


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