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USCCB Chairmen Issue Statement on Supreme Court Cases on Redefinition of “Sex” in Civil Rights Law

                       WASHINGTON— Bishop chairmen of three committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) commented on three cases argued before the Supreme Court today – Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga., Altitude Express v. Zarda, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. These cases present the question whether the prohibition on employment discrimination based on “sex” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” discrimination, respectively.

Bishop Robert J. McManus, of Worcester, Chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, of Venice, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop James D. Conley, of Lincoln, Chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, issued the following statement:

“Today the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument regarding the meaning of the word ‘sex’ in federal law. Words matter; and ‘sex’ should not be redefined to include sexual inclinations or conduct, nor to promulgate the view that sexual identity is solely a social construct rather than a natural or biological fact. The Supreme Court affirmed that sex is an ‘immutable characteristic’ in the course of establishing constitutional protections for women against sex discrimination in the 1970s. Such protection is no less essential today. Title VII helps ensure the dignified treatment of all persons, and we as Catholics both share and work toward that goal. Redefining ‘sex’ in law would not only be an interpretive leap away from the language and intent of Title VII, it would attempt to redefine a fundamental element of humanity that is the basis of the family, and would threaten religious liberty.”

On August 23, the USCCB filed amicus curiae briefs in the cases, available at http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/Bostock-8-23-19.pdf and http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/Harris-8-23-19.pdf.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Robert J. McManus, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Bishop James D. Conley, religious freedom, religious liberty, Title VII, nondiscrimination, Supreme Court.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

 

  

Pope Francis Appoints Reverend Austin A. Vetter as Bishop of the Diocese of Helena

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has appointed the Rev. Austin A. Vetter of the Diocese of Bismarck as the Bishop-elect of the Diocese of Helena. The appointment was publicized in Washington, DC, on October 8, 2019 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.

Father Vetter was born September 13, 1967 in Linton, ND. He attended North Dakota State University (1985-1989) and pursued seminary studies at Cardinal Muench Seminary in Fargo, ND (1986-1989). In 1992 he received a bachelors in sacred theology (STB) from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), Rome. He was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Bismarck on June 29, 1993.

Assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar, Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Bismarck, ND (1993-1996); part-time instructor, St. Mary Central High School, Bismarck, ND (1994-1999); parochial administrator and pastor, St. Martin parish, Center, ND (1996-1999); episcopal vicar for the permanent diaconate (1999-2002); pastor, St. Patrick parish, Dickinson, ND (1999-2008); pastor, St. Leo parish, Minot, ND (2008-2012); director of continuing education for clergy (2008-2012); director of spiritual formation, Pontifical North American College (2012-2018); rector-pastor, Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Bismarck, ND (2018-present).

The Diocese of Helena is comprised of 51,922 square miles and has a total population of 612,419, of which 45,400 are Catholic.   

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Bishop-elect Austin A. Vetter, Diocese of Helena, Montana, Diocese of Bismarck, North Dakota.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

 

USCCB Approves Revised Certification Standards and Competencies for the Catholic Campus Ministry Association

WASHINGTON – At its recent biannual meeting, theSubcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) voted to approve revised standards and competencies for the Catholic Campus Ministry Association (CCMA). The newly approved standards will be the basis by which CCMA can offer multiple pathways to certification for lay ecclesial ministers, consecrated laity, priests, and deacons who serve in the role of Catholic campus minister at colleges and universities throughout the country.

In granting approval, the subcommittee indicated that the revised standards conform to best practices for ministerial formation and that the CCMA is equipped to both promote and implement the process for certification outlined in their certification handbook.

Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas, Bishop Emeritus of Tucson, and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service, praised the comprehensive effort involved in achieving this milestone. “The leadership of CCMA has worked diligently to develop newly revised certification standards that aid in the preparation of those ministering in our colleges and universities. Campus ministry requires competent and well-formed ministers grounded in human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral abilities. CCMA’s certification standards and procedures encourage those competencies.”

The recently approved CCMA standards reflect the best practices for ministry formation that are highlighted in the 2005 statement Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord: A Resource for Guiding the Development of Lay Ecclesial Ministry and rooted in Empowered by the Spirit, the 1985 U.S. bishops’ pastoral letter on campus ministry. The working groups and committees accounted for changes in the landscape of Catholic campus ministry, and considered trends documented in the 2017A National Study on Catholic Campus Ministry.

Certification is a formal process through which the CCMA is able to evaluate key skills of a campus minister based on the four dimensions of ministry formation identified in Co-Workers: human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral. The evaluation is based on the candidate’s own assessment, and those of his or her peers within the CCMA. Certification for specialized ministry roles is strongly encouraged, as it facilitates life-long growth for the minister and is an important accomplishment which may be used by an (arch)bishop or his delegate to affirm the professional competence of a minister, or to authorize him or her for particular service in the Church. Additionally, certification is a valuable credential that Catholic colleges and universities may consider when seeking qualified candidates for campus ministry positions.

Three distinct committees of the CCMA collaborated over a period of two years, to complete the revised standards and certification procedures. “We believe that the diligent work of the committees collaborating and consulting in this process has contributed to the success of this revision,” said Michael St. Pierre, Ed.D., Executive Director of the CCMA.

“The revision process engaged campus ministers who serve in the field and dialogue with other professional associations such as the National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC). The CCMA’s process brought fruitful conversation about ministerial preparedness and the complexity of campus ministry in its many forms,” said Barbara McCrabb, Assistant Director for Higher Education for the USCCB. “The CCMA has articulated the need for a high standard of pastoral practice in the university environment. In doing so, they have set a course for formation and life-long learning as missionary disciples,” she added.

The approval of these revised standards by the subcommittee continues a long-standing relationship of the CCMA with the USCCB, dating back to 1986 and the subcommittee’s predecessor body, the USCCB Commission on Certification and Accreditation (CCA). For more information on the work of the subcommittee, and a list of arch/dioceses and national organizations with approved certification standards, please visit www.usccb.org/certification.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service, Ecclesial Ministry, Lay Ecclesial Ministry, standards, campus ministry, Catholic Campus Ministry Association, Bishop Gerald Kicanas, Higher Education

Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

 

 

President of U.S. Bishops’ Conference Issues Statement on Holy Father’s Apostolic Letter Reflecting on the Word of God

WASHINGTON - Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a statement on Holy Father’s Apostolic letter reflecting on the Word of God.  

The full statement follows:

“We welcome Pope Francis’ Apostolic letter motu proprio, Aperuit Illis, reflecting on the Word of God. The Holy Father reminds us that the Word of God is ‘performative’ and that Christians should linger over and study the Word of God as revealed in Sacred Scripture.

It is my hope that the words of the Holy Father will encourage all the faithful to know the Lord better through prayerful reading and study of the Scriptures. Pope Francis emphasizes that through the Word of God and the sacrifice of the Mass we grow closer to Jesus and each other as the Body of Christ.

The Holy Father has now designated the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time as the Sunday of the Word of God. By naming a special Sunday to commemorate the ‘unbreakable bond between sacred Scripture and the Eucharist,’ the Holy Father allows us to remember that it is through the Word of God that we encounter its author and learn of the ‘merciful love of the Father who calls his children to live in love.’”  

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Holy Father, Pope Francis, Apostolic Letter, Word of God, motu propio, Aperuit Illis, Body of Christ

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

 

USCCB Migration Chair Condemns Administration Plans for the Third Consecutive Mass Reduction in Refugee Resettlement

WASHINGTON — For the third consecutive year, the Administration plans to slash the number of refugee admissions for the coming fiscal year, ordering a new record low of 18,000 refugees. That would represent a 40% drop from last year’s already historic low of 30,000. Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, and Chairman of the Committee on Migration of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued the following statement:

“We are currently in the midst of the world’s greatest forced displacement crisis on record, and for our nation, which leads by example, to lower the number of refugee admissions for those who are in need is unacceptable. Refugees are among the most vulnerable people, fleeing war, religious persecution, and extreme targeted violence. Turning a blind eye to those in need with such callous disregard for human life would go against the values of our nation and fail to meet the standards that make our society great.

“We also have deep concerns about the forthcoming Executive Order permitting state and city officials to turn away refugees from their communities. We fear the collateral negative consequences, especially for refugees and their families, of creating a confusing patchwork across America of some jurisdictions where refugees are welcomed and others where they are not.

“Given the unprecedented humanitarian need and the crucial global leadership role that our country plays, we strongly urge the Administration and Congress -- as they engage in the consultation phase mandated by statute -- to work together to restore U.S. refugee resettlement to at normal, historical levels.”

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Keywords: USCCB, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Refugees, Presidential Determination, President Trump

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

 

USCCB President on the passing of Cardinal Levada

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the following statement today upon the death of Cardinal William J. Levada.

“Upon the death of William Cardinal Levada, please join me in a prayer of gratitude for a shepherd’s life. His ministry was one of expanding service to those around him. Cardinal Levada’s intellect and pastoral sense called him from parish priest to archbishop to prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He was a friend and brother. Eternal rest grant unto him.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Cardinal William J. Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, College of Cardinals

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

 

Chairman of US Bishops’ Pro-Life Committee Celebrates Launch of Respect Life Month, Commends Catholics to “Christ our Hope”

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, of Kansas City in Kansas and Chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, celebrated the launch of Respect Life Month with a statement. Archbishop Naumann encouraged Catholics discouraged by attacks on human life to “hold fast to Christ, our Hope.”

Archbishop Naumann’s full statement follows:

“Although we must cherish, protect, and defend human life year-round, the Catholic Church in the United States sets aside each October as Respect Life Month.

This year’s theme, “Christ Our Hope: In Every Season of Life,” is particularly suited for our times. While attacks against human life seem to grow ever more numerous and callous, we know that Christ has conquered sin and death. Through our Christian hope in the Resurrection, we are given the grace to persevere in faith.

Jesus asks us to be as leaven in the world, to bring His light to the darkness. Our daily activities take each of us to places only we can go, to people only we will meet. May we allow Christ to renew and strengthen us, that He may work through us in each moment of every day.

Be assured of my prayers for you and for our common efforts to bring about a world in which every life is cherished. And so, together, may we hold fast to Christ, our hope.”

New parish resources have been developed around the theme of “Christ our Hope” and are available at www.respectlife.org. Respect Life Sunday falls on October 6.

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Keywords: USCCB, Catholic, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Pro-Life Secretariat, pro-life, abortion, Respect Life Month, respect life, Our Lady of Guadalupe, women, pregnancy, healing after abortion, persons with disabilities, palliative care, assisted suicide, end of life care, elder care, contraception, missionary disciples, culture of life, prayer

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

 

World Day for Migrants and Refugees to be Celebrated on Sunday, September 29

WASHINGTON, D.C.- The Vatican’s World Day for Migrants and Refugees will be held this Sunday, September 29, 2019. The theme for this year’s celebration is, “It is not just about migrants.” Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, noted of the celebration:

“This year’s theme for the World Day for Migrants and Refugees is an opportunity to look at the migration issue from the lens of humanity, of caring for and walking with our brothers and sisters. The World Day for Migrants and Refugees reminds us that it is not about where people come from but their unique God-given human dignity.” Vásquez noted. “It reflects our call as people of faith to welcome our brothers and sisters, promote their well-being, protect them from cruelty and human indifference, and assist in their integration into our community.”

Support for migrants and refugees is particularly vital in this moment as the world is in the midst of the greatest global forced displacement crisis on record. We must continue to embrace love for our neighbor to counter the growing throwaway culture which disregards the human dignity of migrants and refugees.”

Educational resources related to the upcoming World Day for Migrants and Refugees can be found by visiting the Justice for Immigrants website.

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Keywords: USCCB, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Pope Francis, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Migrants, Refugees, Vatican, World Day for Migrants and Refugees

 

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

 

 

Media Advisory: U.S. Bishops to Hold Press Briefing During Pastoral Visit to El Paso, Las Cruces and Ciudad Juárez

WASHINGTON, D.C.-— On Wednesday, September 25th, Bishop Mark J. Seitz, Diocese of El Paso, Bishop Oscar Cantú, Diocese of San Jose, Bishop Peter Baldacchino, Diocese of Las Cruces and Rev. Robert Stark, Regional Coordinator of the Vatican’s Section on Migrant and Refugees will host a Mass, followed by a press briefing at the U.S./Mexico border in El Paso, Texas. Bishop Brendan J. Cahill, Diocese of Victoria, will also be present to concelebrate Mass.

The Eucharistic celebration and press briefing will occur during the 2019 Pastoral Encounter with Migrants at the Border, which is organized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers.

As part of the 2019 USCCB Pastoral Encounter with Migrants at the Border, the bishops are scheduled to visit farmworker, migrant and refugee projects and communities in El Paso, Texas, Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Ciudad Juárez, México. Some of these projects are supported by the USCCB Subcommittee on the Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers. The Encounter will engage migrant communities at the U.S./Mexico border and support reflections and pastoral responses that address the needs of migrants through ministry.

The week-long pastoral visit will serve as a lead up to the World Day of Migrants and Refugees on Sunday, September 29th. Resources such as prayers, ideas for community action, and suggestions on how to host a welcoming meal are all available on the Justice for Immigrants website.


WHAT:   Eucharistic Celebration and Press Briefing

WHEN:   Wednesday, September 25th, 2019, 5:30 PM Mountain Time

WHERE: Centro Sin Fronteras
201 East 9th Avenue
El Paso, TX 79901

WHO:  Bishop Mark J. Seitz, Diocese of El Paso, Bishop Oscar Cantú, Diocese of San Jose, Bishop Peter Baldacchino, Diocese of Las Cruces and Rev. Robert Stark, Regional Coordinator of the Vatican’s Section on Migrant and Refugees      

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Media Contact:
Miguel Guilarte
Public Affairs, USCCB
202-541-3200

 

USCCB Poll: Americans Support Conscience Protection for Healthcare Professionals

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Two new polls have revealed widespread discrimination against healthcare workers of faith, as well as broad public support for conscience rights laws and protections. The findings were released today by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committees on Pro-Life Activities; Religious Liberty; Domestic and Social Development; and the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, as well as the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), the largest faith-based association for healthcare professionals.
 
The findings come in the wake of enforcement actions taken by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) against the University of Vermont Medical Center, which is alleged to have coerced a nurse into participating in an abortion against her beliefs.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, of Kansas City in Kansas and Chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Bishop Robert J. McManus, of Worcester and Chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty; Bishop Frank J. Dewane, of Venice, and Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop James D. Conley, of Lincoln and Chairman of the Subcommittee for Promotion and Defense of Marriage offered the following statement on the findings:

“An overwhelming majority of Americans agree: no healthcare professional should be forced to violate deeply-held beliefs in order to keep a job. The practice of medicine depends on those courageous and generous enough to serve all people—especially the poor and marginalized—with the highest ethical standards. If we exclude people of faith from the medical profession, Americans will suffer, especially those most in need.”

For more information, click here: http://www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/conscience-protection-teleconference.cfm

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Keywords: USCCB, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Bishop J. McManus, Bishop James D. Conley, Bishop Frank Dewane, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Committee for Religious Liberty, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Subcommittee Promotion and Defense of Marriage, healthcare, conscience protection

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200