President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Makes Statement at Close of Public Sessions; Fall General Assembly, Baltimore Nov. 12-14
BALTIMORE—On the final day of the public sessions of the U.S. Bishops fall general assembly in Baltimore, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, delivered the following remarks.
Cardinal DiNardo’s full address follows:
“Brothers, I opened the meeting expressing some disappointment. I end it with hope.
My hope is first of all grounded in Christ, who desires that the Church be purified and that our efforts bear fruit.
In late summer on your behalf, I expressed our renewed fraternal affection for our Holy Father. In September the Administrative Committee expressed for all of us our “love, obedience and loyalty” for Pope Francis. Now together with you today, gathered in Baltimore in Plenary Assembly, we the members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops pledge to His Holiness our loyalty and devotion in these difficult days. I am sure that, under the leadership of Pope Francis, the conversation that the global Church will have in February will help us eradicate the evil of sexual abuse from our Church. It will make our local efforts more global and the global perspective will help us here.
Brothers, you and the speakers we have heard from have given me direction and consensus. I will take it as a springboard for action. Listening is essential, but listening must inform decisive action. Let me take this moment to thank the many survivors and experts who have given us such good counsel and direction these last few days.
When the summer’s news first broke, we committed to three goals: to do what we could to get to the bottom of the Archbishop McCarrick situation; to make reporting of abuse and misconduct by bishops easier; and, to develop a means of holding ourselves accountable that was genuinely independent, duly authorized, and had substantial lay involvement.
Now, we are on course to accomplish these goals. That is the direction that you and the survivors of abuse across our country have given me for the February meeting in Rome. More than that, in the days prior to the meeting of episcopal conference presidents, the Task Force I established this week will convert that direction into specific action steps. Some of those actions steps include:
A process for investigating complaints against bishops reported through a third-party compliance hotline. We will complete a proposal for a single national lay commission and a proposal for a national network relying upon the established diocesan review boards, with their lay expertise, to be overseen by the metropolitan or senior suffragan.
Finalizing the Standards of Accountability for Bishops.
Finalizing the Protocol for Removed Bishops.
Studying national guidelines for the publication of lists of names of those clerics facing substantiated claims of abuse.
Supporting the fair and timely completion of the various investigations into the situation surrounding Archbishop McCarrick and publication of their results. We are grateful for the Holy See’s Statement of October 6 in this regard.
We leave this place committed to taking the strongest possible actions at the earliest possible moment. We will do so in communion with the Universal Church. Moving forward in concert with the Church around the world will make the Church in the United States stronger, and will make the global Church stronger.
But our hope for true and deep reform ultimately lies in more than excellent systems, as essential as these are. It requires holiness: the deeply held conviction of the truths of the Gospel, and the eager readiness to be transformed by those truths in all aspects of life.
As the nuncio reminded us on Monday, “if the Church is to reform herself and her structures, then the reform must spring from her mission of making known Christ, the Son of the Living God.” No system of governance or oversight, however excellent and necessary, suffices alone to make us, weak as we all are, able to live up to the high calling we have received in Christ.
We must recommit to holiness and to the mission of the Church.
Brothers, I have heard you today. I am confident that in unity with the Holy Father and in conversation with the Universal Church in February we will move forward.
There is more to be done, but what we have done is a sign of hope.
Commending everything to the intercession of Our Lady, we pray together . . .
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, 2018 Fall General Assembly
U.S. Bishops Approved “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love, A Pastoral Letter Against Racism"
BALTIMORE— The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved today, during its November General Assembly, the formal statement, “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love, A Pastoral Letter Against Racism." The full body of bishops approved it by a two-thirds majority vote of 241 to 3 with 1 abstention.
The USCCB Cultural Diversity in the Church Committee, chaired by Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, MSpS, of San Antonio, Texas, spearheaded the letter’s drafting and guided it through the voting process. Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, of Houma-Thibodaux, Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism and Chair of the Sub-committee on African American Affairs within the Cultural Diversity Committee, issued the following statement:
“The entire body of bishops felt the need to address the topic of racism, once again, after witnessing the deterioration of the public discourse, and episodes of violence and animosity with racial and xenophobic overtones, that have re-emerged in American society in the last few years. Pastoral letters from the full body of bishops are rare, few and far between. But at key moments in history the bishops have come together for important pronouncements, paying attention to a particular issue and with the intention of offering a Christian response, full of hope, to the problems of our time. This is such a time.”
Initiated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in August 2017, the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism was created to address the evil of racism in our society and Church, to address the urgent need to come together as a society to find solutions, and to support the implementation of the bishops’ pastoral letter on racism.
“Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love,” is a Pastoral Letter from the full body of bishops to the lay faithful and all people of goodwill addressing the evil of racism.
The pastoral letter asks us to recall that we are all brothers and sisters, all equally made in the image of God. Because we all bear the image of God, racism is above all a moral and theological problem that manifests institutionally and systematically. Only a deep individual conversion of heart, which then multiplies, will compel change and reform in our institutions and society. It is imperative to confront racism’s root causes and the injustice it produces. The love of God binds us together. This same love should overflow into our relationships with all people. The conversions needed to overcome racism require a deep encounter with the living God in the person of Christ who can heal all division.
"Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love," is not the first time the U.S. Bishops have spoken as a collectively on race issues in the United States, but it is the first time in almost 40 years.
In 1979, they approved "Brothers and Sisters to Us: A Pastoral Letter on Racism in Our Day." Among the many things, they discussed was the fact that "Racism is a sin: a sin that divides the human family, blots out the image of God among specific members of that family, and violates the fundamental human dignity of those called to be children of the same Father." The newly approved “Open Wide Our Hearts” continues the message that “Brothers and Sisters to Us” sought to convey.
The full text, as well as many accompanying pastoral resources, will be posted at http://www.usccb.org/racism. Resources will include a bulletin insert, homily help, prayer materials, background information on systemic racism, and activities for primary, secondary, and higher education classroom settings.
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, Open Wide Our Hearts, The Enduring Call to Love, pastoral letter, 2018 Fall General Assembly
BALTIMORE— At their annual fall Plenary Assembly in Baltimore, MD, the U.S Bishops participated in a consultation on the cause for sainthood of the Servant of God Sr. Thea Bowman, F.S.P.A.
Bishop Robert P. Deeley, Chairman of the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, and Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, Bishop of Jackson, Mississippi, the petitioner of the cause, facilitated the discussion. By a voice vote, the bishops indicated unanimous support for the advancement of the cause on the diocesan level.
A self-proclaimed, “old folks’ child,” Bowman, was the only child born to middle-aged parents, Dr. Theon Bowman, a physician and Mary Esther Bowman, a teacher. At birth she was given the name Bertha Elizabeth Bowman. She was born in 1937 and reared in Canton, Mississippi. As a child she converted to Catholicism through the inspiration of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity who were her teachers and pastors at Holy Child Jesus Church and School in Canton.
At an early age, Thea was exposed to the richness of her African-American culture and spirituality, most especially the history, stories, songs, prayers, customs and traditions. At the age of fifteen, she told her parents and friends she wanted to join the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and left the familiar Mississippi terrain to venture to the unfamiliar town of LaCrosse, Wisconsin where she would be the only African-American member of her religious community. At her religious profession, she was given the name, “Sister Mary Thea” in honor of the Blessed Mother and her father, Theon. Her name in religious life, Thea, literally means “God.” She was trained to become a teacher. She taught at all grade levels, eventually earning her doctorate and becoming a college professor of English and linguistics.
In 1984, Sister Thea faced devastating challenges: both her parents died, and she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Sister Thea vowed to “live until I die” and continued her rigorous schedule of speaking engagements. Even when it became increasingly painful and difficult to travel as the cancer metastasized to her bones, she was undeterred from witnessing and sharing her boundless love for God and the joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Donned in her customary African garb, Sister Thea would arrive in a wheel chair with no hair (due to the chemotherapy treatments) but always with her a joyful disposition and pleasant smile. She did not let the deterioration of her body keep her from one unprecedented event, an opportunity to address the U.S. Bishops at their annual June meeting held in 1989 at Seton Hall University in East Orange, NJ. Sister Thea spoke to the bishops as a sister having a “heart to heart” conversation with her brothers.
She explained what it meant to be African-American and Catholic. She enlightened the bishops on African-American history and spirituality. Sister Thea urged the bishops to continue to evangelize the African-American community, to promote inclusivity and full participation of African-Americans within Church leadership, and to understand the necessity and value of Catholic schools in the African- American community. At the end of her address, she invited the bishops to move together, cross arms and sing with her, “We Shall Overcome.” She seemingly touched the hearts of the bishops as evidenced by their thunderous applause and tears flowing from their eyes.
During her short lifetime (52 years), many people considered her a religious Sister undeniably close to God and who lovingly invited others to encounter the presence of God in their lives. She is acclaimed a “holy woman” in the hearts of those who knew and loved her and continue to seek her intercession for guidance and healing.
Today across the United States there are schools; an education foundation to assist needy students to attend Catholic universities; housing units for the poor and elderly, and a health clinic for the marginalized named in her honor. Books, articles, catechetical resources, visual media productions, a stage play, have been written documenting her exemplary life. Prayer cards, works of art, statues, and stained-glass windows bearing her image all attest to Sister Thea’s profound spiritual impact and example of holiness for the faithful.
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Sr. Thea Bowman, Bishop Robert P. Deeley, Committee on Canonical Affairs, Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, Diocese of Jackson, canonical consultation, canonization, Cause for Canonization.
U. S. Bishops Vote for Conference Treasurer-Elect, Chairmen of Two Committees, and Chairmen-Elect of Five Committees at Fall General Assembly in Baltimore
BALTIMORE—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) gathering in Baltimore for today's 2018 General Assembly have elected a new conference treasurer-elect along with a new chairman of the Committee for Catholic Education and Committee on National Collections, and chairmen-elect of five additional standing committees.
Bishop Gregory L. Parkes, Diocese of St. Petersburg has been elected as treasurer-elect for the USCCB on the ballot with 157 votes over Archbishop Charles C. Thompson, Archdiocese of Indianapolis, who received 87 votes.
Additionally, Bishop Michael C. Barber S.J. Diocese of Oakland, has been elected as chairman of the Committee for Catholic Education in a 142 to 103 vote over Bishop David J. Malloy, Diocese of Rockford.
Also, Archbishop Paul D. Etienne, Archdiocese of Anchorage, was also voted chairman of the Committee on National Collections in a 137 to 111 vote over Bishop Thomas A. Daly, Diocese of Spokane.
The five chairmen-elect are:
Bishop James F. Checchio, Diocese of Metuchen, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations in a 168 to 77 vote over Bishop Michael F. Olson, Diocese of Fort Worth.
Archbishop Leonard P. Blair, Archdiocese of Hartford, as chairman-elect of the Committee on Divine Worship in a 132 to 113 vote over Bishop David L. Ricken, Diocese of Green Bay.
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City as chairman-elect of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development in a 140 to 105 vote over Archbishop John C. Wester, Archdiocese of Santa Fe.
Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco was elected chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth after a tie vote of 125 votes with nominee Bishop John F. Doerfler of Marquette. Archbishop Cordileone was named chairman, per voting protocol, due to having been ordained a bishop longer.
Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville-Rodriguez, Archdiocese of Washington as chairman-elect of the Committee on Migration in a 158 to 88 vote over Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv., Diocese of Lexington.
The treasurer-elect and the five committee chairmen-elect will serve one year before beginning three-year terms at the conclusion of the bishops' 2019 Fall General Assembly.
Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Archdiocese of the Military Services, Bishop James V. Johnston Jr., Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Bishop Oscar A. Solis, Diocese of Salt Lake City, were also elected to the board of Catholic Relief Services.
The 2019 USCCB budget was also voted on by the U.S. Bishops and passed with 223 to 12 votes.
Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, November meeting, fall General Assembly, Baltimore, committees, elections, conference secretary, chairmen-elect
Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, Presidents of Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Legal Immigration Network Issued Statement Regarding Their Deep Concern About Restricting Access to Asylum
WASHINGTON— Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, Sister Donna Markham, OP, Phd, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, Jeanne Atkinson, Executive Director of Catholic Legal Immigration Network, and Sean Callahan, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services issued an statement reiterating that it is not a crime to seek asylum and urging the Administration to seek other solutions that will strengthen the integrity of the existing immigration system.
On November 9, 2018, President Trump issued a proclamation (https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/presidential-proclamation-addressing-mass-migration-southern-border-united-states/?utm_source=link) barring people arriving to the U.S./Mexico border from receiving U.S. asylum unless they request it at a U.S. port of entry, a direct contradiction of existing U.S. asylum law (see https://www.uscis.gov/ilink/docView/SLB/HTML/SLB/0-0-0-1/0-0-0-29/0-0-0-1687.html#0-0-0-192)
The full statement follows:
“While our teaching acknowledges the right of each nation to regulate its borders, we find this action deeply concerning. It will restrict and slow access to protection for hundreds of children and families fleeing violence in Central America, potentially leaving them in unsafe conditions in Mexico or in indefinite detention situations at the U.S./Mexico border. We reiterate that it is not a crime to seek asylum and this right to seek refuge is codified in our laws and in our values. We urge the Administration to seek other solutions that will strengthen the integrity of the existing immigration system, while assuring access to protection for vulnerable children and families. The Catholic Church will continue to serve, accompany and assist all those who flee persecution, regardless of where they seek such protection and where they are from.”
Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez, Committee on Migration, Sean Callahan, Catholic Relief Services, Sister Donna Markham, Catholic Charities USA, Jeanne Atkinson, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, migrants, asylum, immigration.