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United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

NFP Awareness Week Begins July 23

“It’s Time! Say ‘Yes’ to God’s Plan for Married Love” is the theme of this year’s Natural Family Planning Awareness Week, a national educational campaign of the
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to celebrate God’s design for married love and the gift of life and to raise awareness of Natural Family Planning methods.
 
NFP, as the U.S. bishops wrote in “Married Love and the Gift of Life,” is supportive of Catholic beliefs about married love because it “respects the God-given power to love a new human life into being.”
 
This year’s theme invites a reflection on how now could be a very good and acceptable time to learn more about NFP and the Church’s teachings about marriage and God’s plan for married love.
 
In his address to teachers of Natural Family Planning in 1996, Pope St. John Paul II said, “The moment has come for every parish and every structure of consultation and assistance to the family and to the defense of life to have personnel available who can teach married couples how to use the natural methods. For this reason I particularly recommend that bishops, parish priests and those responsible for pastoral care welcome and promote this valuable service.
 
The dates of Natural Family Planning Awareness Week (July 23-29) highlight  the anniversary of the papal encyclical “Humanae Vitae” (July 25) that articulates Catholic beliefs about human sexuality, conjugal love and responsible parenthood. The dates also mark the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne (July 26), the parents of the Blessed Mother.
 
Resources and ideas for celebrating and promoting NFP Awareness Week are available on the USCCB’s NFP Program website.
 
For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 
  • Published in Nation

Reaction to draft Senate health care bill

After the U.S. Senate introduced a “discussion draft” of its health care bill, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Fla., chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, highlighted certain positive elements in the bill, but reiterated the need for senators to remove unacceptable flaws in the legislation that harm those most in need.

The full statement follows:

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is examining very closely the new Senate “discussion  draft” introduced today and will provide more detailed comments soon. 

It must be made clear now, however, that this proposal retains many of the fundamental defects of the House of Representatives-passed health care legislation, and even further compounds them. It is precisely the detrimental impact on the poor and vulnerable that makes the Senate draft unacceptable as written.

An acceptable health care system provides access to all, regardless of their means, and at all stages of life. Such a health care system must protect conscience rights as well as extend to immigrant families.

The bishops value language in the legislation recognizing that abortion is not health care by attempting to prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortion or plans that cover it. While questions remain about the provisions and whether they will remain in the final bill, if retained and effective this would correct a flaw in the Affordable Care Act by fully applying the longstanding and widely-supported Hyde amendment protections. Full Hyde protections are essential and must be included in the final bill.   

However, the discussion draft introduced today retains a “per-capita cap” on Medicaid funding, and then connects yearly increases to formulas that would provide even less to those in need than the House bill. These changes will wreak havoc on low-income families and struggling communities and must not be supported.

Efforts by the Senate to provide stronger support for those living at and above the poverty line are a positive step forward. However, as is, the discussion draft stands to cause disturbing damage to the human beings served by the social safety net. 

The USCCB has also stressed the need to improve real access for immigrants in health care policy, and this bill does not move the nation toward this goal. It fails, as well, to put in place conscience protections for all those involved in the health care system, protections, which are needed more than ever in our country’s health policy. The Senate should now act to make changes to the draft that will protect those persons on the peripheries of our health care system. We look forward to the process to improve this discussion draft that surely must take place in the days ahead.
 
  • Published in Nation

Moral Principles for Health Care Reform

As the U.S. Senate begins to discuss health care reform, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Fla., and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin provided moral principles to help guide policymakers in their deliberations.
 
In a letter sent on June 1, the chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stressed the "grave obligations" that Senators have "when it comes to policy that affects health care." While commending the bill passed by the House of Representatives, the American Health Care Act, for its protections for unborn children, the Bishops emphasized the "many serious flaws" in the AHCA, including unacceptable changes to Medicaid.
 
"The Catholic Church remains committed to ensuring the fundamental right to medical care, a right which is in keeping with the God-given dignity of every person, and the corresponding obligation as a country to provide for this right," the Chairmen wrote. "[T]hose without a strong voice in the process must not bear the brunt of attempts to cut costs."
 
Cardinal Dolan is chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Lori chairs the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, Bishop Dewane heads the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Vásquez is the chairman of the Committee on Migration.
 
The bishops outlined key principles for senators such as universal access, respect for life, true affordability, the need for high quality and comprehensive medical care and conscience protections.
 
If the Senate takes up the House bill as a starting point, the letter urges that lawmakers "must retain the positive elements of the bill and remedy its grave deficiencies." Specifically, the chairmen called on the Senate to: reject dramatic changes to Medicaid; retain the AHCA's life protections; increase the level of tax assistance, especially for low-income and older people; retain the existing cap on costs of plans for the elderly; protect immigrants; and add conscience protections, among other things.
 
The full letter to Congress can be found at: usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/upload/Senate-Principles-letter-Health-Care-Reform-2017-06-01.pdf.
 
 
 
  • Published in Nation

Withdrawal From The Paris Agreement

President Donald J. Trump announced June 1 that the United States will not honor the Paris agreement on climate change. The United States and China, the two largest carbon emitters, and 195 other nations, signed the agreement that was ratified in November 2016. The Paris agreement establishes that nations must reduce their carbon dioxide emissions in order to keep global temperatures well below a two-degree Celsius increase in relation to pre-industrial levels.

In the following statement, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, N.M., chairman of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops Committee on International Justice and Peace, stresses that, although the Paris agreement is not the only possible mechanism for addressing global carbon mitigation, the lack of a current viable alternative is a serious concern.   

Full statement follows:  
"The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), along with Pope Francis and the entire Catholic Church, have consistently upheld the Paris agreement as an important international mechanism to promote environmental stewardship and encourage climate change mitigation. The President's decision not to honor the U.S. commitment to the Paris agreement is deeply troubling.

The Scriptures affirm the value of caring for creation and caring for each other in solidarity. The Paris agreement is an international accord that promotes these values. President Trump's decision will harm the people of the United States and the world, especially the poorest, most vulnerable communities. The impacts of climate change are already being experienced in sea level rise, glacial melts, intensified storms, and more frequent droughts. I can only hope that the President will propose concrete ways to address global climate change and promote environmental stewardship."
The USCCB has voiced support for prudent action and dialogue on climate change since its 2001 statement: "Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good". In a letter to Congress in 2015, the U.S. Bishops, along with the presidents of Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services, encouraged the United States to sign the Paris agreement. They have since reiterated their support on several occasions. Pope Francis and the Holy See have also consistently voiced support for the Paris agreement." 
 
 
 
  • Published in World
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