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Reaction: Decision to End DACA

The president and vice president along with chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have issued a statement denouncing the Trump Administration’s termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals  program after six months.

The following statement from USCCB President Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, along with USCCB Vice President Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angles, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chairman, Committee on Migration, and Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, chairman of the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees, and Travelers says the “cancellation of the DACA program is reprehensible.”

More than 780,000 youth received protection from the DACA program since its inception by the Department of Homeland Security in 2012. DACA provided no legal status or government benefits but did provide recipients with temporary employment authorization to work in the United States and reprieve from deportation.

The full statement follows:

“The cancellation of the DACA program is reprehensible. It causes unnecessary fear for DACA youth and their families.These youth entered the U.S. as minors and often know America as their only home. The Catholic Church has long watched with pride and admiration as DACA youth live out their daily lives with hope and a determination to flourish and contribute to society: continuing to work and provide for their families, continuing to serve in the military, and continuing to receive an education. Now, after months of anxiety and fear about their futures, these brave young people face deportation. This decision is unacceptable and does not reflect who we are as Americans.

The Church has recognized and proclaimed the need to welcome young people: ‘Whoever welcomes one of these children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me' (Mark 9:37). Today, our nation has done the opposite of how Scripture calls us to respond. It is a step back from the progress that we need to make as a country. Today’s actions represent a heartbreaking moment in our history that shows the absence of mercy and good will, and a short-sighted vision for the future. DACA youth are woven into the fabric of our country and of our Church, and are, by every social and human measure, American youth.

We strongly urge Congress to act and immediately resume work toward a legislative solution. We pledge our support to work on finding an expeditious means of protection for DACA youth.

As people of faith, we say to DACA youth – regardless of your immigration status, you are children of God and welcome in the Catholic Church.  The Catholic Church supports you and will advocate for you.”
  • Published in Nation

U.S. Bishops Call for Solidarity, Conversion

In anticipation of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on September 1, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued a statement echoing Pope Francis’ call that all people, “Christians or not,…should be united in showing mercy to the earth as our common home.”  

The letter emphasizes the call to conversion and the role of mercy in caring for the environment, building on the Pope’s message last year. “Showing mercy to our common home first requires a personal and institutional examination of conscience,” said Bishops Dewane and Cantú.

The bishops recognized the need for collective action and restated their call for an “energy revolution,” stressing that we must especially “remember those who labor in the energy industry, from coal miners and solar engineers to legislators and scientists.”

The message also recognizes September 1 as the first day of the “Season of Creation,” which concludes on October 4 with the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. The bishops acknowledge that this “is a privileged time for all persons of faith to consider spiritual and corporal acts of mercy towards our common home and all those living in it, so that this may also become a ‘season of mercy’ within our families, our communities and our world.”  

Full text: Statement on World Day of Prayer for Creation

 
  • Published in Nation

Collection to help Harvey victims

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice-president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has called on the bishops to consider taking a special collection to support victims of Hurricane Harvey and to provide pastoral and rebuilding support to impacted Dioceses.
 
The collection will be taken in the statewide Diocese of Burlington Sept 2-3 or 9-10.
 
Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne has requested that the special collection be taken at all 73 Vermont Catholic parishes. Funds given to the collection will support the humanitarian and recovery efforts of Catholic Charities USA and will provide pastoral and rebuilding support to impacted Dioceses through the conference of Catholic Bishops.
 
“God works through us to serve the greater community, especially in times of great need,” the bishop said. “We are called to be generous to the victims of Hurricane Harvey just as so many responded to our needs in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.  Our prayers go out to the families that have lost loved ones and to all who have lost homes and businesses.”
 
 
  • Published in Nation

Bishops form new body to address 'sin of racism' that 'inflicts' nation

Saying there is an "urgent need" to address "the sin of racism" in the country and find solutions to it, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has established a new Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism and named one of the country's African-American Catholic bishops to chair it.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, initiated the committee Aug. 23 "to focus on addressing the sin of racism in our society, and even in our church, and the urgent need to come together as a society to find solutions."

He appointed Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Catholic Education, to chair the new ad hoc committee.

"Recent events have exposed the extent to which the sin of racism continues to inflict our nation," Cardinal DiNardo said in a statement. "The establishment of this new ad hoc committee will be wholly dedicated to engaging the church and our society to work together in unity to challenge the sin of racism, to listen to persons who are suffering under this sin, and to come together in the love of Christ to know one another as brothers and sisters."

The naming of members to serve on the new body will be finalized in coming days, the USCCB said in an announcement. It added that the committee's mandate "will be confirmed at the first meeting, expected very shortly."

"I look forward to working with my brother bishops as well as communities across the United States to listen to the needs of individuals who have suffered under the sin of racism and together find solutions to this epidemic of hate that has plagued our nation for far too long," Bishop Murry said in a statement.

"Through Jesus' example of love and mercy, we are called to be a better people than what we have witnessed over the past weeks and months as a nation. Through listening, prayer and meaningful collaboration, I'm hopeful we can find lasting solutions and common ground where racism will no longer find a place in our hearts or in our society."

The new ad hoc committee also will "welcome and support" implementation of the U.S. bishops' new pastoral letter on racism, expected to be released in 2018. In 1979, the bishops issued a pastoral in racism titled "Brothers and Sisters to Us," in which they addressed many themes, but the overall message then as today was "racism is a sin."

Creation of a new formal body that is part of the USCCB -- formed on the USCCB Executive Committee's "unanimous recommendation" -- speaks to how serious the U.S. Catholic Church leaders take the problem of racism in America today.

It is the first ad hoc committee the bishops have established since instituting the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty in 2011 to address growing concerns over the erosion of freedom of religion in America. The federal governments mandate that all employers, including religious employers provide health care coverage of artificial contraceptives and abortifacients was one of the key issues that prompted formation of the committee.

Chaired by Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, that body was elevated to full USCCB committee status during the bishops' spring assembly in Indianapolis this past June.

In addition to the Executive Committee's recommendation, the USCCB said, the decision to initiate the new Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism also was made in consultation with members of the USCCB's Committee on Priorities and Plans.

The formation of the ad hoc committee also follows the conclusion of the work of the Peace in Our Communities Task Force. The task force was formed in July 2016 by then-Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, who was then USCCB president. He initiated it in response to racially related shootings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as well as in Minneapolis and Dallas.

To head it he named Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta, one of the nation's African-American prelates who was the first black Catholic bishop to be president of the USCCB (2001-2004).

The task force's mandate was to explore ways of promoting peace and healing around the country. Archbishop Kurtz also wanted the bishops to look for ways they could help the suffering communities, as well as police affected by the incidents.

On Nov. 14, 2016, during the USCCB's fall general assembly, Archbishop Gregory told the bishops to issue, sooner rather than later, a document on racism.

"A statement from the full body of bishops on racism is increasingly important at this time," said the archbishop in reporting on the work of the task force.

He said the president of the bishops' conference and relevant committees need to "identify opportunities for a shorter-term statement on these issues, particularly in the context of the postelection uncertainty and disaffection."

He also urged prayer, ecumenical and interfaith collaboration, dialogue, parish-based and diocesan conversations and training, as well as opportunities for encounter.

The bishops' 1979 pastoral, now in its 19th printing, declared: "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."
 
  • Published in Nation

U.S. Bishops chairman responds to repeal bill defeat

WASHINGTON—In response to last night’s Senate vote on the “skinny repeal” bill, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, has issued the following statement:    
 
“Despite the Senate’s decision not to pass legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act last night, the task of reforming the healthcare system still remains. The current healthcare system is not financially sustainable, lacks full Hyde protections and conscience rights, and is inaccessible to many immigrants.  Inaction will result in harm for too many people.
 
A moment has opened for Congress, and indeed all Americans, to set aside party and personal political interest and pursue the common good of our nation and its people, especially the most vulnerable. In order to be just, any bill for consideration must:
 
  • Protect the Medicaid program from changes that would harm millions of struggling Americans.
  • Protect the safety net from any other changes that harm the poor, immigrants, or any others at the margins.
  • Address the real probability of collapsing insurance markets and the corresponding loss of genuine affordability for those with limited means. 
  • Provide full Hyde Amendment provisions and much-needed conscience protections. 
  • Any final agreement that respects human life and dignity, honors conscience rights, and ensures that everyone can access health care that is comprehensive, high quality, and truly affordable deserves the support of all of us.
 
The greatness of our country is not measured by the well-being of the powerful but how we have cared for the ‘least of these.’  Congress can and should pass health care legislation that lives up to that greatness.”

 
  • Published in Nation

Going beyond administration

While preparing for the Convocation of Catholic Leaders, I paused on a statement describing a design principle for the event. In calling for missionary discipleship, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in the participant guidebook cites Pope Francis' caution that "'mere administration' can no longer be enough."
 
As I had held administrative posts for almost a quarter of a century with 20 years in Catholic ministries, I took this as one of those learning moments to stop and think.
Simplified, administration is the coordination of people and their efforts to fulfill the purpose of an entity through the management of roles, activities, resources and processes. The goal of administration is to enable ministry while the purpose for any faith-based ministry is to help people know, love and serve God.
 
I would be the last person to cast administration as the polar opposite of ministry. The word "administration" embeds the concept of ministration. Few ministries can flourish without able administration.
 
Think about the cases where necessary services and outreach are held back by inefficient or incoherent processes, poorly trained or guided personnel, as well as insufficient or suboptimal use of resources. The Acts of the Apostles makes clear that the good works of charity and care for community require dedicated and organized administration.
 
While both are necessary, administration and ministry can pull in different directions that call for different actions and behaviors. Minimally, pressures for attending to tasks, deadlines, crises of one sort or another can hijack the time, energies, sensitivities and patience needed to attend to the feelings, needs and personal circumstances of the people involved.  
 
I learned this during my last month at Catholic Relief Services when I opened my calendar to anyone who wanted to have lunch. These conversations, unlike routine meetings, were not tethered to the usual organizational menus of problem-solving or brainstorming.
 
People shared stories of their backgrounds, why they chose to go into international development, their personal triumphs and losses, what was difficult about change for them, how they have grown, their hopes for CRS and how we could make more room for the ideas of our young people. My colleagues asked about me: What was difficult for me, what did I see in the organization, what did I hope for, what did I think we achieved together and what advice would I like them to hold in their hearts?
 
These conversations reveal the essence of people: who they are in the ways that matter to them; their joys and sometimes their struggles; what gives them meaning and joy; how they want to contribute and what holds them back. People were seeking to be known, not in resume entries that denote qualifications, but in human terms that foster understanding -- the first building blocks for engagement, acceptance and friendship.
 
The right brain kicks in to seek expressions toward bonded-ness and relationships without which we would not be fully human nor could we have the hunger for God and his people implicit to ministry.
 
A professional hazard to administrative roles is that these are based on power entangled with evaluative thinking that does not shut itself off. These inhibit conversations. Not only will people refrain from telling you their concerns; they also hold back on positive feedback and empathy for those in authority for fear that these may be misconstrued.
 
It is hard to imagine how one would find the extra time and the appropriate space that allows for both emotional bonding and professional objectivity. I would venture to say that had I appreciated the significance of these needs, I would have worked hard to make time and find ways to accommodate these.
 
It has to be done when we recognize that this is not really a choice: that our colleagues deserve nothing less, that empathy would wither or become brittle in their absence and that we are not really supporting God's ministry without channeling His eyes, ears and heart for the other.
- - -
Woo is distinguished president's fellow for global development at Purdue University and served as the CEO and president of Catholic Relief Services from 2012 to 2016.
 
  • 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

World Refugee Day

The annual observance of World Refugee Day June 20 "provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the global refugee situation and the success of resettled refugees," an official with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a June 19 statement.
 
"World Refugee Day is a day where we highlight the achievements of refugees. Refugees are like all people -- unique children of God," said Bill Canny, executive director of the USCCB's Migration and Refugee Services. "We hope to see this year's celebration of World Refugee Day create greater awareness and appreciation on both the community and national level."
 
According to a just-released report from the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, "20 people are newly displaced every minute of the day."
 
"Over the past two decades, the global population of forcibly displaced people has grown substantially from 33.9 million in 1997 to 65.6 million in 2016, and it remains at a record high," said the report from the United Nations' refugee agency.
 
"The growth was concentrated between 2012 and 2015," it continued, "driven mainly by the Syrian conflict along with other conflicts in the region such as in Iraq and Yemen, as well as in sub-Saharan Africa, including Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, and Sudan."
 
"The world is experiencing the largest forced migration crisis since World War II," Canny said.
 
The USCCB has provided educational materials and other resources about refugees at justiceforimmigrants.org/take-action/world-refugee-day.
 
This is the 17th year that the United Nations has officially recognized June 20 as World Refugee Day. Many nations around the globe celebrated the observance before 2001.
 
  • Published in World
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