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Confraternity of Christian Doctrine Awarded Grants to Promote Catholic Biblical Literacy and Interpretation

WASHINGTON--This spring, the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) awarded grants in the amount of $68,266.50 for five projects that support the goals of the CCD to promote Catholic biblical literacy and Catholic biblical interpretation.

The CCD works with the Catholic Biblical Association (CBA) to offer these grants, accepting applications only from the CBA, including the organization itself, its designees, and its full and associate members. In fidelity to Dei Verbum, the CBA's purpose is to promote scholarly study in Scripture and related fields by meetings of the association, publications, and support to those engaged in such studies.

Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, Bishop of Houma-Thibodaux and Member of the CCD-CBA Liaison Committee, commented, "We are pleased to have received so many strong proposals from the members of the Catholic Biblical Association. These projects will advance biblical scholarship and support biblical literacy in parishes and classrooms."

Funding for these grants comes from the royalties received from the publication of the New American Bible and its derivative works which the CCD develops, publishes, promotes, and distributes.
The five projects sponsored by the CCD are as follows:

•  $20,766.50 to Michael G. Azar for residency in Jerusalem to study the Bible in Eastern Christian-Jewish Relations.
•  $15,000 to Jeffrey L. Cooley, David Vanderhooft, and Michael Simone, SJ, to support a conference on “The Spirit of Scholarship: Biblical and Mesopotamian Studies in the Roman Catholic Academy.”
•  $25,000 to Andrew Glicksman to develop a manuscript on the relationship between Wisdom and Spirit in the biblical and patristic tradition.
•  $5,000 to Christopher Seeman for a series of videos addressing the representation of Jews and Judaism in Catholic exegesis, homiletics, and catechesis.
•  $2,500 to Kelley Coblentz Bautch for participation in the Qumran residency to study the presentation of Salome Alexandra in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, CCD, Catholic Biblical Association, CBA, Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, CCD-CBA Liaison Committee, Dei Verbum, New American Bible, biblical scholarship, pastoral programs, biblical literacy, biblical interpretation, grants

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Media Contact:
Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

Religious Communities Receive $28 Million Toward Retirement Needs

WASHINGTON—In June, the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) distributed $28 million in financial assistance to 360 U.S. religious communities to help underwrite the care of aging members. The funding is made possible by the Retirement Fund for Religious collection, an annual, parish-based appeal benefiting some 30,000 senior religious and their communities.  

The latest appeal was held in most U.S. Catholic parishes in December 2018 and raised $27.7 million.

Known as Direct Care Assistance, the funding disbursed represents the bulk of financial assistance distributed by the NRRO. Religious communities combine these funds with their own income and savings to help meet expenses such as prescription medications and nursing care. Over the years, this support has helped many religious communities to stabilize their retirement outlooks.

However, many others continue to struggle with rising retirement costs and the growing number of elder members needing care. In response, the NRRO’s Management Committee increased the amount disbursed for Direct Care Assistance in 2019 from $25 million to $28 million, with the additional funding realized through investments and careful financial management.

“We are exceedingly grateful to concerned Catholics across the United States,” said Presentation Sister Stephanie Still, the NRRO’s executive director. “Their ongoing generosity to the Retirement Fund for Religious allows us to help communities who need immediate assistance in caring for aging members.”

Catholic bishops of the United States launched the Retirement Fund for Religious in 1988 to address the profound lack of retirement funding among the nation’s religious communities. Traditionally, Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests—known collectively as women and men religious—served for very low wages that did not include retirement benefits. Today, hundreds of religious communities lack adequate retirement savings.

The NRRO coordinates the annual Retirement Fund for Religious collection and distributes the proceeds to eligible religious communities. It also offers educational programming, services and resources that enable religious communities to evaluate and prepare for long-term retirement needs. The NRRO is sponsored by the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, Leadership Conference of Women Religious and United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Visit https://retiredreligious.org/ to learn more.
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Keywords: National Religious Retirement Office, NRRO, retirement, eldercare, U.S. bishops, Sister Stephanie Still, USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Collection

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Media Contacts:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3202

 

U.S. Bishops’ Chairmen of Migration and Domestic Justice Express Opposition to Proposed Rule that Would Lead to Family Separation and Housing Instability

WASHINGTON— Today, bishops from two committees at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) expressed their opposition to a proposed rule by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that would lead to separation or housing instability for many families. Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, and Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of Venice, FL, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, offered the following statements.

“The proposed rule would have terrible consequences for thousands of mixed-status families,” said Bishop Vásquez. “It would force these families to make a heartbreaking choice - endure family separation so that eligible members can continue to receive critical housing assistance or stay together and forfeit any such assistance. This choice between unity and stability is one no family should have to make. We urge HUD to withdraw this deeply concerning proposed rule.”

“The right to decent, safe, and affordable housing is rooted in the fundamental dignity of every person,” said Bishop Dewane. “By proposing this rule, HUD acknowledges the need for more housing assistance so that people in need won’t have to endure long waits for programs that are overwhelmed by demand. More must be done to address housing needs in this country, but it must not be done at the expense of mixed-status families.”
You can see the full comments that USCCB submitted in conjunction with Catholic Charities USA, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., and the Catholic Health Association on the proposed rulemaking by clicking here.

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Keywords: USCCB, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Committee on Migration, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Diocese of Venice

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

U.S. Bishop Chairmen Affirm SCOTUS Decision and Urge That All People Count and Should Be Included in Census

WASHINGTON—Bishop Frank Dewane, of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and Bishop Joe Vásquez, of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the Committee on Migration, issued the following statement regarding last week’s decision by the United States Supreme Court in Department of Commerce v. New York, regarding the importance of ensuring an accurate count for the U.S. Census:

“We affirm last week’s decision by the Supreme Court that the inclusion of a citizenship question must ensure genuine reasons for such inclusion. We reaffirm that all persons in the United States should be counted in the Census regardless of their immigration status and reemphasize our judgment that questions regarding citizenship should not be included in the Census. We hope that this view will prevail, whether by administrative action or judicial determination.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Joe Vásquez, Committee on Migration, United States Supreme Court, Department of Commerce v. New York, U.S. Census

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Media Relations:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

U.S. Bishops’ President and Committee Chairman Say Horrific Death of Father and Daughter at Border and Appalling Conditions for Children are Cries that Reach Heaven Itself

WASHINGTON—The cry of a father and his baby daughter who drowned crossing the Rio Grande reaches heaven itself. This unspeakable consequence of a failed immigration system, together with growing reports of inhumane conditions for children in the custody of the federal government at the border, shock the conscience and demand immediate action. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, joins Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, in calling on the federal government to hear the cry of the poor and vulnerable.

Their joint statement follows:

“We join with our Holy Father Pope Francis in immense sadness, having seen the horrific images of Oscar Martinez and his daughter Angie Valeria who drowned in the Rio Grande Valley while attempting to flee persecution and enter the United States. This image cries to heaven for justice. This image silences politics. Who can look on this picture and not see the results of the failures of all of us to find a humane and just solution to the immigration crisis? Sadly, this picture shows the daily plight of our brothers and sisters. Not only does their cry reach heaven. It reaches us. And it must now reach our federal government.

All people, regardless of their country of origin or legal status, are made in the image of God and should be treated with dignity and respect. Recent reports of overcrowded and unsanitary conditions are appalling and unacceptable for any person in U.S. custody, but particularly for children, who are uniquely vulnerable. Such conditions cannot be used as tools of deterrence. We can and must remain a country that provides refuge for children and families fleeing violence, persecution, and acute poverty.

Congress has a duty to provide additional funding to address the needs of children in federal custody. Their supplemental appropriations bill should also increase protections for immigrant children, including heightened standards and oversight for border facilities. It is possible and necessary to care for the safety of migrant children and the security of our citizens. By putting aside partisan interests, a nation as great as ours is able to do both.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez,
Committee on Migration, Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, detention facilities, U.S. Congress, appropriations bill, federal custody, human dignity

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Mark Priceman
202-541-3064

 

U.S. Bishops Approve Over $3.5 Million in Grants to Support the Church in Latin America, Including Indigenous Ministries and Environmental Education Programs

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America awarded in excess of $3.5 million in funding in the form of 215 grants to support the pastoral work of the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean. The grants were presented at the Subcommittee's meeting on June 11 in Baltimore, Maryland, and approved by teleconference on June 21, 2019.

Projects that received funding for pastoral activities include the following:

●   Support and education programs for rural lay communities in their defense of the environment in the Diocese of El Alto, Bolivia.
●   Expansion of child and youth protection training programs to prevent sexual abuse and build safe environments in the Diocese of Petropolis, Brazil. Led by the Brazilian Apostolate Association, the program will train approximately 1,000 seminarians, teachers, and school staff throughout the diocese.
●   Education and formation of youth leaders in Garifuna communities throughout rural Honduras.
●   Support to the Paraguayan Conference of Bishops’ Indigenous Ministry, as it celebrates its 50th Anniversary. The grant will fund efforts to promote the Indigenous Ministry and educate new seminarians, priests, and bishops about the reality of the indigenous peoples in Paraguay so that they can better serve these marginalized communities.
●   Education programs led by the Loyola Center in Ayacucho, Peru, to engage young people, adults, and the general population around the upcoming Amazon Synod’s goals and their importance to the local population.
●   Youth outreach in the Diocese of Paramaribo in Suriname. This project will assist the formational and spiritual development of young people, culminating in a diocesan youth festival.

“The Collection for the Church in Latin America is one tangible expression of the reality that we are one Church with one mission. Through the generosity of Catholics in the United States, communities throughout Latin America will be able to grow closer to Christ,” said Bishop Octavio Cisneros, auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn and chairman of the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America.

Other areas of funding include lay leadership training, catechesis, seminarian and religious formation, prison ministry, and youth and family ministries. Grants are funded by the annual Collection for the Church in Latin America, taken in many dioceses across the U.S. on the fourth Sunday in January.

The Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America oversees the collection and an annual grant program as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. It allocates revenue received from the Collection for the Church in Latin America as grants across Latin America and the Caribbean. More information about the Collection for the Church in Latin America, and the many grants it funds, as well as resources to promote it across the country, can be found at www.usccb.org/latin-america
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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Latin America, grants

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

U.S. Bishops Approve $1.5 Million in Funding for Pastoral Projects to Support the Church in Africa

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Africa approved 56 grants totaling just over $1.5 million in funding to support dioceses and pastoral projects across the African continent at its meeting on June 10 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Projects slated to receive funding through the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa include the following:
●   In Malawi, in response to the challenges facing marriage and family life, the National Pastoral Commission will organize training for national and diocesan leaders of Family Movements and marriage counsellors from all eight dioceses within the country to help engaged couples invest in their relationships for a lasting marriage. The grant will provide a series of five-day workshops in four different regions of Malawi to train approximately 200 leaders who will then train others at the local level to offer marriage preparation courses.
●   National pastoral coordinators and youth leaders from eight countries across Eastern Africa will receive training based on Pope Francis’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation Christus Vivit. In addition to building capacity, the workshops will aim to develop a robust five-year plan to engage young people to act as missionary disciples and agents of evangelization throughout the region.
●   The Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa will convene representatives from its eight member countries for a five-day conference to raise awareness, increase skills and improve coordination on human migration issues. In addition, they will produce and disseminate across the region a popularized version of a booklet containing model legislation and policies related to migrants and refugees using Vatican and other international sources.
●   The Inter-regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) will convene a colloquium to facilitate the study of Laudato Si’ by seminary rectors and professors of Catholic Social Teaching from nine countries across the southern African region. The grant will help fund the development of plans and the publishing of a document to help seminary staff and seminarians gain a greater understanding of Pope Francis’ teaching on care for our common home.

“The Church in Africa is pioneering many innovative programs that, without the support of the Solidarity Fund, the episcopal conferences and local dioceses may not otherwise be able to host. I am grateful for the generous support of the faithful of the United States who support the Solidarity Fund and help the Church in Africa to address the crucial pastoral issues of our day,” said Cardinal Joseph Tobin, CSsR, of Newark, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Church in Africa.
Additional areas of funding include seminarian and religious formation, evangelization, family ministries, and lay leadership training.

The Subcommittee on the Church in Africa oversees the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. It allocates revenue received from the Solidarity Fund, which is a voluntary collection, as pastoral grants to episcopal conferences and their regional associations in Africa. To learn more about the work of the Subcommittee visit www.usccb.org/africa.
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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Africa, grants

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

U.S. Bishops Provide Aid for Pastoral Programs to Aid the 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 approved $5.2 million in funding for 241 projects in 22 countries in Central and Eastern Europe at the Subcommittee's meeting on June 10 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Pastoral projects approved for funding include:
●   Support for a microenterprise training and resource center for people with disabilities in Bulgaria. This parish-based Caritas Workshop provides employment, job training, and social support to people who otherwise face discrimination in the labor market. This grant will allow the Caritas Workshop to expand its physical space, as well as the number of people it serves.
●   Construction of a church and parish house for the growing Catholic community of the Holy Mother of the Rosary parish in Nura, Kazakhstan. This community has been using an old, crumbling house for worship and catechesis. This grant will provide a suitable space for worship, catechesis, and other pastoral efforts which is large enough to accommodate the growing number of Catholics in the community.
●   Proliferation of My Fertility Matters Project in Lithuania. Begun in 1999, this pioneering fertility awareness program educates young people through puberty and adolescence as well as their parents. This grant will help educate approximately 2,000 young people in Lithuania in 2020.
●   Creation of an art therapy program for impoverished children who have suffered sexual or physical violence, or who have post-traumatic stress disorder. Led by Caritas Georgia, this project will provide dozens of children in villages in West Georgia with art therapy to help cope with stress, work through traumatic experiences, and improve their mental health.

“We are humbled and inspired by the witness and resolve of the faithful of Central and Eastern Europe who, after decades of oppression, are rebuilding their ancient church while confronting modern challenges. On behalf of the Subcommittee, I extend my sincere gratitude to Catholics of the United States for their solidarity and support,” said Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton of Steubenville, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe.

Other projects approved by the Subcommittee include scholarships and formation for church leadership, church and pastoral center construction, Catholic education renewal and development, and evangelization programs. Grants approved by the Subcommittee support the Church in countries previously oppressed by communism.

Grants are funded by the annual Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. The national date for this collection is Ash Wednesday, although dioceses may take it up on different dates. The Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe oversees the collection and an annual grant program as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. More information about the collection and who it supports can be found at www.usccb.org/ccee.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Eastern Europe, grants

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Migration Statement in Response to Imminent Administration Deportation Plans

WASHINGTON—On Monday, June 17, 2019, President Donald J. Trump announced impending immigration enforcement actions by the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Subsequent press reports on Friday, June 21 indicated that ICE has plans for an enforcement operation in major cities to remove thousands of migrant families with deportation orders.  
 
In response to the President’s statement and reports that have followed, the Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin and Chair of the USCCB Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:  

“We recognize the right of nations to control their borders in a just and proportionate manner. However, broad enforcement actions instigate panic in our communities and will not serve as an effective deterrent to irregular migration. Instead, we should focus on the root causes in Central America that have compelled so many to leave their homes in search of safety and reform our immigration system with a view toward justice and the common good. We stand ready to work with the Administration and Congress to achieve those objectives.   

During this unsettling time, we offer our prayers and support to our brothers and sisters, regardless of their immigration status, and recognizing their inherent dignity as children of God.”
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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Committee on Migration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Trump Administration, U.S. Congress, inherent dignity
 
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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

World Refugee Day 2019 to be Celebrated June 20

WASHINGTON—Today is World Refugee Day which is observed in the United States and around the world. World Refugee Day, first celebrated in 2000, is designed to increase awareness of refugees.

Currently, the world is embroiled in the biggest migratory crisis since World War II with more than 25 million refugees around the world.

“We have seen the images of the refugee crisis, and World Refugee Day calls attention to the critical need to assist our refugee brothers and sisters and make them feel a sense of welcome,” said Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration. “It is imperative for us to highlight the contributions refugees make in our communities.”

The Presidential Determination for refugee resettlement was set at an all-time low of 30,000 refugees for the current fiscal year. This comes only one year after half of the 45,000 refugees set forth by the Administration’s determination were resettled in the United States.  

USCCB/MRS, with Catholic Charities USA, will be participating in a Capitol Hill briefing on Thursday for members of Congress and their staff. The briefing will include information about the root causes forcing refugees to flee their home country and the impact of refugee resettlement in the United States. More information on World Refugee Day can be found on the Justice for Immigrants website.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe Vazquez, Committee on Migration, refugees, migrants, immigrants, human trafficking, World Refugee Day

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Mark Priceman
O: 202-541-3064