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Statement from U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace Committee on Nuclear Disarmament

WASHINGTON — The Committee on International Justice and Peace for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has released the following statement on nuclear disarmament.

During the recent visit of Pope Francis to Japan, the Holy Father took the opportunity to speak forcefully on the subject of nuclear weapons and the threat that they represent to the world. Speaking at Nagasaki, he emphasized the need for a wide and deep solidarity to bring about security in a world not reliant on atomic weaponry, stating, “A world of peace, free from nuclear weapons, is the aspiration of millions of men and women everywhere. To make this ideal a reality calls for involvement on the part of all: individuals, religious communities and civil society, countries that possess nuclear weapons and those that do not, the military and private sectors, and international organizations.” - Address of the Holy Father on Nuclear Weapons, Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Park (Nagasaki) Sunday, 24 November 2019.

Later that same day, Pope Francis spoke in Hiroshima, the other Japanese city to have known the horror of a nuclear explosion. Addressing the moral implications of nuclear weaponry he stated, “The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral …” - Address of the Holy Father, Meeting for Peace, Peace Memorial (Hiroshima) Sunday, 24 November 2019.

The words of Pope Francis serve as a clarion call and a profound reminder to all that the status quo of international relations, resting on the threat of mutual destruction, must be changed. As Bishops of the United States, we have made similar appeals in the past when we stated, “the moral task is to proceed with deep cuts and ultimately to abolish these weapons entirely.” - The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace (1993).  

So too, has the international community recognized the need to move away from the threat of mutual destruction and toward genuine and universal disarmament, as reflected in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Article VI of that Treaty, which dates back to 1968, states each party of that accord will work in good faith for the end of the nuclear arms race by seeking nuclear disarmament based in “…a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

Pope Francis has used his visit to Japan to remind the faithful and all actors, states or non-states, of the moral obligation to re-commit to the work of ridding the world of nuclear weapons and the threat that they pose. That obligation weighs on the consciences of all to find a means for complete and mutual disarmament based in a shared commitment and trust that needs to be fostered and deepened.

The Committee on International Justice and Peace is grateful to the Holy Father for this renewed effort to bring about a world of peace and justice that is not based upon fear or the threat of nuclear annihilation but justice and human solidarity. As such, we also call upon our own government to be part of and indeed renew its primary responsibility in that effort. The nations which have nuclear weapons must take the lead in mutual reduction of their weapons. The non-nuclear nations too must refrain from pursuing them if Article VI of the NPT is to be the effective instrument to bring about the elimination of all nuclear weapons.

“Come, Lord, for it is late, and where destruction has abounded, may hope also abound today that we can write and achieve a different future.” (Pope Francis, Hiroshima, November 24, 2019.)

Members of the Committee for International Justice and Peace:

 
Most Reverend David J. Malloy, Chairman
Bishop of Rockford

Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera
Bishop of Scranton

Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio
Archbishop for the Military Services

Most Reverend Frank J. Dewane
Bishop of Venice

Most Reverend Michael Mulvey
Bishop of Corpus Christi

Most Reverend William F. Murphy
Bishop Emeritus of Rockville Centre

Most Reverend Alberto Rojas
Coadjutor Bishop of San Bernardino

Most Reverend Abdallah Elias Zaidan
Bishop of Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon

 

 

 
Bishop Consultants to the Committee for International Justice and Peace:

 
Most Reverend Paul S. Coakley
Archbishop of Oklahoma City
Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano
Bishop of Bridgeport
 

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Committee on International Justice and Peace, nuclear disarmament, Japan, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

President of U.S. Bishops’ Conference Issues Statement on Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Querida Amazonia

WASHINGTON—Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement regarding the release today of Pope Francis’s Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Querida Amazonia. The exhortation follows upon the Special Synod of Bishops held in Rome from October 6-27, 2019 that focused on the Amazon region.

Archbishop Gomez’s statement follows:

“Today our Holy Father Pope Francis offers us a hopeful and challenging vision of the future of the Amazon region, one of the earth’s most sensitive and crucial ecosystems, and home to a rich diversity of cultures and peoples. The Pope reminds us that the Church serves humanity by proclaiming Jesus Christ and his Gospel of love, and he calls for an evangelization that respects the identities and histories of the Amazonian peoples and that is open to the ‘novelty of the Spirit, who is always able to create something new with the inexhaustible riches of Jesus Christ.’
 
“He also calls all of us in the Americas and throughout the West to examine our ‘style of life’ and to reflect on the consequences that our decisions have for the environment and for the poor. Along with my brother bishops here in the United States, I am grateful for the Holy Father’s wisdom and guidance and we pledge our continued commitment to evangelizing and building a world that is more just and fraternal and that respects the integrity of God’s creation.”

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Keywords: Pope Francis, apostolic exhortation, Querida Amazonia, Pan-Amazon, Synod of Bishops, Laudato Si’, encyclical, ecology, environment, Archbishop José H. Gomez, USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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Media Contacts
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
(202) 541-3200

 

U.S. Bishops’ Annual Ash Wednesday Collection Supports the Catholic 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 has announced February 26 as this year’s date for the special collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. Dioceses may elect a different date to take up the collection to avoid conflicts with local activities. The funds collected support seminaries, youth ministry, social service programs, pastoral centers, church construction and renovation, and Catholic communications projects in 28 countries in the region.

In Baranovichi, Belarus, the parish of Divine Mercy and Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn was established in November 2013 to meet the pastoral needs of the faithful in the region. Through local efforts and funding from the collection, the dream of building a parish home for the growing number of Catholics in Baranovichi is now becoming a reality.

“The Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe provides critical witness to our hope in God and the Risen Christ in places where many people still confront obstacles to practicing their faith freely and fully,” said Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton of Steubenville and chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. “Thanks to the solidarity of Americans through the collection, their ministries are supported through both prayer and financial resources with assurances that they are not alone.”

On November 10, 2019, the Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe awarded $1.6 million in funding for 100 projects in 22 countries in the region. Information about the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, including the 2018 annual report, may be found at www.usccb.org/ccee. Promotional resources in English and Spanish for use in dioceses and parishes can be found at http://www.usccb.org/catholic-giving/opportunities-for-giving/central-and-eastern-europe/index.cfm.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton, National Collections.


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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

National Marriage Week and World Marriage Day Uphold Marriage as the Foundation of the Domestic Church

WASHINGTON—National Marriage Week will be observed from February 7-14, 2020, in the United States. World Marriage Day will be observed on Sunday, February 9; it is annually celebrated on the second Sunday of February.

Each year, National Marriage Week and World Marriage Day provide the opportunity to focus on building a culture of life and love that begins with supporting, promoting, and upholding marriage and the family.

The theme chosen by the USCCB to celebrate National Marriage Week, “Stories from the Domestic Church,” was announced by Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth in a letter to his brother bishops. The theme was chosen to demonstrate how “spouses are consecrated and by means of a special grace build up the Body of Christ and form a domestic church” as Pope Francis reminded the faithful in his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (n. 67).

Among the resources provided to dioceses for National Marriage Week to use in their parishes are a preaching aid for priests, a bulletin insert or flyer prayer intentions, and a seven-day virtual marriage retreat for married couples, available in English and Spanish. These resources are available for download at https://www.foryourmarriage.org/celebrate-national-marriage-week/ in English and Spanish.

This year’s retreat features testimonies of couples who live out the call of love and form “domestic churches” within their immediate and extended families. The term “domestic church” can be used to describe how “the Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion”. (John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, n. 21) The retreat, which runs from February 7 to14, offers married couples an opportunity to pray and reflect about marriage in God’s plan.

A rosary for married couples and families in need of healing will be live-streamed from the chapel at the USCCB in Washington on the Conference’s Facebook page on Wednesday, February 12 at 3:00 pm ET.

The USCCB offers resources to uphold marriage as a lifelong union of one man and one woman through its dedicated websites ForYourMarriage.org, PorTuMatrimonio.org, and MarriageUniqueForAReason.org.

National Marriage Week USA is a national movement promoting education about the benefits of marriage for reducing poverty and benefiting children. It was launched in 2010 as part of International Marriage Week, with 20 major countries around the world now mobilizing leaders and events to strengthen marriage in their countries. For information and resources, visit: NationalMarriageWeekUSA.org. World Marriage Day was started in 1983 by Worldwide Marriage Encounter as a marriage enrichment program.  

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, National Marriage Week USA, World Marriage Sunday, marriage, family, For Your Marriage, Marriage Unique for a Reason.
 
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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

Education Committee Chairman for U.S. Bishops Applauds Administration’s Efforts to Expand Parental Choice in Education Inner City Philadelphia Catholic School Welcomes Vice President Pence

WASHINGTON - Today, Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ of Oakland, chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Michael J. Fitzgerald, auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia, expressed appreciation for the Administration’s commitment to parental choice in education following a visit by Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, to Saint Francis de Sales Catholic School in Philadelphia. The officials highlighted the success of parental choice programs across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Administration’s parental choice proposal, Education Freedom Scholarships. The two bishops issued the following joint statement:

“The right of parents to exercise freedom of choice in education is firmly rooted in the teachings of our Catholic faith. As our brother bishops wrote fifteen years ago in Renewing our Commitment to Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium, ‘Advocacy is not just the responsibility of parents and teachers, but of all members of the Catholic community. As the primary educators of their children, parents have the right to choose the school best suited for their children. The entire Catholic community should be encouraged to advocate for parental school choice and personal and corporate tax credits, which will help parents to fulfill their responsibility in educating their children.’ We applaud the goals of Education Freedom Scholarships and hope to one day see the opportunity for all families to have the freedom to select a school according to their conscience.”

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania offers two scholarship tax credit programs for low income families to gain access to the school that best fits their child’s educational needs. The first program was enacted nearly twenty years ago in 2001, and today there are currently hundreds of scholarship organizations in Pennsylvania whose donors receive a state tax credit of up to 90 percent of their donation. In Philadelphia, Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools (BLOCS) is the state’s largest scholarship program raising over $25 million last year and offering over 16,000 scholarships to low income families. In the 2017-2018 school year, over 50,000 children received scholarships across Pennsylvania.

During his visit, Vice President Pence discussed expanding this successful state model to the federal level with the administration’s Education Freedom Scholarships proposal. The proposal would provide for a $5 billion annual federal tax credit for voluntary donations to state-based scholarship programs.


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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Michael C. Barber, Bishop Michael J. Fitzgerald, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, Catholic schools, Education Freedom Scholarships, BLOCS.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200