"Genuine health care reform that protects the life and dignity of all is a moral imperative and a vital national obligation," said Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., as he outlined the policy priorities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on the issue of health care in a July 17 letter to Congress. The letter supported efforts to pass health care reform, but warned against inclusion of abortion.
Writing on behalf of the bishops as chairman of their Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Murphy said the bishops have advocated comprehensive health care reform for decades and recommended four criteria for fair and just health care reform: respect for human life and dignity, access for all, pluralism and equitable costs.
WASHINGTON—Writing on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., sent a letter July 16 to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, urging continuing efforts to help the people of Honduras peacefully resolve the political crisis in their country.
Bishop Hubbard, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, cited a letter of solidarity sent by Chicago Cardinal Francis George, president of the USCCB, to Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez and the Bishops' Conference of Honduras. Referring to statements by Pope Benedict XVI and the Honduran bishops themselves, Bishop Hubbard called for "dialogue and reconciliation among the Honduran people" and for international support in order "to achieve a just and peaceful resolution."
WASHINGTON—All four liturgical item actions whose votes were inconclusive at the June general assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are now approved. Support for the action items continues the work for the English translation of the new Roman Missal for use in the United States.
The deadline for the submission of ballots was July 16. These items require two-thirds (163) votes of Latin Church members for to pass, and subsequent recognition by the Holy See.
The translation of the Order of Mass II (of the Roman Missal) received 191 votes in favor, 25 against and five abstentions.
WASHINGTON—Reading the Bible should begin with a prayer to open our hearts and minds to the Word of God and end with “a prayer that this Word will bear fruit in our lives, helping us to become holier and more faithful people.” The notion of prayer being the beginning and end of reading the Bible is one of 10 points for fruitful Scripture reading for Catholics offered by Mary Elizabeth Sperry, Associate Director for Utilization of the New American Bible at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Sperry’s points, online at http://www.usccb.org/mr/mediatalk/bible_catholics.shtml, include knowing what the Bible is and what it isn’t. “The Bible is the story of God’s relationship with the people he has called to himself. It is not intended to be read as history text, a science book, or a political manifesto,” said Sperry. She also cited the importance of context, for instance how the Old and New Testaments relate to one another and how the Bible is read both within the tradition of the Church and among a community of believers.
WASHINGTON—Charity in Truth (Caritas In Veritate), Pope Benedict XVI’s third encyclical, will be available for purchase as a book July 20, in English and Spanish, according to the USCCB Publishing Office.
John Carr, Executive Director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development (JPHD), said the pope’s encyclical “offers a much needed ethical analysis of the global economic crisis and an essential moral framework on how to move forward as one human family.”
This afternoon, Friday 10 July 2009, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI received in Audience the President of the United States of America, His Excellency Mr. Barack H. Obama. Prior to the Audience, the President met His Eminence Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, and also His Excellency Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.
In the course of their cordial exchanges the conversation turned first of all to questions which are in the interests of all and which constitute a great challenge for the future of every nation and for the true progress of peoples, such as the defence and promotion of life and the right to abide by one’s conscience.
USCCB Media Blog—President Barack Obama's upcoming meeting with Pope Benedict XVI on July 10 at the Vatican marks the 27th time in history a sitting U.S. President has met with a pope. The meetings, which will now include 12 presidents and 5 popes, are replete with historical odds and ends.
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Justin Rigali, Chairman of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, reacted today to final guidelines for human embryonic stem cell research issued yesterday by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The text of his statement follows:
“In April I criticized the NIH’s draft guidelines for destructive embryonic stem cell research, saying that under these guidelines ‘federal tax dollars will be used to encourage destruction of living embryonic human beings for stem cell research – including human beings who otherwise would have survived and been born.’
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI’s new encyclical, provides helpful guidance for finding answers to the social, economic and moral questions of the contemporary world in a search for truth.
He commented July 7, when Pope Benedict issued to the world a letter that analyzes the current global economic crisis in light of traditional moral principles. The letter affirms the progress that has been made in world development yet notes that other challenges exist given newly emerging problems in the global society.
The sign of an archbishop's authority is not a scepter, but a circular stole made of lamb's wool to evoke the idea that he is, first of all, a shepherd. The stole, called a pallium, goes around the archbishop's neck and is worn over his chasuble when he celebrates the Eucharist. It has a 12-inch strip of material hanging down the front and back.
Every year on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the pope places a pallium around the neck of each prelate named in the past year to head an archdiocese. This year, five prelates from the United States: Archbishops Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit; George J. Lucas of Omaha; Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis; Timothy M. Dolan of New York; and Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans received a pallium from Pope Benedict XVI.
WASHINGTON—Representatives of the U.S. Bishops and two Orthodox Jewish associations examined the recent Note on Covenant and Mission from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop (USCCB) during a June 25 meeting in New York. The discussion was part of the regular consultation of the USCCB-Rabbinical Council of America/Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.
The bishops issued A Note on Ambiguities Contained in Reflections on Covenant and Mission, June 18, to clarify aspects of a 2002 statement by a group of Catholic and Jewish scholars associated with a standing dialogue between the USCCB and the National Council of Synagogues. Some Catholic leaders had felt the efforts in “Reflections” to recognize the validity of the Jewish covenant appeared to undercut Catholic responsibility to witness to the entirety of the Christian faith.
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chair of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote to members of the House Appropriations Committee today urging them not to fund abortions in the District of Columbia. Last week the House subcommittee considering the Financial Services appropriations bill for 2010 voted to permit direct public funding of abortion in the nation’s capital.
Cardinal Rigali said that the subcommittee’s action “effectively nullifies the Dornan amendment,” which for a total of 18 years has prevented public funding of elective abortions in the District. He said this move, “presumably the first step in a broader effort to restore such funding throughout the federal government,” is misguided for three reasons.
WASHINGTON—The seventy-sixth meeting of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation took place at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York, June 1 to 3. The session, hosted by the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), was co-chaired by Metropolitan Maximos of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh and Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
WASHINGTON—Leaders of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) said they were encouraged by provisions aimed at protecting the poor and vulnerable at home and abroad in the latest climate change legislation, but added that they were “very concerned about the inadequate funding for assisting the poorest people and countries on earth” to help them adapt to the impact of climate change.
In a June 22 letter to the U.S. House of Representatives, Albany Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Ken Hackett, president of CRS, called the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454) “groundbreaking legislation” that “begins a serious and overdue effort to face up to moral and environmental challenges and represents an important beginning.”
WASHINGTON—Care for one’s bodily health is linked to care for the body of the Church and for material creation, Methodist Bishop Timothy Whitaker said in a sermon during the second meeting of Round 7 of the Methodist-Catholic Dialogue at St. Paul’s College in Washington, June 15-17.
Bishop Whitaker, who co-chairs the dialogue with Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, Washington, drew on the body image from the New Testament to show that Christ’s redemption embraces all of creation and implies respect for the natural environments in which parishes and church agencies are located.
SAN ANTONIO—Archbishop Roberto González Nieves of San Juan, Puerto Rico, addressed the U.S. bishops on the implications of a “Continental Mission” to reignite Catholic identity and missionary zeal throughout the American continent, as urged by the Latin American bishops.
He addressed the full body of bishops June 17, at the General Assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in San Antonio. The day before, he led a workshop on the same topic accompanied by U.S. bishops who participated in the Fifth General Conference of Bishops of Latin America in Aparecida, Brazil, May 13-31, 2007.
WASHINGTON—In a letter to leaders participating in the G8 Summit in Italy, July 8-10, the presidents of the Catholic bishops’ conferences of the G8 nations urged Summit leaders to “take concerted actions to protect poor persons and assist developing countries.”
The bishops observed that poor persons and nations have contributed the least to creating the economic crisis and to the human cause of global climate change, but in both cases are likely to suffer tragic consequences.
The mission of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is to support the ministry of bishops with an emphasis on evangelization, by which the bishops exercise in a communal and collegial manner certain pastoral functions entrusted to them by the Lord Jesus of sanctifying, teaching, and governing.
This mission calls the Conference to
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