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Updated: 5 hours 12 min ago

U. S. Bishops to Vote for Conference Secretary, Chairman and Chairmen-Elect of Five Committees at Fall General Assembly in Baltimore, Nov. 13-14

10/19/2017 - 6:45am

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will be voting for the conference secretary, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty and chairmen-elect of five additional standing committees at the upcoming annual 2016 General Assembly taking place November 13-14 in Baltimore, Maryland. The five committee chairmen will serve for one year as chairmen-elect before beginning a three-year term at the conclusion of the bishops' 2018 Fall General Assembly.  

Nominees for the Conference Secretary, Chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty and Chairman-elect of each committee are as follows:

Conference Secretary:

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City
Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, Archdiocese of Detroit

Committee on Communications:

Bishop John O. Barres, Diocese of Rockville Centre
Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Diocese of Arlington

Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church:

Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux
Bishop Nelson J. Pérez, Diocese of Cleveland

Committee on Doctrine:

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend
Bishop Daniel E. Thomas, Diocese of Toledo

Committee on National Collections:

Bishop Joseph R. Cistone, Diocese of Saginaw
Archbishop Michael O. Jackels, Archdiocese of Dubuque

Committee on Pro-Life Activities:

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archdiocese of Chicago
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas

Committee on Religious Liberty - Chairman:

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Archdiocese of Louisville
Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, Archdiocese of Milwaukee

Coverage of the meeting is open to credentialed media. Sessions open to the media will be Monday, November 13, and Tuesday, November 14. Media conferences will follow the close of each open session. Reporters interested in covering the meeting can download a credential application form at:  http://www.usccb.org/about/public-affairs/upload/application-news-media-credentials.pdf

Please submit credential form by November 7. You can submit your form via email to USCCB Media Relations, fax (202) 541-3173, or mail:

Address:
November Meeting Credentials
Office of Media Relations
3211 4th St. NE
Washington, DC 20017-1194

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, November meeting, Fall General Assembly, Baltimore, committees, elections, conference secretary, committee chairmen-elect

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Pope Names Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Siegel as New Bishop of Evansville

10/18/2017 - 5:55am

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Bishop Joseph M. Siegel, up until now Auxiliary Bishop of Joliet, as the new bishop of Evansville, Indiana.

The announcement was publicized in Washington on October 18 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.  

Bishop Siegel was named Auxiliary Bishop of Joliet, Illinois, by Pope Benedict XVI on October 28, 2009 and was ordained a bishop on January 19, 2010 by Bishop Peter Sartain.

He was born in Lockport Township on July 18, 1963 and is the youngest of nine children. He attended St. Meinrad Seminary, Indiana, where he completed his college education.  He was then sent to the North American College in Rome (1984-1988), attending the Gregorian and Angelicum Universities.

Bishop Siegel was ordained a priest for the Joliet Diocese in 1988 and then completed his Licentiate in Sacred Theology at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein, Illinois.

Assignments after ordination include: associate pastor, St. Isidore Parish, Bloomingdale, Illinois, 1988-1994; associate pastor, St. Mary Immaculate Parish, Plainfield, Illinois, 1994-1998; parochial vicar, St. Mary Nativity Church, Joliet, Illinois, 1998-2000; parochial vicar, Cathedral of St. Raymond, Joliet, Illinois, 2000-2004; pastor, Visitation Parish, Elmhurst, Illinois, 2004-2009. In July 2011, Bishop R. Daniel Conlon appointed Bishop Siegel as his Vicar General.

Bishop Siegel has served as a member and chairman of the Presbyteral Council and was appointed to the Diocesan Board of Consultors. He also served as director of Continuing Formation for Priests, a member of the Diocesan Vocation Board, the Priest Personnel Board and Dean of Eastern Will County.

At the Catholic Conference of Illinois, he served on the Executive Committee and was chairman of the Catholics for Life Department. He chaired the Steering Committee for the Joliet Diocesan Year of the Eucharist and Eucharistic Congress and has been a member of the Bishops' Respect Life Advisory Board. He is a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus and a member of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.

The Diocese of Evansville, Indiana, comprises 5,010 square miles. It has a total population of 512,870 people of which 76,218, or 15 percent, are Catholic.

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Keywords: Pope Francis, Bishop Joseph Siegel, Diocese of Joliet, Diocese of Evansville, bishop appointment, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

USCCB Migration and Refugee Services Release Report Recommending Extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador and Honduras

10/17/2017 - 8:43am

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office of Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB/MRS), released its report today, entitled Temporary Protected Status: A Vital Piece of the Central American Protection and Prosperity Puzzle recommending the U.S. government extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador and Honduras.

Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, in a letter of introduction of the report states: "As this report indicates, there is ample evidence to suggest that current TPS recipients from Honduras and El Salvador cannot return safely to their home country at this time."

A delegation from MRS/USCCB traveled to Honduras and El Salvador, from August 13 to 19, 2017, to examine conditions in both countries regarding Honduras and El Salvador's ability to adequately receive and integrate the possible return of existing TPS recipients. USCCB/MRS Committee Member, Auxiliary Bishop David O'Connell of Los Angeles, California, led the delegation and was accompanied by MRS staff from Children's Services, Policy and Public Affairs, and the National Collections offices.

Currently, El Salvador and Honduras have Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from the U.S. government for certain nationals living in the United States, and the review of TPS is shortly to be re-evaluated by the U.S. government. It is estimated that there are approximately 200,000 current TPS recipients from El Salvador and 57,000 TPS recipients from Honduras living in the United States. TPS recipients living in the United States are parents to over 270,000 U.S. citizen children and are very integrated into American daily life.

Bishop Vásquez states in his introductory letter: "As you read this report, I urge you to keep the people of El Salvador and Honduras, including TPS recipients, in your thoughts and prayers. I encourage you to engage the Administration in requesting a TPS extension for El Salvador and Honduras . . . and to reach out to your elected Congressional leaders to request they support a legislative solution for TPS recipients who have been in the United States for many years."

Resources and information about Temporary Protected Status and the report are available on the Justice for Immigrants website www.justiceforimmigrants.org. The information includes a backgrounder on the temporary protected status and a toolkit for Catholic leaders that offers ideas on how to show their support and solidarity with TPS recipients.

The full text of the report can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/about/migration-policy/fact-finding-mission-reports/upload/el-salvador-honduras-report-20171016.pdf.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe Vasquez, Committee on Migration, Migration and Refugee Services, Temporary Protected Status, TPS recipients, TPS beneficiaries, Congress, Honduras, El Salvador, refugees, migration, prayers, legislative solution

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Pope Accepts Resignation of Auxiliary Bishop of Newark

10/16/2017 - 5:27am

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the retirement of Bishop John W. Flesey from the office of auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Newark. 

The announcement was publicized in Washington on October 16 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.  

Bishop Flesey has served in the Archdiocese since 1969.

As required by Canon Law, Bishop Flesey submitted to Pope Francis his letter offering his retirement having reached 75 years of age.

The Most Reverend John Walter Flesey, STD was born in Jersey City, NJ in 1942. He attended Immaculate Conception Seminary until 1969, when he was ordained.

Bishop Flesey's first assignment was to St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish, Plainfield, after which he earned an STL degree in Spiritual Theology from the Gregorian University in Rome, and a Doctorate of Sacred Theology from the University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. 

He also holds an MS degree in Pastoral Counseling from Iona College and an STB from Catholic University of America.

He has served the Archdiocese as a member of the faculty, Rector and Dean, and Spiritual Director of Immaculate Conception Seminary, Seton Hall University, as well as Director of Ongoing Formation for the Priests of the Archdiocese of Newark.

Bishop Flesey was named Titular Bishop of Allegheny and Auxiliary Bishop of Newark in May 2004. He currently serves as Regional Bishop of Bergen County and Pastor of Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Franklin Lakes. 

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Keywords: Pope Francis, Bishop John W. Flesey, Archdiocese of Newark, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio.  

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops Chairman Expresses Concern, Calls for Careful Implementation of Health Care Executive Order

10/14/2017 - 8:56am

WASHINGTON—On October 13, President Trump signed an Executive Order on health care, and news about the Administration ending subsidies to insurers to help lower-income individuals was confirmed by Administration officials around the same time. In light of these developments, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called for the Administration and Congress to protect low income people, as well as enact comprehensive reform for the sake of the most vulnerable.

Bishop Dewane's full statement follows:

"President Trump signed an executive order yesterday intended to allow the sale of health insurance across state lines, and expanding certain insurance options and arrangements. The USCCB will closely monitor the implementation and impacts of this executive order by the relevant administrative agencies. 

In general, robust options for people to obtain health coverage, as well as flexibility and approaches aimed at increased affordability, are important strategies in health care. However, in implementing this executive order, great care must be taken to avoid risk of additional harm to those who now receive health care coverage through exchanges formed under the Affordable Care Act.  

Administration officials also confirmed that subsidies to insurers designed to help low income individuals afford insurance would be ending. This is of grave concern. The Affordable Care Act is, by no means, perfect, but as leaders attempt to address impending challenges to insurance market stability and affordability, they must not use people's health care as leverage or as a bargaining chip. To do so would be to strike at the heart of human dignity and the fundamental right to health care. The poor and vulnerable will bear the brunt of such an approach.

Ultimately, this Executive Order ignores many more significant problems in the nation's health care system. Congress must still act on comprehensive reform in order to provide a sustainable framework for health care, providing lasting solutions for the life, conscience, immigrant access, market stability, and underlying affordability problems that remain unaddressed."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, President Donald Trump, Executive Order, Health Care, Congress, health insurance, Affordable Care Act, subsidies, insurance access, lasting solutions. 

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane 
202-541-3200

Attorney General’s Religious Liberty Guidance Protects Freedom of Faith-Based Organizations

10/12/2017 - 1:00pm

WASHINGTON–On Friday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum for all executive departments and agencies on the subject of "Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty". Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has offered the following statement in response:

"The Attorney General's guidance helpfully reaffirms that the law protects the freedom of faith-based organizations to conduct their operations in accordance with their religious mission. The guidance also reaffirms that the federal government should never exclude religious organizations from competing on an equal footing for government grants or contracts, and religious entities should never be forced to change their religious character in order to participate in such programs. We appreciate the Attorney General's clarification of these matters, which will protect faith-based organizations' freedom to serve all those in need, including the homeless, immigrants, refugees, and students attending religious schools."

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Keywords: Archbishop William Lori, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, U.S. Department of Justice, religious liberty, religious freedom

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops Chairman Calls for Prayer for those Impacted by California Wildfires

10/12/2017 - 7:55am

WASHINGTON—Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, asked for prayers for favorable weather and assistance for those impacted by devastating fires raging through Northern California.

Bishop Dewane's full statement follows:

"Do not fear: I am with you;
do not be anxious: I am your God.

I will strengthen you, I will help you,

I will uphold you with my victorious right hand
."
– Isaiah 41:10

Today we ask for the intercession of Almighty God as wildfires rage in Northern California. Already, these blazes have killed over 20 people, destroyed hundreds of houses and other buildings, and forced thousands of individuals to leave their homes and livelihoods behind in uncertainty. High winds and dry conditions have greatly increased the danger for the people in this region.

As brave men and women respond to these disasters, battling the fires and helping people to safety, we call upon God for improved weather, for the blessing of rain and favorable winds, to assist them. We pray that those who are missing or are still in harm's way will be found and protected. May God grant eternal rest to those who have died, and bring them into glory with him forever.

We pray, too, for generosity, care, and concern from neighbors and surrounding communities for those who are grieving and displaced. Though we may be weary from all that has taken place around the country in recent days, we know that God cannot be outdone in generosity and charity. May he provide us with new wellsprings of love to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters who are hurting so deeply today.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, wildfires, natural disaster, Northern California, prayer, solidarity.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


Pope Francis Appoints New Auxiliary Bishop of Miami

10/12/2017 - 5:50am

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has appointed Father Enrique Delgado as a new auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Miami, Florida. Father Delgado is a priest of the Archdiocese of Miami and currently serves as pastor of St. Katharine Drexel Church in Weston, Florida.

The appointment was publicized in Washington on October 12 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Father Delgado was born December 26, 1955 in Lima, Peru. He earned a master's degree in economics with a concentration in finance and accounting from the University of Lima in Peru. He worked for several years managing a company before immigrating to the United States. He entered seminary in the Archdiocese of Miami in 1991.

He completed his studies in philosophy at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami and finished a master's degree in theology in 1995 and a master of divinity in 1996 from St. Vincent de Paul Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida.

He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Miami on June 29, 1996, in a Holy Mass in Peru officiated by Monsignor Agustin Roman.

Assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar at St. Agnes Church, Key Biscayne, Florida, 1996-1999; parochial vicar, Nativity Catholic Church, Hollywood, Florida, 1999-2003; pastor, St. Justin the Martyr Catholic Church, Key Largo, Florida, 2003-2010; pastor, St. Katharine Drexel Church, Weston, Florida, 2014-present. 

Father Delgado finished his doctoral studies in practical theology on December 19, 2015 from St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Florida.

The Archdiocese of Miami, Florida, comprises 4,958 square miles. It has a total population of 4,317,591 people of which 496,528, or 12 percent, are Catholic.

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Keywords: Pope Francis, Reverend Enrique Delgado, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nunciature, Archdiocese of Miami.  

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

National Vocations Awareness Week Set for November 5-11

10/11/2017 - 7:47am

WASHINGTON—The Catholic Church in the United States will celebrate National Vocations Awareness Week, November 5-11, 2017. This annual event is a special time for parishes in the United States to actively foster and pray for a culture of vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, and consecrated life.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin, the Chair of the US Bishops' Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations, reminds us that each of us in the Church has a key role to play in the witness of our vocation in ordinary circumstances, "As we go about our everyday life and most especially this week, we must keep vocations in our prayers, while, at the same time, being a mindful witness with our own vocation. We may never know how our lives may have an impact on someone else's story. Simply living out our call as disciples of Jesus Christ fully and joyfully in the world bears witness to the love of Christ as He generously bestows on each of us our own personal call."

National Vocations Awareness Week, sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations, is designed to help promote vocation awareness and to encourage young people to ask the question: "To what vocation in life is God calling me?" Parish and school communities across the nation are encouraged to include, during the first full week in November, prayer and special activities that focus on vocation awareness.  

Observance of Vocation Awareness Week began in 1976 when the U.S. bishops designated the 28th Sunday of the year for the celebration. It was later moved to Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in January. The USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations moved the observance of National Vocation Awareness Week to November to engage Catholic schools and colleges more effectively in this effort.  

More information and resources for National Vocations Awareness Week, including a prayer card, homily aids, suggested prayers of the faithful and bulletin-ready quotes are available online at: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/national-vocation-awareness-week.cfm.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, vocations, National Vocation Awareness Week, priesthood, religious life, vocation, diaconate, Catholic education, young people, ministry, prayer

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishop Chairman Statement on Immigration Principles and Need for Congressional Action to Protect Dreamers

10/10/2017 - 12:03pm

WASHINGTON—On Sunday evening, the White House released Immigration Principles and Policies that are a proposed list of priorities to be considered when working on legislative protection for Dreamers. Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the Committee on Migration, issued the following statement urging Congress to "ensure true protection for Dreamers once and for all."

Full statement follows:

"The Administration's Immigration Principles and Policies do not provide the way forward for comprehensive immigration reform rooted in respect for human life and dignity, and for the security of our citizens. They are not reflective of our country's immigrant past, and they attack the most vulnerable, notably unaccompanied children and many others who flee persecution. Most unfortunately, the principles fail to recognize that the family is the fundamental building block of our immigration system, our society, and our Church.

"Since July, Congress has introduced legislative solutions for Dreamers, including the Dream Act. The Administration should focus attention on ensuring that a legislative solution for Dreamers is found as soon as possible. Every day that passes without that solution, these youth experience growing apprehension for their futures and their families. Each passing day brings us all a step closer to March 2018, when DACA recipients will begin to lose legal work privileges, and far worse, face the threat of deportation and family separation.

"For this reason, we exhort Congress to take up legislation and move forward promptly to ensure true protection for Dreamers once and for all. Together with so many others of good will, we shall continue to offer welcome and support to these remarkable young people, and we shall not stop advocating for their permanent protection and eventual citizenship."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Committee on Migration, Immigration Principles and Policies, DREAMERS, Dream Act, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, U.S. Congress, young people, citizenship.  

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane 
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops to Meet November 13-14 in Baltimore; Address from Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Report from Bishops Working Group on Immigration, Centennial Anniversary

10/10/2017 - 10:43am

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will meet in Baltimore, November 13-14, for their fall general assembly. During the assembly, the bishops will elect a new secretary for the Conference as well as five committee chairs. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, will also give his first address to the body of bishops as President of the USCCB as he completes the first year of his three-year term. In addition, the body of bishops will also hear an update from the bishops working group on immigration.

The bishops will vote for new chairmen-elect of the following six USCCB committees: Committee on Communications, Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, Committee on National Collections, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Committee on Doctrine, and a Chairman for the Committee for Religious Liberty. Bishop nominees for the board of directors for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) will also elected.

The assembly will vote on the ICEL Gray Book translation of the Order of Baptism of Children text which reflects the translation principles introduced in Liturgian authenticam. They will also discuss and vote on the Conference's 2018 budget.

There will also be a voice vote on the cause for canonization for a Lakota holy man and medicine man turned Catholic teacher named Nicholas Black Elk, Sr., sought by Bishop Robert Gruss of Rapid City.

Several reports will also be given including a report from the National Advisory Council, as well as a report from Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and from Bishop Frank Dewane, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. Bishop George Murry, Chairman of the newly established Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, will also give an update report. The bishops will also hear updates on the Share the Journey campaign launched by Pope Francis on September 27 and reports from Sean Callahan, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services as well as Sister Donna Markham, OP, Ph.D., President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA).

An update will also be given on the Convocation of Catholic Leaders in America that took place July 1-4, 2017 in Orlando, Florida, as well as reports on preparations for the upcoming V National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry and the 2018 Synod for Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment. The Most Reverend José Domingo Ulloa Mendieta, OSA, Archbishop of Panama will also present on preparations for the 2019 World Youth Day.

On Sunday evening, a Mass will also be held in downtown, Baltimore. The Mass will mark the Centennial Anniversary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Conference will take place at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront hotel.

Coverage of the bishops' meeting is open to credentialed media. Sessions open to the media will be Monday, November 13, and Tuesday, November 14. There will be media conferences after each open session. Reporters interested in covering the meeting can download a credential application form at:  http://www.usccb.org/about/public-affairs/upload/application-news-media-credentials.pdf.

Note: Please submit application form by no later than November 7, via email to USCCB Media Relations, fax (202) 541-3173, or by mail:  

November Meeting Credentials
Office of Media Relations
3211 4th St. NE
Washington, DC 20017-1194

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Fall General Assembly, November meeting, Baltimore, committees, elections, chairmen, vote, USCCB centennial.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

USCCB Domestic Justice Chairman Calls for Renewed Carbon Emissions Solutions

10/10/2017 - 10:36am

WASHINGTON—After Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt announced that the EPA will formally seek to revoke the Clean Power Plan, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, expressed disappointment about the decision and called on leaders to "hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor."

The full statement follows:

"The USCCB, in unity with Pope Francis, strongly supports environmental stewardship, and has for several years called on our nation to help curb carbon emissions through a national carbon standard.  Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Pruitt announced that the EPA will now take steps to revoke the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the national program designed to reduce carbon emissions from power plants by 32% in relation to 2015 levels by the year 2030.

The CPP may not have been the only possible mechanism for addressing carbon emissions, but, unfortunately, the Administration does not propose an adequate alternative as it seeks to dismantle the CPP. Having already withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement, this change in course by the EPA solidifies the already troubling approach of our nation in addressing climate change, and places at risk many people, including the poor who can least bear the consequences of inaction.

Many states have already made great progress toward carbon mitigation goals under the CPP, making this decision even more difficult. Pope Francis' encyclical, Laudato si', calls us to action in caring for our common home. A national carbon standard is a critical step for the U.S. at this time. Facing this shift from the Trump Administration, our leaders should heed the Holy Father's moral call and seek new legislative solutions that will help the nation and world 'hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor' once more."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Clean Power Plan (CPP), Trump Administration, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt, carbon emissions, Pope Francis, environmental stewardship, Laudato si', Paris climate agreement, carbon mitigation goals, common home

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

U.S. Catholic Church Calls for Week of Prayer and Action in Solidarity with Migrants and Refugees as Part of the “Share the Journey” Campaign

10/06/2017 - 12:50pm

WASHINGTON— Following last week's kick-off of the "Share the Journey" Migration Campaign, launched by Pope Francis on Sept. 27, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in collaboration with Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities USA are calling for a Week of Prayer and Action from October 7-13, 2017.  Dioceses across the country are encouraged to participate by hosting different events during this week and throughout the two-year campaign.

"During the week of prayer and action we need to show our support and compassion for those in need," said Bishop Joe Vásquez, Chair of USCCB's Committee on Migration. "It is important that we also highlight the positive contributions that migrants and refugees have made to our society."

"The Holy Father has repeatedly called on us to support migrants and refugees forcibly displaced from their homes," said Joan Rosenhauer, CRS Vice President for US Operations. "We're called by the Gospel to love our neighbor, and amid a global refugee crisis not seen since World War II, we have to do more to welcome and support those whose lives are threatened by violence and poverty. In the U.S. we can do that by admitting the most vulnerable refugees for resettlement and of course assist them and the countries hosting them around the world."

Resources and information about the campaign and week of prayer and action are available on the campaign's website, www.sharejourney.org. Included amongst the information is a toolkit for Catholic leaders that offers ideas on how to show their support and solidarity with migrants and refugees in schools, at mass and in the community.

Sister Donna Markham OP, PhD, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) said, "When we encounter people who have had to flee to the U.S. in order to save their lives, we do not have to guess at how to help.  We pray for them and we extend ourselves in compassion to assist in whatever ways we can."

The "Share the Journey" campaign kicked off globally last week by the Caritas network. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) are sponsoring the campaign in the U.S. Both CRS, working in more than 100 countries around the world, and CCUSA, the Catholic Church's domestic agency, are members of Caritas Internationalis, the Church's worldwide charity organization that is the overall sponsor of the campaign.

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About Catholic Charities USA

Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), a member of Caritas Internationalis, is the national office for the Catholic Charities ministry nationwide. CCUSA's members provide help and create hope to more than 8 million people a year regardless of religious, social, or economic backgrounds. To learn more, please visit www.catholiccharitiesusa.org and follow CCUSA on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

About Catholic Relief Services

Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS' relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding.  For more information, visit www.crs.org or www.crsespanol.org and follow Catholic Relief Services on social media: Facebook, Twitter at @CatholicRelief, @CRSnews and @CRSnoticias, InstagramPinterest and YouTube.

About the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is an assembly of the hierarchy of the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands who jointly exercise certain pastoral functions on behalf of the Christian faithful of the United States. The purpose of the Conference is to promote the greater good which the Church offers humankind, especially through forms and programs of the apostolate fittingly adapted to the circumstances of time and place. This purpose is drawn from the universal law of the Church and applies to the episcopal conferences which are established all over the world for the same purpose. For more information, visit www.usccb.org and www.justiceforimmigrants.org Follow the USCCB on Facebook, Twitter @USCCB, Instagram.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

HHS Mandate Decision Represents Return to Common Sense

10/06/2017 - 10:31am

WASHINGTON–Today's decision to expand the HHS mandate exemption is a "return to common sense, long-standing federal practice, and peaceful coexistence between church and state," according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the USCCB, and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the USCCB's Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, are hailing the Trump Administration's announcement to provide a broad religious and moral exemption from the mandate requiring health insurance coverage of sterilization, contraception, and drugs and devices that may cause abortions.

Cardinal DiNardo and Archbishop Lori offered the following joint statement in response:

"The Administration's decision to provide a broad religious and moral exemption to the HHS mandate recognizes that the full range of faith-based and mission-driven organizations, as well as the people who run them, have deeply held religious and moral beliefs that the law must respect. Such an exemption is no innovation, but instead a return to common sense, long-standing federal practice, and peaceful coexistence between church and state. It corrects an anomalous failure by federal regulators that should never have occurred and should never be repeated.

"These regulations are good news for the Little Sisters of the Poor and others who are challenging the HHS mandate in court.  We urge the government to take the next logical step and promptly resolve the litigation that the Supreme Court has urged the parties to settle.

"The regulations are also good news for all Americans. A government mandate that coerces people to make an impossible choice between obeying their consciences and obeying the call to serve the poor is harmful not only to Catholics but to the common good. Religious freedom is a fundamental right for all, so when it is threatened for some, it is threatened for all. We welcome the news that this particular threat to religious freedom has been lifted, and with the encouragement of Pope Francis, we will remain 'vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.'"

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Keywords: Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop William Lori, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, HHS mandate, Little Sisters of the Poor, contraceptives, religious liberty, religious freedom

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MEDIA CONTACT
Judy Keane
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U.S. Bishops Chairman Calls on U.S. Government to work with Burma, Bangladesh, and the International Community to Address Burma Refugee Crisis for Religious Minority

10/06/2017 - 6:16am

Washington—Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, submitted written testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee for a hearing on October 5, 2017, entitled "The Rohingya Crisis: U.S. Response to the Tragedy in Burma." The hearing addressed the U.S. government response to the plight of a Muslim religious minority from Rakhine State, Burma, known as the Rohingya.

In part of his testimony, Bishop Vásquez states, "We turn now to the grim situation of those forced to flee from Rakhine State, Burma. Forced out by what the Burmese military reportedly has referred to as a 'clearance campaign,' an estimated 501,000 people have fled from Rakhine State, Burma, to Bangladesh since August 25, 2017. Most are women and children, and the most vulnerable are newborns, pregnant women, and the elderly. Many have only makeshift shelters at best, are struggling to find the mere basics of life, and are trying to avoid debilitating and life-threatening waterborne and airborne diseases. They are all in our thoughts and prayers as the Catholic Church joins with others to mobilize in response to the horrific situation."

The most recent violence is part of an historical pattern of persecution against the Muslim minority in Rakhine State, and also continues against other religious and ethnic minorities, such as a Christian ethnic minority group in Kachin State, Burma. While such persecution has lessened in recent years with democratic elections, the Burmese military still maintains substantial political power and economic control. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, human rights icon and the major democratic leader in Burma, has not been very vocal about the plight of those fleeing Rakhine State, but she has played a major role in changing the day-to-day life for her people and continues to lead a major peacebuilding effort with ethnic groups in Burma known as the Panglong Process to build a viable democratic federal system.

"As we shed light on the human rights tragedies in Burma, we urge continued U.S. support to resolve these critical situations and to support the democratically elected government in addressing these situations while also supporting their broader efforts to build a new, democratic, inclusive Burma," notes Bishop Vásquez.  

Bishop Vásquez's full testimony can be found at: https://justiceforimmigrants.org/statements/written-testimony-reverend-joe-s-vasquez-bishop-austin-texas-chair-u-s-conference-catholic-bishops-committee-migration-rohingya-crisis-u-s-response/.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez, Committee on Migration, House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rohingya, Rakhine State, Burma, Bangladesh, refugee crisis, Muslim minority, Kachin State, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Panglong Process, refugee, protection, durable solutions.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Pope Francis Names New Auxiliary Bishop of Orange

10/06/2017 - 5:16am

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has appointed Father Thanh Thai Nguyen as a new auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Orange, California. Father Nguyen is a priest of the Diocese of St. Augustine where he currently serves as pastor of St. Joseph Church in Jacksonville, Florida.

The appointment was publicized in Washington on October 6 by Msgr. Walter Erbi, Chargé d'Affaires at the Apostolic Nunciature in the United States.

Father Nguyen was born April 7, 1953 in Nha Trang, Vietnam. In 1979, he escaped Vietnam by boat with his family and spent 10 months in a refugee camp in the Philippines before arriving in the United States in 1980.

He holds a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from Merrimack College, North Andover, Massachusetts and a master of divinity degree from Weston School of Theology, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Father Nguyen entered the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette in 1984 and served as a priest of that congregation for eight years. He was ordained a priest on May 11, 1991. He was incardinated in the Diocese of St. Augustine, June 29,1999.

Assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, Smyrna, Georgia, 1991-1994; parochial vicar, St. Ann Parish, Marietta, Georgia, 1994-1996; parochial vicar, Christ the King Parish, Jacksonville, Florida, 1996-2001; pastor, Christ the King Parish, Jacksonville, 2001-2014; pastor, St. Joseph Parish, Jacksonville, 2014-present.   

The Diocese of Orange, California comprises 782 square miles. It has a total population of 3,145,515 people of which 1,346,540, or 42 percent, are Catholic.

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Keywords: Pope Francis, Reverent Thanh Thai Nguyen, Msgr. Walter Erbi, Apostolic Nunciature, Diocese of Orange, Diocese of St. Augustine.

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Media Contact
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Cardinal Dolan Launches 2017-18 Program with Respect Life Month Statement

10/03/2017 - 7:21am

WASHINGTON—In a statement to mark Respect Life Month, October 2017, Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York reiterated the need to build a culture of life throughout the year. Cardinal Dolan chairs the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The Cardinal's statement launches the year-long 2017-18 Respect Life Program (www.usccb.org/respectlife), which provides materials exploring the theme, "Be Not Afraid."

"Looking back over the last year, there's been a lot of uncertainty, suffering, and heartache. Between tragedies that occur in the public eye and trials that take place in our personal lives, there's no shortage of reasons we cry out to God," Cardinal Dolan said. "At such times, we may feel alone and unequipped... But we have an anchor of hope to cling to. ...God says to us, 'Do not fear: I am with you' (Isaiah 41:10)."

"There are times we may doubt the value of our own lives or falter at the thought of welcoming and embracing the life of another. But…He makes all things beautiful. He makes all things new. He is the God of redemption," the Cardinal said. "That's powerful. That's something to hold onto."

"As followers of Jesus Christ, …we are called to be missionary disciples…commissioned to reach out to one another, especially to the weak and vulnerable," Cardinal Dolan said.

Begun in 1972, the Respect Life Program highlights the value and dignity of human life throughout the year. Materials are intended for use across the spectrum of Catholic life, work, ministry, and education.

The 2017-18 Respect Life Program features six articles on a range of issues. They address practical steps to build a culture of life, compelling reasons to oppose assisted suicide, principles to consider at the end of life, an overview of the role of conscience, offering genuine support to a friend who's considering abortion, and a Catholic Q & A on the death penalty. Many digital and print resources are offered, including toolkits for priests and deacons, parishes, Catholic education, Respect Life ministry, youth ministry, young adult ministry, faith formation, and communications.

The full text of Cardinal Dolan's statement is available along with many other resources at www.usccb.org/respectlife.

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, pro-life, Respect Life Month, Respect Life Program, human dignity, women, pregnancy, abortion, conscience, death penalty, capital punishment, elder care, end of life care, advance medical directives, assisted suicide, prayer, social justice, #BeNotAfraid


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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Pope Accepts Resignation of Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson; Names Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger as Successor

10/03/2017 - 5:40am

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, 76, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Tucson, Arizona.  Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger, up until now Bishop of Salina, Kansas, has been named as the new bishop for the diocese.

The appointment was publicized in Washington on October 3 by Msgr. Walter Erbi, Chargé d'Affaires at the Apostolic Nunciature in the United States.

Bishop Weisenburger was born in Alton, Illinois on December 23, 1960. He pursued seminary studies at the American College Seminary at the Catholic University of Louvain in Leuven, Belgium where he earned a bachelor of Sacred Theology degree along with both a masters in Religious Studies in 1986 and Moral and Religious Science in 1987. 

Bishop Weisenburger was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City on December 19, 1987. He later earned his pontifical J.C.L. degree from the University of St. Paul in Ottawa, Canada (1992). Upon returning to the archdiocese, he was appointed vice-chancellor and adjutant judicial vicar.    

In addition to chancery duties, he worked in parish and prison ministries from 1992-1995 and served as the on-site chaplain for rescue workers following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. In 1996, he was appointed Vicar General of the archdiocese of Oklahoma City. He remained with the Oklahoma City Tribunal for almost 20 years and served in various capacities including Promoter of Justice for the cause of canonization of Stanley Francis Rother, Servant of God. He served as pastor of Holy Trinity parish in Okarche, Oklahoma (1995-2002) and as pastor of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (2002-2012). On February 6, 2012, he was appointed Bishop of Salina by Pope Benedict XVI and was ordained on May 1, 2012.

Bishop Kicanas was born August 18, 1941 in Chicago, Illinois. He was ordained a priest on April 27, 1967 and served in various capacities in the seminary system of the Archdiocese of Chicago for 25 years. In 1984, he was appointed Rector of Mundelein Seminary and held seminary postings that included rector, principal, and dean of formation at the former Quigley Seminary South.    

Bishop Kicanas is the former Vice President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and former Secretary of the USCCB.  He currently serves on the USCCB Committee on Catholic Education, Committee on Communications, the Subcommittee on the Church in Africa, Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs (consultant), and he is a member of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc, (CLINIC).

He is also the former Chair of the Board of Directors of Catholic Relief Services and has chaired and served on numerous USCCB committees.

Bishop Kicanas was named coadjutor bishop of Tucson on October 30, 2001, and was installed on January 15, 2002. He became the seventh Bishop of Tucson on March 7, 2003.

The diocese of Tucson comprises 42,707 square miles of the southern part of Arizona.  It has a population of 1,904,477 people of whom 390,418 or 20 percent are Catholic.

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Keywords: Pope Francis, Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger, Salina, Kansas, Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, Diocese of Tucson, Msgr. Walter Erbi, Chargé d'Affaires, Apostolic Nunciature, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB.

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Media Contact
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Bishops Conference President Calls for Prayers, Care for Others After Tragic Shooting in Las Vegas

10/02/2017 - 6:18am

WASHINGTON—On October 2, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), expressed "deep grief" after a deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas.

The full text of the statement follows:

"We woke this morning and learned of yet another night filled with unspeakable terror, this time in the city of Las Vegas, and by all accounts, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. My heart and my prayers, and those of my brother bishops and all the members of the Church, go out to the victims of this tragedy and to the city of Las Vegas. At this time, we need to pray and to take care of those who are suffering.  In the end, the only response is to do good – for no matter what the darkness, it will never overcome the light. May the Lord of all gentleness surround all those who are suffering from this evil, and for those who have been killed we pray, eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them."

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Keywords: U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Las Vegas, mass shooting, prayers.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

USCCB Pro Life Chairman Urges Passage of Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

09/29/2017 - 11:36am

WASHINGTON— Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, urged the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36). It is expected to come to the House floor the first week of October. The bill, introduced by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), proposes a ban on abortions starting at 20 weeks after fertilization.

In a September 29 letter to the House, Cardinal Dolan wrote, "All decent and humane people are repulsed by the callous and barbarous treatment of women and children in clinics…that abort children after 20 weeks."

"Planned Parenthood's callous and disturbing practices of harvesting fetal body parts from late-term abortions, partial-birth abortions, and the deplorable actions of late-term abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell…, have shocked our nation and led many Americans to realize that our permissive laws and attitudes have allowed the abortion industry to undertake these procedures," Cardinal Dolan said, calling the 20-week ban a "common-sense reform."

The Cardinal offered reasons why "the proposed ban on abortion at 20 weeks after fertilization is a place to begin uniting Americans who see themselves as 'pro-life' and as 'pro-choice'." The first centers on the expanding range of fetal 'viability'. "The Supreme Court's past insistence that unborn children must be 'viable' to deserve even nominal protection is not meaningful or workable…[M]edical technology is moving the point of viability earlier in the pregnancy putting Roe on a collision course with itself." Second, there are life-threatening dangers to women undergoing abortions beyond 20 weeks. Finally, addressing the proposal to perform late-term abortions in "mainstream" clinics, he notes that those clinics generally refuse to perform the risky procedures. "What does it say about us as a nation, if we will not act against abortions that even full-time abortionists find abhorrent?" Cardinal Dolan asked.

Cardinal Dolan reaffirmed the right to life of humans at every stage of development, and clarified that the Church remains committed to advocating for the full legal protection of all unborn children: "[E]very child, from conception onward, deserves love and the protection of the law…. [T]he real problems that lead women to consider abortion should be addressed with solutions that support both mother and child."

For the full text of Cardinal Dolan's letter to the House of Representatives, visit: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/abortion/upload/CdlDolan-HR36-House-Ltr-09-29-2017.pdf.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, U.S. House of Representatives, Congress, Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36), Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), abortion, late-term abortion, viability, Roe v. Wade, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, Planned Parenthood, fetal organ harvesting, civil rights, pro-life, 20-week abortion ban

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200