USCCB news

Latest News Releases from USCCB
  1. WASHINGTON--On September 22, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that dramatically alters certain longstanding government policies related to legal immigrants' access to essential safety net programs.  

    Bishop Joe Vasquez, Chair of the Committee on Migration and Bishop of Austin, Texas, together with Bishop Frank Dewane, Chair of Committee on Domestic and Social Development and Bishop of Venice, Florida stated:  

    "Yesterday's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking undercuts decades of administrative policies and guidelines on how immigrants are treated by the United States government. This further compounds strict eligibility guidelines already in place preventing many immigrants from receiving federal aid. While just beginning to review the Proposed Rule, upon initial analysis, it appears that this will be very harmful to families, raising fear among immigrant families already struggling to fulfill the American Dream. Further, it is likely to prevent families from accessing important medical and social services vital to public health and welfare." 

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    Keywords: Department of Homeland Security, Bishop Joe Vasquez, Migration, Diocese of Austin, domestic and social development, Bishop Frank Dewane, Diocese of Venice 

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    Media Contact: 

    Judy Keane 

    202-541-3200

  2. WASHINGTON—As Congress considers a bipartisan bill that addresses several aspects of the opioid crisis, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, applauded Congressional efforts to address the crisis and encouraged lawmakers not to allow politics to delay their work.

    Bishop Dewane's full statement follows:

    "The opioid crisis has affected all corners of our country. Preliminary estimates by the Centers for Disease Control indicate that more than 72,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2017, which is about one death every eight minutes. In the face of the staggering challenges in confronting this tragedy, it is encouraging that lawmakers in Congress appear to be making progress in bipartisan legislation that would address many issues related to the crisis."

    "As Pope Francis has said, '[e]very drug addict has a unique personal story and must be listened to, understood, loved, and, insofar as possible, healed and purified. We cannot stoop to the injustice of categorizing drug addicts as if they were mere objects or broken machines; each person must be valued and appreciated in his or her dignity in order to enable them to be healed.' Congress should press on in its work for precisely these purposes.

    "The Senate passed bill is but a first step in addressing several aspects of the opioid crisis, including support for increases in research, treatment, education, and security and law enforcement. As the midterm elections and the end of the year approach, it can be difficult to complete complex legislation during the remaining time. The opioid crisis, however, cannot wait until next year. Congress is to be applauded for the bipartisan efforts that have already occurred and should swiftly work through remaining obstacles to find effective solutions that can become law."

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    Keywords: opioid crisis, Bishop Dewane, Pope Francis, legislation, justice, peace, human development, Diocese of Venice

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    Media Contact:

    Judy Keane

    202-541-3200

  3. WASHINGTON--The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Administrative Committee has issued the following statement today in response to the recent sex abuse scandals. In the statement, the bishops say they pledge to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us."

    Turning to the Lord

    "When each of us was ordained as a bishop, we were told:

    'Keep watch over the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit has appointed you to shepherd the Church of God.'

    We, the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, assembled last week in Washington at this time of shame and sorrow. Some bishops, by their actions or their failures to act, have caused great harm to both individuals and the Church as a whole. They have used their authority and power to manipulate and sexually abuse others. They have allowed the fear of scandal to replace genuine concern and care for those who have been victimized by abusers. For this, we again ask forgiveness from both the Lord and those who have been harmed. Turning to the Lord for strength, we must and will do better.

    The Administrative Committee took the following actions within its authority:

    1. Approved the establishment of a third-party reporting system that will receive confidentially, by phone and online, complaints of sexual abuse of minors by a bishop and sexual harassment of or sexual misconduct with adults by a bishop and will direct those complaints to the appropriate ecclesiastical authority and, as required by applicable law, to civil authorities.

    2. Instructed the USCCB Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance to develop proposals for policies addressing restrictions on bishops who were removed or resigned because of allegations of sexual abuse of minors or sexual harassment of or misconduct with adults, including seminarians and priests.

    3. Initiated the process of developing a Code of Conduct for bishops regarding the sexual abuse of a minor; sexual harassment of or sexual misconduct with an adult; or negligence in the exercise of his office related to such cases.

    4. Supported a full investigation into the situation surrounding Archbishop McCarrick, including his alleged assaults on minors, priests, and seminarians, as well any responses made to those allegations. Such an investigation should rely upon lay experts in relevant fields, such as law enforcement and social services.

    This is only a beginning. Consultation with a broad range of concerned parents, experts, and other laity along with clergy and religious will yield additional, specific measures to be taken to repair the scandal and restore justice. We humbly welcome and are grateful for the assistance of the whole people of God in holding us accountable.  

    As these initiatives get underway, the Administrative Committee invites each of our brother bishops to join us in acts of prayer and penance. This is a time of deep examination of conscience for each bishop. We cannot content ourselves that our response to sexual assault within the Church has been sufficient. Scripture must be our guide forward, "be doers of the word and not hearers only" (James 1:22).

    In all of this, we do not want anyone – ourselves included – to lose sight of those who have suffered from those who have acted or failed to act as the Gospel demanded. For survivors of sexual abuse, these days may re-open deep wounds. Support is available from the Church and within the community. Victims Assistance Coordinators are available in every diocese to help you find resources. We are grateful to hundreds of dedicated people who, since the adoption of the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, have been working with the Church to support survivors and prevent future abuse.

    To anyone who has been abused, never hesitate to also contact local law enforcement. If you don't feel comfortable for any reason with the Church providing help, your diocese can connect you with appropriate community services. With compassion and without judgement, the bishops of the United States pledge to heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us.

    Acting in communion with the Holy Father, with whom we once again renew our love, obedience, and loyalty, we make our own the prayer of Pope Francis in his August 20 letter to the people of God, "May the Holy Spirit grant us the grace of conversion and the interior anointing needed to express before these crimes of abuse our compunction and our resolve courageously to combat them."

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    Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Administrative Committee, Catholic Bishops, sexual abuse, abuse of minor, sexual harassment, civil authorities, third-party reporting, Canonical Affairs, Church Governance, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Code of Conduct, Victim Assistance Coordinators, Holy Father, Pope Francis, Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People

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    Media Contact:

    Judy Keane

    202-541-3206

  4. WASHINGTON—The United States Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, announced yesterday that the Administration will set the Presidential Determination, the level of refugees allowed into the United States, at 30,000 refugees for 2019. This is the lowest number set in the history of the U.S. refugee admissions program which was formally created in 1980.

    Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, Texas, Chair of the of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

    "The announcement of the Presidential Determination is deeply disturbing and leaves many human lives in danger. To cut off protection for many who are fleeing persecution, at a time of unprecedented global humanitarian need, contradicts who we are as a nation. Offering refuge to those fleeing violence, torture, or religious persecution is a cornerstone of our history. We as a country are blessed with vast resources making us capable of securely welcoming those fleeing harm. Closing our doors on those seeking such safety is not who we are as a people. In the coming days, we pray that Congress will have the opportunity to engage in the formal consultation process with the Administration that is required by law. During this mandatory consultation process, Congress should strongly urge the Administration to return to a refugee admission level that reflects local community response and support of refugees, global refugee protection needs, and our long history of compassionately welcoming refugees."

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    Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Committee on Migration, Presidential Determination, Administration, Congress, global refugee protection, Diocese of Austin, refugees, migration, humanitarian need, community response
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    Media Contact:
    Judy Keane
    202-541-3200 

    WASHINGTON— El Secretario de Estado de Estados Unidos, Michael Pompeo, anunció ayer que la Administración va a fijar la Determinación Presidencial, el número de refugiados permitidos en Estados Unidos, en 30.000 para el 2019. Éste es el número más bajo en la historia del programa de admisiones de refugiados, que fue formalmente creado en 1980.

    El Reverendísimo Joe S. Vásquez, Obispo de Austin, Texas, y Presidente del Comité de Migración de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de Estados Unidos emitió el siguiente comunicado:

    "El anuncio de la Determinación Presidencial es profundamente inquietante y deja muchas vidas humanas en peligro. Cortar la protección para muchos que huyen de la persecución, en un momento sin precedentes de necesidad humanitaria mundial, contradice lo que somos nosotros como nación. Ofrecer refugio a aquellos que huyen de la violencia, la tortura y la persecución religiosa es una piedra angular de nuestra historia. Como país hemos sido bendecidos con abundantes recursos, lo que nos ha hecho capaces de dar la bienvenida a aquellos que huyen. Cerrar nuestras puertas a quienes buscan tal seguridad no es lo que somos como pueblo. En los próximos días, oramos para que el Congreso tenga la oportunidad de participar en el proceso de consulta formal con la Administración que exige la ley. Durante este proceso obligatorio de consulta, el Congreso debería urgir firmemente a la Administración a retornar al nivel de admisiones de refugiados que es consistente con la respuesta y respaldo de la comunidad local a los refugiados, las necesidades de protección global de refugiados y una larga historia de recibir compasivamente a los refugiados".

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    Palabras clave: Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de Estados Unidos, USCCB, Obispo J. Vásquez, Comité de Migración, Determinación Presidencial, Administración, Congreso, protección global a los refugiados, Diócesis de Austin, refugiados, migración, necesidad humanitaria, respuesta comunitaria.

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    Contactos de prensa:

    Judy Keane

    202-541-3200

    Miguel Guilarte

    202-541-3202
  5. WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has appointed Rev. Juan Miguel Betancourt, S.E.M.V. as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Hartford. Father Betancourt is a member of the Institute of the Servants of the Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary (Esclavos de la Eucaristia y de Maria Virgen).

    Father Betancourt entered the Institute Servants of the Eucharist and the Virgin Mary as a canonical postulant on January 1, 1992. He professed vows as a religious on October 7, 1994. He received his bachelor's in theological studies in May 2000 from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico and earned a Master of Divinity in 2002. He also holds a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute (2005). He was ordained on April 21, 2001.

    His assignments include: professor of sacred scripture at the Pontifical University of Puerto Rico (2005-2006), professor of sacred scripture at Regina Cleri Major Seminary in Puerto Rico (2005-2006), assistant professor of sacred scripture at the Seminary of Saint Paul (2006-present), adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas (2006-present), local superior at the Casa de San Jose in Saint Paul, MN, (2006-present) and pastor of the churches of Saint James and Saint Francis de Sales in Saint Paul, MN (2006-present).

    Father Betancourt is also a Board Member of the National Conference for Seminarians in Hispanic Ministry (2009-present) and a liaison for Foreign Seminarians at St. Paul Seminary (2008-present).

    The Archdiocese of Hartford comprises 2,288 square miles. It has a total population of 1,938,914 people of which 538, 983, or 27 percent, are Catholic. Archbishop Leonard P. Blair is the current Archbishop of Hartford. 

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    Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Rev. Juan Miguel Betancourt, Archdiocese of Hartford, Archbishop Leonard Blair

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    Media Contact:
    Judy Keane
    202-541-3200
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