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Legal pot will have 'disastrous effects,' Canadian bishops say

Ottawa, Canada, Oct 17, 2018 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- Canada’s bishops reiterated their opposition to the legalization of recreational marijuana Wednesday, the same day that legal marijuana sales began across the country.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops underlined “the ethical problems involved with the recreational use and abuse of this drug” in an Oct. 17 statement.

Lionel Gendron, Bishop of Saint-Jean-Longueuil, lamented the “growing problems of a society more and more dependent on drugs and alcohol,” and said that businesses and governments who wish to exploit sales of cannabis for commercial interests or tax revenue are “jeopardizing the pursuit of the common good.”

Canada is now the largest country in the world in which federal law permits marijuana to be legally sold and consumed for recreational purposes. Canada joins Uruguay as the only two countries to have legalized cannabis nationwide.

Under the new laws, Canadians will be allowed to grow up to four of their own cannabis plants, make their own cannabis products such as foods and drinks, and buy the drug from provincially-licensed stores or online.

Most Canadian provinces have set the legal age for buying cannabis at 19, the same as their legal drinking age. Ontario, the country’s most populous province, is still working on crafting regulations and likely won’t open any stores until next spring, the Associated Press reports.

The Canadian government also announced on Wednesday that they would be introducing new legislation that would allow people with convictions for possessing up to 30 grams of marijuana, which is the new legal threshold, to apply for pardons with no waiting period or fee. The new legislation will likely be introduced by the end of 2018, but may take some to make its way through Canadian parliament to become law.

Medical cannabis has been legal in Canada since 2001.  

The CCCB previously expressed disappointment at the government’s announcement of the decision to legalize cannabis in June 2018, in a statement that was also endorsed by the Chair of the Canadian Council of Imams.

The bishops cited the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Psychiatric Association, and the Canadian Paediatric Society, all of whom have pointed out that the use of cannabis is linked to numerous mental and lung problems.    

“It is lamentable that the federal government has decided to facilitate the provision and use of an addictive substance that will have disastrous effects for so many people,” the bishops wrote.

The bishops asserted that their position is shared by Pope Francis, who has spoken out against even the partial legalization of so-called “soft drugs.” They assert that drug trafficking and abuse can be curtailed through education, employment opportunities, and treatment and recovery programs, rather than through legalization.

“The massive increase in cannabis use that will accompany its legalization will not produce a more just and humane society,” the bishops wrote, “But will only exacerbate or multiply problems already widespread in society, including mental illness, crime, unemployment, family breakdown, injuries and fatalities resulting from impaired driving, and increased addiction to “harder” drugs along with associated problems resulting from overdose.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in paragraph 2291 that the use of drugs inflicts grave damage on human health and life, and the use of drugs beyond therapeutic use constitutes a “grave offense.” It also states in paragraph 2211 that the political community has a duty to protect the security and health of families, especially with respect to drugs.

 

Hacking pastoral care: Youth synod bishops talk technology

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2018 / 06:00 pm (CNA).- Smartphone apps and Skype have transformed the way at least one synod bishop conducts his pastoral ministry with young people.

Bishop David Bartimej Tencer of Reykjavík said Wednesday that digital technologies help him to overcome the geographical challenges that come from shepherding a diocese spread over 40,000 square miles in Iceland.

“The church is moving forward thanks to the digital world,” Bishop Tencer said at a Vatican press conference Oct. 17.

Bishops have discussed how the Church can better extend missionary outreach and pastoral care to young people online during the 2018 Synod of Bishops, which is focused on young people, the faith, and vocational discernment.

“‘Digital pastoral care’ --  how the church can be active in the world of social media,” was an important conversation topic in the synod hall Wednesday, according to Paolo Ruffini, head of the Vatican Dicastery for Communications.

This included “being a missionary in the digital world,” he said.

Bishop Tencer, who has used Skype to catechise his diocese, said that in his experience, the “contact was very real with these kids.”

The Reykjavík bishop also said that the young people responded positively to his Android app Bible challenges.

“I said, ‘You know, guys, next week, you all have to download using your Android phone or whatever,” continued Bishop Tencer, “and they all downloaded it.”

“Then I asked the kids, ‘Find in the Bible where God is whistling to the bees,” the bishop went on. “My kids found this, no problem.”

Bishop Tencer said he was surprised to find that conversations surrounding technology in the synod hall have been very positive, despite the fact that the average age of the synod fathers is above 60.

The internet is “a neutral medium,” Tencer concluded.

Prior to the 2018 synod, youth around the globe submitted 150,000 online surveys answering questions regarding morality, faith and life. These responses were analyzed by an Italian university using an algorithm.

The discussion of technology in the youth synod’s Instrumentum Laboris included both enthusiasm for technology's potential, as well as caution for its unintended consequences.

“Technology can be detrimental to human dignity if not used with conscience and caution and if human dignity is not at the center of its usage,” the document says, making particular reference to the fields of bioethics and artificial intelligence.

The pre-synod document also warns against the “isolation, laziness, desolation and boredom” that can come from young people’s obsessive consumption of media, in addition to the long-term risks of a “loss of creativity” and concentration.

“While technology has, for some, augmented our relationships, for many others it has taken the form of an addiction, becoming a replacement for human relationship and even God.”

 

Chaput: The terrain and challenge U.S. Christians face

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2018 / 05:33 pm (CNA).- The following interview with Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia was conducted Oct. 16 by Adam Sosnowski and will be released in Poland on Oct. 24 by the Polish Catholic magazine Miesięcznik Wpis (wydawnictwo Biały Kruk). It is published here with permission.

BIALY KRUK:  What is the reason for the decrease of faith in the Western world? What can the Church do about it?

ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT:  There’s no single reason for the decline. Many different factors shaped the problem.  

The two World Wars, the rise of murder ideologies like Communism and National Socialism, the immense savagery and loss of life starting in1914 – all these traumas deeply wounded the Western psyche. The pride of the early the 20th century produced the despair we have in the early 21st. We hide that despair under a blanket of noise and distraction and consumer appetites. But it’s very real. The idea of a loving God seems implausible today for many people not because of something wicked God has done, but because of the evil we ourselves have done without God stopping us.

Augusto Del Noce, the late Italian philosopher, described our situation best in his essay, “Technological Civilization and Christianity.” It’s worth reading. As “postmoderns,” we’ve tried to overcome our despair with science and technology, and they produce many good things. But they also focus us radically on this world and away from the supernatural. As a result, man’s religious dimension, our sense of the transcendent, slowly dries up and disappears. Technological civilization doesn’t persecute religion, at least not directly. It doesn’t need to. It makes God irrelevant.

The Church will survive and continue her mission. But to do that, she first needs to acknowledge that the culture she helped create now has no use for her -- and why. As a Church, we don’t yet see reality clearly and critically enough. For example, the current synod’s instrumentum laboris (IL) talks about young people and the effects of social media and the “digital continent.” But it has no grasp of the deeper dynamics of technology that Del Noce names.  

The IL is a collection of dense social science data with very little evangelical zeal. It speaks constantly about accompaniment, which is important, but it has almost no confident teaching.  It can’t and won’t convert anybody. Hopefully, the synod fathers will fix this.

How should the Church handle its current abuse crisis? - What is the condition of the Church in the United States right now? - How much damage has been done with the recent scandal involving Cardinal McCarrick?

The Church is the United States is still strong compared to Catholic life in nearly every other “developed” country. We have good resources, many good young clergy and lay leaders, vigorous renewal movements, and plenty of thriving parishes. But we’re losing the young. That’s a huge challenge for the future. The scandal triggered by Archbishop McCarrick has done great damage, especially to the credibility of bishops. The only way we can repair that is by being absolutely transparent and honest about the scope of the abuse problem and our efforts to address it.

How much truth is there in the accusations of Archbishop Vigano?

That’s a matter for the Holy See to address. It’s above my area of responsibility and beyond my knowledge.  

Is the heritage of Saint John Paul II still alive in the Church? Is he remembered in the US?  Do we need this heritage?

John Paul’s legacy is very much alive in the United States. His visit to Denver and World Youth Day in 1993 shaped the faith of an entire generation. Some of his encyclicals are masterworks of intellect and faith. We need his kind of Christianity – a combination of courage, zeal for Jesus Christ, rigorous intelligence, and sincere belief – now more than ever.  

Karol Wojtyla’s commitment to human dignity, to the unborn and the sacredness of all life, and his theology of the body – all these things still resonate deeply with American Catholics.

How can one counter the anti-clericalism present in today’s culture and in the media? What should the Church do about this? What about laymen?

The only way to counter it is by living differently; by practicing what we claim to believe. There’s no quick fix. We’re a family of faith, not a religious General Motors, and we need to act like it. Priests, for example, are not little godlings. They’re sinners like everyone else. We’re all equal – laypeople, religious and clergy – in the Sacrament of Baptism. But, as in any family, we all have different tasks. Priests have the duty to shepherd and teach, to serve the needs of their people, to lead as pastors, and most all, to celebrate the Eucharist and other sacraments. The glue that holds the whole enterprise together is love. If we don’t respect and love each other, and show it by our behavior, everything falls apart.

What might the synod change in Church doctrine or in the interpretation of the doctrine?

No synod has the authority to change core Christian teachings; nor does any Pope. In matters of interpretation, the unstated struggle in the 2018 synod revolves around Catholic sexual morality. As one young female youth minister put it: Underneath all its social science data and verbiage, the instrumentum laboris is finally, very quietly, about sex. It’s especially odd that the word “chastity” appears almost nowhere in the IL text.  Humanae vitae and the theology of the body are completely absent.

Should the synod have been canceled?

I think the timing is inopportune. Rescheduling it for a later date probably would have been wise, but the Holy Father makes those decisions. The planning for a synod is very complicated and difficult to change.

Is it really necessary to tackle the LGBT issue at the synod and mention it in official documents?

There’s nothing wrong with addressing the issue. Quite the opposite, it’s a natural matter for discussion – so long as Catholic teaching on human sexuality is faithfully explained and reconfirmed without compromise or ambiguity. And that’s exactly where elements of the IL are regrettably weak. “LGBT” should never be used in a Church document to describe people. The Church has never identified persons by their sexual appetites, or reduced them to their sexual inclinations. “LBGT” may be acceptable in describing issues, but not people.

The traditional understanding of the family is under heavy attack. What does the situation look like in the States?  What part does the gender ideology play in this?

I’ll refer back to Del Noce here: Gender ideology is simply an expression of the technological mindset and its bias toward treating all matter, including the body, as raw material for the human will. It presumes a definition of the “human person” very different from anything in Christian belief. Gender ideology treats the body as an instrument to be upgraded, or clay to be manipulated. In contrast, Christian faith sees the body, not as some kind of “wetware” or clay capsule, but as integral and essential to who we are. God became man to redeem human flesh, not to render it meaningless.

The family, by its nature, is carnal and fertile. A man and a woman become one flesh. New life results. It’s beautiful, it’s mysterious, but it’s not efficient. To a certain kind of modern mindset, that inefficiency is offensive. 

At the heart of gender ideology is a resentment of the weakness and limitations of the body. At the heart of today’s attacks on the family is a hatred of the mutual dependence that families demand and the love within a family that seals it tight as a unit. In the end, all of today’s sexual aberrations and dysfunctions boil down to a rejection of creation; for the natural order as it is.

This is the terrain and the challenge Christians face today in the United States.

 

A synod summary from the Polish synod fathers – Oct 17

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2018 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- The synod of bishops on young people, the faith, and vocational discernment is being held at the Vatican Oct. 3-28.

CNA plans to provide a brief daily summary of the sessions, provided by the synodal fathers from Poland.

Please find below the Polish fathers' summary of the Oct. 17 session:

The social context of young Catholics living in multicultural and multi-denominational societies was at the center of the Synod assembly on October 17th. The Synod Fathers also stressed the importance of the World Youth Day, including the meeting in Cracow in 2016.

During the morning session, many voices from Africa and Asia were heard. “People from Africa emphasized the poverty there and the lack of educational opportunities. This has led to vast emigration either inside their own homeland, from the countryside to the cities, or outside their homelands. Every emigration of this kind is a challenge for young people because, lacking education, they do not have the possibility to shape their own identity. On the other hand, Asian voices stressed the need for interreligious dialogue, because many young people from Asia belong to minority churches. Therefore, the young must engage in interreligious dialogue against a variety of dangerous fundamentalisms,” said Msgr. Grzegorz Ryś, Metropolitan Archbishop of Lodz.

During the deliberations, various social contexts in which young people are living were evoked. “In today’s discussions, I was positively surprised by the voices that emphasized the importance of widening reflection on the social context in which young people live, that is, school, universities, politics. Representatives from different countries spoke about these contexts. Some young Catholics living in a context of multiculturalism and multi-denominationalism must face the fact that they are a minority and are sometimes persecuted for that reason,” said Bishop Marian Florczyk.

Attention was also paid to the value and the importance of the World Youth Days. "

"Evoking the origins of the World Youth Days and, so, John Paul II, the great good that flows from these meetings was emphasized. Cracow, which hosted the World Youth Day in 2016, was also put into the spotlight. This meeting has largely contributed to the integration of young people,” said Bishop Florczyk.

 

What kind of archbishop is needed in Washington?

Washington D.C., Oct 17, 2018 / 03:45 pm (CNA).- The Archbishop of Washington occupies one of the most prominent posts in the Church in America. But the assignment, usually accompanied by a cardinal’s hat, comes with a tricky job description.
 
Because of his proximity to the federal government, DC’s archbishop often sets the tone, or at least frames the debate, for how other bishops in the country react to political events. Washington’s archbishop often finds himself the first point of reference on very public pastoral questions, like admittance to Communion for pro-abortion politicians, and he is often asked to take a lead role in overtly political events like the annual March for Life.
 
Washington is also one of the more diverse dioceses in the country: pastorally, liturgically, and culturally. It takes a particular skill-set for a bishop to bring together a flock of almost 700,000, which includes the deeply enculturated African-American parishes in the southeast of the city, the affluent parishes of northern parts of the city, large communities of Latin American immigrants, thousands of university students, and the rural communities of southern Maryland.
 
In addition to ordinary parish life, groups and movements like Opus Dei, the Neocatechumenal Way, and Communion and Liberation are all present in the archdiocese, as are numerous adherents to the Extraordinary Form of the liturgy, the so-called “Traditional Latin Mass.” Encouraging, promoting, and supporting those movements, without seeming to favor or disfavor one or another, can be a challenge all its own.

Beyond that, there are six Catholic colleges or universities in the diocese, and a number of seminary programs, as well as a far higher than average number of religious houses.

The Archbishop of Washington also has the USCCB in his backyard, and he is expected to play a senior role in the USCCB’s deliberations, without being seen to undermine or overrule its work on the federal level. That’s a tricky balancing act.
 
Before the scandals of the past few months, one of the most common criticisms of Cardinal Wuerl was that he was something of an episcopal Rorschach test; he could appear to be different things to different people, and seemed often to avoid coming down clearly on one side or another of difficult theological debates.

But, by some estimates, the ability to be all things to all people is a necessary skill for an archbishop in Washington – the line between taking a decisive stand and a divisive one is often very thin, indeed.

In short, the Archbishop of Washington is usually expected to represent a balance- neither to keel very far to the left or to the right, because of the scope of the issues that tend to fall into his lap.  This means he usually faces criticism from the left and the right- and Wuerl, long before the scandals, faced both. But that balance is understood to be a critical part of the job.

Framing an authentically Catholic response to the issues of the day in a way that does not appear either openly partisan or impossibly vague requires a diplomatic skill set not necessarily found, or even needed, in every bishop.
 
If the pope were to name a successor to Wuerl who is perceived to be a committed “progressive” or “conservative, or who has a reputation for a narrow focus on one band of issues, the man might arrive to find a diocese already divided over his appointment.
 
While it would be myopic to assess Cardinal Wuerl’s tenure solely through the lens of the recent scandals, it is also impossible to deny that they have been the immediate cause of his departure, and that they will be the first priority of his replacement.
 
When he announced that he was asking the pope to accept his resignation, Wuerl said that the archdiocese needed to begin to move past the summer’s revelations. Last month, a spokesman for the cardinal told CNA that Wuerl believed “healing from the abuse crisis requires a new beginning and this includes new leadership for the Archdiocese of Washington.”
 
How “new” that “new leadership” is perceived to be could determine how fast healing happens, and how seriously the Vatican is seen to be responding to the situation.
 
Wuerl himself has given some indications of the kind of bishop he hopes will replace him; key among his criteria would seem to be someone unconnected with the current scandals.
 
In an interview with the New York Times published Friday, Wuerl said he was stepping aside “to allow for new leadership that doesn’t have this baggage,” and hoped that his replacement would be someone who became a bishop after the last abuse crises of the early 2000s.
 
Of course, being free from ties to the current scandal will require more than relative youth.
 
It was, arguably, Wuerl’s proximity to his predecessor, Theodore McCarrick, that did as much as anything else to end his tenure. His insistence that he knew nothing of rumors of McCarrick’s alleged misdeeds, or of supposed Vatican attempts to make him keep a lower profile in retirement, left him appearing, at least to some, to be either evasive or negligently incurious, in what became a major crisis of credibility for the American hierarchy.
 
Other bishops, including some touted as possible successors to Wuerl, have similarly had to account for their reactions, or lack of action, when they were first made aware of allegations against McCarrick.

More broadly, McCarrick’s influence helped to elevate a generation of priests and bishops from the east coast dioceses which he led, many of whom have gone on to serve in important positions in the Church hierarchy, both in the United States and in Rome. Should someone seen to be in McCarrick’s line of succession or patronage be appointed to take over in Washington, the credibility gap he would have to cross could prove immediate and unbridgeable.
 
D.C. Catholics – including Cardinal Wuerl – are now hoping for a relatively young bishop, one utterly free from association with either McCarrick or the other scandals currently roiling the Church. He’ll need to be someone of proven governing ability and diplomatic savvy, but with a pastoral heart and an established record of leading like a shepherd and father rather than an administrator.
 
It is a tall order, but not an impossible one to fill.
 
Of course, as the outgoing archbishop and still a member of the Congregation for Bishops in Rome, Wuerl will have had an outsized say in the names submitted for papal consideration.
 
At the same time, Pope Francis has a reputation for picking unexpected candidates for important jobs, and for favoring personal recommendations from people he knows well, rather than relying on officially presented shortlists.
 
How closely Wuerl’s successor aligns with his own stated hopes could speak volumes about how deep Francis’s respect really is for the man he so publicly praised while accepting his resignation. It could also be a strong indication of how seriously Rome is taking a crisis still acutely felt in the American capital.

 

U.S. Bishops’ Office of Migration and Refugee Services and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service Release Report on Agencies Assisting Trump Administration with Family Reunification

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office of Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB/MRS) and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), released its report today, entitled Serving Separated and Reunited Families: Lessons Learned and the Way Forward to Promote Family Unity, which documents the work of Catholic and Lutheran agencies who assisted the Administration with reuniting separated families during the month of July. 

Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, in a letter of introduction of the report states:  "I am proud of the response of USCCB/MRS, LIRS and of our Catholic (in particular CCUSA and the Catholic Charities network) and Lutheran partners around the country, including my brother bishops, to be able to work with the Administration to provide support to these vulnerable families." He further states: "USCCB/MRS (in collaboration with 75 Catholic Charities agencies) and LIRS continue to provide assistance including helping families comply with their immigration obligations. I believe the recommendations made [in this report] are important and should be seriously considered in order to avoid pain and suffering in the future caused by the separation of families." 

In July 2018, USCCB/MRS and LIRS assisted over 1200 families who were reunified after being separated due to the Administration's "Zero Tolerance" policy. The report highlights the work that was undertaken by Catholic and Lutheran partners on the ground and gives a unique data point regarding the separated and reunited families.   

Resources and information about family separation and the report are available on the Justice for Immigrants website www.justiceforimmigrants.org. Included is a backgrounder on family separation and information about the current release practices of immigrant families at the U.S./Mexico border and their immigration compliance requirements. 

The full text of the report can be found here.   

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Office of Migration and Refugee Services (MRS), Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), Trump Administration, reunification, migrants, refugees, vulnerable families, family separation,

Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200 


USCCB Chairman and Catholic Relief Services Commend Congress for Advancing the PEPFAR Extension Act of 2018

WASHINGTON—Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Sean Callahan, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), issue the following statement in response to today's action regarding the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR):

Full statement follows:

"We welcome Congressional reauthorization of PEPFAR, which has so far saved millions of lives, prevented millions of new infections and supported 6.4 million orphans, vulnerable children and their caregivers around the world. The action on the PEPFAR Extension Act of 2018 by the House Foreign Affairs Committee and by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee paves the way for final passage and for another five years of U.S. leadership in the fight against HIV, TB and Malaria and the protection and support of orphans and vulnerable children.

"Although we have principled concerns about certain aspects of PEPFAR and the Global Fund prevention activities that we find inconsistent with Catholic teaching and do not implement or advocate for those activities, overall PEPFAR is one of the most successful global health programs in history demonstrating U.S. leadership in saving lives and safeguarding human dignity of the most vulnerable people. Through the work of PEPFAR, in partnership with other governments and communities, the U.S. has changed the course of the AIDS pandemic globally. Since 2003 when it was first authorized, PEPFAR has received strong bipartisan support in Congress.

"The legislation also sets U.S. policy for the support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. Health programs supported by the Global Fund partnership have saved 27 million lives as of the end of 2017. Overall, the number of deaths caused by AIDS, TB and malaria each year has been reduced by one-third since 2002 in countries where the Global Fund invests.

"We greatly appreciate the leadership of Chairmen Royce, Smith and Corker, Ranking Members Engel, Bass and Menendez as well as Representatives Barbara Lee and Betty McCollum and Senator Cardin, for their work to ensure that children were not forgotten in this bill. Saving lives and protecting the future of vulnerable children is a proud U.S. legacy thanks to the U.S. Congress."

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Sean Callahan, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), PEPFAR Extension Act of 2018, House Foreign Affairs Committee, Senate Foreign Relations Committee HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria, orphans, vulnerable children, Global Fund

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

Domestic Justice Chairman Welcomes End to Death Penalty in Washington State

WASHINGTON—Following the Washington Supreme Court's ruling striking down the state death penalty statute, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, welcomed the decision and reiterated the Church's call to end the death penalty. 

The full statement of Bishop Dewane follows: 

"The Washington Supreme Court is to be commended for its unanimous decision to strike down the state death penalty statute.  In his 2015 address to the U.S. Congress, Pope Francis called for 'the global abolition of the death penalty,' as he explained, 'I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. . . . [A] just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.'   

"In the Court's opinion, the death penalty was deemed 'invalid because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner.' This echoes one of the reasons to oppose the death penalty that the bishops gave in their 2005 statement A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death: 

[The death penalty's] application is deeply flawed and can be irreversibly wrong, is prone to errors, and is biased by factors such as race, the quality of legal representation, and where the crime was committed. 

"We join the Catholic Bishops of Washington, the Washington State Catholic Conference, the Catholic Mobilizing Network, and all people of good will in welcoming this development and persevering in the work to end the death penalty."  

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Keywords:  United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, death penalty, Washington Supreme Court, Pope Francis, A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death, Washington State Catholic Conference, Catholic Mobilizing Network, rehabilitation

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Media Contact:  

Judy Keane  

202-541-3200

President of U.S. Bishops Conference and Chairman of USCCB Domestic Justice Committee Issue Statements on Hurricane Michael

ROME—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued the following statement on the devastating impact of Hurricane Michael from the Florida Panhandle to Virginia.

Full statement of Cardinal DiNardo follows:

"In the wake of two powerful hurricanes, people across the southeast now face the long process of recovery. May God's mercy comfort family and friends who have lost loved ones and sustain those rebuilding their homes and businesses. Let us respond with prayer and personal generosity.

As a community of faith, we remain with our brothers and sisters throughout their journey. I am grateful for the way so many volunteer their time, make donations, and witness to the need long after the headlines fade. Your generosity reveals Christ is present.

Humanitarian needs still exist from previous hurricanes. New storms will bring new suffering. Together, we can help communities carry this cross. Thousands of parishes have taken up an Emergency Collection for 2018 Natural Disasters. You can also support relief efforts in the United States by visiting www.catholiccharitiesusa.org or internationally at www.crs.org.

Thank you and may God bless you in this time of great need."

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Hurricane Michael, natural disasters, prayer

Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

WASHINGTON—Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice Florida, Chair of the of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, has issued the following statement regarding Hurricane Michael's swath of deadly destruction which has devastated the Florida Panhandle, and parts of Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia. In his statement, Bishop Dewane calls for prayers for all those who have been impacted, as well as prayers for the first responders and those who have been evacuated. Full statement from Bishop Dewane follows:

"Our nation is yet again facing the impact of a powerful and deadly hurricane. Our brothers and sisters in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Cuba have already felt Hurricane Michael's destruction, and we pray for their recovery efforts.

As Hurricane Michael has moved with deadly force through the Florida Panhandle, Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia; we lift up in prayer all of those who are impacted, asking almighty God to guide the steady hands of first responders and to widen the hearts of all who are able to be generous to neighbors facing danger, grief, or displacement of any kind due to the disaster.

While the fury of this storm season continues, I am reminded of the disciples' plea to Jesus as a violent storm threatened their lives: 'Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?' (Mk 4, 38). At a time like this, when human lives are disrupted and the mystery of suffering becomes a painful reality for so many, we implore to the one who 'commands even the winds and the sea' (Lk 8, 25) to give them strength and protection.

Prayers and generosity are greatly needed at this time. With great faith and hope in the midst of this crisis may all our work and efforts go towards helping those in need. Last week, the day after tropical storm Michael was first monitored, the USCCB 'requested that dioceses across the country take up an emergency collection on behalf of those devastated by Hurricane Florence, as well as any forthcoming natural disasters this year.' The funds collected in this special appeal for 2018 Disasters will be used to support the efforts of Catholic Charities USA and/or Catholic Relief Services, the official relief agencies of the U.S. Catholic Church as they and their local agencies respond to immediate emergency needs.

As the impact of Hurricane Michael becomes clearer, we will work closely with local dioceses, Catholic relief entities and with other organizations to assess the needs on the ground and offer assistance.

Let us join in prayer for all those who are in the path of Hurricane Michael. May God bless and protect you."

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Hurricane Michael, Catholic Charities USA and/or Catholic Relief Services, devastation, assistance.

Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl from the pastoral governance of the Archdiocese of Washington.

The resignation was publicized in Washington, DC, October 12, 2018, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Cardinal Wuerl had presented his resignation almost three years ago, when he reached the retirement age for bishops of 75.

In April,2008, Cardinal Wuerl hosted in Washington, Pope Benedict XVI and in September, 2015, Pope Francis for their first pastoral visits to the United States. He was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to help direct the October 2012 Synod of Bishops on The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith. Cardinal Wuerl was also appointed by Pope Francis as a member of both the 2014 and the 2015 Synods on the Family.

The Cardinal was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and received graduate degrees from The Catholic University of America, the Gregorian University in Rome and a doctorate in theology from the University of Saint Thomas in Rome. He was ordained a bishop by Pope John Paul II on January 6, 1986, in Saint Peter's Basilica, Rome. He served as Auxiliary Bishop in Seattle until 1987 and then as Bishop of Pittsburgh for 18 years until his appointment to Washington. His titular church in Rome is Saint Peter in Chains.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl was born November 12, 1940, in Pittsburgh, PA. He attended the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., earning a bachelor's degree (1962) and master's degree (1963) in philosophy. He continued his studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome and earned a master's degree in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1967, also in Rome.

He was ordained a priest on December 17, 1966.

From 1981 to 1985, he was rector of Saint Paul Seminary in Pittsburgh. On November 30, 1985 he was appointed titular Bishop of Rosemarkie and Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle. Pope John Paul ordained him a bishop on January 6, 1986. On February 12, 1988, he was installed as Bishop of Pittsburgh. He was appointed Archbishop of Washington on May 16, 2006.

He holds honorary degrees from eleven universities and is a Knight of Malta, a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre, and a fourth degree Knight of Columbus.

Cardinal Wuerl served previously as Chairman of the Doctrine Committee for the USCCB and has served on other various USCCB committees.

The Archdiocese of Washington is comprised of 2,104 square miles and has a total population of 2,867,377 million of which 630,823 or 22 percent, are Catholic.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archdiocese of Washington, DC.

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