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Get serious about human rights for people with Down syndrome, Vatican tells UN

New York City, N.Y., Mar 21, 2018 / 05:15 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The promotion of targeted abortion and other practices mean U.N. member states and agencies are not serious about protecting people with Down syndrome, the Holy See’s representative to the United Nations has said.

Archbishop Bernardito Auza on March 20 decried “the eugenic trend of ending the lives of the unborn who show some form of imperfection.”

Despite international conventions protecting the disabled, including their right to life, “so many members of the international community stand on the sidelines as the vast majority of those diagnosed with Trisomy-21 have their lives ended before they’re even born,” the archbishop said in a side event at the U.N. in New York City.

“Rather than stop it, some in the international community are abetting it,” he charged.

He cited a U.N. Human Rights Committee member who said during an official meeting that if a woman is told her unborn child has Down syndrome or some other permanent handicap, “it should be possible for her to resort to abortion to avoid the handicap as a preventive measure.” Defending those with disabilities, this committee member said, “does not mean that we have to accept to let a disabled fetus live.”

“Is such a position consistent with the U.N.’s concern to leave no one behind and to protect the rights of those with disabilities?” the archbishop asked.

Archbishop Auza heads the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, which sponsored a side event to for World Down Syndrome Day ahead of its March 21 observance.

The side event, held during the 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, considered questions such as “Are girls and boys with Down Syndrome being left behind?” and whether homes, rural villages and cities have room for those with Down syndrome.

Auza cited then-U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s March 21, 2012 remarks reaffirming that people with Down syndrome are entitled to full human rights and freedoms.

“Let us each do our part to enable children and persons with Down Syndrome to participate fully in the development and life of their societies on an equal basis with others,” Ban said. “Let us build an inclusive society for all.”

According to Archbishop Auza, Pope Francis has countered eugenic trends targeting the unborn by advocating authentic love.

“(N)ot that false, saccharine and sanctimonious love, but that which is true, concrete and respectful,” the Pope said in Oct. 21, 2017 remarks. “To the extent that one is accepted and loved, included in the community and supported in looking to the future with confidence, the true path of life evolves and one experiences enduring happiness.”

Archbishop Auza cited a U.S. television show’s claim that Iceland was on the verge of “eliminating” Down syndrome, meaning the elimination of people with Down syndrome. The show said 100 percent of parents of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome chose abortion. This is almost the case in other countries, a phenomenon which some critics have called “genocide.”

“Here at the United Nations there is much sincere talk and normally passionate action to fight against any form of discrimination,” Auza said, specifically citing work to end discrimination against women and the disabled. The 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, he noted, seeks to “promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities,” including those with mental or intellectual disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.

“But as firm as these commitments are in principle, in practice many states, U.N. agencies and members of civil society tolerate gross violations of these commitments,” he lamented. “The international community says that it wants to leave no one behind and to defend the rights and equality of women and girls, for example, but then refuses to do anything when data show that the youngest girls are being systematically discriminated against in the womb, as in the case of sex selective abortion.”

The archbishop cited studies that indicate up to 160 million unborn girls have been targeted for abortion.

“The inconsistency, however, is even more pronounced when we turn to what is happening with those prenatally diagnosed with Down Syndrome,” he said.

The Holy See’s permanent observer mission co-sponsored the event with the Pujols Family Foundation, the Center for Family and Human Rights, the Jerome Lejeune Foundation, and the film “Summer in the Forest,” which will be released soon.

How one organization helps the Church welcome Catholics with disabilities

Washington D.C., Mar 21, 2018 / 04:52 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Around 14 million Catholics in the U.S. are living with a disability.

Since 1982, the National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD) has been working to make sure those Catholics are welcomed as members of the Church and have opportunities to participate in the faith.

“The goal of NCPD is to ensure that people with any disability…can actively and meaningfully participate in the faith by using their gifts and interests,” said Janice Benton, executive director of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability.

“By virtue of baptism, everyone belongs to the body of Christ, and our work is to make sure that we are doing that with the proper attitude and spirit to make sure everyone can feel at home in their parishes,” she told CNA.

The organization works in in a variety of ways to “affirm the dignity of every person,” Benton said.

For example, they support people with Down syndrome by supporting campaigns that fight against discriminatory legislation, such as disability-selective abortions, while also working with individuals with Down syndrome as they prepare for sacraments and take an active part in the their faith.

“We remind church communities that people with Down syndrome and other disabilities are agents of evangelization and people gifted in their own right,” Benton said.

Founded in light of the 1978 document, “Pastoral Statement of U.S. Catholic Bishops of People with Disabilities,” the group has been promoting the pastoral guidelines for individuals with disabilities, particularly through access to the sacraments and Church life.

The National Catholic Partnership on Disability is a collaborative organization made up of various councils to serve people who live with physical, intellectual, sensory, mental or emotional disabilities. They also partner with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Archbishop Kurtz serves as their episcopal moderator.

“We work very closely with the bishops and the offices at the USCCB,” Benton said, noting that the bishops currently do not have a disabilities office, so the NCPD plays a huge role in this area.

One of the organization’s primary tasks is working closely with publishers to provide resources for catechists and leaders who are working directly in faith formation, but they also are involved in a number of different councils and speaking engagements around the nation.

The ministry provides catechesis, resources, spirituality and awareness building tools, trainings, conferences, and ministry models to dioceses throughout the country, and additionally offers online tools such as YouTube training videos.

“We are really set up to support the people in the dioceses, and even directly in parishes, to provide the support, resources, and training that the church might need,” Benton said.

She noted that the NCPD played a major role in the revision to the “Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments,” which now aids priests, catechists and Church leaders in preparing the proper reception of the sacraments for individuals with disabilities.

While primarily ministering in the U.S., the disability resource group also works internationally with the Vatican and other groups. Esther Garcia, the outreach director for organization, said that she works with minorities, such as Asian, African, and Hispanic groups within the Church.

“The NCPD is working to ensure we are meeting the needs of families with disabilities in the Hispanic community,” Garcia said.

“We are all children of God…and it is our responsibility as a Church to provide resources and ways to ensure that [those with disabilities] have ways to receive the sacraments,” Garcia continued.

Moving forward, Benton told CNA that they are currently working on an app for sacramental preparation and Mass attendance for people with autism and other intellectual disabilities.

“We are always trying to develop resources that can easily be made available.”


Boko Haram frees most schoolgirls abducted last month

Kano, Nigeria, Mar 21, 2018 / 03:45 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday, terrorist group Boko Haram returned at least 76 Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped in a raid last month.

More than 30 girls are still missing, some of whom are allegedly still being held, while others have reportedly died, possibly of thirst, according to reports from the New York Times.

On Feb. 19th, Boko Haram raided a girls’ technical school in Dapchi, a small town in northeastern Nigeria. Witnesses said the militants stormed the school and herded 110 students into trucks and drove away.

Father Maurice Kwairanga, who coordinates the Justice, Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) for the Nigerian Diocese of Yola, told CNA last month that in the wake of the kidnapping, “deep sorrow has descended on the once sleepy…town” of Dapchi.

Residents of Dapchi told the New York Times that they were “very, very happy” for the return of so many of the schoolgirls.

They added that when the militants dropped off the girls, they gathered several residents around them to warn them that the girls should not be allowed to return to school.

Of the girls still being held by the militants, sources told the New York Times that one of them, Leah Sherubu, is a Christian who has refused orders to convert to Islam.

Boko Haram is a militant Islamist group based in northeastern Nigeria. The group launched an uprising in 2009 hoping to impose strict sharia law on the country. It has been responsible for tens of thousands of deaths, targeting security forces, politicians, Christian minorities, and moderate Muslims in Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north. In 2015, the group pledged allegiance to ISIS.

The group has carried out numerous attacks, suicide bombings, and kidnappings in recent years, including a 2014 raid during which militants abducted 276 schoolgirls. Of those girls, dozens have been freed, though more than 100 are still missing.

Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari said on Twitter that the recent release of the Dapchi girls came as a result of “backchannel” negotiations and that no ransom was paid.

The government has faced harsh criticism in the wake of the Dapchi kidnapping, and Fr. Kwairanga told CNA last month that while Buhari campaigned on a platform of eradicating terrorism, confidence in the government is “waning.”

According to the New York Times, advocacy group Bring Back Our Girls expressed relief at the return of the Dapchi girls, but added that they want the negotiations surrounding their release investigated.

The latest group of freed Chibok girls were released in May in exchange for as many as six suspected militants who were not identified, though some reports say the militants were high-ranking commanders in Boko Haram. There are also rumors of a large ransom paid, which critics fear could encourage more kidnappings.

Pope Francis has assured Nigerians of his prayers and recently met with a Boko Haram abduction survivor in a private audience. Nigerian Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme has also urged the world to pray the rosary for an end to Boko Haram’s violence.


Sacraments are the best spiritual armor – Bishop Olmsted

Phoenix, Ariz., Mar 21, 2018 / 03:35 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a Lenten reflection, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix said spiritual war needs spiritual amor, and the best armor is accessed through the sacraments.

"The sacraments, then, are the armor of choice in this spiritual war," he wrote in a March 20 column at the Catholic Sun.

“Through them, Jesus continues to heal, to forgive, to strengthen and to sustain us in our fight against the devil and his minions."

He said this spiritual war is a crucial battle, where the devil and his demons are determined to attack the souls of the faithful. Pointing to the ideology of secular culture, he said the devil's hostility can be seen in society's view on sin, heaven, hell, and repentance.

"This spiritual war against the devil and his minions has crucial consequences in our daily life with an outcome that determines our eternal destiny. The devil does all in his power to destroy the work of God in us."

This is a great and dramatic battle for souls, he said, and it needs the help of a God who encounters Christians in the present with living sacraments. But Catholics must be willing to embrace sacramental grace with the proper disposition, he said.

Taken from the Latin term sacramentum, he said the word originally referred to an oath Roman citizens would swear upon entering the military. He said, as soldiers, the men promised to defend the empire from from whatever force threatened it.

Likewise, Christ promised to accompany his Church, he said. "In a distinct way, he fulfills this promise through the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. So, whenever a sacrament is celebrated, Christ is there to fight along our side for our salvation."

However, he said the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of Catholics, who should receive these rites with repentance and faith.

"A sacrament can be validly given and received but still may not be fruitful. Sadly, it is an outcome that seems to be widespread today."

“Repentance from any attachment to sin is essential to conduct one’s life in harmony with the purpose of the Sacraments, i.e. to increase divine life within us. Therefore, renunciation of sin and the devil is essential for receiving the true spiritual values of the Sacraments.”

And where faith is strong there is transformation, but where faith is dismal the fruits will be vague, he said.

"When we participate with sincere faith in prayer and the Sacred Liturgy, the reading of Scripture and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we do so with greater awareness and expectations of encountering the living God, an encounter that changes us for the better."

Bishop Olmsted expressed hope that Catholics may finish this Lenten season with spiritual fruit and a freedom from evil.

"During Holy Week we will be reminded of the battle that our Lord waged and is still waging in us members of his Mystical Body. May this season of Lent be a time to free our spiritual life from the evil one. And may the fruits of the great spiritual struggle - sacrifice, prayer, fasting and the witness of our faith - hasten the coming of the Kingdom of God."

Bishop, five priests arrested in Brazil, accused of embezzling Church funds

Brasilia, Brazil, Mar 21, 2018 / 01:58 pm (ACI Prensa).- A Catholic bishop, five priests and other administrative officials in the Brazilian state of Goiás have been arrested on accusations of embezzling more than two million reales (about $600,000) from the Catholic Church.

Bishop José Ronaldo of the Diocese of Formosa was among those arrested March 19, as part of operation “Caiaphas.” Among other findings, the operation discovered 70,000 reales (about $21,000) in cash in a cabinet with a false bottom. The cabinet belonged to Fr. Epitácio Cardoso Pereira, in the Planaltina township.

In wake of these developments, Pope Francis on March 21 appointed the Archbishop of Uberaba, Paulo Mendes Peixoto, as apostolic administrator of the diocese.

According to prosecutors, the embezzled money comes from tithes, donations, stipends for baptisms and weddings from churches. Authorities said the diversion of money has been going on since 2015 when the bishop took possession of the Diocese of Formosa.

Judge Fernando Oliveira Samuel said that the money “was systematically diverted by order of José Ronaldo and also approved by the rest of the clerics.”

According to authorities, legal wiretaps suggested that Bishop Ronaldo and four other priests purchased a ranch to raise livestock and a store where lottery tickets are sold.

“In addition to that, it is possible that the vehicles acquired by the diocese were intended for Fr. Moacyr Santana’s personal use in the city of Posse,” the judge added.

The public prosecutor in charge of the case, Douglas Chegury, said that similar irregularities occurred when Bishop Ronaldo was in the Diocese of Janauba.

Authorities began investigating the current case in December 2017 when members of the faithful complained that monthly expenses for the bishop’s residence had gone from 5,000 reales ($1,520) to 35,000 reales ($10,600) since Bishop Ronaldo assumed the diocese.

Consequently, the local faithful requested an open disclosure of the diocesan accounts. When the bishop refused, they said they would boycott church collections until the measure was taken.

Bishop Ronaldo claimed at the time that there were  "no improprieties" and that he did not take any of the money collected.

ACI Digital, the Portuguese language sister agency of CNA, repeatedly sought the reaction of the Diocese of Formosa but did not receive a response by press time.

The Secretary General of the Brazilian Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Leonardo Steiner, issued a press release March 20 stating that “In face of the jailing of the bishop of the Diocese of Formosa in Goiás State, the Brazilian Bishops’ Conference expresses its solidarity with the clergy and faithful of the diocese, reminding the brother bishop that justice is to abandon oneself, trusting in the merciful will of God.”

“The truth of the facts must be established with justice and transparency, considering the good of the particular church and the bishop,” the conference said.

The bishops of Brazil asked ”all the faithful of the Church to remain united in prayer to be true witnesses to the Gospel.”


Analysis: What led to, and what will follow, ‘Lettergate’

Vatican City, Mar 21, 2018 / 01:17 pm (CNA).- A new chapter for Vatican media and communications began Apr. 30, 2015, when Pope Francis established a commission of five members to analyze and implement the suggestions of a report from a Vatican Committee for Communication, which itself had been established in July 2014.
The commission, whose establishment was seen by some as a rejection of the previous committee, was chaired by Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, who at the time was still director of Vatican Television. The members were Msgr. Lucio Adrian Ruiz, Fr. Antonio Spadaro, the editor of the Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica, and then-Msgr. Paul Tighe, who was Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Social Communication, and Paolo Nusiner, who came from the board of the Italian episcopal conference newspaper Avvenire.
Msgr. Tighe was – along with Msgr. Ruiz – the only member of the original committee chaired by Lord Christopher Patten, which had drafted a reform proposal after a series of meetings with the staff of the Vatican media departments.
Then, the story is well known: Msgr. Tighe was promoted adjunct secretary of the Pontifical Council of Culture and ordained a bishop, Msgr. Ruiz became second-in-command at the Secretariat for Communications, while Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò was appointed prefect.

This morning, Vigano’s resignation as prefect was accepted; he will now serve as a consultor to the secretariat.
In this moment of crisis, many eyes are nowfixed on Bishop Tighe.

Vatican observers note that Tighe was received in a private audience by Pope Francis March 15, two days after the “Vatican lettergate” – as it was eventually dubbed – had exploded. Other Vatican insiders told CNA that Bishop Tighe is scheduled for another meeting with Pope Francis March 26.
Are these clues that Bishop Tighe will become the dicastery’s prefect?
On the plus side, he has been a part of the reform project since the beginning, he understands the adjustments that have been made, and he is a bishop, which gives him a status Msgr. Viganò did not have.
On the other hand, should he be called to carry on a reform that he helped to design, he will be called to ride very difficult waves.
Msgr. Viganò used to say that every reform faces resistance. In the case of the Vatican media reform, it seemed there was something more. Sources told CNA that the first leak about the doctoring of Benedict XVI’s letter came from inside the Secretariat for the Communication- this could be a sign of real internal discord.
From the time a commission was established to analyze and carry on the Patten Report, it was already clear that an internal struggle might take place: the commission had no representatives of Vatican Radio, the Vatican media department most touched by the reform. And neither were the Holy See Press Office, L’Osservatore Romano and the Vatican Publishing House represented. It is noteworthy that Gian Maria Vian, editor of L’Osservatore Romano, was a member of the Lord Patten committee, but not the subsequent commission.
The reform was carried forward, and led to the launch of the new Vatican News website, along with the Vatican media department that absorbed audio/video responsibilities previously entrusted to the L’Osservatore Romano Photo Service and to Vatican Television, while Vatican Radio ceased its legal existence and was absorbed in the Vatican News department, with a special label for Italian broadcasting called Radio Vaticana Italia.
In 2015, the motu proprio L’attuale contesto comunicativo established the Secretariat for Communication, and on Sep. 22, 2016 the statues of the new secretariat were finally published.
The statutes divided the Secretariat for Communication into five ‘directions,’ or departments: the general affairs department; the editorial direction; the technological direction; the pastoral-theological direction; and the direction of the Holy See Press Office.
The five directions were part of the Lord Patten proposal, as he explained in a lecture delivered May 28, 2015.
However, internal discussion about how to carry out the reform was open-ended.
Since the first Vatileaks scandal, back in 2012, discussion about communications issues have been intense within the Vatican. During the Vatileaks scandal, the Vatican decided to hire an advisor for communications within the Secretariat of State, American Greg Burke.
Communication strategy was important to cardinals during meeting preceding the conclave that elected Pope Francis.  

This is the reason why cardinals in conclave chose for a “change of narrative,” according to a Wall Street Journal report based on conversation with four different cardinals. When Pope Francis’ started his reform plan, global consulting firm McKinsey & Company was engaged to propose a new Vatican media strategy.
But the discussion was not just technical. It also entailed the philosophy behind the Vatican’s communication strategy, and on that front, many questions remain unanswered.
Angelo Scelzo, a long term Vatican official who ended his career as deputy Director of the Holy See’s Press Office, and for years was an official of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, explained well the issues at stake.
In 2014, Scelzo wrote a book tracing back 50 years of Vatican communications, starting with the Second Vatican Council’s Inter Mirifica, its decree on social communications.

In the book, “La Penna di Pietro,” Scelzo explained that “as any good means and tools of communications, Vatican media had always relied on an editorial perspective. This editorial line was not put together in a marketing office, but emerged from the documents that, mostly from the Second Vatican Council onward, supported the development of Vatican media as well as shaped its character.”
All of these issues loom behind “Lettergate.” The new prefect – whether Bishop Tighe or not – will be called to solve them.

Pope Francis, however, seems to want to keep the discussion alive: Msgr. Viganò is not gone, he remains part of the Secretariat for Communication as an assessor. How much he will influence is yet to be assessed. Certainly, his presence there will be a signal for his successor that the Pope’s intended reform must be carried forward.


Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Committee Issues Statement Supporting Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers as Important Free Speech Case Begins

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement praising the work of pro-life pregnancy centers on the occasion of oral arguments being heard today by the U.S. Supreme Court in NIFLA v. Becerra.

Cardinal Dolan's full statement follows:  

"Pro-life pregnancy care centers embody everything that is right and good in our nation: generosity, compassion and love that is offered to support both mother and child. But rather than applauding and encouraging the selfless and life-affirming work of these centers, some governments want to force them to provide free advertising for the violent act of abortion in direct violation of their pro-life convictions and the First Amendment. The United States Supreme Court cannot let this happen. We pray that the Court will do the right thing and uphold our fundamental right to free speech when it decides this case."

The USCCB and several other groups filed a friend-of-the-court brief before the Supreme Court supporting the pro-life pregnancy centers in this important free speech case. The other groups are the California Catholic Conference, the Catholic Health Association of the United States, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Christian Legal Society and Agudath Israel of America. The full text of the brief is available online:

Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, pro-life pregnancy centers, U.S. Supreme Court, NIFLA v. Becerra, oral arguments, First Amendment, free speech, California Catholic Conference, Catholic Health Association of the United States, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Christian Legal Society, Agudath Israel of America, compassion, love.


Media Contact:
Judy Keane

U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference Chairmen Urge Support for the ‘First Amendment Defense Act’

WASHINGTON—Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, gave their strong support for the First Amendment Defense Act, which was recently introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) in the U.S. Senate:

"We welcome and applaud the recent reintroduction of the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA). The USCCB has been vocal in support of the legislation since its inception. FADA is a modest and important measure that protects the rights of faith-based organizations and people of all faiths and of no faith who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. For example, in a pluralistic society, faith-based charitable agencies and schools should not be excluded from participation in public life by loss of licenses, accreditation, or tax-exempt status because they hold reasonable views on marriage that differ from the federal government's view.

The leadership of the Catholic Church will continue to promote and protect the natural truth of marriage as foundational to the common good. The Church will also continue to stand for the ability of all to exercise their religious beliefs and moral convictions in public life without fear of government discrimination.

We are pleased to support the First Amendment Defense Act, and we urge Congress to pass this important legislation."

The letter of support for the First Amendment Defense Act is available at

Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Joseph E. Kurtz, Committee for Religious Liberty, Bishop James D. Conley, Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, First Amendment Defense Act, House, FADA, federal government, U.S. Congress, Oversight and Government Reform Committee, religious freedom, marriage, man, woman, discrimination, conscience protection, religious belief, faith-based agencies, schools, human person, common good.


Media Contact:
Judy Keane

President of Catholic Bishops Conference Joins Other U.S. Church Leaders in Expressing Strong Concern Over Israel’s Plan to Tax Church-owned Real Estate

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), joins other leaders from the U.S. Episcopal, Lutheran (ELCA), and Armenian Churches in urging Israel to not confiscate church lands or tax church properties. In the joint letter addressed to Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat, the Church leaders express deep concern that the measure would "…jeopardize the very survival of the Christian community in the Holy Land." A second letter has been sent by the US signatories to all the heads of churches in the Holy Land pledging to continue to press the Israeli government on their behalf.

The full statement to the Prime Minister and the Mayor of Jerusalem follows:

"As heads of churches and communions in the United States, we write to express our strong concern about recent legal proposals and tax plans that would severely inhibit the work of the churches in and around Jerusalem. If enacted, these measures would have the effect of creating a situation that jeopardizes the very survival of the Christian community in the Holy Land.

We have expressed to the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, in the enclosed letter, our firm solidarity with them during this crisis, including by strong advocacy before our own government.

We know of the myriad of activities in which the churches there are engaged, such as education, health care and pilgrimages, and we recognize that they are integral to the churches' mission and of major benefit to the Jerusalem community beyond the churches.

We ask that you end measures that disrupt the Status Quo. We have pledged to the church leaders in Jerusalem our unwavering support for all peaceful and lawful measures they may pursue to ensure the preservation and flourishing of the Christian community now and in the future."

The full letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Mayor Nir Barkat can be found at:

The full letter to the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem can be found at:

Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Episcopal, Lutheran (ELCA), Armenian, Israel, Jerusalem, Christian Community, Holy Land, taxes, Status Quo, church leaders, Christian community


Media Contact:
Judy Keane

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Administrative Committee Offer Congratulations to Pope Francis on His Fifth Year Anniversary

WASHINGTON— The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Administrative Committee has issued the following statement today marking the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Francis. The Administrative Committee is comprised of USCCB's officers, committee chairmen and other bishops representing every region of the United States.

Full statement follows:

"Most Holy Father:

The members of the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, now gathered in ordinary session on the 13th day of March 2018, take this opportunity to express our filial affection on the fifth anniversary of your election to the Chair of St. Peter. 

May the Lord bless you with His grace as you confirm all the brothers and sisters in unity and shepherd us in charity."

Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Holy Father, Chair of St. Peter, fifth anniversary, Administrative Committee, ordinary session, filial affection, unity


Media Contact:
Judy Keane