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President Should Work with Congress Toward Acceptable Tax Bill, Says U.S. Bishops Chairman

WASHINGTON— After the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate passed The Tax Reform and Jobs Act, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, drew attention to unacceptable problems that remain, and called on President Trump to insist that Congress fix them before he signs a bill into law.

The full statement follows:

"Today, Congress passed its tax reform legislation, The Tax Reform and Jobs Act, and it has been sent to the President to consider. The legislation achieves some laudable things, like doubling the standard deduction, which will help many struggling families avoid tax liability, expanding the use of 529 education plans, and increasing the child tax credit.

However, the Act contains a number of problematic provisions that will have dramatic negative consequences, particularly for those most in need. Among other things, the Joint Committee on Taxation indicates that the bill will eventually raise taxes on those with lower incomes while simultaneously cutting taxes for the wealthy. This is clearly problematic, especially for the poor. The repeal of the personal exemption will cause larger families, including many in the middle class, to be financially worse off. The final bill creates a large deficit that, as early as next year, will be used as a basis to cut programs that help the poor and vulnerable toward stability. The legislation is also likely to produce up to a $13 billion drop in annual charitable giving to nonprofits that are relied upon to help those struggling on the margins.  This will also significantly diminish the role of civil society in promoting the common good.

As the President considers the tax bill before him, we ask that he take into account the full consequences of its provisions and work with Congress to remedy them before signing a tax bill into law."

Bishop Frank J. Dewane's December 6, 2017, letter analyzing the Senate and House bills prior to reconciliation can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Tax-Conference-Letter-Congress-2017-12-06.pdf

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, tax reform bill, The Tax Reform and Jobs Act, U.S. Congress, Joint Committee on Taxation, tax cuts, Standard Deduction, child tax credit, Affordable Care Act (ACA), charitable giving, tax payers, health care reform, families, poor

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

USCCB PRESIDENT ON THE PASSING OF CARDINAL LAW

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the following statement this morning upon the death of Cardinal Bernard Law. If you have been abused or know of someone who has been abused, contact the local diocesan victims assistance coordinator and, where you may have knowledge of a crime, local law enforcement. As we reflect on the legacy of Cardinal Law, it will likely bring back painful memories for survivors. The Church seeks to always respond as supportive pastors.

"Entrusting his soul to the mercy of Christ, I echo the statement released by Cardinal Seán O'Malley, the Archbishop of Boston and offer my prayers and condolences to the family and friends of Cardinal Law. Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord. At this time especially we keep close in our prayer the brave survivors of sexual abuse.  Their witness would lead to a comprehensive response from the Church in the United States to protect and heal the deep wounds of abuse. I pray they may find strength and peace in the mercy of Christ."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Cardinal Bernard Law, Cardinal Seán O'Malley, Archdiocese of Boston, sexual abuse, prayers, condolences

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

2018 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering February 3-6, Will Focus on Racism, Environment, Immigration

WASHINGTON—The 2018 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering will take place February 3-6, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC.

The Gathering, organized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and 16 collaborating organizations, attracts more than 500 participants from around the country and seeks to equip Catholic leaders and emerging leaders to bring the voice of faith to the public square.

The theme for this year's Gathering is "Building Community: A Call to the Common Good." "The Catholic Social Ministry Gathering seeks to help Catholics respond to Pope Francis' call to be missionary disciples who work together to promote the common good and protect the life and dignity of God's children at home and around the world," said Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Justice, Peace and Human Development.

Joining the USCCB Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development in organizing the Gathering are numerous other USCCB departments and national Catholic organizations, including Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Rural Life, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, and others.

Bishop Dewane will celebrate a Welcome Mass on Saturday, February 3, and USCCB's president, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, will celebrate the Sending Mass on Tuesday, February 6. Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle, will deliver the Keynote Presentation on "Where is your brother?".

Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism will address the ramifications of racism in society and the Church, and Mauricio López, Executive Secretary of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM), will lead a panel presentation on the experiences of indigenous and rural communities and their connection to environmental matters in anticipation of the 2019 Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon announced recently by Pope Francis.

A Plenary and Dialogue on "Moving from a Throwaway Culture to a Culture of Encounter" will include Sr. Patricia Chappell, Kim Daniels, Dr. Maryann Cusimano-Love, Dr. R.R. Reno, and Fr. Matt Malone.

Workshops include: Best Practices in Responding to Racial Unrest: Lessons Learned from Ferguson; Restorative Justice in Parish Life; the V Encuentro; a Catholic Response to Migration Policy; Nuclear Threats to the Common Good: Disarmament, North Korea and Iran; a Catholic Response to the Opioid Abuse Crisis; Common Ground on Climate Policy; Developing Affordable Housing for the Vulnerable; and others.

Coverage of the meeting is open to credentialed media. Reporters interested in covering the gathering can download a credential application form and submit it by email no later than January 12.

More information is available online: www.catholicsocialministrygathering.org/.

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Keywords: Catholic Social Ministry Gathering; U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB; Bishop Frank J. Dewane; Committee on Justice, Peace and Human Development; Cardinal Daniel DiNardo; Bishop Eusebio L. Elizondo; Catholic Relief Services, CRS, Catholic Charities USA, CCUSA, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Rural Life, Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities; racial unrest, racism, immigration, restorative justice, Ferguson, environment, migration policy, V Encuentro, nuclear threat, opioid abuse, affordable housing

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Faith Leaders Affirm the Inherent Beauty and Dignity of Being Created Male or Female

WASHINGTON—Following the USCCB General Assembly in November 2017, a group of ecumenical and interfaith partners gathered with bishops of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage to discuss gender ideology. As a result of this discussion, faith leaders today issued an open letter entitled "Created Male and Female".

Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. of Philadelphia, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, chairman of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs signed the letter.

"We hope this letter communicates to the public our shared understanding of the goodness of the creation of humanity as male or female and underscores our commitment to service of this truth with both clarity and compassion," said Bishop Conley.

The religious leaders stressed the importance of acknowledging the reality of sexual identity, noting, "Children especially are harmed when they are told that they can 'change' their sex or, further, given hormones that will affect their development and possibly render them infertile as adults. Parents deserve better guidance on these important decisions, and we urge our medical institutions to honor the basic medical principle of 'first, do no harm.'"

The leaders close with a hope: "We hope for renewed appreciation of the beauty of sexual difference in our culture and for authentic support of those who experience conflict with their God-given sexual identity."

The letter is available at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/created-male-and-female.cfm and follows three previous open letters: "The Protection of Marriage: A Shared Commitment," issued December 6, 2010, "Marriage and Religious Freedom: Fundamental Goods That Stand or Fall Together," issued January 12, 2012, and "The Defense of Marriage and the Right of Religious Freedom: Reaffirming a Shared Witness," issued on April 23, 2015, which are available at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/ecumenical-and-interreligious-activities.cfm.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Bishop James D. Conley, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, Committee for Religious Liberty, Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, marriage, religious liberty, gender ideology

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Auxiliary Bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Christie A. Macaluso from the Archdiocese of Hartford.

The announcement was publicized in Washington on December 15 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

The Most Reverend Christie Macaluso, D.D., was born in Hartford, Connecticut on June 12, 1945. He attended Saint Mary's Seminary in Baltimore where he earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy and a master's degree in Sacred Theology. He later earned master's degrees in psychology from New York University and in philosophy from Trinity College. In addition, he studied multiple languages and music.

On May 22, 1971, he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Hartford.

Assignments after ordination included assistant pastor at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in West Hartford and St. Joseph Parish, in New Britain. He also served as a faculty member of St. Thomas Seminary College and was appointed dean in 1980. In 1985, he became rector and president of Saint Thomas Seminary. During that time, he also served as a weekend assistant at St. Francis Parish in Torrington and Sacred Heart Parish in Bloomfield. From 1991-1997, he served as pastor of the Cathedral of St. Joseph.

In 1995, he was named a prelate of honor, with the title of monsignor, by Pope John Paul II and was also named episcopal vicar for Hartford.

On March 18, 1997, Macaluso was appointed auxiliary bishop of Hartford and titular bishop of Grass Valley. As auxiliary bishop, he has served as vicar general of the Archdiocese of Hartford and moderator of the Curia. 

In 2014, he was appointed rector of St. Thomas Seminary.

The Archdiocese of Hartford comprises 2,288 square miles and has total population of approximately 1,938,914 people of which 537,983 or 27 percent are Catholic.

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Keywords: Pope Francis, Auxiliary Bishop, Most Reverend Christie Macaluso, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nunciature, Archdiocese of Hartford, vicar general, moderator of the Curia.

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Media Contact
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Response to The Chieti Document is Another Step Forward for the Catholic and Orthodox Churches’ Common Understanding in Service of Unity

WASHINGTON—The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation (NAOCTC) has released its response to the most recent document produced by the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. Entitled, "Synodality and Primacy During the First Millennium: Towards a Common Understanding in Service to the Unity of the Church," this work of the international dialogue was released in September 2016. It is often referred to as, "The Chieti Document," because it was finalized during a meeting in Chieti, Italy.

The NAOCTC, which is co-chaired by Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, Archbishop of Newark and Consultant for the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, and by Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, prepared its response during its most recent meeting, which took place in Washington, DC, from 26-28 October. The response praises the Chieti Document "as the fruit of perseverance in fidelity to our one Lord. It is a fruit holding many seeds, potentially yielding a harvest for the countless members of our Churches who experience the division every day in their lives and pray for it to be healed."

The Chieti Document discusses the relationship between primacy and synodality during the first millennium Churches of the East and West. It specifically examines that relationship on three levels: the local, regional and universal. The NAOCTC response reflects upon each of the three levels and offers suggestions for further study and consideration.

The North American dialogue has responded to every agreed statement produced by the International Dialogue including those finalized at Rhodes (1980), Munich (1982), Bari (1987), Valamo (1988), Balamand (1993), and Ravenna (2007).

The Chieti document is posted on the Vatican web site here:

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/ch_orthodox_docs/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_20160921_sinodality-primacy_en.html

and on the web site of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople here:

https://www.patriarchate.org/dialogue-with-the-roman-catholic-church/-/asset_publisher/xPOzhhZ0zKIa/content/synodality-and-primacy-during-the-first-millennium-towards-a-common-understanding-in-service-to-the-unity-of-the-church-9-21-16-

The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation was established in 1965 by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in America, now the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States, and by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, now the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Since 1997, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has been a co-sponsor.

More information on the work of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation, including links to the full text of Statements and other documents, may be found at the respective sites of:

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States:

www.assemblyofbishops.org/ministries/dialogue/orthodox-catholic/

and The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-interreligious/ecumenical/orthodox/index.cfm

The response to the recent document produced by the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, "Synodality and Primacy During the First Millennium: Towards a Common Understanding in Service to the Unity of the Church," The Chieti Document of the international dialogue can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-interreligious/ecumenical/orthodox/upload/Chieti-Response.pdf

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Keywords: North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation (NAOCTC), Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue, Catholic Church, Vatican, Orthodox Church, "Synodality, Primacy, common understanding, unity of the Church, international dialogue, The Chieti Document, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, Metropolitan Methodios, dialogue. 

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200


President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Statement on California Fires

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, offered the following statement of solidarity with the people of California.

Full statement follows:

"On this holy day of the Immaculate Conception, we commit ourselves to the loving protection of Mary the Mother of God and patroness of America. Let us remember, especially, her sons and daughters in danger from the terrible wildfires in California, both those whose homes are in the fire's path and those courageous first responders and firefighters who are putting their lives at risk. Please find a moment today, whether after Mass or while gathered as a family around the Advent wreath, to pray a Rosary in gratitude for Mary's gifts to humanity and entrusting to her protection our sisters and brothers in the fire's path. I am sure all the faithful join me in saying: we stand ready to help in the recovery."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, California, Mary, Mother of God, Immaculate Conception, Advent wreath, Rosary, humanity, protection, first responders, firefighters, recovery. 

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas and the Unborn, will be Celebrated Around the Country December 12, as Day of Solidarity with Immigrants

WASHINGTON— On Tuesday, December 12, the Catholic Church will celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas and the Unborn. Celebrations in dioceses across the nation will be held throughout the month of December to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe. These events seek to honor the accomplishments, hopes, fears, and needs of all families who have come to the U.S. seeking a better life.

"As we enter the Advent season and Christmas approaches, we are reminded of the unique role and importance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a unifier and peacebuilder for communities. We honor her role as protectress of families, including those families separated and far from home," stated Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, Texas, and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration.

Over 55 prayer services, Masses, processions and other events will be held in dioceses across the country as the Catholic Church continues to accompany migrants and refugees seeking opportunity to provide for their families. On December 12, 2017, a Mass honoring our Lady of Guadalupe will be celebrated by the Most Reverend Mario Dorsonville, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington, at St. Peter's Church in Washington, DC at 12:10 PM. All are welcome to attend.

For more information, please visit the Justice for Immigrants (JFI) website at https://justiceforimmigrants.org/lady-guadalupe-resource-page/ which has background material and scriptural information on Our Lady of Guadalupe in English and Spanish, a nationwide map of events, and community celebration ideas.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Day of Prayer, Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Auxiliary Bishop Mario Dorsonville, Committee on Migration, unborn, pro-life, migrant and refugee services, Advent, mercy, unity, solidarity.    

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Advance Final Tax Reform Bill Only if it Meets Key Moral Concerns, Says USCCB Chairman

WASHINGTON— As Congress prepares to reconcile the House of Representatives and Senate tax reform bills, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, insisted that "Congress should advance a final tax reform bill only if it meets the key moral concerns . . ."

"According to Congress' own nonpartisan analysis, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act bills recently passed by the House and the Senate raise taxes on the poor and cut taxes on the rich, violating basic principles of justice," wrote Bishop Dewane. "Congress has proposed a web of wide-ranging and complex changes to the tax code, yet is approaching the process at a pace that makes it difficult even for experts in the impacted areas to analyze effects."

According to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, the Senate and House bills eventually increase taxes on taxpayers in the lowest brackets, while at the same time maintaining tax cuts for higher earners, including the very wealthy. Bishop Dewane expressed support for positive proposals contained in both the House and Senate bill, such as doubling the Standard Deduction, expansion of 529 savings plans, increases for deductions for educator expenses, and the idea of expanding the child tax credit, though he urged a robust expansion that includes the refundable portions of the credit.

However, the Bishop highlighted serious problems that remain in one or both of the proposed bills:  elimination of personal exemptions, repeal of the Affordable Care Act's individual insurance mandate apart from broader health care reform, and failure to include changes that will protect against a steep drop in charitable giving, among others.

"Policy that is good for workers, families who welcome life, families who are struggling to reach (or stay in) the middle class, and the very poor, has by design been a part of our tax code for years," noted Bishop Dewane. "Any modifications to these important priorities of our nation should only be made with a clear understanding and concern for the people who may least be able to bear the negative consequences of new policy."

The full letter can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Tax-Conference-Letter-Congress-2017-12-06.pdf

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, tax reform bill, U.S. Congress, Joint Committee on Taxation, tax cuts, Standard Deduction, child tax credit, Affordable Care Act (ACA), charitable giving, tax payers, health care reform, families, poor

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

USCCB Chairmen Comment on Supreme Court’s Oral Arguments on Religious Freedom of Creative Professionals

WASHINGTON—Today, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case involves a Christian baker named Jack Phillips who declined in 2012 to create a custom wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony. State officials seek to compel Phillips to create such cakes under Colorado's public accommodations law.  Phillips argues that the state's action against him and his bakery violates the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Commenting on the oral arguments before the Court, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., of Philadelphia, Chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, Chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued the following joint statement:

"Today's oral arguments address whether our Constitution's guarantees of free speech and freedom of religion will be protected by the Supreme Court. Americans of every creed depend on these guarantees of freedom from unnecessary government coercion.  America has the ability to serve every person while making room for valid conscientious objection. We pray that the Court will continue to preserve the ability of people to live out their faith in daily life, regardless of their occupation. Artists in particular deserve to have the freedom to express ideas—or to decline to create certain messages—in accordance with their deeply held beliefs. Justice Anthony Kennedy acknowledged in the Obergefell decision in 2015 that people who oppose same-sex marriage 'reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises.' Creative professionals should be allowed to use their artistic talents in line with these decent and honorable convictions."

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling by the end of June.

The USCCB filed an amicus curiae brief supporting Masterpiece Cakeshop, which can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/16-111-tsac-USCCB.pdf.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Archbishop Charles Chaput, Bishop James Conley, Supreme Court, religious freedom, religious liberty, freedom of conscience, marriage

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200