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National Marriage Week and World Marriage Day Uphold Marriage as the Foundation of the Domestic Church

WASHINGTON—National Marriage Week will be observed from February 7-14, 2020, in the United States. World Marriage Day will be observed on Sunday, February 9; it is annually celebrated on the second Sunday of February.

Each year, National Marriage Week and World Marriage Day provide the opportunity to focus on building a culture of life and love that begins with supporting, promoting, and upholding marriage and the family.

The theme chosen by the USCCB to celebrate National Marriage Week, “Stories from the Domestic Church,” was announced by Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth in a letter to his brother bishops. The theme was chosen to demonstrate how “spouses are consecrated and by means of a special grace build up the Body of Christ and form a domestic church” as Pope Francis reminded the faithful in his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (n. 67).

Among the resources provided to dioceses for National Marriage Week to use in their parishes are a preaching aid for priests, a bulletin insert or flyer prayer intentions, and a seven-day virtual marriage retreat for married couples, available in English and Spanish. These resources are available for download at https://www.foryourmarriage.org/celebrate-national-marriage-week/ in English and Spanish.

This year’s retreat features testimonies of couples who live out the call of love and form “domestic churches” within their immediate and extended families. The term “domestic church” can be used to describe how “the Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion”. (John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, n. 21) The retreat, which runs from February 7 to14, offers married couples an opportunity to pray and reflect about marriage in God’s plan.

A rosary for married couples and families in need of healing will be live-streamed from the chapel at the USCCB in Washington on the Conference’s Facebook page on Wednesday, February 12 at 3:00 pm ET.

The USCCB offers resources to uphold marriage as a lifelong union of one man and one woman through its dedicated websites ForYourMarriage.org, PorTuMatrimonio.org, and MarriageUniqueForAReason.org.

National Marriage Week USA is a national movement promoting education about the benefits of marriage for reducing poverty and benefiting children. It was launched in 2010 as part of International Marriage Week, with 20 major countries around the world now mobilizing leaders and events to strengthen marriage in their countries. For information and resources, visit: NationalMarriageWeekUSA.org. World Marriage Day was started in 1983 by Worldwide Marriage Encounter as a marriage enrichment program.  

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, National Marriage Week USA, World Marriage Sunday, marriage, family, For Your Marriage, Marriage Unique for a Reason.
 
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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

Education Committee Chairman for U.S. Bishops Applauds Administration’s Efforts to Expand Parental Choice in Education Inner City Philadelphia Catholic School Welcomes Vice President Pence

WASHINGTON - Today, Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ of Oakland, chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Michael J. Fitzgerald, auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia, expressed appreciation for the Administration’s commitment to parental choice in education following a visit by Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, to Saint Francis de Sales Catholic School in Philadelphia. The officials highlighted the success of parental choice programs across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Administration’s parental choice proposal, Education Freedom Scholarships. The two bishops issued the following joint statement:

“The right of parents to exercise freedom of choice in education is firmly rooted in the teachings of our Catholic faith. As our brother bishops wrote fifteen years ago in Renewing our Commitment to Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium, ‘Advocacy is not just the responsibility of parents and teachers, but of all members of the Catholic community. As the primary educators of their children, parents have the right to choose the school best suited for their children. The entire Catholic community should be encouraged to advocate for parental school choice and personal and corporate tax credits, which will help parents to fulfill their responsibility in educating their children.’ We applaud the goals of Education Freedom Scholarships and hope to one day see the opportunity for all families to have the freedom to select a school according to their conscience.”

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania offers two scholarship tax credit programs for low income families to gain access to the school that best fits their child’s educational needs. The first program was enacted nearly twenty years ago in 2001, and today there are currently hundreds of scholarship organizations in Pennsylvania whose donors receive a state tax credit of up to 90 percent of their donation. In Philadelphia, Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools (BLOCS) is the state’s largest scholarship program raising over $25 million last year and offering over 16,000 scholarships to low income families. In the 2017-2018 school year, over 50,000 children received scholarships across Pennsylvania.

During his visit, Vice President Pence discussed expanding this successful state model to the federal level with the administration’s Education Freedom Scholarships proposal. The proposal would provide for a $5 billion annual federal tax credit for voluntary donations to state-based scholarship programs.


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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Michael C. Barber, Bishop Michael J. Fitzgerald, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, Catholic schools, Education Freedom Scholarships, BLOCS.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship Videos Inspire Catholics to Prayer and Action in Political Life, Apply Teachings of Pope Francis

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has released videos to inspire prayer and action in political life and to help Catholics apply the Church’s teaching as handed down by Pope Francis. The scripts for the videos were approved by the full body of bishops at their November General Assembly in Baltimore. The videos complement Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the bishops’ teaching document for the faithful on the political responsibility of Catholics, and they seek to help the faithful participate in public life, prioritize faith over partisan politics, engage with civility, and respond to pressing issues of our day. Each video ends with a prayer.

The videos, which are available on the USCCB’s YouTube channel in four languages (English, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese), are titled:

Catholics Participate in Public Life
•  Catholics Protect Human Life and Dignity
•  Catholics Promote the Common Good
•  Catholics Love their Neighbors
•  Faithful Citizens Work with Christ as He Builds His Kingdom (a compilation of the four videos)

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the USCCB, served as chairman of the working group on Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. He emphasized the importance of these videos in advance of a heightened political season saying,

“The bishops of the U.S. invite all Catholics to bring their faith into the public square. Political engagement and participation are important ways that together, we can work to protect the unborn, welcome immigrants, bring justice to victims of racism and religious intolerance, support families, accompany those experiencing poverty, and advocate on behalf of all who are vulnerable. As we enter an election year, these Faithful Citizenship videos are meant to help the faithful reflect on this call, and we hope they will be widely shared.”

In addition to several young adult voices, the videos also feature several bishops. The English language videos feature: Archbishop José H. Gomez, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, and Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles. The Spanish language videos feature: Archbishop José H. Gomez, Archbishop-designate Nelson J. Perez of Philadelphia, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, and Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville. The videos in Tagalog feature Bishop Oscar A. Solis of Salt Lake City, and the videos produced in Vietnamese feature Auxiliary Bishop Thanh Thai Nguyen of Orange.

Additional supplemental resources are available at www.faithfulcitizenship.org and CivilizeIt.org.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, political participation, political engagement, elections, voting, videos, Archbishop José H. Gomez, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Bishop Robert Barron, Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, Bishop Daniel E. Flores, Bishop Nelson J. Perez, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop Oscar A. Solis, Bishop Thanh Thai Nguyen.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

Statement from U.S. Bishops’ Chairman of International Justice and Peace Committee Upon Release of Trump Administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” Plan

WASHINGTON— In response to the release of the Trump Administration’s “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People,” Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace, stated in a recent letter to Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo:

“Intrinsic to a fruitful discussion is the necessity that each state recognizes and supports the legitimacy of each other. The future peace and flourishing of life in the Holy Land depend on such a mutual recognition that calls for concrete steps in mutual counsel and collaboration, before the fundamental agreements can be achieved. The United States and all other interested parties who offer their counsel and aid must do so as contributors to strengthen bilateral agreement between the two principal entities. As such, we are concerned ‘Peace to Prosperity’ makes propositions without these requisite conditions being met.

“May the good offices of our nation assist Israel and Palestine to travel the road of mutual recognition and mutual legitimacy to its intended goal. As Pope Francis declared when he visited Israel in 2014, ‘The two-state solution must become a reality and not merely a dream.’ We shall be one in our prayers that both Palestinians and Israelis be able to live side by side with sovereignty, dignity, and peace.”

The full text of Bishop Malloy’s letter can be found here.

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop David J. Malloy, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Peace to Prosperity, Trump Administration, Secretary of State, Michael R. Pompeo.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

U.S. Bishop Chairmen Voice Opposition to Proclamation That Further Restricts Immigration and Family Reunification

WASHINGTON — The President issued a proclamation Friday restricting the issuance of immigrant visas to people from Burma (Myanmar), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan and Nigeria. People from Sudan and Tanzania will no longer be eligible for certain visas to come to the United States, commonly called “Diversity Visas.”

Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, and Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento and chairman of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., along with Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, and Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA issued the following statement strongly disagreeing with the administration’s latest action:

“The proclamation restricting immigration further undermines family reunification efforts and will make ensuring support for forced migrants in the designated countries more difficult. This proclamation also serves as a painful reminder of the 2017 ban which threatened our country’s founding principle of religious freedom. Over the last three years, waivers to allow visas from current travel ban nations based on undue hardship (such as family illness) were supposed to be available but were almost never authorized. We note with particular sadness and have witnessed firsthand the trauma of family separation that occurs with travel bans, which will only increase with this new proclamation.

“We respect that there are challenges in assuring traveler documentation and information exchange between countries as a means to ensure the safety of citizens. However, we also believe that ill-conceived nation-based bans such as this injure innocent families. As the bishops’ conference president Archbishop José Gomez has stated, ‘Welcoming families has allowed our country to integrate successive immigrant generations into the fabric of American life, allowing them to contribute their faith, values and talents to make this country great.’

“We urge the administration to reverse this action and consider the human and strategic costs of these harmful bans.”

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop José Gomez, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, Committee on Migration, Bishop Joesph C. Bambera, Comittee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Sean Callahan,  Catholic Relief Services, Sister Donna Markham,  Catholic Charities USA, diversity visas.             

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

 

 

Suzanne Healy Named Chair of U.S. Bishops’ National Review Board

WASHINGTON – Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has appointed Mrs. Suzanne Healy, the former Victims Assistance Coordinator for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles as the next chair of the National Review Board (NRB). Mrs. Healy succeeds Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D., who concludes his term as chair after the bishops’ June 2020 meeting.

The National Review Board advises the bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People and works closely with the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection in accordance with the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People, which the bishops adopted in 2002.

Archbishop Gomez thanked Mrs. Healy, who joined the NRB in 2017, for accepting this leadership position. “I wish to acknowledge the excellent and collaborative manner of the NRB and the Committee on Child and Youth Protection and to the bishops as a whole as we carry out the Apostolic responsibilities that have been entrusted to us. The last several years have witnessed great strides and challenges in the continued and ongoing efforts of the Catholic Church in the United States to strengthen and renew our efforts for the protection of young people and healing for survivors. I thank Dr. Cesareo for his longtime service to the Church on this most important issue, and I look forward to continuing that process in the future, especially under the new leadership of Mrs. Healy.”

Mrs. Healy holds a BS in Psychology and a MS in Counseling, M.F.C.C. option, with a Pupil Personnel Services Credential with Advanced Specializations in School Counseling and Child Welfare and Attendance Services, both from California State University in Los Angeles. She is also a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with experience in private practice and as a school counselor and has eighteen years of business management and strategic planning experience with AT&T and Pacific Bell. From 2008-2016, Mrs. Healy served on the Executive Board of the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health Faith Based Advocacy Council, and as a Committee Member for the Los Angeles City Attorney Office Cyber Crime Prevention Symposium. In 2016, she received the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Department of Health Affairs Excellence Award. She is currently retired and serves on the board of directors for Valley Family Center in San Fernando, CA.

Details regarding the National Review Board, its functions, and other members can be found: http://www.usccb.org/about/child-and-youth-protection/the-national-review-board.cfm

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop José H. Gomez, Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection, Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, National Review Board, Suzanne Healy.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

U.S. Bishops’ Chairmen Very Concerned About Impact of Recent Supreme Court Decision on Public Charge

WASHINGTON—On January 27, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a decision allowing the Trump Administration to implement its “public charge” rule everywhere in the United States (except Illinois) while litigation challenging the legality of the rule proceeds through the federal courts. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision allowing the Administration to move forward with implementing its new changes to the ‘public charge’ while lawsuits are still pending is very concerning, as it will have an immediate and negative impact upon immigrant and newcomer families. In our experience serving the poor and vulnerable, we know that many immigrant families lawfully access important medical and social services that are vital to public health and welfare. There is already misinformation about the ‘public charge’ rule circulating in immigrant communities, and this decision will further deter families eligible for assistance from coming forward to access the services they need, such as nutrition assistance and housing. The Supreme Court’s decision will have devastating consequences for immigrant communities, as those impacted are cast into the shadows because they fear deportation and family separation for seeking critical support. . . The Church upholds the dignity of all human life, and the Gospel compels us to serve those who are in need, regardless of their circumstances. Preventing anyone from having access to life-saving services is contrary to our belief that all life is sacred from its beginning to its end.

“We note yesterday’s Supreme Court decision focuses solely on the preliminary injunction and, as such, we remain hopeful that the courts will declare the ‘public charge’ rule illegal. The Church will redouble public education efforts to ensure that immigrant families, and our direct services networks which assist them, are educated about this rule and its impacts. We remain steadfast in Pope Francis’s call to welcome, protect, promote and integrate our immigrant brothers and sisters.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, Committee on Migration, public charge rule, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Supreme Court of the Unites States.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

World Day for Consecrated Life Celebrates the Important Witness of Consecrated Persons in the Church

WASHINGTON – Each year, the Catholic Church celebrates the World Day for Consecrated Life. Instituted by Pope John Paul II in 1997, the celebration is in conjunction with the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known as Candlemas Day, commemorating the coming of Christ, the Light of the World, through the symbolic lighting of candles. Similarly, consecrated men and women are called to spread the light and love of Jesus Christ through their unique witness of selfless service, such as caring for the poor, the contemplative work of prayer, or through their professional careers. On February 2, 2020, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome to recognize and pray for the essential role of consecrated persons in the life of the Church and to express gratitude for their service to the Church. Similarly, parishes in the United States will also celebrate consecrated life during the weekend of February 1-2 and recognize the essential role of consecrated persons in the life of the Church. As engaged members of their local communities, consecrated men and women bring the presence of Jesus to all they encounter throughout their day, allowing his Spirit to live and move within them so that the truth of the Gospel can be proclaimed to all.

Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations, reiterated the importance of the witness offered by those in consecrated life: “Consecrated men and women are a special treasure in the Church who allow the love of Jesus to become tangible. By dedicating their entire lives to following Christ, consecrated persons are particularly able to reach out to those on the peripheries of our society and bring the message of the Gospel to all those in need.”

Each year, the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations asks the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) to conduct a survey of those solemnly professed in the United States in the past year. Some of the major findings of this year’s report are:

•  The average age of the profession class of 2019 is 39. Half of the responding religious are age 34 or younger. The youngest is 24 and the oldest is 71.
•  Two-thirds of the responding religious (69 percent) report their primary race or ethnicity as white. One in ten (10 percent) identifies as Hispanic, and one in ten (9 percent) identify as Asian.
•  Three in four of responding religious (74 percent) were born in the United States. Of those born outside the United States, the most common country of origin is the Philippines.  
•  Twenty-five percent of responding religious earned a graduate degree before entering their religious institute. Three-fourths (74 percent) entered their religious institute with at least a bachelor’s degree (77 percent for women and 69 percent for men).
•  Around nine in ten responding religious (89 percent) served in one or more church ministries before entering their religious institute, most commonly as a lector (51 percent), altar server (44 percent), or Extraordinary Minister of Communion (42 percent).
•  On average, responding religious report that they were 19 years old when they first considered a vocation to religious life, but half were 18 or younger when they first did so.  
• Nine in ten responding religious (91 percent) regularly participated in some type of private prayer activity before they entered their religious institute. Three-fifths or more participated in Eucharistic Adoration or prayed the rosary before entering. Nearly six in ten participated in spiritual direction or retreats before entering.

The full survey from CARA, as well as resources for use by parishes are available at: http://cms.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/consecrated-life/world-day-for-consecrated-life.cfm  
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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, World Day for Consecrated Life, Bishop James F. Checchio, Diocese of Metuchen, Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, Presentation of the Lord, Candlemas Day, Charism, Consecrated Life, Vocations, Women Religious, Men Religious, Profession Class of 2019, Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, CARA, Pope John Paul II, Pope Francis, Vatican, Eucharistic Adoration, rosary, spiritual direction, retreats.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

Bishop Chairmen Strongly Commend Administration for Action to Enforce Federal Conscience Law

WASHINGTON—On January 24th, on the occasion of the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., the Trump Administration announced that it is taking steps to enforce the Weldon Amendment, a federal law that prohibits discrimination by states against health insurance plans that do not cover abortion. In 2014, the California Department of Managed Health Care began forcing all employers—even churches—to fund and facilitate elective abortions in their health plans in direct violation of the Weldon amendment. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop George V. Murry, S.J. of Youngstown, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, issued the following statement in response to this enforcement action:

“Today’s announcement is extraordinarily good news for the right to life, conscientious objection, religious freedom and the rule of law. For nearly six years, employers in California—including churches—have been forced to fund and facilitate abortions in their health insurance plans in direct violation of a federal conscience protection law known as the Weldon amendment. This coercive California policy is abhorrent, unjust and illegal. We strongly commend the Trump Administration for taking this critical action to enforce federal law and correct this supreme injustice to the people and employers of California. Sadly, violations of federal conscience laws are on the rise. We hope that this enforcement action, and subsequent actions by the Administration, will stop further unlawful discrimination against people who reject abortion as a violation of the most basic human and civil rights.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Bishop George V. Murry, S.J, Committee for Religious Liberty, Weldon Amendment, Trump Administration.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

Bishop Chairmen Express Sorrow on the Loss of American Firefighting Crew in Australia

WASHINGTON—Today, bishops from two committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), expressed their profound sorrow at the loss of three American crew members when a firefighting air tanker crashed in the state of New South Wales in Australia. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, offered the following statement:

“As the people of Australia continue to endure terrible fires, let us renew our prayer and generosity. Today, the suffering was brought even closer to home with the loss of three brave American crew members who died in the crash of a tanker airplane used in fighting wildfires in Australia. We join in prayerful solidarity with their families and with all the people of Australia and all those in regions affected by these terrible fires. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those who are suffering from this tragedy and from the disaster these dedicated professionals were fighting. In our prayer, we recall in trust that Jesus is the resurrection and the life, offering Himself to us and calling us to Himself even in our hardest hour.

“We join with Archbishop José Gomez, president of the USCCB, as expressed in his solidarity letter to the president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, in the heartfelt prayers offered by the bishops of Australia in response to the terrible wildfires that have affected that nation and claimed the lives of so many individuals. We call upon the faithful to support, through their petitions and concern, the efforts at extinguishment and recovery taking place throughout in response to these fires. It is in unity with the bishops of Australia that we encourage the faithful and all appropriate parties to be generous in their financial support of these recovery efforts. We pray for the safety and wellbeing of those affected and those fighting the fires, and hope for the eventual restoration of the homes and natural habitats that have been destroyed.”

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop José H. Gomez, Archbishop Paul Coakley, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop David Malloy, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Australia.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200