Posted on 11/22/2017 04:49 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON— Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called for amendments to the Senate tax reform proposal to "ensure a just and moral framework for all."
"The Senate bill doubles the standard deduction, which will provide tax relief to many. However, the 'Chairman's Mark,' as written, will raise income taxes on the working poor while simultaneously providing a large tax cut to the wealthy," wrote Bishop Dewane. "Tax breaks for the financially secure, including millionaires and billionaires, should not be made possible by increased taxes to families struggling to meet their daily needs."
According to the nonpartisan congressional Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), on average, taxpayers making between $10,000 and $30,000 per year will see a tax increase in 2021. Significant tax breaks to the very wealthy—including millionaires and billionaires—are projected for the same year. In 2023 and 2025, average taxes will increase for those making less than $30,000, but they will go down for those making more than $30,000. By 2027, after most individual tax cuts are set to expire, average taxes will increase for taxpayers making less than $75,000, while decreasing for those making more.
Bishop Dewane expressed support for positive aspects of the bill, including the fact that the Senate plan does not repeal the adoption tax credit or the exclusion for employer adoption assistance programs. It also recognizes children in utero by allowing contributions to a 529 savings plan before birth. However, the Bishop highlighted serious problems with the legislation which include the elimination of personal exemptions (which "places a significant burden on larger families"), and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act's individual insurance mandate apart from broader health care reform.
"The Senate proposal repeals one portion of the Affordable Care Act—the individual insurance mandate—apart from a needed comprehensive approach to health care reform, one that would protect against millions of additional people becoming uninsured and fix problems that pertain to affordability, protect unborn life, conscience and immigrant access," noted Bishop Dewane. "Tax reform should not become the vehicle for a partial health care reform that fails to address significant problems in our health care system while exacerbating other difficulties."
Bishop Dewane also highlighted a November 14, 2017 Congressional Budget Office letter that stated that a deficit increase of $1.5 trillion over ten years would require spending cuts as early as 2018, if other legislation is not enacted. "These cuts will almost certainly include deep reductions to programs that help those in need," the USCCB letter said.
The full letter can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Senate-Tax-Cuts-and-Jobs-Act-Letter-2017-11-22.pdf.
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Senate tax reform, Joint Committee on Taxation, tax increases, adoption tax credit, adoption assistance programs, Affordable Care Act, tax reform, health care reform, protection of unborn, Congressional Budget Office, spending cuts.
Posted on 11/21/2017 09:58 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON—On November 20, the Department of Homeland Security announced termination of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti. TPS is a temporary, renewable, and statutorily-authorized humanitarian migration program that permits individuals to remain and work lawfully in the U.S. during a period in which it is deemed unsafe for nationals of that country to return home. There are an estimated 50,000 Haitian TPS recipients living in the U.S.
Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration (USCCB/COM), issued the following statement in response:
"Yesterday's decision to terminate TPS for Haiti is deeply troubling. As discussed in our recent delegation trip report, Haiti is not yet in a position where it can safely accept return of the estimated 50,000 Haitian nationals who have received TPS. This decision will devastate many families with TPS members, including those with U.S. citizen children. It will tear individuals from their loved ones, homes, careers, and communities. It will also have direct negative consequences for many in Haiti who rely on remittances for vital support.
Our nation has a responsibility to provide continued temporary protection until TPS holders' return and reintegration can be safely accomplished. Catholic Social Teaching recognizes a duty to not turn our backs on our neighbors in need. Scripture states: 'If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him?' (1 John 3:17). Our Haitian neighbors, at home and abroad, need our compassion while their country rebuilds and recovers. Yesterday's decision ignores such needs.
The Administration has provided an 18-month period during which TPS recipients from Haiti can legally stay in the United States and prepare for their departure. While this time is appreciated, it will not remedy the protection concerns and family separation that Haitian TPS recipients will face.
Congress needs to find a legislative solution for long-term TPS recipients and enact legislation that keeps these families together.
Our prayers and continued support are with the Haitian people who have deep ties to our communities, parishes, and country. They are businesses owners, successful professionals, home owners, and parents of U.S. citizen children and most importantly, they are children of God."
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Committee on Migration, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), Department of Homeland Security, Haiti, migration, families, children, Catholic social teaching.
Posted on 11/21/2017 07:19 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON—The USCCB in collaboration with the Knights of Columbus, Catholic Relief Services, the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) and Aid to the Church in Need announce the observance this Sunday, November 26, as A Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians. The Day of Prayer also initiates "Solidarity in Suffering," a Week of Awareness and Education that runs from November 26-December 3. The Day of Prayer on the Solemnity of Christ the King, is a fitting time to reflect on religious freedom and Christians around the world who are being persecuted in unheard of numbers.
"On the solemnity of Christ the King, I ask that the entire church in the United States come together in a special way for a day of prayer for persecuted Christians to express our solidarity with those who are suffering," says Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, during his annual address to bishops. In a statement to bishops, the cardinal added, "To focus attention on the plight of Christians and other minorities is not to ignore the suffering of others. Rather by focusing on the most vulnerable members of society, we strengthen the entire fabric of society to protect the rights of all."
To support the observance of the Day of Prayer and Week of Awareness, a wide array of resources are available to assist parishes, schools and campus ministries. One of those resources is the Executive Summary of "Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians Oppressed for their Faith 2015-2017". The report was made available to all bishops during the November Plenary Assembly, courtesy of Aid to the Church in Need. Electronic copies of the report are now available at www.usccb.org/middle-east-Christians.
Additional resources on the site include:
For social media, we are using the hashtag: #SolidarityInSuffering.
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Knights of Columbus, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), Aid to the Church in Need, Day of Prayer, persecuted Christians, solemnity Christ the King, Week of Awareness, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, oppression, Christianity, prayer.
Posted on 11/21/2017 03:45 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON—The chairmen of the Committee on International Justice and Peace and Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as chairmen of the Conference of the Mexican Episcopate's Pastoral Social Committee, have issued a joint statement on the ongoing renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
NAFTA—a trilateral commercial agreement among the United States, Canada, and Mexico—came into force in 1994, and has brought about many positive outcomes as well as some negative ones, especially for poor and vulnerable persons in the United States and Mexico.
The statement, entitled, "RENEGOTIATING NAFTA: Rebuilding our Economic Relationship in Solidarity, Mutual Trust, and Justice," restates longstanding principles and guidelines of Catholic Social Doctrine regarding international trade. The bishops remind all involved that:
"Trade must, first of all, benefit people, in addition to markets and economies. It is crucial that these complex and multifaceted agreements arise from a sound legal and moral framework that protects the common good and the most vulnerable."
Noting that trade agreements "have consequences beyond the economic sphere," the bishops of both countries offer in their statement criteria based on experience, as pastors, to help guide the renegotiation process so that it might serve as a "means of achieving the welfare and integral development of all."
The full statement is available in both English and Spanish at:
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Mexican Episcopate, Pastoral Social Committee, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), United States, Canada, Mexico, trilateral agreement, renegotiation, solidarity, justice, Catholic social doctrine, international trade, markets, economies, common good, development, vulnerable, moral framework.
Posted on 11/20/2017 23:52 PM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Father J. Mark Spalding of the Archdiocese of Louisville as the new bishop of Nashville. Pope Francis has also named Father Shawn McKnight, a priest of the Diocese of Wichita, as the new bishop of Jefferson City after accepting the resignation of Bishop John R. Gaydos.
The appointments were publicized in Washington on November 21, 2017 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Father J. Mark Spalding was born January 13, 1965 and was ordained a priest on August 3, 1991.
He attended St. Meinrad College Seminary in St. Meinrad, Indiana where he studied philosophy. He later attended the American College at Louvain in Belgium (1991) where he earned a degree in theology. He later attended the Catholic University of Louvain, where he earned a Licentiate of Canon Law in 1992.
Assignments after ordination included parochial vicar, St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral, Bardstown (1992-1996); parochial vicar, St. Augustine Parish, Lebanon (1996-1998); parochial vicar, St. Margaret Mary Parish, Louisville (1998-1999); pastor, Immaculate Conception Parish, LaGrange (1999-2011); pastor, Holy Trinity Parish, Louisville (2011-present).
Father Spalding also served as judicial vicar for the Archdiocese of Louisville from 1998-2011 and is currently vicar general for the Archdiocese, 2011-present.
Father Shawn McKnight was born June 26, 1968. He was ordained a priest for the diocese of Wichita on May 28, 1994.
He earned a master of arts degree and a master of divinity degree from the Pontifical College Josephinum (1993-1994) and later earned a Licentiate of Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm in Rome in 1999. In 2001, he earned a Doctor of Sacred Theology also from the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm.
Assignments after ordination include: associate pastor, Blessed Sacrament Parish, Wichita (1994-1997); pastoral administrator, St. Patrick Parish, Chanute (1999); chaplain, Newman University, Wichita (2000-2001); priestly service, St. Mary's Parish, Delaware (2003-2008); pastor, Blessed Sacrament Parish, Wichita (2008-2010); priestly service, parishes in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and Washington (2010-2015); presbyteral council and college of consultors, Wichita (2000-2005); pastor, Church of the Magdalen, Wichita (2015-present).
Father McKnight formerly served as executive director of the Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV) of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) from 2010-2015. He has also held numerous academic, professional and academic society positions among them serving as director of Liturgy and director of Formation at the Pontifical College Josephinum.
Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop John R. Gaydos, who has served as the third bishop of Jefferson City.
Bishop Gaydos was born August 14, 1943 and will turn 75 this August. On June 25, 1997, Gaydos was appointed bishop of Jefferson City by Pope John Paul II. He was ordained as bishop on August 27, 1997.
He also served within the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as Chairman of the Committee on Priestly Life and Ministry, now known as the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV).
The Diocese of Nashville comprises 16,302 square miles. It has a total population of 2,607,152 people of which 83,124 or 3 percent, are Catholic.
The Diocese of Jefferson City comprises 22,127 square miles. It has a total population of 920,234 people of which 81,958 or 11 percent, are Catholic.
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Bishop John R. Gaydos, Father J. Mark Spalding, Archdiocese of Louisville, Nashville, Father W. Shawn McKnight, Jefferson City
Posted on 11/20/2017 09:23 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON— Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), offers a Thanksgiving Day message to the nation with special gratitude for the gift of immigrants and refugees.
Full statement follows:
"As we do every year, we will pause this coming Thursday to thank God for the many blessings we enjoy in the United States. My brother bishops and I, gathered last week in Baltimore, were attentive in a special way to those who are often excluded from this great abundance—the poor, the sick, the addicted, the unborn, the unemployed, and especially migrants and refugees.
My brothers expressed a shared and ever-greater sense of alarm—and urgency to act—in the face of policies that seemed unthinkable only a short time ago: the deportation of Dreamers, young hard-working people who should be the lowest priority for deportation; the anxiety and uncertainty of those with Temporary Protected Status from countries like Haiti, El Salvador, and Honduras, which are still recovering from natural disasters and remain ill-equipped to humanely receive and integrate them; and an unprecedented reduction in the number of people we will welcome this year into our country who seek refuge from the ravages of war and religious persecution in their countries of origin.
One common feature of all these developments is their tendency to tear apart the family, the fundamental building block of our, or any, society. These threats to so many vulnerable immigrant and refugee families must end now. My brothers have urged me to speak out on their behalf to urge the immediate passage—and signature—of legislation that would alleviate these immediate threats to these families.
Another common feature of these policies is that they are symptoms of an immigration system that is profoundly broken and requires comprehensive reform. This is a longer-term goal, one that the bishops have advocated for decades to achieve, and one that must never be overlooked. Only by complete reform will we have the hope of achieving the common goals of welcoming the most vulnerable, ensuring due process and humane treatment, protecting national security, and respecting the rule of law. We are committed to such reforms and will continue to call for them.
So this year, I give thanks for the gift and contributions of immigrants and refugees to our great nation. I also pray that next year, families now under threat will not be broken and dispersed, but instead will be united in joy around their tables, giving thanks for all the blessings our nation has to offer.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving all!"
Keywords: USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Thanksgiving Day, America, blessings, migrants, refugees, comprehensive reform, family reunification
Posted on 11/17/2017 09:27 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON—On November 17,
2017, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee
on Migration, was joined by Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC),
Catholic Relief Services (CRS), and Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) in sending a
letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, urging an
18-month extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti.
TPS is a temporary, renewable,
and statutorily authorized immigration status that allows individuals to remain
and work lawfully in the U.S. during a period in which it is deemed unsafe for
nationals of that country to return home.
While the current designation
for Haiti is set to expire in January 2018, the Department of Homeland Security
is required to make a decision to terminate or extend TPS for Haiti by November
23, 2017. As noted by the partners: "[I]t would be premature and detrimental to
the country's redevelopment to return TPS holders to Haiti." The letter,
sharing insights from the recent USCCB/Migration and Refugee Services (MRS)
delegation trip to Haiti, explained that the country is still recovering from
the 2010 earthquake and subsequent natural disasters and is not currently in a
position to adequately handle return of its nationals who have TPS.
As discussed in the USCCB/MRS
trip report, Haiti's Ongoing Road to Recovery: The Necessity of an Extension of
Temporary Protected Status, an extension of TPS for the
nation is crucial for humanitarian, regional security, and economic stability
reasons. Consequently, the Catholic partners urged Secretary Duke to extend TPS
for Haiti to "allow the country to build upon the progress it has made towards
recovery and help ensure individuals' return and reintegration can be safely
The letter also reiterated the
Church's commitment to standing "ready to support measures to help ensure TPS
recipients and their families are provided the protection and support they need
while Haiti rebuilds."
Read the full letter here: https://justiceforimmigrants.org/news/catholic-partner-letter-dhs-urging-extension-tps-haiti/.
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe Vásquez, Committee on Migration, Migration and Refugee Services, Temporary Protected Status, TPS recipients, TPS beneficiaries, Department of Homeland Security, Haiti, refugees, migration, earthquake, natural disaster, prayers, legislative solution
Posted on 11/17/2017 07:23 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON— Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, expressed "great disappointment" over the House of Representatives' passage of the deeply flawed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, calling on the Senate to work toward legislation that fixes the problems with H.R.1. The full statement reads as follows:
"It is greatly disappointing that the U.S. House of Representatives ignored impacts to the poor and families—including those who welcome life through adoption or have more than three children—and passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act without needed changes. According to the nonpartisan congressional Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), this bill raises taxes on the working poor beginning in 2023, and simultaneously gives large tax cuts to millionaires. The November 9 letter of the USCCB detailed the many deficiencies in the House bill, including the elimination of the personal exemption, which will hurt larger families, and the repeal of the out-of-pocket medical expenses deduction, which will harm those with serious and chronic illness. While we are grateful that the House restored the adoption tax credit, it still repeals an important exclusion for families assisted by their employer to adopt children in need, and eliminates incentives for charitable giving. For families working hard for economic security, the bill eliminates the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, and tax relief for persons paying for tuition and student loans, as well as those who retire on disability, among other things.
While H.R. 1 takes an important step toward strengthening parents' ability to choose a school that best suits their child, its repeal of important provisions that aid both teachers and students in non-government elementary and secondary schools should be reversed.
The Senate is currently debating its bill, and the USCCB will release a more detailed analysis shortly. The Senate must act decisively to avoid the deficiencies in the House legislation, and craft a final bill that affirms life, cares for the poor, and ensures national tax policy aimed at the common good. Right now, the Senate bill does not eliminate many of the tax benefits that the House bill does, and this is commendable. However, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) wrote on November 14 that the $1.5 trillion deficit that is created over 10 years will require spending cuts, and much of these will likely come from programs that help the poor. The Senate bill does not include a needed 'above-the-line' charitable deduction, the omission of which will result in up to a $13 billion annual decrease in charitable giving.
Senate legislation has also been scored by the JCT as raising taxes on the working poor while giving large tax cuts to millionaires. In addition, the Senate proposes to cut additional tax benefits that help working families, and these must be fully understood. It is laudable that the Senate tries to incentivize paid family and medical leave, but the provision is designed to sunset at the end of 2019. Although the Senate bill further expands the child tax credit, the elimination of the personal exemption will cause a net loss for larger families.
The Senate must work to ensure a legislative process characterized by integrity, one in which Americans can fully understand the implication of tax proposals which will be voted upon. It must also seek to pass a law that demonstrates that our nation prioritizes care for the most vulnerable among us."
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, House bill, Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), working poor, personal exemption, medical deduction, Work Opportunity Tax Credit, tax relief, jobs, Congressional Budget Office (CBO), charitable deduction, adoption incentive, medical leave, child tax credit, poor, vulnerable.
Posted on 11/16/2017 00:37 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop William J. Justice as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Bishop Justice's resignation was accepted upon reaching the retirement age of 75.
Bishop Justice's retirement was publicized in Washington, November 16, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
William Justice was born May 8, 1942 in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and moved to San Mateo, California in 1946. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Saint Joseph College in Philosophy in 1962 and a Master of Arts degree in Philosophy from Saint Patrick College in 1964. He graduated from St. Patrick Seminary in 1968 with a Master of Divinity Degree.
On May 17, 1968 he was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Joseph T. McGucken.
Assignments after ordination to the priesthood include: parochial vicar, Saint John the Evangelist, San Francisco, 1968-1970; parochial vicar, All Souls Church, San Francisco, 1970-1976; parochial vicar, Saint Paul Church, San Francisco, 1976-1979; parochial vicar, Saint Timothy Church, San Francisco, 1979-1982; director, Permanent Diaconate, Pastoral Center, San Francisco, 1979-1981; secretary, Office of Pastoral Ministry, Pastoral Center, San Francisco, 1981-1982; in residence, Saint Kevin Church, San Francisco, 1982-1985; pastor, Saint Peter Church, 1985-1991; sabbatical, 1989-1990; parochial vicar, All Souls Church, San Francisco, 1991-2003; pastor, Mission Dolores Basilica, San Francisco, 2003-2008; vicar for clergy, Archdiocese of San Francisco, 2006-2008.
On April 10, 2008, he was named an auxiliary bishop by Pope Benedict XVI. On May 28, 2008, he was ordained a bishop at St. Mary's Cathedral by Archbishop George H. Niederauer.
The Archdiocese of San Francisco comprises 1,016 square miles. It has a total population of 1,776,095 people of which 441,736 or 25 percent, are Catholic. Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone is the current Archbishop of San Francisco.
Keywords: Pope Francis, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Auxiliary Bishop William Justice, retirement, Diocese of San Francisco, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio, Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop George H. Niederauer, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone
Posted on 11/14/2017 09:02 AM (USCCB News Releases)
BALTIMORE—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved today their 2018 budget and a three percent increase in the diocesan assessment for 2019 during their annual Fall General Assembly in Baltimore.
The 2018 budget was approved with 125 votes in favor, 4 against, and 3 abstentions. The vote required a majority of the members present to pass.
The three percent increase in the diocesan assessment for 2019 was approved with 136 votes in favor, 31 against, and 5 abstentions. This vote required approval by two-thirds of diocesan and eparchial bishops.
The bishops also approved the ICEL Gray Book translation of the Order of Baptism of Children for use in the dioceses of the United States of America with 200 voting in favor, 23 against, and 3 abstaining. The vote required affirmation by two-thirds of the Latin Church members and is subject to confirmatio by the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. In other actions, the bishops approved:
The bishops also elected the following members to the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Board of Directors:
Bishop Edward J. Burns, Diocese of Dallas; Bishop Felipe J. Estévez, Diocese of St. Augustine; Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux; Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda, Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis; Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend; and Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski, Archdiocese of Miami.
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, General Assembly, 2018 Budget, Diocesan Assessment, Order of Baptism, Catholic Relief Services, Amoris Laetitia, Ad Hoc Committee against Racism, elections, votes.