Msgr. Kieran E. Harrington of the Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y., pictured in this 2017 photo, has been named the new national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States, succeeding Oblate Father Andrew Small. The appointment was announced April 14, 2021. (CNS photo/courtesy Diocese of Brooklyn)

WASHINGTON (CNS) – Msgr. Kieran Harrington, vicar of communications for the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, has been named national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States.

The five-year appointment was announced April 14 by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, which oversees the work of more than 120 national mission societies around the world.

Msgr. Harrington succeeds Oblate Father Andrew Small, who is completing his second five-year term as the national director of the four organizations that make up the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States.

“I am humbled by the trust placed in me to serve the church in this most important area of missionary evangelization,” said Msgr. Harrington, who added that he looks forward to “working with the bishops and dioceses to support the pastoral work of the pontifical missions.”

Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said in a statement the selection of Msgr. Harrington for this position “is the absolute right choice.” He noted that there has “always been an extraordinary desire within him to bring the good news of Jesus Christ, and the Christian faith, to the people not only of his parish, but throughout the world.”

He said the priest brings to the role a “deep faith and motivation to evangelize” and that the church will benefit because of his “devotion to Our Lord, and to the people the Catholic Church is called to serve.”

On July 1, Father Small will officially continue his work as president and CEO of Missio Invest, a group he founded in 2014 to help fund the social service efforts of the Catholic Church in Africa through Missio Invest Social Impact Fund.

He said he has gotten to know Msgr. Harrington in the past 10 years and is “delighted that someone of such ability and passion has been chosen as the next national director of the Holy Father’s mission societies.”

Msgr. Harrington was ordained in 2001 and has been vicar of communications for the Diocese of Brooklyn since 2006.

As vicar, he has been responsible for overseeing the diocesan public information and affairs office and its government affairs and public policy office as well as supervising NET, the diocese’s cable station, and The Tablet, the diocesan newspaper. The priest also is rector of the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Brooklyn.

He told Catholic News Service April 13 he was very grateful for the opportunity “to be involved in this important ministry in the life of the church” noting that the “missionary impulse” is at the heart of the baptismal call for all Catholics and that the Pontifical Mission Societies aims to “awaken that missionary spirit.”

His own sense of the missionary role of the church goes back to when he was young and his Irish immigrant parents in New York had visiting Irish Holy Ghost Fathers come to the house, where they would celebrate Mass and take up a collection for the church in Biafra, which at the time was a secessionist state in West Africa and today is part of Nigeria.

He said these priests made a big impression on him just by their “essence of missionary spirit.”

And now, as he prepares to follow a missionary outreach, Msgr. Harrington said he hopes to be able to discuss with the nation’s bishops and diocesan directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies the best ways to continue to tell the story of the church’s outreach around the world.

“Amazing things are being done,” he said, noting the church’s mission work is not just about humanitarian projects but also about communicating the faith.

A key part of continuing this work, he added, is to help Catholics in developing nations or struggling areas to know “they are not alone: The whole church is praying with them, walking with them.”

Father Small similarly stressed the church’s mission work was one of solidarity with the church around the world and said the work of the Pontifical Mission Societies has done just that from its founding in 1916 to now.

“It is as important as ever to lift the voices no one has access to … the church no one sees,” he told CNS.

And over the years, the Pontifical Mission Societies has found new ways to communicate its message, from the television work of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen — who was its national director from 1950 to 1966 and is a sainthood candidate who has been declared “Venerable” — to the digital outreach under Father Small’s direction.

The Oblate priest has overseen the group’s online curriculum in mission theology and its creation of the Missio USA “MassBot” which enabled users to request the offering of a Mass for their intentions and receive messages from the missionary priest who celebrated the Mass as well as online updates of global missionary work.

Father Small said in his 10 years with Pontifical Mission Societies, the organization focused on new ways to communicate the Gospel message by hiring people with backgrounds in youth and young adult ministries and also by providing more bilingual materials.

He is particularly proud of the work of Missio Invest, initially formed under the umbrella of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States until it became separately incorporated in 2018.

He said the group pursues the same goals as the pope’s missionary groups but in different ways which he said was like “the new kid on the missionary block.”

Its peer-to-peer crowd funding platform, which means funds go directly to recipients, has already provided 40 loans of $4.5 million to agriculture, businesses, schools and microfinance institutions owned and operated by the Catholic Church in several African countries.

The Pontifical Mission Societies — — includes the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Holy Childhood Association, the Society of St. Peter Apostle, and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious.


WASHINGTON (CNS) – The decision by the acting commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to suspend enforcement of the agency’s in-person prescribing requirement for the abortion drug endangers women’s health and possibly their lives, pro-life leaders said.

On April 12, Dr. Janet Woodcock said the FDA will “exercise enforcement discretion” regarding its own requirement that is part of the risk management program for mifepristone as long as President Joe Biden’s declaration of a public health emergency for COVID-19 remains in place.

The brand name for mifepristone is Mifeprex. Also called RU-486, it is used to end pregnancies during the first 10 weeks.

Woodcock said making women pick up the drug may increase their risk of contracting COVID-19, FDA said, so it will temporarily allow clinics to distribute the drug via telemedicine, directly by mail or through a mail-order pharmacy.

FDA regulations also required patients to sign a form acknowledging risks associated with the drug before they could receive it in person.

“The FDA’s announcement yesterday that they plan to lift safety restrictions that govern the dispensing of medication abortions makes women’s health simply a pawn in the effort to push for more abortion,” Dr. Christina Francis, chair of the American Association of Pro-Life OB/GYNs, said in an April 13 statement.

Francis said her organization “represents approximately 7,000 women’s health care practitioners who will not allow our patients’ lives to be put in jeopardy in order to appease the abortion industry and their allies.”

“An in-person visit is medically necessary and sound medical practice because it ensures that every woman receives a full evaluation for any contraindications to a medication abortion,” she said.

She said a recent analysis of adverse events submitted to the FDA with the safety regulations in place “shows over 3,000 women suffering with complications, of which 24 of these women died, and another 500 would have died if they had not reached emergency medical care in time.”

These numbers “will only increase” with the current safety regulations removed, she added.

“The Biden administration makes catastrophic loss of life by mail its legacy in choosing to weaken the minimal health and safety in place to protect women from the deadly consequences of chemical abortion pills,” said Students for Life Action, a sister organization of Students for Life of America.

“Sending deadly pills through the mail without any prescreening or follow-up care is convenient and cost effect for corporate abortion, but women will pay the price along with countless preborn infants,” the organization said April 13, adding that the abortion drug now ends over 40% “of preborn life.”

In July 2020, U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang in Maryland agreed to suspend a rule that requires women during the COVID-19 pandemic to visit a hospital, clinic or medical office to obtain an abortion pill.

He concluded that the “in-person requirements” for patients seeking medication abortion care impose a “substantial obstacle” to women seeking an abortion and are likely unconstitutional under the circumstances of the pandemic.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other groups sued the FDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in May 2020 to challenge the in-person dispensing rule arguing it infringed on a woman’s lawful right to obtain an abortion.

In his ruling, Chuang said suspending the requirements aligns with public health guidance to eliminate unnecessary travel and in-person contact.

The Trump administration appealed the ruling and on Jan. 12, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the federal requirement that women who are seeking abortion-inducing drugs must do so in person, not by mail.




The Fraternité Notre Dame Community, since its acquisition of the former Saint Mary of the Assumption Parish complex in South Scranton, Pennsylvania in 2020, has generously provided support to the poor, particularly during the course of the current health crisis.  The Community, however, describes itself as a Traditional Catholic Religious Order that is not in union with the Pope.  As such, it is not a legitimate religious order of the Catholic Church.

The faithful of the Diocese of Scranton should not attend Masses nor receive the sacraments provided by the Fraternité Notre Dame Community when Masses are available in nearby Churches of the Diocese.  Particularly regarding the sacraments of Confession and Marriage, these celebrations would not only be illicit, but also invalid.


La Comunidad de Fraternité Notre Dame, desde que adquirió el antiguo complejo de la parroquia de Santa María de la Asunción en el Sur de Scranton, Pensilvania en el año 2020, ha brindado generosamente apoyo a los pobres, particularmente durante el curso de la actual crisis de salud. La Comunidad, sin embargo, se describe a sí misma como una Orden Religiosa Católica Tradicional que no está en unión con el Papa. Como tal, no es una orden religiosa legítima de la Iglesia Católica.

Los fieles de la Diócesis de Scranton no deben asistir a las Misas ni recibir los sacramentos proporcionados por la Comunidad Fraternité Notre Dame cuando las Misas están disponibles en las Iglesias cercanas de la Diócesis. Particularmente en lo que respecta a los sacramentos de la Reconciliación y la Eucaristía, estas celebraciones no solo serían ilícitas, sino también inválidas.





Pope Francis greets Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, during the sign of peace at a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in this Jan. 6, 2020, file photo. Cardinal Ouellet announced plans for a major international conference at the Vatican in 2022 on the theology of the priesthood. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Increasing vocations to the priesthood, improving the way laypeople and priests work together and ensuring that service, not power, motivates the request for ordination are all possible outcomes of a major symposium being planned by the Vatican in February 2022.

“A theological symposium does not claim to offer practical solutions to all the pastoral and missionary problems of the church, but it can help us deepen the foundation of the church’s mission,” said Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and the chief organizer of the symposium planned for Feb. 17-19, 2022.

The symposium, “Toward a Fundamental Theology of the Priesthood,” seeks to encourage an understanding of ministerial priesthood that is rooted in the priesthood of all believers conferred at baptism, getting away from the idea of ordained ministry as belonging to “ecclesiastical power,” the cardinal said at a news conference April 12.

The three-day gathering, the cardinal said, is aimed specifically at bishops and delegations of theologians and vocations personnel from every country, although it will be open to other theologians and people interested in the topic.

The relationship between baptism and ordained ministry needs greater emphasis today, Cardinal Ouellet said, but reviewing the foundations of a theology of priesthood also “involves ecumenical questions not to be ignored, as well as the cultural movements that question the place of women in the church.”

The recent synods of bishops on the family, on young people and on the church in the Amazon all show the urgency of questions surrounding priesthood and relationships among people with different vocations in the church, the cardinal said.

Michelina Tenace, a professor of theology at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, is helping organize the symposium and told reporters that going back to baptism and the priesthood of all believers “isn’t just a fashion, it’s the basis for all Christian life.”

The clerical abuse scandal, she said, makes the questions of priestly identity, vocational discernment and formation more urgent.

Father Vincent Siret, rector of the Pontifical French Seminary in Rome, said a deeper reflection on priesthood — both the priesthood of all the baptized and ministerial priesthood — is essential for those engaged in training men for the priesthood.

“The baptismal life is the fundamental human vocation, and all must exercise the priesthood received at baptism. Ministry is at the service of this,” he said. “Reflecting on the fundamental theology of the priesthood will also make it possible to return to the justifications for priestly celibacy and the way it is lived.”

The Catholic Church requires most priests in its Latin rite to be celibate. While Cardinal Ouellet, Father Siret and Tenace all mentioned the importance of celibacy in the Latin rite, none of them mentioned the traditions of the Eastern Catholic churches that continue to have both married an


SCRANTON – As he acknowledged and again apologized for the pain of survivors of sexual abuse on April 8, 2021, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera recommitted to creating safe environments across the Diocese of Scranton.

“I pledge to continue to do all within my power to keep our Churches and schools safe for our children and for all of our people to worship, to pray, to learn and to grow in their faith,” Bishop Bambera said.

The bishop’s pledge came during a Healing Mass for Survivors of Abuse held at 12:10 p.m. at the Cathedral of Saint Peter. During the Mass, the bishop prayed for God’s healing and peace for all survivors of sexual abuse and particularly for those abused by members of the clergy and Church workers.

“While we have celebrated this Mass in a very public way for three years now, it is more vital today than ever that we continue to pray for survivors of abuse. Why? Because there is still pain,” the bishop said. “A few years of public prayer can’t change a lifetime of suffering. So many survivors continue to be burdened by nightmares of inhuman behavior on the part of those who should have been trustworthy but were not.”

Since his ordination, Bishop Bambera has met with numerous survivors of abuse who have shared their pain and taught him great lessons.

“They’ve taught me that if the Church is truly intent upon creating safe environments for its children and all of God’s people, the Church – and especially Church leaders – must never forget or allow time to numb us to the pain that was so willfully inflicted on innocent lives by those who postured themselves as God’s representatives and ministers of his love and mercy,” the bishop explained.

The month of April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. It is a time to recognize the importance of families in communities working together to prevent child mistreatment.

The Healing Mass for Survivors of Abuse took place on the Thursday in the Octave of Easter. During the Easter Octave, the Church celebrates Jesus’ victory over suffering and death through the Resurrection. As the bishop reminded the faithful, there was overwhelming pain after Jesus’ death.

“Today’s scripture passages remind us of the pain and suffering so unfairly inflicted upon Jesus – a good, innocent, loving presence consumed by a broken, sinful world. They also remind us, however, that sin and death did not have the final word in Jesus’ experience,” the bishop said. “God overcame the powers of evil and raised Jesus from the dead. We who gather in his name at this time of prayer are ‘witnesses’ to the saving, healing presence of God, not just in Jesus’ life, but in our world and in our lives as well.”

In moments of desperation, the bishop said faith can help all of us come to understand how God works.

“When we have nowhere else to turn – when we’re no longer capable of fixing the things that have gone awry in our lives – God is finally given room to step into our lives and to carry us when we can no longer walk on our own,” he explained.

As he ended his homily, the bishop again asked for healing.

“May the risen Jesus heal us of our pain, fill us with His love and strengthen us to walk together in faith and so reflect His life and love to a world so desperately in need of it,” Bishop Bambera said.

To read Bishop Bambera’s full homily from the Healing Mass for Survivors of Abuse on April 8, visit


This image of the Divine Mercy painted in 1943 by Felician Sister Mary Fabia Szatkowska and housed at the Felician Sisters’ motherhouse in Livonia, Mich., is believed to be the first of its kind painted in North America. Masses for Divine Mercy Sunday, celebrated on the Sunday after Easter, are expected to be livestreamed in Catholic churches throughout the United States amid the coronavirus pandemic. (CNS photo/Dan Meloy, The Michigan Catholic)

Each year, on the Second Sunday of Easter, the Church celebrates the Sunday of Divine Mercy.

Mankind’s need for the message of Divine Mercy took on dire urgency in the 20th century, when civilization began again to lose the understanding of the sanctity and inherent dignity of every human life.

In the 1930s, Jesus chose a humble Polish nun, Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, to receive private revelations concerning His Divine Mercy that were recorded in her Diary.

Saint Faustina’s Diary records 14 occasions when Jesus requested that a Feast of Mercy be observed.

On May 5, 2000, five days after the canonization of Saint Faustina, the Vatican decreed that the Second Sunday of Easter would henceforth be known as the Sunday of Divine Mercy.

Divine Mercy Sunday focuses on the gift of mercy and love given through Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. As Pope John Paul II stated, “Divine Mercy reaches human beings through the heart of Christ crucified.”



“It is the joy of simplicity, the joy experienced daily by those who care for what truly matters: faithful closeness to God and to our neighbor. How good it would be if the same atmosphere, simple and radiant, sober and hopeful, were to pervade our seminarians, religious houses and presbyteries,” Pope Francis said on the upcoming occasion of the 58th Anniversary of World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

He continued, “I pray that you will experience this same joy, dear brothers and sisters who have generously made God the dream of your lives, serving him in your brothers and sisters through a fidelity that is a powerful testimony in an age of ephemeral choices and emotions that bring no lasting joy. May Saint Joseph, protector of vocations, accompany you with his fatherly heart!”

The Diocese of Scranton celebration will be held on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, April 25, at 5:00 p.m. at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, Peckville, with Bishop Joseph C. Bambera as celebrant.

“We made the decision to celebrate this year’s World Day of Prayer for Vocations at Sacred Heart,” Father Alex Roche, Diocesan Director of Vocations and Seminarians, said. “Their pastor, Father Andy Kurovsky, was pastor at my home parish of Saint Ann’s in Williamsport when I decided to enter seminary. His passion and energy were influential in my discernment so it was a natural choice to host my first WDPV as Vocation Director in Peckville.”

In addition to the Diocesan celebration, parishes are encouraged to have vocation-based homilies, vocation-themed youth ministry nights, lessons in religious education programs, recitation of the Rosary for Vocations and Holy Hours.

For more information, contact the Vocation Office at (570) 207-1452 or email



SCRANTON – “Mercy is love’s second name.” These powerful words were spoken by Saint John Paul II.

In his book Divine Mercy Explained, Father Michael Gaitley explains that Divine Mercy is a particular kind of love, a particular mode of love when it encounters suffering, poverty, brokenness, and sin. Divine Mercy is when God’s love meets us and helps us in the midst of our suffering and sin.

“Speaking the truth in love all the time” are the words Catholic Women’s Conference Keynote speaker Theresa Bonopartis uses when speaking about healing from abortion and the profound effect abortion has not just on mothers, but fathers, siblings, friends and families.

Bonopartis came to her life’s work the hard way, through experiencing abortion as a teenager. Guilt, shame and regret threatened to consume her life, and for a time they did.

It was only in discovering God’s infinite mercy and capacity to forgive even the most grievous sins that she came to learn how to forgive herself.

She was inspired to reach out to others and speak openly about the most devastating moment in her life. In doing so, she discovered how to love herself again and how to embrace her faith and live her life in God’s love.

She partnered with the Sisters of Life to co-found Entering Canaan Ministry: Healing After Abortion.

Bonopartis has told her story on radio, television and before an almost countless number of audiences. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops highlighted her testimony in a nationally distributed pro-life mailing.

Little would she know that the secret tragedy of her abortion would one day be known by so many. Yet, it would not be the shame and guilt of the abortion which would send her out on her mission, but rather her dramatic healing.

In short, she tells us, “I was healed by the Divine Mercy of God.”

Taking the long road, while not the theme of this year’s conference, applies not only to Theresa Bonopartis but also to featured speaker, Father Chris Alar, a priest with the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception.

After attaining a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and then his MBA, Father Alar worked in the automotive industry in Detroit and owned his own consulting firm before answering the call of God and entering the priesthood.

Father Alar is the author of numerous works including Explaining the Faith: Understanding Divine Mercy.

In his writing, Father Alar explores the legacy and teachings of Saint Faustina Kowalska and the diary in which she reveals her visions of Jesus and what it means to accept God’s Divine Mercy.

Father Alar tackles the difficult questions we all ask including, “Why does a merciful God allow so much suffering?” He experienced the death of his grandmother by suicide and explores the role of Divine Mercy in healing those affected when a loved one takes their own life.

Join this year’s conference and experience Divine Mercy and the restoration of your soul. In addition to Theresa Bonopartis and Father Alar, Sister Virginia Joy of the Sisters of Life will also speak of God’s healing love.

The day will include Eucharistic Adoration, Recitation of the Rosary, and Mass celebrated by Bishop Joseph C. Bambera.

Uplifting and inspirational music will be performed by Cleveland-born, Christian music artist Taylor Tripodi and her band.

Participants can also enjoy a continental breakfast, lunch and shopping at the Catholic Vendor Marketplace. Cost to attend the conference is $40 for in-person and $20 for virtual. Student tickets are $20, and women religious are welcome free of charge.

Volunteers are always needed and those who sign up for four hours at the conference will receive a free ticket. For more information and to register, visit


Pope Francis leads his general audience in the library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican April 7, 2021. The pope said Christians are never alone in prayer but instead are accompanied by countless saints who have preceded them. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

Christians are never alone in prayer but instead are accompanied by myriad saints who protect them and seek God’s intercession, Pope Francis said.

Whenever men or women open their hearts to God, they will always be in the “company of anonymous and recognized saints who pray with us and who intercede for us as older brothers and sisters who have preceded us on this same human adventure,” the pope said April 7 during his weekly general audience.

Continuing his series of talks on prayer, the pope reflected on the connection between prayer and the communion of saints who are “not far from us” and are a reminder of Jesus Christ because they have also “walked the path of life” as Christians.

“In the church, there is no mourning that remains solitary, no tear that is shed in oblivion, because everything breathes and participates in a common grace,” he said.

The tradition of having graveyards around churches is a sign of that sharing, he said. It is “as if to say that every Eucharist is attended in some way by those who have preceded us. There are our parents and grandparents, our godfathers and godmothers, our catechists and other educators,” who have not only transmitted faith but also “the way of praying.”

The saints, he explained, are “witnesses that we do not adore — that is understood, we do not worship these saints -– but whom we venerate and who in thousands of different ways bring us to Jesus Christ, the only Lord and mediator between God and human beings.”

Departing from his prepared remarks, the pope said the lives of saints also serve as a reminder that “even in our lives, though weak and marked by sin, holiness can blossom.”

“In the Gospels, we read that the first ‘canonized’ saint was a thief and he was ‘canonized’ not by a pope, but by Jesus himself,” he said. “Holiness is a path of life, of encounter with Jesus, whether long or short, or in an instant, but always a witness” of God’s love.

The pope also highlighted the need for Christians to pray for one another, which is “the first way of loving” others.

In times of tension, he said, “one way to dissolve the conflict, to soften it, is to pray for the person with whom I am in conflict. Something changes with prayer; the first thing that changes is my heart, my attitude. The Lord changes it to make an encounter possible, a new encounter, and prevents the conflict from becoming a war without end.”

Pope Francis said the first thing people must do in times of anguish is to ask “our brothers and sisters, the saints above all, to pray for us” because they will “give us hand to obtain from God the graces we need most.”

Christians who “have not reached the breaking point” and persevere in times of trial perhaps owe it to the intercession of the saints who are not only in heaven, but also the holy men and women here on earth, the pope added.

“They don’t know it, neither do we, but there are saints, everyday saints, hidden saints or as I like to say the ‘saints next door,’ those who live in life with us, who work with us, and lead a life of holiness,” he said.


A Walgreens health care professional prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTec COVID-19 vaccine in Evanston, Ill., Feb. 22, 2021. (CNS photo/Kamil Krzaczynski, Reuters)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — On World Health Day, April 7, a new group of 31 U.S. Catholic organizations encouraged people to get the COVID-19 vaccine as an act of charity and solidarity with others.

The group also emphasized the need for vaccine equity in the United States and around the world.

“This is a clarion call for us to act,” said Mercy Sister Mary Haddad, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, noting the significance of announcing formation of the group on World Health Day and stressing the role faith-based providers can play as the world makes initial steps to recover from the global pandemic.

She said the pandemic has shown us that “we are so interconnected as a global community; we can’t just act in isolation.”

Sister Haddad said this new coalition represents all social ministries of the church coming together and is a chance to elevate the work they do and to show how they serve everyone, not just the Catholic population.

She also said it is a way for ministries to respond to this ongoing pandemic at a time when people, other than those in health care ministries, are looking for ways they can help.

“Our faith propels us to act and here is our chance to do that,” she told Catholic News Service April 7.

The coalition includes the CHA, Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services and Jesuit Refugee Service along with religious orders and groups representing church ministries in education, chaplaincy, advocacy and mission work.

It aims to spread the word about the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine through each group’s social media platforms and also on the coalition’s website:, which has resources from Catholic social teaching, words of Pope Francis and statements from the U.S. Catholic bishops about the moral responsibility to get vaccinated.

The group also is emphasizing the need to make sure the vaccine gets to everyone, particularly communities of color, those in rural areas and places with limited vaccine availability. It also is stressing the urgency of vaccine access in developing countries and among refugees and displaced persons.

Leaders of Catholic organizations that are part of this coalition issued statements about its importance in press materials issued April 7.

Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, said the pandemic and its “shadow pandemics of hunger and poverty are ravishing many countries around the world” and said the most vulnerable “deserve the same access to life saving vaccines that we have.”

He also said the common good “requires that we make vaccine access equitable globally since we can only defeat this virus here if we defeat it everywhere.”

CRS is the U.S. bishops’ overseas relief and development agency.

Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, noted the early Christians demonstrated a “profound sense of community and concern for those in need,” which are just as important today “especially during this challenging moment as we seek to emerge from the pandemic.”

“Each of us plays a part by getting vaccinated and practicing safety measures for the good of all, and by doing everything we can to ensure that those who are most in need have access to the vaccine and protective equipment,” she said.

Sister Haddad pointed out that early on, even in the previous White House administration, she had been involved in Zoom calls about how faith groups could respond with the expected vaccine rollout amid a reported vaccine hesitancy.

Now, further in the vaccine rollout, she noted there is not just hesitancy about the COVID-19 vaccine, “but downright resistance.”

Looking at how to break through that and change behaviors, she said, often means tapping into belief systems and asking: “What does our faith call us to do? How do we care for others?”

The Mercy sister at the helm of an organization with more than 2,200 Catholic hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, systems, sponsors and related organizations in the United States, was part of a roundtable discussion on this very topic March 31 with faith leaders and Vice President Kamala Harris.

“Everyone is talking about this, not just Catholics, but this is our opportunity to rise to the occasion,” she said.