February 12, 2024 

WASHINGTON – At Masses on the weekend of March 9-10, Catholics across the United States will have an opportunity to help the most impoverished and marginalized by giving to The Catholic Relief Services Collection of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). This annual collection helps fund the U.S. bishops’ flagship international relief and development organization (Catholic Relief Services), but it also supports five other initiatives:

  • The U.S. bishops’ Office of International Justice and Peace, works to end conflicts and build just societies that respect human rights, religious freedom, and integral human development;
  • the Holy Father’s Relief Fund allows Pope Francis to send emergency aid to disaster victims worldwide;
  • the U.S. bishops’ Department of Migration and Refugee Services, promotes awareness of the plight of immigrants, migrants, refugees, trafficking victims, and people on the move, and assists with programmatic assistance and aid;
  • the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), provides legal aid to immigrants and refugees seeking a legal path to work permits and citizenship; and
  • the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat on Cultural Diversity in the Church works to bring Catholics from various culturally diverse communities into fuller participation in the faith, life, and evangelizing mission of the Church. Its Pastoral Care for Migrants, Refugees and Travelers program ministers to the special pastoral and cultural needs of immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean Islands, and Europe, as well as itinerant people, including seafarers, traveling show performers, truckers and tourists, while its Asian and Pacific Island Affairs program engages Catholics from Asian and Pacific Island communities in the United States.

“The initiatives that benefit from The Catholic Relief Services Collection bring hope and change lives of the most impoverished and vulnerable among us,” said Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on National Collections. “It is my hope that you consider the Lord’s graces and blessings at work in your lives and consider how you might make a difference in the lives of those who are struggling.”

This collection helped sponsor a conference to seek peace and justice between South and North Korea. And in drought-stricken Kenya, the collection underwrote the renovation of water systems that now bring life and hope to millions of people through Catholic Relief Services. A project funded by the U.S. bishops’ Department of Migration and Refugee Services trained thousands of parish volunteers to assist 21,000 refugees from countries as diverse as Ukraine and Venezuela as they were resettled in the United States and are adjusting to life in a new culture as they make a new start.  The Secretariat on Cultural Diversity in the Church brought together young Catholics from many ethnic backgrounds across the United States to build bridges of understanding that heal divisions in our Church, our country and our communities. And for the last 35 years, CLINIC has supported the needs of immigrants seeking legal services at the local level in communities across the country.

Most dioceses will take up the collection in their parishes on the weekend of March 9-10, though some choose a different date. #iGiveCatholicTogether also accepts funds for the collection.

For more information, please visit https://www.usccb.org/catholic-relief.

 

In the coming days, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2023 (H.R. 5856). This bipartisan bill would do several things to combat the scourge of human trafficking, including:  

  • Reauthorize various programs under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 through Fiscal Year 2028 (which lapsed September 30, 2021), with approximately $1 billion in funding for anti-trafficking efforts over the next five years; 
  • Authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to carry out a Human Trafficking Survivors Employment and Education Program to prevent the re-exploitation of eligible individuals with services that help them to attain life skills, employment, and education necessary to achieve self-sufficiency; 
  • Authorize grants for programs that prevent and detect trafficking of school-age children in a “linguistically accessible, culturally responsive, age-appropriate, and trauma-informed fashion”; and 
  • Require the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to encourage integration of activities to counter human trafficking into its broader programming.  

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration formally endorsed the bill with other Catholic organizations during the previous Congress, stating at the time that “this legislation is critical for continuing and bolstering our nation’s efforts to eradicate human trafficking and assist human trafficking survivors. I join our Holy Father in inviting the faithful and all people of good will to uphold and affirm human dignity and grow in solidarity with those who are vulnerable to exploitation and have been impacted by this terrible evil of modern-day slavery.”  

More recently, in a press release reaffirming the USCCB’s support for the bill, Bishop Mark Seitz, current chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, emphasized that it “is incumbent upon all of us to unite in promoting efforts that prevent the evil of human trafficking.”  

With the Catholic Church around the world commemorating the Feast of Saint Josephine Bakhita, patroness of trafficking victims, and the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking on February 8, now is a perfect time to stand with survivors of human trafficking by completing this action alert in support of H.R. 5856.  

You can learn more about human trafficking and the Church’s anti-trafficking efforts by reading this explainer and by visiting the Justice for Immigrants campaign’s Saint Josephine Bakhita webpage.  

Click the link below to log in and send your message:
https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/Q0xUaT8OPzYnVHIV_x4Sog

 

 

Over the past several months, a handful of senators have negotiated behind closed doors to reach an agreement on potential changes to U.S. immigration law. This is in response to calls by some members of Congress to condition the enactment of supplemental funding on the inclusion of extraneous policy provisions for which there is no precedent in the appropriations process. These proposed changes have been included in the Senate’s version of H.R. 815, the “Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2024″. 

In a February 6 letter to Senate leadership, Bishop Mark Seitz, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, expressed no position on the overall measure but stated that “this effort to make sweeping changes to immigration law—particularly in the context of this supplemental funding bill—is flawed, both in terms of substance and form. Rather than sustainably reducing migration to the U.S.-Mexico border, consistent with the common good and the good-faith intentions of many lawmakers, several changes proposed in this bill would unjustly undermine due process and pave the way for avoidable and potentially life-threatening harm to be inflicted on vulnerable persons seeking humanitarian protection in the United States.” 

In his letter, Bishop Seitz addressed several specific provisions that warranted concern, including those that would severely limit due process for noncitizens, make it even more difficult than it already is under current law for those with bona fide asylum claims to pursue protection in the United States, and create the opportunity for harmful, arbitrary, and counterproductive treatment of vulnerable persons.

At the same time, the USCCB has expressed support for several aspects of the bill, including supplemental funding for humanitarian relief efforts, refugee resettlement, the Shelter and Services Program, the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, and related efforts to address the root causes of conflict and migration, as well as long-term relief for Afghans relocated to the United States and improved access to protection for at-risk Afghans abroad, increased opportunities for family reunification and employment-based immigration, expanded access to work authorization for newcomers, and ensuring vulnerable children have assistance navigating their immigration proceedings.

Complete this action alert to join with the U.S. bishops in opposing harmful and counterproductive changes to immigration law as a condition for supplemental funding.

You can also learn more about the changes contained in H.R. 815 by reading this policy brief from the American Immigration Lawyers Association and viewing these recent resources from the USCCB, which address two different mechanisms that would be employed extensively under H.R. 815’s changes: 
Rapid Expulsions at the U.S.-Mexico Border and their Consequences
Expedited Removal of Noncitizens in the United States

Click the link below to log in and send your message:
https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/SLc-dYpQkXLkObhndujDEA

 

 

 

Online child exploitation threatens the safety and well-being of our young people and destroys families and communities.  In recent years, these abuses have increased exponentially, in large part due to the Internet and mobile technology. 

Catholics are sadly familiar with the grave consequences of a culture that fails to give adequate attention to the problem of child sexual abuse and exploitation, and we have a responsibility to act to ensure children and the vulnerable are safe. 

Thankfully, members of both parties in Congress are putting forward various pieces of legislation that would address and help prevent the destructive effects of online child exploitation.  Your voice is needed to urge Congress to use their authority to protect children and vulnerable people online.

Join USCCB in asking your member of Congress to protect children online today!
To learn more, read the USCCB’s letter outlining three moral principles Congress can use to protect children online.

Messages in your own words can be more effective. Please consider customizing the message to Congress with your own story.

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January 12, 2024

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is observed annually by the Catholic Church between January 18 and 25. In his message for this year’s observance, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs urges Christians throughout the United States to unite across denominational lines and pray for peace.

“Given the paralyzing nature of polarization and tragedy of war that have spread throughout our world today, the importance of living the love of Christ in our own circumstances cannot be overemphasized. May Christians throughout our country come together across denominational lines to pray for peace in our world and an end to the sad divisions that prevent us from fully loving each other as Christ loves us all.” 

Each year a different country and theme is highlighted during the week-long observance. For 2024, the Christians from Burkina Faso in West Africa developed the prayer materials and chose the theme from St. Luke’s Gospel, “You shall love the Lord your God…and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity started in 1908 when Father Paul Wattson, SA, the founder of the religious order, the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, conceived of the idea of a Christian Unity Octave — an observation of eight days of prayer — for an end to divisions between Christians. Since the Second Vatican Council, it has been co-organized by the World Council of Churches and the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity.

More resources to pray and reflect during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity may be found here

 

 

 

 

Annual effort seeks to assist more than 24,000 elderly women and men religious in the United States

November 6, 2023

WASHINGTON – On the weekend of December 9-10, participating dioceses will take up the annual collection that benefits approximately 24,000 elderly religious sisters, brothers, and religious order priests across the United States. Coordinated by the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO), the collection provides qualified religious institutes with financial aid to address retirement necessities.

Traditionally, Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests have dedicated their lives to Church ministries such as parishes, schools and health-care institutions, usually with little to no compensation. Consequently, a significant number currently have insufficient retirement funds, combined with escalating health-care costs. Numerous religious communities in the United States are experiencing challenges with providing for their elderly members and are confronting a sizable disparity between available funds and the costs of care.

In 1988, the bishops of the United States established the Retirement Fund for Religious collection to address this serious retirement funding need among U.S. religious orders. In 2022, the NRRO’s annual collection raised $27.6 million.

“Addressing the needs of our aging religious demands substantial financial commitment. We are profoundly touched and blessed by the enduring generosity of the Catholic faithful. Their contributions to this fund are fundamental in aiding our elderly religious,” remarked Mr. John Knutsen, the NRRO’s director. “Through this national collection, we have the privilege to respond to the lifetime dedication of these individuals by ensuring their well-being in retirement,” he further commented.

Per the 2023 statistics collected by the NRRO, a mere 6% of religious communities that shared data with the NRRO reported having sufficient retirement funding. Since the fund’s inception, U.S. Catholics have graciously contributed more than $975 million, with almost $842 million has been distributed to support the day-to-day care of thousands of elderly sisters, brothers, and religious order priests. From 2009 onwards, the annual expenses of supporting senior women and men religious surpassed $1 billion.

For more about the initiatives of the National Religious Retirement Office and opportunities to support retired sisters, brothers and religious order priests, please visit retiredreligious.org.

 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has put out a proposed regulation that would require employers to accommodate employees who choose to get abortions, such as by giving them leave to obtain one. The proposal misinterprets the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which is a new law meant to help working mothers keep their job, if they wish, while protecting their health and that of their preborn children. The EEOC is now twisting that law to promote abortion instead, the exact opposite of pregnancy. But there is nothing fair about ending an innocent baby’s life, or about forcing employers to go along with it.

Join USCCB in telling the EEOC to leave abortion out of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act!

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A pregnant woman is seen outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington in this 2016 file photo. On Aug. 8, 2023, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, objected to a proposed interpretation of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to include accommodations for obtaining an abortion. (OSV News photo/Tyler Orsburn, CNS)

WASHINGTON – On Monday, Aug. 7, 2023, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released proposed regulations implementing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, responded with the following statement:

“We supported the bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act because it enhanced the protection of pregnant mothers and their preborn children, which is something that we have encouraged Congress to prioritize. The Act is pro-worker, pro-family, and pro-life. It is a total distortion to use this law as a means for advancing abortion, and the complete opposite of needed assistance for pregnant mothers.

“The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s proposed interpretation of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to include accommodations for obtaining an abortion is wrong and contrary to the text, legislative history, and purpose of the Act, which is to help make it possible for working mothers to remain gainfully employed, if desired, while protecting their health and that of their preborn children. We are hopeful that the EEOC will be forced to abandon its untenable position when public comments submitted on this regulation demonstrate that its interpretation would be struck down in court.”

Editor Note: There is currently a 60-day period where the public can submit their public comments on this regulation. You can submit a comment at the following site: https://www.regulations.gov/document/EEOC-2023-0004-0001

 

 

 


August 7, 2023

WASHINGTON – In 2022, an estimated 258 million people in 58 countries experienced crisis-level acute hunger, according to the World Food Programme (WFP), the global humanitarian organization addressing food security. Russia’s recent decision no longer to allow Ukraine to export tons of grain means more people are likely to go hungry. In response to the rising concern, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace, calls on global leaders to do more to ensure food security for all. Bishop Malloy’s full statement follows:

“Globally, food insecurity has risen in the last few years due to the impacts of the pandemic, natural disasters, economic downturns, but especially due to conflict. Ukraine, prior to the Russian invasion, was considered ‘Europe’s breadbasket,’ shipping significant amounts of wheat, corn and barley, and almost half of the world’s sunflower oil through ports on the Black Sea. When Russia invaded Ukraine, those ports were blocked.

“From July 2022, the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI), the UN-brokered agreement between Russia and Ukraine, allowed Ukraine to export about 33 million tons of grain and other agricultural products. Russia’s decision to withdraw from the BSGI and its bombing of grain storage facilities in Ukraine will greatly impact the availability of food supplies at a time when more people are in dire need of food. With the number of forcibly displaced people at a record high, the World Food Programme estimates 345 million people will face acute hunger this year, with 129,000 potentially facing famine in places like Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, the Horn of Africa, and Myanmar.

“Recognizing this critical need, Pope Francis has said, ‘The blocking of grain exports from Ukraine, on which the lives of millions of people depend, especially in the poorest countries, is of great concern. I make a heartfelt appeal that every effort be made to resolve this issue and to guarantee the universal human right to food. Please do not use wheat, a staple food, as a weapon of war!’

“The food crisis is intertwined with persistence of conflicts. I join with our Holy Father in calling on global leaders to look beyond narrow national interests, focus on the common good, and join in ensuring that critical food supplies can flow to those most in need. The most vulnerable are crying in hunger. With the compassion of Christ, we need to heed their cries and help.”

 

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 “[W]e proclaim a vision for our society that upholds the truth that every human life is sacred and inviolable—a society in which the legal protection of human life is accompanied by profound care for mothers and their children.” – Standing with Moms in Need, Statement by bishop chairmen of the USCCB

Congress is home for the August recess. When they return to Washington, they will need to pass bills that implement the nation’s budget for the next year. Now is the time to remind them that our society can and must do more to protect and care for both women and their children. Providing adequate support for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) will do just that by providing healthy food and nutrition support for vulnerable moms, infants, and young children.

This year, rising food costs and increased program participation make strong investments in WIC more important than ever. All families in need must have access to life-saving nutrition and health services. Tell Congress to continue its long history of bipartisan support for WIC by providing the program with adequate resources to serve all eligible participants with food that meets their nutrition needs, including the current benefit for fruits and vegetables. Supporting WIC is one way we can help build a society that welcomes new life and is oriented towards helping children and their parents, especially those who are most vulnerable.

We invite you to include your thoughts and personal experience. How has WIC helped you or your community?

You can learn more about the USCCB’s advocacy on WIC by reading USCCB letters to Congress on supporting families and ensuring adequate funding for vital nutrition programs.

Take Action Now!