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Bishops and issues for May 2019

A round-up of U.S. bishops' statements in response to issues in the news

WASHINGTON | Here’s a round-up of recent statements by representatives of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) regarding events and issues in the news that touch on Catholic faith and principles.

Shooting in Virginia Beach

Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued the following statement June 1 in response to the tragic shooting at the municipal building in Virginia Beach.

“This past Friday afternoon, an horrific act of gun violence took place at the municipal building in Virginia Beach, Virginia. There are reports of at least twelve fatalities, and numerous critical injuries. This shooting reminds us yet again that something is fundamentally broken in our society and culture when ordinary workplaces can become scenes of violence and contempt for human life. As Americans we must deeply examine why these horrific occurrences of gun violence continue to take place in our communities, in order to root out the causes of such evils. Action is needed to attempt to reduce the frequency of these abhorrent acts through legislation and training. I call on Catholics around the country to pray for the dead and injured, as well as for healing in the community.

“May Jesus, whose victory over death we celebrate during this Easter Season, bring consolation and healing at this time of great sorrow.”



Health care nondiscrimination regulations

Several U.S. bishops issued a statement welcoming the May 24 announcement of proposed modifications to regulations implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act.

“We applaud the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for proposing regulations restoring the long-standing position of the federal government that discrimination on the basis of ‘sex’ does not refer to ‘termination of pregnancy’ nor ‘gender identity.’ These modifications follow the legislative intent of the Affordable Care Act to ensure nondiscrimination on the basis of sex in health care. The proposed regulations would help restore the rights of health care providers – as well as insurers and employers – who decline to perform or cover abortions or ‘gender transition’ procedures due to ethical or professional objections. Catholic health care providers serve everyone who comes to them, regardless of characteristics or background. However, there are ethical considerations when it comes to procedures. We are grateful for today’s important step.”

The statement was issued by Bishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty.

A comment letter expressing concern with the original underlying regulations, in which the USCCB joined in 2015, may be found here:


Deadly tornadoes in Missouri, Midwest

After tornadoes killed three people in Missouri and storms brought devastation to parts of the Midwest and areas from Texas through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, expressed grief over the lives lost and damage threatened by the tornadoes and storms, and offered prayers for recovery.

“I am profoundly saddened by the loss of life and the damage caused by the tornadoes and storms throughout the Midwest and related regions these past few days. As of this writing, millions of people in at least seven states have been affected by the powerful winds, rainfall and rising water levels caused by these conditions. Seven people have been killed in Missouri, Iowa and Oklahoma. Severe weather continues to be expected in this devastated area through the rest of this week.

“A call is made to all for prayers for the victims and their grieving families and communities. Further, now is the time to offer assistance to those facing this great loss. We are grateful that Catholic Charities and other organizations are in place working to provide for emergency needs and to help rebuild.”


States passing pro-life legislation

The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, has issued a statement regarding states’ recent passage of pro-life legislation.

“Every single human life has value. The trend of states passing pro-life legislation is a very encouraging move toward ensuring that our society cherishes unborn children and their most basic right to life. The pro-life movement has always had two critical goals: increasing support for mothers and children and eliminating the tragedy of abortion. Our march for justice and human rights for unborn children will not be complete until they are recognized and protected as persons by the law. Our ultimate objective, however, is for abortion to be unthinkable. As we celebrate these pro-life legislative victories, we reiterate our commitment to supporting all mothers with the care and resources they need. The Church stands ready to help and welcome them.”


Bishops to meet June 11-14 in Baltimore

The U.S. bishops will gather for the 2019 Spring General Assembly in Baltimore, June 11-14. During the assembly, the bishops will discuss and vote on bishop accountability measures to respond to the abuse crisis and will also hear reports from the National Advisory Council and an annual progress report by the National Review Board.   

The bishops also will discuss and vote on the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States (2nd edition); and on the final approval of revisions made to the second typical edition of the ICEL Gray Book of the Ordination of a Bishop, of Priests, and of Deacons.

The assembly will also discuss and vote on the revised passage on the death penalty in the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults and subsequent recognition from Rome. The bishops will also hear a report on the Committee on Priorities and Plans on the Strategic Priorities for the development of the 2021-2024 USCCB Strategic Plan. They will also hear reports from Bishop Robert E. Barron, chairman of the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, as well as a report on the Bishops Working Group on Immigration Issues and an update from the Bishops’ Working Group on Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.

There will also be a voice vote on the cause for canonization of the Servant of God Irving (a.k.a. Francis) C. Houle.

The assembly will be livestreamed and carried via satellite.


Religious Freedom Week coming June 22-29

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville is encouraging Catholics to pray and act in support of religious liberty at home and abroad during Religious Freedom Week 2019. The week begins June 22, feast of Saints Thomas More and John Fisher, and ends June 29, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. 

The theme for this year, Strength in Hope, is taken from the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity: “Among the trials of this life they find strength in hope, convinced that ‘the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come that will be revealed in us’ (Rom. 8:18)” (Apostolicam actuositatem, 4).

Archbishop Kurtz, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty, said: “Catholics face challenges both in our current political climate of polarization and within the Church. Christian child welfare institutions and Catholics in public life are encountering significant obstacles to their work, while our brothers and sisters in places like Nigeria suffer violent persecution. We want to build solidarity and to encourage Catholics to persist in the struggle to advance the kingdom of God by finding hope in Jesus Christ.”

Resources for Religious Freedom Week and other religious liberty resources can be found and  Video can be found at Social media posts will use the hashtag #StrengthInHope.


Book explains how to ‘rebuke the devil’

The USCCB has released a commanding new book featuring a survey of Pope Francis’s important teachings on the history of the devil, his empty promises and works, and how we can actively combat him. Written for a wide audience, Rebuking the Devil shows us how to recognize the tricks of the enemy, avoid his traps and defeat his efforts through the power of God in Jesus Christ.  

Rebuking the Devil is available for purchase through the USCCB’s online bookstore and can be ordered at

“In this important book, Pope Francis tells us how to use powerful tools of spiritual combat against the devil including the Word of God, adoration of God in the Blessed Sacrament, participation in the sacraments, fasting, prayer and the intercession of Mary, Mother of God, through the Most Holy Rosary,” said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, chairman of the U.S. Bishop’s Committee on Communications. “We must recognize that there is a devil who is alive and active, but there is also a shield against him through the power of Jesus Christ.”

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