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Bishops call for prayers, donations after Dorian's deadly strike

Also issue statements on Texas shooting, Amazon fires, conscience protections and detention of migrant children

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WASHINGTON | Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is calling for prayers as Dorian approaches the U.S. coast, adding “we are extremely mindful of the dire need faced by the community in the Bahamas so devastated by this catastrophic storm.”

He also asked for donations to Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities USA. 

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami is accepting donations at the following link: www.ccadm.org/disaster_relief_services/.

More prayers for victims of terrible shooting in Texas

Cardinal DiNardo also issued a statement Sept. 1 regarding the shootings in Midland and Odessa, Texas. Here is that statement in full:

“As we travel to Sunday Mass, we do so with heavy hearts. Just a few short hours ago, less than a month after the horrific instances of gun violence in California, Texas and Ohio, yet further terrible shootings took place, this time involving random targeting of victims on roads and highways. There are reports of at least 5 (now 7) fatalities, and numerous critical injuries. Once again, these horrific onslaughts demonstrate unequivocally the undeniable existence of evil in our society. I am deeply saddened to witness yet again scenes of violence and contempt for human life being repeated in our nation’s streets. With renewed resolve, I call on all people of good will, starting with our Catholic leaders and faithful, to work tirelessly to root out the causes of such crimes. As people of faith, we must continue to pray for all the victims, and for healing in all these shattered communities that now extend across the length and breadth of our land.”

On Labor Day: Bishop decries 'perverse current of inequity'

Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice in Florida, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued a Labor Day statement citing the 100-year-old United States Bishops’ Program of Social Reconstruction.

The United States Bishops’ Program of Social Reconstruction was published in 1919 after the end of World War I as a guide for the economic changes during that time period. In his statement, Bishop Dewane highlights key themes from Catholic social teaching presented in the Bishops’ Program. He says subsidiarity, monopoly power and wage suppression, the universal destination of goods and employee ownership, and solidarity and unions are pertinent to the present economic difficulties working people face in the United States.

“In the Gospel for this Labor Day, Jesus proclaims in the synagogue the words of Isaiah: that he, like the prophet, has been ‘anointed’ ‘to bring glad tidings to the poor’ (Lk. 4:18). How do we bring glad tidings to the poor today? As Pope Francis said earlier this year, ‘today’s tendency is toward slowing down the pace of reducing extreme poverty and increasing the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. . .. Many do not have food to eat and live adrift while a few drown in excess. This perverse current of inequity is disastrous for humanity’s future.’”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane’s entire statement can be found here in English and Spanish.

Bishops commend enforcement of conscience law on abortion

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights announced Aug. 29 that it is taking corrective action against the University of Vermont Medical Center for forcing a nurse to participate in an elective abortion against the nurse’s beliefs, in violation of the federal Church amendment. The Church amendment, enacted in 1973, prohibits recipients of various federal health program funding from forcing health care personnel to perform or participate in abortions against their religious beliefs or moral convictions.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop Robert J. McManus of Worcester, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, issued the following statement in response to this enforcement action:

“It is a grotesque violation of civil rights, and of federal law, to force someone to perform or participate in an abortion against their beliefs. The action by the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMMC), forcing a nurse to participate in the killing of a defenseless unborn child under threat of job loss, and other coercive pressure, is abhorrent. We commend and thank the Administration for taking corrective action to enforce the law. Sadly, such violations of federal conscience laws are not infrequent. We hope that today’s action, and future actions by this Administration, will help ensure that no one is forced to participate in an abortion against their beliefs.”

Bishops express concern about fires in the Amazon

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops' conference, Bishop Frank Dewane, chair of their Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued the following statement regarding the fires in the Amazon:

“Last Sunday, after his Angelus prayer, Pope Francis expressed concern for the fires that have developed in the Amazon, stating, ‘Let us pray that, with everyone’s commitment, they may be tamed as soon as possible.’ As bishops of the United States, we join in these heartfelt prayers and urge the faithful of our nation to support, through their petitions and concern, these efforts. As our Church begins a ‘Season of Creation,’ culminating on October 4, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, let us all consider spiritual and corporal acts of mercy towards our common home and all those living in it. We express solidarity with our brother bishops in Latin America who, through the Consejo Episcopal Latinoamericano (CELAM), have expressed their desire for a prompt extinguishment of these fires, and welcome the decision by the Group of Seven (G7) to extend financial support for these efforts.”

Bishop calls new rule on migrant children's detention 'unlawful, inhumane'

On Aug. 23, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Migration, condemned the final rule published by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) relating to the care and custody of immigrant children under the Flores Settlement Agreement.

The agreement sets forth foundational principles and critical protections regarding the care, custody, and release of immigrant children who are in federal custody, including the general requirements that they be housed in the least restrictive setting and in licensed facilities for childcare. The rule will drastically undermine existing Flores protections for immigrant children in federal custody. 

“This rule will have heartbreaking consequences for immigrant children – those whom Pope Francis has deemed ‘the most vulnerable group’ among migrants,” said Bishop Vásquez. “It is an attempt by the Administration to circumvent existing obligations and undermine critical protections for these children. This rule will jeopardize the well-being and humane treatment of immigrant children in federal custody and will result in children suffering long-lasting consequences of being held for prolonged periods in family detention. We oppose this rule that we believe is unlawful and inhumane.  Countless children will be harmed by this new rule and this is simply not acceptable.”

Bishops applaud proposed regulations preventing discrimination against faith-based federal contractors

The chairs of three committees of the U.S. bishops expressed support Aug. 21 for proposed regulations from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) clarifying religious protections that may be invoked by federal contractors, including faith-based organizations. 

Bishop Robert J. McManus, chair of the Committee for Religious Liberty, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, chair of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, chair of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, issued the following statement: 

“Faith-based groups should have the opportunity to compete on a level playing field as they seek to partner with the federal government to provide critical social services. These proposed rules protect religious liberty, a core constitutional right, by clarifying existing religious exemptions consistent with federal law and recent Supreme Court precedent. We are grateful to the Administration for taking this step, and we look forward to filing more detailed public comments with OFCCP.” 

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